Cathedrals cover all corners of the land. The striking red sandstone of St Magnus in Kirk-wall, Orkney, in the far north, comes as a sur-prising novelty to those people accustomed to the rather pale limestone of England.
The most westerly cathedral is in the Welsh county of Dyfed. The 39 steps of John Buchan’s thriller are actually those leading down to the south door of St David’s. The most southerly is Truro in Cornwall, a Gothic Revival design of 1881 which looms large above the town in imitation of a French cathedral, learn more at this compare lille hotels website.
Cathedrals have long served as burial places for the great and the good of the nation, and royal tombs have a peculiar magic: they allow us to come tantalisingly close to the characters that fill our history books.
In the crypt of Worcester you can behold the funerary effigy of King John and consider his stained reputation. Pay your respects at the ornate tomb of Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral and reflect that a king’s lot was often not a happy one. There can be no regicide more cruel than that suffered by poor Edward who was despatched with a red hot poker. His howls of agony are heard no more, but their memory lingers on.
In Westminster Abbey you encounter a veritable galaxy of kings and queens, a virtual Who’s Who of British monarchs extending from Edward the Confessor to George II, and including the arch rivals Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. The eastern end of Westminster Abbey, known as the Henry VII Chapel, was begun by the founder of the Tudor dynasty as a Lady Chapel, but his son Henry VIII oversaw its completion as a royal mausoleum.
Cathedrals are, of course, much more than the sum of their parts, but there is endless pleasure to be derived from exploring their various nooks and crannies. The chapter house at Lincoln possesses the dynamism of an exploding Roman candle, while that at Southwell is a medieval sculpture gallery without equal, you can find something more here.
Hours can be spent examining stained gloss. Its aim was didactic as well as decorative, providing the illiterate with vast picture books of Bible stories. Some of the best and oldest stained glass is at Canterbury Cathedral. Look carefully for the scene representing pilgrims visiting the once magnificent shrine of St Thomas a Becket, which was Canter-bury’s main attraction and source of revenue until destroyed on the order of Henry VIII.