Carlisle Cathedral

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

There has been a church on this site since the end of the C11th, when the Normans imposed their rule on an unruly north. It became a cathedral in 1133 under the control of Augustinian canons. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the prior became the Dean of the cathedral.

Most of the building is constructed from the local red sandstone although the Norman church was built from a grey rock, giving the building a mottled appearance. It is quite difficult to photograph close to as tree in the close get in the way. The best views are from the castle keep. It is a long low building with a short square tower.

Little of the original Norman church survives, just the small nave with its round columns and the rounded arches in the crossing leading into the side aisles. The cathedral was badly damaged by fire in 1292. Parts of the choir were rebuilt in 1380 in the latest Gothic style. This was wider than the original choir as can be seen from the offset chancel arch.

It was just finished when the original Norman tower collapsed onto the north transept. The cracks can still be seen above the arches into the side aisles from the crossing and the decidedly wonky Norman arch.

Rebuilding the tower was completed by 1419. Further work was needed at the end of the C14th and beginning of the C15th. The choir stalls and barrel vaulted ceiling of the choir and presbytery date from then.

The cathedral was badly damaged by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War. Much of the nave, cloisters and surrounding buildings were pulled down and stone used to repair the city walls and castle. Only two bays of the nave are left, leaving it very short compared with the rest of the building. This is now the Regimental chapel.

There was further restoration work in the mid C19th when the choir and presbytery ceiling were painted and the Bishop’s throne installed.

There is some parking for disabled visitors in the Cathedral Close, otherwise there are pay and display car parks near by. The post code is CA3 8TZ and the grid reference is NY 399559. The cathedral is open daily from 7.30-6pm (5pm on Sundays). During the week there are volunteer guides and welcomers around to answer questions.

There is level wheelchair access into and around the cathedral. There is a lift to the Treasury exhibition. There are disabled toilets in the grounds. Access to the fratry and Priors Kitchen is via steps.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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