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Restored during the Victorian era, there is still much of the magnificent original medieval architecture (its long, convoluted history stretches back to 1421) to be seen in Manchester Cathedral. Located in the oldest part of the city— overlooking the river Irwell, between St Ann's Square and Victoria Station—it is a popular tourist attraction with fine stained glass windows, wonderful carvings, a large religious bookshop and the widest nave of its kind in Britain.
Because of the extensive refurbishment carried out both inside and outside the church during the nineteenth century, many people can be forgiven for thinking that, from appearances at least, Manchester Cathedral is a relatively modern church. The Angel Stone is a fragment of a Saxon Church, possibly 8th century. The Saxon words mean, ‘into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit’
In fact evidence of an early Saxon church in Manchester comes from the Angel Stone, which was discovered embedded in the wall of the original South Porch of the Cathedral in the 19th century, and which has been dated to around 700 CE.
t was around the year 1075 that King William the Conqueror gave all the land between the River Ribble and the River Mersey to Roger de Poitou, son of the Earl of Shrewsbury. He in turn gave the Manor of Manchester to the Greslet or Gresley family.
In 1086 Manchester was recorded in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book, which mentioned that the place had a Parish Church and it is believed that this church was located at the corner of St Mary’s Gate and Exchange Street.
However, this site was deserted when in 1215 Robert Greslet, Lord of the Manor and 5th Baron of Manchester decided to build the current church adjacent to his manor house (now Chetham’s Library). This became the Parish Church of Manchester.
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Manchester Cathedral was not mentioned in my guidebook at all, so I might actually have missed it if it hadn't been for VT! I am very grateful, because I enjoyed the cathedral very much, and it would have been a shame not to visit there!
The construction of the cathedral began in 1421, but there was a previous church located here much earlier. Restoration took place in the 19th century, which altered the building very much. The interior of the church is a mix of 14th, 15th and 19th century styles.
When I first entered I was not overly impressed because it was very dark, but if you look around, you will find some really interesting things. This cathedral might not be one of the most beautiful ones, but it has its share of treasures!
There are leaflets showing you a walk around the cathedral, I recommend this very much because it will show you what to look for.
An absolute highlight is the Angel Stone (picture 4). This is a stone dating back to the 10th century, or maybe as early as the 7th century. It is giving evidence that an Anglo-Saxon church must have been located here, believed to be the same one that is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
The stone shows a carved angel holding a scroll. It was discovered during the restoration of the building in the 19th century, embedded into a wall.
Other things to look out for a the great carvings on the wooden screen and the misericords, and a group of carved angels playing instruments. A personal highlight for me was the Bishop's Seat (picture 5). The third Bishop of Manchester (being Bishop here from 1886 to 1903) was previously the Bishop of Melbourne, therefore the seat shows carved kangaroos! I found this really nice and funny :-)
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Cathedral Visitors Centre
The Visitors centre for manchester Cathedral houses a shop and a downstairs Cafe restaurant. The highlight though is certainly the medievil bridge which was found when the building was constructed. The bridge was built at the same time as the Cathedral in the 15th C to go over a ditch that cut across to the river Irwell, after a time the ditch was filled with rubbish and was forgotten about.
The shop sells religious and cathedral related items and the Coffee shop has nice coffee and some lovely cakes
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Records show that there has been a church on this site since 1215, although the discovery of the 'Angel Stone' embedded in the wall of the south porch points to a Saxon church dating back to possibly the 8th. century. The present church was built mainly in the 15th. century (it became a Collegiate Church in 1421) but it underwent extensive refurbishment, both inside and outside, in the 19th century. The church became the Cathedral in 1847 when the Diocese of Manchester was formed.
There are different little chapels within the Cathedral -- one of particular interest is the Chapel of the Manchester Regiment and the King's Regiment (see 'more photos') with books of remembrance for the various batallions listing those who fell in conflict. This particular chapel was originally built in 1513 as a Chantry dedicated to St. John the Baptist by Bishop Stanley as a thanksgiving for the return of his family members from the battle of Flodden Field in Northumberland. After extensive damage in WW11 it was rebuilt and completed in 1951. It was subsequently changed to a regimental chapel in 1986.
The Cathedral now has a Visitor Centre and a restaurant in the basement.
Opening hours :-
Monday to Saturday -- 10-00 to 16-30
Sundays -- 11-30 to 16-00
Climbing the tower
It was a bit of a tight squeeze on the extremely narrow spiral staircase (esp after eating angel cake!) but we managed to climb up to the top of the tower. There are 60 steps to the bell ringing room - hear we had an explanation of how the bells are rung, another 50 to where you could see the bells and a final 50 steps to the top of the tower.
Traffic is only allowed in one way for obvious reasons!
Cathedral - Choirstalls
One of the most intersting features of the Cathedral's interior was the choirstalls. Ornately decorated on the outside facade and the seats had intricate carvings on them, all with their own story to tell - similar to the ones seen in Chester Cathedral. The ones in Manchester Cathedral are a couple of centuries younger though.
Manchester Cathedral is one of the oldest gothic churches in Manchester and originally built in the 14th Century and architectural changes were made to the church over the next 400 years. It was opened as a Cathedral in 1847 to serve the needs of the population brought by the city's industralisation. The Victorians had run an extensive renovation project for the church during the 19th Century and restored a lot of the cathedral's features such as the tower, the stained glass windows, the statues, the pulpitum and so forth.
You can do a self guided tour of the Cathedral and there are five things not to miss such as the Angel Stone, Misericords, Musical Angels along the colourful windows and the gargoyles on the cathedral's interior.
Visitors are welcome to visit or to worship and a number of events and services are held throughout the week.
I also visited the Visitors Centre where there is a cafe and a little exhibit and the Cathedral and how it linked with Manchester's history even if I was a little bit disappointed with the service at the cafe but this was due to circumstances.
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Angels in the Cathedral
Our visit to the cathedral just happened to co-incide with an angel theme and this day was an open day too. The cathedral was "dressed with angels" (as seen in this pic) and pictures and other artwork relating to angels on display. Free refreshments too - angel biscuits and angel cake no less - hadn't had angel cake since I was a kid!
View from Cathedral Tower
In case you don't make it to the top of the Cathedral tower here's one of the views - looking across to the Urbis Gallery. This was probably one of the better views you have - its quite a narrow area on the top - not as big as the one at Liverpool. Judging by the stormy clouds we were glad to be going inside at this point.
...five things not to miss!!
Manchester Cathedral is a fascinating place, steeped in History. As you enter, pick up one of the free leaflets which tell you of 'five things not to miss'. Unfortunately when we went there we picked the leaflet up on the way out and missed the five things!!
The interior of the Cathedral is stunning with its really colourful stained glass windows which were all replaced after the Cathedral was damaged by a bomb during World War II. More recently it had to undergo further restoration following the IRA bombings in 1996.
Cathedral Visitor Centre & Coffee Shop
The Cathedral Vistor Centre and Coffee shop are situated around the corner from the entrance to Cathedral. Inside the building you will find a gift shop although the real surprise is in the Coffee shop at the rear of the building you will find a 15th century Medieval Bridge that originally connected the Church with the medieval town, it is one of Manchester's oldest structures, and a Scheduled Monument. The coffee shop sells a variety of snacks and hot and cold drinks. VT er Balam (Gareth) & I had a coffee, after a bit of gentle persuasion Gareth was tempted to join me and have a slice of very nice looking Carott Cake although my eyes were bigger than my belly & I couldn't finish mine (criminal I know!). We sat in the seating area downstairs which was underneath the Medeival Bridge, this was really nice & offered plenty of opportunity to take some extra pics for VT.
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The ceiling in the cathedral is magnificent - dark, wooden like an upturned keeel of a ship. A round mirror reflects the view to save you craning yoour neck..and provides an ideal reflection shot (as seen in my reflections travelogue!)
Manchester Cathedral is a beautiful Grade 1 listed building in the centre of Manchester. It is believed to have been completed in 1421 and has had many repairs and restorations over the centuries. It was also extended in the 16th century.
The Cathedral is well used, offering worship, tours, concerts and more. It is open to visitors and is worth your time to look inside. I've sang in here when I was in my school choir far too many years ago (but the less said about that the better!!!).
Manchester Cathedral has a fantasic website to explore with a wealth of information about what's happening there and what is happening in the local community.
I'm lucky enough to have this treasure (amongst others) on my doorstep :)
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Manchester Cathedral seems tucked out of the way in the city centre and its not a huge building when compared to somewhere like York Minster but its still worth a peep inisde to see some of its features.
There were several lovely stained glass windows in the cathedral to admire - this is just one of them that I liked - one of the more traditional ones. The more modern ones didn't hold my attention as much.
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