Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: I

List Entry Number: 1389729

Date first listed: 22-May-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Jun-2001



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

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester (District Authority)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: SO8499754484



SO85SW COLLEGE STREET 620-1/3/706 (South West side) 22/05/54 Cathedral of St Mary: Cloister range, Chapter House & Undercroft with Refectory (Formerly Listed as: Cathedral of St Mary)


Cloister group S of cathedral church, remains of Benedictine monastery domestic buildings. Parts of undercroft probably pre-Norman, cloister laid out at the time of Wulfstan's rebuild, 1084 onwards, E slype and W passage remain from this time; Chapter House c1100-1110, central column replaced c1224, whole refaced after 1336. Refectory mid C14. Cloister fenestration restored by Perkins, 1862. Many stones used, including Highley and Alveley sandstones and some Cotswold oolite, vault severies in tufa. Lead roofs, slate to Refectory. CLOISTER: in four walks of 9-bays each, the S walk not at true right angles to the remainder, resulting from layout of pre-Norman abbey buildings. To the garth the bays are identical, with a large 5-light 'Perpendicular' traceried window above a continuous plinth and under a moulded string to crenellated parapet; the bays are divided by square buttresses with gables offset and crown, and the central bay to the W walk has a door opening. Inside all walks have lierne vaulting, with many varied decorative bosses. The interior faces of the bays have deep buttresses, with panelled intrados, pierced laterally except in the W walk, which was the last one constructed; the corner piers are bolder than the remainder. The inner walls are generally plain, with much mixed masonry, the vaults being corbelled at their springings. The N walk has 6 plain square buttresses, part of the Norman wall to the nave S aisle. The first bay (W) has steps to a central pair of plank doors in a 4-centred arch on responds, and bay 9 has fine C19 doors with strap hinges in a richly moulded pointed arch, approached by a C20 ramp. A continuous bench runs between buttresses, and the vault corbels to the middle bay are carved with a donkey with panniers and an angel, respectively. The E walk, probably the earliest, has 2 plain bays, with very mixed masonry, the third bay having glazed doors in a pointed arch to the Slype; the next 2 bays have a deep bench below very heavy voussoirs, with a plain door in bay 6, and early arched openings in the last two. The first bay in the S walk has a vaulted throughway under the refectory, with a low door, right, to the undercroft. The rest of the walk has several early square buttresses, steps and landing to a door in 4-centred arch in bay 2, and a large door in moulded early English arch to bay 8; various earlier elements are visible in the masonry. The W walk has a C19 door in a roll-mould pointed arch to bay 1, with the lavatorium recess in the next 2 bays, and a blocked Norman doorway under remnants of a flush arch to bay 4. The central bay has a throughway, previously to the dormitory (now disappeared), in a flat arch within moulded surround, and in the next 2 bays are varied blocked openings, including wide 4-centred arches. The last bay contains glazed doors (to the Cathedral shop) in a pointed opening with chevron mould, on nook shafts. The W passage, now the shop, has 4 bays of heavy quadripartite ribbed vault, in part to a Norman blind arcade, with a 3-light opening at the W end. The E slype, immediately adjoining the S transept is of very early work, probably of the time of Wulfstan, but with some detail looking earlier, in 2 groined bays carried on blind arcading to monolithic half-columns on primitive looking bases and caps; a plain high pointed arch leads through to the exterior at the E end, and a lesser arch to a passage parallel with a side of the Chapter house. CHAPTER HOUSE: a circular building of approx 18.3m (60ft) diameter, with central column, but rebuilt externally to octagonal form. The exterior, mainly in pink sandstone, has 4-light windows set deep, in flush surrounds, below a small window slit; bays are divided by square buttresses with stepped inset near the head, under a hollow-mould string to plain parapet and saddle-back coping. The N side is linked to the S transept by 2 storey C14 buildings, the upper level with treasury. Entrance is centred to the mid bay of the E cloister walk, the C14 door flanked by niches, and with tracery above. Inside, the central column, in limestone on a Purbeck base, carries 10 ribs to the plastered groined vault over the main windows, those abutting the transept being in blank tracery. The lower half is early masonry in alternate green and brown bands, with a series of 7 very shallow niches to each bay having interlaced round arched heads under a continuous string course; the bays are divided by Norman pillars with cushion capitals supporting the (later) vaulting. Formerly a continuous bench was carried all round, but this was cut away to accommodate the shelves of the Cathedral Library, in 1641. The door bay has a pair of C19 doors in a moulded surround with 4-centred head, and, slightly offset to its left are the remains of the round head to the original doorway, before the remodelling of the cloister. REFECTORY AND UNDERCROFT: this runs the full length of the cloister S walk. To the S it is completely exposed, the main hall having 5 large 3-light Decorated windows to stopped drips, under a moulded string and plain parapet. The lower area has, at the left-hand end, a doorway in rich moulded pointed arch, on 6 steps, then a series of flat Norman buttresses under a continuous offset sill band, and, far right, a fine Norman door in recessed cloister through a barrel vaulted passage having a low doorway, left, to arched heads to deep set windows between buttresses, lighting the undercroft. The ends have corner buttresses with 2 offsets, and the E wall has a square window with curvilinear tracery set deep to a moulded surround with 4-centred head; an offset string with 2 flat buttresses corresponds with the undercroft level, and the W end has a flying buttress, and large C14 window. The low pitched gables are simply coped, with a crowning finial. On the N side, rising above the cloister S walk, are 4 large C14 windows, a broad external stack between bays 2 and 3 and smaller stack at 4/5, with octagonal corner turret. The undercroft has been later subdivided, and is in part inaccessible; it has a central row of bold Norman columns carrying crudely formed groined vaults in 6-bays. The upper hall, former refectory and now King's School College Hall, has a wooden vaulted ceiling to stone corbel capitals, windows in reveals with fluted nook-shafts. The walls to sill height have C19 wood panelling, and at the W end is a complex C19 screens with gallery; parquet floor. At the E end, built into the wall below a high window, is a fine early C13 carved Christ in Majesty, unfortunately much damaged by Reformation defacement; also in the N wall, near the E end, the window rere-arch has some vaulting, associated with a former reading desk. HISTORY: there was a Benedictine house on the site in Saxon times, but an almost complete rebuilding took place under Wulfstan, starting in 1084, and some fragments remain in the domestic ranges. The layout at Worcester was unusual, in that the monks' dormitory was not in the customary position, over the E cloister range, but projected westward from the centre of the W walk, and was at the level of the cloister; other elements were under the dormitory, as the ground falls away rapidly here, and 3 further levels, including the necessarium, could be built below it - fragments only of these works remain (qv Monastic Ruins). Also on Map 16.


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

Legacy System number: 488680

Legacy System: LBS

End of official listing