Saturday, 15 October 2011

Visit to Exeter Cathedral

Today my hubby and I went over to Exeter to attend a special service in the Cathedral for the licensing of new readers (lay preachers) in the Exeter Diocese of the Church of England. An old friend from our last church was one of the new readers and we wanted to support and encourage him – it’s been a long time coming, but at last he has finished his training which he did around his full time job. He used to lead the mid-week house group when we were there, and it’s lovely to see his gifts being used in a wider field, with more influence, and for them to be officially recognised in this way.

It was a lovely service with lots of singing, communion, and the bishop preaching, and afterwards there were photo opportunities outside, and then we had tea in the Chapter House.

The Cathedral was all decorated for harvest, which was lovely. Being such a large space, the displays round the pillars were large too, with lots of wheat, barley and maize, vegetables and fruits, flower arrangements and even the fleece of a shorn sheep!

One of the displays included a traditional harvest loaf.

The main altar for the service had been set up in the nave. It had a beautiful altar frontal.

I was surprised to see that there was also decoration on the back of the altar.

Wandering around before the service started, I discovered a wonderfully imaginative piece of art – a small triptych made of mosaic, which on closer examination I discovered to be made of tiny pieces of beer cans! This was so effective, and all the more attractive for being something beautiful, created from something that the vast majority of people would throw away as rubbish. It’s definitely something I’d like to try!

We had a cup of tea in the wonderful mediaeval Chapter House afterwards. This is the ceiling. What a jewel.

Around the walls in the niches is a series of modern sculptures created by Kenneth Carter in 1974, depicting scenes from the Bible. They are highly dramatic and contrast wonderfully with the ancient Gothic style of the building. I didn’t photograph them all, but here is a selection.

The first is a representation of the chaos before Creation: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2).

The next shows the separation of the waters and the dry land. “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9).

Next is a representation of Eden, with the serpent on the left, and Adam being formed from the dust of the ground.

I love the way the man is emerging from the flat background of the niche.

From the New Testament I chose the annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah.

Then the birth of Jesus.

Then this wonderful representation of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Note how the sculptor has represented the water.

The final one I chose was the resurrection.

I think you’ll agree that these sculptures are very dramatic, and full of life and movement, and that the sculptor has achieved an amazing feat, and sensitively filled each niche in a way that does not detract from the beauty of the Gothic architecture in any way, but adds impact to a beautiful space.

On our way home we called in to our village church to see the harvest display and the art exhibition, and caught the second half of the concert, before going on to the hog roast, and then home. A long and tiring day, but fun!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a wonderful day. The cathedral looks beautiful, especially with the extra decorations for Harvest. Thank you for sharing so many of the images with us. Harvest is one of my favourite times in church. I remember the way it used to smell when, as a child, everywhere was decorated with fruit and vegetable, and the harvest bread. Unfortunately in later years it was considered more practical to ask for canned food, but if it is passed on wisely, it is still a good tradition. I fought long and hard with my sons' headmaster when he asked for monetary donations instead of food. I was managing a nursery/preschool at the time, and when I took my 3-4 year olds around a supermarket, not one of them could tell me what a cabbage was, so I held a little Harvest Festival just for them and their parents, so they could learn a little about where their food comes from, and also learn to give thanks for it!
    I hope your friend has a long and fulfilling time as a lay reader. (My oldest son is a C of E vicar near Wolverhampton). Kate x


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