Monday 21 September 2015

Canterbury Cathedral Scaffold tour ….

Guess what … my hip and I, eight months on, happily hopped up and down the scaffolding by ladder … builders’ ladders … metal and narrow … I had no idea what we were going to do ... but it seemed a wonderful opportunity not to be missed.

Medieval Gatehouse into the
Cathedral precincts

I had seen an advert for The Great South Window – a high level highlights tour with a look behind the scenes at the conservation aspects … and as I’d been to see the earlier Exhibition of the Ancestors at the Cathedral, as well as posting, in 2013, about the windows' travels to the Getty Museum, Los Angeles before moving to the Cloisters Museum in New York – I knew I had to go across for the tour.

The scaffolding outside, which led to the working
area at window height, which gave us access to the repairs,
the nave ceiling etc and views from the top.

The Cathedral is in the process of having a £50 million restoration facelift – cleaning and repairing the stonework, repairing and replacing the leaded roof … what has been done looks absolutely stunning … and will continue until 2021 – as the Cathedral needs to be secure for the foreseeable future, and beyond.

When a lump of tracery fell off the Great South Window in 2009 – it was a dramatic indication that urgent repair was needed.

Showing stone tracery - not one of my photos
and not of Canterbury.

Cracks were discovered in the tracery stone work surrounding the 12th century stained glass panels forcing the specialists to add this urgent job to their ‘to do’ list and delay other planned projects.

Cherry picker installing
scaffolding inside the Nave
courtesy Canterbury Trust

The foremost project was to provide a safe frame for the 12th century glass … the Window became a sandwich filling between scaffolding outside and in, so more stone-work didn’t crash down … and the precious windows could be removed for repair, storage and study.

Our group of about 18 duly met and off we went to the drawing office … where the stone mason template-maker draws all the templates that the masons have to adhere to exactly in order for the replacement stones to fit: talk about a jigsaw of all jigsaws!

The piece of tracery that fell off - we were in
the Drawing and Design office here c/o Martin Crowther

We learnt so much … but here I can only give you a sampling of an inkling of the work that’s involved.  At the end I’ll leave you with some other links to look at … which give you a flavour of the intricacies of a project like this.

Heather, the Head of Stone Masonry and Conservation, who took us round, explained that as Canterbury is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England, forms part of a World Heritage Site and where the Archbishop is the symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion …

One of the cracks being prepared
for repair

… it was essential that all agencies were duly consulted on the proposed works etc … so the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was brought in to ensure the experts’ opinions lined up.

Some basic information on the Cathedral and the Window:

Up the ladders we went
St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, started to build the original place of worship in 597 AD … which now lies beneath the floor of the Nave.  Over the centuries it was rebuilt, refurbished, added to … while retaining some of those early features and buildings. 

As a note in the early days foundations were not laid … hence inevitably over time there has been some movement and settlement in the structure.

The Great South Window in
2006 - before it was known it was
in dire need of repair

The Great South Window was built in the 1420s in the Perpendicular Gothic architectural style.  Its dimensions are huge: 16.76m (55 feet) high, and 7.56m (24 feet 9 inches) wide.  The window held and will hold priceless stained glass from late 12th and early 13th centuries.

Why did the window fail?  As they say it’s complicated!  Over time, this part of the building has tilted slightly, tipping the window forward and sideways, making it unstable. 

Early Industrial Revolution iron bars
that corroded

The medieval builders had allowed for movement in the stone work, leaded glass and timbers – but when the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian ‘experts’ came along – their ideas and repair methods were not empathetic to the ancient materials … hence the damage being found today.

After we had been into the Design and Drawing office we put on hard hats, many of us! were glad of these, and made up our way up the scaffolding ladders … while being shown various aspects of the Conservation work being carried out.

Zorobel - a biblical figure; one of the
Ancestors of Christ - dated 1180
- that was being cleaned, repaired and restored

Then we were shown into the Glass Conservators' workroom where further intricacies were revealed to us ... we were shown the crud on the medieval glass and how it is so painstakingly removed and repairs made ...

The top right corner needing considerable repair ... 

… so much detail here that I cannot possibly give due justice to these oldest panels of stained glass in England and significant examples of what was at the time a relatively new art – monumental stained glass -  as well as the conservation work being done today.

The snippets that resonated with me are …

Caen limestone is still being used, but they had to source larger stone for the mullions from a site near Poitiers.

A new mullion installed; you can see the two slits for
the glass panes to be reinstated - the precious Ancestor Window,
and the new clear protective glass ... the system is very
high tech
A stonemason’s yard had been established about 40 years ago just outside the walls as a working site – the stone is always squared up by the supplier to minimise the amount of waste shipped.

The conservators have created a self-containing and up to 52 mm (2.05 inch) interspace cleaning system for the restored stained glass panels: this is very high tech.

The medieval Butchery Lane

The narrow medieval streets of the city make transport difficult … so stones are brought in a few at a time – preventing damage to both the stone and the medieval city. 

The town has had to retain fire engines with smaller dimensions, than our modern day ones, which can squeeze into the Cathedral grounds and surrounding streets.

Gargoyles towering out across the grounds, as well
as the city beyond

How knowledgeable those early craftsmen were … in being able to build Cathedrals, give all worshippers and visitors over the centuries that visual and cognitive impact of the stories they wanted told through their design and art work.

Here you can see the crud and the corrosive effects of
the centuries as they rolled by

Blue Tesserae from Roman and Greek times tends not to be found … as the medieval craftsmen crushed the tessera to extract the lapis lazuli … so it could be reused by their glaziers.

The Nave ceiling with its decorations

Yet how much in the 21st century we are realising that we need to continue researching to find out more, and to establish the best methods to protect the Cathedral with its stories and history.  This work will be accurately recorded for future generations of surveyors, specialists and conservators.

One of the gilded heads taking stock of the
stone masons at work

Apprenticeships are being made available by the Cathedral for ancient trades and crafts; local residents are being encouraged to get involved; the community and the authorities are all working with the Cathedral to ensure the Minster is secured for future generations.

The Welcome Centre - I loved the lead work

It really was a quite extraordinary day … I was bemused and in total admiration at the care and concern regarding all the research and work that went in to this amazing project as well as the intricacies of it all.  It was a privilege and a joy to see …

The Queen and Prince Philip statues - recently added
to match Victoria and Albert - outside the Nave
 at the west entrance

So much to tell you, so little space, such a muddled post ... but many more sensible details can be found in the links below:

This is tribute from the Surveyor of the Fabric ... it's a PDF but is fine ... and shows lots of interesting photos and gives more detail as to the work done, and the story of it all - well worth a read ... and is where you will find Heather's story ... fascinating tale and well worth a read.

This is an article from the Natural Stone Specialist about the Conservation of the Canterbury Great South Window - again such an interesting read.

View to the west across the city

2014 - The Cathedral's Projects and Priorities from Canterbury Cathedral's Trust's perspectives - it's also a PDF but it too is fine.

Two years ago, "Stories on Glass", after my visit to Durham Cathedral, the glass books and the story of Canterbury's Ancestors Windows going to Los Angeles and New York City ... 

Canterbury Cathedral before its
cloaking in scaffolding
... before I saw them in the Cathedral earlier in the year - this post gives a brief note of visitors being able to see the stained glass windows at ground level and not fifty feet up set into their limestone window frames.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Anabel Marsh said...

Wow, what an experience!
Anabel's Travel Blog
Adventures of a retired librarian

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Really fascinating. Think of how careful they have to be to keep track of all the parts they remove.

Mason Canyon said...

What an amazing building and all the work that's being done to restore it. That was definitely an opportunity not to be missed. Thanks for sharing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's amazing that they knew how to build building that would adjust for movement and then we lost that technology for so long.

Christine Rains said...

Wow. Such a beautiful building. Thanks for sharing with us. And wonderful that you and your hip are getting along. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What an undertaking. The modern process is amazing but more amazing is the original construction performed without modern tools and technology.

Susan Says

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I remember having a very, very happy day here as a student in college. What a beautiful church! I'm so glad to hear that they're restoring it to keep it gorgeous for future generations.

cleemckenzie said...

I so envy you that tour. What a fabulous building to restore. I'd pay to help if I had any of the talent they need. Here's to keeping that hip in good condition so you can do more adventures like this and share the experience with us.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annabel - it was a tremendous opportunity and such an experience ... as you say.

@ Alex - yes the drawing office was extraordinary to see and hear about how they had to adjust the stone work etc ...

@ Mason - thankfully the Cathedral is being looked after and corrections to errors made in the past repaired too. I was so glad I went over ...

@ Diane - I know pretty clever those medieval craftsmen were weren't they ... and how the early Industrial Revolution engineers thought steel was the better deal - but newer technologies were needed .. and today we're still learning.

@ Christine - it is an amazing place and deserves its heritage status. The hip and I are doing well ...

@ Susan - exactly: it has provided some brain work to bring the whole into a project that can be worked! Yes to think they could build the Cathedral without our mod cons ...

@ Elizabeth - I'm so pleased I've taken you back a few years to your days as a student. The site is quite stunning ... and I loved the care they were putting into all aspects of the restoration.

@ Lee - yes .. I was very lucky. They're like to add these into to their tourist attractions anon ... mine was free - in future they will charge, but probably not much. I know if I lived nearer ... I'd love to be involved. The hip and I have done a few things ... more posts anon.

Cheers everyone and I'm so pleased to see you enjoyed this restoration project ... thanks for commenting - Hilary

Suzanne Furness said...

I have never been to Canterbury, it looks like a place well worth a visit in the future. I particularly like stain glass. It's wonderful that your hip allowed you to climb those ladders. I think I would be a bit scared as I don't like heights!

Out on the prairie said...

What an interesting tour. I didn't realize it was built so early.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm super glad that your hip is doing well. But I could never, in a million years, climb up and down that scaffolding...I'm afraid of heights. I love the gilded face though. I want one of those in my house! ;)

Lynn said...

So amazing that you got to see that!

Janie Junebug said...

Oh, my! So interesting. What an experience you had.


Elephant's Child said...

Wow, wow, and wow.
I am constantly in awe at what those early builders achieved. I am not certain that we could easily match them now, and cannot think of a modern building which either WILL stand the tests of time so well, or of one which should.

Patsy said...

Canterbury Cathedral is an amazing place. We were lucky enough to visit one evening whilst an organ recital was going on. Wandering around the cloisters and garden, listening to the music and watching the shadows lengthen was wonderful.

Don't know if I'd have been brave enough to go up, I'm not good with heights, so thank you so much for sharing your experience.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Fascinating that the medieval builders knew more about how to make a structure last than the "educated" and "advanced" builders of the past couple centuries! (I'm not surprised at all, really.)

Botanist said...

I am always in awe of buildings like this. Especially when you try to imagine anything built nowadays lasting half as long!

Karen Lange said...

Well of course you had to go - ladders and all! So glad it went well for you. Rejoicing in your recovery with you. This is nothing short of amazing. Love the details, history, and all the other interesting stuff. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

Tammy Theriault said...

So glad you're getting healthier and what a beauty of a castle!!

Mark Koopmans said...

Hi Hilary,

Well... all I can say is wow!!!

What a once-in-a-lifetime experience :)

You must keep us up to date as the refurbishment work continues...

Amazing stuff... and thanks so much for sharing :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - I hadn't been to Canterbury often, but these opportunities to read about and then to see the Ancestors windows at floor level, and to actually see the restoration in 'go mode' was such a treat. In fact we were 'inside' - the scaffolding was 'hidden' as such ... a form of protection to the workers and fabric being used. My hip is behaving itself so well - I am lucky.

@ OOTP - it was all just fascinating. As knowledge grew they built new parts ... and was rebuilt in 1070 in the Romanesque style - the Choir (where the monks sang their daily prayers) was burnt down a hundred years later. So the building has had new parts added to make the Cathedral that we see today.

@ Karen - I missed out so much detail ... I would love to put more in ... one day perhaps I'll add to the post. Edifice is a good word ... and yes you're so right - how incredibly clever they were to visualise and then build these incredible buildings.

@ Chrys - the hip is fine - thank you. We went up in levels and stopped and talked/listened at each point: so no rush to climb. It was so interesting ... I'm not sure of the name for the gilded pieces on the ceiling - I'll find out in due course. I'm sure one of those gilded faces would be a talking point addition to the ceiling in your home!

@ Lynn - yes I was lucky ... and determined to go - which timed in perfectly with the hip having settled down.

@ Janie - it was a brilliant day ... and a great experience.

@ EC - you do wonder how they managed to build these buildings - and there were plenty of accidents. Yes your mention of a modern building standing the test of time ... we so often tear them down within a hundred years ... interesting thought: perhaps the Oscar Niemeyr Brasilia capital city buildings will last - certainly some of them: eg the Cathedral. I posted about his work in February 2013.

@ Patsy - how gorgeous to be able to walk through the grounds and listen to the organ recital - that must have been amazing. Next time I'll spend longer there and get to grips with more of the city and the cathedral. Your phrase ... "watching the shadows lengthen" brings back memories of the summer sun - on a damp wet day!

The scaffolding was covered in plastic sheeting - so there was protection to a degree and seeing down wasn't really an option - unless we specifically looked.

@ Dianne - they knew how their own materials worked, felt and reacted to the seasons ... they knew their nature and what makes it function. We tend to live in the plastic era ... I'm glad I have a machine in front of me .. but so much is superficial. Sad really.

@ Ian - yes ... here in the UK we are lucky (as you know) from having incredible edifices like Cathedrals, Palaces etc - while today's buildings we seem to knock down so easily: mind you some of them are awful!

@ Karen - yes of course I had to give it a go ... when I booked the hip was well healed, so a couple of months or six weeks later - it was even better: seems to be anyway! I'm just delighted you enjoyed the history, details etc ..

@ Tammy - I am recovered I think - thank you. The Cathedral (not castle!) is stunningly attractive and will be more so once it has been cleaned - I loved the leaded roof.

@ Mark - yes .. but if they open up and do more tours, which they are considering for money raising ... I may perhaps go again. I keep my eyes open for work that's happening and interesting things to go and look at. Delighted you enjoyed the post.

Thanks everyone - so pleased this resonated with you all and lovely to see your comments ... cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

What a very interesting post ! I have been in Canterburry once, but loooong time ago ! I think it was in 1997 when Mr. G. and his English class made an excursion to Canterburry. Now I want to go back !

Nilanjana Bose said...

Fascinating! Love that the local community is being involved in the process. Really liked the photo of the gilded face too, keeping watch over the restoration :-) and very glad to hear the hip is doing so well.

Best always,

Annalisa Crawford said...

We are so lucky to have such old buildings, and craftspeople who can restore them with such sympathy.

Welcome back to the blogosphere, Hilary :-)

Annalisa Crawford said...

We are so lucky to have such old buildings, and craftspeople who can restore them with such sympathy.

Welcome back to the blogosphere, Hilary :-)

Jo said...

I visited the cathedral many years ago (after all I lived in Kent) but was often in Canterbury so I know what you mean about narrow streets. Fascinating stuff Hilary. I wouldn't have been able to climb ladders any more. It is incredible how those builders managed to build such incredible monuments and knew how to account for movement too. I am so glad it is being restored and that such care is being taken. Thanks for an interesting post. I will come back to follow your links. What about Westminster Abbey, Have they done or are they doing restoration there? I can't remember.

Jo said...

And then there is the Lincoln Cathedral, what about that?

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Are you getting up and down off ladders? BE careful if so.

These are beautiful buildings and windows. A window is important to any dwelling. My new office has none, only a door. I'm thinking about simulating windows by enlarging photographs.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Like Alex said, it must be a nightmare keeping track of all the items they remove and in what order! That must have a wonderful experience. I am glad that your hip was repaired so you could have it. :-)

Paula said...

What a great expedition. I am glad both your hip and you held up. I love those skinny streets with so much activity going on! That was the thing I most loved about Bangkok. So much street activity. Thank you for this lovely education today!!

A Cuban In London said...

Fascinating post. It must have been an amazing experience. :-)

Greetings from London.

Melissa Sugar said...

How is your hip? That was quite a brave adventure you went on. The Cathederal is magnificent. So no one knows what caused the great south window to fail? Did I read your post correctly, they will be restoring it untill the year 2021? I suppose it is quite an ordeal, especially with the narrow, but gorgeous medieval streets. It's a lovely piece of architecture and history. Thanks for sharing. Hope you didn't experience any difficulty with your hip.

Deborah Weber said...

My head spins at the logistics of such a large-scale repair. But how fabulous you got to have such a detailed tour, and then shared with us! And I'm happy you climbed the builder's ladder and wore the hard hats for us as well.

Just the other day I was admiring our little stained glass piano window - it's funny how you can live with something for some many years and then suddenly see it with fresh newly-appreciative eyes. I've decided now, after your wonderful post, that I most definitely need a gilded head watching over me in the studio.

Out on the prairie said...

The last plant in my post is a Bur Oak.

MunirGhiasuddin said...

I am so glad that you have used this amazing opportunity and as a result we get a post full of information. I want to mention this to my brother who is a civil engineer. I am sure he will love to read this. Take care of yourself and please don't overdo any thing. Cheers

Manzanita said...

It sounds like your hip has come full circle and takes you to new and interesting places. I heard hips are like that. LOL That was quite a large piece that fell to the ground. I can see why it's wise to wear a hard hat right now. It's an awe-inspiring building and deserves to be saved. Thank you for the grand tour.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - it is an extraordinary town, with all its medieval architecture still standing and is well worth a visit - easy from here on the train - so next year perhaps?!

@ Nila - yes I was interested in the emphasis of making sure the local community were involved, and offering apprenticeships. I'm sure there's a name for the gilded face - but I don't know what it is ... still your description is very apt. Thanks re the hip.

@ Annalisa - we are lucky having such incredible places that are centuries old and stayed standing. Then the research we've been able to uncover in the records to aid with finding out how things were done. Still searching though! thanks for the welcome back.

@ Jo - I'm sure you visited often - I've only been a few times .. but after the last two visits this year ... I have a better feel for Canterbury and I'd love to go back again.

To think how the Cathedrals and Castles were built is mind boggling isn't it - bad enough today, but 1,000 years ago when stone was demanded ... how they visualised the building and its creation beggars belief. Exactly they were so empathetic to their materials. It's so good the old poor repairs are being sorted as well as stabilising the whole.

Glad you enjoyed the post and it took you back for some memories of your time here ... All the major buildings are being cared for - I'm not certain exactly what is happening with the others. I saw a programme on Westminster Abbey with the Surveyor of the Fabric ... again a monumental task. Lincoln I've no idea about I'm afraid.

I know the conservators at Canterbury have been involved with some churches where specialist skills have been required, and with the recent repair to the Great East Window at York ... another stupendous project. Yet here they found that the Master craftsmen had used different methodologies ... the same at Gloucester Cathedral - so the Surveyors of Fabric are garnering an informed knowledge base - which will be a record for the future.

@ Teresa - yes I am - I don't think about things now's been an amazing successful hip op - I'm lucky. I'd hate to work in a confined space only lit by artificial light - sometimes we do. Thankfully here I have a big picture window ... which is fantastic on a sunny day as today, not so good on a stormy day!

I don't love the idea of the window simulation - but it's a great thought ... a projection of a window with a country view ... it'd stimulate conversation at the school and with the teachers. You could express your 'mood of the day' ...?!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Roland - I do not know how they keep track and with the bowing of the stone! (60mm - 2.36 inches) which they've reinstated into the repair. the detail in the drawings is quite extraordinary, especially with all the repairs necessary. Yes I'm lucky the hip is much improved .. and I walk without pain.

@ Paula - it was something I couldn't miss and now I can walk easily made things so much easier. I'm glad I put in a couple of photos of Canterbury itself .. bringing the medieval aspects to life. I've never been to Bangkok - one day I'd love to go. So pleased I brought back some memories and you've enjoyed the post.

@ ACIL - it was a wonderful day out.

@ Melissa - the hip as you can see is fine. The hip's been so good I've felt able to do most things from very early on ...but have been quite restrained so it settles in properly ... it takes a year-18 months to completely heal.

They think the heat, wear and tear, and the fact the repairs made in the late 1700s - 1800s were not empathetic to the materials used: ancient limestone and timbers.

The restoration of the Cathedral will take til 2021 - but the window repair should be finished by next summer. Both are feats of workmanship. I'm glad you enjoyed it ... and the hip does me well now.

@ Deborah - yes that's a good phrase 'my head span with the logistics too', but I was so pleased I could partake in the tour and learnt so much, which I do enjoy sharing. I was glad of the hard hat!

Ah - that would be fun ... to find a gilded head to watch over you in the studio ... and be lit by your little stained glass window. Go for it!

@ OOTP - thanks for enlightening me re the Bur Oak ... I was coming back to look at the post for your answer.

@ Munir - I'm delighted you so enjoyed the post ... your brother will enjoy the links to the professional pages! I'm fine - I think! .. the hip definitely is doing very well.

@ Manzanita - I am able to do so much more ... as I have no pain and that makes a huge amount of difference. I don't think we'd have been allowed up if the bit we were visiting wasn't safe - Health and Safety is pretty strong in this country. But I am glad I wasn't below - when that bit came away! I'm happy you enjoyed the grand tour.

Thanks everyone - so lovely to see you - today - The Equinox has dawned bright and sunny - similar to the day I went to Canterbury - so Autumn is here. All the best - cheers Hilary

Deborah Barker said...

Eight months on? Really? Wow! Where did all that time go?So good to find you back exploring and a delightfully informative post as always. I knew little of any of it. I am now off to read your other posts (I have been otherwise engaged of late) Debbie X

Fil said...

What a fantastic opportunity Hilary - and well done to you and your hip :)
It is amazing the skills that the mediaeval builders had, that their work is still standing today and in good enough shape to be repaired and learned from. The enormity of a 55 foot high piece of stained glass is mind boggling. We got the chance to visit Canterbury Cathedral once - magnificent building. But this puts a totally different perspective on it.
Fil’s Place - Old songs and Memories

S.A. Larsenッ said...

This is so very cool! I love architecture like this. There is so much history, blood, sweat, and tears soaked into the pores of structures like these. Thanks for sharing your journey and the photos!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debbie - yes and I thought it was 9 ... there we go - time runneth away very fast - especially when one can walk comfortably again!

I saw you had lots going on ... being a grandparent keeps you occupied I know and you've got Flossie et al ... I'm glad you enjoyed this post - it was an incredible opportunity.

@ Fil - yes we succeeded and I was so lucky to be able to go. What you say here is so relevant - their skills 1,000 years ago (longer and shorter) were nothing short of mind-boggling. The stone work is 55 foot high .. the glass panels not quite so big ... but still absolutely extraordinary creations.

I'm happy you can put a different spin onto your earlier visit - now we've been lucky enough to see behind the scenes.

@ Sheri - lovely to see you ... and I'm so pleased you could relate to the building with its history, blood (appropriate here), sweat and tears soaked into the pores of the structures ... delighted you enjoyed sharing my journey and its photos.

Cheers to you three - thanks for visiting and coming with me along the Cathedral path .. Hilary

Inger said...

Now I'm so sorry I never went there when I could have. Your wonderful descriptions will have to suffice and they really do. The cathedral people could hire you as their publicity writer, you are writing about all the different aspects of the renovation in such a captivating manner. This is a lot more than "a sampling of an inkling" of their work, it is a very interesting look into what is being done.

Thanks for all the love you are sending through the ether, or I guess it's not ether any longer, through the cloud, I guess, of our virtual lives. The dogs appreciate the attention as well. We all wish we could come and visit you.

Joanne said...

very cool. I would have loved to do that tour in person, but this post is the next best thing. So glad they are putting so much time, effort, research, and care into the restoration. I admire folks who can reconstruct history and bring it back to its original state, albeit sturdier and ready for another zillion years. Very nice - and glad your hip hung in for the adventure.

Crystal Collier said...

The restorations are amazing. There are some parts of the world where they just let beauties like that fall into shambles, but the cost and effort...

M Pax said...

That is a mammoth restoration project. The amount of work and detail that goes into a single window is mind-boggling. I love the little details inside the building too. Those little gold faces on the ceiling are neat.

beste barki said...

Your post made me think of the Pillars of the Earth by Follet. Such grandeur and I'm glad the cathedral is being restored with care. I must also mention that I'm happy you are back Hilary...

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Hilary, I cannot imagine climbing a ladder in that scaffolding. You are amazing! So glad your hip is doing so well!!!

DMS said...

This is fascinating to look through on your blog- so I can only imagine what the experience was like for you in real life! Absolutely beautiful! I am always in awe when I look at old cathedrals and their intricate details. Thanks for sharing! So happy your hip is better. Yeah!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - oh I am sorry you never got to visit when you lived here years ago .. but I'm delighted you could lose yourself in the post and appreciate what is going on and see some of the work through my eyes.

It's good to connect and I'm happy that you and the dogs enjoy the snippets I send through, or comment on ...

@ Joanne - it looks like they'll be doing more tours in due course and until 2021 ... so should you get to England - you could do one?! The professional approach to the repairs and restoration are amazing and so interesting to see up close and in context - and they are, exactly as you mention, making sure the Cathedral isn't hotpotched together ... but repaired in the best manner known today.

@ Crystal - it's a huge building and thankfully has stayed as a Cathedral and they are looking to the future. Some places just ran out of money - especially over time ... dynasties change etc and the Wars of the last century ... so places ultimately cannot be restored.

@ Mary - mammoth is the word! I didn't put in all I could re the restoration and the intricacies ... it was so interesting to listen to and to see what was happening in situ. Aren't the little gold faces delightful.

@ Beste - what an interesting link - I hadn't heard of this book and certainly hadn't realised the connotation. Fascinating to know about - thank you. The building of a cathedral and the development of Gothic architecture - all set in the 12th century. It will be an interesting read.

Thanks so much for the note re my return - glad to be here.

@ Monti - it really wasn't too bad - some small places. The hip is doing great guns!

@ Jess - it was even better ... such a treat to be able to take the tour and to see what's happening. Now I must return once it's unclad! and can shine in all its new glory.

Thank you all so much for visiting and relating to this amazing structure and its significance in the world today ... cheers Hilary

Vallypee said...

Wasn't that truly an awe-inspiring, awesome in its real sense, experience, Hilary. I can feel your amazement and excitement at having seen all this. Yes, weren't those old craftsmen astonishing - without any of the modern tools we have today. It never ceases to humble me. A great post and a fantastic day for you!

mail4rosey said...

I didn't think the post was muddled. These are the kinds of posts that make me want to continue traveling. :)

Murees Dupè said...

Wow, that is a lot of work going on. For some strange reason I never thought restoration projects take so long. But I know it is needed to get the building back to it's former glory. I bet the new cathedral will be even more beautiful

TexWisGirl said...

some incredible details in that work!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Val - you expressed it so clearly ... I did love it - and would have loved to do it again the next day! So much to see and understand, and experience ... the demands made on those early builders and designers were extraordinary .. but I guess they were like explorers ... testing things out - when things worked, they moved on to bigger projects. It is humbling to think about ... but I do love finding out the hows.

@ Rosey - delighted you enjoyed the post and that it reminded you that travel is a part of your journey ... discovery of new parts of the world.

@ Murees - yes, but it is an enormous structure and there is lots and lots to do: and is very much needed to get the building back to its former glory as well as repaired and restored for future generations. The cleaned part of the building looks beautiful ... and the lead work is amazing.

@ Theresa - yes they did have wonderful artistry ...

Thanks so much for visiting - good to see you .. cheers Hilary

Bossy Betty said...

This post is so interesting. ! The patience and craftsmanship is amazing, isn't it?.

Rhonda Albom said...

Beautiful and really interesting. I was curious about the window, but on the flip side, it's pretty amazing any of the medieval buildings are still around.

Valerie-Jael said...

What a wonderful visit you had, I really envy you seeing all that you did, and how brave to climb up there, too. Hugs, Valerie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Betty - I'm glad I was able to put some of the detail in ... but as you say the patience and craftsmanship is just wonderful to see - I'm so pleased they're restoring it so well and so thoroughly.

@ Rhonda - it was just such an honour to be able to take the tour; I hope at some stage to be able to write a bit more about the Medieval windows - but I needed to get a post up; as you say it is extraordinary to be able to see medieval buildings still, and garner a little bit about how they were built. The architecture is stunning.

@ Valerie - thankfully the climb was relatively easy and all was secure. But the visit and the information offered was just amazing - yes I was lucky, as you say.

Thanks so much ... so glad you enjoyed the post - cheers Hilary

Jenny Woolf said...

What an interesting tour. I know someone who might enjoy doing this so I will make a note and mention it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jenny - it was a great tour ... but I'm not sure when they're going to start them up - or if they will ... perhaps in the Spring: this was a one off - which I wasn't going to miss!

I hope your friend can join a tour when they do start up ... cheers Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

Such beautiful architecture.
Then it's funny to see the Gap store sign amongst the old.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Theresa - it is an incredibly beautiful building ... but the high street names unfortunately we can't stop - though it is incongruous. Good to see you - cheers Hilary

Mike Goad said...

Hi Hilary,

With traveling, we have not had much of a chance to do much online, so we are catching up on stuff now.

This post was very interesting, in two aspects. First, in college, one course, on art history, delved a bit into cathedrals and their construction. Second, years ago, Karen I dabbled in stained glass. We have pieces from that period in our living room and still have some uncut glass of various colors stored away... along with fragments.

One aspect of the old medieval glass that makes it even more fragile is that it's not just stained glass, but the detail is painted onto the glass. The glass is durable... the painting much less so.

Interesting, to be sure.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Mike - yes re your note I realised you were travelling .. so thanks for the visit now.

Interesting you did art history at college and studied the construction of cathedrals.

I'd forgotten you and Karen had tried some stained glass work ... but I didn't set out too well the aspects of the old medieval glass - I really need to write a post on the glass of ages past - once I've read the Canterbury book on their windows.

Thanks for highlighting some areas for me ... cheers Hilary

Emily in Ecuador said...

Thank you for referring this post to me, Hilary. What an incredible experience to see the work so close. I am glad that so many are working to preserve the old work. Hopefully the methods used today will preserve the building for many more generations.