The problems faced by cathedrals in seventeenth-century English society were if anything greater than those encountered as a result of the Reformation a hundred years earlier. Almost all English cathedrals suffered substantial damage as a result of the Civil War. Anglican worship was suspended, cathedral ministers and musicians dismissed, and cathedral endowments confiscated between 1645 and 1660. Great efforts were required to restore the cathedrals following the return to the monarchy and established church in 1660.
In Cathedrals Under Siege, Stanford E. Lehmberg brings together political, social, intellectual, and artistic history into a comprehensive, rounded account of an important institution in English history. In the same vein as Lehmberg's highly praised The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485 1603, this volume approaches English cathedrals as organic institutions with changing functions within their communities. Lehmberg includes a narrative history of the cathedrals, a collective biographical analysis of the cathedral clergy and their numerous writings, and a discussion of cathedral music and finance. The book is amply illustrated with photographs and engravings, including many of tombs and monuments.
Lehmberg's account is also important for today's visitors to England's cathedrals because it describes a crucial period when the cathedrals took on the appearances and functions that have persisted until the present day.