Chelmsford Cathedral

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Chelmsford Cathedral
Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd
Chelmsford Cathedral Exterior, Essex, UK - Diliff.jpg
Chelmsford Cathedral, July 2014
Chelmsford Cathedral is located in Essex
Chelmsford Cathedral
Chelmsford Cathedral
Coordinates: 51°44′08″N 0°28′27″E / 51.7355°N 0.4741°E / 51.7355; 0.4741
LocationChelmsford, Essex
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
Years builtc.1200 – c.1520
DioceseChelmsford (since 1914)
Bishop(s)Guli Francis-Dehqani
DeanNicholas Henshall
PrecentorAlison Kennedy
Canon PastorIvor Moody (Vice Dean)
Canon MissionerImogen Nay
Organist(s)James Davy

Chelmsford Cathedral in the city of Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom, is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd. It became a cathedral when the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford was created in 1914 and is the seat of the Bishop of Chelmsford.[1]


Parish church[edit]

The nave

The church of St Mary the Virgin in Chelmsford was probably first built along with the town around 1200. It was rebuilt in the 15th and early 16th centuries (starting around 1520), with walls of flint rubble, stone and brick. The church has a tower with a spire and a ring of thirteen bells, twelve of which were cast by John Warner & Sons at Cripplegate[citation needed] and were dedicated in 1913.[2] The nave partially collapsed in 1800, and was rebuilt by the County architect John Johnson, retaining the Perpendicular design, but using Coade stone piers and tracery,[3] and a plaster ceiling. The upper part of the chancel was rebuilt in 1878.[4]


The chancel

In 1914 the church became the cathedral for the newly created diocese of Chelmsford.[4]

The south porch was extended in 1953 to mark Anglo-American friendship after World War II and the many US airmen stationed in Essex. In 1954, the cathedral was additionally dedicated to Saints Peter and Cedd. In 1983, the interior of the cathedral was extensively refurbished, with a new floor, seating, altar, bishop's throne, font and artwork. In 1994 and 1995 two pipe organs were installed, the first in the nave and the second in the chancel. The stained-glass windows were all installed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 2000 a sculpture, Christ in Glory by Peter Eugene Ball, was placed above the chancel arch. In 2004 two further major works of art were commissioned, and are now in place: Mark Cazelet's Tree of Life painting in the North Transept, and Philip Sanderson's altar frontal in the Mildmay Chapel.

The cathedral celebrates its links with Thomas Hooker, who was Chelmsford Town Lecturer between 1626 and 1629. He fled to the New World because of his Puritan views and founded the town of Hartford, Connecticut and was one of the founders of American democracy.

Dean and chapter[edit]

As of 8 August 2019:[5]

  • DeanNicholas Henshall (installed 2 February 2014)
  • Vice Dean & Canon Pastor – Ivor Moody (canon, Vice Dean & Pastor since 17 April 2010 installation)[6]
  • Canon for Worship & Music (i.e., precentor) and Tutor in Liturgy and Worship, St Mellitus College – Alison Kennedy (since 16 September 2018 installation)[7][8]
  • Canon for Evangelism & Discipleship (i.e., Missioner) – Imogen Nay (since 16 June 2019 installation)[9]


The Nave organ
  • The cathedral music department, led by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, includes the Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls' Choir, Organ Scholar, Music and Liturgy Assistant and Choir Matron.
  • The cathedral choir consists of boys and a combination of school age and postgraduate choral scholars, lay clerks, and volunteer singers. The choir sings the daily choral services and the Eucharist and Evensong on Sundays.
  • The Cathedral Girls' Choir sings Evensong on Tuesdays and every other Thursday and on a number of Sundays each term; their annual performance of Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols has become a highlight of the Cathedral's preparations for Christmas.
  • The Voluntary Choir was formed in 2001 and sang at services often during the holiday periods after Christmas, Easter and through the summer; the choir was disbanded in 2017.
  • The cathedral choir contributed choral passages to "I Believe in You", a track on Talk Talk's 1988 album Spirit of Eden.

Cathedral organs[edit]

  • The Nave Organ is situated at the west end of the cathedral under the Tower. It is a four-manual instrument with mechanical action built by Mander Organs in 1994.
  • The Chancel Organ is a two manual mechanical instrument built by Mander Organs in 1995. It incorporates 19th-century pipework by Hill and Holdich and is widely admired for its character and versatility. The Nave Organ's great, swell, solo and pedal divisions can be played via an electric link from the Chancel Organ console.

A specification of the organs can be found at the National Pipe Organ Register.

Directors of Music[edit]

Assistant Organists[edit]

  • Geoffrey Becket
  • 1963 John Jordan
  • 1966 Peter Cross
  • 1968 David Sparrow
  • 1986 Timothy Allen
  • 1991 Neil Weston

Assistant Directors of Music[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christ Church Cathedral – Miscellany
  2. ^ Centenary Peal at Chelmsford Cathedral The Ringing World No 5385 11 July 2014 p719
  3. ^ Bettley, James; Nikolaus, Pevsner (2007). Essex. Buildings of England. Yale University Press. p. 53. ISBN 9780300116144.
  4. ^ a b Bumpus, T. Francis (1930). The Cathedrals of England and Wales. London: T. Werner Laurie. pp. 388–390.
  5. ^ Chelmsford Cathedral — Contact Directory (Accessed 10 February 2019)
  6. ^ Essex Chronicle — Community News, 15 April 2010 (Accessed 6 January 2013)
  7. ^ Chelmsford Cathedral — Canon for Worship and Music Archived 2018-06-23 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 22 June 2018)
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Chelmsford Cathedral".


  • Essex Chronicle newspaper article, 14 July 2011, pp. 4–5.

External links[edit]