Monday, October 08, 2012

History is now and England.

                       --- T.S. Eliot

I had forgotten that it was a visit to Salisbury Cathedral that sparked my interest in T.S. Eliot. Walking there again today I came upon the two memorial plaques bearing quotations from the Four Quartets, and once again I stood, entranced.

 "We die with the dying: See, they depart, and we go with them.We are born with the dead: See, they return, and bring us with them. The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree are of equal duration."

Of course, I must say that I did a lot of standing, entranced, today.  This is how it happened: When we woke up, we were hoping to go watch David take a ride in a glider; he had an appointment to do that. But when we looked out the window, we knew that there would be no gliding. As you can tell from my exterior photograph of the cathedral, it rained. And it rained. And it rained. There were some moments of respite, but not many. Well, then, we said, what shall we do? We decided to go for a steam train ride on the Watercress Line -- but it doesn't run on Monday. Hmmm. Plan C. "I know!" said Robin. "Let's go to Salisbury." And off we went. [I triple-checked to be sure that I had the chip for my camera.]

"Mary Magdalene" - Greg Tricker
There was an art exhibit at the cathedral: wonderful stained glass, paintings, and sculptures by Greg Tricker. The show was called "Pillars of Faith". I don't imagine the artist would want me to reproduce all his work on my blog, but I must show you this one: it's Mary Magdalene. I have to share it with you because it made me laugh. No, not the sculpture itself: that was beautiful.  It was what happened when I snapped the picture that was funny. I pushed the button; I heard a click; and then I saw a message come up on the screen. It read: BLINK DETECTED. I swear I heard the Twilight Zone theme.

I was drawn back repeatedly to the baptismal font. I didn't remember seeing it the last time I was at the cathedral. I kept leaning over it, using it as a mirror with which to see the ceiling and the windows. I finally located the dedication plaque and found out that the font was dedicated in 2008. I think that was about ten years after my previous visit. It is stunning.

After our first circuit, Robin and I had a cup of tea together in the refectory; then he headed over to a nearby military museum while I went back to stand, entranced, some more.

The view from the refectory
Some of what I saw was simply beautiful. Some was disturbing. I saw a plaque in memory of Caroline Luxford, who died in 1800 at the age of 29. Six weeks later, her baby died. It was her seventh child. I felt immeasurably lucky to live in this time. I also saw a gravestone dedicated to Thomas Lambert, who was born in May of 1683 and died in February of the same year. What? According to my guidebook, the calendar year at that time started March 25, rather than January 1.

I visited the Trinity Chapel, which is the oldest chapel in the cathedral; it was dedicated in 1225. Now, it features a modern window dedicated to prisoners of conscience, and the Amnesty Candle burns in one corner.

I took fifty-five photos today, most of them inside the cathedral. That's the kind of day I had.
When Robin came back from the military museum, we walked to the Chapter House to pay a visit to one of the four remaining original copies of the Magna Carta. I wasn't allowed to use my camera there. As we walked back to the car, I took a few shots, including one that I think is my favourite of the day.

Tomorrow will be another family day. I'm looking forward to that.


The Bug said...

Are you SURE she didn't blink? I'll bet she really did :)

I would so love to visit some of these Cathedrals you're visiting. I've seen the one in Washington DC, but I was young & foolish then...

Sandra Leigh said...

I love visiting cathedrals. (Or could you tell?)I could quite happily sit in a pew and just let the day go by. Maybe, someday, I'll do just that.

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