Six more English medieval cathedrals in context

  • Begins: Thursday 24 January 2019
    Until: Thursday 7 March 2019
    (11am-1pm (NB: No class on 21 February))
  • 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 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 2018 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. Three of them, Rochester, Worcester and York, are early Anglo-Saxon foundations, while Lincoln and Salisbury are post-Conquest creations, and Ely was only given cathedral status in 1109. Their origins, the communities they accommodated, and their specifically local traditions go some way towards explaining their very varied character, but there is much to suggest that their architectural particularity may have been valued in its own right.


  1. Rochester: The cathedral of England’s smallest diocese: architectural extravagance in miniature
  2. Worcester: Monasticism in the West Midlands; Anglo-Saxon memories and thirteenth-century reconstruction
  3. Lincoln: The cathedral on the hill – English vaulting comes of age
  4. Salisbury: The cathedral in the valley – architecture and episcopal reform
  5. Ely: The cathedral of the Fens – recovery from the 1321 tower collapse
  6. York: England’s second archbishopric – the Paris of the north
  7. Optional visit to Ely 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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