History - Welcome
Peterborough Cathedral is one of the finest cathedrals in England and was even voted one of the country’s top 10 landmarks in 2007 by Fujifilm users, ahead of the Liverpool Royal Liver Building and London Tower Bridge!
With a history dating back over 1350 years and the current building approaching the 900th anniversary of its foundation, it is a storehouse of archaeological, architectural, cultural, musical and artistic treasures for visitors to discover and enjoy.
The origins of the Cathedral can be traced back to King Peada of the Middle Angles who founded the first monastery on the site in 655AD. The monastic settlement was almost entirely destroyed by the Vikings in 870 and rebuilt as a Benedictine Abbey between 960 and 970. The Abbey church then survived Hereward the Wake’s attack on the Abbey in 1069, and remained intact until an accidental fire destroyed the second Abbey here in 1116. It was rebuilt in its present form between 1118 and 1238. It became the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Peterborough in 1541 and it is now known as the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew.
As a building, it has suffered a somewhat troubled past but this is part of what gives our Cathedral such a rich and wonderful heritage, as well as its blend of diverse and interesting architecture, religious artifacts, stories and legends.
At Peterborough Cathedral visitors can expect to see:
- Wonderful and unique architecture.
- Important historic, religious artifacts and furnishings.
- Memorials of interest with fascinating stories.
- The work of craftsmen stretching over 1200 years.
- The burial place of two Queens - Katherine of Aragon Mary Queen of Scots.
- The green heart of a modern city with sumptuous surroundings and outdoor space.
- An interesting and comprehensive exhibition depicting the Cathedral past.
To find out more about the history and heritage of this spectacular building you can:
- Visit the Cathedral and learn more using our free brief guide and accessing information through our excellent exhibition, additional displays and touch screen information points.
- Take a Guided Cathedral Tour of the Cathedral ground floor with one of our expert Cathedral guides.
- Climb the tower for a rare peek behind the scenes and enjoy the views from the highest point in the city.
- Bring a group of friends, club or society for a guided tour – hospitality can also be arranged.
- Book the Education Officer to come and talk to your local club or society
- Bring a school party to have a guided tours with the opportunity to add further curriculum based activities.
The rest of this section provides more specific detail on the history of the building, the people of the past, and the key points of interest from founding to present day. For further information about what more the Cathedral has to offer please click here to be taken to the Visiting section. Alternatively, to book a Cathedral tour please ring the Education and Visitors Office on 01733 355300.