Medieval Cathedrals

Medieval Cathedrals

Cathedrals were seen as a crucial part of Medieval England, providing a constant reminder to towns, cities and surrounding villages of their dedication to God.

The heavily significance placed on religion during the medieval period meant these holy buildings were considered incredibly important, and so they were treated with the utmost respect from design to construction.

The Roman Catholic Church would put by a great deal of money to create each cathedral, which would be designed and built by only the finest master masons. Each of these masons and their respective apprentices and labourers would also be incredibly grateful to work on the cathedral, as it was believed it would aid their chances of avoiding Hell. The church also assured workers that they would go straight to Heaven should they die on site before the project was complete.

York Cathedral - Author: Dudva
York Cathedral - Author: Dudva

The construction and design of medieval cathedrals was largely dictated by the knowledge and engineering capabilities of the time - while Norman cathedrals were smaller due to their unstable construction techniques, later cathedrals were able to take greater height and weight.

Of course, the greater the cathedrals were, the longer they took to construct. Some of these projects lasted for generations, with sons or apprentices taking over from the master masons as they passed away. Salisbury Cathedral, for which work began in 1220, is thought to be one of the fastest built, and was completed within 50 years.

Although many medieval cathedrals have been renovated and rebuilt over the centuries, there are still many still standing across England. These include:

  • Durham Cathedral: Dating back to 1093
  • Canterbury Cathedral: Founded in 597 but built as we know it today in 1070
  • Christ Church Cathedral: Built between 1160 and 1200
  • Winchester Cathedral: Demolished in 1066 and rebuilt in 1093
  • Salisbury Cathedral: Constructed from 1220
  • York Minster: Dating back to 1080
  • Hereford Cathedral: Destroyed in 1055 but rebuilt from 1066
  • Lincoln Cathedral: Dating back to 1072

See also: 

Building a Medieval Cathedral 

Cantebury Cathedral

MLA Citation/Reference

"Medieval Cathedrals". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.