This week we had a little day trip over to Hereford, part of the Welsh/English border counties area where we hope to move next year. Visiting Hereford Cathedral was top of the list of things to do in our short time (as we had caught the train out). It is smaller than one of our local favourites, Gloucestershire Cathedral, and the stone is darker - a pinky, shadowy sandstone, unlike the light limestone we are used to in the Cotswolds. We were given a very warm welcome and there were so many interesting and quirky features, not the least being this wonderful - chandelier is the only word for it - poised like a halo or abstracted crown of thorns, above the crossing. Looking from this point towards the High Altar and far beyond to the Lady Chapel -
- and seen from the side, with a crucifixion painting just to the left which I instantly recognised as a Craigie Aitchison and later found that it has been loaned to the cathedral by the Jerwood Foundation. I'd love to see this area at night, when it is illuminated.
Prayers are said every hour, which is a welcome little spiritual breathing space.
Another familiar British artist is represented here, these three tapestries by John Piper. I found it quite difficult to get really good shots inside; it was as if the dark stone absorbed the light and colour.
Rather tickled to see the attention to detail here - behind the High Altar, a sight not often seen - the backs of angels.
I've never seen so much painted stone and wood, especially in the Lady Chapel -
We have, it seems, been a nation of animal lovers for a very long time - many of the great and the good have a companion situated at their feet and it's often a dog of some description.
Albeit sometimes headless.
Just off the Lady Chapel is the Audley Chapel, through which you can just glimpse the superb modern stained class windows made by the great contemporary artist Tom Denny, whose work we have also admired in Gloucester Cathedral, as seen here. It was actually heaving with admirers, despite this snap, so I left it for another day.
What I love about our cathedrals is that they are, on the one hand, vasty deep and magnificent - after all, they were built to be all about power and statement, both politically and religious.
And yet there is also such exquisite detail;
- and in the tiny, confined space of the Stanbury Chapel, dating from the late 1400s, it is almost claustrophobic, as if one were sitting inside a carved seashell.
Finally we wandered down the cloisters, where we noticed the unusual carved wood ceiling supports. And a few cobwebs.
And at the end, a neat pile of odds and ends of salvaged carvings, most of them look medieval or earlier to me. Not that I'm an expert.
I can spot a foliage man head in there...
We didn't look at the famous Mappa Mundi, because it would have cost £6 each and as ever, we are counting our pennies. But we should be living close by one day, so it will be a special treat for the future.
I am aware of how inadequate my photos are, for expressing the sheer magnitude and majesty of this wonderful sacred building, but happily there is an excellent 360 degree virtual tour of Hereford Cathedral, which can be accessed through the left hand menu on their home page here. Full screen recommended.