Category Archives: Cathedrals

Italianate Church – Wilton

Italianate Church
Italianate Church

If you are planning a trip to the Salisbury area to see Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral, why not drop into nearby Wilton and see this very interesting church?

Italianate Church – First Impressions

Your first impression will be a bit of cognitive dissonance: in the midst of an undistinguished Wiltshire market town is a very elegant Italian church complete with a free-standing campanile (bell tower). The church is set back from the street and has the rounded arches typical of Romanesque buildings. The rose window is a bit unusual for a Romanesque church and adds a bit of lightness to offset the solid, bulky look.

History

By the 1800s the medieval church of St Mary on this site had fallen into disrepair. The Hon. Sidney Herbert, a younger son of the 11th Earl of Pembroke, provided a large portion of the funds needed to build a new church. Herbert was apparently a fan of the Italianate architecture that was in vogue in the first half of the 19th Century contributed and commissioned Thomas Henry Wyatt to design a church in that style. The church was completed in 1845.

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Amiens Cathedral – Notre Dame d’Amiens

Amiens Cathedral – First Impressions

Amiens is a large and imposing building constructed on a low hill in the centre of Amiens.   The shape is typical of medieval Gothic cathedrals in France with a long nave and two large, squarish towers. Above the roof at the junction of nave and transepts a tall, narrow spire rises. Similar to the 19th Century spire of Notre Dame de Paris, this one is somewhat more authentic, having been completed in 1533 after the original spire was destroyed by fire, and then shortened in 1627 after a wind storm.

The West Facade is  decorated by a large collection of statuary as well as three decorated portals. There is also a fine entrance – the Portal of the Golden Virgin – in the south transept.

Amiens Cathedral - Statuary
Statuary on the West Facade

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St Albans Cathedral

St Alban's Cathedral. Photo by Rob Hinkley
St Albans
Photo by Rob Hinkley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

St Albans Cathedral was built on the site of a Saxon abbey. Construction started in 1077 CE and finished in 1089.

For most of its history it was known as St Alban’s Abbey before it became a cathedral in 1877.

General Layout

Formal name: The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

First Impressions: St Albans is a rather squat building. It does not soar above the skyline, but hunkers down giving an impression of solidity and permanence, as though it rises directly from the bedrock.

It is hemmed in by the city and cathedral outbuildings on one side but a wide field on the Southwest side provides a good view.

Style: A melange. Started out as a Norman (Romanesque) abbey. The Norman arches are visible under the central tower and on the north side of the nave. The remainder of the construction is Gothic, mainly in the decorated and perpendicular styles. There is a chapter house but no cloister

Patron Saint: The first Christian martyr in Britain, Alban of Verulamium was a Roman citizen who was beheaded for professing his faith (c. 250 CE).

Key Features

  • Materials. Most of the fabric of the St Albans Cathedral including the tower is constructed from bricks salvaged from the Roman town of Verulamium
  • Size. At 84 metres (276 ft), its nave is the longest of any cathedral in England
  • Massive Norman tower
  • Medieval wooden ceilings in the nave
  • Shrine and reliquary of St Alban
  • Replica of the medieval clock designed by Richard of Wallingford

Planning your visit to St Albans Cathedral

  • The Cathedral is open all year round and entry is free
  • Photography is permitted
  • The Abbot’s Kitchen tearoom provides good food at a reasonable price. We found it welcoming and cozy on a chilly day.
  • St Alban’s is about a 30 minute train ride from Blackfriars railway station, so it makes a very easy day trip from London. The city itself has an medieval downtown with some interesting shops and decent looking pubs.
  • The cathedral website is at this link
Tower - St Albans Cathedral
The tower, built of bricks scavenged from Roman Verulamium.
Architectural styles - St Albans Cathedral
Looking up the nave. Note wooden ceilings. Norman architecture on the left; Gothic on the right.
DSC_0127_043
Changing styles: Old English Gothic windows on the right; Decorated Gothic on the left.

 

Image of the reliquary and shrine - St Alban's Cathedral
St Alban’s reliquary and shrine

 

St Alban's Cathedral
Looking up at the Norman tower.

 

 

Astronomical clock - St Alban's Cathedral
Astronomical clock (replica)

Chapel vaulting - St Albans Cathedral
Vaulting in a chantry chapel

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Albans_Cathedral
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_the_medieval_cathedrals_of_England
  3. Herbert, Ailsa, Pam Martin and Gail Thomas editors (2008) St Albans: Cathedral and Abbey (Scala Publishers: London)