Any visitor to Chester should make sure that a visit to the Cathedral is high on their agenda. This marvellous building has so much to offer that’s special, extraordinary or simply unique!
The Cathedral began life in 1092 as a Benedictine abbey and was only raised to cathedral status in 1541 by King Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monastery. So what you see here today is probably one of the country’s finest examples of a monastic complex, with atmospheric cloisters, soaring Gothic arches and intricately carved Quire stalls with their monastic seats or ‘misericords’.These date from 1380 and were therefore already antique when Columbus set sail! In the Lady Chapel lies the fourteenth century shrine of St Werburgh, one of only seven surviving shrine bases in the country, while in the North Transept you can discover the small but famous Cobweb Picture. The southwest tower houses the unique Consistory Court which is the only surviving medieval ecclesiastical court in the country.
The Cathedral was restored in the nineteenth century and there is a whole wall of Victorian mosaics as well as the magnificent Cathedral organ. More modern works include the impressive West Window and the beautiful sculpture of the Madonna and Child by Harold Gosney. The tranquil and very beautiful Cloister Garden was replanted last year; here you can sit on one of the specially commissioned oak benches and enjoy the sound of water splashing over the ‘The Water of Life’ sculpture by Stephen Broadbent.
The Cathedral Shop offers a wide range of music, books, jewellery, gifts and souvenirs as well as a new fully illustrated guidebook.You can visit the splendid 13th Century Refectory Café, housing the world renowned ‘Creation Window’ of 2001, which was widely featured in the local and international press, including ‘Reader’s Digest.Here you can take morning coffee, a wholesome lunch, or afternoon tea and soak up the atmosphere where monks and kings have dined.
There are daily services in the Cathedral, and everyone is very welcome to attend; Choral Evensong in particular is a wonderful way to end a busy day. Listing to the singing of the choir in the cool stillness of the great church is a wonderfully restful way to end a hectic day’s sightseeing!
The Cathedral is open to visitors from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Saturday and from 1.00 to 4.00 pm on Sunday. For further information, including details of services and special events, please see our website www.chestercathedral.com
12 Abbey Square,
CH1 2 HU
Tel: 01244 500958