CHESTER CATHERAL IN CHESTER, ENGLAND
The Norman monastery
Then in 1092, the Norman Earl of Chester, Hugh Lupus (‘The Wolf’), the nephew of William the Conqueror himself, decided to found a great monastery in the heart of his administrative capital. He sought the help of Anselm, the Abbot of Bec in Normandy and one of the greatest theologians of his day, and at Hugh’s third invitation, Anselm came to Chester to establish the new foundation.
The building of the monastery began at the east end in 1092, working from east to west; the style of the church was Romanesque, in imitation of the Roman building style, with round headed arches and solid masonry. Once the greater part of the east end was finished and could be consecrated to allow services to take place, then work began on the cloisters (the domestic buildings) while building continued on the church.
Dissolution and the constitution of the Cathedral
However, the monastery was dissolved in 1539; building ceased at that time and very plain wooden ceilings were erected to allow services to take place inside.
Unusually, however, Henry VIII handed the monastery back as the Cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Chester, so the building was preserved. the last Abbot became the fist Dean of the Cathedral while the senior monks became the first Canons.
By the nineteenth century, it was clear that the building needed restoration and some work was undertaken in the 1830s. However the major restoration took place 1868- 76 although further work continued into the early twentieth century; the external Bell Tower was opened in 1975, and the stone floor of the nave dates from 1997 while the Song School was completed in 2005.
Thus each part of the building represents the work of different generations combining to make the Cathedral that we see today.