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The ancient cathedral was the pinnacle of medieval society’s spiritual and cultural life employing the best designers, artists, craftsmen and materials that available money could buy. They developed into enclaves of worship, learning, hospitality, art, music, agriculture and medicine in an often chaotic and violent outside world. A change of religion, rulers and constitution has meant they have constantly been rebuilt and altered throughout their 1,700 year history.

Many will be overwhelmed by their size and beauty, baffled by their layout and symbolism. They may well ask: Why were they built here and what is so special about the site? Who were the patrons and organizations that commissioned their building? How did they raise the finance to build them? What was the purpose of a cathedral and why were they so big? Where did the design ideas come from and who were the designers? How was it built and by whom? How has it changed over the years and is it still used today?

  This book aims to answer these and many other frequently asked questions. Overriding themes will cover English history, architecture, building technology and religion, all written in plain English with any specialist terms being fully explained in the glossary.

The book includes contemporary accounts of building work at Canterbury and Ely cathedrals, the laying of the first stone at Salisbury Cathedral, the damage done to the cathedrals, abbeys and monasteries by the Reformation and the Puritans following their victory in the English Civil Wars. There are portraits of some of the key-figures in our narrative: the working lives, wealth and training of the monks, bishops, priors, master masons and other craftsmen.  

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