Curiosities Of County Durham

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All listings for this product Buy it now Buy it now. The Galilee Chapel also holds the remains of the Venerable Bede. The main entrance to the cathedral is on the northern side, facing the Castle. Le Poore employed the architect Richard Farnham to design an eastern terminal for the building in which many monks could say the Daily Office simultaneously.

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The resulting building was the Chapel of the Nine Altars. In , the original roof of the cathedral was replaced by a vault which is still in place. The towers also date from the early 13th century, but the central tower was damaged by lightning and replaced in two stages in the 15th century, the master masons being Thomas Barton and John Bell. The Bishop of Durham was the temporal lord of the palatinate, often referred to as a Prince-bishop. The bishop competed for power with the Prior of Durham Monastery , a great landowner who held his own courts for his free tenants.

An agreement dated about , known as Le Convenit was entered into to regulate the relationship between the two magnates. The Shrine of Saint Cuthbert was located in the eastern apsidal end of the cathedral. The location of the inner wall of the apse is marked on the pavement and Saint Cuthbert's tomb is covered by a simple slab. However, an unknown monk wrote in The body of the Saint was exhumed, and according to the Rites of Durham , was discovered to be uncorrupted.


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It was reburied under a plain stone slab now worn smooth by the knees of pilgrims, but the ancient paving around it remains intact. Two years later, on 31 December , the Benedictine monastery at Durham was dissolved, and the last Prior of Durham , Hugh Whitehead , became the first dean of the cathedral's secular chapter.

It is estimated that as many as 3, were imprisoned of whom 1, died in the cathedral itself, where they were kept in inhumane conditions, largely without food, water or heat. The prisoners destroyed much of the cathedral woodwork for firewood but Prior Castell's Clock , which featured the Scottish thistle , was spared.

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It is reputed that the prisoners' bodies were buried in unmarked graves see further, '21st century' below and the survivors were shipped as slave labour to the American Colonies. Bishop John Cosin in office — , previously a canon of the cathedral, set about restoring the damage and refurnishing the building with new stalls, the litany desk and the towering canopy over the font. An oak screen to carry the organ was added at this time to replace a stone screen pulled down in the 16th century.

On the remains of the old refectory , Dean John Sudbury founded a library of early printed books. During the 18th century the Deans of Durham often held another position in the south of England and after spending the statutory time in residence, would depart southward to manage their affairs. Consequently, after Cosin's refurbishment, there was little by way of restoration or rebuilding.

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When work commenced again on the building, it was not always of a sympathetic nature. In the architect George Nicholson, having completed Prebends' Bridge across the Wear, persuaded the dean and chapter to let him smooth off much of the outer stonework of the cathedral, thereby considerably altering its character. In the architect James Wyatt drew up extensive plans which would have drastically transformed the building, including the demolition of the Galilee Chapel, but the Chapter changed its mind just in time to prevent this happening.

Wyatt renewed the 15th-century tracery of the Rose Window, inserting plain glass to replace what had been blown out in a storm. In the architect Anthony Salvin removed Cosin's wooden organ screen, opening up the view of the east end from the nave, [26] [27]. The Victorian restoration of the cathedral's tower in was by the architect George Gilbert Scott , working with Edward Robert Robson who went on to serve as Clerk of Works at the cathedral for six years.

There is also a statue of William Van Mildert , the last prince-bishop — and driving force behind the foundation of Durham University. In the s, under the inspiration of Dean Cyril Alington , work began on restoring the Shrine of Saint Cuthbert behind the High Altar as an appropriate focus of worship and pilgrimage, and was resumed after the Second World War. The four candlesticks and overhanging tester c. Two large batik banners representing Saints Cuthbert and Oswald, added in , are the work of Thetis Blacker. Mark Angus' Daily Bread window dates from In , the cathedral, together with the nearby Castle, became a World Heritage Site.

In its discussion of the significance of the Cathedral, Historic England provided this summary in their report: [35].

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The relics and material culture of the three saints buried at the site. The continuity of use and ownership of the site over the past years as a place of religious worship, learning and residence; The site's role as a political statement of Norman power imposed upon a subjugate nation, as one of the country's most powerful symbols of the Norman Conquest of Britain; The importance of the site's archaeological remains, which are directly related to the site's history and continuity of use over the past years; The cultural and religious traditions and historical memories associated with the relics of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, and with the continuity of use and ownership of the site over the past millennium.

At the beginning of this century two of the altars in the Nine Altars Chapel at the east end of the Cathedral were re-dedicated to Saint Hild of Whitby and Saint Margaret of Scotland : a striking painting of Margaret with her son, the future king David by Paula Rego was dedicated in The remains of some of these prisoners have now been identified in a mass grave uncoverered during building works in just outside the Cathedral precinct near Palace Green.

In former monastic buildings around the cloister, including the Monks' Dormitory and Prior's Kitchen, were re-opened to the public as Open Treasure , an extensive exhibition displaying the Cathedral's history and possessions. In November the cathedral featured in the Lumiere festival whose highlight was the "Crown of Light" [39] illumination of the North Front of the cathedral with a minute presentation that told the story of Lindisfarne and the foundation of cathedral, using illustrations and text from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The Lumiere festival was repeated in , , , and Durham Priory held many manuscripts; in the 21st century, steps were under way to digitise the books, originating from the 6th to the 16th century. The project was being undertaken in a partnership by Durham University and Durham Cathedral. The Cathedral Church and the Cloister is open to visitors during certain hours each day, unless it is closed for a special event. In a new "Open Treasure" exhibition area opened featuring the 8th-century wooden coffin of Saint Cuthbert , his gold and garnet pectoral cross, a portable altar and an ivory comb.

In that month, a new exhibit was added, Mapping the World, featuring books, maps and drawings and from the archives, scheduled to run until 18 January There is evidence that the aisle of the choir had the earliest ribbed vaults in the country, as was argued by John Bilson , English architect, at the end of the nineteenth century. Since then it has been argued that other buildings like Lessay Abbey provided the early experimental ribs that created the high technical level shown in Durham.

Interestingly there is evidence in the clerestory walls of the choir that the high vault had ribs. There is controversy between John James and Malcolm Thurlby on whether these rib vaults were four-part or six-part, which remains unresolved.

go to link The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with some of the earliest pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and lateral abutments concealed within the triforium over the aisles. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France a few decades later, doubtless due to the Norman stonemasons responsible, although the building is considered Romanesque overall.

The skilled use of the pointed arch and ribbed vault made it possible to cover far more elaborate and complicated ground plans than before. Buttressing made it possible to build taller buildings and open up the intervening wall spaces to create larger windows. Another United Nations web site states that [47]. The pointed arch was successfully used as a structural element for the first time here in this building. Semi-circular arches were the type used prior to the adoption of the structural pointed arch — the limitations of which is that their height must be proportionate to their width".

Saint Cuthbert 's tomb lies at the east in the Feretory and was once an elaborate monument of cream marble and gold. It remains a place of pilgrimage. The ragments of St Cuthbert's coffin are exhibited at the Cathedral. The cathedral is governed by the chapter which is chaired by the dean. Durham is a "New Foundation" [50] cathedral in which there are not specific roles to which members of the chapter are appointed, with the exception of the Dean and the Van Mildert Professor of Divinity. The other roles, sub-dean, precentor, sacrist, librarian and treasurer, are elected by the members of the chapter annually.