Chelmsford Cathedral

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Chelmsford Cathedral
Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd
Location Chelmsford, Essex
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Style Gothic
Years built c.1200-c.1520
Diocese Chelmsford (since 1914)
Province Canterbury
Bishop(s) Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Dean Nicholas Henshall, Dean of Chelmsford
Precentor Simon Pothen, Canon Precentor
Canon(s) Ivor Moody, Vice Dean and Canon Pastor and Edward Carter, Canon Theologian
Organist(s) James Davy

Chelmsford Cathedral in the city of Chelmsford, Essex, England, is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd. It became a cathedral when the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford was created in 1914 and is the seat of the Bishop of Chelmsford.[1]


Parish church

The nave

The church of St Mary the Virgin in Chelmsford was probably first built along with the town eight hundred years ago. It was rebuilt in the 15th and early 16th centuries, with walls of flint rubble, stone and brick. The church has a tower with a spire and a ring of thirteen bells, twelve of which were cast by John Warner & Sons at Cripplegate[citation needed] and were dedicated in 1913.[2] The nave partially collapsed in 1800, and was rebuilt by the County architect John Johnson, retaining the Perpendicular design, but using Coade stone piers and tracery,[3] and a plaster ceiling. The upper part of the chancel was rebuilt in 1878.[4]


The chancel

In 1914 the church became the cathedral for the newly created diocese of Chelmsford.[4]

The south porch was extended in 1953 to mark Anglo-American friendship after World War II and the many US airmen stationed in Essex. In 1954, the cathedral was additionally dedicated to Saints Peter and Cedd. In 1983, the interior of the cathedral was extensively refurbished, with a new floor, seating, altar, bishop's throne, font and artwork. In 1994 and 1995 two pipe organs were installed, the first in the nave and the second in the chancel. The stained-glass windows were all installed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 2000 a sculpture of "Christ in Glory", by Peter Eugene Ball, was placed above the chancel arch. In 2004 two further major works of art were commissioned, and are now in place: Mark Cazelet's "Tree of Life" painting in the North Transept, and Philip Sanderson's altar frontal in the Mildmay Chapel.

The cathedral celebrates its links with Thomas Hooker, who was Chelmsford Town Lecturer between 1626 and 1629. He fled to the New World because of his Puritan views and founded the town of Hartford, Connecticut and was one of the founders of American democracy.



The organ
  • The cathedral music department, led by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, includes the Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls' Choir, Organ Scholar, Music and Liturgy Assistant and Choir Matron.
  • The cathedral choir consists of twenty boys (aged 7–13) and twelve men. The choir sings the daily choral services and choral eucharist, matins (monthly) and choral evensong on Sundays. The men of the choir are made up of professional lay clerks, choral scholars and volunteer 'singing men'.
  • The Cathedral Girls' Choir consists of sixteen girls (aged 11–18). They sing choral evensong every Tuesday and frequently join the men of the cathedral choir for other choral services and concerts.
  • The Voluntary Choir was formed in 2001 and frequently sings at cathedral services often during the holiday periods after Christmas, Easter and through the summer.

Cathedral organs

  • The Nave Organ is situated at the west end of the cathedral under the Tower. It is a four-manual instrument with mechanical action built by Mander Organs in 1994.
  • The Chancel Organ is a two manual mechanical instrument built by Mander Organs in 1995. It incorporates 19th century pipework Hill and Holdich and is widely admired for its character and versatility. The Nave Organ's great, swell, solo and pedal divisions can be played via an electric link from the Chancel Organ console.

A specification of the organs can be found at the National Pipe Organ Register.

Directors of Music

Assistant Organists

  • Geoffrey Becket
  • 1963 John Jordan
  • 1966 Peter Cross
  • 1968 David Sparrow
  • 1986 Timothy Allen
  • 1991 Neil Weston

Assistant Directors of Music


See also


  1. Christ Church Cathedral - Miscellany
  2. Centenary Peal at Chelmsford Cathedral The Ringing World No 5385 11 July 2014 p719
  3. Bettley, James; Nikolaus, Pevsner (2007). Essex. Buildings of England. Yale University Press. p. 53. ISBN 9780300116144.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bumpus, T. Francis (1930). The Cathedrals of England and Wales. London: T. Werner Laurie. pp. 388–90.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Essex Chronicle – Community News, 15 April 2010 (Accessed 6 January 2013)
  6. Pinner Parish Review – October 2007 (Accessed 6 January 2013)
  7. Stephen Cottrell – Sermon for the Collation and Installation of Edward Carter as Canon Theologian, Chelmsford Cathedral, 4 March 2012 (Accessed 6 January 2013)


  • Essex Chronicle newspaper article, Thursday 14 July 2011, pp. 4–5.

External links

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