Cathedrals and Churches of Southwest UK




Gloucester Cathedral Worcester Cathedral St Mary Redcliffe Wells Cathedral

Along with castles, cathedrals contain the best surviving medieval architecture in the country, often little changed since construction. Some have components from pre-Norman times though the majority of most was built between the 12th and 15th centuries, always Gothic in style, in the Early English, Decorated or Perpendicular variants, and hugely impressive in scale and in intricacy. Some cathedrals began life as Catholic institutions, the churches of Benedictine or Augustinian monasteries, being reconsecrated as Anglican after the 1539 Dissolution, and thus escaping the destruction that befell so many others. Cathedrals in the southwest are located in Brecon, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Newport, Salisbury, Wells, Winchester and Worcester.

There are hundreds of parish churches in the southwest, a few also with Saxon components, and their history spans well over a thousand years. Some are especially grand, resembling cathedrals in scale and decoration, such as Bath Abbey, Christchurch Priory, Church of St John Baptist (Cirencester), Great Malvern Priory, Ottery St Mary, St Mary Redcliffe (Bristol), Sherborne Abbey and Tewkesbury Abbey. Others are specially notable for some architectural or historic feature, for example the Saxon masonry of Deerhurst Priory, the stone carvings of Kilpeck Church, the ancient stained glass of Madley Church, the fortifications of Ewenny Priory and the ruined remnants of the original Malmesbury Abbey, adjoining the current, smaller church.



Bristol



Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral
A former abbey, which became a cathedral in 1542, and is designed mostly in the Decorated Gothic style, with components from the 12th to 19th centuries

Rating: ★★★★★
St Mary Redcliffe
St Mary Redcliffe
Beautiful parish church near the River Avon, built in the Gothic style mostly in the 13th and 14th centuries

Rating: ★★★★★

Devon



Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral
Large and very beautiful 12th century cathedral, featuring fine ceiling vaulting, ancient stained glass and a variety of carvings

Rating: ★★★★★
Ottery St Mary
Ottery St Mary
Grand, cathedral-like church from the 14th century, featuring intricate vaulting, medieval tombs and an astronomical clock

Rating: ★★★★

Dorset



Christchurch Priory
Christchurch Priory
The longest parish church in England, built in the 12th century, and relatively unaltered since the Reformation

Rating: ★★★★
Sherborne Abbey
Sherborne Abbey
Ancient parish church with with spectacular medieval architecture; formerly a Saxon cathedral and a Catholic abbey

Rating: ★★★★★
Wimborne Minster
Wimborne Minster
Fine Norman church with some Saxon components, originally part of a monastery; includes a vaulted crypt, a 14th century astronomical clock and a 17th century chained library

Rating: ★★★★★

Gloucestershire



Church of St John Baptist
Church of St John Baptist, Cirencester
One of the largest parish churches in the country, some parts dating from the 12th century. Impressive perpendicular gothic architecture

Rating: ★★★★★
Deerhurst Priory
Deerhurst Priory
One of the oldest parish churches in the country, the central section dating from the start of the 9th century

Rating: ★★★★★
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Imposing, city centre Norman cathedral with many fine architectural features. Contains the tomb of Edward II

Rating: ★★★★★
Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury Abbey
Large Norman church, 'the cathedral of the Cotswolds', famous for its well-preserved Gothic architecture

Rating: ★★★★★

Herefordshire



Dore Abbey
Dore Abbey
Parish church with medieval, cathedral-like architecture. Founded in 1147 as a Cistercian monastery, and occupying just part of the original structure; ruins of other sections adjoin the current church

Rating: ★★★★★
Hereford Cathedral
Hereford Cathedral
Large and beautiful building dating from the late 11th century, constructed mostly in the decorated Gothic style

Rating: ★★★★★
Kilpeck Church
Kilpeck Church
Small Norman church in a quiet village, containing an unusually fine and varied collection of stone carvings

Rating: ★★★★★
Madley Church
Madley Church
Unusually large parish church from the 13th century, containing medieval stained glass, ancient wall paintings and a vaulted crypt

Rating: ★★★★★

Powys



Brecon Cathedral
Brecon Cathedral
Gothic cathedral occupying the church of a former priory, with some sections from the 12th century

Rating: ★★★★

Somerset



Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey
Fine parish church renowned for its perpendicular Gothic architecture, on the site of an ancient monastery; the oldest sections are from the 12th century

Rating: ★★★★★
Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
One of England's most beautiful cathedrals; built in a Gothic style, mostly during the 13th century

Rating: ★★★★★

Vale of Glamorgan



Ewenny Priory
Ewenny Priory
Parish church occupying part of a 12th century abbey, with a partly ruined fortified exterior

Rating: ★★★★★

Wiltshire



Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
Parish church occupying part of an older, much larger building, the remainder of which was destroyed in the 1500s

Rating: ★★★★★
St Mary's Church, Wilton
St Mary's Church, Wilton
Victorian chapel occupying the chancel of a medieval church, adjacent to the ruins of the original nave

Rating: ★★★★★
Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral
One of the largest and most beautiful religious buildings of England, with the tallest spire in the country. Most of the cathedral was constructed in the 13th century

Rating: ★★★★★

Worcestershire



Great Malvern Priory
Great Malvern Priory
Large parish church, formerly part of a Benedictine monastery, with collections of medieval stained glass and wall tiles

Rating: ★★★★
Little Malvern Priory
Little Malvern Priory
Picturesque parish church at the foot of the Malvern Hills, occupying part of a larger building from a 12th century Benedictine monastery

Rating: ★★★★★
Pershore Abbey
Pershore Abbey
Surviving section of the church from a medieval abbey, featuring intricate lierne vaulting, a huge tower and various historic artifacts

Rating: ★★★★★
Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral
Typically grand and ornate cathedral, built partly in the perpendicular Gothic style. Contains the tomb of King John, and memorials to many other important people

Rating: ★★★★★