The pictures above are from postcards and are copyright to the Cathedral.
Yesterday I had to pick up some papers from Lichfield so I visited Lichfield Cathedral. The fact that it was cold, raining and grey made no difference to my cheerfulness after my visit. It is a little known cathedral and yet it must be one of the oldest in the country. The first one was built in the 8th century by St Chad and the two pages shown above are from the Cathedral's greatest treasure, St Chad's Gospels which are also 8th century and were probably ordered by St Chad himself. The book which is about 20 inches by 18 has the honour of being the oldest church book still in ritual use. New vicars have to swear on it and it is carried round the Cathedral twice a year in procession. The Vikings had a go at the Cathedral in the 9th century - hence the shattered angel which is 8th century. The Viking axe marks can be seen on the right hand side. Anyone who has read the Brother Cadfael stories will have read of the Bishop of Lichfield who had oversight of Shrewsbury. It was then and still is an enormous diocese, so big that the Bishop has three subsidiary bishops to help out!
It is an odd place in that it is very large and has a huge end window but the feeling of not one of 'I am the greatest and you should be overawed'. The feeling is more one of ' why don't you sit down and rest' Which reminds me that the Bishop and others sitting near the altar have very modern armchair seating in some fruit wood with leather seats and it does look very comfy.
The other thing in the Cathedral which they don't bother telling anyone about is a fantastic collection of commissioned modern silver church plate. The earliest piece I could find was 1906 which was a pair of vases with Art Nouveau twining foliage and flowers in relief. But the more recent pieces are very avant-garde. I don't know of another place which has a collection like that. They are of course for use in the services, not just to look at. Most have the names of the donor attached. I have this vision of a Dean or similar who bore down on wealthy parishioners with a glint in his eye and the parishioner sighing and reaching for his/her chequebook! All in all an interesting place.
I am not a religious person but two religious places cheer me up, one is Lichfield Cathedral and the other is St Paulin's in Trier. Now St Paulin was designed and built by my hero, Balthazar Neumann, the great German Baroque architect. St Paulin is quite unlike anything else he did (and believe you me, I have inspected everything he ever did, even when it was a ruined wall or two). When you go in, the first thing that strikes you is the light. There are tall windows down both sides set in very thick side walls with rebates (revets?) and between the windows are half pillars, rather plain. The windows have clear glass and the walls are painted white and you look up and up and up and the tops of the columns blossom into half attached stone urns filled with pink roses and covered in putti (small children with wings). Some are in mid flight, some hanging on to the edge of the urn with one hand or clinging on to the roses or falling off the urn. Above the ceiling is magnificently painted - but it is nothing like so much fun as the urns of roses.
I do not have any photos of the urns. I must go back to Trier. Oh well, I digress. Better go and deal with the Guild Newsletter.