Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral stands on the south bank of the Thames, near London Bridge and I’ve walked past many times when I’ve been in London both for work and pleasure. After wandering around Borough market we decided to go and have a closer look.

There’s been a church on the site since Norman times, if not earlier. Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church. It only became a cathedral in 1905 when the diocese of Southwark was established.

This is an old drawing of the church  and the nearby old London Bridge from 1616 (source: Wikipedia)

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The famous panorama of London in 1647 by the Czech artist Wenceslas Hollar was drawn from the top of the tower of the church, then known as Saint Saviour’s.

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The present building is mainly Victorian Gothic following the reconstruction of the building, which was in a bad state of repair, in the 19th Century, although there are some remnants of the older structures, particularly in the retro-choir.

Looking down the Nave

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The high alter screen. The original was installed in 1520 but the two rows of statues are in excellent condition and were only added in 1905.

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An older part of the building at the far end of the nave

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Originally the building had a timber roof, but that was replaced during the Victorian restoration. However, a reproduction has been created in the crossing, underneath the tower

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The original roof would have been held together by several hundred carved bosses. Some of the originals have been preserved and are displayed at the far end of the nave. Here’s some of them.

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During Elizabethan times, the Bankside area, south of the Thames, where the church is located, was outside the jurisdiction of the City of London, and became something of a “pleasure garden”  occupied by the bear baiting pits and theatres including the Globe, Rose and Swan. The reconstructed Globe is a short walk away. So, not surprisingly, the cathedral ahs a close connection with the historic dramatists. William Shakespeare’s brother, Edmund, was buried there in 1607. His grave is unmarked, but there’s a commemorative stone in the paving of the choir.

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There is a large stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare, depicting scenes from his plays, at the base of which is an alabaster statue of him reclining, holding a quill.

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There’s also a memorial to Sam Wannamaker, the American actor who left the USA to avoid persecution during the McCarthy era and who inspired the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. (Inspired isn’t the right word, really. He had to fight tooth and nail and put a lot of time, energy and sweat into getting it built)

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John Harvard the founder of Harvard University in the USA was born in the parish, and baptised in the church on 29 November 1607. He is commemorated by the Harvard Chapel in the north transept, paid for by Harvard University alumni resident in England.

There’s an attractive Arts and Crafts style stained glass window in the chapel

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There’s some other attractive stained glass in the church, though the bright autumn sunlight streaming through them made it difficult to take decent photographs.  I rather liked this modern design in the retro-chapel

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Outside there’s a small but attractive garden. Overlooked by Borough Market it’s something of an oasis of peace in a rather hectic neighbourhood.

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There was a recreated Augustinian herb garden at the back of the church. The monks would have grown herbs for both culinary and healing purposes – in medieval times the monks would have tended to the sick which is why many older hospitals have their origins in churches, monasteries and nunneries.

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A view of the shard from the churchyard.

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And a pleasant surprise. I spotted this sculpture in the churchyard. My immediate reaction was that it looked like a work by Peter Randall-Page.

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Checking out the information board confirmed my suspicion

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Unusual Neo-Gothic Building in Glasgow

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One of the buildings that took my eye while I was mooching around Glasgow Merchant City last Monday afternoon was what the British Listed Buildings website describes as a

Bizarrely detailed Gothic warehouse,

I think that just about sums it up! It’s relatively restrained in that there isn’t much decoration or embellishment and looks more like a later Art Nouveau or Glasgow School style building than a typical Victorian Gothic wedding cake.

I particularly liked this eyecatching

unusual semi-octagonal door head with heavily moulded octagonal oculus above.

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I haven’t been able to find much information on it other than from the British Listed Buildings posting, but that does tell us that it was originally a warehouse, that it was built in 1859, and that the architect was R W Billings

The Hatrack

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This distinctive tall, slender, Art Nouveau style listed building at 142 St Vincent St, Glasgow, is popularly known as the Hatrack

It was designed by James Salmon Jnr a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh Salmon, who was affectionately nicknamed “the Wee Troot”, a play on his name (Troot = Trout) and short stature. He was also one of the architects of the Anderston Savings Bank I stumbled upon during my last visit to the city.

The building was constructed between 1899 and 1902. Its name was inspired by the cupola, which has projecting finials that resemble the “pegs” of a hat rack. It was difficult to get a decent snap of it from street level so this is my best effort.

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Above the entrance to the building is an attractive stained glass oriel window with the design of a sailing ship on top of a sculpture of what appears to be a mythical dragon.

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The front of the building is a curtain wall supported on a concrete frame and is mainly glass with only a bare minimum of decorative sandstone. It does rather remind me of a more slender version of Oriel Chambers, built in Liverpool in 1874 and designed by the revolutionary architect, Peter Ellis. This resemblance and likely influence is also noted on the Scotcities website.

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The Martyr’s School

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I’d spotted that the hotel where I was staying in Glasgow was about a 20 minute walk away from one of the earliest buildings associated with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, so I decided to wander over and take a look.

The red sandstone Martyrs’ School on Parson Street in Townhead, to the north of Glasgow city centre, in the same street where Mackintosh was born. It was designed in 1895, around the same time as the Glasgow Herald Building (today known as the Lighthouse). The architects were Honeyman and Keppie, Mackintosh’s employers, who were commissioned by the Glasgow School Board. At the time, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a senior assistant in the practice and his influence can be seen in the building, especially in the details.

When it was built it was surrounded by working class tenement buildings but today they have been demolished.

Interestingly the last of his Glasgow buildings was another school – the Scotland Street School to the south of the Clyde.

Apparently, the inside of the building has a number of features designed by Mackintosh, but it isn’t open to the public so I couldn’t get inside so had to be content with looking around the outside. The late afternoon light wasn’t brilliant and my photos aren’t so great, unfortunately.

The front and rear entrances certainly bear the hallmarks of Mackintosh

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as well as the upper floor on the west side of the building

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Street haunting in Glasgow

I was up in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday for some meetings. I took a train up late morning and when I arrived had a few hours before my first commitment so decided to have a mooch around the city centre. It’s a city with plenty of character and interesting architecture. Here’s a few snaps I took during the short time I had street haunting, mainly round the Merchant City area.

Shrewsbury Abbey

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Shrewsbury Abbey is a large Medieval church standing on the opposite side of the English Bridge from the old city centre. As with many old churches it’s been altered and adapted over time and, consequently, displays a mixture of styles – Romanesque, Gothic (the later, Perpendicular style) and Victorian Neo-Gothic.

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It was founded as a Benedictine Monastery by Roger de Montgomery in 1083 although there had been a Saxon church on site before the Conquest.

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The church which survives today was originally part of a complex of buildings which, other than a few remnants, are long gone – some demolished following the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII and others by Thomas Telford when he built the main road that runs alongside the Abbey.

After the dissolution of the monasteries there were plans for the church to be designated a Cathedral, but that never came to fruition. It continued to serve as a place of worship, though, as a rather grand Parish Church.

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The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, written by Ellis Peters, are inspired by medieval Shrewsbury. Cadfael is a Welsh Benedictine monk at the Abbey in the first half of the 12th century. He was played by Dereck Jacobi in the TV series of the stories, although it was filmed in Hungary rather than Shrewsbury.

The Abbey used to have a shrine to St Winifride, a 7th Century Welsh saint. In the 12th Century Monastaries wanted to have relics which would attract Pilgrims and earn them ncome so the Abbot had the remains of Winifride brought from her place of burial in Gwytherin in North Wales. The shrine was destroyed and the relics can now be found in Shrewsbury’s Roman Catholic cathedral and Holywell in North Wales. However, there’s a window devoted to the saint in the Abbey, installed in 1992, designed by stained glass artist Jane Gray.

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There’s also a window by the same artist celebrating the fictional monk, Cadfael.

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The Abbey was built in the Romanesque (Norman) style with substantial round pillars supporting rounded arches and a substantial part of the original building still stands in the central section of the Nave.

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It was remodelled in the 14th Century when the tower was built. This required replacing the Romanesque arches at the west end of the nave with bays with stronger pointed Gothic arches supported by slender columns.

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After the dissolution the west end of the Abbey was closed off and fell into ruin. There was a wall at the end of the Romanesque nave. The west end was rebuilt in a Neo- Gothic style during the Victorian era, designed by John Loughborough Pearson.

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IMG_2331A new clerestorey was also created above the Romanesque and Gothic nave.

 

A war memorial tablets close to the west entry of the church includes the name of the First World War  poet Wilfred Owen.

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Outside the Abbey, there are still some remnants of the monastery

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A day in Shrewsbury

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After we’d checked out of our apartment in Arden House, Church Stretton, we drove the 10 miles or so to Shrewsbury to take a look round the historic city. It’s only a few miles from the Welsh Border and so was a major outpost of the Marcher Lords in Medieval times. In the 14th and 15th centuries it was an important commercial centre, mainly due to the wool trade. The city was largely bypassed by the Industrial Revolution due to its isolation from other large manufacturing towns and ports, which probably accounts for the preservation of it’s Medieval centre.

We parked up in the Park and Ride. The centre of the city is still based on the old Medieval street plan and constrained within a loop of the River Severn (almost creating an island), so driving in the city centre is best left to the locals. It’s free to park and the bus fare was very reasonable – a lot cheaper than a city centre car park.

The bus dropped us off in High Street, close to the old Market Hall

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Today the old building has been converted into a cinema showing Art films.

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The town centre is packed with timber-framed black & white buildings, steep narrow streets and alleyways. There are over 660 listed buildings. I probably went rather OTT taking photographs of them!

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There are old buildings from other periods too, particularly Georgian

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After a coffee and a bite to eat, we wandered over to the old castle. It’s a red sandstone building constructed during the reign of Edward I (1239 – 1307). It was built on the site of a Norman timber Castle was built for Roger de Montgomery in about 1070.

Admission to the Castle grounds are free, with a charge to enter the Castle and which houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum.

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Directly across the road from the castle, this building is the city library.

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The building was the home of Shrewsbury Public School from 1550 until 1882 when it was handed over to the Council and converted to a public “Free Library and Museum”, opening in 1885. Charles Darwin was born and educated in Shrewsbury, and attended Shrewsbury School when it was located in the building. There’s a statue of him right in front of it.

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Near to Darwin, there’s a bust of the Shropshire author, Mary Webb.

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Shrewsbury Abbey stands across the English Bridge (one of the two bridges that cross the Severn in the city centre).

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The Abbey was founded as a Benedictine Monastery by Roger de Montgomery in 1083 on the site of an existing Saxon church. After the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII the part of the Abbey building which survived continued as a Parish Church – as it is to this day. (Abbey web site)

It’s also the “home” of the fictional detective monk, Cadfael.

We arrived just as one of their regular midday concerts was starting. IMG_2325

We decided to sit and enjoy the music before exploring the building.

Afterwards the sun was beginning to shine so we crossed the English Bridge and took a stroll along the river.

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On reaching the Welsh Bridge (with the Theatre Severn Arts complex on the other side of the river) we headed back towards the city centre

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We grabbed a coffee and then wandered round the streets and alley ways ending up at the ruins of Old St Chads church.

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Originally, there was a large medieval church on the site. However

by the end of the 18th century the large but ageing building …….. had fallen into disrepair, and cracks had appeared in the tower. The great engineer, Thomas Telford, advised that it was in danger of collapse, and he was right. One morning in 1788 the parishioners awoke to find they had a pile of rubble but no church. (St Chad’s website)

Today, all that’s left is a side chapel surrounded by a disused churchyard

By now time was getting on, so it was time to catch the bus back to the Park and Ride and set off on the journey back home after a good break in Shropshire.