Chester Cathedral choir
Chester Cathedral
Though Chester Cathedral's roots go well back into the Saxon era, much of what we see today is the result of enthusiastic restoration during the Victorian period. Chester was originally built by Saxon canons in the name of Saint Werburgh, a lady whose claim to sainthood was not harmed by having three Saxon kings as relatives.

A second church on the same site was built by Hugh "Lupus" (the Wolf), Earl of Chester, in 1092, perhaps as expiation for his worldly excesses. Anselm of Bec, later Archbishop of Canterbury, helped found Hugh's monastic settlement at Chester. Beginning in 1250 yet a third church was begun, this time in Norman Gothic style. The monks of Chester built the new church over the top of the old church, which they dismantled from the inside!

Around 1380 the church gained a magnificent series of carved quire stalls. Look closely at the carvings on the misericords and bench ends; aside from the obvious (St. Werburgh), there are details of Arthurian legend, Aesop's fables, and fabulous mythical beasts, plus one humorous figure of a man enjoying a mug of ale! At the shrine to St. Werburgh you can see the niches where medieval sufferers rested their heads while spending the night in a prayer for healing.

Though the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII, the king handed the monastic buildings back to serve as the cathedral church of the new diocese of Chester.

Chester Cathedral takes great pride in its excellent choir, and also hosts an extensive series of organ recitals.

St Werburgh's Shrine
St Werburgh's Shrine
Chapel of St Oswald reredos by CE Kempe
Chapel of St Oswald reredos by CE Kempe
15th century Simon Ripley Stone
15th c Simon Ripley Stone