A thousand years of history: medieval cathedrals as time machines – Jon Cannon – Fully Booked

Date: 8th November 2018

Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

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 will be tailored to work the specific story of Winterbourne and its connections with Bristol cathedral into the overall narrative.


Jon Cannon is established author and presenter of the critically acclaimed BBCTV documentary ‘How to Build a Cathedral’. His books include ‘Cathedral: the great English cathedrals and the world that made them’; ‘The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces’ and the Shire book of ‘Medieval Church Architecture’. His next book on the British Landscape is a work in progress.

As well as keeping busy with writing, Jon is a Research Associate of the History of Art department at the University of Bristol and a Lay Canon (Keeper of the Fabric) at Bristol Cathedral.

Jon travels widely and writes on a variety of other topics too. The article he wrote for the London Review of Books after travelling in N Korea long before the current ‘thaw’ in international relations was shortlisted for the David Watt Memorial Prize.