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England: The Best Cathedrals

  • Westminster Abbey (London): One of the world's greatest Anglo-French Gothic buildings has witnessed a parade of English history -- from the crowning of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066 to the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997. With few exceptions, the kings and queens of England have all been crowned here, and many are buried here as well.

  • Canterbury Cathedral (Canterbury, Kent): The object of countless pilgrimages, as described in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this cathedral replaced one that was destroyed by fire in 1067. A new cathedral was also destroyed by fire in 1174, when the present structure was built. Thomas Ȥ Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered here, and his shrine was an important site for pilgrims until the Reformation.

  • Winchester Cathedral (Winchester, Hampshire): Construction of the cathedral that dominates this ancient city and capital of old Wessex began in 1079. In time, Winchester Cathedral became England's longest medieval cathedral, noted for its 12-bay nave. Many famous people are buried here, including Jane Austen.

  • Salisbury Cathedral (Salisbury, Wiltshire): The most stylistically unified of England's cathedrals, this edifice was built in the mid-13th century. Its landmark spire -- its most striking feature -- was completed in 1325. The cathedral epitomizes the Early English style of architecture.

  • Durham Cathedral (Durham, Yorkshire): Completed between 1095 and 1133, this cathedral exemplifies Norman architecture on a broad scale. Its nave, a structure of almost majestic power, is its most notable feature.

  • York Minster (York, Yorkshire): The largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps is also among the grandest, with incredible stained-glass windows. Its unusual octagonal Chapter House has a late-15th-century choir screen by William Hyndeley.

  • Llandaff Cathedral (Llandaff, Wales): Begun under the Normans, this cathedral outside Cardiff makes a dramatic impression. Its west front is one of the best works of medieval art in Wales. That didn't prevent Cromwell's armies from using the edifice as a beer hall.

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