The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham (usually known as Durham Cathedral) is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green. The present cathedral replaced the 10th century “White Church”, built as part of a monastic foundation to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. 

source | edit ♛ b&w by me

Durham Cathedral has been featured in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where it had a spire digitally added onto the top of the famous towers.

✘ Architecture ✘

The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and flying buttresses or lateral abutments concealed within the triforium over the aisles. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France a few decades later, doubtless due to the Norman stonemasons responsible, although the building is considered Romanesque overall. The skilled use of the pointed arch and ribbed vault made it possible to cover far more elaborate and complicated ground plans than before. Buttressing made it possible to build taller buildings and open up the intervening wall spaces to create larger windows.

Saint Cuthbert’s tomb lies at the East in the Feretory and was once an elaborate monument of cream marble and gold. It remains a place of pilgrimage.


Some of the Hogwarts filming locations

  1. Gloucester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the river. It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter (dissolved by King Henry VIII).
  2. Durham Cathedral is acathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green.
  3. Lacock Abbey in the village of Lacock, Wiltshire, England, was founded in the early 13th century byEla, Countess of Salisbury, as a nunnery of the Augustinian order.
  4. Christ Church , is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As well as being a college, Christ Church is also thecathedral church of the diocese of Oxford.
  5. Duke Humfrey’s Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. It functions primarily as a reading room for maps, music, and pre-1641 rare books. It consists of the original medieval section (1487), the Arts End (1612), and the Selden End (1637). It houses collections of maps, music, Western manuscripts, and theology and arts materials. 
  6. The Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library.
  7. Alnwick Castle is a castle and stately home in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. It is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest, and renovated and remodelled a number of times. It is a Grade I listed building.
  8. Harrow School, commonly known simply as “‘Harrow”, is an English independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London. There is some evidence that there has been a school on the site since 1243 but the Harrow School of today was officially founded by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I in 1572.
Durham Cathedral kitchen dig serves up food for thought


A dig by archaeologists in a cathedral kitchen has served up plenty of food for thought.

The investigation by Archaeological Services Durham University has been taking place in what was the Great Kitchen of Durham Cathedral. Working with the cathedral’s archaeologist Norman Emery, they have taken the unique opportunity to carry out excavations in advance of developments linked to the cathedral’s Open Treasure project.

The former kitchen, which was later used as the cathedral bookshop, has been cleared prior to work to converting it into a new exhibition space.

And the dig has revealed what was on the menu over the centuries at the cathedral. Read more.


Choral Christmas Carols: The Minor Carols

For the past five Decembers, this blog has been posting daily Christmas carols performed by some of the most extraordinary cathedral, chapel, abbey, and church choirs in Britain and from around the world. As of December 2013, hundreds of Christmas and Advent carols, hymns, motets, and songs are archived or linked to here, accompanied by photographs of the singers whose voices, to many, embody Christmastime.

The following list is a selection of some of the more sombre, unexpectedly spine-tingling carols that have been featured here over the years. Thematically, these are haunting lullabies and reflections on the dark waiting-time of Advent, laments for doomed innocents and narratives of the mysterious, awesome intersections of the human and the divine.  

A more familiar list of major, celebratory carols can be found here. By no means are all of the past five years’ carols represented in these lists, but you are very welcome to explore the archive to hear more.

Enjoy the music, and have a very happy Christmas.

Adam Lay Ybounden (arr. Ledger)
Choir of St Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue

Away in a Manger (arr. Kelsey)
Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh

A Babe is Born (Mathias)
Manchester Cathedral Choir

Balulalow (arr. Britten)
From Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols
Edward Burrowes & The Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral

Before Dawn (Andrews)
Choir of New College, Oxford

Bethlehem Down (Warlock)
Truro Cathedral Choir

Carol of the Bells
The American Boychoir

The Corpus Christi Carol (arr. Prizeman)

The Coventry Carol
Westminster Cathedral Choir

The Fayrfax Carol (Adès)
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Follow That Star
Wells Cathedral Choir 

Gabriel’s Message (Basque Melody)
Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Gaudete (arr. Prizeman)

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge

Here is the Little Door (Howells)
Wells Cathedral Choir

The Huron Carol (arr. Jennings)

A Hymn to the Virgin (Britten)
Salisbury Cathedral Choir

I Sing of a Maiden (Hadley)
Westminster Cathedral Choir

I Wonder as I Wander (arr. Rütti)
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum

The Lamb (Tavener)
Chester Cathedral Choir

Long the Night (arr. Massey)
Hereford Cathedral Choir

Lullay Myn Lyking
Winchester Cathedral Choir

Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child (Leighton)
Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh

Lux Aurumque (Whitacre)
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Magi (Carter)
York Minster Choir

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Winchester Cathedral Choir

O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen)
Wells Cathedral Choir

O Magnum Mysterium (Poulenc)
Choir of New College, Oxford 

O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Quem Vidistes Pastores
Salisbury Cathedral Choir

Remember, O Thou Man (Ravenscroft)
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Sing Lullaby (Howells)
Wells Cathedral Choir

A Spaceman Came Travelling (de Burgh)
Boys Air Choir

Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang
Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

This is the Truth Sent from Above (arr. R.V. Williams)
Salisbury Cathedral Choir

The Three Kings (Dove)
Wells Cathedral Choir

Videntes Stellam
Salisbury Cathedral Choir 

Virga Jesse (Bruckner)
Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh

Vox Dicentis: Clama (Naylor)
York Minster Choir

Walking in the Air (Blake)
Theme from ‘The Snowman’
Peter Auty, St Paul’s Cathedral Chorister

What Child is This?
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge


Some of the amazing objects associated with St Cuthbert.  His coffin in Durham Cathedral is engraved with the figure of Christ which is surrounded by four Evangelists’ symbols on the lid - also in Old English Runes, on one end the earliest surviving iconic representation of the Virgin and Child outside Rome from the medieval art of the Western Church, with the archangels Michael and Gabriel on the other. The sides show the Twelve Apostles and five archangels.

The Gold and Garnet pectoral cross found in his coffin in 1104 along with the St Cuthbert Gospel - the oldest fully intact bound book in Europe.

Below, the incredible Lindisfarne Gospels created in honour of “God & St Cuthbert”

And finally his tomb in Durham Cathedral.