Looking east through the Sanctuary to the high altar.
On Thursday, March 14th I visited Peterborough Cathedral – see above photo.
I had already visited The Church of St Mary the Virgin in Warmington, (Pop. 874), which was built in the 12th century and considered to be one of the best examples of a rural parochial churches of this style and period.
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Warmington
Then I visited the St Peter’s Parish Church, which is located at the heart of the community in Oundle (Pop. 5800). Its 210 foot spire, the tallest in Northamptonshire can be seen for miles around. There has been Christian worship on this site since the year 709 AD.
St. Peters Parish Church, Oundle
And then I saw the church in Fotheringhay (Pop. 123). The work on the present church was begun by Edward III who also built a college as a cloister on the church’s southern side. After completion in around 1430, a parish church of similar style was added to the western end of the collegiate church with work beginning in 1434. It is the parish church which still remains. The large present church is named in honour of St Mary and All Saints, and has a distinctive tall tower dominating the local skyline. The church is Perpendicular in style and although only the nave, aisles and octagonal tower remain of the original building it is still in the best style of its period. Fotheringhay Castle is where the scene was set for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, who had spent much of her 18 years of imprisonment at Sheffield Castle and Sheffield Manor, spent her final days at Fotheringhay, where she was tried and convicted of treason. Mary was only given the verdict the day before her execution, and spent her final night praying in the castle’s small chapel. She was beheaded on a scaffold in the castle’s great hall on 8 February 1587.
St. Mary and All Saints Church, Fotheringhay
We also visited The Church of St. Andrew in Cotterstock, but it was not open for us to go inside. A lovely, quaint little church – I got some great photos of the exterior when a wash of sunlight peeked through heavy grey skies and lit the church. The Church of St Andrew is located to the east of the village, adjacent to the River Nene; it dates from the late 12th century. (Pop. 139) The main period of construction was in the 13th and 14th centuries and the building was restored and extended in 1876. Cotterstock Hall was built in 1658 with alterations in the early 18th century and a main staircase added in the 19th century. The village consists of a single street with Cotterstock Hall located in the centre and St Andrew’s Church in the east. Cotterstock has a village hall. In 2010, Cotterstock Hall was used as a film set for ‘The Woman in Black’. Star Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) said of the Hall: “Cotterstock Hall is a remarkable building bursting with Gothic grandeur – perfect for The Woman In Black”.
St. Andrews Church, Cotterstock
The next church we visited was in Olney. (Pop. approximately 6000) Olney is a market town and as you enter the town travelling North on the A509 you will see the 185ft Spire of the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul blending in beautifully with the surrounding countryside. John Henry Newton (24 July 1725 – 21 December 1807) was a British sailor and Anglican clergyman. Starting his career at sea, at a young age, he became involved with the slave trade for a few years, and was himself enslaved for a period. After experiencing a religious conversion, he became a minister, hymn-writer, and later a prominent supporter of the abolition of slavery. He was the author of many hymns, including “Amazing Grace” and “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken.” Another feature Olney is well known for is the annual Pancake Race held on Shrove Tuesday, which dates back to 1445. The Olney Race is based on a tale that a housewife was in her kitchen making her pancakes on Shrove Tuesday when she heard the Church Bells ringing for the Shriving Service. Desperate not to be late she made a mad dash for the Church with her frying pan still in her hand. Moving on to 1950 the town of Liberal in Kansas USA read about the Olney Pancake Race tradition and decided to adopt the tradition themselves and then challenged Olney to an annual race with the fastest time from the two races declared the overall winner. Olney accepted the challenge and the two towns have competed each year ever since.
Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Olney
So when my friend Inge suggested we go to Peterborough Cathedral I thought, ‘Oh, not another church!’. But I must say, this was the culmination of all my visits, and if I never visit another church in the UK, I’ll be happy!
Here just a few of the many images I took at Peterborough Cathedral.
The Choir Stalls - these date from the late 1800s and daily worship takes place here at Evensong. An eagle lectern is a lectern in the shape of an eagle on whose outstretched wings the Bible rests. They are very common in Christian churches and cathedrals.The symbolism of the eagle derived from the belief that the bird was capable of staring into the sun and that Christians similarly were able to gaze unflinchingly at the revelation of the divine word. Alternatively, the eagle was believed to be the bird that flew highest in the sky and was therefore closest to heaven, and symbolised the carrying of the word of God to the four corners of the world. The Eagle Lectern of Peterborough Cathedral was donated by Abbot William Ramsay : 1471-96
A section of the painted ceiling of the nave, which dates from 1230-1250 and is the only one of its type surviving in Britain today.
When we first arrived at the church - it was mostly lit with natural light streaming through the windows - but towards the end of our stay, we noticed the lights come on, and the lights at the choir stalls made all the beautiful wood just glow!
The Hanging Crucifix - this was donated to the Cathedral in 1975. The Latin inscription means 'the cross stands whilst the world turns'.
My favorite image of this series. This shows the amazing detail of the ceiling and from this angle it looks like he is looking right at the viewer!
The Central Tower - standing at 44 m high,
The ceilings on the south aisle of the nave, which once formed one of the four sides of the monastery cloister.
North Transept from the Central Tower.
South Transept as seen from the Central Tower.
I tilted my head back, parallel to the foor, and my sun glasses fell off my head when I photographed this scene. The ceilings are just amazing!
The original medieval ceiling decoration was destroyed during the Civil War (1643), but was restored in the 19th century under the supervision of JL Pearson; the apse ceiling, showing Christ and the saints, was painted by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The Eastern Building - the newest part of the Cathedral with a superb fan-vaulted ceiling.
The superb fan-vaulted ceiling of the eastern end of Peterborough Cathedral, which is west beyond the Sanctuary and High Altar, dating from ~1500.
At this point it was ready to leave because they were preparing for their 5:30 service. When we made our way back to the entrance of the church, I noticed that they had turned on more lights and had prepared the altar for the service and I saw the following image. I like the simplicity of this image – one of my favorites!
I hope you enjoyed the tour of Peterborough Cathedral as much as I did!