Monday, 7 April 2014

Visit to Rochester Cathedral in Kent, UK

On Saturday John and I went on a visit to Rochester in Kent. Years ago when I was still at school I'd lived in Chatham which is next to Rochester and I'd attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls. Because of this I'd visited the cathedral many times but John had never been inside it.

The cathedral has over 900 years of history but the only remains of the original Saxon cathedral are below ground. The oldest part of the existing building dates from 1083 but there are a lot of different architectural styles as it has been added to and renovated over the years.

This is the west front and most of this looks as it did when it was built in the mid 1100's except for the large central window which was added in the mid 1400's. A military wedding was about to start when we arrived and the guard of honour was waiting for the bride to arrive.

The Nave of the cathedral shows off the Norman architecture. There are three levels of arches before you reach the wooden roof. The Nave was the place of worship for the ordinary people but over the life of the cathedral the Nave has been used as quarters for both troops and horses, and served as a carpenters shop and alehouse.

The guide Carol who showed us round give us lots of stories and showed us things we may have missed. One example of this is the places on the columns where pictures have been scratched in the stone by graffiti artists through the centuries.

She also showed us areas where there were 'ghosts' of the original paintings that decorated the walls. This is a fragment of the original plaster now preserved behind glass. The interior must have been very bright.

Either side of the west door there are mosaics which give the names of the Royal Engineers and the campaigns they fought in. The cathedral is the 'Corps' spiritual home.

Carol showed us the columns that had been pushed out of true by the weight of the roof of the cathedral, (no it's not my appalling photographic skills). The height of the roof was reduced and a huge buttress added to the outside wall to keep this part of the building upright. I love the carving around the doorway.

The screen between the Nave and the Quire was beautiful. The camera shake is my fault but I only took the one picture. The organ had a beautiful full rich sound.

The floor in the Quire had delightful tiles and Carol told us there were 40 'mistakes' in the tiling as only God is perfect.

Finally a new addition to the cathedral was the fresco by the doorway at the North Transept. The fresco is by Russian iconographer Sergei Fyodorov. The fresco was dedicated on 24th June 2004. The top half shows the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  Underneath, on the left side is the baptism of King Ethelbert by St Augustine in approximately 600. King Ethelbert gave the land on which the cathedral is built. On the right is the baptism of large numbers of Saxons in the River Medway following their conversion to Christianity. The colours in the fresco were amazing.

The cathedral also has a brass memorial plaque to Charles Dickens who lived in Rochester. He had asked to be buried in the cathedral but it was decided that he should be buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London

As we left the cathedral we saw this tree outside.

It is well propped up and support which makes it look as if it's many centuries old. The tree is a Catalpa tree which is also known as an Indian Bean Tree. Its exact age is not known but it is over 100 years.

When we'd decided to visit Rochester I hadn't given a thought to quilt shops but as we walked onto the high street I looked to my right and what should I see but a very well stocked quilt shop. I didn't buy very much, only 4 fat quarters but I will be visiting again as the journey only took an hour and a quarter and there is still lots to visit in the area.

Before we left for home I took a picture looking along the River Medway. There was a cold breeze blowing off the water.

The day was very enjoyable and the sun managed to shine all day. I'm looking forward to a lot more trips out this summer.

I'm going to watch a TV programme I recorded earlier and then I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is a sewing day and I have quite a lot I want to get done. Plus I have some housework and a few errands I need to run. The quilt shop where I teach classes have asked if they can display my bird quilt in the window so I must drop it into the shop and I want to pop into the butchers to get a bone for Scamp.


1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a wonderful day out. The Cathedral is magnificent and how great that it is still being added to after all these hundreds of years.