The Galilee Chapel
The Galilee Chapel was originally built as a Lady Chapel in the 12th century.
It uses the late Norman architectural style including elaborate chevrons on the arcading. In the early 15th century Cardinal Langley renovated it with a new roof and windows.
Where is this space?
The Galilee Chapel is on the western end of the cathedral, and is the main lobby visitors wander through before entering the Nave.
How is it used today?
As the resting place of St Bede, the Galilee Chapel remains a place of pilgrimage and worship. The chapel is often used in services, especially those celebrating St Bede.
Home to the remains of the Venerable Bede
The construction of the Galilee Chapel began in 1170 and it was used as a Lady Chapel. At the western end of the Nave, you might notice a line of black Frosterley marble on the floor, which supposedly marked the boundary which women were forbidden to cross.
In 1022, the relics of St Bede were brought by a monk to Durham Cathedral from Jarrow. At first they were placed with St Cuthbert’s remains, but they were moved to their own resting place in the Galilee Chapel some time around 1370. The shrine survived the dissolution of the monastery at Durham Cathedral in the 1500s, and the simple Latin inscription of ‘Here lie the bones of the Venerable Bede’ on the tomb chest seems an apt comment on the humility of Bede’s life.
Changes over the past 500 years
The artwork behind St Bede’s tomb depicts his commentary on the Apocalypse, praising ‘Christ the morning star’, and was designed by Frank Roper and George Pace in 1971. The quotation is also interpreted in the star-shaped lamp above the tomb, designed by Christopher Downes and given to Durham Cathedral by Rotarians in 2005.
Wheelchair users and visitors with limited mobility
The Galilee Chapel is accessible via a ramp or stairs with a handrail.
Visitors with a hearing impairment
An induction loop is available on request and will project any noise from the tannoy during services and events.
As the Galilee Chapel forms the entrance lobby of the cathedral, this area can be busy and noisy during peak visiting hours.
Blind and partially sighted visitors
Lighting levels in the Galilee Chapel can be very low.