Durham Cathedral: Stunning Romanesque architecture in northern England

Landscape view of Durham Cathedral

Entrance Arch.

This evening, I am focusing on Durham Cathedral in northern England, part of the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church.

The city of Durham has a population of  65,500  and is about twenty miles south of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The cathedral represents a stunning piece of architecture, in the top rank of church architecture in Europe. Unfortunately, photography of the interior is heavily restricted.
  • Founded by Bishop Carileph (1081-1096).
  • Constructed over a period of just 40 years. Apart from matters spiritual it was probably intended as a statement of Norman power and prestige following the 1066 invasion.
  • Most of the Cathedral is built in the Norman or Romanesque style. The Chapel of the  Nine Altars was completed in the Gothic style between 1242 and 1280.
  • The Nave, Quire and transepts were built between 1093 and 1133. To this structure was added:
    • The Galilee Chapel in 1175
    • The two western towers between 1217 and 1226.
  • Until 1539 the Cathedral was also the church of the Benedictine Monastery.
  • The clarity and quality of the interior chevrons and carvings combined with the rose window at the eastern end of the interior are awe-inspiring.
  • From an engineering perspective, the nave displays how the medieval masons produced a ground breaking solution to the challenge of erecting a stone vault across such a huge space. A combination of pointed arches and diagonal ribs enabled the nave to be constructed entirely of stone.
  • Inside there are two important burials:
    • St Cuthbert’s Shrine. This saint died in 687 after a life on Holy Island (Lindisfarne). The body was brought to Durham in AD 995 and deposited in an Anglo-Saxon church.
    • Tomb of the Venerable Bede. Bede is famous for authoring The History of the English Church and People. He died in 735 AD with his bones brought to Durham in 1022 AD.
Spiritual matters apart, this building this building is a wonderful manifestation of English heritage combining architecture, design, power and important relics.

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
Interior of Durham Cathedral


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