A cathedral is the mother church of a diocese, the seat of a bishop. Together, the 42 English cathedrals of the Church of England constitute one of the world's great achievements in architecture. They are an artistic embodiment of the spiritual sublime as well as a unique record of the history of England. They include the great medieval cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, Durham and Ely, which were supported by monastic communities, and the medieval secular glories of Lincoln, Salisbury, Exeter and York Minster. Later, in the wake of the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII was inspired to create several new cathedrals including those at Peterborough, Oxford and Gloucester. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the demands of population growth led to the enlargement and upgrading to cathedral status of a number of fine churches such as Manchester, Birmingham and Southwark, and the building of innovative new cathedrals including Liverpool and Guildford. The destruction of war caused a new cathedral to be built at Coventry. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England is responsible for national policy on this extraordinary collective heritage. Its Director, Janet Gough, provides pen portraits of all 42 cathedrals, each illustrated with eye-catching photographs, in this new title in Scala's Director's Choice series.
Janet Gough read History and history of art at Cambridge and worked in the City and then for Sotheby’s auction house for ten years. Janet was a trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust between 1998 and 2005 and strove to ensure its glorious churches and their treasures become better known. She then went on to become Director of cathedrals and church buildings for the Church of England and she continues to champion historic churches. She was awarded an OBE for services to heritage in 2017.