Canterbury Cathedral Charming Children

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL - Charming Children

Date: 10th February 2013

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL – Charming Children

On a Sunday when I do my volunteering at the Cathedral, the vast proportion of visitors are adults but occasionally there are children and for the last two Sundays I had some very pleasant encounters.

The Gabriel Chapel (and the St Anselm chapel above it) are the only places where you will see beautiful mediaeval frescoes. The chapels were bricked up hundreds of years ago and we aren’t sure if this was to give support for the ongoing building work as the Trinity Chapel was built over the Crypt or whether it was in order for the monks to secrete the Monastic treasures. Whatever the reason, the marauding Puritans in 1642 were unable to wreak their damage and the frescoes remained untouched for decades. In the middle of the 20th Century the walls were taken down exposing them.

Many people just pop their heads around the entrance to the chapel, don’t see the frescoe and continue on their way. Last Sunday as I was perambulating on my rounds I was able to help some visitors. A couple of grandparents were taking their little grandson around the Cathedral doing babysitting duty for his mother who was just about to produce a sister or brother for Henry – for that was his name. At the mention of Mediaeval, he immediately piped up with the fact that he had a book on Mediaeval Castles – well a small boy would, wouldn’t he! I could have hugged him because young as he was he pronounced the word Mediaeval correctly in my view. The word is duosyllabic – Medi – eeval which has a certain ring to it rather than the commonly accepted form nowadays where the Latin ‘ae’ is dropped and it is spelled Medieval and pronounced Me – deeval which I find ugly.

What an absolute charmer was little Henry and for such a young child (I guess no more than six) he was so interested and interesting and a delight to meet.

Then today a youngish woman asked if I could help with regard to Royal Tombs as her 3 children were particularly interested in Kings. It was already 2.00 pm and the Vergers have to commence closing the area around the Quire and also the Crypt in preparation for evensong. So I only had a half hour to give them a whistlestop tour.

Westminster Abbey is crammed to the rooftops with Kings and Queens – we only have one King – Henry IV and one Prince – the Black Prince but there are interesting stories to be told about both – I won’t give you a history lesson here but suffice to say I find it fascinating that the two tombs are opposite one another. The Black Prince died one year before his father, so on the latter’s death it was his young son Richard who became King. Richard II had his throne usurped by Henry IV and died in mysterious circumstances.  It is generally accepted that he was starved to death.  A monarch's body lay in state so any evidence of 'foul play' had to be obliterated.  Think of the terrible death of Edward II but his body would have shown no mark of his murder.  It i s rather ironic that, since the destruction of the shrine to Thomas Becket in 1538, the two Royals have ‘faced one another’ – I wonder what goes on in the Cathedral late at night.

Till the next time, Jan

P.S. I hope you won’t mind me reminding you, or if you are new to my Website, telling you that if you want to read back ‘editions’ of my Blogs, go to the Left column under Archives and click on a month, then a précis of all the blogs for the month will show up.
 

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