After my disappointment at Liverpool Anglican cathedral, I thought I’d balance things out with an account of Durham Cathedral, a place I’ve never been, but the wonderful music journalist Stuart Maconie has. This is from his book ‘Pies and Prejudice’ in which he cites Pevsner with:
Durham is one of the great experiences of Europe to those who understand architecture. The group of cathedral, castle and monastery on the rock can only be compared to Avignon or Prague.
I’ve never been to either, but this sounds pretty impressive. Maconie continues with
Climbing from the wooded cliff sides and onto Palace Green is like stepping out of the north of chips, pies and draught bitter and into an episode of Brother Cadfael. There should be vans selling mead.
He claims that unless you know your architecture, big cathedrals all look alike, but then
it is truly stunning. I thought as I always do when entering one of these places of how powerful, how terrifying even, the presence of God must have been in the lives of rich and poor alike to make them build these edifices – not just build them but so skilfully and impressively, that just entering makes you feel oddly godly. The sheer authority of the place almost forces you to your knees, like giant hand on your shoulder. Durham Cathedral is religious certainty written in unyielding stone and stained glass; a vast, daunting embodiment of an unprovable, abstract idea, I mused in its vaulted silence. For about ten minutes. Then I went off to find the cafe.
Image sources: wikipedia, flikr