Day out: Worcester Cathedral

3 Apr

I almost started to talk about this day out several months ago, when a misty morning found us next to the River Severn as it rippled moodily through Worcester.  But I was distracted by swans and knights and then, you know, the next five months.  So let’s go back to Worcester Cathedral.  Walk through that previous post, past the bridges and the swans, and catch up with me here:IMG_2173

Or get a bit of orientation from one of the signs:IMG_2258

I’ve always had the suspicion that, were I living in a medieval past, I’d be the one hauling crap, while someone rode by on a horse.IMG_2185

It’s a dramatic, bony ceiling.IMG_2186

The Cathedral offers guided tours, which we gladly joined.  The guide was horrified as I stared at this window with not a drop of comprehension.  Edward Elgar is commemorated here in this massive stained glass.  So the guide told me, with gleeful anticipation on his face, but the lightbulbs in my brain stayed dark.  Just go read about him.  If you ever go on that guided tour, apologize for me.  Or just shout out “Edward Elgar!” and make Worcester proud.
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Here’s someone to whom I needed no introduction.  King John is taking up prime space here in Worcester Cathedral, perhaps one of the reasons it was not destroyed by by Henvry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries.

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That Henry’s older brother, Arthur, is also here may have played some part.  The chantry of Prince Arthur is an almost simple affair, or it is today after the anti-catholic vandalism of many centuries.  His tomb box feels understated, and is lined with text.  I’ve been searching the googleverse for information about the tomb text, but it seems I’ll need to find an actual book — gasp — to sort out what it says.  The guide had no idea.
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I doubt very much Henry cared one way or the other for this lady of Beauchamp, but I love her swan.

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The decorative ceiling.  Like being inside a ceramic box.IMG_2214

The crypt contains the oldest existing construction of the original cathedral, dating from the 10th century.  St. Oswald built a cathedral here in 980, which St Wulfstan rebuilt and began expanding in the late eleventh century.  These two Anglo-Saxon saints are part of the mythology of Worcester, and one of the reasons King John wished to be buried here (with small avatars of each saint sitting on either side of his head).
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Also in the crypt, the relics of the “Worcester Pilgrim” are displayed.  (The pilgrim himself was reburied.)  IMG_2255

The cloister of the Cathedral are beautiful and full of light.  This area was used as a scriptorium during the monastic era of the Cathedral, with monks scribbling away at their copy tables.  Worcester was famous for its library, and to this day retains several fabulously rare tomes.IMG_2218

Which explains these unique ‘squints’ which provide a view straight down the length of the cloister — one person could stand at a corner junction and watch every desk down two corridor lengths to make sure no one was daydreaming or adding excessive doodling to a page.  My friends, you are looking at one of the original cube farms.  IMG_2227

The cloister garden is humble.  This small sundial sits in the center.IMG_2223

The chapter house is the only one of this shape in England.  From the outside, it looks like an octagon.  Inside, it is round.IMG_2238

Walking outside the Cathedral again, pass through the medieval gatehouse.  Part of the monastic complex is now used for a very posh school, but visitors can still walk through here.IMG_2247

And enjoy the view.IMG_2229

 

Again outside the Cathedral complex, a Weeping Angel memorial to the sons of Worcester who fought in South Africa.  Although this poor statue-man commemorates the glorious dead, he also looks off in the direction of a very nice pub/cafe, so follow his suggestion and enjoy a cup of something restorative after your long walk around Worcester Cathedral.

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