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In part three of our series of posts devoted to Nineteenth Century Architectural Photography we left off at the Ely Cathedral and we forgot to include the photo below in that post. It is a rather large albumen print, so large that it will not reproduce entirely on our scanner as it is mounted on cardboard.

It is not signed and measures 8″x11.5″ (20,5×28,5 cms) and shows The Choir at Ely  with the beautiful carvings above showing various Biblical scenes. There are a total of 19 Churches in England that have the predicate being titled a Cathedral and we surely do not have enough photographs to cover all of them, but you can visit this website and see them all: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/english-cathedrals

The Cathedral of Chester has an absolutely fascinating history; built on the remains of an ancient Druid place of pagan worship and a Roman Temple dedicated to the pagan god Apollo. The structural remains that are here date back to the 700’s A.D. The main church was built after 1092 when descendants of William the Conqueror wanted to construct a great monastery in their administrative capital. It was built in the Romanesque style with rounded arches and solid masonry in imitation of the old churches in Italy.

This view of the Cathedral (from our archive) is seen from the walls that date from the Roman times and has the legend: Chester Cathedral from the walls  Pettitt No.1 (name of the photographer, note there are several Pettitts by that last name) . The following view, we cannot be a 100% sure, but most likely, depict a part of these walls. The ancient City of Chester is famous for these walls dating back to Roman times. This view is also, of course, an albumen print of the same size as the photograph above but not signed.

The Chester Cathedral has some of the finest surviving woodwork dating from around the 1400’s. The wooden carved canopies are visible in the albumen print (from our archive) below.

The canopies were made to absorb and reflect the sound of the choir and to shield the sitting monks from drafts, yes churches are drafty places! This albumen print has the legend Chester Cathedral, the North stills and the words Pettitt no.5 in the bottom right. A fine anecdote about this church goes like this: (although I am not sure the remedy worked as promised)

chester cathedral imp

There is a carved representation of the Devil in chains (shown above), high up in the clerestory windows of the Nave. Apparently, a monk was walking along the upper gallery and saw the Devil looking in the window. The monk was rather worried about this and told the Abbot about it. The Abbot told him to put up a carving of the Devil in chains, so that he would know what would happen to him if he dared to return.

for more go to: http://www.chestercathedral.com/chester-cathedral-home-history.htm

more on Chester you can find here: http://www.chesterwalls.info/cathedral.html

We will now go to our last church in this series of architectural posts with the following question: Who is more “English” and better known than that great Bard? The one who asked ” if a rose shall not smell sweet if by any other name” ?

To meet him we have to travel to this church which sits on the banks of the river Avon since the early twelfth century in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Located in the lovely hearth of the English Midlands region.

The church in question is the Holy Trinity Church. What better way than to have someone else tell the story found below. This is an albumen print from our archive of modest dimensions but with a wonderful reflection of the tower in the water, a view where the great bard could have once stood rehearsing his own words or perhaps would sit down quietly contemplating what he could write for the “publick” that would be going to the theater to see actors perform in stories that would recount the wicked ways of their times in Elizabeth’s England. Labeled 663 on the top and surely by the the hand of Francis Bedford, photographer, although it is not signed as such. Our next albumen view from our archive is of the “Chancel” in this world famous church.This particular view is labeled 657 and is by Bedford as well with Bedford seen at lower right in the label.

From the web but I can not site exactly where unfortunately anymore ( yes sources do get lost) :  WILLIAM SHAKESPEAREthe Bard of Avon, was born in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 on St. George’s day (23rd April) and died on the same day in 1616. Or at least, so it is alleged. No records of births and deaths were made in those days. We do, however have records of his baptism on (April 26th 1564: Gulielimus, filius Johannes Shakspeare) and of his burial on (25th April 1616: Will Shakspeare, Gent). Both these events took place in Holy Trinity Church. It can be fairly safely assumed that he worshipped here as a boy and young man, and again after he retired to his home town.  On the closure of the College by Henry VIII the tithe (tax) income privileges were sold off. The duty of employing a Priest and looking after the Chancel went with the privileges. A share in them was purchased in 1605 for £440 by the son of a local glove-maker, one William Shakespeare. This, and not his ability as a poet and playwright, gave him the right of burial in the chancel. Until the 1790`s there stood a Charnel House to the south of the chancel. Here the bones of those dug up to make room for new graves were laid to rest. Shakespeare obviously didn’t like this idea and had a curse put on his grave slab – not at all uncommon at the time.

This Charnel House, like the College building, has now gone. The right of burial was inherited by Shakespeare’s family. His wife, Ann Hathaway, daughter Suzanna and son-in-law Dr John Hall and Thomas Nash (first husband of Shakespeare’s Grand-daughter Elizabeth) are buried in the chancel alongside him. It has to be said that William Shakespeare probably didn’t do a very good job of looking after the chancel. A few years after his death it was reported to be in ruinous condition. However, he has more than made up for it since.

Hundreds of visitors come each year to visit his grave. The contributions that these visitors make allow us to keep up-to-date with the day-to-day maintenance of the building (paying for heating, lighting cleaning and staffing the Church during the week).

The Birthday Weekend.   Each year, on the Saturday closest to St. George’s Day, Holy Trinity plays host to a marvelous pageant as thousands process through the town to lay flowers on Shakespeare’s grave. The procession is led by the boys of the King Edward VI Grammar School (where he was educated). It includes children from the other local schools, representatives from just about every other organization in the town, members of the company of the RSC, ambassadors from dozens of countries and perplexed tourists who have just stumbled upon it! All file through the church with their floral tributes, to the ringing of the bells and music from the organ. The following day, many of them re-assemble to remember William Shakespeare and to give thanks to God for his life and work at the annual Shakespeare Service.

The place needs some help though so we like to have someone here tell you about it. http://www.shakespeareschurch.org/  

Next: CASTLES and COLLEGES

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