Peterborough Cathedral : England
|Majestic Peterborough cathedral|
The magnificent Peterborough Cathedral is in the English town of Peterborough, 37 miles north of Cambridge. The high-speed train for Peterborough departs from King’s Cross station in London, taking approximately 45 minutes to reach its destination. Peterborough is on the train route to York and Edinburgh.
Before travelling to the UK I discovered through my research that Peterborough is not a popular tourist destination. The tour guides talk about the magnificent cathedral and the shopping, many claiming that is all there is to Peterborough. The town is a blend of new and old due to WWII bombing, the museum is small and the river isn’t pretty. Personally, shopping is shopping to me and I wouldn’t travel to a town purely for its shopping. So yes, the Cathedral is the main attraction of Peterborough, although the council is building its tourism profile, see www.visitpeterborough.com.
If you are travelling to York or Edinburgh by train, I recommend getting off at Peterborough and spending an hour or two to visit the town’s amazing cathedral. It is within easy walking distance from the train station. My friend and I spent over an hour exploring the interior of this cathedral, its historical sites and the permanent exhibition. The exhibition details the history of the Cathedral and the daily life of a Benedictine monk.
I know England has many cathedrals, many in towns that have other tourist attractions to visit but honestly this is not just a beautiful cathedral but also one steeped in history. If you are an English history buff then this is a must.
As you approach the cathedral you get a real sense of history and space. The grounds are spacious and surrounded by the old, beautifully-kept buildings and a sign stating that services have been held here for over 1,000 years. Once inside through the large wooden doors the sense of space is reinforced with the majestically high ceilings and wide open space greeting you.
Entry into the Cathedral is free of charge although donations are welcome. You are required to pay a small fee for a photo permit if you wish to use a still or video camera. I recommend you pay the fee, there is much to take photos of and the natural light is reasonable enough for photography.
A Monastic Church was founded on the site in 655. The Danes destroyed it in 870. It was rebuilt and re-consecrated in 972, then burned down in an accidental fire in 1116. It was rebuilt into its present format between 1118 and 1238.
During the civil war much damage was done to the Cathedral by Cromwell’s troops. The Lady Chapel, Chapter House and Cloister were destroyed. Fragments of the stained glass were saved and later pieced together to form the apse windows. The choir stalls, Bishop’s throne, marble floor and high altar were all created by the Victorian architect Pearson after the tower was re-built.
In the 1960s new figures were added to the West Front. The hanging cross was added to the Nave in the 1970s. In November 2001 there was a disastrous fire. The massive cleaning and restoration program as a result of this fire is continuing.
The impressive Norman architectural nave has three storeys. Its unique wooden ceiling dates back to 1230 and is one of the earliest of its kind in England. The original detailed painting of the ceiling has been preserved and is hard to capture on film.
I was most impressed with the carved figures on the choir stalls. Again the detail and beauty were hard to capture on film but you can’t ignore them, you have to stop and take a close look at the craftsmanship of the carvings. Each day these stalls are used for worship, where people sit to listen to prayers and psalms.
I returned to the Cathedral in the evening to see it lit up and hear the choirboys sing. The lovely harmonic voices of the choir added beauty to my vision and memory of this magnificent cathedral.