Continuing where we interrupted my trip around Lichfield
, this post is devoted to the Cathedral. Photography is only permitted inside with a permit which is available at the shop. Unfortunately the lighting conditions vary considerably as you move between areas, and using a flash is really frowned on, which is why many of these images are not as clear and bright as I would have liked them to be.
I will not discuss the history of the building, it has its own website
for that. And given how long the building has been around it has accumulated a vast amount of history.
There is something about these magnificent structures that makes me feel small (apart from the size of course), there is definitely a sense of awe, and of course respect for those who constructed them. It was no mean feat to build something like this, especially when you consider that everything was built by hand, there was no machinery, no project managers, health and safety reps, computer aided design and calculation, and definitely no mass production. However, there were plenty of skilled tradesmen and artisans. It is no wonder that a building like this was a job for a lifetime.
The closest comparison to the building that I can use is probably Salisbury Cathedral
, and there are similarities in this building to the church in Salisbury, however, I did find this building somewhat darker and more intense in the feel of it. Salisbury was light and friendly, this one was more brooding and you could really feel the weight of time on it. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a magnificent piece of architecture.
This window is above the entrance to the nave, and there is a lot of stained glass in the building, so much so that you could spend a whole day there and probably miss some of it.
Moving towards the end of the cathedral, there is a screen which sits at the junction of the two transepts and the Quire. The South Transept houses (right hand side of the image above) the Military Chapel (right hand image below), which was definitely on my list of places to see.
The North Transept felt like it was just a spare area to store odds and ends, there was no real utilisation of this space at all,beyond that of the font which is in the centre of this area.
There are a lot of really beautiful wall monuments lining the aisles and walls, and they are works of art in their own right.
There were a lot of burial effigies too, and the most intriguing was hidden behind the partitions in the North Transept, and I could not really get close to it. But, that is made up for by some of the others dotted around the cathedral.
The next part of the cathedral that I visited was the Chapter House, which was really a meeting place where the business of the cathedral was conducted. It was not a large space, and it held an exhibition retaining to the St Chad, as well as the Staffordshire Hoard, It was difficult to photograph this area because of the size and the amount of people that gravitated towards it. The image below is really the assembly area and it was a really beautiful space.
I continued my exploration towards the Quire and the Lady Chapel, there was a talk being given about the stained glass windows in the latter, so I was really trying to put off going to that area without disturbing the talk.
I did not find the quire to be too ostentatious, but it was a very pretty space, and I am sure that it must be quite an experience standing at this spot during a full blown service.
Turning around with your back to the quire was the High Altar, with the altar rail and a screen behind it which separates it from the Lady Chapel behind.
The Lady Chapel is beautiful, and where some of the best stained glass is to be found, it is also the area where a number of artifacts are housed. It was added in the early 14th century to honour The Blessed Virgin Mary.
There was no sign that the stained glass talk was going to disperse soon so I headed off in the direction of the South Transept. At the same level of the Quire in the aisle was St Chad’s Head Chapel
. I kept on coming across references to St Chad of Mercia
, and he is really the patron saint of the cathedral, with numerous artifacts relating to him being stored and on display. The head chapel was the place where his skull was kept in the days when relics formed an important part of the church and it’s congregation.
Exiting St Chads I came across one of the more beautiful memorials I have ever seen in a church. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and the history of it is even more tragic
. Called “The Sleeping Children”, it is the memorial to Ellen-Jane and Marianne Robinson, who died in 1813 and 1814.
In the history of the memorial they mention the Boothby Memorial
, which is equally beautiful, and an inspiration for this one.
I was now in the South Transept which is very military orientated as is to be expected. The Staffordshire Regiment is well represented here, and there is even a very impressive memorial to members of the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment that lost their lives in the Boer War.
With that portion completed it was time for me to leave and to explore the outside of the cathedral.
This image was taken at the Lady Chapel end of the cathedral, unlike Salisbury there is not a lot of space to get an image that encompasses the complete building. I believe the colour of the stone is due to air pollution, and in parts the sandstone is crumbling.
The churchyard still exists around the building, and headstones are laid flat with the surface. Many that I saw were of officials from the church, as well as clergy. The area around the cathedral is known as the Cathedral Close and the buildings are in use as offices, a school, shop, and a number of other functions. This area was very involved in the civil war, and the cathedral and buildings were damaged.
There are large number of statues mounted on the cathedral as well as the invariable Gargoyle. I suspect you would need a lot of time to photograph them all, and each was hand made, there was no mass production involved at all. I believe that even Queen Victoria is on here somewhere, and probably St Chad too.
I always feel that it is quite a pity that you are unable to get high enough to really have a good look at the statues, and to photograph them would really be a mission.
That concluded my visit, and I will probably return to here, the spire tours happen on a Saturday and I would not mind having a go at getting up there to have a look, but, there are many factors at play which may preclude that from happening. A last look and I was heading on my way once again.
© DRW 2015-2017 Images migrated 28/04/2016