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Rochester Cathedral, 604-1540

Rochester Cathedral, 604-1540: An Architectural History

J. Philip McAleer
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 350
  • Book Info
    Rochester Cathedral, 604-1540
    Book Description:

    The aim of this study is to provide an architectural history of the medieval fabric of Rochester Cathedral, from its Saxon origins to the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7943-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    The cathedral of Rochester is a small building, one of the smallest of the English medieval cathedrals, yet its constructional history is one of the more complicated, owing in part to meagre and possibly not very reliable documentation. Its constructional history has also perhaps been reconstructed as more complicated than it indeed may have been owing to an uncritical acceptance of the slight documentation and what might be regarded as a misreading or, at least, a questionable interpretation of the surviving physical evidence.

    The heretofore accepted chronology for the cathedral has recognized five major phases and three minor ones. They...

  9. ONE The Pre-Conquest Church
    (pp. 8-17)

    The diocese of Rochester,¹ which was later to be the smallest and poorest of the medieval English dioceses, had the honour of being the first established after Canterbury, although, admittedly, it was an honour shared with London. In 604, (Saint) Augustine, archbishop (597–604) of Canterbury, consecrated Mellitus bishop (604–19) of London and Justus bishop (604–24) of Rochester – Dorubrevis (Durobrivae) or Hrofaescaestrae – in the kingdom of Aethelberht (560–616) of Kent.² Rochester, on the banks of the river Medway, is only twenty-four miles from Canterbury. It was in an area – West Kent – that perhaps...

  10. TWO The Free-Standing Tower
    (pp. 18-25)

    The earliest structure surviving above ground at Rochester may be the remains of a free-standing tower¹ that now bears the name of the second Norman bishop, Gundulf (1076/7–1108), the builder of the first Romanesque church.² It is located a short distance from the north choir aisle wall,³ between the arms of the major and minor transepts of the early Gothic church (ca. 1180/90–ca. 1240), which obviously have been planned around it (fig. 1). The attribution of the tower to Gundulf appears to be ʹmodern,ʹ for none of the medieval texts associates the tower with him: indeed, the association...

  11. THREE The Late-Eleventh-Century Romanesque Building
    (pp. 26-55)

    Somewhat exceptionally, after the Conquest, the last Saxon bishop, Siward, was allowed to retain his office until his death in 1072/4. His successor, Arnost, a monk of Bec and prior of Saint-Étienne at Caen, died a few months after his appointment (1075). Gundulf (ca. 1023–1108), also a monk of Bec who had served at Saint-Étienne, was subsequently appointed in 1076.² He was a close friend of the Lombard, Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury (1070–89), himself formerly of Bec and former abbot of Saint-Étienne, and also of (Saint) Anselm of Aosta, abbot of Bec and later archbishop of Canterbury (1093–...

  12. FOUR Alterations and Rebuilding in the Twelfth Century
    (pp. 56-85)

    Upon the death of Gundulf in 1108, Ralph dʹEscures, a former abbot of Séez in Normandy, was appointed bishop. His tenure was brief as he was translated to Canterbury in 1114. Ralphʹs successor was Ernulf, a former prior of Christ Church (1096–1107) and abbot of Peterborough (1107–14). Already aged, he died in 1124.¹ His successor, John, was the nephew of the former bishop, Ralph, who had just recently died as archbishop of Canterbury (1114–22). John was not a monk but had served as archdeacon to his uncle at Canterbury. The period between the death of John in...

  13. FIVE The Early Gothic Rebuilding
    (pp. 86-146)

    The end of one century and the beginning of the next were linked by the overlapping episcopate of Gilbert Glanville, 1185 to 1214.² His episcopate was one of the stormier ones in terms of the relationship between bishop and monks in the history of Rochester – or possibly it is just one of the better documented. His appointment seems to have had the support of King Henry II (1154–89) and formed part of a plan to replace the monks by a college of secular canons, as the previous bishop, Waleran (1182–4), had perhaps planned to do.³ The kingʹs...

  14. SIX Later Gothic Alterations and Additions
    (pp. 147-163)

    From the third quarter of the thirteenth century, the priors of Rochester were elected from within the house; only three priors were elevated to the bishopric: Thomas de Wouldham (prior from 1283) in 1292(–1317), Hamo de Hethe in 1319(–52); and John de Sheppey (prior from 1333) in 1352(–60).¹ Of these three, indeed, of any of the bishops since the early thirteenth century, Hamo de Hethe is the most significant for the building history of the cathedral church.² A man of independent wealth,³ after he was appointed bishop, he is credited with restoring the shrines of saints Paulinus...

  15. 7. Epilogue
    (pp. 164-166)

    To any reader who has diligently or even casually read the foregoing chapters, it will be obvious that many aspects of the constructional history of Rochester Cathedral and the dating of its various phases remain unresolved. The interpretation offered here can be – and no doubt will be – challenged at many points. Some aspects of the building history can only be solved by careful excavation, although one has to admit that excavations may produce more problems than they solve or at best prove inconclusive.

    Without further exploration and careful re-excavation, the date, form, and function of the apsidal structure...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 167-286)
  17. Essential Bibliography
    (pp. 287-296)
  18. Index
    (pp. 297-314)