Chester Cathedral

1128 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

Chester Cathedral is a large cruciform building. The nave was the last area to be rebuilt and is a good example of Gothic architecture. Fluted pillars with a narrow band of carving and pointed arches form arcades with the plain glass clerestory windows above. Unlike many cathedrals there are no triforium passageways.

The impression is of empty space as there is no seating set out in the nave. The only place to sit is on the stone bench along the bottom of the walls which was provided for the old and infirm of the medieval church. When I visited there was an Art Exhibition of modern sculpture throughout the church.

The mosaics on the north wall are C19th and are the work of John Clayton. They are made from different shades of marble and are one of the largest examples of Pre-Raphaelite work in and English Cathedral. They represent the four great Old Testament prophets; Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah.

The west window is modern, dating from 1961 as the Victorian stained glass window was blown out during the Second World War. It glows with blues and purples. In the centre are the Holy family with Werburgh, Oswald, Aidan on the left and Chad, Wilfred and Ethelfleda on the right. Along the bottom are scenes from the lives of the saints, apart from the Virgin and Child where there is an image of Adam and Eve. At the top, the three red rings on a yellow background represent the Trinity.

The Baptistry is at the back of the church beneath the remains of the north west tower. This is one of the oldest parts of the church with round Norman arches. It was turned into a Baptistry as part of the C19th restoration. The square font is Italian and was given to the church by Earl Egerton of Tatton Park. He believed it was from a C7th BC Etruscan well head. It is now thought to be a C19th reproduction. The two peacocks on the side of Chi-Rho symbol on the side of bowl are an early Christian symbol of new and eternal life given at baptism.

The sandstone floor was replaced twenty years ago and underfloor heating was installed. The old cast iron stoves which previously were the only source of heat, have been left in the nave as a reminder of what it was like before modern heating.

The roof is wood with gilded bosses, which were regilded twenty years ago and glow golden. A temporary wooden roof was built after the Monastery was dissolved and before the church became a cathedral. It was replaced by a new wood roof during the C19th restoration work as it was felt the medieval walls might not support the weight of a new stone vaulting. The side aisles do have stone vaulted roofs.

The simple nave altar is under the crossing, with the organ above it on the north wall. A lovely C19th wood screen separates nave and choir. In the centre is Christ Crucified flanked by the Virgin and St John. This is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott and designed to harmonise with the C14th quire stalls.

These are one of the glories of the church with their tall pointed canopies, misericords and carved pew ends. Many of these depict mythical animals taken from The Bestiary.

The high altar dates from the C19th restoration and has a stunning mosaic reredos. This is the work of Clayton and Bell and was made by sandwiching a layer of gold between two layers of glass. It features the Last Supper with Judas Iscariot being shown without a halo.

The beautiful painted ceiling in the quire and chancel ceiling is again part of the C19th restoration and the work of Clayton and Bell.

There are more pictures “here.”:


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.