Saturday, 19 August 2017

Chichester Cathedral

Shortly after their conquest in AD43 the Romans built a Fort here and named it 'Noviomagus Reginorum'. It was in the 5th century that Anglo Saxons then renamed it Chichester. An important Roman road called Stane Street ran all the way from Chichester to London Bridge, and much of the route still exists today. Needless to say there are still several Roman remains within the area including Fishbourne Palace, the largest Roman domestic building in Britain. 

 Our visit to the Cathedral took us passed The Deanery


  and down St. Richard's Walk - a pathway leading directly into the Cathedral.
Today we have our sights set on seeing the Cathedral's treasures.

Chichester Cathedral's architecture combines both Norman and Gothic styles. Nikolaus Pevsner, the architectural historian, called it "the most typical English Cathedral". Building began in 1076 and took 32 years to complete. The spire rising above its green copper roof can be seen for many miles across the West Sussex meadows. It is a landmark for sailors - the only English medieval cathedral visible from the sea
These figures represent Richard Fitzalan 3rd Earl of Arundel 1307-1376 and his second wife Eleanor, who by his will of 1375 were to be buried together 'without pomp'.
The knight's attitude is typical of the period but the lady's crossed legs where she appears to be turning towards her husband is rare.
 The joined hands, his hand unusually not gloved, was thought to have been the result of 'restoration' but recent research has shown this feature to be original. The monument is one of the earliest known that appears to be showing a knights affection for his wife. 
Philip Larkin was inspired to write his poem 'An Arundel Tomb' following his visit to the cathedral in 1956
Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.


Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

the rest of the poem can be read here 
This 14th century window is filled with wonderful stained glass designed by Charles Parish in the late 19th century using glass from Lorraine, France. 

Detail showing Christ in Glory
There are two rare, expressive, and important Romanesque sculptures in the Cathedral dating from the first quarter of the 12th century depicting the raising of Lazarus.
In the first panel Lazarus has been dead for four days, and his sisters, Mary and Martha, are shown at the town gate of Bethany greeting Jesus and praying that he can be saved. 
In the second panel Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave still wrapped in his shroud strap bindings. I could not understand Mary and Martha's expressions, but having now read the relevant bible passage I understand that their expressions are suggestive of the anticipated odour from the grave. At the bottom of the panel are two little grave diggers struggling to maintain the elevation of the tomb stone.
These sculptures are thought to have originally been part of a chancel screen in the Cathedral, and were discovered hidden away behind some choir stalls in 1827. The panels would originally have been painted and had jewels or semi precious stones in their eyes. 
 The High Altar tapestry was designed by John Piper in 1966, and woven in Aubusson, France.

At the site of the shrine of St. Richard
(Bishop of Chichester 1245-53 canonised in 1262) is an Anglo-German tapestry, designed in 1985 by Ursula Benker-Schirmer which shows religious symbols, some of which have a particular association with St. Richard. The central panel was woven in Germany and the two side panels were woven at West Dean College which is in the countryside just outside Chichester.
A painting by Graham Sutherland entitled Noli me tangere (do not hold me) depicting Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning
A vibrant red window designed by Marc Chagall in 1978 based on the psalm 'O praise God in his holiness...let everything that hath breath praise the Lord' 
In the Baptistry a painting of The Baptism of Christ by Hans Feibusch (1951)
and a Font made from polyphant green stone which came from Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. The Font was made and designed in 1983 by John Skelton, a nephew of Eric Gill.
You cannot come so near to the coast without paying the sea a visit, so we clambered up the sand dunes
and took a brisk walk along the beach  

36 comments:

  1. A beautiful visit to the cathedral. So many treasures to see. We visited Chichester last year for the first time and loved it. Thank you for the reminder. B x

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    1. I am pleased that this has reminded you of your visit too. I last visited over 40 years ago so hardly remembered a thing about what was inside the Cathedral.

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  2. What exceptional treasures indeed are to be found in Chichester Cathedral, Rosemary. I enjoyed this so much, and have gone back and forth admiring all the artworks, from so many periods. The Earl of Arundel and his wife are an unusual and very sweet couple, holding hands in eternity. The stained glass has the most gorgeous blue, and the tapestries are fantastic modern works, matched only by the vivid colour of the Chagall. Thank you for sharing these wonders!

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    1. Dear Patricia - cathedrals and churches are wonderful sources of artworks from across the centuries, and Chichester definitely carries a wide range to see and admire. Chagall came to designing stained glass windows late in his life, and we are fortunate that he also did another church in Kent with 12 of his windows. The last window was finished when he was 98 years old just before he died.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, Treasures indeed in Chichester Cathedral. I liked the sense of continuity in the art, and was particularly impressed with Piper's 'Mod' tapestry.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - the John Piper tapestry commands the High Altar, and I loved it too. He started off as a young war artist, and as he got older also turned to doing stained glass windows, murals, tapestries too.

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  4. Chichester Cathedral is just beautiful! Its artifacts are fascinating. I find Earl Arundel and his wife particularly interesting. Those stain glass windows are absolutely magnificent. You can't get glass with those beautiful colors today. It takes real gold to make that ruby glass.

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    1. Chichester Cathedral is full of works of art, many of which I did not have room to show. The red in the Chagall window is stunning - it would be impossible to miss seeing it when visiting especially with the sun streaming through.

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  5. Beautiful place and the knight and his wife are quite wonderful. The tapestries and windows are quite extraordinary. I'm not as fond of the painting of Christ and Mary Magdalene.

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    1. My husband wasn't keen on it either.

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  6. One of my favourite towns - even better if I can get a ticket for a play.

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    1. I have never been to Chichester Festival Theatre, but it is a wonderful venue.

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  7. What a stunning post and the tomb of the earl and his wife is very touching. That white sand is so inviting too!

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    1. Thank you Lyn for your kind comment - some history, some treasures, and a bit of nature too.

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  8. Dearest Rosemary,
    You indeed showed us the Cathedral's treasures and they were quite surprising in many ways.
    Drawing attention by using vivid colors and also by size.
    Hoping this will continue to draw people to this magnificent Cathedral!
    Hugs and happy Sunday to you.
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I like the way the Cathedral has continued to add to its treasures for over a thousand years.

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  9. A brisk walk on the beach and some lovely and interesting pictures...LOVE visiting your blog!
    Titti

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    1. Reading this comment this morning makes me feel very happy - thank you Titti - I love your visit too♡

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  10. Lovely stained glass windows and tapestry.

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    1. Loved both the stained glass windows and the tapestries

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  11. wow, this is a special place: flowers, stained glass and dunes. What more could you want.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing this special place Filip - hope you are both well.

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  12. Gosh the stained glass and the tapestry are especially incredible aren't they! I didn't know that Piper had done any tapestry design before.

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    1. The Chichester is a real treasure house - John Piper also created tapestries for Hereford Cathedral and Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.

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  13. Thank you for sharing the treasures of Chichester here. I like seeing modern interpretations alongside the more ancient ones. Each age has its view on things. I didn't know that Chagall designed stained glass windows for churches - what amazing pieces they are. A walk on the beach is a wonderful way to consolidate everything in one's mind.

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    1. Chagall's window in Chichester is very eye catching and dramatic especially when the sun makes the red glass sparkle. His venture into designing stained glass windows was late in his life during his 70s.

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  14. Lovely Chichester - haven't visited properly for a long time. Your photos, as always, are excellent. I'm trying to figure out which stretch of sand that is - anyway, next time you're in the area, I hope you will pop into Bosham - you'll love it, if you don't already know it.

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    1. Yes, we should have called into Bosham but we were short of time. The stretch of sand we were at was West Wittering. We went there for old times sake as we took our eldest son there when he was a baby. Curiously it is now a lovely sandy beach but when we visited many, many, years ago it was covered in pebbles!

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  15. Always such beautiful photos, and stories to go along.
    Hope you are well, and obviously enjoying your summer.
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Hello Linda - lovely to have your visit - take care♡

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  16. When we visited we didn't go into the Cathedral as we had Daisy with us. Those stain glass windows look so colourful! Glad you managed a walk on the sands too! Sarah x

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    1. We were only visiting for a couple of days so were limited as to what we could do. We shall have to return again one day as there were so many things that we missed seeing.

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  17. Beautiful pictures and wonderful research. I especially like Philip Larkin's poem.

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    1. Thanks Janey - glad that you liked it

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