Carlisle Cathedral

Carlisle Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral in the city of Carlisle, in Cumbria, in England.


It was begun during the reign of King Henry I by the first Bishop of Carlisle, the Englishman Athelwold (1133-1155), who built a moderate-sized Norman minster of which the transepts and part of the nave still exist. The present cathedral has fine examples of stone tracery, mediæval stained glass, paintings and carvings. The building is made of red sandstone, which due to local weather at some places appears black.

Five of the seven bays of the cathedral were destroyed by the Scottish Presbyterian Army during the English Civil War to provide stone for the reinforcement of Carlisle Castle. Carlisle cathedral was restored in the 19th century by Ewan Christian. Due to extremes in wet and dry conditions at Carlisle, the ground on which the Cathedral is built is constantly moving. This is visible upon inspection of the pillars, which lean in all directions.

Robert William Billings published an analysis of Carlisle Cathedral which has been the subject of scholarly interpretation, particularly citing his geometric theory of analyis.

Organ and Organists


Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register


  • 1560 Thomas Southick
  • 1587 Robert James
  • 1610 James Pearson
  • 1630 Robert Dalton
  • 1663 John How
  • 1693 Timothy How
  • 1734 Abraham Dobinson
  • 1749 Charles Pick
  • 1781 Thomas Greatorex
  • 1785 Thomas Hill
  • 1833 Richard Ingham
  • 1841 James Stimpson
  • 1842 Henry Edmund Ford
  • 1903 E. G. Mercer
  • 1904 Sydney Nicholson
  • 1910 Frederick William Wadely
  • 1960 Robert Andrew Seivewright
  • 1991 Jeremy Suter

Carlisle Cathedral Choir

When the Augustinian priory and church of St. Mary, founded by Henry 1, became the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Carlisle in 1133, music quickly became a vital part of its life and worship, with four laymen and six boys forming the choir and assisting the canons with music.

400 years later the Cathedral Statutes of 1545 provided for four lay clerks and six choristers, "boys of tender age with sonorous voices and apt at chanting". The choral tradition, unique to Britain, continues to this day.

The Cathedral Choir now consists of 16 choristers and 6 lay clerks. The choristers were originally educated at the Cathedral's own choir school but this was closed in 1935 and nowadays the boys attend the Cathedral on five days a week, after school hours, and sing at six services a week thus ensuring the continuity of the long tradition of daily choral worship.

The boys are aged from 8-13 years and are recruited from local schools. They are selected at voice trials held during the year and receive a thorough musical training. They are awarded an annual bursary and pocket money.

Carlisle Cathedral Youth Choir

The Cathedral also has a Youth Choir for boys and girls aged 11-18 years who sing services in the Cathedral once a week during term time.

Carlisle Cathedral Voluntary Choir

The Voluntary Choir, consisting of mixed voices, was formed to sing occasional services in the absence of the Cathedral and Youth Choirs.

Carlisle Cathedral Music Appeal

In 1999 the Carlisle Cathedral Music Appeal was launched with a target of £750,000 to establish a choral foundation to enable annual bursaries and free instrumental lessons to be provided for the choristers, and scholarships and vocal tuition for the choral scholars.


See also

External links

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