I had a relaxing week off for a change. I usually try and pack in as much as I can to make the most of that precious time but for some reason this summer I didn't.
It started with a family wedding, which was lovely - not had a family wedding for years. Then a 2 day break in Kent. I went Canterbury Cathedral - I went 30 years ago and have wanted to go again ever since - a visit to Sissinghurst (glorious) and a slightly damp trip to Howlett Zoo (one of the best zoos I've ever visited).
Back home, I had a couple of visits to Hilliers (naturally), a wander round the Flower Festival at Winchester Cathedral and a mammoth jam making session.
I don't want to fill the space with masses of photos again - I'm still thinking about a blog just for pics - so I think I'll just concentrate on Canterbury.
As I said, it's been 30 years since I last visited Canterbury Cathedral and my memory of it was a bit off if I'm honest. I recall it being HUGE with a big circular stained glass window at the West End. Well, it is big, but in comparison with Winchester, it didn't feel huge. And it doesn't have a circular west window. I wonder where I saw that?...
I must have spent a good 2 hours (or more) having a good poke about and taking plenty of photos, not only of the architecture but also the magnificent stained glass.
I nearly skipped the Chapter House as it's "outside" the main building. I'm glad I didn't though as they have a special exhibition on at the moment called The Ancestors. They're currently repairing and conserving the great South Window, so the glass had to come out. A perfect opportunity to conserve the glass too. And put it on display at a height that allows you see it properly. It's also been on show in America.
You do have to wonder why stained glass windows have so much detail as they are placed so high you really can't see them.
I was talking to one of the Guides in the Chapter House and he said the glass on display is thought to have been made in the 12-13th century and was originally in the clerestory windows. (The clerestory is the really high level, just below the roof. How would you ever see them??) He said because they were placed so high, they were not destroyed by Henry VIII's men during the Reformation. They were later taken out and placed in the South Window. They depict some of the Ancestors of Jesus.
They have now been cleaned and conserved and placed in a really nice exhibition that's well worth a look. They have built a lovely "light box" to mount several of the windows. (Be quick though - it's only on until August 23rd.)
Here are some photos of just one of them. Wish now I'd taken a photo of the blurb so I can tell you about it. But I didn't...
It's not until I look at these again now, that I can see just what a fabulous job, not only the original artists did but also the conservators at the cathedral. They could have been painted just yesterday.
It really is worth making the effort to go and have a look if you're in the area and like stained glass.
Here are some links to Canterbury's website should you want to read a little more about the stained glass and see some of their photos.
Below is a short video from the website too. As it starts, the figures on the far left are the ones in my photos. It's quite a nice website and worth taking 5 minutes having a good look round it. Enjoy.