Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 

 
 

CHAPTER THREE
 

GOTHIC ART
 

ARCHITECTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

STAINED GLASS - Part 1, 2

PAINTING - Part 1, 2

 
 


ARCHITECTURE
 


England 



see also:
Architecture in England


 

ELY CATHEDRAL



Ely Cathedral. The West Tower (1174-97)
 

 


Ely Cathedral


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ely Cathedral (in full, The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely) is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. It is known locally as "the ship of the Fens", because of its prominent shape that towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape.



Ely Cathedral
 

History
Most of what is known about the early history of Ely comes from Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and above all from the Liber Eliensis, an anonymous chronicle written at Ely some time in the 12th century and covering the history of the Abbey and Cathedral from 673 until the mid-12th century.

Previous buildings
The first Christian building on the site was founded by St. Æthelthryth (romanised as "Etheldreda"), daughter of the Anglo-Saxon King Anna of East Anglia, who was born in 630 at Exning near Newmarket. She may have acquired land at Ely from her first husband Tondberht, described by Bede as a "prince" of the South Gyrwas. After the end of her second marriage to Ecgfrith, a prince of Northumbria, she set up and ruled a monastery at Ely in 673, and, when she died, a shrine was built there to her memory. The monastery is traditionally believed to have been destroyed in the Danish invasions of the late 9th century, together with what is now the city. However, while the lay settlement of the time would have been a minor one, it is likely that a church survived there until its refoundation in the 10th century.

A new Benedictine monastery was built and endowed on the site by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in 970, in a wave of monastic refoundations which locally included Peterborough and Ramsey. This became a cathedral in 1109, after a new Diocese of Ely was created out of land taken from the Diocese of Lincoln.

The present building
Overview and dimensions
The cathedral is built from stone quarried from Barnack in Northamptonshire (bought from Peterborough Abbey, whose lands included the quarries, for 8000 eels a year), with decorative elements carved from Purbeck Marble and local clunch. The plan of the building is cruciform (cross-shaped), with an additional transept at the western end. The total length is 537 feet (163.7 m), and the nave at over 75 m long (250 ft) remains the longest in Britain. The west tower is 66m high (215 ft). The unique Octagon 'Lantern Tower' is 23 m (74 ft) wide and is 52 m (170 ft) high. Internally, from the floor to the central roof boss the lantern is 43 m (142 ft) high.

Abbot Simeon's Cathedral
The present cathedral was started by Abbot Simeon (1082–1094, brother of Walkelin, the then bishop of Winchester) under William I in 1083. Building continued under Simeon's successor, Abbot Richard (1100–1107). The Anglo-Saxon church was demolished, but some of its relics, such as the remains of its benefactors, were moved to the cathedral. The main transepts were built early on, crossing the nave below a central tower, and are the oldest surviving part of the cathedral. Construction work continued throughout the 12th century. The Western transepts and tower were completed under Bishop Ridel (1174–89) in an exuberant Romanesque style with a rich decoration of intersecting arches and complex mouldings.

Early Gothic elements
A Galilee porch was added under Bishop Eustace (1198–1215) in the Early English Gothic style. It was originally a two-storey structure (it was opened up into a single vaulted space in the 18th century) where liturgical processions could gather before entering the nave. Several details of its decoration, particularly the 'syncopated arches' and the use of Purbeck marble shafts, reflect the influence of St Hugh's Choir at Lincoln Cathedral, built a few years earlier.

Under Bishop Northwold, work began on a new eastern end in 1234, replacing the short Norman chancel with a much grander 10-bay structure. Northwold's chancel, completed by around 1252, adopted several of the stylistic elements already used in the Galilee porch.

Later Gothic elements
In 1321, under the sacrist Alan of Walsingham work began on a massive (100' long by 46' wide) free-standing Lady Chapel, linked to the north transept and the north aisle of the chancel by covered walkways. This new structure was built in an exuberant 'Decorated' Gothic style. Around most of the wall surface are sedilia-like niches, flanked by pilasters of Purbeck marble and covered by sinuous ogee arches which project forward away from the wall (sometimes known as 'knodding ogees'). Most wall surfaces are covered with richly carved vegetal and diaper patterns which were originally brightly polychromed. An extensive sculpted Life of the Virgin cycle originally filled the spandrels between the niches but this was severely damaged by iconoclasts (either following the Dissolution of the Monasteries or by Puritans during the English Civil War - historians still disagree over which).

In February 1322, possibly as a result of instabilities caused by the digging of the foundations for the Lady Chapel, the great Norman crossing tower collapsed, injuring nobody but damaging the first four bays of Bishop Northwold's Early Gothic choir. These western bays of the liturgical choir were rebuilt in a more modern style. More noticeably, the old crossing tower was replaced by an innovative octagonal lantern. Although it is supported on eight massive masonry piers, the lantern itself is constructed from oak timbers and was designed by William Hurley, who later became Master Carpenter to the King at Westminster. Because the crossing was a key part of the liturgical choir, this rebuilding work took priority over other activities and the lantern was largely complete by 1340. The windows on the sides of the upper octagon are a particularly successful way of lighting the centre of the cathedral. The angels painted below the windows are however purely Victorian inventions, a product of the restoration under Thomas Gambier Parry in 1874. When built, the Octagon was the largest crossing span in northern Europe and remains Ely Cathedral's most distinctive feature, visible from miles around across the Fens.

Dating from the early 16th century is a set of 44 misericords.

Later history
In 1539, during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the cathedral suffered only minor damage, but St Etheldreda's shrine was destroyed. The cathedral was soon refounded in 1541, although many of the statues in the lady chapel were severely damaged.

The Bishop of Ely in the mid 17th century was Matthew Wren and in connection with this, his nephew Christopher Wren was responsible for a rather splendid Gothic door, dating from the 1650s, on the north face of the cathedral.
 

 



Ely Cathedral. Interior
Ely Cathedral. Plan




WELLS CATHEDRAL



Wells Cathedral (1225—1240)




Wells Cathedral.
The west front, completed c. 1250, has about 300 medieval statues;
many of the figures, and their niches, were originally painted and gilded
 

 


Wells Cathedral

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Wells Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral in Wells, Somerset, England. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who lives at the adjacent Bishop's Palace.

Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”. Much of the structure is in the Early English style and is greatly enriched by the deeply sculptural nature of the mouldings and the vitality of the carved capitals in a foliate style known as “stiff leaf”. The eastern end has retained much original glass, which is rare in England. The exterior has a splendid Early English façade and a large central tower.

The first church was established on the site in 705. Construction of the present building began in the 10th century and was largely complete at the time of its dedication in 1239. It has undergone several expansions and renovations since then and has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

Peter Price is the current Bishop of Bath and Wells having been appointed in 2001; and John Clarke took over as Dean in September 2004 after previously being principal of Ripon Theological College at Cuddesdon, Oxford.


Wells Cathedral
 

History

Early years
There is archaeological evidence of a late Roman mausoleum on the site.

The first church was established here in 705 by King Ine of Wessex, at the urging of Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, in whose diocese it lay. It was dedicated to Saint Andrew. The only remains of this first church are some excavated foundations which can be seen in the cloisters. The baptismal font in the south transept is the oldest surviving part of the cathedral which is dated to c.700 AD.

Two centuries later, the seat of the diocese was shifted to Wells from Sherborne. The first Bishop of Wells was Athelm (circa 909), who crowned King Athelstan. Athelm and his nephew Saint Dunstan both became Archbishops of Canterbury. It was also around this time that Wells Cathedral School was founded.

Present structure
The present structure was begun under the direction of Bishop Reginald de Bohun, who died in 1184. Wells Cathedral dates primarily from the late 12th century and early 13th century; the nave and transept are masterpieces of the Early English style of architecture. It was largely complete at the time of its dedication in 1239.

The bishop responsible for the construction was Jocelyn of Wells, a brother of Bishop Hugh II of Lincoln, and one of the bishops at the signing of Magna Carta. Jocelyn's building campaigns also included the Bishop's Palace, a choristers' school, a grammar school, hospital for travellers and a chapel. He also built a manor at Wookey, near Wells. The master mason designer associated with Jocelyn was Elias of Dereham (died 1246). Jocelyn lived to see the church dedicated, but despite much lobbying of Rome, died before cathedral status was granted in 1245. He died on November 19, 1242, at Wells and was buried in the choir of Wells Cathedral. He may have been the father of Nicholas of Wells. The memorial brass on his tomb is supposedly one of the earliest brasses in England. Masons continued with the enrichment of the West Front until about 1260.

King John was excommunicated between 1209 and 1213. During this time, work on the cathedral was suspended. In this period, building technology advanced so that bigger blocks of masonry could be moved and incorporated into the walls. The effect of this technological advance can be seen on the walls of the cathedral; at a particular point in the building's walls, the blocks of stone can be seen to increase in size.

By the time the building was finished, including the Chapter House (1306), it already seemed too small for the developing liturgy, in particular the increasingly grand processions. A new spate of expansive building was therefore initiated with Bishop John Drokensford starting the proceedings by heightening of the central tower and beginning a dramatic eight-sided Lady chapel at the far east end, finished by 1326. Thomas of Whitney was the master mason.

Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury followed, continuing the eastward extension of the quire, and the retro-quire beyond with its forest of pillars. He also built Vicars' Close and the Vicars' Hall, to give the men of the choir a secure place to live and dine, away from the town with all its temptations. He enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the citizens of Wells, partly because of his imposition of taxes, and felt the need to surround his palace with crenellated walls and a moat and drawbridge.

The appointment of William Wynford as master mason in 1365 marked another period of activity. He was one of the foremost architects of his time and, apart from Wells, was engaged in work for the king at Windsor and at New College, Oxford and Winchester Cathedral. Under Bishop John Harewell, who raised money for the project, he built the south-west tower of the West Front and designed the north west, which was built to match in the early 15th century. Inside the building he filled in the early English lancet windows with delicate tracery.

In the 14th century, the central piers of the crossing were found to be sinking under the weight of the crossing tower, so the "scissor arches" (inverted strainer arches that are such a striking feature) were inserted to brace and stabilize the piers as a unit.

Tudors and civil war
By the reign of Henry VII the cathedral building was complete, with an appearance much as today. Following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1541 the income of the cathedral was reduced; as a result medieval brasses were sold off, and a pulpit was placed in the nave for the first time. Between 1551 and 1568, in two periods as Dean, William Turner established a Herbal garden, which has been recreated between 2003 and 2010.

Elizabeth I gave both the Chapter and the Vicars Choral a new charter in 1591 which created a new governing body, consisting of the dean and eight residentiary canons. This body had control over the estates of the church as well as complete authority over its affairs, but removed its right to elect its own dean.

The stability which the new charter brought came to an end with the onset of the civil war and the execution of Charles I. Local fighting led to damage to the fabric of the cathedral including stonework, furniture and windows. The dean at this time was Dr. Walter Raleigh, a nephew of the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh. He was imprisoned after the fall of Bridgwater to the Parliamentarians in 1645, brought back to Wells and confined in the deanery. His jailer was the local shoe maker and city constable, David Barrett, who caught him writing a letter to his wife. When he refused to surrender it, Mr Barrett ran him through with a sword, from which he died six weeks later, on 10 October 1646 and he was buried in the choir before the dean's stall. No inscription marks his grave.

During the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell no dean was appointed and the building fell into disrepair. The bishop was in retirement and some clergy were reduced to performing menial tasks or begging on the streets.

1660-1800
In 1661 when Charles II was restored to the throne, Robert Creyghtone, who had served as the king's chaplain in exile, was appointed as the dean and later served as the bishop for two years before his death in 1672. His magnificent brass lectern, given in thanksgiving, can still be seen in the cathedral. He donated the great west window of the nave at a cost of £140.

Following Creyghtone's appointment as Bishop Ralph Bathurst, who had been president of Trinity College, Oxford, chaplain to the king, fellow of the Royal Society, took over as the dean. During his long tenure restoration of the fabric of the cathedral took place. During the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, puritan soldiers damaged the West front, tore lead from the roof to make bullets, broke the windows, smashed the organ and the furnishings, and for a time stabled their horses in the nave. The work of restoration had to start all over again under Bishop Thomas Ken who was appointed in that year and served until 1691. He was one of seven bishops imprisoned for refusing to sign King James II's "Declaration of Indulgence", which would have enabled Catholics to resume positions of political power, but popular support led to his acquittal. He later refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary because James II had not formally abdicated. Thomas Ken and others (known as the Non-Jurors; the older meaning of "juror" is "one who takes an oath", hence "perjurer" as "one who swears falsely") refused and were put out of office. He was forced to retire to Frome.

Bishop Kidder who succeeded him was killed during the Great Storm of 1703, when two chimney stacks in the palace fell on the bishop and his wife, asleep in bed. This same storm wrecked the Eddystone lighthouse and blew in part of the great west window in Wells.

Victorian era and restoration
In the middle of the 19th century, a major restoration programme was needed. Under Dean Goodenough the monuments were removed to the cloisters and remaining medieval paint and whitewash was removed in an operation known as 'the great scrape'. Anthony Salvin, took charge of the extensive restoration of the quire. The wooden galleries were removed and new stalls with stone canopies were placed further back within the line of the arches. The stone screen was pushed outwards in the centre to support a new organ. Since then a rolling programme of improvement to the fabric has been continued.
The cathedral hosted the funeral of Harry Patch, the last British Army veteran of the First World War, who died in July 2009 at the age of 111.

Original records
Three early registers of the dean and chapter of Wells - the Liber Albus I (White Book; R I), Liber Albus II (R III), and Liber Ruber (Red Book; R II, section i) - were edited by W. H. B. Bird for the Historical Manuscripts Commissioners and published in 1907. These three books comprise, with some repetition, a cartulary of possessions of the cathedral, with grants of land dating back as early as the 8th century, well before the development of hereditary surnames in England; acts of the dean and chapter; and surveys of their estates, mostly in Somerset.

Architecture
The interior of the cathedral is based on three aisles, with stress being placed on horizontal, rather than vertical lines. A unique feature in the crossing are the double pointed inverted arches, known as owl-eyed strainer arches. This unorthodox solution was found by the cathedral mason, William Joy in 1338, to stop the central tower from collapsing when another stage and spire were added to the tower which had been begun in the 13th century. The capitals in the south west arm of the transept include depictions such as a bald-headed man, a man with toothache, a thorn-extractor, and a moral tale: fruit thieves being caught and punished.

The west façade, is 100 feet (30 m) high and 150 feet (46 m) wide with niches for more than 500 medieval figure sculptures of which 300 survive. Between 1975 and 1986 the west front underwent a major cleaning and restoration programme, including Silane coating and Lime treatment for many of the statues.

The West front is composed of a yellow stone, inferior oolite, of the middle Jurassic period which came from the Doulting Stone Quarry about 8 miles (13 km) to the East.

Stained glass
Wells Cathedral contains one of the most substantial collections of medieval stained glass in England.

Many of the windows were damaged by soldiers in 1642 and 1643. The oldest surviving are two windows on the west side of the Chapter House staircase date from 1280–90, and two windows in the south choir aisle which are from 1310–1320. The Lady Chapel range is from 1325–1330, and includes images of local saint Dunstan, however the east window underwent extensive repairs by Thomas Willement in 1845. The choir east window is a fine Jesse Tree, which includes significant silver stain, and is flanked by two windows each side in the clerestory, with large figures of saints, all of which are from 1340–1345. The 1520 panels in the chapel of St Katherine are attributed to Arnold of Nijmegen and were acquired from the destroyed church of Saint-Jean, Rouen, the last panel was bought in 1953. The large triple lancet to the nave west end was glazed at the expense of Dean Creyghton at a cost of £140 in 1664 and repaired in 1813. The central light was largely replaced to a design by Archibald Keightley Nicholson between 1925–1931. The main north and south transept end windows are by Powell, and were erected in the early 20th century.

Fittings and monuments
The cathedral contains architectural features and fittings some dating back hundreds of years, and tombs and monuments to bishops and noblemen.

The brass lectern in the Lady Chapel is from 1661 and has a moulded stand and foliate crest. In the north transept chapel is a 17th century oak screen with columns, formerly part of cow stalls, with artisan Ionic capitals and cornice, which is set forward over chest tomb of John Godelee. There is a bound oak chest from the 14th century which would have been used to store the Chapter Seal and key documents. The Bishop's Throne dates from 1340, and has a panelled, canted front and stone doorway, and a deep nodding cusped ogee canopy over it, with 3 stepped statue niches and pinnacles. The throne was restored by Anthony Salvin around 1850. Opposite the throne is a 19th century pulpit, which is octagonal on a coved base with panelled sides, and steps up from the north aisle. The round font in the south transept is from the former Saxon cathedral, it has an arcade of round-headed arches, on a round plinth and a cover made in 1635 cover with heads of putti round sides. The Chapel of St Martin is a memorial to every Somerset man who fell in World War I.
 

 



The ceiling of Wells Cathedral.
Wells Cathedral. Plan, showing the four massive piers of the crossing (centre),
the octagonal chapter house (top) and the extended east end (right)





PETERBOROUGH CATHEDRAL



Peterborough Cathedral. West Front (facade)



Peterborough Cathedral
 

 


Peterborough Cathedral


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Peterborough Cathedral, properly the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – also known as Saint Peter's Cathedral – the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough, England, and is dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the three high gables of the famous West Front. Founded in the Anglo-Saxon period, the architecture is mainly Norman, following a rebuilding in the 12th century. With Durham and Ely Cathedrals, it is one of the most important 12th century buildings in England to have remained largely intact, despite extensions and restoration.

Peterborough Cathedral is known for its imposing Early English Gothic West Front (façade) which, with its three enormous arches, is without architectural precedent and with no direct successor. The appearance is slightly asymmetrical, as one of the two towers that rise from behind the façade was never completed, but this is only visible from a distance, while the effect of the West Front upon entering the Cathedral Close is overwhelming.


Peterborough Cathedral



History
Anglo-Saxon origins
The original church, known simply as "Medeshamstede", was founded in the reign of the Anglo-Saxon King Peada of the Middle Angles in about 655 AD, as one of the first centres of Christianity in central England. The monastic settlement with which the church was associated lasted at least until 870, when it was supposedly destroyed by Vikings.

In the mid 10th century monastic revival (in which churches at Ely and Ramsey were also refounded) a Benedictine Abbey was created and endowed in 966, principally by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester, from what remained of the earlier church, with "a basilica [church] there furbished with suitable structures of halls, and enriched with surrounding lands" and more extensive buildings which saw the aisle built out to the west with a second tower added. The original central tower was, however, retained. It was dedicated to St Peter, and came to be called a burgh, hence the town surrounding the abbey was eventually named Peter-burgh. The community was further revived in 972 by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury.

This newer church had as its major focal point a substantial western tower with a "Rhenish Helm" and was largely constructed of ashlar. Only a small section of the foundations of the Saxon church remain beneath the south transept but there are several significant artefacts, including Saxon carvings such as the 'Hedda Stone', from the earlier building.

In 2008, Anglo-Saxon grave markers were reported to have been found by workmen repairing a wall in the cathedral precincts. The grave markers are said to date to the 11th century, and probably belonged to "townsfolk".

Norman and medieval architectural evolution
Although damaged during the struggle between the Norman invaders and local folk-hero, Hereward the Wake, it was repaired and continued to thrive until destroyed by an accidental fire in 1116. This event necessitated the building of a new church in the Norman style, begun by Abbot John de Sais on 8 March 1118 (Old Style). By 1193 the building was completed to the western end of the Nave, including the central tower and the decorated wooden ceiling of the nave. The ceiling, completed between 1230 and 1250, still survives. It is unique in Britain and one of only four such ceilings in the whole of Europe It has been over-painted twice, once in 1745, then in 1834, but still retains the character and style of the original. (The painted nave ceiling of Ely Cathedral, by contrast, is entirely a Victorian creation.)

The church was largely built of Barnack limestone from quarries on its own land, and it was paid annually for access to these quarries by the builders of Ely Cathedral and Ramsey Abbey in thousands of eels (eg 4,000 each year for Ramsey). Cathedral historians believe that part of the placing of the church in the location it is in is due to the easy ability to transfer quarried stones by river and then to the existing site allowing it to grow without being relocated.

Then, after completing the Western transept and adding the Great West Front Portico in 1237, the medieval masons switched over to the new Gothic style. Apart from changes to the windows, the insertion of a porch to support the free-standing pillars of the portico and the addition of a ‘new’ building at the east end around the beginning of the 16th century, the structure of the building remains essentially as it was on completion almost 800 years ago. The completed building was consecrated in 1238 by Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, within whose diocese it then fell.

The Great West Front, the defining image of Peterborough Cathedral, is unrivalled in medieval architecture due to the trio of arches it displays. The cluster of spires behind it, including what is an unprecedented four towers, evolved through more practical reasons. This was caused by the retaining of the earlier Norman front towers which, when the gothic front was added, became obsolete. Rather than demolish them and rebuild new stretches of the wall where these older towers stood, they were retained and had cornices and other gothic decor added whilst another two towers were then built in front of them to create a continuous frontage.

The Norman tower was rebuilt in the Decorated Gothic style in about 1350-1380 (its main beams and roof bosses survive) with two tiers of Romanesque windows combined into a single set of Gothic windows, with the turreted cap and pinnacles removed and replaced by battlements. Between 1496 and 1508 the Presbytery roof was replaced and the 'New Building', a rectangular building built around the end of the Norman eastern apse, with Perpendicular fan vaulting (probably designed by John Wastell, the architect of King's College Chapel, Cambridge and the Bell Harry Tower at Canterbury Cathedral), was added.

Monastic life
From the mid-12th century monk, Hugh Candidus, we have a detailed record of the contents of the Abbey's reliquaries , which included two pieces of swaddling clothes which wrapped the baby Jesus, pieces of Jesus' manger, a part of the five loaves which fed the 5,000, a piece of the raiment of St Mary, a piece of Aaron's rod, and relics of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew - to whom the church is dedicated.

Most famous, however, was the supposed arm of St Oswald, which disappeared from its chapel, probably during the Reformation, despite a watch-tower having been built for monks to guard its reliquary), and various contact relics of Thomas Becket, brought from Canterbury in a special reliquary by its Prior Benedict (who had witnessed Becket's assassination) when he was 'promoted' to Abbot of Peterborough.

All of these created an aura of great importance around what is today Peterborough Cathedral, making it at the zenith of its wealth just before the Reformation the sixth largest monastery in England in terms of income with 120 monks at it and departments including an Almoner, an Infirmarian, a Sacristan and a Cellarer.

Tudor
In 1541, following Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the relics were lost but the church survived by not being sold off and instead being selected as the cathedral of the new Diocese of Peterborough. This may have been related to the fact that Henry's former queen, Katherine of Aragon, had been buried there in 1536. Her grave can still be seen and is nowadays honoured by visitors and often decorated with flowers and pomegranates (her symbol). It carries the legend "Katharine Queen of England", a title she was denied at the time of her death.

In 1587, the body of Mary, Queen of Scots, was also buried here after her execution at nearby Fotheringhay Castle, but it was later removed to Westminster Abbey on the orders of her son, King James I of England.

Civil War to present
The cathedral was vandalised during the English Civil War in 1643 by Parliamentarian troops. As was common at the time, almost all the stained glass and the medieval choir stalls were destroyed, and the high altar and reredos were demolished, as were the cloisters and Lady Chapel. All the monuments and memorials of the Cathedral were also damaged or destroyed.

Some of the damage was repaired during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1883, extensive restoration work began, with the interior pillars, the choir and the west front being completely rebuilt under the supervision of John Loughborough Pearson, and new hand-carved choir stalls, cathedra (bishop's throne), choir pulpit and the marble pavement and high altar being added. A stepped level of battlements was removed from the central tower, reducing its height slightly.

In the early evening of 22 November 2001 the cathedral was hit by a fire started deliberately amongst plastic chairs stored in the North Choir Aisle. Fortunately the fire was spotted by one of the vergers allowing a swift response by emergency services. The timing was particularly unfortunate as a complete restoration of the painted wooden ceiling was nearing completion. The oily smoke given off by the plastic chairs was particularly damaging, coating much of the building with a sticky black layer. The seat of the fire was close to the organ and the combination of direct damage from the fire, and the water used to extinguish necessitated a full-scale rebuild of the instrument, putting it out of action for several years.

An extensive programme of repairs to the west front began in July 2006 and will cost in excess of half a million pounds. This work is concentrated around the statues located in niches which have been so badly affected by years of pollution and weathering that, in some cases, they have only stayed intact thanks to iron bars inserted through them from the head to the body.
 

 




Peterborough Cathedral. The nave. The hanging crucifix or rood designed by George Pace in 1975, the figure of Christ is by Frank Roper.
Peterborough Cathedral. Plan

 
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy