Cathedral Checklist: Worcester

Giving my site the usual yearly ‘hey let’s have a look at this and run some updates’, I came across this draft of a post. I figured I’d just share it as is, partly because I simply can’t recall the rest, and partly just for the sake of it. /blows dust off the post… here’s one I prepared on 30/4/2012

Way back in the cold, crisp days of February I took a day trip to Worcester. A bit far perhaps for a day trip, but I still have in my Canadian blood the tolerance for taking 4+ hours to get somewhere. London Midland trains were doing a sale for a couple of weeks where you could buy basically a day pass for their network for £15. One would be crazy not to grab that.

I wasn’t too familiar with many of the towns and cities their network covered, but Worcester stood out as being an old town with a medieval cathedral to check out.

Up and at them early on a Saturday morning to get to Euston for the first leg of my journey to Birmingham. There was a problem with some frozen points along the tracks near Leighton Buzzard that slowed us down a bit. But hey as long as I got there while it was still daylight I wasn’t too bothered.

I was tempted to have a quick peak at least around Birmingham New Street Station but I didn’t have much time at all to catch my next train that would take me to Worcester. Ah well, I don’t reckon it could have changed too much since I was last there four years ago.

Foregate Street Station

I arrived at Foregate Station, one of two stations in Worcester. The other one being Shurb Hill which I thought was too far out of the centre of the city, but that really wasn’t the case. Anyways, enough about rail stations. This is about the cathedral.

Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral, or to call it by its full name of The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester, was built between 1084 and 1584. With such a long construction time, it ended up representing every English architectural styles on the go for those 500 years. If you ever want to have a peek at what the cathedral’s west facade looks like, just flip over a £20 note printed between 1999 and 2007. It’s there along with a portrait of Sir Edward Elgar. There is a memorial to him inside the cathedral.

Elgar Memorial, Worcester Cathedral

Here we have the two most dominant architectural styles side by side:

Worcester Cathedral

Rounded Norman arches on side and pointed gothic arches on the other. You can see the brickwork of the ceiling change as well between the two stages of building.

Worcester Cathedral

Standing in the choir…

Worcester Cathedral

… and looking up in the choir. Nice pipes.

Cathedral Checklist: Rochester

Ages ago I made a list of all the major cathedrals in England with every good intention of getting around to seeing all of them. I managed to check a few off the list since living here but I should probably put a bit more effort in to it. Especially now that it’s easier to get to other parts of the country now that I’m in London.

A few weekends ago I took the 45 minute-ish train ride from my house down to the Kent coast to have a look around Rochester. It has a Norman cathedral and castle, score!

The cathedral is the second oldest in England after Canterbury, though the nave is the oldest in the land; building work began on it in 1083.

Rochester Cathedral

You’ll have to forgive the quality of the external shots. Silly me forgot to charge my camera battery before heading out to take photos, d’oh!

Inside the cathedral is an interesting mix of styles. One end is very much a Norman cathedral and the other is gothic. Where the two meet up is pretty easy to spot:

Norman Arches, 1.5 Gothic Arches

There was a church on the site long before the Norman conquest, going back to 640, but it was in a poor state after invasions from the Mercians and the Danes (bloody Vikings!).

The first thing that struck me about the nave was the flat, wooden ceiling. Compared to other cathedrals (even Norman ones), the ceiling seems a bit plain. However, the dark wood does make it a bit striking.

Rochester Cathedral

I think the thing I liked the most about the place (after that sudden change in style) was the wall tiles in the choir and floor tiles in the apse.


Neat Tile Work

More Tiles

There was also a bit of a Medieval wall painting at the end of the choir. Would be interesting to know if there were paintings like this throughout the cathedral at some point.

Medieval Decor

One last thing I got a shot of before my camera konked out was of the Pilgrim Steps. The cathedral used to be a pilgrimage destination back when that was all the craze. The shrines and relics were so popular that offerings left at one of the tombs was able to fund the building of the choir and the completion of the cathedral. The stone steps leading up to the tombs are so worn out they are now covered with wooden planks.

The Pilgrim Steps

There’s a decent timeline of Rochester Cathedral at its official website. More of my photos of it and of Rochester in general are over on Flickr.

Cathedral Checklist: The Ship of the Fens – Ely Cathedral

Touring around with folks from Canada in the last few weeks involved having a look at some of those cathedral buildings the English were so jolly good at tossing together some years ago. First one was Ely Cathedral, which I had never actually been inside before.

Ely Cathedral

We didn’t delve too far in as there was us and about 500 hyper-active school children there that day so we thought it best to get a few photos and leave them to it.

Ely Cathedral Arches Ely Cathedral Nave