Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UK2013: Gloucester Cathedral

The city of Gloucester is the capital of Gloucestershire county, and sits very close to Cheltenham. It is not all that great for shopping but it does have a couple of jewels in its crown. One of them - the Docks - I'll talk about in the next post, but here I will concentrate on the fabulousness that is Gloucester Cathedral.

My Dad and I had a day on our own, so he drove us into Gloucester. We parked on a street close to the Cathedral and found this statue. It is of King Charles II, carved in 1662 by Stephen Baldwyn.

I guess you could call this a lytch gate! If memory serves, the plaque on the wall said this building was of 14th century vintage. Passing through the arch leads you into the Cathedral grounds.

Going around the corner into the main courtyard, you wind up near this entrance gate. Beyond are some shops, one of which sold Interesting Local Wool.

Turn around, and Behold. Gloucester Cathedral.

The site of the Cathedral has been a place of religious worship since 700AD. The present Cathedral building started construction in 1089, with additions and modernisations carried out through to the 1470s. So it's been around a while.

A close up of the entrance. For scale, notice the guy standing in the doorway. They built things big, back in the 1400s.

A close up of the decorative stonework leading up to the Tower. There's a curious little iron railing up the wall, there, near that flying buttress.

Inside the entranceway, looking up at the ceiling and windows.

Looking across the nave from the entranceway. The large round pillars are part of the original construction, built by the Norman Abbot Serlo between 1089 and 1130. The vaulted stone roof was finished in 1242, replacing the original wooden roof which burnt down.

We turned to the right and walked up the right hand (south) side of the building. We came to the Seabroke Chantry, named after Abbot Thomas Seabroke whose tomb I presume we are looking at here.

The carved ceiling of the South wing.

St Andrew's Chapel remains painted in glorious splendour. Apparently most of the building would have looked like this during the Middle Ages. This is the ceiling as you enter.

Here's the altar of the Chapel.

The walls are also painted with scenes from religious history. This shows St Andrew being called to serve Jesus. (And look; a Door! Maybe this is what's on the inside of one of those Little Side Doors...)

Popping back into the nave area for a moment. Standing under the separator between the main part of the nave and the chorister's area - the Quire, looking up at the massive East Window. I'll need to come back during the summer season; at that time they run tours up the Tower and upstairs gallery, from which you can get a closer look at the glass.

A close up of the Altar with the window behind it.

The immense carved ceiling above the choir stalls.

Standing near the east end, looking back into the choir stalls.

I assume the choirmaster leads his singers from here.

Back out of the Quire area, to the south side again. This is a figure of Robert of Normandy, eldest son of William the Conqueror. Robert has rested on this site since 1134; they think he is buried under the Chapter House.

This is the South-East Chapel. It contains very modern stained glass, from 1992, made by Thomas Denny. There's supposed to be animals and birds and plants depicted in the glass, but I'm having a hard time spotting them. I tried to do the colour justice; it's a host of delicate shades of blues and purples, which are hard to capture properly.

This is the Lady Chapel, on the far eastern end of the building. The font in the foreground is of Norman vintage, around 1130, and made of lead. We didn't go into this chapel as there was a service in progress. This is a chapel, mind you, and it's still vastly bigger than most churches!

Here's that East Window again, looking up at the ceiling from the bottom.

Heading around the end of the building, we come to the North-East Chapel, in which are commemorated the servicemen of Gloucestershire. This is the corridor outside, where the flags are held.

Prince Osric of Mercia (an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom) established the first religious house on this site, in 679. This is his monument. I guess the Cathedral has grown a bit since then.

This is the tomb of King Edward II, who died in Berkeley Castle in 1327. It is also the reason the Cathedral still exists. King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1540 and would have torn down the Cathedral (which was a monastery at the time), except for the fact his ancestor was buried here.

Looking down to the west end of the building, outside the nave. If you go along here, on the right there is a door leading to the Cloisters.

These cloisters are pretty big, in keeping with the size of the building. They have really fabulous fan vaulted ceilings which date from the 1350s.

A close up of the centre part of the fan vaultings.

Looking out into the central garden. There's a well in the middle. The structure to the right of the corner is the Lavatorium, where monks (and later, priests) would have washed themselves.

Looking back at the Tower from the garden.

And a wider shot.

Another view of the Cloisters. This one has clear glass windows.

Back inside, and of course a visit to the Shoppe, at the west end of the building, where I may have bought one or two items :-) Standing at this end of the nave, one can look back at the Organ, which was built in 1665. Sadly we didn't get to hear it, but I bet it's magnificent.

By this time I was knocked out and brimming with Architecture Overload; this really is a magnificent building with a colossal amount of history. Sorry to disappoint you but I didn't remember all those dates; Dad bought me a walkaround paper guide which I am grateful for, as it explains a lot of what we saw. Photographers should be aware that the Cathedral requires you to buy a photo permit, but to be honest I think they undercharge; that's got to be the best three pounds I ever spent.

Monday, July 15, 2013

UK2013: Cirencester

On the Wednesday of my week in Gloucestershire, my mother Jill picked me up, and we drove to Cirencester, a splendid old market town to the east side of our local area. It is a nice town to browse around shops and go for a coffee in, which is exactly what we did.

The town is dominated by the central market 'square' (I use the term loosely, it's more like a long oval) and the Church of St John the Baptist. This is a fabulous looking church which for some reason I'd only ever seen from the outside. Well, it was about time to change that!

Here's the church from the rear end. Notice the huge flying buttress built into the end wall of the sides of the church. There's one on the opposite side, too.

This side faces the market place. The yellow stone part seen here is the South Facade, which has recently been cleaned and restored. It was under a huge wrap for a few years. The yellow stone is how Cotswold Stone looks when it is new (or freshly cleaned in this case) - it will turn grey in time.

Moving across the market place, we come to the War Memorial standing next to the church.

Here's a close up of the weathered stone figure of Jesus on top of the memorial, against the new stonework of the south facade.

Crosses laid on the memorial; by the fading colour of the poppies they have probably been here since last November, for Remembrance Day.

Into the church entranceway we go. Not two yards inside and the place is already fabulous.

Look at this ceiling!

Inside the church, we have a font on the left as we enter.

Further round to the left in the nave, we have some tall windows with a door underneath.

Turning the camera vertical and sideways underneath here reveals another fabulous carved ceiling, and the beginning of the wooden nave ceiling.

Take a look up the length of the church from back here and enjoy those beautiful tall columns. This is the biggest Parish Church in Gloucestershire, and it doesn't lack for scale. It dates from the 1100's to the 1500's for the majority of its construction.

Here's a close up of the window the top of the far end.

A painted and gilted pulpit stands towards the far end, before the choir stalls.

To the left hand side, we have this beautiful chapel. I love the carved stone screens here.

This is to the left of the nave, going around the back of the choir stand. More vaulted, carved ceilings.

Look to the right through a doorway and you can see they have a really pretty painted church organ here, inside the choir stalls. Notice that elegant wooden screen entranceway on the right, too.

There's a lot more to see and take pictures of, but we were starting to be wary of how much time was left on the parking meter, so it was probably time to leave. On the way out, notice the door knocker; it's a very nice piece of metalwork.

Look to the left as you leave the church and you'll see the shops along the side of the market place.

Across the two roads and the parking lot in the middle, here's the other side.

We did a 180 and headed back into the main part of town, which has plenty of old buildings. Here's one on a corner. Cirencester seems to have more pointy roofs and decorative elements than you find in most towns. It was very prosperous during the height of the woollen industry which may explain the extra features.

Here's another pointy-roofed terraced street. At the end of this road lies the Corinium Museum. Cirencester was a big Roman settlement and they have found many mosaics and archaelogical objects of interest locally. The Museum has a lot of the restored mosaics, artifacts and information on how the Romans lived here.

This Lloyds TSB building is quite a different style; I'm going to hazard a guess and say it's Regency since it's similar to a lot of buildings in Cheltenham, which is a Regency town.

WHSmith occupies an older building.

Inside WHSMith they have this lovely atrium. The coats of arms on the wall are those of schools and colleges.

And there's your whistle-stop tour of Cirencester. They have a good market on Saturdays, and there's plenty of artsy shops and foodie places ; a very pleasant town to visit.