Sunday, 2 May 2010

Our Kent Holiday–Day 7: Canterbury Cathedral

I was Very Good in the Cathedral, you'll be glad to hear! My hubby's friend wasn't there - all the details he found on the website seemed to be wrong. I was very restrained, except when it came to the singing! Fabby hymns and I just let rip!!

The weather was quite appalling today - torrential rain and a strong icy wind - very difficult to get around, even with my hubby's help. We spent most of the time in the Cathedral - we arrived late for the a.m. service as my hubby had to drop me off, and I had to have help from one of the staff (all of whom were soooo nice, friendly and helpful - nothing too much trouble and all done with a smile). Canterbury has more steps than any other cathedral we've ever visited, and in the 11th century they didn't consider accessibility for wheelchairs a top priority! They had some lifts, including a hand-cranked job which was brilliant but needed a member of staff to operate it. By the time I got up to the Quire where the service took place, my hubby had already arrived, and a lady steward came straight up to me and said "Your husband has already arrived - I'll go and fetch him so you can sit together!" They'd obviously been detailed to look out for me. I was really impressed.

Afterwards we had a bit of a look around, and then made a dash for it through the rain to the nearest place that served food - an extremely crowded pub with excellent pies. Steps to get in, so I had to get out of the Rolls Royce and my hubby had to hump it up the steps. Then the loo was at the back, upstairs, and no disabled one! I hadn't got my crutches so my poor hubby had to help me a lot, although I just about managed without him having to come into the loo with me! I was wet, glasses steamed up, cold, tired, hungry and dying for a pee. Not a happy bunny...

Felt a bit better after eating, then we braved the weather again and back into the Cathedral - we decided it was far too wet to explore the city although we had tantalising glimpses of intriguing small ancient streets with marvellous buildings and very classy shops - what I'd have given for an afternoon moseying around! We attended choral evensong in the Quire and the singing was sublime - and the organ too. At the end of the voluntary the echo went on and on... Afterwards my hubby asked one of the stewards about bringing the car right up, and they arranged it all - a bollard would be removed etc. This gentleman reminded me a bit of my dad. He was so dapper and charming and said how much he enjoyed being involved in the Cathedral since his retirement.

My hubby left me to go and get the car and he was ages, so I started to worry that something had happened, but it was just traffic and complicated streets, and he'd also bought some sandwiches for our tea. All was well, and soon I was able to rest in the car.

Having eaten, washed my hair and had a lovely hot shower I feel much better now but my legs are aching and I'm glad to be on the bed. Tomorrow I'm hoping for a less frantic day, and hopefully the weather will have improved. It couldn't be much worse, anyway!

Here's a selection from today's piccies - I love the detail in the art work, carving, embroideries etc. - so many beautiful things made by so many talented people through the centuries!

40 S Aisle Vaulting

18 Pulpit Railing

04 Clock in N Trancept

23 The Pulpit

29 Pulpit Base

This modern chapel marks the spot where Thomas Beckett was martyred, and is known as "The Martyrdom."

19 The Martyrdom

I thought this altar cloth absolutely beautiful, with its subtle colours and symmetrical design. It is known as the Compass Rose.

25 Lower Altar with Compass Rose Cloth

To one side of this altar were these modern wooden chairs, which are very slender and elegant. The cathedral has such a mix of the very ancient and the absolutely contemporary, and it all seems to fit well, reminiscent of the way a stark, modernist house can be a complementary setting for antique furniture.

28 Modern Wooden Furniture by Compass Rose Altar

I loved the delicacy of the font, and its detail and pastel colouring. Around the base are carved four figures representing the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

35 The Font

On the underside of the lid is painted a dove to symbolise the Holy Spirit.

37 Font Lid

There were so many wonderful stained glass windows in the Cathedral that it was hard to decide which to photograph. This is the great west window at the back of the cathedral.

30 West Window

At the back of the cathedral is the tomb of Archbishop Benson who was Archbishop of Canterbury during Victorian times.

44 Archbishop Benson's Tomb Detail

While he was Bishop of Truro, he created the now world-famous Christmas service, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is broadcast from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, every year on Christmas Eve.

Phew! What a day! At least I didn't get any more bumps to my head!

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