Gloucester crypt tour

Gloucester Cathedral crypt tour, 3 pounds for an adult at 11:30 and every hour or so from then on.  There is also a Tower tour and a library tour where you ascend 38 steps to what was once the monastery library with some old manuscripts. with the intense destructions of the iconoclasts of the Reformation though, I wonder that there is  anything left. I asked the guide today about relics but he said that he didn't know and if there were, they were destroyed in 1540. The only reason Henry VIII didn't destroy the cathedral was because Edward II was buried there and he had some respect for ancestors.

It was nice to have a tour; I was one of six people. As far as crypts go, this one is pretty stark with none of the creepy atmosphere of many crypts I have been in previously. It may be because Gloucester is built over a swamp and they couldn't dig too deep as it fills with water down there at times. The columns, piers and arches are massive in the Norman style. However, it was pointed out that the arches are too wide to adequately support the root and there is always danger inherent in the whole Cathedral structure. Also, if the swamp dries out with the clay soil, the architectural elements such as the roof, walls, etc. would sink and destroy the integrity of the building causing its collapse.

On the other side of the crypt away from the radiating chapels the floor was dirt, as you can see on the left. When the Victorians fixed up the cathedral, they dug out a huge pile of bones from previous burials during Roman times and very nicely took them out and gave them a decent burial (not sure where). The raised the floor and left rectangular openings around each pillar to allow for the drainage of water. The temperature in the crypt was very cold, refreshing on a hot day like today.


I took my time after the tour to wander around the cathedral, circled the side aisles a couple of times and somehow couldn't find the exit/entrance I had come in. I gave up and left at the door nearest to the gift shop. It's not too claustrophobic in the crypt since it does have small arched windows because the inability to dig down too far. During WWII, half of the original Medieval stained glass window was brought down to the crypt along with the burial coffin of either Edward II or the eldest son of William the Conqueror. A very top secret  wooden container was placed next to the coffin and no one knew about its contents until after the war when it was revealed that it held the 14th century Coronation Chair of the King's of England - the white rock you see under the seat is called the stone of destiny.

For some reason, that tour tired me out and I didn't want to go on the optional cloisters tour offered by our guide. That's me sometimes, I get annoyed listening to docents or guides too much. Anyway, he could answer my quetions about the possible relics that the Cathedral initially possessed. I think I may have mentioned in an earlier post about the arm relic of a saint or a bishop or something. And everyone who knows a little art history, knows that every altar was required to have a relic by decree of the Pope in the early 11th century. That means every apsidal chapel as well as the main altar. There were also altars in the crypt. well, actually only one that remained. Dead monks would be brought to a room in the crypt where the other monks which  keep an overnight vigil. I sometimes thinkt hat was to ensure that the deceaed waa really deadand not just in a coma. In 1540, if there were relics, which I'm sure there were, they would have been destroyed and statues of saints smashed, with paintings of saints whitewashed over. A kind of damnation memoriae which has been a custom from the time of the Egyptians and maybe even before them.  I've had enough of medieval English churches now and look forward to Wales, making a wax figure and learning about the lost wax process in making a bronze up to 4 lbs. in weight. It will be time to start discarding some thingts to make room for the new items even though I haven't bought much

If anyone has any suggestions for a bronze, please email me. I could make a bronze Egyptian cat but was thinking a Greek crouching Aphrodite or Athena would be nice.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Naughty Egyptian Graffiti

Ancient Graffiti

Bansky's West Bank Street Art