Now before you other cathedral snobs hark at me about cathedrals I have not included, please remember these are my favourite from the ones I have visited so far.
The cathedrals in England, like the castles in Wales, are unsurpassed by any other country in the UK. They are the finest and most elegant structures ever to have been committed to British earth, and shame a vast swathe of architecture currently polluting our landscapes, like London. No, I don't mean in London.
#5 Gloucester Cathedral
As the sometime resting place of Edward II (below right), Gloucester is the home of (as far as I've seen) some of the finest fan vaulting in the country in the cloisters.
Any fans of Harry Potter will recognise the cloisters as part of Hogwarts, but this particular cathedral is home to many other film and TV scenes too, cause it's b-e-a-utiful.
#4 Ely Cathedral
Out of this list, Ely is the most unique of all. It was the third cathedral I ever went to, and after seeing it through the window of a train on the way to Cambridge I got off said train, without originally intending to. Or at least, I think that's what happened. That might have been a dream. It is not a place you want miss.
Not only that, Ely Cathedral is highlighted in my favourite dystopian novel, Facial Justice by L.P.Hartley.
#3 York Minster
Beneath York Minster is the history of York itself, at least back into the Anglo-Saxon era (if there ever was such a thing) and you can climb up the tower to see York as it is now.
That Roman dude (some guy called Constantine...) is all over this place, because, apparently, his mother was from around here. York is one of the rare cathedrals you can climb up onto the buttresses and into the tower for views of the medieval city, so, though pricey, I'd do it if you're in the area.
#2 Canterbury Cathedral
The very first cathedral I went to intentionally on my own initiative. It is close to my heart as Edward the Black Prince (my favourite historical person) is buried here, along with Henry IV, his nephew, and Thomas Becket was murdered inside the walls. It is probably one the most visited churches on Earth and is in one of the most important medieval cities in England.
Canterbury is the mother church of England, and by God, hearing Mozart live here (his music!! He's dead I hear) was otherworldly.
#1 Lincoln Cathedral
If you have ever entered the cathedral close at Lincoln and seen the West face, you will know why this is number one. You have no choice but to look up, and if you have a camera that can fit the whole thing in, well bully for you! I saw this stunning piece of human ingenuity in 2006 for the first time, and it has never left my soul. This astonishment of architecture can be seen 25 miles away, and you can imagine what the medieval pilgrim felt when they saw the towers rising on the edge of the world...
I do not know how they built it. I do not know why this particular building evokes such intense emotion in me, but if you go there and are numb you must be a demon or something.
Additionally, John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford were married here, and she lived round the back in her later years, before being buried here with one of her daughters (above right).
If you are in Lincolnshire, or in the vicinity on a visit where you might only get to see a few things in the area THIS is one of those things. If you want to see England at its very best, Lincoln Cathedral is that England.
Honourable Mention: Wells Cathedral
It has featured in films and is reminiscent of Ely Cathedral, but it holds its own as a stunner in its own right.
Honourable mention: Salisbury Cathedral
A copy of the Magna Carta is held here, and it has a wonderful and original medieval tower, not to mention an original medieval clock from the reign of Edward III.