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Statutory Address:

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

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 40600 66446



SJ4066SE ST WERBURGH STREET 595-1/4/356 (North side (off)) 28/07/55 Cathedral Church of Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary (Formerly Listed as: The Cathedral Church of Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary incl. monastic bldngs)


Cathedral church and chapels, cloister, administrative and domestic buildings of the former Benedictine Abbey for St Werburgh. On site of Saxon minster founded in or before 958, the present structure dates from c1100 for Abbot Richard; C12, C13; 1260-1280 for Abbot Simon of Whitchurch; C14; late C15 for Abbot Simon Ripley; early C16; early C17 for Bishop Bridgeman; 1818-20 by Thomas Harrison; 1844 and after by RC Hussey; 1868 and after by Sir George Gilbert Scott and his son George; 1882 and after by Sir Arthur Blomfield and CJ Blomfield; 1911-13 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and 1939 by FH Crossley; the detached belfry 1974-5 by GG Pace is not included in this item. The features of the cathedral church are described in anti-clockwise order from the west end. The cloister and adjacent monastic buildings are described separately (qv). PLAN: cruciform: nave, north-west tower, consistory court, south porch, central tower, south and north transepts, choir, high altar, Lady Chapel and chapels. EXTERIOR: the west front has attached north-west wing 1880s by Blomfield on early C13 undercroft which conceals the incomplete north-west tower, c1140, from external view; the lower masonry of the nave front is partly c1300, concealed; recessed doorway, niches, angel frieze and Assumption; 8-light panel-tracery west window, probably late C15 for Abbot Simon Ripley; restoration and alterations 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott include crenellation and octagonal turret. The consistory court in the stump of the unfinished south-west tower has a 4-light panel-tracery window to west and to south, with niche to each side and ogee moulding above, c1500, restored. The 2-storey south porch abutting the Court is c1500; original inner doorway; fan vault by George Gilbert Scott junior; upper storey has a niche between a pair of 2-light leaded windows, heavily restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The south side of the nave has four 4-light aisle windows 1840s by Hussey, six 5-light panel-tracery clerestory windows with ogees, hoodmoulds; crenellation, pinnacles and flying buttresses by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The south transept with 2 aisles also served as St Oswald's parish church. The west side has four 4-light panel-tracery aisle windows, five 4-light panel-tracery clerestory windows with ogee hoodmoulds and, by Sir George Gilbert Scott, pinnacled flying buttresses and crenellation. The south end has an arched oak door on ornate hinges to the west aisle, surmounted by a 4-light flowing-tracery window with ogee hoodmould and C19 figure of a saint in a niche. The square turret-buttress to the main transept, 1818 by Thomas Harrison, flank the 7-light curvilinear window, 1887 by Blomfield. The end of the east aisle resembles the west aisle, but with crocketed gable-shaped hoodmould to window, and no doorway. The east side of the transept has 4 curvilinear aisle windows of 4 lights under gable-shaped crocketed hoodmoulds, five 4-light panel-tracery windows to clerestory and, by Sir George Gilbert Scott, pinnacled flying buttresses and crenellation. The central tower remodelled, turreted and crenellated by Sir George Gilbert Scott, has paired bell-openings with ogee hoodmoulds. The south side of the Choir has an oak priests' door on ornate hinges, 4 Geometrical windows to the aisle, two of 4 lights, one of 5 lights and one of 3 lights; the polygonal apse with four Geometrical 2-light windows, has a very high and steep stone roof to its east end by Sir George Gilbert Scott; gargoyles; pierced parapet with 4 pinnacles; the east end of the choir has a pair of octagonal corner-turrets with crocketed pinnacles, by Scott, with weather vane. The late C13 3-bay Lady Chapel has triple lancets between gabled buttresses, probably embellished by Scott; the east end has quintriple lancets and in the gable above triple lancets and 2 empty niches. The 2-bay north-east Chapel of St Werburgh has a 5-light panel-tracery east window and two 4-light north windows. The north-face of the choir has 4 Geometrical 4-light aisle windows, stepped buttresses, plain parapet and, east, a square stair-turret with hipped stone roof; the clerestory has quatrefoil tracery in five 4-light windows; quatrefoil-pierced parapet. The sacristy, formerly a chapel, east of the north transept, has triple lancets in an arched panel and a small gable-lancet above. The north transept has 2 panel-tracery 4-light clerestory windows. The south-west corner of the chapter-house abuts the north-east corner of the transept whose north face has corner-buttresses, a high-level 7-light panel-tracery window, a panelled crenellated-parapet to end and side; the west side has two 4-light windows with simple tracery. The north side of the nave, above the adjoining cloister roof, has 5 simply-traceried 4-light aisle windows, simple slate lean-to roof, flying buttresses and 7 panel-tracery 4-light clerestory windows under a plain parapet. INTERIOR of Cathedral Church: the incomplete north-west tower c1140, now the baptistry, has scalloped capitals to stepped round arches on shafts with some keeled mouldings. The mosaic floor, 1885, was designed by Dean Howson and made by Burke and Co. The carved rectangular font presented by Earl Egerton of Tatton 1885 is Victorian in Early Christian style. The entrance bay to the nave, between the west towers, much restored, has possibly original blank arcading c1300; the west window has glass of 1961 by WT Carter Shapland depicting Mary, northern saints and Lady Aethelflaed of Mercia; black marble bowl-on-baluster font 1697; monuments to: Bishop Hall, d.1668; J and T Wainwright 1686 and 1720 designed but not executed by William Kent for Bishop George Berkeley; Sir William Mainwaring 1671; Bishop Stratford 1708, E. Entwistle 1712; Mrs Dod 1723; Dean W Smith 1787 by Thomas Banks; Major T Hilton 1829; J Ford 1835 and his wife; R Barnston 1838 by John Blayney in Gothic style and R Bickerstaff 1841 by Blayney. The consistory court in the stump of the south-west tower has screen to nave and full furnishings early C17 for Bishop Bridgeman. The 6-bay nave has south arcade of mid C14 and north arcade, largely designed to match, 1485-93 for Abbot Simon Ripley with his monogram on west respond capital; the east bay of each arcade has continuous mouldings; the shafts, triforiums and clerestorys above each arcade slope outward. The vaults to nave and aisles were replaced in timber by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The north aisle wall, covered by mural mosaics depicting Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah designed by JR Clayton and made by Burke and Co. 1883-6, is of early C12 masonry visible from the cloister. Lectern 1875 by Skidmore; pulpit 1840 by RC Hussey; stalls in east bay 1966 by George Pace. The south aisle has a window 1862 by W Wailes. Memorial tablets on the aisle wall include, from the west: E Jones 1834 and family; Canon F Casson 1838; Dr J Ford 1807; Lucy Jodrell 1808; Mayor P Broster 1811 and family; Alan Holford 1788 and wife; E Wilson 1804 and grand-daughter; J Vernon 1797 and wife; Augusta daughter of Bishop George Law and wife of Preb. J Slade 1822; Jane Vernon 1775 and son Ralph; Charles Potts 1817 and family; R Winicombe, Life Guards Trumpeter 1787; G Ogden aged 1, 1741; W Carter, verger, 1752 and widow; J Lloyd and family 1844, etc; H Potts 1845 and family; EO Wrench 1821 and family; Rev.W Russell 1792 and widow; G Clarke of Hyde, formerly Lt. Governor of New York, 1760; on east column of south arcade: W Nicholls 1809 and family; J Potter 1715; Ann Parsons 1798; T Griffiths 1798 and wife. The 5-bay south transept c1340 has west aisle with monuments and east aisle with each bay chapel. The south chapel, with sedilia and piscina in its south wall, has a medieval rib vault. The other vaults were rebuilt largely in timber by Sir A Blomfield c1887. The piers are similar to those of the choir; they slope outward as they rise; vide the vault-shafts. The stained glass south window The Triumph of Faith is 1887 by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. The windows of the east aisle chapels are, from the north, 1876 by Heaton Butler and Bayne, 1890, 1892 and 1902 by Kempe and south window 1890 by Clayton and Bell; in the west aisle the north window is 1892 by Powell and the second window 1904 by Kempe. The free-standing monument to Hugh Lupus first Duke of Westminster, 1902 by CJ Blomfield has recumbent effigy by FW Pomeroy. Wall monuments: on south-west crossing pier C Hawker 1800 and T Poole 1818; F Phillips a loyalist returned from New York, 1720-85; an inset elliptical tablet inscribed JW, Feby 15th 1786; cenotaph to casualties in HMS Chester at Battle of Jutland; Mayor T Greene 1602; on wall of west aisle, from north: Cheshire Regiment cenotaph and memorial to Lt. Gen. Sir W Hastings Anderson its Colonel 1894-1909; T Brown Col. 1st Cheshire R.G.A. Volunteers 1906; R.A.F. Cenotaph; Free Czech Forces Cenotaph; Joseph Brown 1775 and family; Elizabeth Booth of Dunham Massey 1734 aged 96; Catharine Booth 1765 aged 93 and Martha Booth 1718 and family; Capt. JC Buchanan 16th Light Dragoons who fell at Waterloo; The Egertons and Egerton-Warburtons killed in first World War; Vice Admiral Wion de Malpas Egerton, killed in action 1943; Cotton Probert and wife 1784; F.Gibson 1783 and wife; children of J and Anna Pirrepont; J Lowe tobacconist 1804 and wife; John Paul, honest publican, 1805; R Walls 1719 and widow; Elizabeth Buchanan 1837; Sarah Jarvis 1748; on south wall: J Hughes of Northop 1745 and family; J Dunston Constable of Chester Castle 1829-65 and wife; Anna Matthews 1793; T Fluitt 1822 and family; Cheshire Regt. Boer War Cenotaph; G Ogden 1788 and wife; Lt. Gen. Sir CJ Napier 1853 (?); Sir W Gerrarde 1581; Major WJ Wyley Cheshire Regt. 1915; Francis Townshend 1776 and GS Townshend 1801. The 4 transept chapels have wing walls carved with rolls of honour and, from north to south reredoses by WE Tower, by CE Kempe carved at Oberammergau and 2 designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The crossing piers are early C14. The screen to the choir is by Sir George Gilbert Scott, 1876, the gates made by Skidmore; the Rood 1913 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was made by F Stuflesser; the choir aisle gates are 1558 from Guadalajara, presented to Chester Cathedral 1876; organ screen and case, north, 1876 by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The lantern stage has 2 blank arches to each side and wall-passage parapets pierced with quatrefoils as in the transepts; ceiling decorated by GG Pace late C20. The Choir of 5 bays c1300 has clerestory c1350. The late C14 stalls with fine misericords, richly carved bench-ends and canopies, some restored 1870s, are of high quality and interest. Floor mosaic and reredos east of choir 1876 by JR Clayton; Cathedra 1876 designed by Scott and made by Farmer and Brindley; early C17 lectern; early C17 candlesticks by Censore of Bologna; east window 1884 by Heaton Butler and Bayne. The vault was replaced in timber by Sir George Gilbert Scott, decorated by Clayton and Bell; the aisle vaults are also by Scott. The south aisle, now Chapel of St Erasmus: was shortened by Scott c1870 and given an apsidal east end; 2 cusped recesses, sedilia and piscina. Stained glass, from west; 2 windows 1852 by Wailes, one 1850 designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin and made by Hardman and Co., and, in the apse, 1872 by Clayton and Bell; mosaics 1879 designed by JR Clayton and made by A Salviati; fresco 1874 by Clayton and Bell. Monuments: tombchest c1300; Bishop Peploe, d.1752; Thomas Brassey, railway builder, by Sir A Blomfield 1882 with bust-pre-1877 by M Wagmiller; strapwork memorial to Robert Bennett d.1614 and, painted heraldically, to J Leche and Katharine Wynne 1698, by Randle Holmes. The north choir aisle has 2 bases exposed of former round Romanesque columns c1090; piscina C14. Glass, from west; one window 1863 by Clayton and Bell one by Heaton Butler and Bayne 1863, then 4 by Wailes, one of 1853 and 3 of 1859. Tablet designed by Sir A Blomfield, carved by Sir J Boehm 1887 to Bishop Jacobson; by Joseph Turner to George Travis, d.1797. The Chapel of St Werburgh east of the aisle is probably early C16, having 2 tierceron-vaulted bays; glass 1857 by O'Connor; recumbent effigy of Bishop John Graham 1848-65, 1867, Kelly and Edwards, Chester architects. The Lady Chapel east of the high altar, c1260-80, is 3-bay with tripartite vaulting shafts sloping sharply outward as they rise; rib-vaults with 3 fine carved bosses: the Trinity; the Virgin and Child; the murder of St Thomas Becket; sedilia and piscina. St Werburgh's Shrine, behind the high altar is of stone, C14, reconstructed by Blomfield. Stained glass 1859 by Wailes. Monument to Archdeacon Wrangham 1846 by Hardman; brasses to Rev. MD Taylor, 1845 Puginesque, by Hardman, Dean JS. The North Transept of 2 bays is c1100 with clerestory C15; simple early Norman archway to chapel, now sacristy, east with 6 arches of contemporary triforium above and piscina south; the north wall has an Early English doorway to the chapter house vestibule and a clerestory window by Sir George Gilbert Scott; the west wall has 2 plain blocked arches, formerly to the Romanesque triforium; good oak ceiling with carved bosses. Organ screen and case 1876 by Sir George Gilbert Scott; stained glass in east clerestory windows 1853 by Wailes; free-standing tombchest monument to John Pearson, bishop 1672-86, 1863 designed by Sir AW Blomfield, carved by Nicholas Earp with recumbent effigy by Matthew Noble. Wall monuments: cenotaph to members of Cheshire (Earl of Chester's) Yeomanry slain in Second World War; S Peploe diocesan chancellor c1784 by Joseph Nollekens; Sir John Grey Egerton 1825; Lt. LW Halstead Royal Irish Fusiliers 1829 by Thomas Kelly; Capt. W Walley Royal Welch Fusiliers 1827; Col. TG Egerton 1835 by F Bedford; R Caldecott artist 1846 Chester - 186.. Florida; HT Moor M.D. 1837; cenotaph to Boer War dead of Earl of Chester's Yeomanry; JC Bridge organist and choirmaster 1929; Sibell Mary Countess Grosvenor; 1930 cenotaph to Cheshire Yeomanry dead of First World War. At corner with nave aisle C17 whale-ivory Tree of Jesse. East of the north transept the sacristy of 2 bays formerly a chapel is c1200; the ringed shafts have late Romanesque and stiff-leaf capitals to quadripartite vault; east window of St Anselm by AK Nicholson.

Listing NGR: SJ4058566452


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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: 15 Apr 2002
Reference: IOE01/06867/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr John L. Wishlade. Source Historic England Archive
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