Keys to the Past

Durham Cathedral (Durham City)

The present largely, Romanesque cathedral was begun by Bishop.Calais and replaced the Anglo-Saxon Cathedral church. Bishop Walcher (1071-1080) began the change from a church to a monastery, and some of the work in the east and south ranges of the buildings surrounding the cloister are possibly of this time. Walcher's work may have joined directly onto the south side of the Anglo-Saxon Bishop Aldhun's church which possibly stood a little to the south of the present building. The Benedictine Priory of St. Cuthbert at Durham was founded by Bishop William de St. Calais in 1083, and the building of the church as it stands today was begun in 1093. Bishop Flambard (1099-1128) continued the work on the church and by 1133 it was complete except for the upper storeys of the west towers. Bishop Rufus (1133-40) found the church and monastic buildings largely complete, but finished the building of the Chapter House. Bishop Pudsey (1153-95) built the Galilee Chapel at the west end c.1175, and Bishop Marisco (1217-1226) probably completed the west towers. The Chapel of the nine Altars was commenced in 1242 but not completed until 1280. The cloister was begun in about 1390 and finished in 1418, and the kitchen built 1365-70. The dormitory on the west side of the cloisters is the work of Bishop Skirlaw (1388-1406). The central tower was rebuilt c.1470. Thomas Castell, Prior 1494-1519, repaired the east gates of the Abbey and added a stone chapel dedicated to St. Helen. The monastery at Durham was abolished in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Reference number:D1255
Legal status:World Heritage Site
  • National Heritage List for England Entry Number: 1000089

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Durham City


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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.