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Truro Cathedral is surprisingly modern!

Truro Cathedral may look like any other imposing mediaeval cathedral, but it was actually only started in 1880 and finished in the mid-20th century!
On a recent trip “Down Under” I did a fascinating tour of Brisbane Cathedral and was amazed to discover it was designed as a replica of Truro Cathedral! Both cathedrals were designed by architect and I could definitely see the similarities, particularly in the front entrance which is set between two impressive towers with an arched recess above the pointed doorways.

Truro Cathedral has many surprises for visitors

Back in , the big surprise for most people visiting is that this traditional mediaeval-looking cathedral was only built in 1880 and was not completed until well into the 20th century. It is actually the first cathedral to be built on a new site since Salisbury Cathedral in 1220. Previous to 1876, Truro came under the diocese of Exeter, but when the Truro diocese was created it was necessary for it to have its own cathedral building.

No cathedral had been built in England for 650 years and many of the crafts of stonemasons and builders must have been somewhat rusty as they were called into service to build this huge Gothic building.

For those who know the narrow cobbled streets of Truro which lead to the cathedral, the practicalities of building such an enormous building within such tight confines is another thing to marvel at. Today the three spires of the cathedral tower above the rooftops of the surrounding shops and buildings, making it very easy to locate it.

Highlights of Truro Cathedral

One of the interesting facts you will learn during your visit to Truro Cathedral is that it was built on the site of the 13th century Parish Church of St Mary. Rather than demolish the historic church, Pearson designed the new cathedral so that it retained the old church as part of the South Aisle to give a sense of history and continuity. If you look up you can see the mediaeval timber barrel roof of the old church, beautifully decorated with carved wooden bosses.

Truro Cathedral is built from local granite and the two foundation stones were laid by the Prince of Wales in 1880. The interior is richly decorated with a wide use of mahogany and marble, but overall the cathedral is surprisingly light and bright.

A couple of highlights to look out for are the 14th century Breton statues and the incredible alabaster and marble memorial to the Robartes family who owned nearby Lanhydrock estate. These were both retained from the older St Mary’s church, along with the pipe organ.

Truro Cathedral tours

If you take a guided tour of Truro Cathedral you will learn many more surprising facts about this awesome building. Experienced guides offer tours at 11am daily (11:30am on Fridays), from April to October. Entrance and tours are free but donations are welcome to help with the enormous operating costs of this landmark building.

If you don’t want to do a guided tour, I would recommend buying the Cathedral Souvenir Guide to learn more about the cathedral and get some great souvenir photographs. The Cathedral restaurant offers high quality lunches and coffee in the beautiful Chapter House, which was only completed in 1967. There are some lovely gifts and Duchy products in the Cathedral shop and all profits go towards cathedral funds.

Once you have enjoyed your tour of the Cathedral, the surrounding streets are full of small independent shops and wine bars, and don’t forget to head for the indoor Lemon Street Market which even has its own art gallery!

We’d love to hear more tips about what to see and do in Truro, especially if you live in the area. Do share your local knowledge in our comments box below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.


  1. Issac Lansglow says:

    As you have visited one of the modern cathedrals then now I would love to suggest you to have a visit one of the oldest cathedrals in the world. Regensburg is an oldest city in Germany with many ancient tourist attractions. Regensburg cathedral is also one of them. The cathedral was built in early period of 17th century and still it is well preserved.

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