St. Peter's Borough, a cathedral enclave within a defensive wall, was created around 1000. Previously, the place was known as Medeshamstead. The foundation is extremely ancient. It was the first church in King Peada's kingdom of Middle Anglia, begun in AD 654. The abbey was destroyed by the Vikings and refounded during St. Aethelwold's 10th century reforms. The present building is mostly Norman in date. The West front is an amazing Early English defensive structure similar to that at Lincoln. The eastern 'new building' is perpendicular, with beautiful fan vaulting. There are many associated monastic buildings surviving round and about. The place attracted pilgrims with the arm of St. Oswald, a handful of Mercian princesses and the local St. Hedda, buried under the Saxon 'Hedda Stone'. The Queen Catherine of Aragon is buried in the north presbytery aisle and Mary, Queen of Scots lay opposite until removed to Westminster Abbey. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and became a cathedral two years later.
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