Three hours spent exploring and photographing in one of our great cathedrals.
I recently had an afternoon free and found myself in the lovely precencts of Salisbury cathedral. Although I'm not a 'churchy' person I have an abiding love of church architecture. The sheer scale and beauty of these medieval time capsules never fails to take my breath away.
Salisbury cathedral is approached through the delighfully-named Choristers' Square. It is a busy bottleneck that is teeming with activity:
An alternative approach (which offers parhaps a preferable view) is from the West via the Cathedral close:
As you can see I was very lucky with the weather - although the date was 9th April luckily the weather didn't know that. It felt like July....
The modern visitor enters through a side door leading directly into the cloisters. I presume the medieval visitor would have used the rather grander main doors.
The central statue over the main entrance is a wonderful example of the medieval stonemason's art:
But there is more to see. It seems to me that medieval plumbers had more fun (though Steve R may disagree!) as some of the gargoyles are rather amazing. Here are a few that were close enough to the ground to photograph:
I'm not sure if he just came back from the medieval dentist or maybe he just got a tax bill....
I think he may be unhappy with the referee....
Ok who burnt the toast....
Methinks old Jess the stonecarver has been on the happy juice again!
One past the main entrance and through the side door you find yourslf in the cloisers. They seem to form a perfect square and enclose a tranquil green space. This is looking South:
Looking up the East corridor I was struck by the wonderful patterns of shadows created by the carved columns:
The lightfall has made a wonderfully decorative surface out of what is actually a plain stone floor.
A view of the cathedral spire soaring skyward, framed by the delicate columns of the cloister:
Once inside you are inevitbly struck by the sheer scale of this building
This view was looking East towards the main altar (you can see the organ in the centre). A closer view shows the choir stalls and organ more clearly:
A wonderful piece of carving on the choir stalls:
And, by contrast, a modern piece (made from a weathered piece of driftwood) that was on display:
Looking down a side aisle a very unusual piece with barleysugar twisted columns:
The hands on a carved tomb effigy seem to make a poignant picture:
And, from another tombe effigy, this lady seems vey intent on prayerful study:
(Not too sure about the hairdo though....)
Apparently the original stained glass was destroyed during the reformation, so most of the windows are eighteenth or nineteenth century. There are some lovely pieces though - this one vey high up on the East wall:
And these two on the South - both lovely examples of the stained glass maker's art:
At this point lunch beckoned, and I can heartily recommend the Refectory (the cathedral restaurant and tea room). The home-made soup and bread are delicious and the cakes....
Slightly heavier (and possibly closer to early-onset diabetes!) I waddled gently back to the cathedral. I had heard that a rehearsal for the evening performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis was about to take place. When I entered the cathedral it was in full swing:
(In the foreground you can see the fountain that is a prominent feature of the cathedral).
Three choirs, one very energetic conductor and an equally enthusiastic orchestra make a surprising volume! The cathedral has a deeply reverbarent acoustic, and the sound was lush!
I have always been fascinated by conductors - to have all that orchestral power at your fingertips must be thrilling. I also love their expressions when they get into it....
This lady was spotlit by the high window above her - she had a wonderful voice, and I imagined her a stalwart of the local choir!
And this chap was blowing up a storm!
The rehearsal did not last very long, and I wandered down to the East end where the most modern stained glass indow is located. This is known as the Prisoners of Conscience window, and is dedicated to all those imprisoned because of their beliefs:
Delicately coloured light spilling through the window to the right of the altar gave me one of my favourite images of the day:
I hope you have enjoyed a brief glimpse of this beautiful cathedral. It is well worth a visit!
Bye for now,
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