A thousand years of history: medieval cathedrals as time machines

A talk by Jon Cannon on February 8th 2018

Our ancient cathedrals are more than places of worship, more than great works of architecture. They embody key aspects of English history and throw a distinctive and revealing light on the emergence of the modern world. Jon Cannon will explore this theme by looking at English cathedrals over the period from about 600 to 1540.

A thousand years of history: medieval cathedrals as time machines
This lecture uses the English cathedrals as ‘time machines’ to the medieval period, tracing their story from the revolutionary birth of English Christianity in about 600AD, through the great rebuilding that followed the Conquest of 1066, to the decades around a century later when gothic was invented in an atmosphere of febrile change and political tension.

It then follows the story through the cults and traumas of the fourteenth century, backdrop to England’s most extraordinary architectural miracles, and into the dynastic struggles of the late medieval era; struggles which eventually tore apart the very world that created the cathedrals. Throughout, beautiful photography of the buildings themselves, as well as of contemporary manuscripts and paintings, helps to use these buildings to bring to life the remarkable events they witnessed, and helping explain how these events shaped their architecture. The lecture has been enjoyed by DFASs’s far and wide, at home and abroad.

Jon Cannon has an extensive knowledge and a profound interest and great enthusiasm for English mediaeval churches and cathedrals. These attributes have generated an impressive analysis of cathedral architecture and the world that made them.

Jon teaches regularly at the University of Bristol (mainly in the History of Art department), leads architectural tours, is a Lay Canon (keeper of the fabric) at Bristol cathedral, and is a Member of Council for the British Archaeological Association

His books include Cathedral: the great English cathedrals and the world that made them (2007) , The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces, (2013), and the Shire book of Medieval Church Architecture (2014).
His spectacular BBCTV documentary, How to Build a Cathedral, was widely praised.