List of former cathedrals in Great Britain

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This is a list of former or intended cathedrals in Great Britain.


References are to the English church's current use or its use prior to deconsecration.

Cathedrals founded before 1066[edit]

becoming Church of England at the Reformation

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Bodmin, Cornwall St Petroc's Church, Bodmin - - 51028.jpg Parish Church of St Petroc c. 823 – c. 870[1] The cathedral of the 9th-century Bishop Kenstec of Cornwall (c. 823 - c. 870) was at the monastery at Dinuurin (or Dinnurrin), a placename derived from an early hermit Uuron (or St Guron). The place was later called Bodmin.[2] The cult of Saint Petroc spread from Padstow, especially after the Viking raid there in 981 led the monks to move to Bodmin, with Petroc's relics. The (mostly) mid-15th-century parish church is believed to occupy the site of Kenstec's monastic cathedral, and the spring of St Guron's Well rises by the church. The church tower base is described as Anglo-Saxon, and the church has the 12th-century reliquary once used for Petroc's relics.[3] 50°28′17″N 4°43′00″W / 50.4714°N 4.7168°W / 50.4714; -4.7168
Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex St Peter-on-the-Wall ext.jpg Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall 654–664 Following a failed mission in c. 610 from London to the East Saxons, St Cedd was sent by sea from Northumbria in 654. His chosen base was the former Roman fort of Orthona, near Bradwell-on-Sea. A stone cathedral.[4][5] was built, of Roman materials, but Cedd died 664 of plague at Lastingham, with most of his Essex community. A third mission c. 675, from London (which became the see for Essex) succeeded. After centuries of use as a barn, Cedd's church was restored 1920, and has been a chapel for the Orthona Community since 1946. Oddly, the chapel was built on the edge of the Roman foundations, across a wall, rather than centrally, so it has been suggested that it may not have been the only church built here, nor the main one. Always open (no toilets), access by footpath only (c. 15 minutes walk) from car park. 51°44′07″N 0°56′24″E / 51.735323°N 0.939876°E / 51.735323; 0.939876
Canterbury, Kent Canterbury St Martin close.jpg St Martin's Church 597–602 The oldest church in continuous use in Great Britain. Dedicated to St Martin of Tours by Queen Bertha of Kent, it dates from the Roman occupation of Britain (so before the early 5th century). Described as "old" when St Augustine landed in 596, it was his pro-cathedral[6] until his main cathedral (a predecessor of the present Canterbury Cathedral) was consecrated. St Martin's has been a parish church ever since.[7] 51°16′41″N 1°05′38″E / 51.277989°N 1.093825°E / 51.277989; 1.093825
Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham St Mary and St Cuthbert.jpg Collegiate Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert 883–995 Leaving Lindisfarne in 875 after Viking raids, the monastic community, with the body of St Cuthbert, journeyed until they were granted land here 883. This became the see of the Bishop of Lindisfarne, translated to Durham in 995. The wooden former cathedral was replaced in 1054 by a stone church, collegiate 1286-1547, retained as the parish church. 54°51′21″N 1°34′19″W / 54.855944°N 1.571972°W / 54.855944; -1.571972
Crediton, Devon Holycrosscrediton.jpg Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross and the Mother of Him who hung thereon 909–1050 Land in Crediton was granted in the 8th century for a monastery. The see of Crediton (for Devon & Cornwall) was created 909 out of the diocese of Sherborne. The (likely wooden) Anglo-Saxon monastic cathedral of St Mary was replaced, after the see had been moved to Exeter in 1050, by a new collegiate church on the same site, with a new dedication from the 1230s, the college being dissolved in 1545. The church was bought 1547 by parishioners as their parish church. 50°47′22.70″N 3°39′8.21″W / 50.7896389°N 3.6522806°W / 50.7896389; -3.6522806
Dommoc, Suffolk dedication unknown c. 630 – c. 850 Possibly translated from Soham, several locations have been suggested for the Anglo-Saxon see of East Anglia, founded by St Felix: notably (1) Dunwich, an important mediaeval town and port now under the sea, or (2) the old Roman fort of Walton, Suffolk now off the coast at Felixstowe. The latter location may be the more likely, its placename being derived from Felix stowe (= Felix's holy place),[8] so co-ordinates are given here for the visible (but only at exceptionally low tides) offshore masonry remains of the Roman fort of Walton. The diocese was split c. 673, creating an additional see at North Elmham. The list of Bishops of Dommoc continued until Danish invasions c. 850. Both sites are lost to coastal erosion, so are inaccessible. 51°58′22″N 1°22′48″E / 51.97280°N 1.380110°E / 51.97280; 1.380110
Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire DorchesterAbbey.JPG Abbey Church of St Peter & St Paul 635 – c. 660 and c. 875 – 1072 This was the first West Saxon see founded c. 635, translated to Winchester c. 660. It later became a Mercian bishopric in c. 875 when the see of Leicester was transferred here for safety. The see was translated to Lincoln in 1072. The secular canons of 635-1140 were succeeded by an Augustinian Priory in 1140, dissolved 1536. The church was then bought, and became the parish church. There are some 11th-century traces. 51°38′37″N 1°09′51″W / 51.643631°N 1.164202°W / 51.643631; -1.164202
Exeter, Devon The Minster of St Mary and St Peter 1050 – c.1133 Originating in a 7th-century monastery, where Saint Boniface was educated c. 680,[9] the minster of St Mary and St Peter became the seat of Bishop Leofric when the see of Crediton was translated to Exeter in 1050.[10] With its dual dedication it is likely that the Anglo-Saxon minster, like some others, consisted of a pair of churches,[11] with the more easterly (St Peter) becoming the cathedral church after 1050 while the other (St Mary) continued to serve the local people. Construction of the new Norman cathedral of St Peter began in 1114 to the east of St Mary's (so covering the site of the minster church of St Peter) and it began to be used from 1133 when the quire was consecrated. It was completed c. 1200, and by 1222 St Mary's had become the parish church of St Mary Major (Great St Mary). By the mid-19th century its proximity (23m) to the cathedral's west front was criticized as spoiling that vista, so in 1865 the ancient St Mary Major was demolished and a new church (same dedication) built a little further west. This church was demolished in 1971. Co-ordinates given are for the finial from the steeple of St Mary Major which is on the enlarged Cathedral Green where the 1865 church tower once stood. 50°43′21″N 3°31′52″W / 50.722507°N 3.531233°W / 50.722507; -3.531233
Hexham, Northumberland Hexham Abbey.jpg Priory and Parish Church of St. Andrew 678 – c. 821 A monastery founded c. 674 by Wilfrid became a cathedral 678, but was destroyed in 9th-century Viking raids. An Augustinian priory founded 1113 was dissolved in 1537. The chancel was saved as parish church, and a new nave added later. Some Saxon remains in present structure, notably Wilfrid's original crypt.[12] 54°58′17″N 2°06′10″W / 54.971494°N 2.102787°W / 54.971494; -2.102787
Hoxne, Suffolk Church of St Peter and St Paul c. 950 – c. 1070 In the early 10th century, after a period of Danish attacks, Bishop Theodred of London had an additional see at Hoxne, with a cathedral dedicated to St Aethelberht; by 1040 the see was joined with North Elmham, then in 1072 translated to Thetford. In 1101 the former cathedral (by then the Church of St Peter) was given by Hoxne Priory to the new Norwich Cathedral, and is then thought to have become the parish church of St Peter & St Paul. The Priory was 0.7 miles / 1.1 km (approx) south of the parish church.[13] 52°21′08″N 1°12′06″E / 52.352192°N 1.201719°E / 52.352192; 1.201719
Leicester, Leicestershire Jewry Wall and St Nicholas.jpg dedication uncertain 679–874 The location of the Anglo-Saxon cathedral is not known with certainty, but was very likely St Nicholas' church (shown) with Anglo-Saxon origins in 9th and probably 7th centuries, incorporating Roman materials. It lies between the sites of the Roman baths and the Roman forum. Overrun by Danes in c. 875 the see was suppressed and merged with Dorchester. St Nicholas' is now a parish church, with map co-ordinates as stated.[14] 52°38′07″N 1°08′27″W / 52.635147°N 1.140914°W / 52.635147; -1.140914
Lindisfarne, Northumberland Lindisfarne Abbey and St Marys.JPG dedication unknown 635–875 A monastery was founded in 635 by King Oswald for St Aidan as a cathedral for the northern part of Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Viking raids from 793 led to its destruction in 875. The monastic community fled, later settling at Chester-Le-Street in 883. The see was translated to, and the diocese renamed for, Durham in 995, which founded a sub-priory here in 1083 (dissolved 1537). Extensive remains of the priory are held by English Heritage. The exact location of Aidan's wooden cathedral is not known for certain, but it is confidently claimed that Anglo-Saxon features in the parish church of St Mary (shown), adjacent to the priory ruins, are from the rebuilt-in-stone cathedral; so the co-ordinates given here are for the parish church. 55°40′10″N 1°48′07″W / 55.669389°N 1.801922°W / 55.669389; -1.801922
North Elmham, Norfolk NorthElmhamChapel.jpg dedication unknown 673–1070 The see of Elmham was created c. 673 when the East Anglian diocese, with its see at Dommoc, was split. The succession of bishops of Elmham was interrupted between c. 850 and c. 950, when the region was subject to Viking incursions. The restored see was translated to Thetford 1070. Church remains, in the hands of English Heritage, are held to date from c. 1100, the earlier cathedral having probably been built of wood. 52°45′20″N 0°56′41″E / 52.755532°N 0.944712°E / 52.755532; 0.944712
Padstow, Cornwall St Petroc's Church, Padstow 518–564? By tradition Saint Petroc landed 518 at Trebetherick, near what became Padstow (Petroc-stow = holy place of Petroc) after his death. He succeeded the hermit-bishop Wethinoc, who had founded a monastery. Petroc named it Lanwethinoc[15] and its church became Petroc's cathedral for Cornwall.[16] He died there c. 564. After a final Viking attack razed the monastery in 981, the monks moved to Bodmin, taking Petroc's relics. The parish church is mostly 15th-century and later, but is believed to occupy the original monastic site. 50°32′29″N 4°56′34″W / 50.541269°N 4.942856°W / 50.541269; -4.942856
Ramsbury, Wiltshire

Holy Cross Ramsbury.jpg

dedication unknown 909–1058 This short-lived diocese was created for Wiltshire in 909 out of the see of Sherborne, but reunited to Sherborne in 1058. The cathedral site is now occupied by the parish church of the Holy Cross (shown) with fabric of the 13th century and later.[17] 51°26′31″N 1°36′22″W / 51.442°N 1.606°W / 51.442; -1.606
Repton, Derbyshire dedication uncertain c. 655 – 669 An early double monastery (monks + nuns) of Celtic origin provided the supposed original see for Mercia, moved by St Chad to Lichfield when he became bishop in 669. The monastery was later razed by the Danes, but the site was re-used by an Augustinian priory of 1153, dissolved in 1538. Traces of the priory exist in Repton School (1559). Adjacent St Wystan's Church has a Saxon crypt, with Mercian royal burials, but this is held to be later than the monastic cathedral. Co-ordinates are for Repton School. 52°50′29″N 1°33′04″W / 52.8413°N 1.551°W / 52.8413; -1.551
St Germans, Cornwall St Germans Church 1.jpg Priory Church of St Germanus early 10th century – c. 1027 King Athelstan (of England - indicating Cornwall's loss of autonomy) appointed Conan as Bishop of Cornwall in 936, with his see at St Germans. Some earlier bishops of Cornwall (after Kenstec) were probably also based at St Germans. Lyfing, Bishop of Crediton, became also Bishop of Cornwall c. 1027, uniting the two sees at Crediton. The former cathedral then became collegiate c. 1050, an Augustinian priory c. 1184, and was dissolved 1539. The extant parish church preserves some Norman fabric. 50°23′48″N 4°18′35″W / 50.396686°N 4.309699°W / 50.396686; -4.309699
Selsey, Sussex Selseycathedral.jpg Selsey Abbey (Abbey Church of St Peter?) c. 680 - 1080 See moved to Chichester following the Council of London in 1075. Original site not known for sure, but thought to be either at St Wilfrid's Chapel, Church Norton or under the sea.[18][19][20] 50°45′18″N 0°45′55″W / 50.754907°N 0.765173°W / 50.754907; -0.765173
Sherborne, Dorset Sherborne abbey.jpg Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin 705–1075 See created 705 for western part of Wessex, until then part of see of Winchester. In 909 diocese of Sherborne was limited to Dorset by creation of separate dioceses for Devon and Cornwall (at Crediton), Wiltshire (at Ramsbury), and Somerset (at Wells). See of Ramsbury was reunited with Sherborne 1058. See translated to Old Sarum 1075. Sherborne became a Benedictine priory c. 993, an abbey 1122, dissolved 1539. Abbey church bought by townspeople to be the parish church. Sherborne School incorporates some abbey buildings. 50°56′48″N 2°31′00″W / 50.946693°N 2.516667°W / 50.946693; -2.516667
Soham, Cambridgeshire dedication(s) unknown c. 630? and c. 900 – c. 950 St Felix is said to have founded a monastery here c. 630, which may have had an early cathedral for East Anglia, soon translated to Dommoc. The monastery was destroyed by the Danes c. 870, but when rebuilt c. 900 may have served as a cathedral then, when the sees of both Dommoc and North Elmham had ceased to function. Traces remain in St Andrew's parish church at co-ordinates stated.[21][22] 52°20′01″N 0°20′13″E / 52.333478°N 0.336942°E / 52.333478; 0.336942
Stow, Lincolnshire St.Mary's church, Stow, Lincs. - - 48135.jpg Minster Church of St Mary c. 680 – c. 875 The large Mercian diocese established by Chad at Lichfield was divided 678 with a see created in the Kingdom of Lindsey for the Bishop of Lindsey. However its location is unknown, and the tradition that the cathedral was at Stow is now largely discounted in favour of a site in Lincoln itself. The see of Lindsey suffered from Danish invasion, and hence was translated to Dorchester in the mid-9th century. In its present form the important Stow Minster dates from the mid-10th century when, it is claimed, the minster effectively became a second cathedral for the north east of Dorchester diocese, with several diocesan officers and clergy based there until the see of Dorchester was translated to Lincoln 1067. It is now a parish church. 53°19′39″N 0°40′38″W / 53.32750°N 0.67722°W / 53.32750; -0.67722[23]

Cathedrals founded (or proposed) between 1066 and 1539[edit]

becoming Church of England at the Reformation

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Bath, Somerset Bath Abbey Exterior, Somerset, UK - Diliff.jpg Priory Church of St Peter & St Paul 1090–1539 Founded c. 676 for nuns, who were replaced c. 758 by monks, but the abbey was later destroyed by Danes. Refounded c. 963 (Benedictine from c. 980) but destroyed 1087. Rebuilt 1088, the see for Somerset was translated from Wells to Bath 1090 and it then became a cathedral priory. Bath cathedral became joint with Glastonbury 1195, but this arrangement ended 1218. Co-cathedral with Wells from 1245. Wells increasingly favoured by subsequent bishops, Bath neglected. Bath priory dissolved 1539, site sold, buildings partially demolished. Church given as parish church 1572. 51°22′53″N 2°21′32″W / 51.381458°N 2.358775°W / 51.381458; -2.358775[24]
Chester, Cheshire St John's Church, Chester.jpg Collegiate Church of St John the Baptist 1075–1095 A collegiate church c. 1057 – c. 1547, except for its brief period as a cathedral when the Council of London led to the Midlands see being translated from the smaller town of Lichfield in 1075 to ancient Chester, only to be translated again within a generation to Coventry in 1095. St John's has been a parish church ever since. 53°11′20″N 2°53′09″W / 53.189013°N 2.885706°W / 53.189013; -2.885706
Coventry, West Midlands WTC lee cleeton PrioryRuins4.JPG Cathedral Priory of St Mary, St Peter and St Osburga[25][26] 1095–1539 A Benedictine abbey was founded 1043 on the site of a Saxon nunnery founded by St Osburga. The see of Lichfield, translated to Chester 1075, moved to Coventry 1095, the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield thus having two cathedrals until 1539 when the monastic cathedral priory at Coventry was dissolved. Local funds were inadequate to save the priory church, so it was sold for demolition in 1545. Significant remains have been located and preserved. 52°24′32″N 1°30′31″W / 52.4089°N 1.5085°W / 52.4089; -1.5085
Glastonbury, Somerset GlastonburyAbbey Somerset.JPG Glastonbury Abbey 1195–1218 There is evidence of a 6th-century monastery (though legend asserts a 1st-century origin);[27] Benedictine from 940. In 1195 the Bishop of Bath was made (additionally) Abbot of Glastonbury styling himself Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury. This title persisted, opposed by the monks of Glastonbury, until 1218 when Pope Honorius III found for them and the title reverted.[28] The Abbey was dissolved 1539, and the site sold. The site with extensive remains is now in hands of the Church of England. 51°08′44″N 2°42′55″W / 51.145648°N 2.715318°W / 51.145648; -2.715318
Old Sarum, Wiltshire SarumCathedral.JPG Old Sarum Cathedral 1075–1219 The Normans built a surrounding wall, a castle and a cathedral on this Iron Age hillfort, and moved the see here from Sherborne in 1075. The cathedral was demolished and the see translated to Salisbury (New Sarum), 2 miles south, in 1219. The site of Old Sarum is in the hands of English Heritage, with extensive remains. 51°05′39″N 1°48′23″W / 51.094278°N 1.806403°W / 51.094278; -1.806403
Thetford, Norfolk dedication unknown 1072–1094 Briefly the see for East Anglia, translated from North Elmham in 1072, then to Norwich in 1094. Location of the cathedral is uncertain, but is believed to be near Thetford Grammar School which incorporates remains of a 13th-century Dominican friary that reused the cathedral site.[29] Brief 1998 archaeological excavations at the school produced a few masonry finds tentatively dated to the 11th or 12th centuries, but also speculation that the cathedral may have been wooden. Co-ordinates given are for the school. 52°24′49″N 0°44′40″E / 52.413527°N 0.744477°E / 52.413527; 0.744477
Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire 061203 ukbris wotch 01.jpg Collegiate Church of The Holy Trinity proposed A minster church was founded in c. 795, and re-founded as a Benedictine priory by Bishop Oswald of Worcester c. 964. The monks left to start Ramsey Abbey in 972. A monastery was re-founded by St Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester c. 1093, but the church became collegiate c. 1194. From 1286 Bishop Giffard of Worcester intended Westbury as second cathedral for the diocese, but he died 1302. A similar plan by Bishop Carpenter in 1455 led to enlargement of the college, a change of dedication from "St Mary" to "Holy Trinity", and his use of the title "Bishop of Worcester and Westbury", but this last ceased on his death 1476. The college was dissolved in 1544, becoming a parish church with no fabric now visible earlier than 1194. 51°29′38″N 2°36′58″W / 51.49395°N 2.616°W / 51.49395; -2.616

Cathedrals founded (or proposed) from 1540 to the present[edit]

Church of England from their foundation or the proposal

The cathedrals of St Albans and Southwell qualify for inclusion here because the 1540 proposals to raise them to cathedral status failed, as for many others in this section of the list. Later proposals succeeded in elevating them in 1877 and 1884 respectively, so they will be found also in lists of extant cathedrals.

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Aldfield, North Yorkshire Fountains Abbey crop, Yorkshire, UK - Diliff.jpg Abbey Church of St Mary proposed Known as Fountains Abbey, a Cistercian house of 1132, dissolved in 1539. In 1540 Henry VIII proposed the abbey church as a cathedral for a new Dales bishopric, but the site was sold. Extensive remains are in the hands of the National Trust.[30] 54°06′36″N 1°34′53″W / 54.109874°N 1.581312°W / 54.109874; -1.581312
Bodmin, Cornwall Priory Church of St Mary & St Petroc proposed An Augustinian priory was founded c. 1120 near the former monastic cathedral, dissolved 1538. The priory church was proposed 1540 by Henry VIII as a cathedral for Cornwall but not saved. Some masonry is visible by Priory House (offices), at the co-ordinates given, a short distance east of the parish church of St Petroc. 50°28′15″N 4°42′56″W / 50.470889°N 4.715556°W / 50.470889; -4.715556
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Abbey Ruins WM.jpg Abbey Church of St Mary & St Edmund proposed Founded c. 633, the remains of St Edmund, martyred in 870 were brought here in 903. The church became collegiate c. 925., then a Benedictine abbey in 1020, dissolved in 1539. Henry VIII proposed the abbey church as a cathedral in 1540, but the site was sold. The ruins (shown) are in the hands of the National Trust. 52°14′39″N 0°43′09″E / 52.2441°N 0.7192°E / 52.2441; 0.7192
Colchester, Essex StJohn'sAbbeyGatehouse Colchester.jpg Abbey Church of St John the Baptist proposed A Benedictine monastery founded here in 1096 was dissolved in 1539. The abbey church was a proposed cathedral of Henry VIII in 1540, possibly as an alternative to Waltham Abbey. Neither succeeded. Only the 15th-century abbey gatehouse (shown) remains (in the hands of English Heritage), other buildings were believed destroyed in the Civil War siege of 1648. The site has been in in military use since the mid-1800s. 51°53′08″N 0°54′05″E / 51.885544°N 0.901297°E / 51.885544; 0.901297
Coventry, West Midlands Coventry Cathedral Ruins with Rainbow edit.jpg St Michael's Cathedral 1918–1940 This was a very large medieval parish church, dating from c. 1300. Collegiate from 1908, it beame a cathedral in 1918 when the modern Diocese of Coventry was created. It was fire-bombed in 1940. (The new cathedral of St Michael, built 1951-1962, adjoins the ruins.) Extensive remains include the 14th-century tower with 15th-century spire. 52°24′29″N 1°30′27″W / 52.407955°N 1.507385°W / 52.407955; -1.507385
Dunstable, Bedfordshire Dunstable, the Priory - - 2937.jpg Priory Church of St Peter proposed An Augustinian house founded by 1125. Dissolved in 1540, the priory church was proposed by Henry VIII 1540 as a cathedral for Bedfordshire. Instead, the nave became a parish church. 51°53′10″N 0°31′03″W / 51.886°N 0.5176°W / 51.886; -0.5176
Guildford, Surrey HolyTrinityGuildford.jpg Holy Trinity Church 1927–1961 The current parish church, completed 1763, replaced a mediaeval, possibly Norman, church destroyed 1740 by the collapse of its steeple. Only the Weston Chapel (c. 1540) remains from the earlier building. Holy Trinity was pro-cathedral for the new Diocese of Guildford from its creation in 1927 until the dedication of the new cathedral in 1961. 51°14′09″N 0°34′15″W / 51.235929°N 0.570753°W / 51.235929; -0.570753[31]
Guisborough, Yorkshire Gisborough priory snow portrait.jpg Priory Church of St Mary proposed Augustinian house founded 1119, dissolved 1540. Among Henry VIII's 1540 proposals for new cathedrals, but instead buildings largely demolished. Remains (shown) in hands of English Heritage. (The town name is Guisborough, but the priory name is Gisborough). 54°32′09″N 1°02′56″W / 54.535833°N 1.048889°W / 54.535833; -1.048889
Launceston, Cornwall Priory Church of St Stephen proposed An Augustinian priory was founded 1127 on the site of a c. 830 church at St Stephens, north of the town. In 1155 the priory moved to a new site closer to the town. Dissolved 1539, the priory church was proposed in 1540 as a cathedral for Cornwall by Henry VIII, to no avail. Some remains exist near St Thomas the Apostle church, Launceston. 50°38′11″N 4°21′20″W / 50.636472°N 4.355417°W / 50.636472; -4.355417
Leicester, Leicestershire Leicester Abbey nave and cloister.jpg Abbey Church of St Mary de Pratis (St Mary of the Meadows) proposed An Augustinian house of 1143, Cardinal Wolsey died here in 1530. Dissolved in 1538, the abbey's church was proposed in 1540 by Henry VIII as a cathedral but the site was sold. Abbey Park (public) contains some remains: the abbey's perimeter walls plus its conjectured foundations. 52°38′55″N 1°08′13″W / 52.648683°N 1.136856°W / 52.648683; -1.136856
Osney, Oxfordshire Osney cathedral.jpg Abbey Church of St Mary 1542–1545 An Augustinian priory founded in 1129, raised to abbey status c. 1154, but dissolved 1539. Under 1540 proposals of Henry VIII the abbey church became the cathedral for Oxfordshire in 1542, but closed in 1545 when the see was translated to Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford 1546. There are few remains. 51°44′59″N 1°16′12″W / 51.74972°N 1.27000°W / 51.74972; -1.27000[32]
St Albans, Hertfordshire St-albans-cath.jpg Abbey Church of St Alban proposed A Benedictine abbey founded 793, it was dissolved 1539. Henry VIII proposed the abbey church as Hertfordshire's cathedral in 1540, but instead it was sold in 1553 to the townspeople to become the parish church. (It remained so until 1877 when it became a cathedral.) 51°45′01″N 0°20′32″W / 51.750278°N 0.342222°W / 51.750278; -0.342222
Shrewsbury, Shropshire ShrewsburyAbbey.JPG Abbey Church of St Peter & St Paul proposed A Benedictine abbey was founded in 1083 (on the site of the Anglo-Saxon church of St Peter), dissolved in 1539. The abbey church was proposed in 1540 as a cathedral for Shropshire by Henry VIII. Instead the nave was retained as a parish church. A 1922 proposal for cathedral status was rejected by one vote in the House of Lords in 1926.[33] 52°42′27″N 2°44′38″W / 52.7076°N 2.7438°W / 52.7076; -2.7438
Southend-on-Sea, Essex St Erkenwald's Church proposed? A very large church built 1905-1910, and soon anecdotally considered by some as a potential cathedral. It fell into disrepair, was declared redundant in 1978, and was demolished in 1995 after a severe fire.[34] 51°32′12″N 0°43′27″E / 51.536796°N 0.724218°E / 51.536796; 0.724218
Southwell, Nottinghamshire Southwell minster1.jpg Collegiate Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary proposed A minster church founded c. 956, it became collegiate shortly after. The college was dissolved in 1540 in a plan by Henry VIII to create a cathedral for Nottinghamshire (a possible alternative to Welbeck) but was reconstituted as a college by Parliament in 1543. Collegiate status was again removed 1548, reinstated 1557, and finally removed 1841. It continued as a parish church until it was raised to cathedral status in 1884. 53°04′36″N 0°57′14″W / 53.076667°N 0.953889°W / 53.076667; -0.953889
Waltham Abbey, Essex WalthamAbbey.JPG Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross & St Lawrence proposed A minster church on this site was founded c. 610 but abandoned 617, then re-established in the mid-8th century. Enlarged c. 1060, supposedly by King Harold II, who some legends say was buried here after his defeat by William I in 1066. It became an Augustinian priory in 1177, an abbey in 1184, but was dissolved in 1540. Proposed the same year as a cathedral by Henry VIII without success, the nave was saved as a parish church. It was a Royal Peculiar 1184-1865. 51°41′15″N 0°00′13″W / 51.6875°N 0.0035°W / 51.6875; -0.0035[35]
Welbeck, Nottinghamshire Abbey Church of St James the Great proposed A Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1140, it was dissolved in 1538. Proposed in 1540 by Henry VIII as a cathedral for Nottinghamshire (an alternative to Southwell), but the site was sold. The mansion later built on the site has traces of the former abbey). 53°15′44″N 1°09′22″W / 53.262222°N 1.156111°W / 53.262222; -1.156111
Westminster, London Westminster abbey west.jpg The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster[36] 1540–1550 An abbey founded in the 7th century, it was destroyed by Danes in the 9th century. Refounded c. 959, the abbey was suppressed in 1540 but immediately became one of Henry VIII's new cathedrals, the second for London (after St Paul's). Cathedral status was removed in 1550. Re-established as a Benedictine monastery by Mary I in 1556, it was dissolved in 1559, becoming a collegiate church in 1560 but still universally known as Westminster Abbey. It is a Royal Peculiar. 51°29′58″N 0°07′39″W / 51.499457°N 0.127518°W / 51.499457; -0.127518

Post-Reformation Roman Catholic Cathedrals[edit]

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
City of London St Mary Moorfields - exterior side.jpg St Mary's Church, Moorfields 1852–1869 Built in 1820 to replace the church destroyed by the Gordon Riots. It was the first pro-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Westminster. It was replaced by Our Lady of Victories Church and demolished in 1900. The present St Mary's Church was opened in 1902.[37] 51°31′7.64″N 0°5′8.57″W / 51.5187889°N 0.0857139°W / 51.5187889; -0.0857139
Clifton, Bristol Clifton Pro-Cathedral.JPG Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Apostles 1850–1973 Roman Catholic pro-cathedral replaced by Clifton Cathedral
Now closed
51°27′23″N 2°36′35″W / 51.456297°N 2.609720°W / 51.456297; -2.609720
Hereford, Herefordshire Belmont Abbey, Hereford.JPG Abbey Church of St Michael and All Angels 1854–1920 The Diocese of Newport and Menevia was created in 1850 with no official seat. Construction began in 1854 when it was agreed that it would be the pro-cathedral.[38] It became a Benedictine priory in 1859 and was consecrated in 1860. The see was translated to St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Cardiff in 1920. It is now Belmont Abbey. 52°02′22″N 2°45′23″W / 52.03932°N 2.756412°W / 52.03932; -2.756412 (Belmont Abbey)[39]
Kensington, London Our Lady of Victories RC Church - - 908618.jpg Our Lady of Victories Church 1869–1903 It was the pro-cathedral for nearly thirty-six years until Westminster Cathedral in London was opened in 1903 51°29′57″N 0°11′52″W / 51.499038°N 0.197657°W / 51.499038; -0.197657[40]
Liverpool, Merseyside Pro-Cathedral of St. Nicholas 1850–1967 Built in 1813, it was replaced by Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in 1967. It was then a parish church for the Archdiocese of Liverpool until its demolition in 1973 53°24′25″N 2°58′30″W / 53.407°N 2.975°W / 53.407; -2.975[41]
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire Cathedral of Our Lady Of Perpetual Succour 1878–1983 It was a pro-cathedral until the Roman Catholic see was translated to Coulby Newham in 1983. The former site was redeveloped following the demolition of the building after damage from an arson attack on 30 May 2000. 54°34′48″N 1°14′13″W / 54.580127°N 1.236844°W / 54.580127; -1.236844
Plymouth, Devon Our Lady and St John the Evangelist Church 1850–1858 Known as St. Mary's Church, it opened on 20 December 1807 and was the pro-cathedral for the Diocese of Plymouth from 1850 to 1858, when Plymouth Cathedral was opened. The church was then remodelled and given to the Little Sisters of the Poor. In 1884, they left and it was converted into housing. It was demolished in 1960.[42] 50°22′13″N 4°09′33″W / 50.3703°N 4.1593°W / 50.3703; -4.1593 (St Mary's Church, Plymouth)
Southampton, Hampshire St Joseph's RC Church, Southampton - - 495140.jpg St Joseph Church 1882 It served as a pro-cathedral from May to August 1882, until the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist was built.[43] 50°53′57″N 1°24′21″W / 50.899072°N 1.405937°W / 50.899072; -1.405937 (St. Joseph's Church, Southampton)
Southwark, London ArchbishopAmigoJubileeHall FormerPro-Cathedral.JPG Archbishop Amigo Jubilee Hall 1942–1958 It served as a pro-cathedral during the rebuilding of the adjacent cathedral following destruction during World War II 51°27′23″N 2°36′35″W / 51.456297°N 2.609720°W / 51.456297; -2.609720 (Archbishop Amigo Jubilee Hall (former pro-cathedral))
York, North Yorkshire St George's Catholic Church - - 866749.jpg St. George's Church 1850–1864 It served as a pro-cathedral for the Diocese of Beverley until the construction of St. Wilfrid's in York. 53°57′18″N 1°04′33″W / 53.9550°N 1.0758°W / 53.9550; -1.0758[44]
York, North Yorkshire St Wilfrid's RC Church, York.JPG St Wilfrid's Church 1864–1878 It succeeded St George's as pro-cathedral for the Diocese of Beverley until in 1878 it was split into the Diocese of Leeds and the Diocese of Middlesbrough. 53°57′43″N 1°05′05″W / 53.961900°N 1.084700°W / 53.961900; -1.084700[45]

Isle of Man[edit]

The Isle of Man is not part of Great Britain (nor the United Kingdom) politically, but it is ecclesiastically. For the Church of England it forms the Diocese of Sodor and Man in the Province of York; for the Roman Catholic church, it is in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. The long-standing political status of the Isle of Man is that of a Crown Dependency.

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Kirk Michael Bishopscourt IMG 0134.JPG The Chapel of St Nicholas at Bishopscourt 1895-1979 Bishopscourt was the Palace of the Diocesan Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1698 until it was sold in 1979. In 1895 the chapel was designated as pro-cathedral by Bishop Straton. Bishopscourt is now privately owned, with no public access. 54°17′59″N 4°39′15″W / 54.299722°N 4.654167°W / 54.299722; -4.654167
Peel St Germans' Cathedral, Peel Castle, Isle of Man.jpg St German's Cathedral, Peel Castle 5th century then
12th century – 1895
Tradition tells that St Patrick built a cathedral on a small tidal islet off the coast, later called St Patrick's Isle (now accessed by causeway from Peel). Stone-built monastic developments on St Patrick's Isle followed c. 900 and a cathedral was re-established by the 13th century for the island's diocese (which for a century included the Scottish Hebrides), within fortifications called Peel Castle. The Cathedral of St German gradually fell into disrepair. By 1780 it was an unusable ruin, and later bishops were enthroned at St Mary's, Castletown (now Old St Mary's) or (after 1895) at St George's, Douglas until the parish church of St German, built 1879-1884 in the City of Peel was raised to cathedral status in 1980. Peel Castle, including the monastic and cathedral ruins, is cared for by Manx National Heritage. 54°13′34″N 4°41′53″W / 54.226217°N 4.698144°W / 54.226217; -4.698144[46]


Pre-Reformation Cathedrals (or proposed Cathedrals)[edit]

Becoming Church of Scotland at the Scottish Reformation (1560)

For various reasons,[47] formal dioceses were formed later in Scotland than in the rest of Great Britain. Bishops certainly existed in areas from the earliest Christian times (often from Irish monastic missionary activity), but the territory over which an early (often monastic) bishop operated was limited and ill-defined. Hence the term "bishop's church" is sometimes used for a seat used by an early bishop rather than the word "cathedral" which some expect to be attached to a formal diocese. Traditionally, the medieval Scottish diocesan system was held to have been largely created by King David I (1083-1153), though this is an oversimplification.

By Act of the Scottish Parliament 1690 (confirming the Church's own final decision of 1689) the Church of Scotland became wholly Presbyterian, with no dioceses, no bishops, so no functioning cathedrals. At that date all Church of Scotland cathedrals became former cathedrals. Some still use the title, but for honorific purposes only.

The Scottish Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland maintain their own diocesan structures with their own cathedrals and bishops.

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Abercorn, West Lothian Abercorn Church, West Lothian.JPG dedication unknown 681-685 A monastery was founded c. 675 by St Wilfrid near the northern extremity of the newly expanded Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. In 681 St Trumwine from Lindisfarne was appointed "Bishop of those Picts who were then subject to English rule"[48] i.e. those north of the River Forth paying tribute to Northumbria. In 685 he abandoned his see to the Gododdin people following the defeat of the Northumbrians by the Picts at the Battle of Nechtansmere.[49] The existing kirk (12th century and later, shown) is on or very close to the monastic site.[50] 55°59′36″N 3°28′24″W / 55.99334°N 3.47326°W / 55.99334; -3.47326[51]
Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire St Machar's cathedral with watch house - - 174651.jpg St Machar's Cathedral 1131-1690 (Diocese of Aberdeen) Legend tells of a church founded 580 by St Machar in Old Aberdeen. In 1131 a Norman cathedral was built and dedicated to the saint when the see was translated from Mortlach (now Dufftown). After c. 230 years this cathedral was demolished and replaced (over the course of some 150 years) by the present building. However, in 1560 (in the Scottish Reformation) the chancel was demolished. In 1688 the central tower and spire collapsed, almost destroying the choir and transepts. Only the nave remained in use, forming the present High Kirk of Aberdeen. The surrounding ruins are cared for by Historic Scotland, and many features of interest remain. 57°10′11″N 2°06′07″W / 57.169700°N 2.102069°W / 57.169700; -2.102069[52]
Abernethy, Perth and Kinross Abernethy mercat cross and round tower, Perth and Kinross.JPG dedication unclear early 8th century - 11th century? The village was once a very important centre for the Picts. The history of a supposed bishopric is obscure. No bishops' names are known for certain, but Fergus may have been one of three here during the early 8th century.[53] Any bishopric moved to Muthill by the 12th century. The original church of St Brigid, said to date from the 6th century, may have been the cathedral. A small Augustinian priory of 1272 likely included Culdees, possibly associated with the 11th-12th century[54] round tower, now cared for by Historic Scotland. The priory, which may have used the ancient church, was suppressed and replaced by lay canons in the 15th century. It was in ruins by 1802, when the current parish kirk of St Brigid was built nearby, the older site then being used as a graveyard. 56°19′59″N 3°18′42″W / 56.333143°N 3.311670°W / 56.333143; -3.311670[55]
Birnie, Elgin, Moray Birnie Kirk.jpg St Brendan's Church c. 1140–1184 (Diocese of Moray) The first bishop of the diocese (Gregory) is recorded c. 1120[56] and he may have used this, likely Culdee, church, built c. 1140, as his bishop's church (or proto-cathedral). The bishopric moved to Kinneddar after the death of Bishop Simon in 1184. The ancient building is still in use as the parish kirk. 57°36′41″N 3°19′48″W / 57.61139°N 3.33000°W / 57.61139; -3.33000[57]
Birsay, Orkney St. Magnus Church.JPG St Magnus' Kirk[58] mid-11th century - 1137 (Diocese of Orkney) It has been claimed that the original church here, dedicated as Christ's Church or Christchurch, was built by Earl Thorfinn c. 1060, and used by several early Bishops of Orkney. Its exact location is disputed, some claiming it was not at Birsay on the mainland but on the Brough of Birsay, a tidal island just offshore.[54] The balance of evidence favours a mainland location close to the ruined palace of the 16th-century Stewart Earls of Orkney at Birsay.[59] The much-rebuilt St Magnus' church, likely re-dedicated following the reburial of St Magnus here soon after his murder on Egilsay, is almost certainly where Thorfinn's church stood. There is also evidence of a bishop's residence nearby. 59°07′46″N 3°18′59″W / 59.129444°N 3.316389°W / 59.129444; -3.316389
Brechin, (Angus), Perth and Kinross Brechin, Cathedral and Round Tower.jpg Cathedral of the Holy Trinity ante 1150 (Diocese of Brechin) The former cathedral building, now Brechin High Kirk, dates from the 13th century. The site was formerly occupied by a Culdee monastery, possibly derived from Abernethy. After the Scottish Reformation the choir was abandoned and the rest of the building suffered from neglect. A much-criticized reconstruction completed 1806 was repaired and improved by more sensitive restoration 1900-1902. Original parts remaining include the western gable and massive square tower, parts of the choir, the nave pillars and clerestorey. Next to the church is a very fine round tower, superior to the Abernethy example, some 26.2m high, 4.9m diameter, dating from c. 1000, and cared for by Historic Scotland. 56°43′50″N 2°39′44″W / 56.730694°N 2.662125°W / 56.730694; -2.662125
Dornoch, (Sutherland), Highland Dornoch Cathedral.jpg St Mary's Cathedral 1239–1689? (Diocese of Caithness) After earlier "bishop's churches" (such as St Peter's, Thurso; St Thomas's, Skinnet; and possibly a church in Halkirk), the only designated cathedral for Caithness was begun by Gilbert, the fourth bishop. The work on, or at least the planning of, the cathedral probably began soon after Bishop Gilbert's elevation c. 1223, following the maiming of the second bishop (John) and the murder of the third (Adam). The choir was completed by 1239, when Bishop Adam's remains were removed from Skinnet and re-interred here. The nave appears to have been roofed soon after 1291:[60] it collapsed c. 1428, but was repaired. In 1570 a local feud severely damaged the whole building by fire, though all but the nave was restored by the Earl of Sutherland 1614-22. The nave was drastically rebuilt on a narrower plan 1835-1837 by a later Countess of Sutherland, in part to create a family mausoleum. The building remains in use as a parish kirk. 57°52′51″N 4°01′51″W / 57.880729°N 4.030695°W / 57.880729; -4.030695[61]
Dunblane, Stirling Dunblane Cathedral.jpg Cathedral Church of St Blaan and St Laurence[62] 1155-1689 (Diocese of Dunblane) Outwith the traditional link with St Blane in c. 600, the site boasts burial cross slabs confirming the presence of a Christian community here by the 9th century. The earliest bishop of Dunblane of whom we are certain was Laurence in 1155. That date also fits both the (lower part of the) tower attached to the cathedral's nave and the similar (but smaller) tower at Muthill, suggesting that both sites may once have been used together.[63] A friar named Clement became bishop in 1233; he reversed earlier diocesan decline, and began construction of the present building. The late 15th century and the first half of the 16th brought more building work, including the upper third of the tower. After the Reformation the nave became unused and its roof gradually fell down during the 17th century.[64] The choir was restored 1816-1819, followed by restoration of the nave 1888-1893. The whole site is cared for by Historic Scotland.[63][65] 56°11′22″N 3°57′54″W / 56.189550°N 3.964949°W / 56.189550; -3.964949
Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross Dunkeld Cathedral.jpg St Columba's Cathedral 9th century
c. 1120 - 1689
(Diocese of Dunkeld) Tradition tells of a monastery founded by the early 7th century after a visit by St Columba, who was based at Iona. By the 9th century the site had a stone-built Culdee monastery possessing relics of St Columba. In c. 869 its abbot was described as the chief bishop of the kingdom,[66] but very soon after St Andrews became the chief bishopric of the Scottish church. The cathedral was re-founded in the 12th century, though most surviving fabric dates from the 15th century (there are traces of Culdee stonework). In the Scottish Reformation the nave was unroofed, but the 13th-century choir has been used ever since as the parish kirk. The cathedral ruins (but not the choir) are in the care of Historic Scotland. 56°33′54″N 3°35′23″W / 56.56500°N 3.58972°W / 56.56500; -3.58972
Egilsay, Orkney St. Magnus Church, Egilsay - - 1434978.jpg St. Magnus' Church It seems unlikely that this island church ever was a cathedral for the Bishop of Orkney, but "it may have been regarded as a bishop's church".[67] The present ruined mid-12th-century church commemorates the killing here of St Magnus by his brother c. 1118, and is usually dated decades later than 1135 when Magnus was sainted. He spent the night before his murder in a church on Egilsay,[68] its site probably reused for this church. His body was buried on Egilsay, reburied at Birsay, and finally moved to Kirkwall. Unused since the early 19th century, the church (now unroofed with its round tower, unique in Orkney, reduced in height) is in the care of Historic Scotland. 59°09′25″N 2°56′07″W / 59.1569°N 2.9353°W / 59.1569; -2.9353
Elgin, Moray Elgin cathedral 1.jpg Cathedral of the Holy Trinity 1224 c. 1560 (Diocese of Moray) Building began promptly when Bishop Andrew received papal permission in 1224 to move the see from Spynie to Elgin. A fire in 1270 saw the rebuilt cathedral enlarged and a Chapter House added.[69] More building work followed another fire in June 1390, the result of an attack by Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan. Some further development took place during the 15th century, the last being a restructuring of the Chapter House 1482-1501. At the Scottish Reformation in 1560 the cathedral was totally abandoned in favour of the 12th-century parish kirk of St Giles, the building being left to decay and collapse. There are impressive ruins in the care of Historic Scotland. 57°39′02″N 03°18′20″W / 57.65056°N 3.30556°W / 57.65056; -3.30556
Fortrose, (Ross), Highland Fortrose Cathedral.jpg Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Boniface of Fortrose mid-13th century - mid-17th century (Diocese of Ross) The see was moved here in the first half of the 13th century from Rosmarkie to a new red sandstone building consisting of a rectangular nave and choir, with (externally) a NW tower and a NE sacristy-cum- chapter house. A SW aisle and chapel were added in the 14th century.[69] Ruins of the last two parts remain. Ecclesiastical use of the building may have continued for a while after the Scottish Reformation of 1560, but between then and c. 1650 (when the main structure was robbed of stone for Cromwell's citadel in Inverness) it was used as the burgh's town hall and prison. The ruins are in the care of Historic Scotland.[70] 57°34′51″N 4°07′50″W / 57.580885°N 4.130495°W / 57.580885; -4.130495
Glasgow, Strathclyde Wfm glasgow cathedral.jpg St Mungo's Cathedral 1114-1689 (Diocese, then Archdiocese of Glasgow from 1492-1689) Tradition has a church settlement founded here by St Kentigern (St Mungo) in the 6th century, from which Glasgow developed. The Diocese of Glasgow began with the appointment of Bishop John (1114-1147); suggested earlier bishops were not Glasgow-based.[69][71][72] Most of the cathedral fabric is 13th-century, though the central tower and spire are 15th-century, and the Blackadder Aisle dates from c.1500. Exceptionally among pre-Reformation Scottish cathedrals, Glasgow's was never unroofed, which helps to explain its good and complete condition. The tomb of St Mungo is in the crypt. The building, which forms the High Kirk of Glasgow, is owned by the Crown and maintained by Historic Scotland. 55°51′47″N 4°14′04″W / 55.862966°N 4.234436°W / 55.862966; -4.234436
Halkirk, (Caithness), Highland Halkirk, Caithness, Auld Kirk.jpg dedication uncertain Tradition tells of a church founded here by St Fergus in the early 8th century, before Caithness fell under Norse control. Claims that the cathedral of the Bishop of Caithness[54] was located here are unresolved. Halkirk was one part of the large parish of Skinnet until the 13th century.[73] Clearly there was a bishop's residence here as the third bishop, Bishop Adam, was murdered in his Halkirk kitchen in 1222. His body was taken to nearby Skinnet for burial.[74] Halkirk and Skinnet became separate parishes in the 13th century, but were reunited by 1538 as the parish of Halkirk.[75] The parish church was replaced in 1753 on the same site by a new kirk, declared redundant in 1934 and called "Halkirk Auld Kirk" (shown). No pre-1753 remains are known. 58°31′01″N 3°29′11″W / 58.5169°N 3.4863°W / 58.5169; -3.4863
Hoddom, Dumfries and Galloway dedication unknown late 6th century Tradition tells of a cathedral founded in the late 6th century by St Kentigern (St Mungo).[76] Any cathedral seems not to have survived his death in 612, but a monastery developed.[77] A parish church was built on the site in the 12th century. It was replaced after the Scottish Reformation by a new kirk of 1609 nearer to Ecclefechan at Hoddom Cross, but this was destroyed by fire in 1975. The co-ordinates given are for the former monastic site. 55°02′30″N 3°18′20″W / 55.041563°N 3.305430°W / 55.041563; -3.305430
Iona, Argyll and Bute Iona Abbey.jpg St Mary's Cathedral 7th century - 10th century?[78] An ancient place of Christian worship, started by St Columba in the 7th century. After a short spell in the 17th century (so Post-Reformation) as the see of the Bishop of the Isles, it was rebuilt in the 20th century by, and for, the Iona Community.[79][80] 56°19′34″N 6°24′02″W / 56.326127°N 6.400438°W / 56.326127; -6.400438
Kingarth, Argyll and Bute St Blane's Church - - 1380.jpg Monastery of St Blane 6th century A monastery was reputedly built here by Saint Cathan. He was succeeded as bishop by his nephew Saint Blane. It was a cathedral until St Blane's death c. 590. The monastery was destroyed by Viking raids around 790. A new church was built on the site in the 1100s, but fell out of use after 1560. It is in the care of Historic Scotland.[81] 55°45′N 5°02′W / 55.75°N 5.03°W / 55.75; -5.03
Kinneddar, Moray Kineddar Church Location.jpg Kirk of Kinneddar c. 1187 - c. 1208 (Diocese of Moray) Shortly after 1184 the seat of the Bishop of Moray was moved from Birnie to Kinneddar.[82] Kinneddar Castle, adjacent to the new cathedral, became a residence of the bishop from 1187 until the late 14th century: now hardly a trace remains. The seat of the bishop, however, was moved again c. 1208 to Spynie by Bishop Bricus (1203-1222).[83] Following the Scottish Reformation the former cathedral was abandoned in favour of a new kirk at Drainie when parishes were merged c. 1669. A mound in the old churchyard at Kinneddar, used for later burials, was confirmed by surveys to be covering the foundations of the old kirk. 57°42′34″N 3°18′20″W / 57.709451°N 3.305645°W / 57.709451; -3.305645
Kirkwall, Orkney St Magnus Cthl Kirkwall.jpg St Magnus' Cathedral 1137–1689 (Diocese of Orkney) In 1135 the bones of the newly sainted St Magnus (murdered on Egilsay c. 1118) were moved from the cathedral at Birsay to the church of St Olaf near Kirkwall (of which only a sandstone arch remains). The building of a cathedral at Kirkwall, dedicated to St Magnus, began in 1137, at the instigation of his nephew, Earl Rögnvald Kolsson (St Ronald of Orkney) and of William the Old, Bishop of Orkney. Consecration, with the translation of St Magnus' relics from St Olaf's, probably took place before 1151, when both protagonists left on Crusade. Further building was done during the next four centuries.[84] Restorations during the 19th and 20th centuries led to the discovery of supposed relics of St Ronald and St Magnus[85] in pillars in the choir, the oldest part of the cathedral. The building houses a congregation of the Church of Scotland, but under a 1486 Charter of King James III it is owned by the town of Kirkwall. 58°58′56″N 2°57′32″W / 58.98222°N 2.95889°W / 58.98222; -2.95889
Lismore, Argyll and Bute StMoluogsCathedral.jpg Lismore Kirk c. 1200 - c. 1650 (Diocese of Argyll) By tradition chosen by St Moluag in the 6th century for a monastery, Lismore became the see of a bishop in the 12th century when the Diocese of Argyll was created from the western portion of the Diocese of Dunkeld. The cathedral was small and simple, and the new diocese poor, leading twice to proposals to translate the see to Saddell Abbey (which never happened). The 14th-century cathedral was abandoned after the Reformation; the whole building was roofless by 1679,[86] the tower and nave later razed (their outline can be seen). The choir was restored to be used as the parish kirk. 56°32′4″N 5°28′50″W / 56.53444°N 5.48056°W / 56.53444; -5.48056
Madderty, Perth and Kinross Inchaffray Abbey Ruins 1794.JPG Inchaffray Abbey Church of the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist proposed In c. 1200 Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn, founded an Augustinian priory on a site which already had a church (dedicated to St John) and "a group of ecclesiastics known in contemporary documents as 'brethren'",[87] quite possibly Culdees. The priory became an abbey c. 1220. By c. 1230 Dunblane Cathedral was roofless and had few staff,[88] so in 1237 it was proposed that the see of Dunblane be transferred to Inchaffray Abbey. However, Bishop Clement of Dunblane (1233–58) resolved the situation at Dunblane and the proposal was abandoned. For some time the Abbey remained large and relatively well-off, but by the time of the Scottish Reformation in 1560 it was among the poorest.[89] A few ruins remain on farmland. 56°23′01″N 3°41′43″W / 56.3836°N 3.6954°W / 56.3836; -3.6954
Mortlach, (now Dufftown), Moray St Moluag's Cathedral 1011 to 1131 (Diocese of Aberdeen) The Chronicle of John of Fordun records the establishment of an episcopal seat in Mortlach aided by Malcolm II of Scotland, c. 1011. The see was translated to Aberdeen in 1131.[90] The placename of Mortlach was superseded in 1817 when a new village of Dufftown was created to the immediate north of the church (now located in the Dufftown district known as Kirktown of Mortlach). The parish kirk, much rebuilt, is on the cathedral's original site, and contains some ancient fabric. 57°26′27″N 3°07′34″W / 57.44078°N 3.12613°W / 57.44078; -3.12613
Muthill, Perth and Kinross Muthill Church.jpg dedication unknown c. 12th century (Diocese of Dunblane) Culdees were here in the 12th century[91] when Abernethy's bishopric moved to Muthill. The bishops based here often took the title "Bishop of Strathearn". They had moved to Dunblane by the 13th century, leaving their cathedral here, with its distinctive tower, as a parish church. Enlarged in the 15th century, it was abandoned for a new kirk built 1826-28. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland. 56°19′34″N 3°49′57″W / 56.326164°N 3.832428°W / 56.326164; -3.832428
Rosemarkie, (Ross), Highland Cathedral Church of St Peter early 8th century and 1124 until mid-13th century (Diocese of Ross} A monastic cathedral was reputedly founded by St Curetán (also known as St Boniface) as Bishop of Ross in c. 716. The Diocese of Ross was restored by David I of Scotland in 1124. Remains of Curetán's church have been found and placed in the current parish kirk, built in 1821 on the same site. In the mid-13th century, Fortrose Cathedral was built 2 km ESE, and the see was translated there.[92] 57°35′30″N 4°06′55″W / 57.59162°N 4.11516°W / 57.59162; -4.11516
Saddell, Kintyre, Argyll Saddell Abbey proposed A Cistercian monastery founded in 1160, completed 1207. In 1249 it was proposed that the seat of the Bishop of Argyll should move here from St Moluag's Cathedral, Lismore because of the latter's then ruinous state. This did not happen then, but in 1507 King James IV declared that Sadell's monastic life had ceased and he transferred the Abbey's lands to the Bishop of Argyll who, in 1508, built a residence here using stone from the defunct Abbey. In 1512 James IV once more tried to have the see of Argyll moved to Sadell, but again no move took place and the Abbey fell further into ruin. The site eventually became a graveyard but some Abbey remains can be found. 55°31′55″N 5°30′41″W / 55.531944°N 5.511389°W / 55.531944; -5.511389
St Andrews, Fife St Rule's Tower, St Andrews - - 152701.jpg Church of St Regulus (or St Rule) c. 1070[93] - early 14th century (Diocese of St Andrews) Named for a legendary 4th-century Greek who, one tradition says, brought bones of St Andrew to Scotland. A more likely source of the relics is said to be Bishop Acca of Hexham (also dedicated to St Andrew), who was deposed in 732, returned to Scotland, and died 740.[94][95] Somehow relics arrived by the 8th century on the coast at Kilrymont (or varieties of the name), a place later called St Andrews because of his relics. A monastery on the shore, which survived as the Church of St Mary on the Rock, may have cared for the relics[96] before they were enshrined in a cathedral. The first cathedral at St Andrews, dedicated to St Regulus, was built maybe c. 1070.[97] Bishops of St Andrews, the chief centre of the Scottish church by the mid-9th century,[94] are recorded from c. 1028[98] though no cathedral earlier than that of St Regulus is known. Strongly built of squared ashlar blocks as a tower and chancel, it had a nave added to the west and a probable presbytery to the east c. 1144 when it became an Augustinian cathedral priory. The original tower and (unroofed) chancel stand in the precincts of the later cathedral of St Andrew, all in the care of Historic Scotland. 56°20′23″N 2°47′11″W / 56.33965°N 2.786383°W / 56.33965; -2.786383
St Andrews, Fife St Andrews Cathedral Ruins Front.jpg St. Andrew's Cathedral early 14th century-1560 (Diocese, then Archdiocese of St Andrews from 1472-1689) Work began in 1158 on a successor Augustinian cathedral priory to St Regulus, and it was planned on a grand scale, as the pre-eminent bishopric in Scotland. It was finally consecrated in 1318, the largest church ever built in Scotland. Several mishaps occurred during construction and later: the west end blew down c. 1270; it was damaged by fire in 1376; the south transept blew down in 1409. At the time of the Reformation mobs attacked and looted the cathedral in 1559; by 1561 it was a ruin used as a quarry for stone and later as a burial place.[96] The large site enclosing the ruins is in the care of Historic Scotland. 56°20′32″N 2°47′29″W / 56.342138°N 2.791386°W / 56.342138; -2.791386
Skeabost (Skye), Highland Chapel on Saint Columba's Isle - - 311656.jpg Church of St Columba late 14th century - 1630s? (Diocese of the Isles) By a 1266 treaty Scotland took possession of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man (together called the Sudreys) from Norway, which had held them for more than 200 years. The principal cathedral for the Diocese of Sodor (a word derived from Sudrey) was on St Patrick's Isle at Peel, Isle of Man. During the 14th century the Isle of Man came under English control. The Hebrides became the Scottish Diocese of the Isles with the cathedral for its bishop located on Skye. Attempts were made in 1433 and 1498 to move the see to Iona,[99] but this only took place in the 1630s, after the cathedral on Skye had been abandoned following the Reformation. Some ruins remain. 57°27′12″N 6°18′21″W / 57.4532°N 6.3057°W / 57.4532; -6.3057
Skinnet, (Caithness), Highland St. Thomas's Church late 12th century - 1239 (Diocese of Caithness) Soon after Bishop Adam, the third Bishop of Caithness, was murdered 1222 at Halkirk (then part of Skinnet parish),[100] his body was buried at the parish church of Skinnet.[101] His successor, Bishop Gilbert, soon began to plan the move to Dornoch Cathedral, away from the area of danger. When the cathedral was consecrated, in 1239, the body of Bishop Adam was removed from Skinnet and re-interred at Dornoch. This use of Skinnet for the first interment (and not any church there may have been at Halkirk itself), may mean that Skinnet served as cathedral before Dornoch. The dedication of Skinnet parish church to Archbishop St Thomas Becket implies that it was built/rebuilt (or at least rededicated) soon after his martyrdom at Canterbury in 1170. Long abandoned, it is reduced to a few low walls, with some graves, in a field. No village remains. 58°22′40″N 3°29′41″W / 58.3777°N 3.4947°W / 58.3777; -3.4947
Spynie, Elgin, Moray Holy Trinity Cathedral c. 1208 - 1224 (Diocese of Moray) The see of the Bishop of Moray was translated from Kinneddar to a late 12th-century church here c. 1208. Bishops Richard (1187-1203) and Bricius (1203-1222) are buried here. Bishop Andrew (1223-1242), with the consent of Pope Honorius, had the see translated to Elgin in 1224.[102] The former cathedral remained a parish church until c. 1735, when a new kirk was erected in the same parish, at New Spynie (or Quarrywood). Some stonework was reused in the new building, though much of the old church must have remained in situ, as a gable was reported falling from it in 1850. By 1962 only a slight mound in its graveyard marked the location of the former cathedral, the foundations of which had been measured at about 74 feet by 35 feet (22.2m x 10.5m). The site lies c. 500 m across a field SSW from the ruined Spynie Palace, a residence of the bishops of Moray from the late 12th century to 1689 (with some interruptions after 1560). The Palace ruins are in the care of Historic Scotland. 57°40′21″N 3°17′42″W / 57.672551°N 3.294929°W / 57.672551; -3.294929
Thurso, (Caithness), Highland

Thurso (8990368425).jpg

Old St Peter's Kirk This ruinous parish kirk may have begun as a mainland outpost for the Norse bishopric of Orkney, as architectural evidence points to an early 12th century origin.[103] With the founding of a separate Diocese of Caithness in c. 1150, "it may have acted as a proto-cathedral for the diocese",[104] where the term proto-cathedral refers to a church used by a bishop before a settled cathedral (or pro-cathedral) has been designated. Records show further episcopal use of St Peter's as "throughout much of the 17th century the Diocesan Synod met alternately at Dornoch and Thurso",[105] the 13th-century Dornoch Cathedral having been rendered ruinous in 1570. With the end of episcopacy in 1689, St Peter's became simply the parish kirk for Thurso. By 1828 the structure was poor[106] so in 1832 it was abandoned in favour of a new kirk built nearer the centre of the town. The site is owned by the Highland Council. Access is not normally possible. 58°35′48″N 3°30′54″W / 58.596575°N 3.515042°W / 58.596575; -3.515042
Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway The Candida Casa, dedicated to St Martin of Tours 5th century - early 9th century The Candida Casa ("White House") was the name given to the small stone church which by tradition was built c. 397 by the local Briton, St Ninian. The stone used was probably white-washed, and the name became attached to the locality (Whithorn). The church developed into a cathedral and monastery, before coming under the control of Northumbria in 731. Its list of bishops ended early in the 9th century[107] when Northumbrian control (and protection) ceased. Excavations at the site 1984-1996 have found the location of Casa Candida, just beyond and south east of the boundary wall of the Priory site. A series of markers have been placed tracing the outline of the cathedral as it was c. 730.[108] The Priory site is in the care of Historic Scotland. 54°43′59″N 4°25′03″W / 54.733189°N 4.417525°W / 54.733189; -4.417525
Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway Whithorn Priory 20080423 nave.jpg Cathedral of St Martin of Tours and St Ninian c. 1130 - 1690 (Diocese of Galloway) The see of Whithorn was refounded 1128 within the English province of York (until 1472; then in the Archdiocese of Glasgow). It became a Premonstratensian cathedral priory in 1177. After 1560 parts of the 12th-century cathedral fell into disrepair. From 1690 the nave (only) became the parish kirk. In the early 1700s the main tower collapsed. In 1822 a new parish kirk was built nearby (dedicated to St Ninian) and much of the old monastic site was cleared for use as a burial ground. There remains, however, the roofless nave of the cathedral, and the crypt, in the care of Historic Scotland. 54°44′01″N 4°25′03″W / 54.733500°N 4.417389°W / 54.733500; -4.417389

Post-Reformation Cathedrals[edit]

Church of Scotland

During and after the Scottish Reformation (1560) cathedrals were increasingly neglected and abandoned, but episcopacy continued to be supported by Stuart Kings.

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Edinburgh, Lothian St. Giles' Cathedral front.jpg St Giles' Cathedral 1633–1638 and 1661–1689 (Diocese of Edinburgh, created 1633 from part of the Archdiocese of St Andrews) Dating from the 12th century and much enlarged over the following centuries (collegiate from 1468), St Giles' was elevated to cathedral status in 1633 by King Charles I for his Scottish coronation.[109] It became the seat of the Bishop of Edinburgh until 1638, when the Scottish church abolished episcopacy. Following the Bishops' Wars and the English Civil War, restoration of the monarchy in 1660 brought the uneasy return of bishops, until 1689. The complex building was greatly simplified by a major rebuilding of 1829-1833, though early internal features remain.[110] It contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle. St Giles' is formally the High Kirk of Edinburgh. 55°56′58″N 3°11′27″W / 55.949524°N 3.190928°W / 55.949524; -3.190928[111]
Iona, Argyll and Bute Iona Abbey.jpg St Mary's Cathedral 1630s-1638 and 1661-1689 (Diocese of the Isles) Though an ancient place of Christian worship, started by St Columba and fellow Irish missionaries in the 7th century, it only became a cathedral for the Bishop of the Isles under Charles I following a brief period of preparation as a collegiate church. The building fell into disrepair during the 18th and 19th centuries, but was rescued and rebuilt by the Iona Community in the 20th century.[79][80] 56°19′34″N 6°24′02″W / 56.326127°N 6.400438°W / 56.326127; -6.400438

Post-Reformation Roman Catholic Cathedrals[edit]

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway Shakespeare St, Dumfries.jpg St Andrew's Cathedral 1878–1961 Built in 1815 and became a cathedral with the restoration of the Scottish hierarchy in 1878 for the Diocese of Galloway. On 10 May 1961, it burnt down, the cathedral was translated to Ayr and a new church was built in its place over the original crypt of the old cathedral.[112] 55°04′06″N 3°36′24″W / 55.068352°N 3.606584°W / 55.068352; -3.606584
Ayr, South Ayrshire AyrRCCathedral.jpg Good Shepherd Cathedral 1957–2007 Built in 1957 as a parish church. In 1961, after the original cathedral in Dumfries burnt down, Good Shepherd became the Diocese of Galloway. In 2007, because of falling attendance, the cathedral closed and it was translated to St Margaret's, Ayr.[113] In 2010, work was undertaken to convert the former church into flats. It is a category C listed building.[114] 55°28′11″N 4°35′57″W / 55.469842°N 4.599087°W / 55.469842; -4.599087


The dioceses of the Welsh church, certainly from Norman times, were, sometimes reluctantly,[115] part of the English church in the Province of Canterbury. This situation continued after the establishment of the Church of England at the Reformation until 1920, when the Church in Wales was disestablished and became a self-governing member of the Anglican Communion.

Location Image Name Dates Notes Coordinates
Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire Egwlys San Pedr.JPG St Peter's Church proposed In 1536 William Barlow, the newly appointed Bishop of St David's, proposed to move that see to Carmarthen,[116] at the time still the most important and populous town in Wales. It then had just one parish church, St Peter's, founded in the early 12th century, which is still the largest parish church in Wales. Had the opposition of the Chapter of St David's Cathedral not defeated the proposal by 1539,[117] St Peter's might have been raised to cathedral status. As of 2015, the church is in some danger of closure. The nave and chancel date from the 14th century, the tower from the 15th and 16th. 51°51′29″N 4°18′10″W / 51.858001°N 4.302713°W / 51.858001; -4.302713
Denbigh, Denbighshire Leicester's Church, Denbigh.jpg St David's Church proposed Generally known as Leicester's Church, this was begun in 1578 by Robert Dudley, to supersede the nearby St Hilary's Chapel as the principal church for Denbigh (the parish church of St Marcella being some distance from the town). Tradition holds that St David's, planned as a large preaching hall (with a 'Gothic' exterior), was intended to replace St Asaph Cathedral, but lack of funds caused building to stop in 1584. The remaining ruin, in the care of Cadw, lies just below the walls of the (also ruined) Denbigh Castle.[118] There is no access to the interior of the church ruin. 53°10′56″N 3°25′09″W / 53.1823°N 3.4193°W / 53.1823; -3.4193
Llanbadarn Fawr, Ceredigion Parish church, Llanbadarn Fawr, from the southeast - - 791249.jpg St Padarn's Church 6th century and proposed Supposedly founded c. 515 by St Padarn, a 6th-century bishop and abbot, the Celtic clas church became a priory in c.1116, then a collegiate church (c.1136-c.1360). With the 1920 disestablishment of the Church in Wales, and given the great size of the Diocese of St David's, elevation to cathedral status was considered for a new diocese, but St Padarn's remains a parish church, near Aberystwyth. 52°24′32″N 4°03′40″W / 52.409°N 4.061°W / 52.409; -4.061
Rhuddlan, Denbighshire St Mary's Church, Rhuddlan.jpg not known proposed In 1281 King Edward I and Anian II, Bishop of St Asaph, petitioned the Pope in Rome to approve the transfer of the see of St Asaph to a new, larger, fortified town being built (for English settlers) at Rhuddlan, due to the claimed remoteness and danger of St Asaph (Welsh: Llanelwy) itself. But a Welsh rising in 1282 and further territorial gains by the English led to the abandonment of the proposal by 1283. The intended site of the cathedral in Rhuddlan was probably used for the construction of the new parish church, St Mary's, in c.1300 (shown).[119] 53°17′27″N 3°28′11″W / 53.2907°N 3.4696°W / 53.2907; -3.4696

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