“For centuries the spires of Britain’s cathedrals..”

St Annes CathedralAs the BBC have briefly noted here, the Royal Mail’s new collection of stamps feature six cathedrals – including St Anne’s in Belfast on the 48p stamp. However, despite the Royal Mail’s introduction – “For centuries the spires of Britain’s cathedrals have risen above its greatest cities.” – it’s not the external view of the ‘needle in the cathedral’ that’s the main feature depicted but, as you can see in the image, the more traditional interior. The other cathedral interiors chosen were Lichfield, Gloucester, St Davids, Westminster and St Magnus.

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  • joeCanuck

    There is certainly something wondrous about the inside of those buildings as there is inside larger mosques, even for an atheist like me.
    And as for the architecture involved in the construction, it was daring in its time and wondrous too.
    Recommend “the Pillars of the Earth” for an insight into the construction and the times that gave rise to the earliest ones.

  • Pete Baker

    “There is certainly something wondrous about the inside of those buildings as there is inside larger mosques, even for an atheist like me.
    And as for the architecture involved in the construction, it was daring in its time and wondrous too.”

    Indeed, Joe.

    Up until the point they decide to stick a big shiny needle in it.. ;o)

  • PeaceandJustice

    These days, they seem to put up buildings as cheaply and quickly as possible …

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, Pete. I found that very odd, to say the least. I would have much preferred something more traditional. But, of course, it isn’t my business by a long shot.

  • Ahem

    I suppose I should hold back gurning until I’ve actually seen the artwork on the stamps, *but* . . . [the Slugger phraseology no good poster should be without], on architectural merit, the only cathedral in Northern Ireland worth bothering about is St Columb’s. And even that wouldn’t pass much muster compared to, say, an average East Anglian wool church.

  • Pete Baker

    Ahem

    There does seem to be an attempt to produce a geographical spread in the cathedrals selected.

    And a little boost to St Anne’s, after the refit, might have played a part.

  • Ahem on May 14, 2008 @ 12:10 AM:

    Count mine as a second vote for St Columb’s, Derry.

    I don’t know if there is a subtle innuendo in using St Magnus, Kirkwall, for the “overseas” mail. In any event, it is an inspired choice: the only Scottish cathedral wholly of the medieval period — complete with its own (unique?) prison-cell. I challenge anyone not to be awed looking up at the roof, reminiscent of a great Viking long-boat inverted above one’s head.

    These stamps seem to be celebrating the “second-eleven” of our provincial Cathedrals: in itself a good idea. It reminds us there is a life beyond the regular tourist-trek of Lincoln, Salisbury, Norwich, Durham …

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ahem

    “…on architectural merit, the only cathedral in Northern Ireland worth bothering about is St Columb’s”

    You’re forgetting St Patrick’s RC Cathedral in Armagh, which is stupendous, and without parallel on this island.

    http://www.armagharchdiocese.org/stpatrickscathedral

    Incidentally, Royal Mail got their facts wrong. They claim that St Anne’s is the seat of the Church of Ireland, but it’s the other, older St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh that holds that distinction.

    Surely St Anne’s is only the seat of the Diocese of Connor?

  • joeCanuck

    It’s amazing Billy. If you go to your link, then take the 360 degree view, scroll up to the very top, you can see a huge UFO floating above.

  • Billy Pilgrim on May 14, 2008 @ 04:42 PM:

    Everyone to his own; and I’m not going to deny you a personal choice.

    That said, we are thinking of the same building?

    That’s the structure with the imitation English-Perpendicular (pseudo-16th century) bottom and the imitation French-Decorated Gothic (equally pseudo-14th century) top? The gap in between those two periods was caused by and dramatically symbolises An Gorta Mór.

    Then the interior has been repeatedly mucked about throughout the last century. I recall a high altar, choir stalls and organ, pulpit, and rood-screen: all quite decent, and all junked about a quarter-of-a-century back. Didn’t somebody compare the result to Aldergrove’s arrival hall?

    It is, fortunately “without parallel” among the Roman Catholic cathedrals of Ireland. Galway comes close as an eye-sore, though.
    __________________________

    If we are looking for the best Cathedrals of Ireland, might I suggest the matched pair at Waterford?

    The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity has, for me, the neatest, most visually-attractive exterior. Cool, classical, it even looks “Irish”, in the best late-18th century manner. The interior, which I recall as a white basilica, is pretty stylish, too. I hope they haven’t “improved” that too much.

    The Anglicans (there’s a few of them left) have Christ Church, with a neo-classical interior and a fine stucco ceiling. I give that a place in any league table. Of course, it is built on top of where Strongbow and Aoife were married back in 1170: which lends a certain importance, too.

  • Ahem

    No, I hadn’t forgotten the RC St Patrick’s in Armagh, much as anyone with an interest in good architecture might want to. I think we’ll all be modest enough to defer to the late Charlie Brett: “a disappointing muddle, quite lacking in the unity and integrity to be expected in a building of such importance . . . the new [post Vatican II] fittings already appear dated, and are utterly incongruous” (Buildings of County Armagh, UAHS, 1999). A dismal structure, and sometimes, Billy, you’ve got to give the whole professional MOPE bit a rest.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ahem

    “Billy, you’ve got to give the whole professional MOPE bit a rest.”

    Excuse me?

  • Ahem

    Would shorter words help?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ahem

    Just wondering how my opinion on a work of architecture merited this this unprovoked attack?

  • Ahem

    I suppose you probably are sufficiently lacking in self-awareness to think that droningly asserting that ‘you’re forgetting St Patrick’s RC Cathedral in Armagh’ passes for good manners.

    You’ve been told this before: don’t whine about people biffing you back, if you can’t first keep a civil tongue in your head.

  • Billy Pilgrim @ 12:20 PM:

    Simple: the ad-hominem stuff goes with the territory here.

    Let’s take a different approach.

    There are all kinds of reasons why a particular place (not necessarily religious) sticks in our memory and affections.

    I profoundly disagree with Simon Jenkins’s listing of his Thousand Best Churches, not because of his aesthetic judgements (which are sound) but because he omits or down-grades the places I most appreciate for other, more personal reasons. I still am grateful for the book and the opinions, however.

    Similarly, the most affecting religious building on Orkney is not St Magnus in Kirkwall, fine as it is. It is a converted Nissan hut on the island of Lambholm. That deserves a book of stamps. Perhaps when the Scots get a degree of independence, they’ll see to it.

    Can I be allowed one further off-topic memory, prompted by this? I was walking round the outside of Winchester Cathedral, which I am told runs Stonehenge a close second for its confluence of ley-lines. In the sun beyond the Lady Chapel (and therefore on the ley-line) was a guy, cross-legged in a strange posture, playing a flute, with a pile of pebbles before him. Everyone to his own, say I, passing on.

    Years passed.

    In Orkney I was visiting the prehistoric sites: Maes Howe, the Ring of Brodgar and the rest. At Skara Brae, on a fine, clear summer’s day, I heard a flute. Same guy. Similar stack of pebbles.

    Weird.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ahem

    “suppose you probably are sufficiently lacking in self-awareness to think that droningly asserting that ‘you’re forgetting St Patrick’s RC Cathedral in Armagh’ passes for good manners.”

    I’m sorry, honestly, I’m not following you at all. Please explain to me how I have been guilty of bad manners? I honestly can’t see what, in that statement, you found objectionable.

    “You’ve been told this before: don’t whine about people biffing you back, if you can’t first keep a civil tongue in your head.”

    I wasn’t aware that I had “biffed” anyone, nor that I had said anything uncivil. You have totally over-reacted.

    Of course if your over-reaction is based on something I’ve written on another thread, then you should “biff me back” on that thread, not this one.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Malcolm

    I know the ad hominem stuff is par for the course on Slugger, and admittedly I’ve been guilty of it myself. But if someone hits me with a completely uncalled-for dig, at the very least I want to point out that it was uncalled-for.

    Funny enough, I don’t think I have any “previous” with Ahem, so his unilateral animus towards me comes as something of a surprise. But anyway….

    Great posts, by the way!

  • Ahem

    Yawn. This, ‘I didn’t do nuffin’ routine is as boring as it is pointless. If you’re going to slabber, prepare to be slabbered back at. If you don’t like being slabbered at, don’t yourself slabber first. And the only person here ‘over-reacting’ is, of course, yourself. Seriously, grow up.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ahem

    “If you’re going to slabber, prepare to be slabbered back at. If you don’t like being slabbered at, don’t yourself slabber first.”

    Where did I slabber?

    “Seriously, grow up.”

    Physician, heal thyself.

  • susan

    Bout ye, Billy, don’t mind ‘im.

    Malcolm Redfellow, that link on the Nissan hut is nothing short of astonishing. I loved it. Would you happen to know if there are any helicopter landing sites open to the public on Lambholm?

  • Ahem

    It’s like watching four year olds trying to read a broadsheet: if you’re going to bother typing out a reply, at least make the effort to try and come up with some words of your own, rather than this pitiful, ‘what you said back at you’ cr*p. You droned when you portentously announced that the risible RC St Patrick’s had been forgotten about; you slabbered when you had your little hissy fit about the ‘unprovoked attack’. Really, for one of Slugger’s posters quickest to smear people as ‘sectarian’ &c;, you are a case study in self-delusion. Super – as Al Gore might put it – seriously: grow up.

  • susan @ 05:29 PM:

    Aw, c’mon! You’re having me on!

    I was going to tell you we got there the old-fashioned way: driving from London to Thurso and Scrabster (666 miles), ferry to Stomness (about 30 miles, passing the Old Man of Hoy — choose a quiet day), then across Mainland (about a further 22 miles). It’s rather less than London to Milan, I guess. Just proves how small these islands are, really. But that wouldn’t interest you.

    Or I could have used the old joke that the nearest railway station is Stavanger. It’s not. As I’m living in London, I’d catch tomorrow’s 08.04 from King’s Cross to York; the 10.07 from York to Edinburgh Waverley; the 17.07 from Waverley to Inverness; and the 17.52 from Inverness to Thurso. The Station Hotel at Thurso is about adequate (it comes with a personal letter of recommendation from Sir Harry Lauder). I’d take the cooked breakfast — I once did Larne-Stranraer in Force 12, no trouble. The ferry to Stomness takes ninety minutes. From Stromness, you’re on your own. Probably, for most of the year, quite literally. Another lot of reasons why devolution makes more sense to the Scots than to the “sarf-of-Watford” little Englanders. But that wouldn’t interest you either.

    Seriously: you fly into Kirkwall. They do car hire. Lambholm is a handful of miles away at the south of Mainland, on the Churchill barriers. The Italian Chapel is right beside the road.

    This little frolic reminds me that my uncle was based in Orkney during WW2, at the RNAS Twatt (which, inexplicably, preferred to be called “HMS Tern”). The station went operational on 1st April 1941. All-in-all, I reckon someone in the Admiralty had a glimmer of a sense of humour.

    There have been a couple of tv progs on the Italian Chapel. I used to have a small guidebook about it. And all the stuff about the “human spirit” is, in this case, absolutely justified.

  • In my previous post, Malcolm Redfellow @ 06:36 PM, any suggestion that there might be a link between Ahem‘s recent posts and HMS Tern was entirely deliberate unintended.

  • susan

    Many thanks, Malcolm. I wasn’t insinuating it was my helicopter — sadly, even now I am rarely more at ease than I am on a ferry, any ferry, heading out of port — but I was thinking it would be a lovely spot to see with my dear friend, Tricia, and as her husband is a North Sea pilot and training captain based out of Aberdeen, I thought perhaps your intrepid self might suggest a way of saving her a few steps. You did not disappoint.

    I have always wanted to see those islands, even more learning about the Italian Chapel. Its story reminds me of one of my favourite films of all time, Gabriele Salvatores’ “Meditarreno” — “dedicated to all those who are running away.”

  • susan

    Oopsie. That should read “Mediterraneo.” At least approximately.

  • susan @ 07:35 PM:

    There’s a direct ferry link from Aberdeen to Stromness (and on to Lerwick). It’s twice a week winter, thrice in summer. Outbound in daytime, overnight inbound. Could be quite an adventure.

    As for Mediterraneo — [Nicola:] “Life isn’t enough. One life isn’t enough for me. There aren’t enough days. Too many things to do, too many ideas. Every sunset upsets me because another day has gone by.”

    Meanwhile, to refer back to St Columb’s: can I point to the little item in Martin Waller’s City Diary of today’s [London] Times? Under a fetching double mug-shot, against the distinctive grey wall of St Columb’s, is this:

    ’Can we have it back?’
    ’No’.
    This is David Lewis, the Lord Mayor [of London], at St Columb’s Cathedral, Londonderry, being reunited with a silver gilt chalice made in 1613 and donated by the City to the cathedral, which was completed in 1633 (Lewis is on the left, with the Dean, the Very Rev Dr William Morton). There is remarkably little decorative plate in the City dating from before 1666. The official story is that it was mostly destroyed in the Great Fire. However, it seems not merely to have been melted by the heat but to have evaporated entirely, which raises unworthy suspicions about our City forefathers.

    Nice little story, amply proving that little changes among the capitalist classes. I cannot believe the meeting has not similarly been covered by the Londonderry Sentinel, whose on-line presence today has been somewhat iffy.

  • susan

    Excellent! Could not access the mug shot, but NorthLink ferries looks almost heaven at present. Many thanks.

  • Ahem

    Golly. Calling someone a ‘twat’. Whatever next Malcolm? More unattributed opinions cribbed from Charlie Brett’s books passed off as your own?