Chester - Kellys Directory Of 1936 -37
The Cathedral is a cruciform structure of red sandstone in various styles from early Norman to late Perpendicular, and consists of seven bays, with aisles and south porch; choir of five bays, with aisles south-east chapel ; an eastern ladies - chapel of three bays, small, north transept of one bay, with eastern chapel; south transept of five bays, with aisles; an incomplete south-west tower, and a central embattled tower, 127 feet high, with octagonal battlemented turrets at the angles; the belfry has two canopied windows on each face, and contains a clock with chimes and eight bells. On the north side of the nave are the abbey cloisters, 110 feet square; the eastern alley opens into a vestibule, leading to the chapter house, and near this on the north are stairs, once leading to the dormitory, and to the east the vaulted parlour; the refectory occupies almost the whole of the north walk, and on the west side is a long low vaulted undercroft of Norman date.
The eastern portion of the fabric is almost entirely Early English, the remainder is Decorated, with additions and alterations made during the Perpendiculor period. The west front, flanked by octagonal banded turrets, is wholly filled with a Perpendicular window, richly terraced ; the space below is occupied by an embattled screen, with a central doorway, on either side of which are three canopied niches; the basement of the south-west tower. along the face of which the banding of the turret is carried, has a Perpendicular window, with a canopied niche on either side; the interior serves as a consistory court .
The south porch, which abuts on this tower, has a parvise chamber above it. The cathedral has generally pierced parapets, but the south transept and its aisles are embattled, and the east end of the choir is marked by two octagonal turrets, with tall crocketed spirelets; the stone roof of the south-eastern apse, restored from existing records, rises to a height of about 40 feet ; the east end of the lady chapel is finished with buttresses surmounted by canopied pinnacles The nave is 145 feet long. and, with the isles,75 feet wide, and has a height of 73 feet; its arcades are Decorated, of rather plain character, but the stage above is wholly Perpendicular, with a lofty window in each bay, and serves both as triforium and clerestory; the nave is seated with chairs, and at the east end are raised seats, arranged longitudinally, for the choir; the aisles were also modified during the Perpendicular period, but the lower part of the wall of the north aisle is Norman work; the interior wall of this aisle is adorned with marble mosaics, the gift of Mrs. Platt, of Stalybridge, who died in 1888; the work, finished in 1890, represents scenes from the Old Testament history; the stained windows above were presented in 1890 by H. Higgins esq. of Hereford.
The present baptistery, formed out of an ancient Norman chamber at the north-west angle of the nave, was dedicated in 1885; the flooring is laid with mosaics, illustrating the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, surrounded by a series of heads, emblematic of Christian virtues; the ancient font of Italian marble was presented by the 2nd Lord Egerton of Tatton.The north transept is partially occupied by the organ loft, which is a work of stone and marble supported on sixteen marble columns, and was erected by the 1st Duke of Westminster.
The organ, formerly placed above the choir screen,
was removed to this transept., which has an ornamental oak roof supported by angels holding emblems of the Crucifixion,
and the arms of Cardinal Wolsey also appear prominently on the beams; a new organ was provided in 1910, most of
the pipes of the old organ being utilized; the whole of the choir organ is placed in the south choir aisle. The
south transept was assigned, in the 14th century, as the parish church of St. Oswald's parish, and so continued
to be used until 1881, when the church of St. Thomas was given to this parish in lieu of this transept: it is 78
feet 4 inches long by 77 feet wide,
Including the aisles , and in its architectural character resembles the nave; in the transept are four chapels : the one dedicated to St. George being the memorial erected by the Cheshire Regiment to the officers and men who tell in the Great War 1914-18, and whose names are recorded in an illuminated book kept in a shrine to the left of the altar the stained window at the south end of the transept was the gift in 1885 of the 2nd Lord Egerton of Tatton, in memory of his father William Tatton, 1st Baron, who died 24 Feb. 1883; on the east side of the transept is a stained winnow given in 1890 by Mrs. A. Potts, of Hoole Hall, in memory of her father and her husband.
On the south wall hang the old colours of the 22nd
(Cheshire) Regiment, carried at the storming of Quebec, September 13th, 1759.The interior of this transept. was
restored as a memorial to the 1st Duke of Westminster K.G. (d. 1899) ; the stone groining of the western aisle
and the oak groining of the central aisle being new. The restoration of the exterior was completed in 1910 from
the designs of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott R.A. in the 14th century style, consisting of three pinnacles with tracery
work and an arched doorway.
The old choir screen, originally a Decorated work of the 14th century, was removed during the ration by Dean Anson in 1844; the present screen is a light structure, the lower portion consisting of open traceried arcading ; the upper stage is of similar open work , rising into slender crocketed pinnacles , and on the choir side is richly canopied, and has four t.abernacled stalls on either side of the doorway. The choir is, architecturally much more impressive than the nave; the two eastern bays are Earl English but the western portion belongs to the period of transition from that style to the Decorated ; the main arcade is lofty, supporting a triforiuin of four trefoiled arches in each bay, and round - headed recesses at the back; the clerestory consists of a single lofty window in each bay, filled with debased tracery ; the east end of the choir is pierced by an arch of the same height as those of the arcades,and opening into the lady-chapel, and above it is a window filled with geometrical tracery.
The former plaster roof was removed and replaced by a new roof of oak by the late Thomas Platt esq. J.P. of Dunham Hall; the roof is decorated in gold and colour, and painted with various subjects, including figures of the sixteen Old Testament prophets.
The pavement of the choir has been relaid , in part with the old marble slabs, intermixed with modern tile-work, and the sacrarium with marble bearing incised representations of subjects illustrating the " Passion." The stalls forty eight in number, belong to the late 14th century the canopied work is peculiarly fine, and there are misericords of the same date; at the east end of the southern range of stalls is the bishop's throne, erected in 1876.
The sacrarium is inclosed by railings, presented by the late . John Torr esq. M.P. for Liverpool, who died in 1880. The altar, given by the late Very Rev. John Saul Howson D.D. Dean of Chester 1867-86, is made of portions of oak, olive wood and cedar, all obtained from Palestine by Henry Lee esq. J.P. of Sedgeley Park, and presented by him for this purpose in 1870; over the altar is a reredos, adorned with a picture in mosaics, executed at. Venice, of "the Last Supper."
The four Decorated sedilia originally in the church
of St. John the Baptist, and restored by the Freemasons, are in two stages, with two seats in each their canopies,
which had been much mutilated, have figures of monkeys and other grotesques, as well as pedestals for figures:
on the opposite side are two aumbries, also Decorated. In the Norman church, the choir aisles, as well, as the
choir itself, terminated in apses, the outlines of which have been marked on the pavement of the choir but on the
conversion of the east end in the Early English period, the aisles prolonged considerably eastward. and made to
terminate in apsidal chapels of semi-hexagonal form ; towards the end of the 15th century these chapels were in
turn destroyed, and the aisles again extended eastward for almost the entire length of the lady-chapel, in the
walls of which openings were made , but during the restorations subsequent to 1873, this Perpendicular work was
entirely removed on the south side but retained on the north . At the same time the Early English windows were
restored to the lady-chapel, which is now in its original form.The lady -chapel has partly been restored in 1885
by the chapter and decorated at the expense of Mrs. Hamilton of Hoole Lodge .
The south choir aisle has thus at its eastern extremity an apsidal chapel, as designed by the Early English builders, and is surmounted by a curious spire-like roof. This chapel was restored by the Brassey family in memory of their father. Each aisle is vaulted, and retains a piscina, and has western gates, presented in 1876 by the 1st Duke of Westminster K.G.; the south aisle has also on the south side two sepulchral recesses, each containing a stone coffin, and at the upper end a coffin-shared altar tomb, the sides of which are panelled in quatrefoils, with small painted figures. of kings and bishops between the panels : in the north aisle is a monument to Dr. John Graham, Bishop of Chester 1848-65
The lady-chapel, restored as stated above, has a stained east window of five graduated lancets, designed by the late Sir George Gilbert Scott R.A. The elaborate decoration of the roof was executed by Mr. Octavius Hudson, in part from traces still remaing , and occupied about five years; the reredos of glass mosaic, designed by the late Sir A..W. Blomfield kt. A.R. A.F S A. (d. 1899) occupies the whole of the space below the window; the centre panel above the holy table represents the "Nativity," and on either side are other panels, arranged horizontally one above the other, with similarly wrought pictures of the " Salutation," the. " Annunciation," the "Adoration of the Wise Men," and the " Flight into Egypt;" there are sedilia and a piscina; the flooring is of marble and tiles, and the north side is a memorial to Ven. Francis Wrangham M.A. prebendary of Chester and archdeacon of the East Riding, d. 1842. The shrine of St. Werburgh, or rather its lower portion, which from the foundation of the see.up to 1876 served as the episcopal throne was in 1890 replaced on its original site under the arch between the choir and lady-chapel ; the structure was, however so greatly altered at its restoration in 1846 by Canon Slade, that the ancient design could not be completely recovered; the original work is Early Decorated of the 18th century, and includes several small gilt figures, presumed to represent various Mercian sovereigns.
The other monuments in the cathedral include an altar-tomb, with effigy, to Bishop Pearson (1673-86): there are also memorials to William Smith D.D. dean of Chester, d. 12 Jan. 1787; Samuel Peploe D.D. bishop of Chester 1726-52, and Capt. John Moore Napier, 62nd Foot, d. in Scinde, 7 July, 1846, with epitaph by Lt. Gen. Sir Charles James Napier G.C.B. -The ancient stained glass was almost wholly destroyed by a mob during the visit of the Duke of Monmouth to the- city in 1683; the modern glass comprises the east windows of the choir ant lady-chapel, the whole of the windows in the choir aisles, and others, some of these being memorials to the Anson, Hughes. Humberstone and Richards families.
At the beginning of 1868 the nave was fitted up by the chapter for. divine service, and in March of the same year, at the instance and by the exertions of Dean Howson, the general restoration of the fabric was set on foot, aid large sums were at once subscribed, including £10,000 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: the work was begun in the summer of 1868, under the direction of the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott R.A. and continued after his death by the late Sir Arthur W. Blumfield M.A., A.R.A. and since 1873 upwards of, £100,000 has been expended in repairs and decorations. The cathedral registers date from 1687.
The remains of the monastic buildings, which have been completely restored, are most extensive and full of interest: the cloisters are 16th century, and the noble refectory, with its unique lector's pulpit and the Norman undercroft, form a range of buildings almost without parallel in the country: the refectory was restored to its full length in 1922 by taking down of a brick wall , which had been erected in 1740, and is now a magnificent room, capable of seating 600 persons the restoration of the domestic buildings was finished in 1928
A window light in the south was dedicated in 1925 to the memory of George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Comyn Irvine, who lost their lives on Everest .
There is a cross on the cathedral green to the memory of the men of the district who fell in the Great war 1914 -1918