The Grade I listed Worcester Cathedral which before the English Reformation was known as Worcester Priory. In Worcester, Worcestershire.
It is the seat of the Bishop of Worcester and its official name is The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester. Built between 1084 and 1504, Worcester Cathedral represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. It is famous for its Norman crypt and unique chapter house, its unusual Transitional Gothic bays, its fine woodwork and its "exquisite" central tower, which is of particularly fine proportions.
What is now the Cathedral was founded in 680 as a Priory, with Bishop Bosel at its head. The first priory was built in this period, but nothing now remains of it. The crypt of the present-day cathedral dates from the 10th century and the time of St Oswald, Bishop of Worcester. The monastery became Benedictine in the second half of the tenth century. The Priory came to an end with King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the Benedictine monks were removed on 18 January 1540 and replaced by secular canons. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the former Priory was re-established as a cathedral of secular clergy. In the 1860s the cathedral was subject to major restoration work planned by Sir George Gilbert Scott and A. E. Perkins.
Worcester Cathedral embodies many features that are highly typical of an English medieval cathedral. Like the cathedrals of Salisbury and Lincoln, it has two transepts crossing the nave, rather than the single transept usual on the Continent. This feature of English Cathedrals was to facilitate the private saying of the Holy Office by many clergy or monks. Worcester is also typical of English cathedrals in having a chapter house and cloister. Worcester Cathedral’s tower was constructed in the Perpendicular style is described by Alec Clifton-Taylor as "exquisite" and is seen best across the River Severn.
The earliest part of the building at Worcester is the multi-columned Norman crypt with cushion capitals remaining from the original monastic church begun by St Wulfstan in 1084. Also, from the Norman period is the circular chapter house of 1120, made octagonal on the outside when the walls were reinforced in the 14th century. The nave was built and rebuilt piecemeal and in different styles by several different architects over a period of 200 years, from 1170 to 1374, some bays being a unique and decorative transition between Norman and Gothic.
The east end was rebuilt over the Norman crypt by Alexander Mason between 1224 and 1269, coinciding with, and in a very similar Early English style to Salisbury Cathedral. From 1360 John Clyve finished off the nave, built its vault, the west front, the north porch and the eastern range of the cloister. He also strengthened the Norman chapter house, added buttresses and changed its vault. His masterpiece is the central tower of 1374, originally supporting a timber, lead-covered spire, now gone.