- Rochester Cathedral
Infobox UK cathedral
building_name =Rochester Cathedral
caption =Exterior of Rochester Cathedral
full_name =Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Church of England
website = [http://www.rochestercathedral.org www.rochestercathedral.org]
It was founded by
Justus, one of the missionaries who accompanied Saint Augustine to convert the pagan English to Christianityin the early 7th century. As the first bishop of Rochester, Justus was given permission by King Ethelbert of Kentto establish a church of St Andrew the Apostle(the same dedication as the monastery in Rome from which St Augustine and St Justus had set out for England) on the site of the present cathedral, which was made the home of a bishopric. The cathedral was to be served by a college of secular priests and was endowed with land near the city called Priestfield.
The cathedral and city suffered much from the
Mercians(676) and the Danes, but retained its importance, so much so that, when William of Normandyconquered England in 1066, he gave the church and its estates to his brother, Odo of Bayeux. The church was reduced to near-destitution, a situation only remedied in 1082 when Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterburyvisited and restored some of its lands and staff. Gundulf, the Norman Bishop of Rochester, also played a very active role; a talented architect himself, the bishop commissioned and probably had a major part in designing a new cathedral to replace Justus' church. He also replaced the secular chaplains by Benedictine monks, translated the relics of St Paulinus to a silver shrine that became a place of pilgrimage, obtained several royal grants of land, and proved a great benefactor to his cathedral city. By the time of his death he had built the naveand Western front, the Western transeptbeing added between 1179 and 1200 and the Eastern transept during the reign of Henry III. The cathedral is small, being only 306 feet long, but its nave is the oldest in England and it has a fine Norman crypt.
The present building is widely regarded as one of the finest Norman cathedrals in the country, with a particularly fine doorway at its western (main) entrance. The tympanum depicts
Christsitting in glory in the centre, with Justus and Ethelbert flanking him on either side of the doorway.
After Gundulf's death, the cathedral had a somewhat chequered history. In 1130 the cathedral was consecrated by the
Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by thirteen bishops in the presence of Henry I, but the occasion was marred by a great fire which nearly destroyed the whole city and damaged the new cathedral. It was badly damaged by fires again in 1137 and 1179. It was then looted in 1215 by the forces of King John and again in 1264 by Simon de Montfort, during sieges of the city and its castle.
However, besides the shrine of St Paulinus, the cathedral contained the relics of St Ithamar, the first Saxon to be consecrated bishop, and of St
William of Perth, a murdered Scottish pilgrim. In 1201 the offerings at St William's tomb were so great, that by their means the choir was rebuilt and the central tower was added (1343), thus completing the cathedral.
The cathedral suffered a steep decline after the
Dissolution of the Monasteriesin the 16th century, during which time its estates were confiscated by the Crown, and it became dilapidated and disreputable. Samuel Pepys, the diarist, dismissed it as a "shabby place". It underwent several restorations in the 19th century the principal works were carried out by Lewis Nockalls Cottinghamfrom 1824 to 1830 followed by Sir George Gilbert Scottwho took on the task in 1872, renovating the cathedral and restoring it to a reasonable facsimile of its original 11th century condition.
Rev. GM (Grevile Marais) Livett, the longtime precentor of Rochester Cathedral and later vicar of Wateringbury, authored several books and monographs on the Norman churches of England, as well as contributing extensively to the Archaeologica Cantiana (The Journal of the Kent Archaeology Society). [ [http://www.britarch.ac.uk/dac/index.html Surveying the Historic Churches of Kent, Britarch] ] [ [http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.064%20-%201951/20/188.htm Obituary of GM Livett, Kent Archaeological Society, 1951] ] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=t0wJAAAAIAAJ&pg=PR60&lpg=PR60&dq=gm+livett+kent&source=web&ots=qbG0rdcKL7&sig=y51dlpivI0oaOk6txQF65g0yxOs&hl=en#PPR47,M1 GM Livett, Archaeologia Cantiana, 1905] ] (Livett's name was a variant of
Levett, an old Sussex and Kentish family.)
Archdeacons of Rochester
Rochester Cathedral's Archdeacons have included:
John KennallLL.D. 1556 -1559
* Rev. Dr.
Thomas Plume, B.A., D.D., founder of the Plume Library, Maldon, Essex, and the Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophyat the University of Cambridge.
* Rev. Dr. Walker King, M.A., D.D., father of the Rt. Rev. Edward King,
Bishop of Lincoln.
The pipe organ is by
J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd. A specification of the organ can be found on the [http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=D04979 National Pipe Organ Register] .
*James Plomley 1559
*Roper Blundell 1588
*John Williams 1599
*John Heath 1614
*Charles Wren 1672
*Daniel Henstridge 1674
*Robert Bowers 1699
*John Spain 1704
*Charles Peach 1721
*Joseph Howe 1753
*Richard Howe 1781
*Ralph Banks 1790
*John Larkin Hopkins 1841
*John Hopkins 1856
*Bertram Luard Selby 1900
*Charles Hylton Stewart 1916
*Harold Aubie Bennett 1930
Robert Ashfield(1956 - 1977)
*Barry Ferguson (1977 - 1994)
Roger Sayer(1994 -)
Percy Whitlock(1921 - 1930)
*William Whitehead (1994 - 1998)
List of cathedrals in the United Kingdom
Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
English Gothic architecture
Church of England
* [http://www.rochestercathedral.org/ Official website of Rochester Cathedral]
* [http://www.ofchoristers.net/Chapters/Rochester.htm A history of the King's School and of the choristers of Rochester Cathedral]
* [http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=Rochester+Cathedral&m=text Flickr images tagged Rochester Cathedral]
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