More Photos from Winchester Cathedral

Trip Start Jul 06, 2011
Trip End Aug 04, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, July 16, 2011

There is a legend around St. Swithun's Day, which was the 15th, that if it rains there will be 40 days of rain.  The day began bright and sunny, all looked promising.  But as I left the concert at 8:30 it was misting.  Uh oh.  This morning it was raining.  A very bad sign.  But now the clouds have broken up and the sun is out.  Has the legend been proven wrong?  Time will tell.

Last night's concert was amazing.  I wish that I could have taken a photograph of the choirs in their colourful regalia.  They began by singing Thomas Tallis' If Ye Love Me from the south transept which was ethereal.  They then came in with the men singing Gregorian chant just like the monks of old had done in the cathedral's monastery days.  For me, the Renaissance music was the most exciting, however there was a piece by contemporary composer Sebastian Forbes, Gracious Spirit, which was delightful.

Today we have Choral Evensong and the Festival Concert with the boys and the lay clerks this evening.  During evensong they will be singing Gerald Finzi's Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice, which I am told is stunning.  The concert will begin in glorious style with William Walton's Coronation Te Deum, composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and end with the ever popular Rutter Gloria.  I will be sad to leave this wonderful festival.

This morning, while rehearsal was going on for evensong, I took a few more photos of the cathedral which you might enjoy.  The first is an even better example of the difference between the rounded Romanesque arch and the pointed Gothic arch.  Then, looking up one of the massive columns you see the amazing ribbed vaulting with its carved bosses.  These may very well have been colourfully painted hundreds of years ago, but the paint has long gone by the wayside.

One of Winchester's famous gems is the Winchester Bible, executed between about 1160 and 1175.  Unfortunately, no photography of the Bible is allowed, but recently new banners have been hung in the nave illustrating bits of the Bible.  The banners are very sheer to allow the light to shine through, highlighting the colours and making them appear like stained glass.  This, however, does not make for the best photographic conditions, but here is a sample.  One of the amazing things about this Bible is that the illumination, or painting and gold, was never completed.  There are partially finished bits, and drawings with instructions for colours, all of which helps calligraphers and illuminators to understand the process.

Here are the girls in their school uniforms with the lay clerks in rehearsal.  Normally they would all be in the Quire and not visible from the west end, but with all three cathedral choirs there are too many singers, so they have constructed platforms.

I have managed to get some good photos of the intricate carving in the Quire stalls, but darned if that harp-playing monkey didn't turn out blurry once again.  I guess he is camera shy.  The next photo is of the clergy seating just behind the choir.  I have now sat in the choir seats and in the clergy seats, and can say that those monks must have been really uncomfortable with all of their daily services.  There is a ridge at about the middle of my back in both types of seats that is truly uncomfortable.  I have never squirmed so much during a service or concert in my life!  It must have been meant to keep the monks awake and penitent!

You will have to look carefully at the final photo.  On top of the wall with arches there are two fairly short coffins.  Those are the coffins of two of the Anglo-Saxon kings from before the time of William the Conqueror in 1066.  Those must be some really old bones!

When I purchased the tickets for this festival I decided to splurge on the delicious-sounding lunches.  They have not disappointed!  Today's was cold poached salmon with dill mayonnaise, a wrap of some kind with smoked salmon in it, watercress, a variety of summer salads and a whole-grain roll.  For dessert I chose a creme brulée with clotted cream and a chocolate straw.  It turned out to be ginger-flavoured, one of my favourites!  It turned out that I was sitting next to a fellow who had been a church organist and choir director for his whole career, so we had quite a good chat.  The fellow on the other side was also quite knowledgeable about organs and organ music, but then most of the attendees are either organ fans, choral fans or both.  They all seem to have a lot of knowledge, whether from study or pure enjoyment.

Tomorrow it is up early, have a strong lad carry my heavy suitcase down those nasty stairs, take a taxi to the train station, a train up to London, a taxi across London, a train up to north London where my friends will pick me up.  After a short bit of rest and some refreshment, including the ever-present and very refreshing cup of tea, I will take the train back down to London, and either the Tube or a taxi to Royal Albert Hall to meet Judith Bingham, the subject of my doctoral dissertation.  She is taking me to the afternoon Prom concert where they will be premiering her latest organ composition.  Then it's back to the train station (tube or taxi???) and up to the north again.  That bed will feel awfully good tomorrow night!
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sallye on

So glad you are seeing so many fascinating sights and hearing such lovely music. I am thrilled to see all the photos and learn so much! Thanks!

Kathleen Miller on

I love all your pictures! What a great trip!

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