Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Durham Cathedral

I couldn't quite get to grips with Durham as a city; it seemed very small, and without heart, but perhaps we didn't spend enough time there to investigate it properly.  We went to look at the Cathedral, and were there for less than 24 hours.

Durham Cathedral, unlike many cathedrals these days, does not charge an entrance fee, but you are not allowed to take photographs inside. They rely on sales of the guide book I think, and the images on this blog,  of the insides of the cathedral, were taken from it.

The outside.

Durham is known for its cathedral, University and Castle. We had heard that the cathedral was magnificent and worth a visit, so off we trekked.

Durham is a city, above Yorkshire but below Northumberland in the top right hand side of England. (the bottom bit of the UK)

The picture above gives the impression that the cathedral is quite austere, and it certainly is "high church".  The outside left me with an overwhelming feeling of workhouses and puritanism!

These two towers (the Western Towers) are built above the gorge and date from 12/13th centuries. They hang on the side of the hill and can be seen for miles (below)

The building is huge and is 143 metres long, and is at one end of a very pretty green opposite Durham Castle.

Many of the other buildings around the green belong to the University of Durham, including in this row, the University's Police.

The great central tower (above) is 66 metres high and was the last bit that was built, in the 15th century.

The Insides

The inside of the Cathedral is truly wonderful.

The stone pillars and roof give a feeling of an enormous strong powerful place. They are highly decorated with carving rather than with paint and gilding. I tell you, it fair takes your breath away.

 The Nave (looking East)

 The Nave (looking west)
 Looking north across the nave. (the tomb belongs to a member of the Neville family)

Until the late 1800's there wouldn't have been any seats in the Nave. The carved pillars have stood for almost 900 years and are 6.6 metres round and 6.6 metres high. They support the ceiling.

There is a long narrow slab of black marble set into the floor and this marks the point behind which women had to remain, a restriction that continued until the mid-sixteenth century.

From about 1093 to 1539 the church was highly decorated and the windows filled with stained glass. but during the Reformation the walls were whitewashed and all the windows were broken.  What you see in the windows now is mostly Victorian.

 The Quire, where services are held every day.

Whilst we were visiting the choir were practising for Evensong, and the accoustics and the beautiful voices actually made me cry. (I really am quite soft, you know!)
 The highly decorated organ pipes which were also playing during our visit.
 The high altar, and behind it the Neville screen.
 The Shrine of St Cuthbert.
 The Daily Bread window.

This window is by the main north door, and was designed by Mark Angus in 1984, and paid for by the staff of Marks and Spencers, to mark the firm's centenary. It illustrates the Last Supper.
 The Galilee Chapel.
The Venerable Bede's tomb (right, and in between the candles)

Bede was born in 673, a saxon, who joined a monastery at Jarrow where he spent all his life. He was a scholar, historian, theologian, poet, scientist, biographer and wrote extensively about the Bible. He died in 735.

And finally a look at the wonderful architecture of the roof of the central tower.

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