Saturday, 4 October 2014

Interior of Gloucester Cathedral

Here, in Gloucester Cathedral, lies King Edward ll Born 1284 - reigned 1307-27
The holes in the King's crown once contained jewels -  the graffiti is thought to be the work of Kings School boys in the 1700s. Kings school exists to this day. 
Edward ll was murdered at Berkley Castle which lies just along the vale from Gloucester, his body was brought to the abbey precincts where it was received by the Abbot for burial
In the middle ages this tomb would have been a spectacular sight covered in colour and gilding. For about 70 years after the king's death it was a focus for pilgrims and travellers. In 1378 his great grandson, Richard ll came to the cathedral where he held a parliament - the pillar besides Edward's tomb testifies to this - painted traces remain of white harts, Richard's royal symbol. 
 This is the tomb of Osric - Prince of Mercia - he founded the first monastic house on this site during the year 678-679
Elizabeth Williams died in childbirth when she was just 17 years old. The baby probably survived for a short time as it is dressed in what is called a chrysom - a christening gown indicating baptism
The Latin inscription on the epitaph reads....
Elisabeth speaks
"Husband, you carved in marble here your wife; 
Thus you'd ensure her immortality.
But Christ my hope and trust was, all my life;
So God forbids that I should mortal be".
July 4th 1622
Wife of W.J. Williams
Youngest daughter of Dr. Miles Smith
Bishop of Gloucester 
Robert Duke of Normandy, eldest son of William the Conqueror, and benefactor of Gloucester Abbey.
He died in 1134 at Cardiff Castle, a prisoner of his youngest brother, King Henry l
This oak effigy is a rare survivor from the 13th century
Thomas Machen, Alderman of the City of Gloucester and thrice Mayor with his wife Christian.
They were married for 50 years had 7 sons and 6 daughters and died within months of each other in 1614/15 
Around the tomb their children are shown as "weepers" - at the top 4 daughters and two that died in childhood
The next row four of their sons
The bottom row shows three sons who also died in childhood
A great deal of this Romanesque church survives including these great nave piers
The magnificent Quire and Presbytery were remodelled in what became known as the English style of architecture for more than 200 years
A beautiful and unusual lead Norman font
A pretty window made by Christopher Whall with assistance from his daughter Veronica - Christopher is my favourite Arts and Crafts stained glass designer.
This is just a tiny fraction of his wonderful windows in Gloucester Cathedral
Wall paintings in St Andrews chapel 
This fresco painting was carried out by Thomas Gambier Parry who lived locally at Highnam Court. He developed his own process of fresco painting and was a great philanthropist. He constructed a school for his workers and a church on his estate. He frescoed Highnam church in remembrance of his wife and some of his children who died at early ages. I  will try and revisit the church some time in the future as it is a feast for the eyes. 
  Window in memory of Ivor Gurney 1890-1937
Ivor was born in Gloucester and was a chorister in the Cathedral. He won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he began to write poetry. He enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment, was wounded and gassed. His first book of poetry was published in 1917. The following year he had a serious breakdown and was eventually declared insane and confined to a mental institution.
These windows were installed this year and chart his life.
Each light draws on a poem of Gurney's and reading from left to right reflect his troubled life. They show the Cotswold countryside he loved, through the terrors of war and his own despair.
This Crucifixion, 'Pieta', Resurrection is another recent work of art. The niches in which the paintings fit have been empty for over 450 years since the reformation
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We actually visited the cathedral to see a huge exhibition of sculpture by many of the 20th century 'greats', but that will now have to wait for another time.  

66 comments:

  1. Gloucester is one of those cathedrals that has escaped from me so far! You have given an excellent tour of some of its wonderful architecture - and 'characters'. As usual, the photos are excellent. The Ivor Gurney windows look spectacular, and moving; I hadn't heard of him before. Good post!

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    1. The Ivor Gurney windows are a lovely representation of 21st century glass. I am not sure how these contemporary painterly effects on glass are achieved.
      I am pleased that you enjoyed meeting some of the characters in the cathedral.

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  2. I love how more modern works of art are incorporated into the ancient cathedral, making it a living place of our times, not just a museum to the past. Poor Edward II was tortured and killed in a particularly nasty way because of his same-sex proclivities. His great-grandson Richard II shared his nature as well. It's time after all these years to set history . . . well, not straight, but gay!

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    1. You are right there is a very good representation of works of art across the ages in the cathedral right up until the current time.
      I think that it has long been known that Edward ll had a relationship with Piers Gaveston which was most likely responsible for his murder. Richard ll, I am not too sure about, I think that the jury may still be out on that one.

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  3. Wow, wow, wow how beautiful. What a work it must have been to build this peace of art. So much different from what they build in these modern days.
    Have a wonderful weekend Rosemary.

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    1. I wonder if todays buildings will still be around and continue to be developed in 1000 years time?

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  4. Tombs like this are rare. Perfect wall paintings.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Thank you Filip - I was really sorry to learn about your little dog

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    1. It would be interesting to travel back in time and see how life was lived during the different periods that this cathedral has witnessed.

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  6. A very powerful post. I have to admit to a fondness for old tombs, they are normally so touching in their detail.

    Jean
    x

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    1. Dear Jean - for me, tombs are very revealing about the history at the time. What they wore, how many children they had, the early deaths, and the surprising longevity of others.

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  7. How utterly magnificent! I'm learning so much about England's art and history through your beautiful photos and narration. Thank you so much for letting those of us on the other side of the pond accompany you on your travels and learn alongside you. Best Regards, -Beth

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    1. Thank you very much Beth - it is true I keep learning new things myself, life is far too short.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,

    Your posting induced me to study the life and times of Edward II, and what a fascinating story that is! Now my next journey is to read up on Thomas Gambier Parry, whose work you can imagine I find inspiring. But before I leave to do that, I do have a question to ask. When do you think they will take poor Richard III off display and finally bury him? I'd be interested in seeing how that ceremony is handled . . .

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    1. Dear Mark - I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about Gambier Parry - we knew his great grandson who inherited Highnam Court, but had to sell it and move into the Rectory just across the road from Highnam church. He gave many of the family paintings, Gambier Parry's collection of Italian glass, metalwork, and ceramics to the Courtauld Museum.
      I am not aware that Richard lll is on display - I know there is going to be a reburial next March at Leicester Cathedral. You can read all about it from the site which promotes research into the life and times of Richard lll.
      http://www.richardiii.net/

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    2. I was under the impression that one could view Richard III's remains, but I could very well be mistaken.
      I will be interested to see how his March reburial will be handled — thanks for referring me to the good site on him.

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    3. I have found the answer Mark here:-
      http://kriii.com/about-the-centre/
      A Visitor Centre opened in July at Leicester apparently - I think that I must have been away as I knew nothing about it.
      I understand that the centre has been built over the actual spot where he was found and you can also see the skeleton, but it is not him, they are replica bones.
      The centre tells his whole story including the battle and also a reconstruction of his face.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you Linda - pleased that you enjoyed seeing the post.

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  10. What glorious artworks, both old and new. Lovely post Rosemary.

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    1. The cathedral contains such a great variety of artworks, both old and new, that there must be at least one thing for each visitor to admire.

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  11. Magnificent and stunning ornaments in this cathedral !

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    1. I went to see a sculpture exhibition, which will come later, but got carried away with my usual interest in tombs etc.

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  12. How heavenly gorgeous kathedral.
    All is beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Pleased that you enjoyed seeing the post - thank you for your kind comment

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  13. What a beautiful cathedral, Rosemary. Elisabeth Williams had such a sad faith... Happy Sunday!

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    1. Apparently her sister also died in childbirth the following year - life must have been continually filled with tragedy all those years ago.

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  14. You have picked out some fabulous details from the cathedral to share with us Rosemary. I love Elizabeth Williams and her baby, and am in awe of the 13th century work...magnificent.

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    1. Walking around tombs often reveals just how very fortunate we are today. There was another tomb nearby, it was Elisabeth's sister, who also died in childbirth the following year.

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  15. Hello Rosemary, Those effigies have just the right combination of antiquity, sentimental/evocative charm, and surreal bizarreness. I never saw a wooden one before; its condition, if not too restored, is quite remarkable. The tomb of Edward II is of great interest--one of my souvenirs from a trip to England is a hammered silver penny of Edward II.
    ---Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - The reason why the effigy of Robert Duke of Normandy is in such remarkable condition is because it was made from Irish bog oak. As I am sure you are aware bog oak is wood that has been buried in a peat bog, and preserved from decay. The wood may have been hundreds, or thousands of years old when the effigy was made and would be as hard as stone. However, I am sure that the paint work will have been restored from time to time.
      You are very fortunate having a hammered silver penny of Edward ll.

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  16. I remember visiting Gloucester Cathedral a number of years ago and thinking how wonderful it was. Your pictures are incredible.

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    1. Thank you Mac n' Janet - I am very touched by your kind comment.

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  17. Really beautiful this cathedral, precious details as well. How bright are your photos, they make everything prettier. Stained glasses and fresco, such a great attraction for the visitors! Really impressive for a gothic cathedral. Thanks for sharing, we become wiser thaks to your posts dear Rosemary!
    Happy new week!
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - Thank you for your very kind comment. I never use the flash on the camera even though I am indoors - without flash I think perhaps the colours stay more true to life.

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    1. Ah Titti, you are too kind but thank you♡

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  19. Thank you Rosemary - I knew nothing about Gloucester Cathedral. It has some amazing treasures & we will definitely visit, though the new paintings in the old niches look a little too "hunky" and modern for my taste!

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    1. These are just a glimpse of what is on offer at Gloucester Cathedral - we were really there to visit the sculpture exhibition, but as per usual I found myself carried away by the tombs.

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  20. A truly stunningly beautiful cathedral indeed. The tombs are amazingly detailed, and the ceilings are so beautiful aren't they. Glad that you enjoyed your visit and found it so interesting. xx

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    1. For some reason I always find tombs of great interest - I think it is because they reveal to us so much about life in centuries past.

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  21. Graffiti in the 1700's!! Who knew? That view looking upwards is just breathtaking. Another wonderful post Rosemary.
    Ms Soup

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    1. It seems that graffiti is not a new thing! Glad you enjoyed the post and thank you.

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  22. Thank you for the wonderful tour. All of it is so amazing, such history and talent.

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    1. Thank you Margaret - as I have mentioned previously I actually went to see a sculpture exhibition, but got carried away with the tombs and architecture etc.

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  23. English cathedrals are always interesting, and Gloucester Cathedral is quite wonderful in its variety of historical tombs and art. It is such a pleasure to visit it via your excellent photos Rosemary. I too love Elizabeth Williams and her sweet baby, such a human touch. The last two pieces are a great reminder that the cathedral is still a part of today's world. The Ivor Gurney stained glass is a beautiful narration of his life, and I really enjoyed the modern dramatic paintings in the empty old niches - brilliant! Thank you for a terrific post.

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    1. Dear Patricia - our cathedrals are almost like museums themselves for the wealth of art, stained glass, tombs and architecture that they contain from over so many centuries. I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the few pieces that I picked out which happened to interest me. The Elizabeth Williams tomb is both charming and of course rather sad.

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  24. Hello, Rosemary! I had thought European cathedral is the concentration of all kinds of arts featuring different ages. The Gloucester Cathedral contains very intricate but beautiful ornaments. Thank you for the detailed information; I felt as if being guided around the cathedral by you in person.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - There is so much more within the cathedral to see, so I concentrated on just a few objects that are my own personal favourites. I am pleased that you enjoyed accompanying me - thank you.

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  25. I feel like I have my very own tour guide. How touching that the children that died in childhood were also represented.

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    1. Yes, I like that touch too, it shows their humanity. When a young baby has died, it is normally shown as a 'weeper' around the tomb too wrapped in swaddling clothes.

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  26. Dear Rosemary,
    thank you once again for the beautiful photos! I haven't been in Gloucester(shire?, so again there is something calling me back to England (not the only item :-)

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  27. Dear rosemary, Thank you for this amazing tour around Gloucester cathedral. The windows installed in memory of Ivor Gurney are lovely. How sad that his life ended in such sad circumstances. Sarah x

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    1. Hello Sarah - I have never seen windows done quite like the Gurney ones before - they were very attractive and bore a resemblance to impressionist paintings.

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  28. I can only say "Wow!". So worth a visit! I had never heard of this cathedral, would even have to google where Gloucester is located. I'm not from Great Britain and have only been in your country once (to Wales), so that's not so strange. It's one of the things I love about traveling, you get to know different countries and visiting them is so very different from just learning about them. Must be that built-in gps in our brain that helps us remember things better once we've been there ;)
    Marian

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    1. I agree with you Marion - It is strange how often I have learnt about or visited a previously unknown place or building and then consequently seen frequent references to it afterwards.
      There are some wonderful treasures in Gloucester Cathedral.

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  29. Fantastic photos Rosemary, so much history, a peek into another time.

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    1. It is always lovely to hear from you Rosemary - the tombs and artefacts left behind by our ancestors are a tangible link with the past.

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  30. Your pictures are wonderful. As a Gloucestrian who has lived in this area all of my quite long life I think Gloucester is the BEST cathedral in the country. I went to Denmark Rd High School for girls and we had an annual service there every year. I am very proud to see such a lovely site every time I go shopping. Super.


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    1. Thank you for your visit - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the photos. It was necessary for me to be selective in the treasures that I showed, and I hope that as a local, you feel I did them justice.

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  31. I'm late visiting this post Rosemary, but a wonderfully photographed subject. I particularly like the weepers, which you have shown before on tombs, which include the Machen family children...very touching. A beautiful place to visit.

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    1. When you see the Machen children so beautifully depicted on their parents tomb as 'weepers' is brings home to you their humanity.

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  32. Thank you for this, Rosemary. What a glorious place. I love those frescoes and, needless to say, the effigies. There's always something so hauntingly beautiful about these sorts of things. But can you imagine keeping your own brother a prisoner? It wasn't so easy being an heir with rapacious relatives hanging around.

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    1. History has been romanced up Yvette - life must have been so fraught and tough, not that it isn't today at times, but at least we do have warm, secure places to live, and laws that protect us.
      I do love a good tomb, you have probably guessed that already, and especially one that tells a story.

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