Monday, February 13, 2012

Photo February Day Thirteen

Door Knocker, Durham Cathedral, 2006

I'm a cathedral junkie.

Not many people get this obsession, but there is something about cathedrals that I can't get enough of. The older the better. They're like cats, or children. They all have their own personalities and foibles and indiosyncracies and a very vibrant life of their own.

I really like English Cathedrals and the rich history they provide, what with the reformation and the disolution of the monasteries, the pure destruction and tentative rebuilding of these megatliths which were built out of love with what are now primitive tools and have somehow stood the tests of rampaging time. Could you imagine them building a cathedral in modern times (okay, scratch that, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is still not finished 100 years on - with modern tools... and modern unions... and modern standards...) 

I spend hours wandering through these structures when I get the chance. My record would be spending seven hours going through York Minster on my first visit there - time well spent pouring over chapter houses, vaulting, masonry, right down to the little mice carved into the pews near the Lady Chapel.

Ely Cathedral is breathtaking, this 'Ship of the Fens' visible on the horizon for miles, the pure white light of the Lady Chapel, exquisite. Love the place. Lincoln's dog legging nave is a testement to time and engineering (and goes to prove that modern engineering would have put the structure out of the town on firmer ground. St Paul's whispering gallery still gets my imagination, even if it does mean scaling these large, circular staircases. Westminter Abbey, a Royal Peculiar rather than a cathedral can be dwelled on for days - there's so much to take in.

Yeah, you got it, Cathedral Nerd. (She shrugs and sighs)

Another favorite place that I go back to if I'm in the area, is Durham Cathedral, with its unusual fluted vaults (as seen in the flms Elizabeth and the Harry Potter films) a structure has been on the site for over a thousand years. It's one of the oldest standing Cathedrals in the country and a fine example of Norman architecture.

This photo is of the door knocker on the North Door of the cathedral. Known as the Sanctuary Knocker because of its former use.

"The knocker on the Cathedral’s northern door, known as the Sanctuary Knocker, played an important part in the Cathedral’s history. Those who ‘had committed a great offence,’ such as murder in self-defence or breaking out of prison, could rap the knocker, and would be given 37 days of sanctuary within which they could try to reconcile with their enemies or plan their escape." The right to sanctuary was recinded in 1624.

The original one is sitting in the cathedral museum, but this is a great replica.

I love stuff like this. Finding out information such as this on an item as trivial as a door knocker... like, cool!

It makes travelling all the more enriching.


The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I'm ashamed to say I've never been to Durham Cathedral. I've been to York Minster and St Paul's and Westminster Abbey though.

7 hours in York Minster? That's impressive. Last time I went to York, we left the Minster to get to a pub to watch an England football game (Mrs PM was NOT impressed).

Not to self - must go back to York. I love the place.




Pandora Behr said...

Love York too - it is wonderful.

The Elephant's Child said...

Cathedrals and temples. The older the better.
Can you think of a modern building that people will still want to visit in two or three hundred years?

Kath Lockett said...

I'm a cathedral nerd too.... but your seven hours beats my four!

Love the knocker idea and wonder if we could invent a modern one for modern problems? "Knock on me and enjoy a few hours of sanctuary where you will not have to endure Glee songs or apologise for your lack of fashion sense."