Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

Cathedrals and Abbeys of England on 15 September 2019


Today we woke in the George Hotel in Norwich about to face a very big day with 160 miles plus to traverse on our way to Canterbury. But first, we were to visit Norwich Cathedral. The first thing you notice when arriving in front of Norwich Cathedral is the height of its spire, 96 metres and is the second highest in England, but does not dominate the surrounding landscape as does Salisbury. This is because Bishop Herbert de Losinga , on moving the see to Norwich from Thetford, chose to place the cathedral close to the heart of the existing town.

This put the cathedral and priory on the edge of the marshy flood plain of the River Wensum. Remarkably, the footprint of the monastic church established by de Losinga in 1096 is almost the same as that marking out the Close and cathedral in the present day. It was 1096 that the construction began of the best-preserved Romanesque cathedral in England. The Norman architecture survives throughout the 3 levels from the floor up through the triforium to the clerestory. The Cloister is the largest monastic cloister in England and following a fire in 1272, was re-built over a period of 150 years.

To the east of the south door, on Life's Green, is the grave of Edith Cavell, a heroine of the First World War. After viewing much of this beautiful Cathedral, we answered the call to prayer and made our way into the cathedral for the morning Service. Arriving I noticed a cat asleep on the cushion on the front of the Cathedra, the Bishop's Chair. I was told that the cat was called Bouge and spent much time there from his home with a family in the Close. Throughout the Service, which had much singing from the adjoining choir, Bouge did not move but slept on. Obviously, the lovely sounds coming from the Choir sends him to sleep.

Following a very moving Service we headed south towards Canterbury, but first, we called into Dover as members of our group had never been there. Frank went into the Castle while the rest of us took a break, in our fold up chairs, and with a little champagne toasted the resilience of this island to invaders over the years, Spanish Armada, Napoleon and Hitler. We then saw the White Cliffs, a Spitfire Flying overhead and finally we gazed out over the Channel and saw Calais only 35 kilometres away. A remarkable day on such a warm Autumn day in England

Graham Fleeton


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