Scenes in County Durham
Durham Cathedral is built on the site of an earlier Saxon church and the shrine of St Cuthbert whose body arrived in Durham in 995. Most of the present building dates from the late 11th to the late 15th centuries. It is built on the site of an earlier Saxon church, but much of what you see, apart from the central tower at the crossing, was built between 1093 and the later 12th century. Since Anglo-Saxon times the religious community of Durham had been one of monks under a bishop. So, when the Normans came in the 11th century, the Durham see was reformed as one of the monastic cathedrals of England eg like Ely and Canterbury.
Durham Cathedral: Much of the current building of Durham Cathedral date from the late 11th century to the late 15th century and it is set high up above the River Wear (photographed from across the weir!). Nothing of Durham Cathedral is earlier than 1093 and much of what you see built between 1093 and 1133. The foundation stone was laid in 1093 by Bishop William of St Calais/St Carileph
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Durham Cathedral: The west towers of Durham Cathedral look down on the River Weir.
The view from College Green of Durham Cathedral with the twin west towers on the right. The lower stages of the central tower are Norman, but the upper stages were rebuilt between 1465 and 1490, the work of master-masons Thomas Barton from 1465, and John Bell from 1488.
Durham Cathedral: The upper parts of the twin west towers of Durham Cathedral. The west towers were probably built at the same time as the nave, which itself was completed in 1133
Looking east down the nave of Durham Cathedral, with the mighty beautifully carved columns separating the aisles from the nave.
Looking to the west window, the amazing roof vaulting of Durham Cathedral's nave
The choir and altar of Durham Cathedral
The nave of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral: Looking east from halfway down the nave to the rood screen, choir and chancel. The nave was built between 1093 and 1133 and has magnificently carved piers-pillars in regular geometrical patterns eg a diamond pattern on the right. However, the round columns are alternated with quite elaborate corrugated columns. The Rose Window high above the altar at the east end of Durham Cathedral.
Details of the chevron carvings.
Durham Cathedral: Looking from the east end of the nave to the screen, choir-chancel and the 'rose' window of the Chapel of the Nine Altars. The nave was finished by 1128 (later than the chancel) and the roof was vaulted between 1128 and 1135.
Durham Cathedral: The rib vaulting of the ceiling of the nave. Rib-vaults are associated with the Gothic period of architecture, but this is not a Gothic Cathedral, it is, as exemplified by the curved arches of the nave aisle pillars, very much a Romanesque church. This rib-vaulting, some of which dates from as early as 1104, precedes the Gothic period and is some the earliest in England.
Durham Cathedral: A view of the Norman (Romanesque) sections of the nave arches, triforum and clerestory windows.
Durham Cathedral: Some of the wonderful vaulting of the nave roof and by the year 1110 even the ribs were adorned with carved zigzag patterns.
Durham Cathedral: A section of the triforum, a 'small' sample of the magnificent stonework of the interior of Durham Cathedral. Lots of zigzag patterns carved into the curved Romanesque arches, some of the earliest in England.
Durham Cathedral: Diagonal view from the south aisle across the nave to the north aisle, with the zigzag and diamond patterns on the nave-aisle piers.
Details of the pillar carvings and Romanesque curves of the arches
Durham Cathedral: View from inside the south transept into the east end of the nave. Note the spiral-grooved on the circular piers in the centre of the photograph.
Durham Cathedral: Looking south-east from the east end of the north aisle across the nave to the south aisle. On the left note the giant zig-zag pattern carved into the round pillars of the nave
Durham Cathedral: Looking from the east end of the north aisle into the north transept. Three of the tall arches supporting the tower at the crossing can be seen in the right half of the picture. The transepts were also built between 1093 and 1104.
Durham Cathedral: View from the north transept across the crossing into the south transept containing the medieval clock. The crossing rests on four great tall arches.
Durham Cathedral: 'The Transfiguration", a modern stained glass window in the eastern end of the south aisle of the chancel.
Details of 'The Transfiguration' window in Durham Cathedral.
Dedicated in 1997, this window commemorates the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of St Cuthbert's body to Durham. The images are symbolic of aspects of Cuthbert's life, it also celebrates the more recent history of the region including mining, ship-building, steam locomotives and Durham University.
Durham Cathedral: The Millennium window in the east end of the south aisle of the chancel-nave, set in the 14th century tracery of the medieval windows.
Durham Cathedral: Details of the top half of the Millennium window. In the top part of the Millennium window are scenes from St Cuthbert's life eg Lindisfarne monastery, his body and coffin being transported by cart and boat to eventually end up in Durham.
Durham Cathedral: Details of the lower half of the Millennium window. The lower part of the Millennium window depicts many of the trades, professions and industries associated with County Durham eg coal mines, railways, bridges, agriculture, clergy etc. etc.
Durham Cathedral: Looking west down the chancel to the organ and choir stalls. Beyond is the high chancel arch at the tower crossing and further on in the background is the magnificent ceiling vaulting of the nave. The chancel is divided into bays by broad flat buttresses, and the triforum and clerestory levels can be seen in the upper left of the image. The chancel was finished by 1104 and the choir stalls date from 1665 under the direction of Cosin.
Durham Cathedral: the altar and stone Reredos, the Neville screen, given by John Lord Neville and made in London of French stone from Caen between 1372 and its consecration in 1380. A most elaborate example of medieval Gothic carving.
Durham Cathedral: Bishop Hatfield's tomb and Bishop's Throne (the 'Cathedra'). Bishop Hatfield (died 1381) built a chantry chapel for his tomb flanked by two magnificent columns.
Durham Cathedral: Left: Right: The medieval clock in the south transept dating from 1490?
Durham Cathedral: The Lady Chapel which is known as the Galilee Chapel. This is Bishop Pudsey's chief later addition to the main body of the cathedral between 1170-1175, and, it is unusual to built a lady chapel at the west end of a church. The curved arches are elaborately carved and probably inspired by the aisled narthexes of the French, especially Burundian and Cluniac churches.
Durham Cathedral: Left: A modern stained glass window in the Lady Chapel/Galilee Chapel; Right: modern stained glass, the 'Daily Bread' window of 1984, an abstract representation of the 'Last Supper".
Durham Cathedral: Some fragments of medieval stained glass windows in the Lady/Galilee Chapel
Durham Cathedral: The west towers of Durham Cathedral viewed from the cloisters which were built ~1220) and are part of the great Norman building period of the Cathedral. The cloister arcades were rebuilt by 1418
Durham Cathedral: The original cloisters were built in the Norman period and these determine their present size.
Durham Cathedral: Elaborately carved eastern doorway in a corner of the cloisters (detail below). This is typical of Pudsey's time with three orders of shafts, capitals of the pillars with scalloped and water-leaf types of decoration plus the zigzag decoration on the 'three' arches.
Durham Cathedral: Details of the top left corner of the doorway above.
Durham Cathedral: In a corner of the cloisters is a plaque to John Washington from which President Washington of the USA was derived!
Durham Cathedral: The undercroft Cathedral cafe below the south side of the cloisters.
Durham Cathedral: The magnificent vaulting of the undercroft looking into the Durham Cathedral shop
Durham Cathedral: The Cathedral cafe in the undercroft.
Durham Cathedral: the vaulting in the cafe
Durham Cathedral: Left: View of eastern-central tower and exterior of the south transept from the cloisters. Right: View of tower from the north side of the Cathedral. The present crossing tower is Norman in its lowest stage, but in 1465 a new crossing tower was built and the final upper stage in 1490, you can see the different coloured stone of the 15th century work.
Durham Cathedral: View from the north side
The exterior east end of Durham Cathedral.
Detail of the east end and the column supporting a small stone cross. The carving on the column resembles the style of the nave of Durham Cathedral.
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For more pictures of Durham "A day out in Durham"
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