The History of Down Cathedral

Just over 800 years ago John De Courcy, a Norman knight, invited Benedictine monks from Chester (who were originally from Bec, Normandy) to establish a monastery on the Hill of Down. Parts of today’s building date back to 1183. Today we treasure our links with the Benedictine monks, also from Bec, living in Holy Cross Abbey, Rostrevor.

Following the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII the building gradually began to fall into decay.

In 1609 King James I issued a Royal Charter establishing a Chapter and Cathedral at this place.

In the late 18th century the Cathedral was restored; many of the present features including the historic box pews and magnificent pipe organ date from that time.

The experience of space, light and calm in the sanctuary is very much conducive to worship and is the result of a programme of reordering and redecoration completed in 2015.