The Cathedral dates from 1050, when a Saxon minster already existed in the town. A new Norman style cathedral was started in 1133 and took about 50 years to complete. It was rebuilt in the Decorated Gothic style, around 1265 with the Norman towers retained, and was complete before 1400. The south tower now has 14 bells. The west front has much figure carving, and was restored and cleaned 1972. It was originally coloured, with depictions of the saints and Apostles.
The Bishop's Throne of 1313-1317, one of the finest pieces of woodwork of its date. The 50 or so misericords were carved between 1230-1270. The East window was first glazed in 1304.
The roof vault is the longest piece of medieval Gothic vaulting in the world. There are over 400 stone bosses, some over 2 tonnes weight, carved and painted. It is 68 feet high. The themes of both bosses and corbels throughout the cathedral are many and varied. The quality of the engraving of vegetation on some early bosses and corbels is outstanding. The best-known boss in the cathedral (in the nave) shows the assassination of Archbishop Thomas à Becket in 1170.
There is a Minstrels Gallery in the Nave, dating from 1360 with 12 angel musicians playing different instruments. An Astronomical clock from 1484 is located in the North Transept, where Sun and moon orbit around a central Earth.
Luckily the cathedral did not suffer great damage in the Reformation, although many effigies and images were stripped and despoiled. The Cathedral was restored by Scott 1870-7.
Major damage occurred in 1942 when the Cathedral was hit by a bomb, but rebuilding was complete by 1952.
The Cathedral has several chapels and chantries and many monuments. It is dedicated to St Peter.
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