The History of England’s Cathedrals

Written by Nicholas Orme
Review by Alan Fisk

This is not an architectural history, but instead presents itself as a history of English cathedrals’ “life and activities”, going back to Roman and early mediaeval times, before even the word “cathedral” had been coined. It concentrates on the life of cathedrals, covering worship practices, their role in culture and education, and their status as tourist attractions over the centuries.

The physical book is certainly a handsome product, lavishly provided with colour illustrations, but the text has a heavily academic tone, which may make it mildly heavy going for the general reader. I feared that I might find a compulsory test paper at the end of every chapter. The coverage of the history of cathedral administration is certainly comprehensive, and would be extremely useful to any historical novelist who needed information on this topic.

I would definitely recommend this book to those wanting to know about the life of English cathedrals through the centuries, but it is not a coffee-table book, and will require concentration and effort from its readers.