Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Visit to Exeter Cathedral.

The Nave looking towards the centre organ pipes.

I visited Exeter Cathedral on Friday, just a one hour visit, as a lunch stop on my way down to Torquay in Devon.  What an amazing place, with the longest, uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.   How did the builders and stone masons manage to construct this wonderful buildings using nothing but rope and pullies, and I wonder how many workmen died in the process.  

The building was founded in 1050 in the Romanesque style by the first Bishop Leofric, and throughout its life many additions in various styles have been made to the building.  Between the years 1270 and 1350 the towers were enlarged, and the building was completed by ca 1400.  Like most English cathedrals, Exeter suffered during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, but not as much as it would have done hat it been a monastic foundation.

Further damage was inflicted during the English Civil War when the cloisters were destroyed. Charles ll had a new pipe organ built by John Loosemore, and Charles's sister Henrietta Anne of England was baptised here in 1644.   During the Victorian era, George Gilbert Scott carried out some refurbishments.

 The largest Bishops Throne and Hood in Great Britain.
The hood above the Bishop's throne is 18m in height, and was carved out of English oak between  the years of 1312 and 1322, and is held together with numerous wooden pegs. 

 Detail of woodcarving on the base of the Bishop's throne.

A 14th century clock movement.
This mechanism is one of a group of 14th to 16th century clocks found in the West of England.

 Monument to an Elizabethan Lady.
The cathedral contains some wonderful grave monuments and Chantry Chapels.  The carved detail on this Elizabethan lady's clothing is exquisite.

 Historical graffiti, carved into an alabaster tomb.
Alabaster is a soft stone and easily scratched.  This tomb was covered in graffiti left by early visitors to the cathedral.

Papier mache, life size model of a ceiling boss.
Looking up at the vaulted ceiling, it is hard to imagine how large the bosses that cover the joints in the arches are.  This papier mache model is a life size copy of a boss, and is huge.  The original carved stone bosses must have weighed at least a ton!   I hope they don't fall down.

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