The Cathedral story

A Church within a Church

Since at least 1259, and probably before, there has been a Parish Church of St Mary located on this site. When Truro was chosen it was assumed that the Parish Church would be completely demolished to make way for the Cathedral. However, the architect John Loughborough Pearson, argued and eventually gained permission to keep at least part of the old Parish Church. He cleverly incorporated the South Aisle of the church into his design for the new Cathedral, so that symbolically and physically the Mother Church of the Diocese has a protective arm around one of her daughter churches.



St Mary's superimposed on Cathedral

Laying the Foundation

It was with much rejoicing and celebration that two Foundation Stones were laid on 20th May 1880 by the Duke of Cornwall (later Edward VII). As well as the traditional NE corner foundation stone there was also another one laid as an act of faith. The base of a pillar made from local granite was placed in what was then the churchyard of St Mary’s. This base would eventually form one of the pillars in the Nave of the Cathedral. No one knew whether enough money could be raised to complete the building works, so it was placed there as a symbolic act of faith that one day the Cathedral would be completed.



Foundation stone

A Gothic Revival of Victorian Vision

Truro Cathedral was the first Anglican cathedral to be built on a new site since Salisbury was started in 1220. Who else but the Victorians would have had the audacity to contemplate a building feat that colossal?  For over 650 years no one had attempted to emulate the great cathedral builders of the medieval era. A massive building project in the same architectural style as the medieval cathedral builders could only have been the vision of the Victorians. They adapted the classic pointed arches of the gothic style and used modern building techniques to create the wonderful building you see around you. To find out more buy our Cathedral Souvenir Guide.



Fisheye shot

Cathedral Dates

  • 1876 The Cornish Diocese of Truro formed
  • 1880 Foundation Stones Laid
  • 1887 Consecration of the Quire and Transepts
  • 1903 Dedication of the Nave
  • 1910 Dedication of the Western Towers
  • 1967 The Chapter House dedicated
  • 1987 Cathedral Shop dedicated
  • 2002 Refurbishment of the Cathedral Restaurant
  • 2005 125th Anniversary of the Laying of the Foundation Stones.
  • 2005 Restoration of the West Front
  • 2010 Restoration of the central tower


Truro Cathedral Stained Glass

Michael Swift has spent many years as the Diocesan Stained Glass Advisor to the parish churches of Cornwall. He has also studied the glass in the cathedral. He has combined his knowledge and enthusiasm of both in a new website

To find out more about the Cathedral Stained Glass

click here


Pentecost Rose window

Occasional Monographs

The Cathedral has a new Education and Interpretation Officer. Part of her work includes researching the history of the Cathedral. We will be producing occasional monographs reflecting this work. It is suggested that you perhaps make a donation to the Roof Appeal click here

You can download the following pdfs:

No.1 Nathaniel Hitch, Architectural Technician and Sculptor

No.2 Truro Cathedral Reredos - A theological approach by Canon Perran Gay

No.3 Truro Cathedral Baptistery by Michael Swift, Canon Philip Lambert and Judith Whitehouse

No.4 The origin of Nine Lessons and Carols at Truro Cathedral

No.5 The South African War Memorial

No.6 Through the Eucharist with Canon Perran Gay