Cathedral cities in the UK – What makes them such special places to live

Published Sep 15, 2020 – 4 mins read

There are 42 cathedrals in the UK, some are within cities, others are located in towns and there are a collection of these large religious buildings that are in cathedral cities.

When looking for a home in various parts of the UK you might come across a city with this title and wonder why it has this status.

A cathedral city is a town that has been awarded the title of city by virtue of having a cathedral within its bounds.

If you’re looking for a historic place to live these locations might tick a lot of boxes as they’re often filled with beautiful period buildings, exquisite homes and are rich in history.

Here we highlight several of the cathedral cities in the UK and what makes them such special places to live.

Cathedral cities in the UK

Wells, Somerset

Easily one of the most beautiful cities in the country Wells has an exceptionally well-preserved medieval centre, a cobbled market square, moated Bishop’s Palace, 15th century Bishop’s Barn and of course, a stunning 13th century cathedral.  

Whilst Wells isn’t the smallest city in the UK it has a population of just 12,000 and there is a strong sense of community; due to the exemplary local schooling options, Wells is a place many families choose to put down roots. Wells Cathedral School is one of just five specialist musical schools in the country and one of the oldest schools in the world.

Wells cathedral

By car Bristol, Bath and Taunton are all under an hour’s drive away making it an ideal spot for those who need to occasionally commute. Train connections are available at Castle Cary which is a short drive away.

As to be expected in such a glorious historic city, there are period properties in an abundance.

Homes on the best roads are often difficult to secure for the competition; such as properties on Chamberlain Street where the large Georgian houses are extremely sought after.

Nearby the villages of Wookey, Wootton and Wedmore are popular with those seeking homes in a more rural setting.

Wells Somerset

Winchester, Hampshire

Ideally located to make the best of coast and country, Winchester is a small characterful place filled with diverse architecture and whilst it is steeped in history it has a modern, cosmopolitan feel.

London is just an hour away on the train making Winchester viable for commuters.

The city centre is a popular shopping destination with regular markets and a broad selection of independent and national retail shops.

Winchester Hampshire

There are also some great places to eat out including The Black Rat and The Willow Tree pub.

Schools in Winchester are impressive, there are highly rated state schools for all ages of children and independents including one of the oldest schools in the UK – The Pilgrim’s School.

Property in Winchester ranges widely in style and era; the city centre is built on a grid that was put in place by the Saxons – the streets are now lined with homes of all ages.

Buyers can find large detached homes with large gardens within walking distance of the train station and city centre.

Chichester, West Sussex

Located between the South Downs National Park and the south coast, though small Chichester offers residents an excellent quality of life.

The Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is on the edge of the city; a major wildlife haven and popular boating waters.

Dell Quay Sailing Club and Bosham Sailing Club are both within easy reach.

Residents benefit from access to the beautiful sandy West Wittering beach, arguably one of the best seaside locations in the country.

The centre boasts many shops including a Marks and Spencer food hall, several cafes and restaurants, independent New Park cinema and the Oxmarket Gallery.  

Chichester property

Chichester cathedral itself has both Gothic and Norman architecture, Chagall stained-glass window and is known for featuring modern art.

The Kennels, Goodwood Members Club is around 3 miles northeast of the city which has a golf club and restaurant on site along with the Goodwood Hotel.

Chichester train station offers connections to Brighton in under an hour, London in around 90 minutes and Southampton in under an hour.

Schools in Chichester are largely highly rated and well regarded.

Much of the city is a conservation area meaning buyers are spoilt with the period homes on offer including beautiful Georgian townhouses and 17th century cottages on quiet leafy lanes.

There is also some well-proportioned and high quality newly built homes on offer.

The most desirable places to live are in the areas between the city centre and the South Downs or near to Chichester Harbour.

Chichester West Sussex

Ripon, North Yorkshire

The cathedral city of Ripon is within the Borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire that has a small town feel and strong community; with a population of just over 16,000, it is one of the smallest cities in the UK.  

Ripon has a range of useful amenities including Booths supermarket and a Curzon cinema.


There are plenty of places to eat from cafes to brasseries and sports enthusiasts are well catered for with Ripon City Golf Club and Ripon Cricket Club nearby.

Residents benefit from an easy commute to nearby York and Hull.

Families are attracted to the area for the excellent schooling options including Outwood and Ripon Grammar School.

Being a small city there are many places to live that are quiet and offer seclusion whilst within walking distance of the city centre such as Mallorie Park Drive.

Property in Ripon

Large detached homes and those on the river banks are particularly sought after.  

The spa town of Harrogate is just 12 miles away and to the south-east of Ripon, York is 26 miles away.

Finding a home

Wherever you are looking for a property to buy and especially if you are new to an area, searching for a home that will suit your lifestyle, work, family and preferences can be a particularly challenging task.

A property finder who has a thorough knowledge of the local geography and the types of homes for sale can prove invaluable when relocating.

Should you know an area already but are having difficulty finding the perfect property, a buying agent can open doors and gain access to exclusive opportunities via their long established network of contacts.

Tell Garrington about your search for a property.