Books About Cathedrals

In preparation for a trip to see historic cathedrals, I have been reading these books.

England's cathedrals

Simon Jenkins

726.60942/Jenkins
History, Travel

England's cathedrals are the nation's glory. They tower over its landscape, outranking palaces, castles and mansions. They attract roughly half the nation's population each year. For a millennium they have been objects of pilgrimage for those seeking faith, consolation and beauty. Still at the start of the twenty-first century, they remain unequalled in their size and splendour. More than any other English institution, cathedrals reflect the vicissitudes of history and should be treasured as such. They are custodians of culture and of the rituals of civic life. They offer welfare and relieve suffering. They uplift spirits with their beauty. In a real sense they are still what they were when first built a millennium ago, a glimpse of the sublime. Gloriously illustrated throughout, this book takes us on an enthralling tour of the nation and its history, through some of our most astonishing buildings.

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Vibrant color photographs of exteriors and select interior features of more than fifty cathedrals. The author's short but useful descriptions don't hold back on praise and censure when discussing restoration efforts or modifications to the structures.
- Heidi L

Cathedrals built by the Masons

Russell Herner

726.6 /Herner
History, Travel

"Through well-researched text, as well as drawings and color photography, this book captures the magnificence of European cathedrals and the brilliance of the Master Builders and craftsmen who designed and built them. Cathedral building is a fusion of man's greatest accomplishments in the arts, sciences, and humanities over the centuries. More than 250 photos and drawings capture the quality and craftsmanship built into these stunning structures created to replicate God's house or heaven on Earth. Color photos illustrate the gorgeous naves, detailed fan vaulted ceilings, beautiful stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, and 650-year-old parchment drawings of the cathedrals. Discover the origin of Gothic architecture, see how Gothic cathedrals were built using primitive tools, and learn about the development of Freemasonry and its direct descent from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages. Enjoy 30 cathedral tours and acquire a few Masonic secrets of the stonemasons."--Publisher's description.

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Great photos throughout, but what sets this book apart is the information about the building process and photographs of tools used in the construction of a cathedral.
- Heidi L

The secret language of churches & cathedrals : decoding the sacred symbolism of Christianity's holy buildings

Richard Stemp

726.5 /Stemp
Religion, Travel, Art / Art History

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Organized around the physical features of Christian cathedrals and churches and the religious symbolism in those features. Amply illustrated with gorgeous color photographs. Cathedrals from around the world are represented.
- Heidi L

Cathedral : the story of its construction

David Macaulay

726.6 /Macaulay
History

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This book from the Children's Room is a great introduction to how a cathedral was built. David Macaulay's drawings are simple yet amazingly detailed, and are a chronological depiction of the construction process. The laborers, stone cutters, and craftsmen are included. as well as the tools and scaffolding they used. The perspective of some of the drawings is dizzying, and shows the contrast between the size and height of a cathedral among the little houses in a medieval town. Originally published in 1973, it won numerous awards including a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year.
- Heidi L

Walking England's cathedral cities : twenty-eight original walks and tours around the cathedrals and cathedral cities of England

Rowland Mead

914.204 /Mead/2000
History, Travel

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While this is an older guidebook, it gives a sense of the areas surrounding fourteen cathedrals with walking tours highlighting interesting stops in the neighborhood. The book also contains detailed information for touring the interiors of the cathedrals.
- Heidi L

The pillars of the earth

Ken Follett

FICTION Follett, Ken
Historical Fiction

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It's been more than ten years since I read this novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed it then. I still remember some of the detail about building a cathedral, especially the incredible amount of time it took to finish such a structure, the dangers inherent in the work, and the remarkable vision and skills of the craftsmen who built these enormous and beautiful buildings.
- Heidi L

Sacred spaces : the awe-inspiring architecture of churches and cathedrals

Guillaume de Laubier

726.5 /Laubier
Art / Art History, Nonfiction

"From St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to Notre-Dame in Paris, Christian churches represent some of our most significant architectural achievements, designed to evoke wonder and awe. Offering unprecedented access to a collection of revered religious landmarks, photographer Guillaume de Laubier takes readers on a stunning architectural tour. Sacred Spaces showcases breathtaking photographs of extraordinary churches and cathedrals, revealing original, illuminating views of icons, such as la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, while also shedding light on lesser-known sites, such as Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox; made of wood, stone, concrete, or glass; Roman, Gothic, Baroque, or modern, the places of worship featured in this richly produced volume present an extraordinary overview of our architectural and cultural history"--Provided by publisher.

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New to our collection in 2019, this is another title with beautiful photographs of cathedrals in England, Spain, and Portugal, as well as other types of "sacred spaces" in other countries.
- Heidi L