Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chichester travelogue: Chichester Cathedral

Oh, the wonders of Chichester Cathedral! It's extraordinary; since 1108, it has been a remarkable presence. As soon as I entered through the doors, warmly greeted by the two duty volunteers, I felt the serenity of the ancient site embrace me.

I discovered that there are over 500 volunteers - such is the affection that the Cathedral is held in, reflecting its unique status. Those I encountered were passionate about their role and contribution, and the privilege they felt to be able to work in such a splendid place.

My highlights - other than the overall experience - were the magnificent rich-hued (almost glowing) stained-glass window created by Marc Chagall (based on Psalm 150 and commissioned by Dean Walter Hussey in 1978), the beautiful fragment of 2nd century Roman Mosaic - now under glass - (re-discovered in 1966) and the exquisite Lady Chapel (in the process of restoration) with its impressive red-and-blue line detailing and sublime green-and-white ceiling. Also the richly vibrant Piper Tapestry (at the High Altar) which was woven in France (created in 1966) making a remarkably thought-provoking impact in its modernism - contrasting (positively) with its ancient setting.

As my visit was coming to a close I was surprised to notice, close to the exit, that composer (and former choirmaster at St Paul's School) Gustav Holst was buried there, in 1934. I was also charmed to read the collection of enthusiastic letters from young (primary school) visitors who treasured their special Cathedral experience.

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