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The English Cathedrals  
 
There are forty-two dioceses remaining today in England, each with its own cathedral (see the list of English cathedrals).

The cathedrals of Britain

A diocese is the geographical area which falls under the administration of a bishop. Each diocese has a church where the bishop's throne or seat of office is located, this church is known as the cathedral.

The cathedral must not necessarily be the largest church in the diocese: Christ Church in Oxford is an example of a small cathedral. It is also not necessarily the grandest church: Westminster Abbey in London has today no bishop's throne and so, despite its grandeur and wealth of history, it is not a cathedral.

Twenty-six of the forty-two English cathedrals can be described as ancient in that the church building dates back to medieval times. Twenty-two of these twenty-six have had cathedral status since medieval times.



The establishment of the English cathedrals can be divided into three eras:

1. The ancient cathedrals.
Seventeen English cathedrals were established in medieval times. Beginning in 597 - when St Augustine set up a monastery at Canterbury - through until the foundation of the cathedral at Carlisle in 1133.


2. The cathedrals founded under Henry VIII.
For over 400 years no new cathedrals were founded in England until the reign of Henry VIII. Then in the 1540s, after the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry created six new dioceses at Gloucester, Oxford, Peterborough, Chester, Bristol and Westminster (cathedral status withdrawn 10 years later) where new cathedrals were then established.

3. The cathedrals founded in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Again time passed, this time nearly 300 years, until 1836 when a new diocese was created at Ripon in Yorkshire. Over the next century a further nineteen new dioceses together with their respective cathedrals were set up.

Many of these were as a response to the urbanisation of England, with new cathedrals being established in major cities where the population had increased so dramatically during the 19th century. The last cathedrals were established in 1927.




The following list shows the forty-two present-day English cathedrals and when they were founded.

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
Dioceses / cathedrals in England
from the
6-12th century
 
Dioceses / cathedrals in England
from the
16th century
 
Dioceses / cathedrals in England
from the
19-20th century
 
     
Year
bishop
apptd.
Diocese / Cathedral
Year
bishop
apptd.
Diocese / Cathedral
Year
bishop
apptd.
Diocese / Cathedral

 

597
 

1541

Gloucester (A)  

1836

Ripon (AC)  
                 
604
1541

Christ Church, Oxford (A)

1848

Manchester (P)

                 
604
1541

Peterborough (A)

1877

St Albans (AC)

                 
625
York (A)
1541
Chester (A)

1877

Truro (N)

                 
660
Winchester (A)
1542

1880

Liverpool (N)

                 
669
Lichfield (A)

1882

Newcastle (P)

           
676
Hereford (A)

1884

Southwell (AC)

           
680
Worcester (A)

1888

Wakefield (P)

           
909
Wells (A)

1905

Birmingham (P)

           
990
Durham (A)

1905

Southwark (AC)

           
1050
Exeter (A)

1914

Chelmsford (P)

           
1072
Lincoln (A)

1914

St Edmundsbury (P)

           
1075
Chichester (A)

1914

Sheffield (P)

           
1078
Salisbury (A)

 

1918

Coventry (N)

           
1091
Norwich (A)

 

1919

Bradford (P)

           
1109

Ely (A) | (Ely cathedral)

1926

Blackburn (P)

           
1133
Carlisle (A)

1927

Derby (P)

           
       
1927
Guildford (N)
     
       
1927
Leicester (P)
     
       
1927
Portsmouth (P)
     
           
 
Key
A Ancient cathedral The twenty-two cathedrals which have had cathedral status since medieval times.
AC Ancient church The four cathedrals which have not always had cathedral status, but since medieval times have been churches of importance.
N Newly built The four cathedrals which were newly built in recent times.
P Parish church The twelve cathedrals which were once the parish church and have attained cathedral status in recent times.
 


  The Welsh Cathedrals  
 

In Wales there are
six dioceses.

Four of the cathedrals that serve these dioceses were founded on sites where major monasteries have existed since the 6th century, with Celtic bishops being appointed long before St Augustine established a monastery at Canterbury in 597.

Bangor has been the site of a cathedral since c. 525, St Asaph (the smallest cathedral in England and Wales) was founded in 573, at St Davids a cathedral had been founded by 589, and at Llandaff records of Celtic bishops being appointed exist back to the middle of the 6th century.

During the 20th century two new dioceses were created in Wales. The diocese of Monmouth was established in 1921 and St Woolos attained full status as its cathedral in 1949. The diocese of Swansea and Brecon was established in 1923 when Brecon became its cathedral.
 


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