This building has an interesting history. The first known church on the site, in the precincts of the former Abbey, dedicated to St Denis, was built between 1065 and 1098. There were two other parish churches inside the abbey, the others being St Mary's (surviving) and St Margaret's (of which only traces survive). St Denis was demolished between 1121 and 1148 and replaced by a church dedicated to St James. Between 1390 and 1402 a new chancel was built. In 1503 work began on a new nave and in 1711 another new chancel was constructed. Between 1862 an 1864 an new high pitch roof was built over the nave and between 1865 and 1860 yet another chancel was erected. It wasn't until 1914 that St James's Church became a cathedral, when the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was created.
This view of this building was taken from the site of the former Abbey church.
Between 1960 and 1961 the porch and the first part of the cloisters was built, and in 1970 the new choir and crossing was completed. The tower was completed in 2004.
Immediately to the south of the building is a Norman tower (below), built as a bell tower for St James's, but also as a grand entrance to the abbey church. It was not originally detached, but was joined to the walls surrounding the abbey precinct. The cathedral guidebook proudly describes this as one of the finest Norman buildings in the land. Who am I to argue.
The tower has interesting crocodile (?) spouts each side of the main archway.
The tower is a beautiful addition to this ancient building. Presumably as there is no need for it to contain bells, it has been designed like a massive lantern, letting light flood into the crossing.
The nave looking west.
The nave altar with the sanctuary and high altar behind. The organ gallery is on the left.
The windows are filled with Victorian glass. I didn't photograph them all, but here are a couple of examples.
The enormous canopy of the font dominates the west end.
This final view of the cathedral was taken through the railings of St Mary's churchyard.
After visiting this cathedral, I am left with a lingering question about the enormous sums of money spent on enlarging and beautifying this building, which although is creating a beautiful space, doesn't seem to me to sit well with the priorities apparent on even a casual reading of the gospels. A cynical view perhaps, but this country has no shortage of gothic ecclesiastical buildings.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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