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Peterborough Cathedral





Peterborough Cathedral west front - from the unique (in England) portico style facade to the unscreened nave and choir culminating in an apse with a large ciborium, any (Southern) Italian would feel at home in this magnificent old English abbey church - a fact never remarked on in any of the guide books!   Be sympathetic to the rather jarring structure in the central portico - it was built to  prop up the facade, which was tipping over a bit


The cathedral - an old monastic foundation / abbey which was promoted to cathedral status by Henry VIII around 1540 (after he had closed the monastery) - has the best descriptive boards we have seen anywhere in Europe relating to its own history and the history and workings of monastic life in the middle ages. 


Sadly, almost all of Peterborough's monastic buildings, the lady chapel and most of the stained glass windows were left in ruins by Cromwell's men in the 1650s and the materials have since been wheelbarrowed away.  Below is the empty space left by the south side cloister. 


Link to Peterborough Cathedral Website


Peterborough Cathedral in the "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England" by Richard John King



The Chapter House (downstairs) and monks' dormitory (upstairs) building would have extended from the south transept.

The nave, sadly not stone vaulted, but with a magnificent Italian style vista right through the choir to the South Italian style ciborium and the apse (below and below), and with overhanging Italian style crucifix.  If only more English Cathedrals would at least get rid of the organ rubbish from the 1800s which clutters up far too many vistas, though sadly in this case it was an act of arson which achieved this.




The royal standards of England and Aragon (/ Leon-Castile) guard the tomb of Catherine of Aragon (1485 - 1536 (51)), the first of Henry VIII's six wives.  Catherine was an Auntie of the hugely powerful Habsburg Emperor (also King of Spain and other places) Charles V,  which added a level of sensitivity to Henry's dealings with her which he did not display to his other five less well connected and mostly executed queens. 


Mary Queen of Scots was also originally buried in Peterborough Cathedral,  but her son James I had her reinterred in Westminster Abbey.







A very English bit ..... fan vaulting was an English invention and remained unique to Britain's churches.


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