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The Galilee or Lady Chapel is home to the Tomb of the Venerable Bede

A place for female worshippers

Built between 1175 – 1189 this was the only place women could worship in the Cathedral during monastic times.

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.

Saved from demolition

In the early 19th century the chapel was almost demolished as part of an imagined scheme to create a sweeping carriage way around the Cathedral. This was prevented by a national outcry.

The current wooden roof dates from the repairs carried out at this time.



Why is it called the Galilee Chapel?

‘Galilee’ chapels or porches are found in many churches and cathedrals. It is the place where church processions traditionally began and ended.

Moving through the church space was meant to re-enact the key events of Jesus’ ministry. His ministry began in Galilee. It is also where Jesus met his disciples after the resurrection.

Medieval and modern glass

Fragments of medieval stained glass are used in most of the windows. The exceptions are:

The Venerable Bede window

Designed by Alan Younger, this was installed in 1973 to celebrate the 1300th anniversary of Bede’s birth.

The Stella Maris window

This was designed by Leonard Evetts and takes its name from one of the titles of the Virgin Mary, ‘Star of the Sea’. Dedicated in 1993, it was given by the American Friends of Durham Cathedral.

Thoughtful sculptures

  • The wooden statue of Mary, Christ's mother, is by the 20th century Polish sculptor Joseph Pryrz.
  • The Last Supper table's top unfolds to reveal wooden sculptures of emblems of the Eucharist. It was made by the sculptor Colin Wilbourn.


Inscription on the Tomb of the Venerable Bede

The Tomb of the Venerable Bede

The Venerable Bede’ was a monk lived in the 7th century and 8th century. He is widely regarded as the greatest of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars. The final resting place of 'The Father of English History' lies within the Galilee Chapel.

Discover more about the Tomb of the Venerable Bede