Thursday, 7 February 2013

Norwich Cathedral: Scene in Different Lights & Perspectives


Norwich Cathedral is worth exploring. It has the highest surviving Norman tower of any cathedral in Britain. Due to a lack of money-spinning relics in medieval times, it also retains much of its Norman character. The spectacular vaulted ceiling is also unique, featuring, as it does, the amazing 'narrative' roof bosses (pictures carved out of stone) that depict key scenes from the bible (Old Testament at the east end of the nave; New Testament towards the west). 

A few days ago, I was very fortunate to walk into Norwich Cathedral on one of those very rare occasions when the chairs are removed from the nave. This allows us a view of the floor as it might have appeared in the medieval period. 


I think it that this vast of space is even better revealed when we have just a few people in shot, as viewed from near floor level


As you walk eastwards through the pulpitum screen door and under the organ loft, a magnificent vista is revealed


I have been very fortunate recently, to be able to explore the area around the cathedra itself - a really privileged level of access (I won't assume knowledge: a 'cathedra' describes a bishop's throne). Although the wooden structure is modern, this is the only cathedra to have stood in the same position - raised at the east end of the cathedral, with the ambulatory behind - since the cathedral was constructed (over 900 years ago). 



Visible below it are parts of the Saxon cathedra that would have been sat on by St. Felix, the first bishop of East Anglia in the seventh century (it was badly damaged during a later Viking incursion and sacking of the earlier cathedral). 



Standing here allows me to share with you a very rare perspective - a bishop's view of the cathedral



If you have never visited Norwich Cathedral, I hope that this short 'walk through' has whetted your appetite and inspired you to come and see it for yourself. You will not be disappointed!



9 comments:

  1. Swell! lt's like you guys are living in Harry Potter land

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  2. Where do the Ramblers fall on the issue of pews in churches? I love seeing empty churches too, but there are some wonderful, early 17th century pews in our area which have historic graffiti carved into them by long-dead schoolboys.

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    1. Well Tom, this particular Member (Munro) sits pretty much with you on this one: I love to see an open floor, but I also love some of the wonderful and strange medieval carving on bench-ends, as well as the graffiti... By Jove, we are agreeing about something Mr Stephenson! This will never do!

      Huzzah!

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    2. I cannot remember ever disagreeing with you.

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    3. Perhaps, then, it is that I have disagreed with you when you never disagreed with me. Are we agreed on that?

      Huzzah!

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    4. Let's do that then. Keep up the good work. More snow for you soon, I hear.

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  3. Maintainence must be enormous. How is that funded? The bishop's view could make one feel important.

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    1. Yes Joanne, I think that a tendency towards self-importance could be encouraged by that elevated position. It's a good job that these lambs of Christ have always been such humble creatures.

      I'm no authority at at regarding cathedral funding, but, yes, they do indeed cost a fortune to maintain. We are very fortunate at Norwich, that our local Dean and Chapter have always resisted charging and, instead, encourage voluntary contributions. They do raise some money from rents on property they own, and also revenue from things like their shop and restaurant, as well as through bequests.

      Huzzah!

      Delete