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Truro Cathedral

Truro Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Truro is an Anglican cathedral located in the city of Truro, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. It was built in the Gothic Revival architectural style fashionable during much of the nineteenth century, and is one of only three cathedrals in the United Kingdom with three spires.

History and description

The See (or Diocese) of Truro was established in 1876, and the first bishop, Edward White Benson, was consecrated in 1877. Truro was the first cathedral to be built on a new site in England since Salisbury Cathedral in 1220.

A stained glass window depicting the founding of the cathedral. Construction began in 1880 on the site of the sixteenth century parish church of St Mary the Virgin to a design by the leading Gothic Revival architect John Loughborough Pearson. St Mary's, a building in the Perpendicular style with a spire 128 feet tall was demolished in October 1880, leaving only the early sixteenth-century south aisle, which was retained to serve as the parish church. From 1880 until 1887 a temporary wooden cathedral was built on an adjacent site. This accommodated fewer than 400 people and was extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. It was in this building that the Bishop introduced the new evening service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, 1880.

Pearson's design combines the Early English style with certain French characteristics, chiefly spires and rose windows. Truro's resemblance to Lincoln Cathedral is not coincidental: Pearson had been appointed as Lincoln's Cathedral architect and the first Bishop of Truro, Edward Benson, had previously been Canon Chancellor at Lincoln. The central tower and spire stands 250 feet (76 m) tall, while the western towers reach to 200 feet (61 m). Four kinds of stone were used: Mabe granite for the exterior, and St Stephen's granite for the interior, with dressings and shafts of Bath and Polyphant stone. The spires and turret roofs are of stone, except for a copper spire over the bell tower at west end of St Mary's Aisle. The other roofs are of slate. The cathedral is vaulted throughout. By October 1887 the choir and transepts were complete and the service of consecration took place on 3 November. The delay was caused by the wish to allow Edward Benson, by that time Archbishop of Canterbury, to attend. Bishop Wilkinson and twenty other bishops were present, together with civic representatives and diocesan clergy, and about 2,000 other people.

The central tower was finished by 1905 and the building was completed with the opening of the two western towers in 1910. John Loughborough Pearson had died in 1897 and his son Frank continued the work of his architectural practice, including work on the design and construction of St Matthew's, Auckland in New Zealand, a reduced version of Truro Cathedral.

The original south aisle of St Mary's Church survives, incorporated into the south-east corner of the cathedral and known as St Mary's Aisle. It still functions as the city centre's parish church. Three brasses were described by Edwin Dunkin in 1882: those of Cuthbert Sydnam (1630), Thomas Hasell (1567) and George Fitzpen, rector of the parish. As the cathedral is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, it has no Lady Chapel. A Jesus Chapel and the Chapel of Unity and Peace are reserved for quiet and prayer throughout the day.There was no chapter house until 1967 when the opportunity to enlarge the building on the south-east arose. The architect of the new building was John Taylor.

The Royal Maundy Service was held in the cathedral in 1994 when Queen Elizabeth II presented 134 Cornish people with the traditional Maundy money

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  • Uploaded on March 10, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Erik van den Ham