One of Walpole’s major novels of the early post-war period was The Cathedral, which unlike much of his fiction was not dashed off but worked on across four years, beginning in 1918.
The story of an arrogant 19th-century archdeacon in conflict with other clergy and laity was certain to bring comparisons with Trollope’s Barchester Towers (The Manchester Guardian ’s review was headed “Polchester Towers”), but unlike the earlier work, The Cathedral is wholly uncomic….
The reviewer Ivor Brown commented that Walpole had earlier charmed many with his cheerful tales of Mayfair, but that in this novel he showed a greater side to his art: “This is a book with little happiness about it, but its stark strength is undeniable.
The Cathedral is realism, profound in its philosophy and delicate in its thread.” The Illustrated London News said, “No former novelist has seized quite so powerfully upon the cathedral fabric and made it a living character in the drama, an obsessing individuality at once benign and forbidding.
…The Cathedral is a great book.” The Jubilee which plays an important part in the story is the national celebration in 1897 of Queen Victoria’s sixty years on the throne.
Summary by Wikipedia and David Wales
Librivox recording by David Wales