Thursday, July 6, 2017

Unchain my book at the Hereford Cathedral.

Hereford Cathedral is famous for its collection of Chained Books which you will see further into the blog. It is even more famous for its medieval map of the world dating from about 1300 called the Mappa Mundi.

The entrance.

Every cathedral is different though most have common features. It must have been a gigantic undertaking for a town or city to build one because the cost would have been enormous. Perhaps the decision makers found that bringing in all the craftsmen and the employment of local labour acted as a form of economic engine.

In addition, somebody had to be entrusted with the task of designing a huge building that would not fall down.

The modern circular hanging is quite eye catching.

A small organ towards the back and off to the side. I wondered if it was a spare when the larger central organ was being repaired.

This stained glass window is dedicated to the SAS which is based outside Hereford at Stirling Lines.

More about him here.

Curious tale about an extra leg.

More about the tapestries.

The organ was perhaps the most interesting I have ever seen since the mechanism that operates some of the longer pipes is visible.

An organist who was due to give a concert in the afternoon started practicing and when he hit low notes you could see the levers working.

About 7 seconds into the video, the flap on the right moves as the 32' pipe is played. The frequency of the note is 16 Hz and if you hear anything on your PC, it is a harmonic and not 16 Hz. An organ can be an incredibly loud instrument.

The organ also has some wooden pipes that rattle when played.

Another 32' pipe.

The front of the organ.

The organist's keyboard is actually on the other side of the choir from the organ mechanism. When the organist plays a key, an electric signal is passed via wire to the appropriate mechanism at the end of a pipe and the note is played. More about how organs work here.

In large churches and cathedrals, the organist is usually several meters above the choir. A mirror is used so that the organist can see the conductor of the choir.

The choir seats. There is a similar set on the other side of the aisle.

And here is the organ playing what I think might  be Messiaen. Don't bother tilting your head.

Modern stained glass.

Looking down into the crypt.

At ground level in the crypt.

The colour really enhances this tomb.

Yes, the cathedral was very interesting, but the really special stuff was still to come on the other side of the cloister.

We paid a few pounds to go to the Chained Book Library. But first, an example of how valuable books and documents were at one time.

An example of  a book reading station with chained books.

The books are housed in a special temperature, humidity and light controlled room. These books are really old and are essentially unbound pages contained in boxes.

Younger bound books.

Close-up of the chains.

And here is the pride and joy of the Cathedral, the Mappa Mundi which is a map of the world made in about 1300. It is the largest medieval map of the world known to exist.

A copy of the map translated into English. To explore the map in more detail, click here. The detail is quite interesting. Norway is represented by a figure wearing snow skis and Noah's Ark is positioned next to Armenia.

Even Grayson Perry (who's exhibit we saw in London) did his version.

An interesting sculpture.

I don't quite get why this was needed but it looks interesting.

The Cathedral also has a Magna Carta from 1217. It is usually locked away and occasionally comes our for display. We were not lucky.

Door to the Cathedral. It was one of the most interesting cathedrals I have ever visited.

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