English Cathedrals

About the gazetteer

The cathedrals in our gazetteer are primarily medieval. Most were intentionaly built as cathedrals, though there are several that were originally monastic churches (e.g. Bath Abbey) or parish churches (e.g. Southwark Cathedral) that were later raised to cathedral status after the Reformation, as population expanded and settlement patterns changed. Dress warmly. Even in summer the medieval stone giants can chill your bones.

Technically, a cathedral is the 'seat', or home church of a bishop. The term originated with the Latin word 'cathedra', which was a throne, a literal 'seat' for a bishop. Some of the original medieval 'cathedra' - stone bishop thrones - are still preserved.

The honour of 'first English cathedral' is usually awarded to Canterbury Cathedral, begun in 597 AD by St Augustine. However, the first cathedral in England may actually have been built around 370 AD by the Romano-British Emperor Magnus Maximus, on Tower Hill, later site of the Tower of London. That 4th century church was destroyed by barbarians in the 5th century, and the masonry was used to build London's city walls and the Tower of London itself.

Did you know ... The smallest cathedral - Oxford - serves the largest diocese!

Cathedral List
Name County Heritage Rating
Arundel Cathedral West Sussex 4 Heritage Rating
Bath Abbey Somerset 4 Heritage Rating
Brentwood Cathedral Essex 2 Heritage Rating
Bristol Cathedral Bristol 4 Heritage Rating
Canterbury Cathedral Kent 5 Heritage Rating
Carlisle Cathedral Cumbria 3 Heritage Rating
Chelmsford Cathedral Essex 3 Heritage Rating
Chester Cathedral Cheshire 3 Heritage Rating
Chichester Cathedral West Sussex 4 Heritage Rating
Durham Cathedral County Durham 5 Heritage Rating
Ely Cathedral Cambridgeshire 5 Heritage Rating
Exeter Cathedral Devon 4 Heritage Rating
Gloucester Cathedral Gloucestershire 4 Heritage Rating
Hereford Cathedral Herefordshire 4 Heritage Rating
Lichfield Cathedral Staffordshire 4 Heritage Rating
Lincoln Cathedral Lincolnshire 5 Heritage Rating
Norwich Cathedral Norfolk 5 Heritage Rating
Norwich Catholic Cathedral Norfolk 4 Heritage Rating
Oxford, Christ Church Cathedral Oxfordshire 4 Heritage Rating
Peterborough Cathedral Cambridgeshire 5 Heritage Rating
Portsmouth Cathedral Hampshire 3 Heritage Rating
Ripon Cathedral Yorkshire 4 Heritage Rating
Rochester Cathedral Kent 4 Heritage Rating
Salisbury Cathedral Wiltshire 5 Heritage Rating
Southwark Cathedral Greater London 3 Heritage Rating
Southwark Catholic Cathedral Greater London 3 Heritage Rating
Southwell Minster Nottinghamshire 4 Heritage Rating
St Paul's Cathedral Greater London 5 Heritage Rating
St. Albans Cathedral Hertfordshire 4 Heritage Rating
Wells Cathedral Somerset 5 Heritage Rating
Westminster Abbey Greater London 5 Heritage Rating
Westminster Cathedral Greater London 3 Heritage Rating
Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Bedfordshire 1 Heritage Rating
Winchester Cathedral Hampshire 5 Heritage Rating
Worcester Cathedral Worcestershire 5 Heritage Rating
York Minster Yorkshire 5 Heritage Rating
Name County Heritage Rating
Cathedrals Menu
Wells Cathedral, Somerset

Cathedral A-Z Gazetteers
England | Scotland | Wales

Historic churches (i.e. parish churches)
England | Wales

Church architecture - visual dictionary

Cathedral plan - Most medieval churches followed a fairly similar layout. Here is a cathedral floor plan, based on Westminster Abbey.

Most popular English cathedrals
Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire

These historic gems are at the top of many visitor's list:

Architectural highlights
York Minster, Yorkshire

Cathedrals with unique or unusual architectural features:

  1. Ely - unique lantern tower
  2. Salisbury - highest spire (404 feet high)
  3. Bath Abbey - last major pre-Reformation church in England
  4. Gloucester - superb vaulted cloisters
  5. Wells - striking scissor vaulting
  6. Durham - the world's first structural pointed arch

Attraction search

Featured Historic Hotel
Great Fosters Hotel and Restaurant

Great Fosters Hotel and Restaurant
Egham, Surrey

Heritage Rating: Heritage Rating

Situated just seven miles from Heathrow airport this unique property and Historic Monument is a Grade One listed building dating from 1550 and retains a plethora of original features. Its past is evident in the mullioned windows, tall chimneys, Saxon moat, which surrounds three sides of formal gardens complete with … more >>

More hotels in Surrey >>


Name the Historic attraction

Name the mystery historic attraction
See larger image

British History Quiz

Known as the mistress of Edward III


This Day in British History

23 October, 1642

Battle of Edgehill

First serious battle of the Civil War, Prince Rupert defeats Parliamentary forces led by Earl of Essex

Monarch Mayhem

The second surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, he ruled only 3 years before being deposed


National Trust

National Trust membership

National Trust membership

Free entry to National Trust properties throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, plus discounted admission to National Trust for Scotand properties.

Membership details

About the National Trust

Coverack (Self catering)
Cottage: HCTRWAP, Coverack

Trewillis Farm Applewood

Sleeps 7

More cottages in Cornwall >>

Bude (Self catering)
Cottage: HCBUDEG, Bude

Bude Garden House

LOVELY HOUSE WALKING DISTANCE TO SHOPS AND BEACH This refurbished modern house is set in the popular seaside town of Bude and is an easy walk to all the amenities …
Sleeps 8

More cottages in Cornwall >>

Passionate about British Heritage!