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© Dr R. A. Brierley

IoE Number: 470392
Location: FORMER MONASTIC BUILDINGS TO CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ST WERBURGH STREET (north off)
  CHESTER, CHESTER, CHESHIRE
Photographer: Dr R. A. Brierley
Date Photographed: 06 December 2004
Date listed: 28 July 1955
Date of last amendment: 06 August 1998
Grade I

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CHESTER CITY (IM) SJ4066SE ST WERBURGH STREET 595-1/4/357 (North side (off)) 28/07/55 Former monastic buildings to Cathedral Church of Christ & the Blessed Virgin (Formerly Listed as: The Cathedral Church of Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary incl. monastic bldngs.) GV I Former monastic buildings to Cathedral Church (qv). The Cloister: the arcades and vaults were rebuilt c1525-30, but the south wall to the cathedral and the west wall to the abbey undercroft are early C12; the east wall to the north transept, the chapter house vestibule, a passage to the precinct (the slype) and the monks' parlour are early C13; the north wall to the refectory with a long stone bench, formerly the monks' lavatorium, is C12 altered late C13. The 4 southern bays of the west cloister walk have the arcade set back to provide carrels; in the west wall is the Norman doorway to the former Abbot's Lodging, with roll-mould to arris, colonnettes with scalloped capitals and plain stepped round arch; segmental-arched doorway to stair to floor above the cellarer's undercroft; in the carrels two C13 grave-slabs and 3 of C14, damaged. The wall of the south walk has a late Norman doorway having round and octagonal colonnettes with water-leaf capitals and arch with moulded, ornamented voussoirs; a pair of triple round-arched recesses with patterned colonnettes, those to east the burial place of Richard, Abbot 1092-1117, William 1121-40 and Ralph 1141-1157; grave slab of Henry Bebington 1341 and a fine C13 grave-slab; stone to Simon Ripley abbot 1485-93, transferred from the chapter house; the arcade and vault were rebuilt by Scott 1911-13. The wall of the east walk has an early English 3-arched stone screen to the chapter house vestibule, restored and its central doorway rebuilt 1840s by Hussey, with a C20 buttress inscribed to Sheriff JB Close Booth and donors to restoration of cloister, 1913, and 2 blocked simple Norman archways, south; north of the vestibule screen is the early C13 archway to the 3-bay rib-vaulted slype passage, then a fragment of the quatrefoil early C13 middle window to the now truncated stair to the former dormitory and, complete, its lower window; C13 archway to stair, from which the middle window is visible, and the monks' parlour. The wall of the north walk has an early C13 triple blank arch over the lavatorium bench, carved corbels for the 1520s vault, one with Henry VIII's arms; doorway to refectory c1225 with cusped archway. In the garth a stone reservoir; during the Middle Ages a conduit from Christleton fed it. The cellarer's undercroft beside the cloister west walk, early C12, now the cathedral shop, store and workshop is groin-vaulted with a central row of short circular columns with scalloped capitals, divided from the cathedral nave by the rib-vaulted Abbot's Passage, late C12. Above the passage, reached via the undercroft roof, is St Anselm's Chapel, formerly the Abbot's chapel C12, having side-piers to nave with colonnettes; recast and refurnished earlier C17 by John Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester 1619-52, a Laudian who provided altar rail, carved oak chancel screen and a good Gothick plaster ceiling. Accessible by stair from St Anselm's Chapel or direct from the baptistry in the north-west tower of the cathedral is a former undercroft by the Abbot's lodging, now below the cathedral library formerly King's School by Sir AW Blomfield 1875-7. The undercroft is C13, vaulted, 3 x 2 bays; plain conical corbels to springing of vaults; chamfered ribs dying into octagonal columns on plinths; the west face of the north-west tower C12 is visible from the undercroft and stair. The vestibule to the chapter house, early C13 and domestic in scale, is square, 3 x 3 bays; the piers of 8 attached shafts with no capitals run into the vault-shafts. The stone screen to the chapter house, of 3 arches, has central entrance flanked by 2-light openings with quatrefoil plate tracery; the supports between the lights are of 3 detached colonnettes with stiff-leaf capitals. The 3-bay rectangular chapter house has free-standing vaulting piers and intermediate shafts to each side, on stiff-leaf corbels and with stiff-leaf capitals; rib-vault with ridge-rib; cupboard, east, with C13 ironwork; the 5 east lancets have glass 1872 by Heaton Butler and Bayne depicting the history of Abbey and Cathedral in memory of Dean Anson initiator of the Victorian restoration. The monks' parlour, now choir-room, has C13 cusped arched doorway, 2 recesses of former open fireplaces, 4 x 2 bays of vaulting on octagonal piers carrying chamfered ribs. The refectory, now cathedral cafe, of Norman origin was refurbished c1300 and C20. Romanesque doorway; raised corbelled reading pulpit c1300 has stair in thickness of south wall, with trefoil-headed doorway and screen of 5 arches with quadruple colonnettes and quatrefoil plate tracery; 5 cusp-arched windows to stair visible from cloister garth. String-course approx 2m above floor level; decorated side windows; east window rebuilt 1913 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; roof rebuilt 1939 by FH Crossley. Features of prime interest include the exceptional extent of the monastic buildings in continuous use with the cathedral, the late C14 choir stalls, the late C13 Lady Chapel and the chapter house with its vestibule.

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