We are heading for Rochester and Chichester Cathedrals, Petworth House and Lancing College Chapel for the annual weekend visit - the greatest of which venues is, arguably, Lancing College Chapel. For so many Friends of Lincoln Cathedral, Lancing College Chapel, which dominates the landscape, was always the heavenly vision set high on the South Downs, passed at speed whilst on the A 27; so near and yet so far.
But Lancing was not the first port of call; so return we must to Rochester Cathedral to spy out two treasures. Staring down from the roof above the crossing are colourful examples of Green Men, originally a pagan fertility symbol. The carved wooden bosses seen today are early Victorian examples, repainted gloriously in 1992. Equally colourful is the fresco by the celebrated Russian iconographer Sergei Fyodorov, dedicated on St John the Baptist’s Day, 24th June 2004, giving a sense of how a mediæval cathedral might once have looked.
Chichester Cathedral, by contrast, is famous for its modern art – a tapestry by John Piper, a painting by Graham Sutherland and most striking of all, a stained-glass window in vibrant hues of red and blue by Marc Chagall based on Psalm 150: ‘O Praise God in his Holiness … let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.’
During the afternoon we join with the Friends of Lancing College for Festal Evensong and a talk by their Chairman, then to Lancing’s various treasures – the crypt, the rose window designed by Stephen Dykes Bower, currently the largest rose window in England, or, perhaps, the blue and yellow stained glass window dedicated in memory of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, an old boy of the College, who spearheaded the movement against oppression and injustice in South Africa during the late 1940s, early 1950s. The window, consecrated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2007, pays testament to Huddleston’s standing and tireless campaigning.
And so to Petworth House. Surrounded by 700 acres of deer park landscaped by Capability Brown, Petworth houses a nationally important collection of paintings and sculptures with numerous works by Turner, Constable, Van Dyke, Reynolds and Blake. For me, Petworth’s overlooked treasure is the small church dedicated to St Mary by the side of the house with its memorials, stained glass and books of remembrance
One hesitates to call Keith ‘a treasure’ in this particular context, but from each of the Friends who spent such an enjoyable weekend: ‘Thank you Keith’, for your enthusiasm and energy in making it all possible.
Carolle A Kerry
Thirty eight new members met for the afternoon. After a welcome and introduction by the Secretary they were given a special tour of the Cathedral followed by Afternoon Tea provided by the Friends in the Cathedral Centre.
Fluffy white clouds in an azure sky, an ‘on-time’ coach, destination Bury St Edmunds via Anglesey … Anglesey Abbey that is, not Anglesey, North Wales. Thus it was that on a late September morning that the Friends of Lincoln Cathedral (from near and far) joined together for another weekend of friendship and discovery.
Anglesey Abbey boasts a Jacobean-style house with a magnificent display of clocks, a passion of its one-time owner Lord Fairfield. However, colourful and fragrant gardens, a working watermill selling freshly ground flour, plus the warmth of the mid-day sun were a temptation that some just could not resist.
Bury St Edmunds beckoned – beckoned us back to bygone eras of 13th century monks and Georgian properties. Imagination worked overtime to supply, through the priory remains, the images of the serenity and prayerfulness of a monk’s life, whilst the wide roads and coaching inn arches suggested the horse and carriages of a later age of elegance.
But for us, the 21st century visitor ensconced in our hotel room, the evening sunlight drew the eye directly to the cathedral the crosses of which glowed, illuminating the crows which sat atop.
Our visits to St Edmunds and Norwich Cathedrals were enhanced by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the respective cathedrals’ Friends who were our guides. St Edmundsbury, with its spectacular stained glass throwing ever-changing patterns of colour on the floor and pillars; the vaulted ceiling made of European oak and spectacularly painted and gilded; the High Altar cross with, behind it, a wrought iron and jewelled reredos were all delights to behold.
Norwich Cathedral is a combination of a mediaeval cum modern-day museum of curiosities – the misericords, some of which date from 1420 sit alongside three others commorating the University of East Anglia, Queen Elizabeth’s visit and most bizarrely Norwich City Football Club; the large brass font once a boiling pan used at the Nestlé chocolate factory; the labyrinth which forms a continuous path and represents the Christian idea of a spiritual journey; the herb garden containing elements of a traditional ‘physic garden’ in the variety of medicinal herbs, and the two box hedge ‘knot gardens’, whose patterns reflect the stone tracery of Norwich Cathedral's renowned roof bosses. Ah! the roof bosses – the cloister bosses certainly strained the group’s neck muscles as we followed them, courtesy of our guide, through the path of the Revelation of St John the Divine.
Our long weekend concluded with a visit to Ickworth where once again there were choices – the house or the garden. Whichever choice one made, one could be temporarily transported into the world of one man’s vision of ‘Italy in England’, his passion for art or the Italianate garden.
Our weekend concluded as it began - our final meal in the company of both good wine and friends.
And finally … none of this would have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of the hard working secretary of the Friends. On behalf of us all: “Thank you Keith, we are looking forward to the 2014 visits”.
Dr Carolle Kerry
On 16th June seventeen members travelled long the "Spring Line" northwards to Kirton Lindsey visiting churches along the way. Calling at Ingham for coffee they proceeded to the Red Lion at Redbourn for lunch and suitably fortified continued home by Normmanby by Spital, Owmby and Scawby. Altogether ten churches were visited and members asked "When is the next church crawl?"
On Sunday 14th July 2013 thirty one Friends visited Grimsthorpe Castle. After walking through the extensive grounds and gardens they were met by Lady Willoughby who spoke about the history of the house and the family. After touring the house and being entertained to a tea provided by Lady Willoughby the Friends joined her for Evensong in the private chapel.
In April members visited Lincoln's Guildhall which is above the Stonebow. It dates from the 15th Century. Members met in the Council Chamber which is still used for the "Mayor Making" in May and every eight weeks for Council Meetings. They also visited the treasury which is housed in the old council prison. One of the treasures is the sword which was given to the city by Richard 1.
The weekend away for 2012 was to Durham and Newcastle staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel. On the way to Durham we visited Mount Grace Priory and on Saturday we had guided tours of Durham and Newcastle cathedral.
On the Sunday Afternoon, after a free morning when some members attended sung Eucharist at the Cathedral, the group travelled to Wallington Manor, a National Trust House and home to the Trevellian family.