Across the U.K, immaculately preserved cathedrals – and the ghostly remains of others – offer windows into the life, culture, and architecture of bygone eras. They’ve withstood wars stemming from both religious turmoil and political unrest, and in their long lives have inspired writers ranging from Chaucer to Dan Brown. Additionally, many of these historically rich sites serve as the final resting places of some of the world’s most beloved and influential figures. Because a trip across the pond would be incomplete without a visit to some of these fascinating landmarks, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the country’s must-see cathedrals.
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Home to one of the world’s four remaining copies of the Magna Carta, the Anglican Salisbury Cathedral dates from the early 13th century. This prime example of Early English architecture is also known for its 14th-century handwrought iron clock.
Fans of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code know Rosslyn Chapel, which, in the novel, is said to house a clue in the hunt for the Holy Grail. The site is formally named the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew and dates from the 15th century.
The roots of this world-famous cathedral began in 597, when St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived in Kent as a missionary to England. Pilgrims from across the world travel to the cathedral to see the shrine of St. Thomas Becket. Five centuries ago, some of their stories were famously told in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Halloween is the perfect time to visit this spooky Gothic abbey, which inspired part of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Each fall, the ruinous Benedictine cathedral is illuminated by a dramatic light display and hosts performances like the telling of ghost stories.
One of London’s most recognizable landmarks, the present Westminster Abbey was constructed during the 13th-century reign of King Henry III, and its Gothic design was inspired by the then-new French cathedrals in Reims, Amiens, and Chartres. In addition to being the venue for royal weddings, the abbey is the final resting place of many historical figures, including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
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