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Durham Cathedral - 2011

 

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CUTHBERT, BEDE AND OTHER EARLY ENGLISH SAINTS AND KINGS

 

BACK TO THE OLD ENGLISH CATHEDRALS

 

 

 

A winter's morning approach from the north (with obligatory white van).

 

 

Durham Cathedral, Castle, University from the Air

Airfotos and Durham University

 

The island like structure which houses Medieval Durham -  Cathedral, University, Castle

(earlier the Bishop's Palace, but part of Durham University since its foundation in the 1830s), etc,

seen from the south

 

 

 

For our visit in 2011 we were equipped with a photographer's pass.  Many thanks to Seif El Rashidi, the Durham World Heritage Site Coordinator, for his help with this and our visit in general.

 

VISIT THE DURHAM WORLD HERITAGE WEB-SITE

 

Link to Durham Cathedral Website

 

 

 

 

 

The pioneering great Norman nave.  The masons who built Durham were the first in Europe to have the skill and courage to throw a full stone roof over a large choir and nave (1093 - 1133), and to do so they invented ribbed vaulting (and also concealed flying buttresses).  The testing nature of such developments was underlined later by the collapse of the choir roof (the earliest section to be built).

 

By moving away from the barrel to the ribbed vault, the Durham masons had pioneered basic Gothic some decades before it manifested itself in the large cathedrals of northern France.  Prior to this large span roofs had been wooden.

 

The building activities of the early 1100s moved from east to west, and it is interesting to look at the arch decorations along this "timeline", which become more and more detailed as you move west (towards the camera position in these photos).  The rose window in the east was a misguided Victorian "improvement".

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Norman heads (possibly caricatures of masons) anchor blind columns in the nave.

 

 

 

A Prince Bishop enjoys the winter sun and looks down on the Cathedral's crossing from on high.

 

 

 

Whilst this interesting combination of Asian goddess and sinful Luxuria lives just out of easy eyeshot range above the choir.

 

 

 

 

 

The Western Galilee (aka Ladies') Chapel

 

The Galilee Chapel (aka Lady Chapel) dates from the late 1100s and the 1200s, and is located where the West porch or narthex would normally be (in most other cathedrals it's somewhere around the east end).  Women could come here and worship without setting the monks' hearts racing.  Although the chapel was only built a few decades after the nave, the design patterns have already become noticeably slimmer.  There are also a few paintings on the upper walls.

 

 

Durham Cathedral in Snow

 

Photo Andrew Heptinstall and Durham University

 

Durham Cathedral in the snow - 2005.  The Galilee Chapel is the crenulated structure at the west (left) end of the cathedral.

 

 

 

 

The tomb of the great Northumberland saint and historian - the Venerable Bede (from Jarrow - aka Saint Bede the Venerable) in the Galilee chapel. 

 

Bede wrote "The Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples"

 

 

 

 

 

Cuthbert blesses the Galilee Chapel

 

 

 

and a couple of monks scurry somewhere ....

 

 

 

At the other (east) end of the cathedral, the Chapel of the Nine Altars (east) was completed in the Gothic style between 1242 and 1280.  Durham, being a leading monastery, attracted a better class of monk (!) - many of whom were ordained and therefore wanted the use of an altar to celebrate mass - hence the need for extra altars.  In your average monastery it was rare to find ordained monks.  Later, when canons appeared, they were all ordained, and often helped run services in Parish churches.

 

 

 

Some early English Saints, Kings and Queens

 

including Cuthbert, Oswald and Bede

 

 

 

 

 

The abbey cathedral's Shrine of Saint Cuthbert  (from Lindisfarne) was the most visited shrine in England until Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170 and his shrine took over the popularity (and accessibility) stakes.  Because of the valuables stacked in a major shrine such as this, it would probably have been overseen by a duty monk looking out from an elevated story balcony like the one which has been preserved at St Albans.

 

 

A winter's afternoon departure past the castle

 

 

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All original material Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission