Favourite church/cathedral?

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by A Garden Gnome, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    108
    Likes Received:
    87
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    We once went to Durham whilst holidaying in North Yorkshire. We did not go in, but cannot remember why. Nor were we as enamoured with Durham as Bill Bryson is.
     
    Oliver Sanderson likes this.
  2. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Canterbury is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I had the pleasure of visiting it in 2002 at age 16 (on the same day my mother and I visited Brighton and toured the pavillion in the morning, alas, the famous trams were closed for repair, and then Canterbury in the afternoon, which was particularly enjoyable as there were beautiful snapdragon-like flowers growing around the station, and in that year the old “Slam-Door” EMUs were still in service out of Charing Cross). I had forgotten how splendid Canterbury Cathedral was on the inside, so thank you for reminding me!
     
    Shaun likes this.
  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Active Member

    Posts:
    568
    Likes Received:
    228
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Bath and Wells Cathedral.

    The scissor arch is an architects anwer to the problem of collapsing superstructure. Just as Jesus Christ was the archtect of our salvation from our self destruction.

    And it is beautiful to behold.

    .[​IMG]
     
  4. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Goodness, that is a stunningly beautiful cathedral. Possibly, as far as structural elements, as opposed to stained glass, the best one thus posted; at a minimum, it is on a par with, and is possibly superior to, Gloucester Cathedral. It has the stunning scissor arch, a Chancel Screen which is technically also a Rood Screen; in short, everything I like to see in a Western church (I particularly like chancel screens and rood screens wnjcn are, like that one, full height, as they are obviously a liturgical relative of the iconostasis, its predecessor, the templon, and the curtains drawn to conceal the altar before and after, and at certain times during the liturgy in some traditions, in the Armenian, Ethiopian and Syriac traditions (the Copts use iconostases albeit of an unusual configuration).

    Indeed I think we can say, based on the famed incident of mandatory curtain replacement imposed by St. Epiphanius of Salamis, which has become a flashpoint in debates about Patristic iconography, that the concealment of the altar by a curtain or other device is one of the most ancient architectural traditions in Christianity. We can further say that the move away from this was the result of innovation on the part of Dominican and Fransiscan friars in the early Renaissance, who doubtless desired the laity have an easier view of the Elevation, and this in turn drove the decision of the Council of Trent to favor this approach, and this combined with Calvinist iconoclasm led to a mass removal of chancel screens and rood screens across Western Europe. But the mass restoration of these screens in Victorian Britain reveals that the visual disparity between churches oriental and occicental is a relatively recent occurrence, in parallel with the departure from stylized iconography driven by the Renaissance preference for lifelike statues and paintings.

    But not everything in terms of architecture went south at this time. I disagree with CS Lewis, who famously concluded “Then the Renaissance came along and spoiled everything.” I would note from an architectonic perspective that what Tiffy says about the Scissor Arch applies equally to the fully hemispherical dome, which we first see at the cathedral in Florence, and then at St. Peters, and then, with further refinements in elegance, at St. Paul’s. I have to confess that I am inordinately fond of the ecclesiastical architecture of Sir Christopher Wren, and my love for the churches in the City of London is not limited to those of medieval provenance, but extends masterpieces by Wren and others such as St. Mary le Bow, St. Stephen Walbrook, St. Sepulchre without Newgate, and St. Magnus the Martyr.
     
    Tiffy likes this.
  5. Shaun

    Shaun Member Anglican

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    53
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Church of England
    A pleasure!

    You've just reminded me of the slam door trains too, I used to ride these as a kid to school, dangerously sticking my head out of the window whilst it was travelling at high speed, young and stupid! Ah the memories. :)
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  6. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Naughty. But I was naughtier once, and at age 25; I had a hot date, and didn’t want to wait 10 minutes for the next train to Waterloo (I was at Clapha, Junction), so I jumped aboard a Southwest Trains service concurrently with the guard blowing his whistle. This would ordinarily have been fine, but it was raining, and I was not wearing my usual utility Clark’s, but was rather wearing a jacket and tie; thus, to my horror I found myself on the floorboard in a puddle of water with the wind knocked out of me. Rather embarrassing. I bruised some vertebrae, but was otherwise unharmed, but the evening was rendered rather less pleasant by the searing pain which set in as I made my way to the Savoy Hotel; I started to notice it on the ridiculously long walk at Waterloo to the Jubilee line (to take me to Charing Cross). And the walk from Charing Cross up the Strand was pure agony.
     
  7. Shaun

    Shaun Member Anglican

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    53
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Church of England
    Oh no! Sounds awful! Not a pleasant memory by the sounds of it. No lasting damage with your back I hope.

    We used to (me and some friends) board trains that were not stopping at certain stops it passed so we just pulled the chain that ran along the ceiling and jumped off and off we went. Again, looking back this was a terrible and out of order thing to do. I see this now. Little rascals, ha.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  8. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Thankfully no. :) Also the Savoy Hotel is a good place to stay if your back is hurting. :yes:

    Indeed! On an American train that would cause an annoying delay, as it takes a minute or so to reset the brakes after an emergency brake deployment. Now those old slam-door carriages in the UK used vacuum brakes, if memory serves; these operate at a lower pressure than Westinghouse-type positive pressure air brakes which are used on modern trains; out of curiosity, when you pulled the chain did you feel a bump followed by violent deceleration or was it closer to a normal stop?

    In the US, on the Alaska Railroad, and on some railroads in Canada, and historically on some Amtrak routes (but not at present AFAIK) there are “flag stops”, wherein the train will stop and start at a station, or in Alaska, where the railroad is the only means of accessing several residences, at a certain point along the line, only if there is a need. Sort of like a bus or tramway stop.
     
    Shaun likes this.
  9. Shaun

    Shaun Member Anglican

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    53
    Country:
    England
    Religion:
    Church of England
    That's good news! :)


    I would imagine it is at the prices they charge, I am a mere peasant, ha! I have only stayed at places like The Travelodge and PremierInn Hotels. The best Hotel I have frequented was The Marriott here in Kent, Maidstone, only as a member of staff though. Although I never used my discount to book a room with them.



    From my memory, travelling between Canterbury & Margate it was a little abrupt, quicker than a normal stop but not so severe as to jolt you forward, you could hear what I am guessing was the screech of the wheels. We'd have to pull the chain just as we hit the station as we knew it would carry on a little bit.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  10. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Interesting. I was on a EuroCity train (like an InterCity, fast but not high speed in the manner of a TGV or ICE service) from Wien to Budapest, in 2001, which hit a cow. That produced probably the most violent emergency braking I’ve experienced.

    ~

    So moving back to the thread, since we are now also doing parish churches, I really love the churches of the City of London. Indeed, the City of London is one of the great church destinations, in my opinion, owing to having so many splendid Gothic and Baroque / Neo-Classical churches in such a high density. There are only a few other places in the world which can compare with The City of London, and they include The City of Westminster (along the Strand, down Whitechapel and to the Collegiate Church of St. Peter’s), Oxford, Cambridge, and elsewhere in the world, the colonial churches of Boston, epitomized by Old North Church, the neighborhood churches, major basillicas and especially the station churches of Old Rome, which preserve the ancient tradition once present in New Rome (Constantinople) and Jerusalem of proceeding from one church to another on major feasts, something for which the Litany of Peace and other litanies (Ektenias), in Rome’s case what eventually became the Litany of Loretto, were invented for, to be sung in procession (a practice Rev. Percy Dearmer recommends for services of the Anglican Litany in his excellent Parson’s Handbook). Munich has a superb collection of Baroque churches in close proximity to each other; the Coptic quarter of Old Cairo has the most architecturally signifigant and beautiful churches clustered together anywhere in the world, such as the famed Hanging Church.

    And then one has Mount Athos, Meteora Valley, Valaam Monastery, and certain smaller clusters of great churches, such as those at the Kiev Lavra, at the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, the beautiful Thomaskirche and Nicholaskirche in Leipzig, of central importance to the work of JS Bach, and featuring the three finest organs one is likely to find in close proximity anywhere in the world, and the four cathedrals of Dublin. But amidst all of this, the City of London I find to be particularly special. Sadly, many of my favorite parishes lack a Sunday service, and survive only via alternating short weekday services to cater to the 500,000 or so people who live in the City on weekdays. This underutilization makes the City churches that much more interesting to me; I find myself contemplating a pilgrimage, and also wondering if an Anglican priest from outside the Church of England might obtain permission to celebrate the Eucharist in some of them on weekends, and most weekdays for that matter, when they are otherwise dark.

    Against the odds, St. Magnus the Martyr is still able to draw a crowd into the Square Mile even on a Sunday, against the formidable competition posed by St. Paul’s (which also, while of exquisite beauty, by virtue of its popularity, doubtless is partially responsible for the meagre attendance at many underutilized City churches, although much less so than the changed demographics). An Anglo Catholic parish and a member of the Society which repudiates women’s ordination, this parish generally agrees with my theological opinions. This Christopher Wren masterpiece is my overall favorite City church owing to the excellent quality of the liturgy, and the fact that its majestic architecture is actually visible, and follows a conventional laypit (the majestic dome of St. Stephen Walbrook amd the shape of that parish is more appealing, except one cannot clearly see it or appreciate the fullness of its beauty; I don’t mind the new altar, but the crypt cafe strikes me as horrid, and the liturgy at that parish is not what it should be given its illustrious history).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Notice the stunningly beautiful ceiling, and the splendid altar and reredos. A matching organ also exists.

    A rare low church parish offering Sunday services is the National Musician’s Church, St. Sepulchre without Newgate, which used to also be responsible for ringing the “execution bell” outside the condemned cell at nearby Newgate Prison on the eve of an execution. This church, unlike most of the City Churches on my list, was not designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but was rather rebuilt after the great fire, and it is actually possible to appreciate the exterior of this church.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Distressingly, the majestic organ, visible here in the splendid interior, is unserviceable and requires repairs. Meanwhile, only the weekly Tuesday Evensong (substituted once a month by an evening Eucharist), is conducted with traditional music; the horrors of praise and worship music dominate the Sunday service (which, like the Tuesday service, is normally from the Divine Office, albeit presumably from Common Worship, except for a monthly Eucharist) and the lunchtime service on Tuesday; 2/3rds of the worship services, and you can bet the guitars are properly maintained. On the bright side, in addition to an intensive program of concerts, there is a splendid Musician’s Chapel, visible on the left, featuring remembrances of great British composers and musicians, and home to an annual service of remembrance and thanksgiving.

    And next we have St. Bride’s on Fleet Street, yet another Christopher Wren masterpiece, with the most beautiful steeple of any of his churches, with an almost Pagoda-like quality:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    St. Bride’s is another parish fortunate enough to be able to provide Sundah services, as well as daily services (indeed, quite a bit healthier than St. Sepulchre), has a commitment to dignified worship, including regular celebration of Evensong according to the 1662 BCP. And you can listen to it online, here: http://www.stbrides.com/webcast/ This provides a valuable alternative to BBC Choral Evensong, fitting given that St. Bride’s caters to the British Media. For my fellow Americans who are not well informed concerning British matters, Fleet Street was once the home of all the major newspapers in London and Great Britain, although I believe they have since left for greener pastures; this being partially driven by the retirement of the massive, expensive and redundant printing presses in each of the newspaper buildings, and from what I understand, labor costs.

    Among those churches only providing weekday services, St. Mary-le-Bow, home to the Court of Arches, is visually stunning, and offers services every weekday:

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of ecclesiastical courts, the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, which is the sole appelate court from thr Court of Arches on matters of faith, has met only twice, most recently in the 1980s, when it approved the controversial polished stone altar for St. Stephen Walbrook, which despite this unusual configuration, remains one of my favorite churches, and is probably my favorite work of Stephen Wren.

    [​IMG]

    The exterior of this church is also stunning, but it is difficult to appreciate from street level, and I cannot find any isometric illustrations or overhead views that do it justice. Suffice it to say, the majesty of St. Stephen Walbrook’s dome owes as much to the external architecture as to the luminous interior. This parish is also the birthplace of the Samaritans, who operate the main suicide prevention and mental health hotline in the UK, and home to the London Internet Church.

    This is St. Stephen Walbrook, the first of two churches I would like you to pray for; this church has a healthy congregation but suffered a notorious desecration in 2017 which may not have been properly remediated given its Modern Catholic churchmanship:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    St. Andrew, Holborn, also by Sir Christopher Wren, is blessed with a much better external view, and the interior makes for a beautiful contrast with both St. Mary le Bow and St. Stephen Walbrook, although alas its Modern Catholic weekday services are uninteresting even by City standards. Still, they are better than what is on offer, or rather not on offer, at oir next stop.

    Another St. Christopher Wren masterpiece which is sadly very nearly disused is St. Clement’s, Eastcheap:

    [​IMG]

    Alas, the stunning altar and reredos are doubtless lost on the congregation, which meets at 1730 GMT for what is surely the most miserable non-worship service in the Anglican Communion (I cannot call it a worship service, since I see in the description no discussion of the Divine, only of social justice). https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/15364/

    This is a church that actively requires our prayers, because of all of the surviving parishes in the square mile of the City of London, it is the most endangered, lacking an incumbant and not offering any divine service per se. And it, being a truly beautiful church, deserves to be saved.

    There are so many splendid churches in the City I could go on forever, but that migjt steal the thunder of other members who might have their own favorites in the City (and I have left out such special churches as the Temple Church, St. Bartholomew’s (the Great and the Less), the two splendid churches dedicated to St. Botolph, St. Helen, Bishopsgate, St. Lawrence, Jewry, St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, home of the Syriac Orthodox from India as well as a monthly Anglican service, and bordering The City, the two chapels of the Tower of London (both Royal Peculiars, technically in Tower Hamlets, but close enough I should say).

    Rather I would like to close with a picture of the beautiful, unassuming interior of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, which represents what I deem a model of Anglican-Orthodox cooperation. The Iconostasis, imported from Romania, represents not just an ethnic parish colocated with an Anglican parish, but the opportunity for Anglicans to experience the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, as indeed many have done recently, whereas the two Anglican chapels represent to the Orthodox the opportunity to experience the beautiful liturgical patrimony of the West. Where some might see division, or even ecumenical cross-contamination, in this parish I see hope:

    [​IMG]
     
    Anglo-cracker and A Garden Gnome like this.
  11. Anglo-cracker

    Anglo-cracker Member Anglican

    Posts:
    73
    Likes Received:
    87
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    almost anglican
    I do hope I am able to visit the UK one day. I will try to remember those parrishes in prayer which you mentioned.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  12. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Well, alas, I had intended to add more pictures of St. Mary le Bow and St. Stephen Walbrook. :wallbash:
     
  13. Anglo-cracker

    Anglo-cracker Member Anglican

    Posts:
    73
    Likes Received:
    87
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    almost anglican
    San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas. One of the first cathedrals I have ever visited. Its not as elegant as St Patrick's in New York, and there is a German Catholic church in San Antonio that is far more ornate, if I remember rightly (we were there 15 years ago) but San Fernando left an impression on me. The cremated remains of the defenders of the Alamo rest there.
    San Fernando nave toward alter.jpg
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  14. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    The ceiling is stunning. Speaking of which, I have made a terrible ommission from my list of great City churches!

    [​IMG]

    This church is St. Katharine Cree, which had alas slipped my mind. I daresay, judging by its decrepit exterior, most of us would characterize as ugly. But one cannot judge a book by its cover (as anyone with a copy of the the 1982 Episcopalian Hymnal knows well). The inside greats us like the splendid fruit of a kiwi, beautiful on the inside while rather drab on the outside:

    [​IMG]

    Behold the splendid ceiling! The exquisite altar and side chapels! The delicately painted arches and sumptious ceiling! And then fall to your knees in awe of what is surely the finest stained glass window in a City parish church, and one of the best in all England!

    [​IMG]

    Another Anglican parish I am inordinately fond of, although it lacks the Wagnerian splendours of the interior of St. Katharine Kree, worthy at times of a palace of King Ludwig II (although less so than the Cathedral of St. Demetrios in Los Angeles), or the lofty, heavenly spaciousness of the Wren churches such as St. Mary le Bow, St. Paul’s or most especially St. Stephen Walbrook, is the Anglican Cathedral in Gibraltar, the splendid Spanish Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which I was reminded of by the Spanish-inspired architecture of Texas posted by my most honorable and pious friend @Anglo-cracker:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Notice the exquisite Moorish architectures, and the splendid Spanish-style organ, with its painted pipes, a tradition of organ builders in the Iberian peninsula. I also love the collection of Royal Navy Ensigns on the South Aisle, which are especially meaningful when one considers the naval history of the Rock, and the thousands of sailors which have perished in its defense and in action on voyages based from it.

    There is a certain special holiness in this Anglican cathedral in Gibraltar, that great Rock with its distinctive fauna, the only apes living in Europe, which Britain has held against all odds through three great wars, beginning with those of Napoleon.
     
    Anglo-cracker likes this.
  15. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    188
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    If it is of interest to members I might post some highlights from churches in Greater London outside the precincts of the Square Mile which delimit the City proper (and the rule of the City of London Corporation, with its ancient ceremonies, industrial electorate, and its own police force apart from the Metropolitan Police (formerly of Scotland Yard) and the British Transport Police, who patrol the rest of London (the latter focusing on the railway stations and transport infrastructure) with a distinctive red and white chequered pattern. I might further post images of churches from some of the other splendid concentrations I mentioned, such as Munich, Moscow, Rome, the Greek and Russian monastic estates, and Cairo.
     
    Anglo-cracker likes this.
  16. Anglo-cracker

    Anglo-cracker Member Anglican

    Posts:
    73
    Likes Received:
    87
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    almost anglican
    Lovely
     

Share This Page