Cathedrals have a wonderful relationship with time. I have served under two Deans – the first was late for everything. He would arrive in the vestry at 5.28 for a 5.30 Evensong (if you were lucky – on one occasion I had got the choir in and we were half way through the Psalm before he arrived). The next Dean expected everyone (clergy and choir) to be stood in silence and prayer at the foot of the Song School steps by 5.25. Durham Cathedral have no excuse for starting anything late! This clock in the South Transept was originally constructed by Prior Castell in the late C15 or early C16. It was taken down in 1845 as the Victorians thought it too frivolous to be in a Cathedral, and was restored in 1938. An interesting stained glass window is this one depicting a scene from the life of Moses. It was added in memory of Sir Henry Manistry and his wife Mary Ann. It was designed in 1895 by Henry Holiday who was the illustrator of Lewis Caroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. There is a better photo here.
The chapel in the South Transept was furnished in 1924 as a memorial to the Durham Light Infantry. This regiment was established as the 68th regiment of foot soldiers in 1758 and formalised as the DLI in 1881. It saw action in Egypt and South Africa during the Boer War, and fought in every major battle of the First and Second World Wars. They lost 12,600 men in WW1 and 3,000 in WW2. You can imagine that there was no community in Durham which was untouched by that level of carnage. More details about the chapel are here. The Cathedral’s website has a section on WW1 http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/first-world-war. It is well worth a read – the Chapter has come up with an excellent Credo which helps us put our commemorations in context, they are transcribing the diaries of WW1 Dean Hensley Henson and have produced a prayer walk around the Cathedral focussing on the War – I think this would be an excellent trip. In Ponteland we have three Exploring Spirituality sessions on the War, so this might go well with that.
In the South Quire Aisle there are two fascinating windows. The Transfiguration Window was designed by Tom Denny and installed in 2009 in memory of Bishop Michael Ramsey (1904-88). I remember +Michael coming to Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1981. The Transfiguration of Jesus was one of Ramsey’s favourite themes, as Jesus is glorified and acknowledged as the Son of God in the presence of chosen disciples and of the heavenly witnesses Moses and Elijah. Ramsey’s thoughts are recorded in this blog and in his book The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ. The sermon preached by John Andrew on the dedication of the window is here – you are getting your money’s worth with this blog! Since my photo of the window is not very good – this is the website of Tom Denny, the window designer. Some superb images.
The other window I photographed in this aisle is very different. It is the Durham Diocese Millennium Window, installed in 1995 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the Diocese, and in memory of Robert and Jane Binks It was designed and made by Joseph Nuttgens using glass from the local firm of Hartley Wood. At the top we have Holy Island and the home of St Cuthbert. Then we have the exodus from Lindisfarne and the time at Chester-le-Street. Then we have the local industries of glass blowing, shipbuilding, chemicals, car manufacturing, shipping (Tyne Bridge) and railways (Stephenson’s Locomotion – another loco in a window). It also commemorates the endowment of Durham University, the contribution of Bishop Wescott to the resolution of the 1892 miners’ strike, and the pastoral and rural nature of the country.