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 first Chapel 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. When Durham Cathedral was a monastery this was one of the few areas where women were allowed.
In 1022, the relics of St Bede were brought by a monk to Durham 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.
Follow the guided tour
You’re in: The Galilee Chapel Next stop: Stella Maris Window
- As you enter the Galilee Chapel, you will see a wooden porch to your right
- Look up at the window to the left of the wooden porch
- This is the Stella Maris Window
Interesting things to look for here
Stella Maris Window
In the northeast corner of the Galilee Chapel is the Stella Maris Window, designed by Leonard Evetts from Woolsington, Newcastle.
Medieval church buildings were often decorated inside with brightly painted murals telling religious stories.
Placed in the middle of the Galilee Chapel and facing west is a striking woodcarving of the Annunciation to Mary by the artist Józef Pyrz, added in 1992.
The Langley Tomb
Below the central archway on the east wall of the Galilee chapel is Bishop Thomas Langley’s tomb chest. The medieval tomb is large but has a simple design, with steps on either side leading to an altar.
The tomb of the Venerable Bede can be seen in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral.
Hung on the east wall of the Galilee Chapel, is a wooden memorial with glistening gold writing.
Last Supper Table
Set with a jug of wine, basket of unleavened bread, and a plate with one of the loaves broken onto it, the unopened table is unassuming and rustic looking.
Wheelchair users and visitors with limited mobility
The Galilee Chapel is accessible via stairs with a handrail. There is also a ramp available.
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.