Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral is one of the ‑ best examples of Norman architecture in Europe, or as American writer Bill Bryson says, “the best Cathedral on planet Earth”.

Where is it...

Unmissable, Durham Cathedral is at the heart of the historic city of Durham, set grandly on a rocky promontory next to the Castle with the medieval city huddled below and the river sweeping round - the profile of the World Heritage Site is instantly recognisable to people travelling up and down the East Coast Main Line.

What to see...

There is much to do and see. The Cathedral Church itself is a place of huge historic significance, with stunning Romanesque architecture and exquisite stained glass windows making Durham Cathedral one of Europe’s finest Norman buildings. Built to house the Shrine of St Cuthbert, it is also the resting place of the Venerable Bede, and within the Cloister are the most complete set of surviving medieval monastic buildings in Britain.  

Open Treasure, the Cathedral's new world-class visitor experience located just off the medieval Cloister, displays some of the Cathedral’s fascinating collections acquired over the centuries, alongside a rolling programme of exhibitions.

Group offers include a range of guided tours, free-flow visits with self-guide leaflets, selected behind the scenes specialist talks, plus discounted packages.

Just off the medieval Cloister is the Undercroft Foyer, where visitor can see Durham Cathedral in LEGO®, an incredible model which includes over 300,000 LEGO bricks. There is also The Undercroft Restaurant, with its vaulted ceilings and display of various art exhibitions, serving homemade refreshments.  

For a sumptuous visit why not begin or finish your tour with private group refreshments served in the medieval Prior’s Hall, originally the Prior’s Dining Room when the Cathedral was a Monastery. The Cathedral Shop is opposite the Restaurant and stocks a range of books and gifts to complete the day.

Don't miss...

Durham Cathedral has unlocked the doors to Open Treasure, a new world-class exhibition experience, giving visitors access to the Cathedral’s Claustral buildings and collections as never before. The permanent exhibition route tells the story of Durham Cathedral and its place in the development of Christianity in North East England through the display and interpretation of its magnificent collections.

How to get there...

There is free coach parking in Durham at the City Centre Coach Park (The Sands postcode DH1 1SQ), as there is no parking at the Cathedral and no coach access. Durham County Council provides a public shuttle bus service from the Coach Park and Durham Market Place to the Cathedral. An all-day ticket can be purchased on board.

When to visit...

Booking is essential for Cathedral scheduling and to make the most of your visit.
Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.00pm 
Sunday 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Suggested length of visit...

1 - 2 hours

   

Open Treasure Exhibition Programme

THE MONKS' DORMITORY 

Take a journey through time with our permanent exhibition in the Monks' Dormitory, revealing the remarkable story of Durham Cathedral and its incredible collections. 

Admire the Cathedral's spectacular collection of Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking stones and discover 2,000 years of history through a series of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. Sights, sounds and smells will evoke life in a medieval monastery, bringing history to life in the magnificent setting of the fourteenth-century Monks' Dormitory where the monks of Durham Cathedral once slept.

THE COLLECTIONS GALLERY

Saturday 5 November - Saturday 11 February 
TEXTILES: PAINTING WITH THE NEEDLE

Textiles have always played an important role in church and domestic life and Durham Cathedral boasts some of the best examples of church needlework from the past 1,100 years. A selection of the finest textiles from the Cathedral’s collection are included in this display. Highlights include the Anglo-Saxon Dalmatic and 12th-century Peacock Silk from St Cuthbert’s tomb, embroidered fragments from the grave of Bishop William of Calais, and the embroidered Bible of Lady Arabella Stuart, cousin of King James I.

Also on display is the Charles I Cope, a rare example of 17th-century church needlework, and the Coronation Cope worn by the Bishop of Durham at the coronations of the last four British monarchs. Contemporary textiles will be explored through the work of the Cathedral Broderers, and visitors can enjoy an exciting programme of talks, demonstrations, workshops and special events. 

To complement the exhibition in the Collections Gallery, a piece by Grayson Perry will also be on display in the Monks’ Dormitory. Created for his recent Channel 4 documentary series All Man, the piece explores the concept of masculinity and its place in the modern world. 

 

Monday 20 February - Saturday 10 June
BEASTS!

An exhibition of the weird and wonderful beasts and monsters which have fascinated people from earliest times. From illustrations of lions and dragons in medieval manuscripts, to early printed books of natural history which feature sea serpents and wyverns alongside images of the rhinoceros or giraffe, and the ‘evidence’ presented to prove the existence of such fantastic creatures as griffins and unicorns, this display will capture the imagination! 

 

Monday 19 June - Saturday 9 September
MAGNA CARTA AND THE FOREST CHARTERS

A unique opportunity to see all three issues of Durham Cathedral’s Magna Carta, including the only surviving copy of the 1216 issue, and further issues from 1225 and 1300. These will be displayed alongside their associated Forest Charters, from 1217, 1225 and 1300. In the 800th anniversary year of the first Forest Charter to be issued, this group of six documents will be displayed together for the first time, alongside an exhibition exploring the continuing significance and impact of these charters, and what they meant for Durham and the North of England.



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