© Dr John L. Wishlade
CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, ST WERBURGH STREET (north off)
CHESTER, CHESTER, CHESHIRE
Dr John L. Wishlade
15 April 2002
28 July 1955
Date of last amendment:
06 August 1998
The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.
CHESTER CITY (IM)
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
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,
The 2-storey south porch abutting the Court is c1500; original
inner doorway; fan vault by George G Scott junior; upper
storey has a niche between a pair of 2-light leaded windows,
heavily restored by Sir George G 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 G 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 G 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 G
Scott, pinnacled flying buttresses and crenellation.
The central tower remodelled, turreted and crenellated by Sir
George G 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 G 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
The sacristy, formerly a chapel, east of the north transept,
has triple lancets in an arched panel and a small gable-lancet
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
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 G 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 G 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 G 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 G 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 G Scott,
decorated by Clayton and Bell; the aisle vaults are also by
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 AW 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
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 G 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 G 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
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.