So, how has your week been? The routine filled days and evenings have made the week feel very long to me. To finally sit down in my sun filled garden with the sounds of bird song, lawn mowers gently tidying the slightly overgrown grass along my road and my fountain faintly cascading, it is a welcome joy. The temperature has risen into the mid twenties and the BBQ is primed for the meal this evening.
For some welcome peace and quiet yesterday, I decided to pop across to the Cathedral and enjoy the coolness of its interior. The sun's warm rays can't penetrate the thick walls so the majestic building gives welcome respite to those of us that do not enjoy hot weather. I made my way to the centre of the Cathedral where I love to look up and experience the feeling of physically being in a kaleidescope. I could quite easily shake myself to see if the view would change! It's quite hypnotic.
The arms from the centre which head North, South, East and West feel like life taking you along its ever changing path. Which way shall we go today? it asks me. I wonder if this colourful man ever thought this? Meet 'Old Scarlett' (Robert Scarlett) who died in 1594 at the age of 98!
'Old Scarlett' was a Sexton which basically means he looked after the grounds and was a gravedigger during his lifetime. He was obviously very well thought of to have a painting of him above the entrance of the great west door. In fact, he has two! The framed painting to the left and then this one to the right, painted directly onto the stone.
The words beneath read as follows:
"You see old Scarlett's picture stand on hie
But at your feete here doth his body lye
His gravestone doth his age and death time show
His office by theis tokens you may know
Second to none for strength and sturdye limm
A scarbabe mighty voice with visage grim
Hee had interd two queenes within this place
And this townes house holders in his lives space
Twice over: but at length his one turne came
What hee for others did for him the same
Was Done: No doubt his soule doth live for aye
In Heaven: though here his body clad in clay"
I have been told that he used to tell people he had buried three queens, Katharine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots and then his own wife.
So remember, if you ever come to Peterborough Cathedral and step through the door, do take a look above and behind you to say hello to Old Scarlett.
The first Queen he buried can be found in the North Aisle. Katharine of Aragon was King Henry VIII's first wife who he divorced in favour of Anne Boleyn. Katharine survived until 1536 when Old Scarlett was tasked with burying her in this part of the Cathedral. Her tomb is distinctive by the Royal Banner of England and Spanish flags high above her.
On her marble slab are placed flowers and pomegranates. Sometimes one, sometimes two but today there a number on there. The pomegranate was her heraldic symbol.
The original gilded letters on her marble memorial were stolen by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers in 1643 and the Dean at the time, used the marble for the floor of his summerhouse in the 1700's! Apparently in the 19th Century there was a public appeal for all the Katharines of England to give money to buy a replacement slab which now adorns her tomb.
The second Queen he buried was the decapitated corpse of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. Old Scarlett was by now 90 years of age, so still going strong! The empty tomb of Mary can be found in the South Choir Aisle as James I (her son) had her body exhumed in 1612 and re-interred at Westminster Abbey.
In front of the now empty tomb flies the Royal and National flags of Scotland.
So, Old Scarlett certainly was a busy man. Burying all walks of life including those whose lives ended with the plague and two Queens in very different circumstances.
A history lesson and some peace and quiet in a magnificent building... perfect!
But now, it was back to work and viewing this amazing meccano from the office - you can almost make out the orange jackets of the scaffolders who have worked tirelessly over the last month. Won't be long before the stone masons will be able to start work!
Over hundreds of years, this building and its workers never stop! From Old Scarlett to the scaffolders of today - a credit to this amazing building.
Have a wonderful weekend and week. I plan on being in the garden for the rest of this weekend and hoping that next week will go quickly before the Bank Holiday!
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