Saturday, 21 September 2013

Off to Durham

Today we were heading off to Durham as I wanted to access some records that are held by the University of Durham. I was fortunate enough to get a research slot and the archivists had undertaken to have the records that I had requested available for me. This was indeed good fortune as the research area is housed in temporary accommodation and access to the documents takes a great deal more time than would normally be the case.

Trevor and I set off shortly after 7:30am and followed the same route as I had taken on Wednesday until we had almost reached Northallerton at which stage we joined the A19 and headed north. We stopped for breakfast at the servo where we had had a break on day 11 of our Coast to Coast walk. It was a very odd feeling looking at the ridge we climbed at the start of day 12. Even better, we did not have to scuttle across the four lanes of fast moving traffic on the A19 after we had our break today.

Memories ... of the break here on day 11 of the Coast to Coast walk

Trevor stayed with me until I had located the research rooms and had checked in before he went of to look at the impressive buildings that dominated the skyline as we approached Durham.

Trevor's morning:

While Lorraine did some research I visited a few sites, namely the Durham Castle and the Durham Cathedral. These are both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Castle is owned by the University as it was donated to the University by Bishop Edward Maltby in 1837 and is used as a hall of residence for the university.

The castle viewed from the River Wear
[Trevor has quite a few photos of the Castle which I will add later]

The castle was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman king's power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained "wild and fickle" following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an example of the early moot and bailey castles favoured by the Normans. The holder of the office of the Bishop of Durham was appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf. The castle was his seat. The bishop's status was second only to the King.

The University makes extensive use of the castle's two chapels: the Norman Chapel, built around 1078, and Tunstall's Chapel, built in 1540.

The Norman Chapel is the oldest accessible part of the castle. Its architecture is Anglian in nature, possibly due to forced Anglian labour being used to build it. In the 15th century, its three windows were all but blocked up because of the expanded keep. It thus fell into disuse until 1841 when it was used as a corridor through which to access the keep. During the Second World War, it was used as a command and observation post for the Royal Air Force when its original use was recognised. It was re-consecrated shortly after the war and is still used for weekly services by the University.

Tunstall's Chapel is the more heavily used of the chapels, being somewhat larger.

The Castle has been modified over the centuries so it is a mixture of many different periods.

No photographs were allowed in the castle itself.

All the photos are from the outside or within the entrance square.

Next was The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham (usually known as Durham Cathedral) and is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The present cathedral was founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and faces the Castle across Palace Green. The Cathedral is a massive structure which the photos can not do justice to. Again there were no photos allowed within the Cathedral, so all the photos are external or from the cloisters.

The cloisture

For me, the two outstanding features are the many massive columns required to support the structure and the structure built above the font.

[Back to Lorraine]

Trevor appeared in the research rooms a little after 1 as I was nearing the end of checking the documents that I had ordered. I had had a good morning and came away with a copy of a Will and probabte documents for the cost of £5, a bargain.

We wandered through the University/cathedral sector and then down into the centre of the old town before settling on a place to eat lunch.

The old part of the town is full of narrow, cobblestoned streets which wind hither and zither. The market square boasts some impressive buildings, too, and a massive statue.

The church on Market Square

Market Hall

The huge statue in Market Square

Leaving Durham we headed south. Really! The road signs stated "The South". Having some time up our sleeves we decided to visit the Mount Grace Priory, a site that we had walked past last last week but had not visited. Like many of the abbeys and monastries in England it had been sacked in 1539 during the dissolution of the monestries. Henry VIII has a lot to answer for in the destruction of what must have been some very impressive complexes. The Mount Grace Priory covered a large area. It is hard to capture the extent with a standard camera.

The gardens in front of the priory were beautifully laid out and manicured.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the weather is being kind to you. Hope Trevor is feeling better. I'm enjoying the scenery photos.