Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 82634 44916



SW8244NE HIGH CROSS 880-1/7/76 Truro Cathedral 29/12/50


Cathedral. 1880. By J L Pearson; eastern parts built before Pearson's death in 1897; nave, central tower and western towers were carried out to the original design by his son F L Pearson between 1895 and 1910; the early C16 south aisle of the former parish church of St Mary is incorporated as St Mary's Aisle. Exterior walls are of dressed granite from Mabe and Bath stone for details; interior has dressed granite from St Stephen, columns and arcades of Bath stone, decorations in serpentine from the Lizard and marble and other contrasting materials. Dry Delabole slate roofs with stone spires and turret roofs and copper spire over bell tower at west end of St Mary's Aisle. Plan has west narthex flanked by corner towers, 8-bay nave with aisles, and 2-storey south porch at west end of aisle; crossing tower and flanking 2-bay transepts, flat to south with square annexe to round baptistry adjoining to west; south transept porch adjoins east bell tower; St Mary's Aisle to south of ambulatory and 5-bay choir above crypt with one-bay east transepts and 2-bay sanctuary flanked by chapels. Early English style with spires of Normandy type and a strong emphasis on verticality. St Mary's Aisle, of 6 bays and Perpendicular style, has enriched panel carving to 2-tier plinth; crenellated parapet; quatrefoils to plinth and parapet and mouchettes to spandrels; canopied niches to corners of east gable which has 5-light Perpendicular window; each bay articulated by a pair of slender crocketed pinnacles framing niche with pedestal shaft for statue; each 4-light window is grouped into 2 paired Y-tracery windows set in basket arch, the second bay from east has a basket-arched doorway. C19 church has moulded capitals to engaged shafts of lancet and plate-tracery windows, offset buttresses with weathered tops and trefoil-headed frieze beneath parapet. East gable has wheel window set above trefoil frieze and 3 large lancets to 2 tiers, and is flanked by corner buttresses with open octagonal turrets; 2-light plate-tracery windows to sanctuary, above chapels with group of 4 linked lancets to north and south walls. Similar plate-tracery windows to side walls of east transepts which have lucarnes to corner buttresses crowned by octagonal turrets with pierced quatrefoils; wheel window and 4 linked lancets set in arch with shafts to south gable and wheel window above paired lancets to north gable. Similar 2-light plate-tracery windows to choir and nave; both have flying buttresses to aisles, those to nave having arcades of lancets separated by buttresses. Similar windows and octagonal turrets to main transepts, which are dominated to north and south by great rose windows, flat to north above arcade of lancets and flat to south above enriched portal with figure sculpture; bell tower has clasping corner buttresses, pyramidal roof and a pair of tall 2-light transomed windows to each face of belfry. Crossing tower of 2 stages above body of church, with 3 tall 2-light windows to each face, taller to second stage; pierced parapet with tiers of lancets to octagonal pinnacles and 2-light windows to lucarnes at base of spire. Baptistry with grouped lancets and quatrefoils to pierced parapet. Similar treatment to 4-stage west towers with spires which flank west front and have triple arcades of tall lancets to tall buttresses with spirelets; these flank west gable which has enriched detail and sculpture above great arch on 2 orders of shafts which frame recessed bay with rose window above arcade of 4 lancets and elaborate narthex with figure sculpture and engaged shafts to 2 portals. INTERIOR: richly detailed with vaulting and engaged shafts with capitals to rere arches throughout, the arcade piers having clustered shafts, moulded capitals and inner vaulting shafts continued to meet corbels on piers. Triforium has unusual design of 4 lancets and 2 quatrefoil circles under arch to each bay, the choir having additional quatrefoils and enriched dog-tooth carving; 2 double lancets with walkway to each bay of triforium, also with enriched carving to choir. Three rows of arcades on north side of choir to St Mary's Aisle, which has standard A-type (Pevsner) arcades and early C16 waggon roof with carved wall plates and ribs. Tower lantern has radiating vault on square plan. Baptistry has groined vault with clustered wall shafts and centre boss. Groined crypt with chamfered ribs beneath choir. Nave has sexpartite vaulting in French style (quadripartite to rest of church); walkways to freestanding wall arcades. Principal fittings include stone reredos by Pearson with tiers of canopied figure sculpture and a Majesty above a central Crucifixion surrounded by Old Testament scenes; wooden altar by Pearson with marble top and arcaded sides; sanctuary enclosed by stone side screens with richly-canopied Decorated-style sedilia also by Pearson; choir to west, enclosed by wrought-iron screens, has marble mosaic floor with ancient porphyry, teak Bishop's Throne with richly-carved canopy and flanking more simple chaplains' seats, and choir stalls canopied to rear also by Pearson; altar frontal chest of 1887; C16 poor box; reredos painting of Christ blessing Cornish industry in north aisle; large brass eagle lectern; pulpit by Pearson has upper tier enriched by figure sculpture set in ogee-headed canopied niches; red marble font with canopied cover to baptistry, which has similar marble floor to choir; west gallery set on 2 pointed arches with figure sculpture set in canopied niches to spandrels and trefoil-headed panelled parapet; C16 octagonal freestone font and C18 octagonal walnut and mahogany font. Principal monuments include 2 kneeling alabaster figures of c1620 in crypt; monument of 1614 to Richard Robartes and his wife have double columns to sides and small figures of Death and Father Time; brass to Edward White Benson, first Bishop of Truro 1877-1882; large canopied aedicule with 2 reclining effigies on shelves to Richard Robartes, d.1614; tablets in north transept to Vivian family; slate headstone to Owen Phippen, d.1636, with an account of his adventures in Turkey; monuments to Richard Hoblyn, d.1714, and Francis Burges, d.1684, and his wife Anne d.1688. Stained glass by Clayton and Bell except glass to south side of St Mary's aisle of the 1840s by Warrington. Cornwall was linked with Devon as part of the Exeter diocese from 1050 to 1876, when the Cornish see was revived. (The Creation Of A Cathedral: Fisher-Barham: Falmouth: 1980-; Metcalfe P: The Cathedrals of England: 1985-; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Cornwall: London: 1951-1970: 233-4).

Listing NGR: SW8263944915


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Fisher Barham, L, The Creation of a Cathedral, (1980)
Pevsner, N, Metcalfe, P, The Cathedrals of England: Midland, Eastern and Northern England, (1985)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Cornwall, (1951), 233-234
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, (1970), 233-234


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 01 May 2003
Reference: IOE01/10168/20
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John E. Crowe. Source Historic England Archive
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