When I came and worshipped here at the start of my sabbatical – and I realise I still haven’t read the Dean’s book – I took two photos inside. I now realise I was breaking the rules. This Cathedral does not allow internal photos. Their reasoning is given on their website – and that makes some sense. They offer photography evenings, so Mike from Ponteland Photographic Society and I went for one on Monday 8 September 2014. I came home with 171 photos – here are some of the better ones. It was lovely being able to go almost anywhere, the staff and volunteers were friendly, tea was provided, and other photographers looked out for each other. There was one lass there in a stained glass window jumper – I didn’t have the guts to ask if I could photo her jumper. As we entered the Cathedral the sun was shining behind a cross in the churchyard.
The community of monks was established here in 1083. This Norman Cathedral speaks of human as well as divine power. To quote Walter Scott it is “Half church of God, half castle ‘gainst the Scot”. The cathedral is 469 feet long. It is a Norman nave and quire with transepts between, beyond the quire a Gothic extension, and beyond the western towers the C12 Galilee Chapel. The great tower, 218 feet (66 metres) in height, was the last major addition to the fabric – C15 perpendicular. I like the north transept and its round towers.
The Sanctuary knocker is a replica of the C12 original – you could have 37 days to sort your affairs out.
The central tower was open for anyone who wished to climb – for another £5 (the main evening cost £10). The notice made it very clear what I was attempting, and the defibrillator at about 280 steps was rather sobering – could I use it on myself?
I had had the stairs to myself and had the top of the tower to myself. I’m sure that doesn’t often happen. It was great to work my way round slowly. Let’s start with the east end – the Chapel of the Nine Altars.
Then on the north side we have a lovely view of the Castle. The Castle is University College, and Hannah studied here. We dropped her off, first of our little darlings to go to university, and Bury St Edmunds was a long way from Durham. A couple of days later she sent us a postcard – “I’m a princess and I live in a castle”. The castle is open for guided tours – see here – there is a lovely chapel. The chapel and chaplaincy have their own website. I don’t know the current chaplain, The Reverend Dr Hannah Cleugh. On the website she writes “As Solway Fellow, she is a Reformation historian working on liturgy and doctrine in the post-Reformation Church of England, and often feels as though she is inhabiting her own film set.” I preached here on a few occasions when my Hannah was an undergraduate – I must go back and see if the choir is still as good (well, almost as good!).
In her final year there was 85 steps between Hannah’s room in the Keep and where I could park the car. It was hard work moving her! Round towards the west is a lovely view of the Viaduct. Built in 1857, as the north terminus of the Stockton and Darlington’s Bishop Auckland to Durham line, and redeveloped in 1871 when the line was open north on to Newcastle. I enjoyed train-spotting!
The west end of the cathedral is lovely, and the cloister just to the south of it. Lovely variety of buildings on the peninsula.
Two lovely views of the River.
One person had a better view than I did, and he/she didn’t have to walk back down 325 steps!