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Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral is a magnificent sight as it rises majestically above the River Severn.
Worcester Cathedral embodies many features that are highly typical of an English medieval cathedral. Like the cathedrals of Salisbury and Lincoln, it has two transepts crossing the nave, rather than the single transept usual on the Continent. This feature of English Cathedrals was to facilitate the private saying of the Holy Office by many clergy or monks. Worcester is also typical of English cathedrals in having a chapter house and cloister. To the north side of the cathedral is an entrance porch, a feature designed to eliminate the draught which, prior to the installation of modern swing doors, would blow through cathedrals whenever the western doors were open.

Worcester Cathedral has important parts of the building dating from every century from the 11th to the 16th. Its tower in the Perpendicular style is described by Alec Clifton-Taylor as "exquisite"[1] and is seen best across the River Severn.[2]

The earliest part of the building at Worcester is the multi-columned Norman crypt with cushion capitals remaining from the original monastic church begun by bishop Saint Wulfstan of Worcester in 1084. Also from the Norman period is the circular chapter house of 1120, made octagonal on the outside when the walls were reinforced in the 14th century. The nave was built and rebuilt piecemeal and in different styles by several different architects over a period of 200 years, from 1170 to 1374, some bays being a unique and decorative transition between Norman and Gothic.[1][9] The oldest parts show alternate layers of green sandstone from Highley in Shropshire and yellow Cotswold limestone.[10]


The lady chapel and east window

The Norman crypt
The east end was rebuilt over the Norman crypt by Alexander Mason between 1224 and 1269, coinciding with, and in a very similar Early English style to Salisbury Cathedral. From 1360 John Clyve finished off the nave, built its vault, the west front, the north porch and the eastern range of the cloister. He also strengthened the Norman chapter house, added buttresses and changed its vault. His masterpiece is the central tower of 1374, originally supporting a timber, lead-covered spire, now gone. Between 1404 and 1432 an unknown architect added the north and south ranges to the cloister, which was eventually closed by the western range by John Chapman, 1435–38. The last important addition is Prince Arthur’s Chantry Chapel to the right of the south choir aisle, 1502–04.[1][9]

Worcester Cathedral was extensively restored from 1857 to 1874 by W. A. Perkins and Sir George Gilbert Scott. Most of the fittings and the stained glass date from this time. Some early 17th century screens and panelling, removed from the choir and organ casing in 1864, are now at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield.[11]
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