The first church on the site was built in about 655 AD. After this was destoryed by the Vikings, in 870 AD it was rebuilt as a Benedictine abbey under the sponsorship of Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester. The cathedral is said to have the largest western facade of all the English cathedrals.
The cathedral contains the tomb of Katherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII's first wife. It also held the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots after her execution at nearby Fotheringay. She was moved to Westminster Abbey when her son, King James I was crowned King of England. The sexton of the time, Robert Scarlett, is reported to have said that he buried three queens in the cathedral: Katherine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots and his wife. Unusually, he is also buried in the cathedral, just inside the western door and there is a plaque in memory of him on the wall.
Despite the efforts of the Puritans and other groups, some medieval wall paintings survive in the cathedral. The tiled floor of the chancel is nothing less than a work of art as is the ciborium standing over the high altar.
Peterborough cathedral is fairly large and it takes quite a while to appreciate all that it contains.
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