musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral

The reason behind my “Waddle Through Worcester” was really to see Worcester Cathedral, or, as it is properly known:  “The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester”. 

Like so many cathedrals it is large, beautiful and awe inspiring. It will be the eighth Cathedral/Abbey that I have seen and it is hard to know which is my favourite. It does not really matter though because each leaves me speechless and awed at the same time.

Unfortunately, getting the whole building into an image is very difficult because there is no real place where you can see it all in one shot. But, I do know where to try for next time. I returned to Worcester on Monday 13th and have replaced some of the exterior images in this post. 

 

The interior follows the same basic arrangement of most cathedrals and churches although parts of it were erected at different periods of time.

 

 

Information booklet available at http://www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/media/Cathedral_Brochure.pdf

The entrance was not quite where I expected it to be, but nevertheless it was very impressive with all those statues over the door. I do however wish that there had been more sunlight.

And, as usual, the moment I stepped inside it was as if I had entered a totally different world. I always like to think that having seen 8 of these churches I would be used to them, but each is unique, and I like to think that in the days of yore this place was held in awe by the people who came from far and wide and entered within. It certainly leaves me shell shocked. 

There are a lot of aspects to taking photographs in a cathedral. The light varies considerably and in many cases a flash is required and  I try to  avoid using a flash. There are always people moving in and out of view, and sometimes areas are just too big to photograph effectively. I do not carry a DSLR and make do with a reasonable hand held camera. Photographic permits are available from the shop at £3.

Overhead the vast expanse of vaulted ceilings is quite a dizzying sight, but nevertheless it is always worthwhile to lean back and appreciate the work of those who built this building.

Before the English Reformation the Cathedral was known as Worcester Priory. It was built between 1084 and 1504 and represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. 

There are some really beautiful wall memorials and effigies in the cathedral, and some are outstanding works of art rather than mere memorials.  I cannot help but marvel at the skill of those who created these works. 

   

Like so many churches there is a font and a pulpit,

and a quire,

An organ (or 3) 

and an Altar.

And the High Altar (image below).

In front of the High Altar and before the quire is the tomb of  King John.  Unfortunately I could not get a decent image of the tomb because of one person that was seemingly glued to the immediate space around it. 

Saint Wulfstan and Saint Oswald can be seen in miniature beside the head of John on his effigy.

It is not every day that you get to see the tomb of a King.

Underneath the Cathedral is the Crypt of St Wulfstan, and it is was open for viewing although the chapel was roped off.

It is a quiet and thoughtful place, a very appealing spot to wander around in. Many of the slabs on the floor are floor memorials. 

Returning to ground level I needed to find the loo (as usual), and that took me to the Cloister. It too is a pretty space, surrounding the central garden/graveyard/herb garden. I would have really liked to have walked around in that space but it was locked. 

I did find this area quite dark in spite of the many windows. 

But then it was still grey and gloomy outside anyway so that may have had something to do with the atmosphere.

My ablutions over, it was time to return to the building again and take another walk around. There is a dedicated Chapel of Remembrance where the Rolls of Honour are kept, and with its many memorials to the fallen.

I may do a separate blogpost about the memorials in this chapel and the windows in the Cloister.

On the 13th I was able to see inside the Chapter House, and it was magnificent, with amazing acoustics. My camera can’t really do justice to this structure.

 

Random Images

Space does not allow me to show all of my images, and I often cannot really describe what I saw which is why these images are here. They need no caption but just convey what I saw. They are places of great beauty and tranquillity.

   
   
   
   
   
 

The Cathedral from the bridge across the Severn

And that concluded my trip to Worcester Cathedral.  It is a beautiful building and so different but so similar to the others I have seen. Go back? of course, these structures have so much to see that each time is different. Besides, I hear there is another memorial to “Woodbine Willie” that I would like to see, I wish I had known about it at the time, or, maybe I did photograph it, I just have not seen it yet.

13/03/2017.

I did manage to photograph the memorial mentioned above, and will deal with it in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie”  post. 

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017, edited and some images replaced 13/03/2017 

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 15:37

A waddle through Worcester

The last time I was in Worcester was in June 2015 when I came for a job interview in Tewkesbury. At the time I had a few minutes between trains so quickly walked up Foregate Street to see if I could spot the cathedral. I did however not go far enough before I turned around and went back to Foregate Street Station to catch my train. There are not a lot of trains between Aschurch for Tewkesbury and Worcester (or anywhere else for that matter) so any trip I made would be a short, there is a 3 hour window to sightsee in, and after that you are stuck for almost 2 hours waiting for the train.  I had not planned any cemetery visits for this trip, this was really about the cathedral.  The weather was grey and gloomy as my pics show, and definitely not photography weather, but one day hopefully I will return on a sunnier day.  

(I made a return visit on 13/03/2017 to photograph St John’s cemetery, you can read about it at “Return to Worcester”

Your first view of the cathedral was through the dirty window of the train as it pulls into Worcester Shrub Hill Station. The two stations are quite close together but Shrub Hill is on the line to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol and eventually Weymouth. 

Worcester Foregate Street serves the line that goes from Great Malvern to Birmingham and this is the street I would use to get to the Cathedral. 

The town is a pretty one with a very nice array of old buildings and some really spectacular ones too. There was one building that I was really after and that was the Guildhall, but first…

This building is labelled “The Hop Market Hotel” and it is stunning. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the name is still clearly visible on the stone façade of the building, although it is no longer a hotel.  It is a Grade II listed building and the date 1836 may be seen above the one doorway. 

The next building on the right hand side of the image is/was a church, it is sadly now called “Slug and Lettuce” A bit of rooting around reveals that it is the former St Nicholas Church that dates from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church (which is a shame).

Lloyds Bank is next door

and this beaut that I cannot name as yet.

The one place I did remember from my passing through in 2015 was the Guildhall, and it is really quite an ornate affair on the exterior with  statues, gilt, carvings and reliefs. it was built in  1721, and designed by Thomas White, a local architect. 

Unfortunately you cannot get far back to fit the building into a straight forward image.  I am particularly fond of the statues that adorn it, as well as the various faces that peer out from above the windows. The local tourism centre is housed in in one corner of the building and if you like decorative gimmicks I guess this is the place to see it. I believe there is an interesting war memorial in the building so it is listed as worth going to see again.

Charles I

Queen Anne

Charles II

I believe that the stone head above the door in this image is supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell, with his ears nailed the frame, although we do not know what Oliver Cromwell looked like in real life, so they could be having us on.

I was now close to my goal, and I spotted a statue of Edward Elgar who was a great believer in “Pomp and Circumstance.” The Cathedral was across the street. 

You can go to that page by clicking the image above, or using the convenient arrow below.

forwardbut

Like most of these buildings it is very difficult to take a photograph that encompasses the whole building. This is the best that I could do from this position. I believe that a better image can be taken from Fort Royal Hill

Pride of place in front of the Cathedral is the Memorial to the men from Worcestershire who lost their lives in the Boer War. 

At this point I entered the Cathedral and that part of this post will continue on another page. My return to the station continues below.

I exited the cathedral and headed to the embankment that overlooks the River Severn (which also flows past Tewkesbury). There is a rail bridge and a road bridge over the Severn and I was really curious about the rail bridge.

The bridge in the foreground is the road bridge. The cathedral was behind me at this point.

I walked a bit further until I found what looked like an exit from the cathedral close, and it came out at the Edgar Tower. 

At this point I had quite a lot of time to kill till before my projected train at 15.06 (or thereabout). I had seen something called the “Museum of Royal Worcester“, and I thought that it was related to the local regiment so headed off into that direction. However I was sadly disappointed to find that it was a porcelain museum! Royal Worcester is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today. 

What now? I was tempted to take a walk to one of the two cemeteries in the city, but neither was really within walking range given the train timings, so I decided to head in the direction of the station. 

Like Tewkesbury Worcester has a lot of old timber framed buildings that line its narrow streets, many are taken up by small business that cater for a specialised clientele. They are pretty buildings and some are probably very old, but they are very difficult to photograph.

By the way, the slightly furtive figure is a representation of Charles II fleeing Cromwell on 3 September 1651. “Worcester was the site of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), when Charles II attempted to forcefully regain the crown, in the fields a little to the west and south of the city, near the village of Powick. However, Charles II was defeated and returned to his headquarters in what is now known as King Charles house in the Cornmarket, before fleeing in disguise to Boscobel House in Shropshire from where he eventually escaped to France. Worcester had supported the Parliamentary cause before the outbreak of war in 1642 but spent most of the war under Royalist occupation.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester)

There are a number of these small bronzes in the area where I now was, and I was surprised to find a statue of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy aka “Woodbine Willie”. I had seen a wall memorial to him in London in 2016 and this was a nice feather in my cap.

Close to Woodbine Willie was a small church, actually it was the back of “St Martin in the Cornmarket”, although it should now be called “St Martin in the car park”. 

It was a pretty church on the inside, although not awe inspiring. Sadly the churchyard was a disgrace.

I discovered four of those small bronze statues in the area of the church and they were really charming. These are the other three. 

I was slowly heading in the direction of the station so really just decided to see about getting an earlier train to Tewkesbury, I had 35 minutes until a train left so had till then to decide what to do. 

The sign on this building reads: “The Worcester New Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd. 1888” 

I grabbed a quick bacon butty and decided that I would head towards the two bridges over the Severn, There were a number of interesting buildings in the street I was heading down, although it is doubtful whether many are still being used for what they were originally built as.

This building was fascinating, Now occupied by “Tramps Nightclub” it was formerly the East Side Congregational Church and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1858. Right next door to it what is now known as the Angel Centre.

It has a very interesting Memorial Stone that ties it into the former church next door.

As I walked I was able to glimpse portions of that railway bridge I saw from the cathedral, although time was starting to become an issue again.

It is a very impressive structure, and I was not even seeing all of it from where I stood. Sadly though it was time to leave and I turned around and headed back to the station, passing this oldie that stood on the side of a hill.

If only I knew the stories behind these old faded buildings that seemingly exist with our characterless modern architecture. 

At the station I spotted my first class 166 in the new GWR livery. It was heading to Paddington, I was not.

The strange thing about Foregate Street Station is even though it has two platforms you catch the train to Weymouth on the same platform as you would disembark from it.  

When last I was here I had photographed from the other platform and there was a tantalising glimpse of two churches which will be on my list for the next time I am in Worcester.

Now why wasn’t the weather like that on this trip? definitely a reason to return.

And, one final puzzle, why are there semaphore signals in this portion of the line?

And that concludes my trip to Worcester. I will be back one day I hope, there is a lot more to see that I did today, but then I was really there for the cathedral, and now that it has been seen I can make a plan to see the other sights that I know about now.  It is all about exploration and waddling through Worcester.

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 17:22

Gloucester Cathedral

I visited Gloucester this morning, and the primary goal was the cathedral, because they are really a big drawcard in any city. If you don’t have a cathedral you better have something equally grand instead! Tewkesbury is in the middle of 3 cities, (Worcester, Gloucester and Cheltenham) and 3 out of the four have a church that dominates the landscape. I believe they are also all 1 days travel away from Tewkesbury, although that was not by bus! My trip entailed a bus to Cheltenham and another to Gloucester. I am not covering the city in this blogpost though, that will come at a later date after I have been back. This post only deals with the cathedral.
 
The Cathedral is well signposted, although I did end up being distracted by the vintage fair that was going on around me and which ruined my plans for the balance of the day. But that is another story. Like so many of these buildings it is now hemmed in by its surroundings, and finding a spot to photograph the complete building is difficult. But I am happy to say I found one that comes close enough.
  
And, like the other cathedrals I have seen this one is beautiful, the level of detail in it is amazing and it has a really nice collection of Gargoyles too. 
  
It has occupied this space for many centuries, the foundation stone being laid in 1089. Once again I am not here to write about the history of the building, It is better to read about it on Wikipedia

Once inside I was a bit disappointed as the nave seemed almost sparse compared to the other buildings I had been in. It was not as light either, but the lighting was really to do with the time of day, and once past the screen and into the quire it was a different ballgame altogether.  
 
Unfortunately there were heaps of chairs being moved around the nave and this really ruined the effect of the organ that was playing in the background during my visit. The organ however was magnificent, it just fits a building like this so well, and I was able to tune out the floor scraping and tune in the pipes instead. 
 
There were a fair amount of wall memorials and a lot of effigies too, although the real treasures were still to come. I did not find a major war memorial inside the cathedral, although there is a chapel dedicated to the Gloucester Regiments. The War Memorial is outside the building on a grassed area I believe used to be the churchyard.

 
My small camera is unable to do justice to what I see in these churches, but then I think if I had to photograph every highlight I would probably be there a long time and need a lot of spare battery power.
  
I headed up the aisle for some odd reason, intending to cover the area of the aisle and the transepts before moving into the body of the church. The aisles are usually where the best wall memorials are found and there are a lot of really beautiful and ornate ones inside.
  
There a number of historically important memorials in the cathedral, and one in particular would probably be the salvation of the cathedral when the dissolution of the abbey happened in  1540. 
 
The are two kings buried here. The first being  Edward II of England  (left) the other being  Osric, King of the Hwicce,  (right) . 
 
I had intended returning to the tombs on my second round, but it skipped my mind and I will have to make a second trip here anyway. Continuing around the body of the church I kept on being taken aback by the sheer opulence of the fittings. What sort of impression did this leave on the average peasant in the 1700’s who saw this church in all its glory?

The Gloucesters lost a lot of men during their many military campaigns around the world and I would see a lot of references to them in the town and in the whole area of Gloucester.

 

This rather jaunty lady is Elizabeth Williams who died in childbirth in 1622.

It was time to cross into the main body of the church. And here my camera let me down because I have very few images from this area, and none are really very good. This is the view looking towards the nave from just in front of the quire. 

 

while this view is 180 degrees and looking towards the High Altar.

I returned to the aisles once again and came to the Chapel of Saint Andrew which was interesting because it was here the they advertised the crypt tours. The chapel was stunning, made even more interesting by the buttress that seemingly crosses the doorway.

 
I really liked this chapel a lot, its walls were more fresco than anything else, but it made for a very attractive space. Unfortunately it was a very small space so photography was difficult.
The Crypt tour was of interest, but it was an hour later and I decided to head outside and do more sight seeing and return at 11H30 for the crypt tour. The tower tour was also up, but my ankle was not strong enough to get me up 240+ stairs and back down again. However, I first needed the loo and there was one in the cloisters. It is really a fairy tale space, and I believe parts of  a Harry Potter movie were shot somewhere in the cloisters.

The central garden is a wonderful haven of peace and as much as I wanted to grab a bench and sit down I did not have that luxury.

I circumnavigated the cathedral as best I was able, pausing to view any interesting bit through the long distance eye of my camera.  The level of close up detail is astounding though, and the stone masons who built this building were master craftsmen indeed.

 

I headed off into the city to pass time till 11H30 when I would go on the crypt tour,

 

Instead we shall wind forward to 11H30 and the red door that is the entrance to the crypt.

I have not been into the crypt of any of the churches I have been in, and they seem to limit the amount of people to around 20 at a time. I was probably the first arrival, although when I looked again there were 19 others standing waiting too.

The crypt is really a duplication of the church above, and it has chapels just like the church above it, although these are much less ornate than the area above. I believe this was the domain of the monks, and at some point it became a charnel house and later a storage area during World War Two. It is a strange space, full of interesting shapes and columns, with vaulted ceilings and a feeling of great weight above you. Who knows what it must have looked like some many centuries before?

 
 
It is slightly damp inside and well lit, although I would not like to be here when the lights go out. Unfortunately there was not much to see, it was all about history really. The bones that existed in the charnel house are long gone, and if they had been here we would have not been allowed down here anyway.

Then it was time to go up again and I headed off to the cloisters once again in search of the loo.

And then I was out the door, leaving the cathedral behind. It is definitely a place I will visit again. Having seen it I now know what I want to see and hopefully a tower tour will be on the list.

Random Images.
And that was Gloucester Cathedral. I would love to do the tower tour one day, but realistically there is not too much to see in the city, there are other places that rate much higher in my priority list. But, I do tend to change my mind often.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:24

Lichfield Cathedral

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.

   Random Images.
 
 
 
 
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© DRW 2015-2017 Images migrated 28/04/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:41

Closing the door on Salisbury

In September 2013 I started full time work in Salisbury, and moved there in late November 2013. This afternoon I left it for good. It has been quite a year for me, but I guess I have to look at opportunities and developments and occasionally these may require change. Leaving Salisbury and my job was one such change.
 
Initially I was not too keen on Salisbury, its only really redeeming feature seem to be that it had a cathedral in it, and that magnificent building was really an experience on its own. 
 
 
Initially I stayed very close to work, in an area called “The Friary”, which had somewhat of a chequered reputation. But I did have a nice spot but when an affordable place came available to rent I grabbed it like a shot, moving in in mid April this year.

My new walk took me from one end of Salisbury to the other, through town and the many shops and business that would become almost second nature to me. It was a 25 minute walk and by the time I got to work (or home) I was usually bushed.

This odd structure is the Poultry Cross, and it marks the site of the former markets. It was constructed in the 14th century, and is a popular hang out for pigeons, smokers, cellphone weenies and sitters arounders, The market is usually held on a Tuesday and Saturday, and while not my favourite place did net me a few interesting odds and ends. The market square is also home to the Guildhall and the War Memorial; where I commemorated Remembrance Day this year.

Naturally I would gravitate to the local cemeteries, there were two larger ones in Salisbury, namely Devizes Road and London Road cemeteries. Both are quite old and I did have lots of fun walking through them. London Road in particular was a very nice visit, and I did find all the war graves and got very muddy while doing so. (It’s an occupational hazard)

Salisbury was a very large training area during the war years, and still has a number of military bases and facilities on Salisbury Plain. Unfortunately the furthest I seemed to get there was Old Sarum and of course Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. I had visited Stonehenge with my landlord from Southampton during 2013, and while I was suitably impressed I did not get there a second time.

We also visited Woodhenge on the same day, and it was quite a strange place to see.

I even attempted a panoramic stitch of it, and while it is not perfect you get the general idea. (Image is 1500×426).

Salisbury is really a tourist attraction, and somewhat of a retirement home, with its narrow pavements and strange alleyways it can sometimes lead you to surprisingly pretty buildings. In general though the city is a mix of olde, old and recent, but there is not a lot of work available so it does tend to be a destination commuted to (and from). The station is not a pretty building at all, if anything it is somewhat of an ugly place, although occasionally steam powered specials would make an appearance. It was also the site if a very bad train accident in 1906 but there is nothing to see that commemorates the accident,
blacks 038

 

The rest of the time South West Trains and First Great Western make the station their junction. There are 3 lines converging on Salisbury. One heads towards Southampton/Portsmouth, the other heads towards Andover, Basingstoke, Woking, Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, while the third heads west to Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads, and Cardiff Central. I did a lot of odd visits on these lines, and probably once winter had finished would have gone a bit further, although an ankle injury really messed up my travels towards the last few months.

There were a number of interesting museums and churches worth occupying myself with, and I did the rounds of most of the accessible ones.  The prettiest must have been St Lawrence in Stratford Sub-Castle  as well as St Andrews in Laverstock.

Walking around town on my rounds was always interesting, especially since there are 5 rivers converging on Salisbury. In January we had a flood scare, and I must admit it was quite interesting watching the levels rise and the flood plain become a lake. The Avon used to flow past the back of the house where I was staying, and it was fun feeding the ducks when I had some spare bread.

 

Naturally there were also coots, swans and pigeons, but the water birds had the advantage when it came to food.

I think that one of the all abiding memories I will take with me from Salisbury are of the people I worked with for just over a year. They made Christmas fun and often inspired me to do things. A new workplace does mean making new friends and that is always difficult. But I will have to make a go of it irrespective. Tomorrow is week 2 of my new job and new home. So lets see what I can find in Basingstoke.

And so I close the door on Salisbury. I will miss it, and I take fond memories with me. I never did get to the spire of the Cathedral, or revisit Bemerton, neither did I get back to Arnos Vale in Bristol. Oh, and that pub that forgot my breakfast? you probably lost a lot of money from me, much more than the lousy 3.19 that you nicked from me. I will miss my little home that I had, and will look for a new one. London is closer and I have cemeteries to visit. But first I must unpack all this stuff I brought with me; where did it all come from?

Random Photographs.
War Memorial

War Memorial

The Guildhall

The Guildhall

 

© DRW 2014-2017. Images recreated 21/04/2016

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:55

Old Sarum, a hill with a view.

This morning I headed off to Old Sarum, a longish walk “just up the street”. It is one of those really old sites that seem to abound in the UK, steeped in history, blood, religion and a dash more history. Realistically there isn’t really much to see there, from afar it looks like a giant pimple on the landscape, but once you investigate what lies beyond then things get interesting. 
 
Image from the main information board.

Image from the main information board.

The site is just outside Salisbury, and it could really be described as the place Salisbury was before Salisbury was what it is. It is the site of the cathedral that existed before Salisbury Cathedral was built. It was not only a cathedral though, but an iron age hill fort, a Norman fortress and at one time home to the English King (or one or two of them). 
The pimple is deceptive though, because there is a moat between the surrounding area and the inner sanctum of the fortress (lets call it a fortress at this point). Crossing that moat would bring you into the castle and fortifications within.
 
The "drawbridge" looking out of the entrance towards the parking lot

The “drawbridge” looking out of the entrance towards the parking lot

Within the walls of the the inner fortress would have stood the castle/fortress proper. With its many layers of access to various members of the population. Tradesmen around the back, higher-ups higher up, and the King and his court being lord of all he surveyed below.
 
Very little remains of the interior buildings, realistically there are just remnants of walls and rooms and no real sense of what stood here originally. This grassy area was probably the courtyard with the well where the signpost is. At one point (1110-1120) the home of Henry I was here, and this would have been a bustling area. The place fell into disfavour and some repairs were carried out in 1366, but by 1514 it was an abandoned and desolate place and the site was given to Thomas Compton along with permission to demolish it and reuse the building materials.
 
  
In the 16th century the buildings were all demolished, leaving the ruins behind for us to puzzle over. It was excavated between 1909 and 1915, and it is probable that there are layers of buildings built over each other, and we only really see the ruins today. Oddly enough one important historical artifact has survived, ye olde privy…. 
  
The royal loo was probably built over this deep pit,  which was where the the King could read the morning newspapers in peace before stepping out for a days ruling/throning.  Some poor peasant (a Baldrick type I suspect), would have the unenviable task of having to clean up every so often, being lowered down into the poo to clean up. It does show that even Kings have more than one throne. 
 
 
The view over the surrounding countryside is magnificent, and you would see an enemy coming from miles away. The outlines in the image above are all that remains of the cathedral that stood at that spot before. The original cathedral was completed in 1092, but it was severely damaged by lightning 5 days after it was consecrated. A mere hundred years later and it too was abandoned in favour of the new cathedral in what was technically “New Sarum” (Salisbury). 
 
The remains of the cathedral and Bishops residence are outside the inner sanctum of the fortress but inside the first moated area, and you have to walk around the fortress to get to them. All that is left are the foundation outlines and a few remnants of rooms. Not much to see, although there were two burial areas close to the ruins.
 
You would have had to cross the drawbridge and head along a path that must have existed back then, I am sure the mud must have created havoc with any procession.
 
Today you would need your imagination to conjure up a cathedral at this spot. It is however a very pretty area with breathtaking views. And it is very popular with the dog walking set. I have no idea how they keep the grounds so immaculate either. 
 
And what of Salisbury? it lays roughly east of Old Sarum, and you can see the spire of the cathedral from the fortress. Unfortunately the sun was sitting in the east and the clouds kept on coming and going, but I did manage this image.
 
And so Old Sarum was left to its ghosts, and I do not think this would be a nice place on a dark and windy night. There was a decidedly creepy feel about it 
  
So I said my farewells and headed off to my next destination. The site is not really one with a lot to see, but it has a rich and complex history and I cannot begin to cover that here. It is however a very pretty place and its worth just going there to walk the area, Who knows, I may go back one day. I am sure there is more to see if only I look more closely.
 
© DRW 2014-2017. Images recreated 17/04/2016
Updated: 13/12/2016 — 19:59

Christmas Greetings

Yep, its that time of year when the fat oke in the red suit pops down the chimney and leaves you a lump of coal if you have been a bad boy/girl. 
 
This year I wont be spending it with family like I usually do, I will probably be popping down to the pub for a quick scoff and then returning home for a days vegging. Its kinda difficult to decide though because a lot of it does come down to the weather. Snow? who knows. If you want to know what the weather was like today check back tomorrow. 
 
I have to admit that they do things differently here (as they do in the USA), and the people at work have been going barmy over this period; draping thistle, scoffing mince pies and going crazy like there is no tomorrow. Maybe thats a good thing? I don’t know.
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I paid a visit to Salisbury Cathedral today, and saw the attendant Nativity Scene and it reminded me of the days when we did the Christmas play at Sunday School. I blogged about it awhile ago, and it still sends shivers down my spine. 
 

So, with shivers down my spine I shall use this opportunity to wish everybody a Merry Christmas,  do not overdo the food (I know it is difficult), and don’t drink and drive because you will spill it.

© DRW 2013-2017. Images replaced 16/04/2016.

Updated: 13/12/2016 — 20:02

Savouring Salisbury Cathedral

This post is long overdue, and I do not quite understand why I did not do this at the time. I lived in Salisbury, Wiltshire for just over a year, and the Cathedral dominated the skyline. I had first visited it with my landlord in May of 2013, and we really just dashed in and out, but it was the sort of place that left you awestruck. Be aware, this blogpost is very image heavy. 
 
  
I make no bones about it, my pics from then were not great, I was probably in too much of a rush to savour the beauty of the building, and while I was glad to see it at the time, I never thought it would feature in my life for a year. I moved to the city in November of 2013, and I had some time to kill on 22 December to have a proper look around. Logically the blogpost should have happened then, but it did not, so while the date reflects as 22/12/2013, the reality is I am writing this in 2015! 
 
I admit that I do not recall a lot of the things I am going to post here, but then a lot of it is really more about just savouring the beauty and not asking questions. 
 

My favourite images of the cathedral I took late on afternoon in December of 2013 when the sun was low on the horizon and the stonework shone. It is truly a beautiful building; majestic and with so much hidden detail that you can never see it all. 

Entering into the cathedral you are confronted with the length of the centre aisle and the vaulted roof overhead.
 

The one thing I do recall about the cathedral is how light it was, it did not have a heavy oppressive feeling like I had felt in St Pauls in London, but then I had not really gone very far into that building so maybe I just judged it wrong at the time.

In my view one of the most beautiful objects in the cathedral is the Baptismal Font with its reflecting pool and silent waterflow. It was really magnificent, and made for fascinating photography.

At the time there was a Nativity Scene inside the cathedral, and that is what can be seen in the distance. If I remember correctly, the nativity scene was in the crossing between the North and South Transepts. The South Transept would be to the right in the image above.

Standing in the centre of the crossing would put you underneath the 123m (404 ft) spire of the cathedral. Unfortunately I was not able to do the spire tour, but with hindsight wish that I had. The 6500 tonne weight of the spire and tower has bowed the support columns, but that has not stopped it being the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom.

Advancing past the crossing we would enter the Quire, which is where the choir is seated amongst magnificent woodwork and grandeur that these buildings had in abundance.

Further on is the High Altar, with the Trinity Chapel behind it.

These are really awe inspiring places to stand at, and I always feel uncomfortable taking photographs in them, possibly it is a sense that this place is special? or maybe my Anglican upbringing is rattling around inside of my head?

The Trinity Chapel is not a grand place, but the stained glass windows make it a very special place. The window, called the Prisoners of Conscience Window, was designed by Gabriel Loire and is dedicated to prisoners of conscience throughout the world. The Chapel is also the site of the Shrine Tomb of Bishop Osmund (died 1099): It is one of three tombs brought here for reburial in 1226 from the previous Cathedral at Old Sarum.

Retracing our steps back to the Crossing, we can get some idea of the Transepts from the image taken from the North Transept to the South Transept, with the Nativity scene in the middle.
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Like so many other churches and cathedrals, Salisbury has its fair share of wall memorials, effigies, plaques, and floor memorials. I am a particular fan of these because often they are truly works of art,  and often there is a lot of very good information on them from a military historian point of view. I wont even attempt to show them all, but here are a few.

Of course it is not only about wall memorials and effigies, there is a lot more in the cathedral worth looking at. One of my favourites is the world’s oldest working clock, it is used to strike the hours on the bells. There used to be a separate bell tower and it was housed there until 1789. It is a surprisingly simple piece of automata though, but the age of it is really what makes it so special. 

 

 

Next to the Cathedral is the Chapter House where the Magna Carta is kept. Unfortunately they do not allow photographs in that area, but it is a beautiful area, and the Magna Carta seems almost insignificant in so grand a space, however, the physical size of the document is not the important part, but the ramifications of it are.
 
The exterior stonework of the cathedral is amazing, I still do not understand  how it was built from a practical point of view. The skill levels of the craftsmen is to be seen to be believed. Yet, in spite of it all, parts of the cathedral are currently being restored, and are clad with scaffolding.
 
 
The scaffolding does not detract from the beauty though, I know I tried to photograph a number of the figures in their alcoves, but there were just too many of them. I also looked for Gargoyles on the building and saw very few, or maybe I did not spot them? 
 
 
 
There is a lot to see, and of course I did not get up to that spire, but then the tours were always difficult to get especially when the weather was poor. Photography is also very difficult, light conditions are good, but in some cases a flash was needed and I did not really want to use one. I was able to see Lichfield Cathedral too and it was interesting comparing the two buildings. These are wonderful churches, and they are history in stone, the ages look down from their walls, and frankly they are really something special in a community.

Random Images 
There are a lot of images that I have that I cannot really tie into a specific area or object, these are some of them.
 © DRW 2013-2017. Images recreated 16/04/2016
Updated: 13/12/2016 — 20:02

St Paul’s Cathedral, London

During my time in London I really wanted to see St Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of those iconic places in the world that is known from the photographs and history books, and is well worth seeing if you are able. I was not able, or rather, I ran out of time. I did get inside the building, but it was more to find out how much it cost rather than going inside for a visit (£16.00 a pop). The “no photography” policy left me cold though so I did not pursue it any further, putting it off for another day and another time.
 
What I did experience in my brief visit was a heavy atmosphere with the droning of a minister going on in the background and it put me off. So, my images are only of the exterior. I do however regret not going on the tour, 
 
 
 

One day I hope to do that tour. I am sure the building will still be there at any rate, after all, it survived the London Blitz.

*Update 08/06/2016*

Please note that the opinions in this update are strictly my own.

I visited the Cathedral in June 2016 and paid up my £16 for the experience of seeing the interior of the cathedral and it is truly magnificent, photographs will not go anywhere near doing it justice.  It is huge, the amount of artwork and sculptures in it is staggering, and the lofty heights of the dome seem to reach into the stars. It is a stunning building, however, I did not find it a friendly building, if anything I felt as if I was intruding on some much greater work and was not really worthy of being in there. The crypt was out of this world, but it felt cold and clinical, almost too perfect. This seemed more like a space where you crept silently along clutching your hat with eyes downcast. The tombs inside it are awe inspiring, but I found it hard to reconcile some of the words I read on some of the tombs with the history of those buried there.  It was really the sort of building where you could spend a whole day and come away feeling drained and I do not want to know how you would feel if you attended a service there. I did find the staff somewhat abrupt, especially the woman in the whispering gallery and again I felt as if I was intruding in a personal empire of the staff.  I did not stick around very long, although it started bucketing down shortly after I went inside.

I have visited quite a few cathedrals since I first saw St Paul’s, and they felt just that much more comfortable and accessible. I did not feel the same way in St Paul’s. Sir Christopher Wren created a fantastic building, and I wonder what he would have said had he seen it today. Make no mistake, it is probably the most stunning Cathedral I have ever seen, but it will never be my favourite.   

© DRW 2013-2017. Created 13/09/2016. Images recreated 26/03/2016, updated 10/06/2016

Updated: 12/12/2016 — 20:25
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