The Cloisters. Basilica Of Saint Paul-Without-The-Walls, Rome. Author: Dnalor 01. Licence (CC-BY-SA 3.0). Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Durham Cathedral (Part Four)

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

The Norman Columns of Durham Cathedral

In 1986, the Cathedral, together with the nearby Castle, became a World Heritage Site. The UNESCO committee classified the Cathedral under criteria C (ii) (iv) (vi), reporting, "Durham Cathedral is the largest and most perfect monument of 'Norman' style architecture in England".

In 1996, the Great Western Doorway was the setting for Bill Viola's large-scale video installation The Messenger. Interior views of the Cathedral were featured in the 1998 film, Elizabeth.

Durham Cathedral has been featured in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where it had a spire digitally added onto the top of the famous towers.

Architectural historian, Dan Cruickshank, selected the Cathedral as one of his four choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series, Britain's Best Buildings.

In November 2009, the Cathedral featured in a son et lumière festival, whose highlight was the illumination of the North Front of the Cathedral, with a 15-minute presentation, that told the story of Lindisfarne and the foundation of the Cathedral, using illustrations and text from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Durham Cathedral's Choir, looking West.
Adapted from Greenwell, p. 32.
Greenwell, William. Durham Cathedral. 
Eighth Edition Durham: Andrews and Company, 1913. NA971 D96G8.
Copyright MAS.
The copyright holder of this project is © Alison Stones. The pages and their images are used by the University of Pittsburgh with her express permission. Permission is granted for reproduction and use of these images for non-profit research and educational purposes only, provided Alison Stones or any of the other image copyright holders participating in the project is properly attributed as the copyright owner on each and every image reproduced and used. Any further use or reproduction of these images without the express written consent of Alison Stones is prohibited. 

Durham Cathedral is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and flying buttresses or 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.

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.

Durham Cathedral at Sundown.
Photograph by Robin Widdison.
2006-08-04 (original upload date).
Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here
Transfer was stated to be made by User:Jalo.
Original uploader was Robin Widdison at en.wikipedia
Released into the public domain (by the author).
(Wikimedia Commons).

"Durham is one of the great experiences of Europe to the eyes of those who appreciate architecture, and to the minds of those who understand architecture. The group of Cathedral, Castle, and Monastery on the rock can only be compared to Avignon and Prague." (Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England).

"I paused upon the bridge, and admired and wondered at the beauty and glory of this was grand, venerable, and sweet, all at once; I never saw so lovely and magnificent a scene, nor, being content with this, do I care to see a better." (Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Durham Cathedral, The English Notebooks).

'With the Cathedral at Durham, we reach the incomparable masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, not only in England but anywhere. The moment of entering provides for an architectural experience never to be forgotten, one of the greatest England has to offer.' (Alec Clifton-Taylor, 'English Towns' series on BBC television).

"I unhesitatingly gave Durham my vote for best Cathedral on planet Earth." (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island.").

"Grey towers of Durham. Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles. Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot. And long to roam those venerable aisles. With records stored of deeds long since forgot.". (Sir Walter Scott, Harold the Dauntless, a poem of Saxons and Vikings set in County Durham).



  1. Durham Cathedral was a most enjoyable series,

    Thank you.

    1. John. So pleased you found the Durham series of interest. Thank you for your Comments.


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