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Pictures of Peterborough Cathedral

a Cathedral in the town of Peterborough, in the county of Cambridgeshire

About Peterborough Cathedral

The magnificent cathedral church in Peterborough was given cathedral status by Henry VIII in 1541. Formerly it had been one of the great Benedictine abbey churches, but the abbey was dissolved in Henry's dissolution. The site of the cathedral is historic, it was first consecrated in 655 when the King of Mercia founded a Benedictine monastery there. In turn this was sacked by the Danes in 870, destroyed by fire in 1116, with the present building being begun by the Abbot Jean de Seez in 1118.

It is the impressive West Front of the cathedral that is Peterborough's crowning achievement, a dramatic Gothic screen replaced the old Romanesque facade, this consists of three huge deeply recessed arches standing 81ft tall, of these the centre arch is noticeably narrower and contains the porch of 1370. The final dramatic effect is achieved by the two slender corner towers.

Much of the original Norman fabric of Peterborough is preserved inside, and the nave completed under Abbot Benedict late in the 12th century, is the supreme highlight of the cathedrals remaining Romanesque style. Here there is much use of the creamy-white Barnack stone produced in quarries owned by the monks. Careful restoration allows us to see the magnificent paintings decorating the high wooden roof, these date back to 1220.

It was the Civil War which brought the greatest damage to Peterborough Cathedral, Cromwell's soldiers desecrated the most beautiful parts of the cathedral including statutory, stained glass, the choir stalls and the high alter. Shortly after this, the Lady Chapel was destroyed and the cloisters demolished.

In Victorian times attention once again turned to beautifying the countries churches and few escaped the typical Victorian "make-over" indeed, some churches benefited from the hand of Sir George Gilbert-Scott and fortunately Peterborough Cathedral was one. It is Sir George who was responsible for the lavishly painted ceiling in the aspe, replacing the one destroyed in the Civil War.

Despite its lack of monastic buildings Peterborough Cathedral, set amidst glorious lawns is still impressive, it has an elaborate beauty and is pervaded by a magical atmosphere which allows you to drift back in time to when brown robed monks entered through the great doors, heads bent, voices raised to the glory of God. It is a glorious historical treasure chest with many ancient reminders of its long historic past.

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