With 42 cathedrals, England certainly isn’t lacking in religious architecture. These well-constructed buildings aren’t just a beloved place of worship, they are also important pieces of history, documenting centuries of structural evolution.
What sets apart a cathedral from a church is its much larger size and the presence of a bishop, who usually resides on the cathedral premises. If you’re planning to explore the heritage of these ancient wonders, we take a look at three of the best, highly regarded for their cultural significance and beauty.
York Minster, York
A towering example of Gothic architecture, York Minster is the largest cathedral in England in terms of volume. With its ornate stone carvings, remarkable nave, and intricate medieval stained glass windows. It truly is a masterpiece.
Even today, the cathedral still retains its honorary ‘Minster’ title, serving as a prosperous church rooted in the daily offering of prayer and worship. With it being the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, it’s no surprise that York Minster sees thousands of visitors every year looking to see the spectacle for themselves.
The Minster is located in York’s city centre, meaning that it’s not far from the main train station. There are various trains to York station and several local buses that run from outside the station to Exhibition Square, which is close to the Minster. You can also walk to the cathedral from the station, which will take you between 10-20 minutes.
Westminster Abbey, London
Westminster Abbey holds a valued position in British culture, being synonymous with royal and national events. The venue has seen the likes of coronations, weddings, and funerals, with 17 monarchs being laid to rest here.
The Abbey is one of the most important Gothic buildings in England and is packed with a variety of statues, tablets, and inscriptions commemorating knights, musicians, writers, kings, and queens. Not all are buried in the Abbey but it is believed that 3,300 individuals are buried in the Church and Cloisters, including Charles Dickens and Chaucer.
The cathedral is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting London and is included in the London Pass. The highlights to explore include the Coronation Chair, The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and Poets’ Corner.
Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury
Standing as one of the oldest and most revered cathedrals in the entire country, Canterbury Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece. Primarily Gothic in its style, it has attracted religious pilgrims for centuries, mostly due to its baroque chapels, decorative glass windows, and impressive choir.
The cathedral gained historical significance following the murder of Thomas Becket, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury way back in 1170. The shrine of Becket became a focal point for medieval pilgrimages. The carvings in the ancient crypt are both intriguing and terrifying.
The cathedral’s serene gardens and tranquil cloisters add to the spiritual aura of the buildings, firmly establishing it as an unmissable attraction.