Detail of Carlisle Cathedral, Cumbria.


Another six english medieval cathedrals in context

  • Begins: Wednesday 22 January 2020
    Until: Wednesday 26 February 2020
  • Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP
  • Lecturer: John McNeill

Although the later conferment of cathedral status on medieval churches can easily obscure the fact, England’s medieval complement of cathedrals never grew to anything like the number initially envisaged by Pope Gregory the Great. Nonetheless the seventeen dioceses acknowledged as existing by the fifteenth century gave rise to one of the most remarkable groups of medieval ecclesiastical precincts to survive in Europe. This series of six lectures follows a similar short set of lectures in 2019 but is designed so that each lecture is self-sufficient and complete unto itself. It will examine six English medieval cathedrals, and do so from the perspective of their origin, location and architectural character. All but one of them, Carlisle, are Anglo-Saxon foundations, though Norwich, Chichester and Lichfield were the result of the relocation of ancient sees after the Conquest. Hereford and London occupy pretty much their pre-Conquest sites, but arguably present the greatest challenge to a medievalist, being largely, or completely, post-medieval. The origins of these six cathedrals, the communities they accommodated, and their specifically local traditions go some way towards explaining their very varied character, but there is much that suggests their architectural particularity may have been valued in its own right.


  1. Norwich: An itinerant diocese finds a home: the definitive statement of East Anglian Romanesque
  2. Chichester: A collegiate cathedral in the city: change and continuity on the south coast
  3. Carlisle: The latest of the medieval dioceses: England’s only Augustinian cathedral chapter
  4. Hereford: The Welsh Marches after the Conquest: West Country Romanesque
  5. Lichfield: The great cathedral of Mercia: Anglo-Saxon memories and thirteenth-century change
  6. London: The medieval cathedral that got away: just what do we know about Old St Paul’s?
  7. Thursday 5th March 2020: Optional visit to Salisbury Cathedral


John McNeill lectures for the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University and is a Vice-President of the London Art History Society for whom he has delivered numerous courses and led study tours and cathedral visits. He is the Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, for whom he has edited and contributed to volumes on English medieval cloisters, chantries and Romanesque material culture.

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