Cathedrals in England and Wales – History Jar quiz 4 answers

Detail from exterior of Lincoln Cathedral

Time for answers – how did you do and how many have you visited?

Old Foundation Cathedrals: These cathedrals were ‘secular’ foundations dating from before the Reformation. This simply means that their chapters weren’t made up from monks in a closed order – their chapters were always run by canons who were of the world rather than being enclosed. Essentially the lack of monastic involvement meant that these cathedrals were unaffected by the dissolution of the monasteries.

In England: Chichester, Exeter, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, London (St Paul’s), Salisbury, Wells and York.

In Wales: Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph, and St David’s.

New Foundation Cathedrals: These cathedrals either functioned as public places of worship with monastic chapters in the medieval period or were abbeys. The Reformation was not good news for their monastic inhabitants. Cromwell reorganised the dioceses and church administration of England and Wales. New non-monastic constitutions were applied. For instance, St Mary’s Abbey church in Carlisle became the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Many cathedrals were re-founded during the reign of Henry VIII often with the last abbot or prior becoming the dean of the new chapter.

In England: Canterbury, Carlisle, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Rochester, Winchester and Worcester had already existed prior to the reformation as cathedrals. In addition, Henry created new bishoprics and cathedrals from Bristol (the Holy and Undivided Trinity), Chester, Gloucester, Oxford and Peterborough.

Modern Foundation Cathedrals or Parish Church Cathedrals: from the mid 1800s (the first dates from 1836) a number of new cathedrals have been established which reflect the changing population of England and Wales. They include cathedrals based upon former parish churches, to meet the needs of new dioceses.

In England: Blackburn, Birmingham, Bradford, Chelmsford, Coventry, Derby, Guildford, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Ripon, St Albans St Edmundsbury, Sheffield, Southwark, Southwell, Truro, Wakefield

IN Wales: Brecon, Newport

Cannon, Jon. (2007) Cathedral: The Great English Cathedrals. London: Constable.

Jenkins, Simon. (2016) England’s Cathedrals. London: Little Brown

Pepin, David. (2004) 7th ed. Discovering Cathedrals. Princess Risborough: Shire Publications

History Jar history challenge 4 – cathedrals in England and Wales

Constructing the Tower of Babel German, Regensburg, about 1400–1410 
Tempera colors on parchment MS. 33, FOL. 13 – showing the skills needed to build a medieval cathedral

There are actually 18 cities in England and Wales without an Anglican cathedral which comes as a bit of a surprise as I learned at school that in order to be a city then a cathedral was required. Equally there thirteen towns with Anglican Cathedrals that do not have city status – just goes to prove that the stuff you learn as a child isn’t necessarily correct…

Your challenge for week 4 is to name as many cathedrals in England and Wales as you can – location rather than which saint is involved – though if you can think of location and exact name please do so!

A cathedral is, of course, the main church in a diocese – or administrative area under the pastoral care of it’s bishop. It is where the bishop has his or her cathedra or throne.

There are three groups of cathedrals. Many cathedrals were once part of a monastic foundation. When Henry VIII closed them down in the 1530s many were re-founded as cathedrals which means that quite often the last prior or abbot of an abbey became a cathedral’s first dean. This kind of cathedral is a New Foundation Cathedral whereas Old Foundation cathedrals were never part of the monastic scene – they were run by secular canons i.e. they were part of the wider world and they were in place before the Reformation. There are nine Old Foundation Cathedrals in England and Wales. The third group are Modern Foundations which were created in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. A cathedral in this group is sometimes called a parish church cathedral. The modern foundations reflect the way in which populations changed due to industrialisation and urbanisation.