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Chester Cathedral

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12 Abbey Square
Chester
CH1 2HU
www.chestercathedral.com
office@chestercathedral.com

01244 324 756

Please click for the Twitter Feed https://www.twitter.com/ChesterCath
Please click for the Twitter Feed http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chester-United-Kingdom/Chester-Cathedral/104418419598922

45 Minute Organ Recital Every Thursday 1:10pm

Opening Hours


Monday–Saturday
Cathedral 9am–5pm Refectory 9:30am–4:30pm
Sunday
Cathedral 1pm–4pm Refectory 12Noon-4pm
Bank Holidays

Admission


The Cathedral is open to visitors at 10am
2014 Free Entry (£3 Donation if you wish)


Chester Cathedral Admission
Click here for more information

How to find the Cathedral

Chester Cathedral is located near the very centre of historic Chester within the walls opposite the Town Hall. The high central tower is not visible for all parts of the city. Find the Eastgate Clock and walk towards the cross on Eastgate Street and turn North up St Werburgh Street opposite the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

Friends of Chester Cathedral


Friends of Chester Cathedral
Join the Friends by enrolling at the Admission Desk or click here

Groups (10 or more) £4 pp (adult) - £2 (children under 16)
GROUPS ARE REQUESTED TO BOOK AHEAD AND SERVICE TIMES SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
To book a Group Visit please telephone Cathedral Visits on 01244 500958

Shop

New Cathedral Shop opned June 2012


Chester Cathedral Shop
Click here for more information

Chester Cathedral Shop

12 Abbey Square
Chester
Cheshire
CH1 2HU

Contact Mrs Julie Wheeler
01244 699 049
shop@chestercathedral.com
http://www.chestercathedral.com/chester-cathedral-shop.htm
2011 Opening times
9:30am to 5pm Monday to Saturday
11am to 4.00pm Sunday

Special Events


Dean's Field

Guided Tours

New! Cathedral at Height Tour
Click here for more information

Video Guided Tour

Click here to watch the video


Chester Cathedral What's On


Chester Cathedral Guide Brochure


Chester Cathedral Video


Chester Cathedral Choir

Estimated time to look around 1 Hour.
The Floor surface is flat with small steps to the various areas. There is a wheelchair ramp at the entrance.

Chester Cathedral taken from the Kaleyards

The Patron Saint of Chester is St Werburgh
St Werburgh
Click here to take a closer look

Chester Cathedral Plan

Hugh LupusChester Cathedral stands on the site of a seventh century Saxon Church, dedicated to St. Werburgh.

In 1092 Hugh Lupus (Hugh the Wolf) founded the Benedictine Abbey, and a new church in the Norman style was built, parts of which can still be seen. He invited Anselm, abbot of the church of Bec in France to help him with this task.

The remains of St Werburgh were transferred to the Abbey for safe keeping at the start of the Danish invasions in 875 from Hanbury. As a result the church became a place of pilgrimage.

The Church was rebuilt from about 1250 onwards in the Gothic style. This process took 250 years, resulting in the present building.

Due to the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the Abbey was closed on the 26th July 1541, but the next year it became the Cathedral of the newly-created Diocese of Chester.

So, in this place of history and beauty, the worship of God has been offered for over a thousand years.

The Cathedral has its own shop. And it also has hand held guide devices. To help visitors find their way around the building.

The Cathedral has its own website. It can be located under
www.chestercathedral.com

   

Chester Cathedral taken from the roof of The Mall's Car Park

Outside the Cathedral

The Cathedral was restored by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 19th Century. Four small towers were added to the top of the central tower.

Click here for more information
i
Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral Exterior Chester Cathedral Exterior 1 Chester Cathedral Exterior 2

Chester Cathedral Exterior 3 Chester Cathedral Exterior 4 Chester Cathedral Exterior 5

Chester Cathedral Exterior 6 Chester Cathedral Exterior 7 Chester Cathedral Exterior 8

On Northgate Street is the Abbey Gateway. Inside is Abbey Square and the entrance to the rear of the Cathedral.
Click on the picture for more information >>>
The Abbey Gate Way www.chestertourist.com - Abbey Square The Cathedral Close

The West Door

On St. Werburgh Street is the West Door to the Cathedral. (not used by the public)

Chester Cathedral West Door

Chester Cathedral West Door

St Oswald's, The South Door

This is the door in the South Transept. In the past the south transept was divided off into a separate parish church of St Oswald's.
Chester Cathedral South Door

The Green Man on the South Wall

The Greenman on Chester Cathedral. Click for a closer look
Click for a closer look

The Unfinished West Tower

This part of the Cathedral was intended to have a tower added. But this was never completed.
Here you can see the buttress for the base of the tower.
Chester Cathedral The Unfinished West Tower

The Bell Tower

Chester Millennium Festival Trail
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Millennium Trail Marker Stop Number 4 on the Millennium Trail : The Bell Tower

Chester Cathedral Bell Tower

On the South East of the Cathedral is the Bell Tower. Accessible from St Werburgh street via Bell Tower Walk. Which connects onto the City Walls. Designed by George Pace and Completed in 1974. It was the first free standing English Cathedral bell tower to be built for 500 years. It contains 13 bells, some dating from the 17th Century. The curfew bell is still in the Cathedral.

The Remembrance Garden

Near the Bell Tower on the South side of the Cathedral is the remembrance garden to the 22nd Cheshire Regiment.
Chester Cathedral Rememberance Garden Chester Cathedral Rememberance Garden

Chester Cathedral Rememberance Garden  Chester Cathedral Rememberance Garden

A Painting of Chester Cathedral from Cow Lane Bridge in the 18th Century.
Painting of Chester Cathedral from Cow Lane Bridge

Inside Chester Cathedral

Once inside Chester Cathedral can seem a bit gloomy. But there are many treasures that await the visitor. The sandstone floor of the Cathedral was replaced in 1997 and was partially excavated. The old floor dated from 1777. During the excavation some Saxon masonry were found in the west of the Nave. There were also a small number of Roman finds. If you look carefully you will be able to pick out the older Norman masonry.

A free walking guide is included in the admission price. Just put the earpiece on and move near the green guide ports to automatically hear the commentary.

Guideport

GuidePORT audio tours are very easy to use. Just put the GuidePORT round your neck and clip on the lightweight headphones. Then follow the simple instructions to hear. The tour is marked by green obelisks. As you walk around the Cathedral, the tour will spring to life, leading you through 1000 years of history. You can follow the route described, or feel free to choose your own. Adaptors are available for hearing aid users.

Chester CathedralChester Cathedral

Information Points
1 Introduction
2 The Bapistery (1140)
3 West End of the Nave
4 The Nave (1360 - 1490)
5 The North Transept (1100)
6 Cobweb Picture
7 The Chapter House and Vestibule (1200 - 1250)
8 The Chapel of St. Werburgh
9 The Lady Chapel (1250 - 1275)
10 The Quire (1280 - 1300)
11 The Crossing (1310)
12 The South Transept (1350)
13 MHS Chester Memorial
14 The Consistory Court
15 Scriptorium
16 The Cloister Garden
17 Lavatorium
18 The Refectory (1225 - 1250)
A The Undercroft (1120)
B The Chapel of St. Erasmus

North Transept

In the Northern Transept is the oldest part of Chester Cathedral. Norman masonry is visible from the Norman cathedral.
Norman North Transept

The North Transept is also home to the famous 'cobweb' picture, made in the Tyrol.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

The Cobweb picture.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

The South Transept

The south transept is much larger that the north transept. At one time it was separated off from the cathedral and used as St Oswald's parish church.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

There is a book of remembrance to the 22nd Regiment on view.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

A stained glass window in the south transept.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

The Chester Mystery Play Quilt. Created by the American artist B J Elvgren.
Cathedral Cobweb Picture

Cathedral Refectory

Cathedral Refectory. Luxury Cream Teas

Cathedral Refectory Cathedral Refectory Tapestry Information Panel

Tapestry from a Raphael Cartoon. Chester Cathedral Refectory
Chester News
This tapestry was woven at the Mortlake tapestry works in the time of Charles I. From a cartoon, one of a set executed by Raphael in 1515 for the Sistine Chapel.
The cartoons were bought in 1623 by Charles I when he was Prince of Wales and are now in the Victoria and Albert museum. They are mostly scenes from the Acts of the Apostles. The tapestry came to Chester Cathedral in the 17th century and up till 1843 hung at the east end of the choir as the reredos of the high alter.
It shows St Paul in the celebrated scene with the sorcerer Elymas in Cypress, his first missionary journey. He strikes Elymas with temporary blindness for trying to prevent the Proconsul Sergius Paulus from accepting the Christian faith. Sergius Paulus is the figure seated in the centre.
On the right is St Paul on the left Elymas. The figure of Elymas in Raphael's original cartoons has been described as one of the noblest in the whole of western art.

The Refectory Pulpit
The Refectory Pulpit

The Chapel of St. Anselm

The Chapel of St. Anselm The Chapel of St. Anselm The Chapel of St. Anselm

The Chapel of St. Anselm. An engraving around 1860
Click for more >

The Chapel of St. Anselm is a small Chapel located at the rear entrance to the Cathedral. Accessible through and gate and across the roof of the Cathedral shop.

The Chapel of St. Anselm was built in circa AD 1150 as the private chapel of the Abbott of the Benedictine monastery. When the monastery became the Cathedral in AD 1541, it then became the private chapel of the new Bishop of Chester.

The Chapel lay in the angle between the Abbott's lodging to the west (where Barclays Bank is now) and the Abbott's hall to the north.

Originally it was one single room - at either end of the Chapel you can see that there were once windows; the one at the west end (by the entrance door) has been blocked in, and if you stand inside the wooden screen with your back to the altar you will see that the wall in front of you was clearly once an exterior wall and that the window has been knocked through to provide access to the chancel. You can still see evidence of the Romanesque ('Norman') Chapel in the body of the building - the simple half pillars on the walls and the particularly attractive window looking down into the body of the church are clearly part of the original structure which must have been of a simple but very attractive design.

On the 9th of May 1619, John Bridgeman was consecrated Bishop of Chester but he didn't arrive in Chester until the 14th of November 1620, and only took up residence in July 1623. Bishop Bridgeman is unusual because he took such an active part in the restoration of the Cathedral and the provision of new buildings. Amongst other things, he moved the Consistory Court to its present position, paid for the church to be whitewashed, built a new pulpit, provided a new font, restored windows, and built the two cottages just by the Abbey Square steps in 1626 for the 'singing men' of the choir.

He also altered his Chapel by adding an extension to accommodate the altar. This is the area beyond the screen, which is slightly off centre because of the buildings beneath. The ceiling was plastered in a typical Jacobean style and it is said that the same plasterers also worked in Bishop Lloyd's Palace in Watergate Street. The recessed area on the south (where the piano now stands) is probably the site of the Bishop's pew, tucked away from the gaze of the congregation, and indeed there is a small opening in the wall - known as a 'squint' - to allow the Bishop a full view of the altar when he was in his seat.

The altar rails are also early 17th Century, known as 'Laudian' rails after Archbishop Laud who resisted the removal of communion tables into the nave as advocated by the Puritans; the wooden screen is also typical of the period.

At the same time, the nave of the Chapel was given a new plaster ceiling, in a 'Gothick' style, copying the predominant style of the Cathedral. This is a very early use of this style and it does result in the rather odd blend of some typical Jacobean work combined with 'Gothick'! The ceiling boss nearest the screen is a 'Green Man' - an interesting survivor of a medieval story, although it is doubtful whether it would have had much relevance by the Seventeenth century - but it does make an attractive decorative feature.

Later in the Seventeenth Century, the Baptistery - which you can see by looking through the window - was turned into the Bishop's wine cellar, which probably explains the provision of a door in the south wall, which is now blocked up. Here you will find a carved wooden panel with a crucifix, possibly from a reliquary - the date of this piece is uncertain, although it is almost certainly medieval.

Sir George Gilbert Scott restored the exterior of the Chapel in the late Nineteenth Century and the stone parapet around the exterior dates from that time, but more extensive work was carried out under Desn Darby (1885- 1919) and again under Dean Bennett (1920 - 1937) who did so much to open up the Cathedral; more recently, new chairs have been provided and it has been relit and refurbished.

The Chapel is still used on special services and meetings, and represents a very tangible link with the monastic past of Chester Cathedral.

Nicholas Fry, September 2003.

New!The Exhibition Library

The medieval monastery of St Werburgh contained a number of volumes, including a universal history of the world. 'The Polycronicon' (literally 'many stories'), written by one of the monks, Ranulph Higden and translated into English in 1387 by John De Trevisa. However, the library was dispersed at the Dissolution and there are now only 21 manuscripts and one printed volume in various libraries around the world.

The Exhibition Library was originally the King;s school Library until 1960 when the school moved to its present buildings outside Chester. The King's School designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield was built in 1877 on the site of the old Bishop's Palace.

The long run of shelves came from the Chapter House and now contains most of the pre-1700 printed books that used to be in the Muniment Room above the South West porch. They have been conserved and restored by grants obtained by the late Canon Roy Barker, Canon and Cathedral Librarian during the 1980's and 1990's.

The six Arts and Crafts sloping-top cases were made for the Chapter House in 1896-98 and now contain 18th century printed books as well as some 19th and 20th century volumes including the Early Fathers, a Braille bible and a collection of early 19th century Sunday school books.

The bookcase near the entrance contains 18th century books and the invaluable collection of books by clergy connected with Chester from the 17th century, given by Revd Fancis Sanders, Vicar of Hoylake in the 1920s. These include for example works by Bishop John Wilkins, John Pearson, Fancis Gastrell and William Subbs.

The John Rylands Library of Manchester University generously gave the three large exhibition cases in 2003. They now contain some of the Treasures of the Library mentioned by Professor Philip Alexander in his lecture at the informal opening of the Library in February 2007.

The twelve portraits are of some of the Deans of the Cathedral from 1682 to 2001.

The two medieval rooom above St Anselm's Chapel (which are not open to the public) contain the 19th and 20th century books as well as many about the history of the City, Cathedral, Diocese and old county of Cheshire. There are also books on permanent loan from the King's School, books by Charles Kingsley from the city Library and the personal library of Bishop William Jacobson (1865 - 1884) bequeathed to the See of Chester.

The late Canon Roy Barker as Canon and Cathedral Librarian gathered a group of volunteers to work in the Library, raised grants for conservation and a one-off heritage grant in 2000 to create the Exhibition Library and make a physical connection between the three Library rooms. Completion was delayed while the Choir used the area until the new Song School was completed.

Cataloguing and conservation has taken some 25 years under the specialist direction of Dr Derek Nuttall, MBE, Curator of Early Printed Books, aided by Mrs Mary Higson and Mrs Shirley Pargeter.

Dr George Chivers - Cathedral Librarian

Canon Dr Trevor Dennis - Canon Librarian

The Library is available for academic research (at no cost) and group visits can be arranged at a small charge. Visits to the Library can be combined with a tour of the Cathedral and or refreshments in the Refectory.

Arrangements to visit and or use books for consultation may be madethrough Mr Nick Fry at the Cathedral Office 01244 500 958.

The Chapter House

The Chapter house was were the monks gathered to hear a chapter read to them every day.

The Chapter House

Ranulf Higden (1299 - 1364)

Medieval monk and author of the Polychronicon >>>
A copy of the Polychronicon is on display in the Chapter House along with a piece of cloth found in his tomb when it was opened.

Ranulf Higden Polycronicon Piece of the Burial Cloth

The Cloisters

Chester Cathedral cloisters are located on the North side of the Cathedral. They are constructed of local sandstone.

Cloisters Cloisters Cloisters Cloisters

The Cloisters contain many fine stained glass windows.

Info Click for more information.

Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

St Alban
Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

George Mallory and Andrew Irvine memorial window

In an interview with The New York Times in March 1923, George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Everest. His reply became a part of mountaineering folklore. He said:

“Because it's there.”

Mallory wasn’t the first to feel the strange allure of the world’s highest mountain and many people since have found its challenge equally irresistible.


Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters
Stained Glass Windows in the Cloisters

There are some medieval grave slabs on the floor of the cloisters
Medieval grave slabs

The Simon Ripley stone.

The Simon Ripley stone

This stone was found under the Chapter House floor in 1723. Covering the upper part of a coffin. The monogram S.R. is that of Abbot Simon Ripley 1485 - 1493, who finished the building of the central tower. In the coffin was a skeleton wrapped in black leather. In the eighteenth century the stone was thought to belong to Hugh Lupus the founder of the Abbey who died in 1101 because of the wolfs head on the stone.

Simon Ripley became Abbot in 1485. The stone dates from the late fifteenth century.

The Simon Ripley stone

Detail from a doorway leading from the cloisters
Door in the Cloisters

The Cathedral Garth


The Cathedral Garth
'The water of life' by Stephen Broadbent
Click here for a closer look

www.chester tourist .com - Water of life
Click here to see a larger picture of 'The water of life' by Stephen Broadbent. Located in the Cloister Garth, Chester Cathedral.

The Consistory Court

The Consistory Court The Consistory Court Decoration The Consistory Court

The Nave

Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral Nave

A base of one of ten massive piers that line the Nave.
Chester Cathedral Nave

The Chester Imp

The Chester Imp is spot lighted high up on the North Nave Wall. It is hard to see ...
The Chester ImpThe Chester Imp

There are several Victorian 'Gurney' heaters scattered around.

Times Paces - A Poem on a Clock by Henry Twells

Times Paces - A Poem on a Clock by Henry Twells Times Paces - A Poem on a Clock by Henry Twells

When as a child I laughed and wept,
Time Crept

When as a youth I waxed more bold,
Time Strolled

When I became a full-grown man
Time Ran

When older still I daily grew,
Time Flew

Soon I shall find, in passing on,
Time Gone

o Christ, wilt thou have saved me then?

Amen.


The old heating system

Click on the Picture for more pictures of memorials in Chester Cathedral.
Memorial

Mosaics on the north wall of the nave.
Chester Cathedral Nave

The north side of the nave.
Chester Cathedral Nave

The Baptistery

On the north side of the nave near the west door is located the Baptistery.
Chester Cathedral Baptistery

Carved very faintly on the base of the northern most column is a 'nine mens morris' board.
Chester Cathedral Baptistory

The Choir

Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral Choir is noted for its fine wood carvings.
Click here for more pictures >>>

The Choir

Choir stalls
The Choir

The Choir
The Choir

Iconoclast. This king figure was damaged by a sword blow in the 16th Century!
The Choir

An Elephant. The artist had never seen an elephant!
The Choir

The Chester Pilgrim
The Choir

The Choir

The Choir

The Choir

The High Altar

The High Altar in Chester Cathedral
The High Altar in Chester Cathedral

The Chapel of St. Erasmus

The bust of Thomas Brassey is in the Chapel of St. Erasmus.

The bust of Thmoas Brassey is in the Chapel of St. Erasmus

The Lady Chapel


Chester Cathedral

In the Lady Chapel at the East end of the Cathedral behind the altar is the Lady Chapel.
In the Lady Chapel can be found the Shrine of St. Werburgh. Click on the picture for more information.
The Shrine of St. Werburgh

The Shrine of St. Werburgh The Shrine of St. Werburgh

Pilgrimage

The 'Chester pilgrim' carved in the choir stalls.
The 'Chester pilgrim' carved in the choir stalls.

Why not try the Curiosities of Chester Page ?

Cathedral Cobweb Picture

Friends of Chester Cathedral


If you would like to become a Friend of Chester Cathedral please contact the Secretary:
Friends Secretary 12 Abbey Square Chester
CH1 2HU
01244 500958
friends@chestercathedral.com

Donations to Chester Cathedral


The Chester Cathedral Development Trust
http://www.justgiving.com/ccdt

Blogs

Chester Cathedral Curate's Corner

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