Salisbury Cathedral is one of twenty cathedrals that were built after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conqueror seized control of England and Wales. It is built in the Early English Gothic style and has a simple layout in the shape of a cross.
This cathedral is built of 70 thousand tons of stone with over three thousand tons of timber for the roof which was covered with 450 tons of lead. Much of the stone came from nearby quarries. At this time, cathedral construction was at the cutting edge of building technology, and errors of judgement led to the collapse of the central towers at both Winchester and Lincoln. With foundations only four feet deep, Salisbury was lucky to escape this when the imposing spire was added. However, the columns of the central crossing are now bowed by around ten inches.
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's was the first British cathedral to be built for the Anglican faith at the end of the 1600s. It is therefore ironic that its famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren, borrowed heavily from the Catholic Renaissance by adopting such features as the dome and Corinthian columns.
The original St Paul's Cathedral was built on the same site in 604 by Bishop Mellitus. The Vikings burnt it down in 962 and it was rebuilt in the Gothic style. This was begun in 1087 and completed two centuries later in 1310. This cathedral was then destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Wren's masterpiece was started in 1675 and took 35 years to complete. Unlike many of the medieval masons, whose cathedrals took centuries to complete, Wren was able to see it finished. It cost £700,000 - about £53 million today. On the inner dome, there are frescoes of scenes from the life of St Paul. These were painted by Sir James Thornhill and can be seen from the Whispering Gallery. Wren died at 91 and his tomb is marked by a black marble slab in the St Paul's crypt.
St Michael's of Coventry
The Gothic cathedral, St Michael's of Coventry, was destroyed on the night of 14th November 1940 when some 500 tons of high explosives and 40,000 fire bombs were dropped on the city. All that remained of the old cathedral was the spire and the building's shell.
The new cathedral was built next to the old in the 1950s and the early 1960s. The architect Basil Spencer had won the competition with his radical departure from the Gothic original. He recalled that when the plans for the new steel and concrete cathedral were revealed in the press, he received hundreds of letters the next morning. "80 percent were rude and the remaining 20 percent were very rude." In a 1974 interview, he recalls that the project took up ten years of his life, and when it was finished, it left a terrible vacuum. Whilst medieval cathedrals took centuries, the new Coventry Cathedral took just six years to build. The one-and-a-half ton metal spire was flown in by helicopter and, according to contemporary news footage, took just eight minutes to install.