The Cathedral.—This was originally the church of an Augustinian priory, built, in 1011, by Walter the Norman, and endowed by Henry I.; but it has undergone sweeping changes, and great recent restorations. “The cloisters of the priory have disappeared; but the entrancegateway and the fratry or refectory remains. The gateway has a circular arch, with an inscription recording it to have been built by the prior, Christopher Slee. The fratry is lighted on the south side by a row of well proportioned Tudor windows, and adorned on the opposite wall with three niches, surmounted by elegant crocketted canopies; and it contains a curious stone chair, with impanelled foliated ceiling, called the confessional. This is the place in which Edward I. held his parliament, and it is now used as the chapter room. The cathedral is cruciform, and has a square embattled tower, 127 feet high, rising over the intersection of the cross. The nave and the transepts are Norman, narrow and without aisles. Their columns are very massive, each 17½ feet in circumference, and 14 feet 2 inches high. The nave was deprived of about 90 feet of its length in the time of Cromwell, to yield material for the erection of guardhouses and batteries; and the rest of it was afterwards closed with a wall, and fitted up as a parish church. The transepts measure 124 feet in length and 28 feet in width; and the north one is now used as the consistory court. The choir was built at great expense, with vast effort, by aid of money obtained through sale of indulgences and remissions, in the reign of Edward III. Most of it is early English; but the east end is the decorated. Its length is 137 feet; its width, 71 feet; its height, 75 feet. The north side makes a fine appearance to the street, and is divided from the thoroughfare by a new enclosure wall and elegant iron railing, and by a belt of ground with a row of trees. The east end shows rich grandeur of design, with a most magnificent central window, with other windows to correspond, and with bold buttresses, crocketted pinnacles, and gable crosses. The interior is arranged in side aisles and central aisle, with triforium and clerestory. The columns are clustered, and the capitals are adorned with carved figures and flowers. The clerestory has a rich parapet pierced with foliated circles. The great east window, as seen in the interior, has been pronounced by many competent judges the finest decorated window in the kingdom. It measures 60 feet by 30, contains nine lights, and is filled in the head with surpassingly rich flowing tracery. The windows of the side aisles have a corresponding character. A row of beautiful niches appears below them, and is continued all round the walls. A very fine organ, erected in 1856, stands above the entrance to the choir. The stalls are embellished with tabernacle work, in carved oak, black with age. The bishop s throne and the pulpit are modern, and not so rich in design, yet elegant and stately. The screens in the aisles show some curious legendary paintings from the histories of St. Augustine, St. Anthony, and St. Cuthbert. A fine mural monument to Dr. Paley. simply recording his name and age, appears in the north aisle; and monuments to Bishops Bell, Law, Smith, Robinson, Barrow, and other distinguished men, are in other parts. A small chapel, dedicated to St. Catherine, founded and endowed by John de Capella, a citizen of Carlisle, stands in the south aisle, adjoining the transept. The deanery stands within the precincts of the cathedral. It was built by Prior Senhouse, in 1507, and contains a fine apartment used as a drawing room, with a remarkably ornate ceiling in carved emblazoned oak.”
Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].
A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848
The Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary, is a venerable structure, exhibiting different styles. It was originally cruciform, but the western part was taken down, in 1641, to furnish materials for the erection of a guardhouse; and during the interregnum, part of the nave and conventual buildings was also pulled down, for repairing the walls and the citadel: it has a square embattled central tower, and the east end is decorated with pinnacles rising above the roof. The interior consists of a choir, north and south transepts, and two remaining arches of the nave, walled in at the west end, and used as a parish church. The choir is of decorated English architecture, with large clustered columns enriched by foliage, and pointed arches with a variety of mouldings; the clerestory windows, in the upper part, are filled with rich tracery, and the east end has a lofty window of nine lights, of exquisite workmanship, exhibiting great elegance of composition and harmony of arrangement, which render it superior to almost every other in the kingdom. The aisles are in the early English style, with sharply pointed windows and slender shafted pillars; the remaining portion of the nave, and the south transept, are of Norman architecture, having large massive columns and circular arches, evidently built in the reign of William Rufus. There are monuments to the memory of some of the bishops, and one to Archdeacon Paley, who wrote some of his works while resident in this city, and who, with his two wives, was buried in the cathedral.
Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848