Robert Louis Stephenson said “I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.” – Robert’s grandfather also named Robert began the tradition of lighthouse building The author’s father and two uncles were also lighthouse keepers. If you’d like to know more then Bella Bathuhurst’s book The Lighthouse Stephensons is for you.
Charles Dickens wrote this description of Canterbury Cathedral in David Copperfield which drew on his own childhood experiences after his father was imprisoned for debt. “The rooks were sailing about the cathedral towers; and the towers themselves, overlooking many a long unaltered mile of the rich country and its pleasant streams, were cutting the bright morning air as if there were no such thing as change on earth.”
“Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.” Henry Kissinger won a Nobel prize having served in Richard Nixon’s administration.
Thomas Carlyle, also known as the Sage of Chelsea, said “The old cathedrals are good, but the great blue dome that hangs over everything is better.”
“Cathedrals, luxury liners laden with souls, Holding to the east their hulls of stone.” – W.H. Auden wrote this line in On this Island.
“The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.” – Ken Follett wrote two books which featured the town of Kingsbridge – The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End which is placed two hundred years after the first novel. For those of you looking for something historical to get your teeth into there are the books and a mini-series featuring Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen and Eddie Redmayne.
“The most solid thing was the light. It smashed through the rows of windows in the south aisle, so that they exploded with colour, it slanted before him from right to left in an exact formation, to hit the bottom yard of the pillars on the north side of the nave. Everywhere, fine dust gave these rods and trunks of light the importance of a dimension. He blinked at them again, seeing, near at hand, how the individual grains of dust turned over each other, or bounced all together, like mayfly in a breath of wind. He saw how further away they drifted cloudily, coiled, or hung in a moment of pause, becoming, in the most distant rods and trunks, nothing but colour, honey-colour slashed across the body of the cathedral. Where the south transept lighted the crossways from a hundred and fifty foot of grisaille, the honey thickened in a pillar that lifted straight as Abel’s from the men working with crows at the pavement.” – The author of this rather lengthy quote about the building of Salisbury Cathedral is William Golding better known for his work The Lord of the Flies. The book featuring Salisbury Cathedral is called The Spire.
“If you seek his monument, look around.” – whose epitaph is this and where can it be found? This particular epitaph can be found in St Paul’s Cathedral on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren, Seventeenth Century London’s great church builder.
“Along the sculptures of the western wall I watched the moonlight creeping: It moved as if it hardly moved at all Inch by inch thinly peeping Round on the pious figures of freestone, brought And poised there when the Universe was wrought To serve its centre, Earth, in mankind’s thought.” Thomas Hardy wrote about Salisbury Cathedral after visiting it he is best known for his novels set in Wessex.
“Somehow, cathedrals have contrived to snap free of the sectarian exclusivity of the parish church. They answer to a longing for congregation and communal space. Their key is a quality unfashionable to social analysis, the offer of solitude with beauty. You need not to be of faith to sit quietly and contemplate the loveliness of a cathedral. As a dean once hinted to me in a whisper, “Here we don’t bang on about God.” Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian and wrote the book called England’s Cathedrals.
yes I know but good read thanks. At Ripon the best and most amazing carving on an elephant adorns a bench end in the Choristers hall near aisle to alter. I often wondered why. Maybe the indian Raj but really too early I suspect as rest are 12th century mostly. If you ever find out why its carved and standing there I would be grateful for that said information.
The elephant and castle is an early example. There are others elsewhere – and you’ve given me a topic for a post. Thank you.