5 Stunning British cathedrals to visit
5 Stunning British cathedrals to visit
There is no shortage of impressive cathedrals in the U.K. from the beloved and regal Westminster Abbey in central London to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, spectacular houses of worship can easily be found throughout the country. Here are five favorites worth visiting.
Home to the Beatles and last year’s UEFA Champions League winner, Liverpool is also home to the fifth-largest cathedral in the world. Stretching just over 200-yards long, the Liverpool Cathedral is also the longest in the world. Surprisingly, this remarkable structure is rather new compared to its counterparts. Due to a labor shortage during both World Wars, as well as sustained damage from German bombing raids, it took 74 years to complete the cathedral. With an intricate high altar and beautiful stained glass windows, the building is comprised primarily of locally sourced sandstone. The cathedral is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with free admission. There is a small fee for audio and tower tours.
Set in the heart of the city of Salisbury, this grand church boasts the tallest spire in the U.K. Built in the mid-13th century, Salisbury Cathedral is home to one of the best-preserved copies of the Magna Carta. With only four original copies remaining, visitors can view the document first-hand. This cathedral is also one of the few in the country without a bell tower – it was demolished in 1790. The bells which ring belong to an original medieval clock. After exploring the long, narrow nave, be sure to stroll through the beautiful enclosed courtyard and garden. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, there is a small admission fee or recommended donation which includes a guided tour.
Originally founded in 673 as Ely Abbey, the current iteration of the cathedral took almost 300 years to complete. Work began in 1083 and through revision, demolition and rebuilding, it was completed in 1375. Located in the Fens countryside in East Anglia, Ely Cathedral is often called the “Ship of Fens,” as the village built itself around the church. The location may look a little familiar – it’s often used as a filming location double for Westminster Abbey, and was featured in “The King’s Speech” and “The Crown.” The imposing structure is home to the Stained Glass Museum, featuring antique glass collections dating back to the 13th century. As you walk through the nave, be sure to glance up at the ceiling. Ornate paintings adorn the 86-foot tall ceilings, which were painted by two local countrymen in the mid-1800s. The cathedral is open in the summer 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; and 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday during the winter. There is an entrance fee, with the option to purchase additional tours.
The medieval city of Canterbury provides the perfect backdrop and setting for one of the oldest churches in England. Making up one-third of the Canterbury UNESCO World Heritage Site (St. Augustine Abbey and St. Martin’s Church make up the remainder), Canterbury Cathedral was originally founded in 597 and was rebuilt to its architectural style between 1070 and 1077. In addition to intricate design, it also houses an impressive archive and library with original materials and historical artifacts from the 8th century to the present. Unfortunately, due to extensive renovation and repair work, it’s currently beneath quite a bit of scaffolding. The cathedral is open during the summer Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Winter hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is an admission fee for the cathedral and tours.
Dominating the skyline of York, this cathedral is one of the largest of its type in Northern Europe. The original church was built in 627, with the design of the current one completed in 1472. A devastating fire in 1984 caused part of the roof to collapse but was resurrected in 1988. A 10-year renovation project was recently finished in 2018. Magnificent stained glass windows with glass originating from Germany in the 1100s project muted colors throughout the church. An impressive choir screen holds the statues of 15 kings, from William the Conqueror to Henry VIII. York Minster is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:30 to 3 p.m. The entrance fee includes entry to the cathedral, museum and a guided tour. Visitors can opt to climb the central tower for an additional fee.
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