Sweetbriar Dreams

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Friday, 4 July 2014

What Did I Do At Work This Week?... I Climbed a Cathedral

Wednesday was a memory maker for someone who enjoys the beauty of old buildings.  From the office window for the past few weeks we have been watching a meccano set slowly increase in size and fill out with scaffolding poles and wooden boards.  Each plank of wood being passed from level to level, each scaffolding pole being handed up grip after grip.  Gradually this work of art started to take shape and for me, standing at the office window, I was in absolute awe of this marvellous piece of engineering.
So, when someone says "Chel, remember you said you wanted to go on the scaffolding?  Do you still want to go?", you can imagine my response.  A little preparation for the morning was required, sensible footwear and of course, not a flowing skirt!  Oh, and remember to go to the loo before you go up!  
Myself and a colleague were going up with the contractor, so hard hat and high vis jacket were the order of the day, and then our wonderful historical journey began.  At the beginning, just seeing how the scaffolding poles and planks were pieced together was enough for me to be happy to be here.
There were no ladders here, instead a few steps up and then a platform.  Each platform giving such historical eye candy.  To see and touch this Cathedral at a point where no one from the ground could touch it was such a privilege.  This is as close as you can be to the magnificent windows, the leaded lights and the original glass with its waves.  Looking through to the other side of the entrance of the Cathedral and with the orange glow at the bottom of the shop.  Incredibly happy.
From our office the windows look big, but when you are this close, and looking down, the sheer magnitude was absolutely breathtaking.
The years of pollution and the Whittlesey Brick Factory from times gone by are still visible on parts of the stone work and delicate diamonds of glass.  But, in amongst this beautiful stone, the new work from the stone masons has begun to preserve the majesty and beauty of this building for the next few hundred years.
At the top of each staircase we could walk around the platforms and drink in the views.  Here we have the Cathedral looking east towards Whittlesey.  Below, the quiet and serene cloisters and then the roofs of the precinct buildings.
Looking west, Peterborough started to open up with the Town Hall in the centre of the photo.
But I just couldn't help myself with looking at the architecture so close up.  Touching stonework that probably hadn't been touched for so many years.  I got so excited when I saw one of the rain outlets close up.  Can you imagine how many tonnes of water this simple outlet has expelled over the years.
Already there has been so much work that the stone masons have dealt with.  The Cathedral so lovingly being cared for.  Here you can see the new stone being placed next to the old.  
Some of the stone work has artwork formed on it from the pollution, but to me this was a thing of beauty, showing that the Cathedral can survive whatever is thrown at it.
We were a bit further up and the view from the platform was even better.  The Palace and offices, which you saw from the ground in my Peterborough Heritage Weekend post, could now be seen from the air.
Behind me was the window that I love to see but haven't since the scaffolding has been up.  I have missed it, but imagine my heart skipping that we were right next to it. 
Here it was at the end of last year.
Did you notice the missing piece of filigree at the bottom right of the window?  Here is is close up.
Unbelievable that I could be close enough to touch it (I didn't though - it's too precious).

We were nearly at the top, and what was so totally breathtaking (apart from the views) was the attention to detail at this height.  You would think that when this was being built over the centuries (the Cathedral is almost 900 years old), that the higher they were working the less they would deal with the detail, but they certainly were devoted to the finer details to this beautiful building.
The turrets and little hidden slated roofs started to appear.  I could have quite happily put a picnic blanket on the planks, kicked off my shoes and given a huge happy sigh at this point.  There are times when you are in a place that you don't want to leave.  This was it.
A cracked tile, so perfect.  And look how thick the slate was back then!  My colleague walked past this roof first and then looked back, she knew my camera lens would be focussed on this!
Walking around this level was a wonderland and I can't put into words how lucky I felt.
The last level and we were just walking around in sheer wonder.  In amongst the spires of the Cathedral, close and respectful.
Are you ready for the views of Peterborough?
The church to the right of the shot is St John the Baptist which is in the centre of Cathedral Square.  In front you can see the Norman Arch which is the arch you walk through from the Square to enter the precincts of the Cathedral.  To the right of this is Becketts Chapel and to the left is the Knights Chamber (with the turrets).

Here again in a little more detail.  You can see St John the Baptist, and the little building in front is the Guild Hall.  The wetness on the ground in front are the two triangles of fountains in Cathedral Square.  The brown tinge of wall upon wall is the Queensgate Shopping Centre.  To the bottom of the shot is the Norman Arch again with the Bishop's Prison to the left (no longer in use) and the turreted room above the arch is where King Charles I had his last night before being taken to be executed.
Looking up we felt so incredibly lucky.
But we still had to keep an eye on the planks due to them protecting some of the protruding architecture!
But, we had to return to ground level.  Thankfully I just put my arm over the scaffolding and took the photo without actually looking!!
We were also thankful that we didn't climb down the rope too!
After our thanks to the contractor and all gates locked and secured once more, we went inside the Cathedral to see the part we had climbed.
Only part of it could be seen here, so another little trip is going to planned with a Verger as we are now on a quest to see our favourite round window from the inside.
So, what did I do at work this week?  I climbed a Cathedral!

Have you done anything unusual this week?

Take care.

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  1. Oh my goodness....it gives me the colly wobbles just looking at your photos. I don't do heights. However, what a privilege to be able to see the Cathedral so close up and thank you for sharing your story, x

  2. Hi Chel, wow what an exciting week you had going up on the scaffold and how brave of you! You got so many wonderful shots and views! You must of loved every minute of it. So glad you were able to take such wonderful photos to share with us! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks so much for that fun tour.

  3. Oh that's brilliant. What an experience!

  4. Mmm! Not sure my week would beat yours!!! How exciting, how brave!! It makes you wonder how on earth men managed to build such beautiful buildings without the technology of today. I often drive through Salisbury, and look at that beautiful spire. Old Cathedrals are so very special, lucky you to have such a marvellous experience! You'll be up the top of The Shard next X

  5. Oh my goodness, Chel. I could not have done that. I don't do heights very well. In truth, I felt a bit sick just looking at some of your photos. Thanks for taking us up there with you, though. What an experience! :o)

  6. People are kind enough to say that they would like to be able to wander round at Basildon like I do, but really I think that I would like your job to be able to work in a Cathedral!! It must be amazing. How wonderful that you got to go right to the top of the scaffold, you must really have enjoyed it so much - well, we know you did from this lovely post! The views are amazing and to see the building close up must have been amazing for you too. The glass in the windows is wonderful, I love the way that it is all wibbly and wavy. It must be so very very old. I hope that you can get to go up again once the work is completed and then you can compare the difference in the work that has been done. So fabulous, thank you for taking us along with you!! xx

  7. Wow! That is so interesting. First of all, I think you are a very brave woman!! You would never catch me climbing way up there and if there were an elevator I wouldn't go on it either. BRAVE!! The views are so beautiful but seeing the ancient stonework and stained glass windows way up there is pretty awesome. Imagine building it so long ago. I wonder how many souls died during the construction. I'd say you've had a very exciting week Chel. Thanks for sharing this. Enjoy your weekend. x Pamela

  8. Wow Chel. What a marvelous 'day at work'. Thanks for the beautiful shots of your cathedral up close. We don't often get to see that sort of thing close up. I see in the paper today that our own cathedral has passed all the earthquake requirements but fundraising will need to be done because our diocesan manager wants it to be more than just okay.

    Have a nice weekend.

  9. What a marvellous opportunity. I don't know how you blagged your way up there but I'm glad you did. Whittlesey never looked so good!

  10. Oh Chel, what an amazing experience for you, one I'm sure you will treasure for ever! It is amazing to think how they built these wonderful building back in the day!

  11. How wonderful, and yes you win the 'exciting things I did at work' prize!

  12. This must have been a wonderful experience you will remember for ever. I just can do with your pictures and your lovely story for I fear these heights.

  13. I am speechless....what a day you had !!

  14. What an awesome adventure you had this week Chel! I must say I enjoyed this little excursion immensely! What a rare treat and such lovely shots with your camera. I can't wait to see more. Once again, I love the way you describe what is in the photos. You make us all feel as if we're right there with you...:) Have a blessed Sunday my friend!

    Hugs, Vicky

  15. Wow that was I impressive! And very brave too. I can't imagine climbing up that high and manage to take photos, my attention will be focused on my legs. Bug you are very lucky to have that opportunity to see every detail on this restoration. And to see the most spectacular view. Awesome!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend.


  16. It dies make you wonder how they managed to build such structures all those years ag. I'm not sure that I would have the nerre for that adventure though

  17. What a fabulous opportunity for you - and luck us, that you've shared it. My heart would have been in my mouth at that height!

  18. WOW! Gobsmacked I am..I could never ever do that..I have a fear of heights. Your little town/village looks so pretty. I could live in England..Blessings

  19. What an amazing opportunity. The view from the scaffolding must have been beautiful and to be able to touch all those pieces of history. I bet it's a while before you have such an wonderful day at work.
    Ali xx

  20. That's awesome, you brave lady!!! What an experience it must have been to stand up there and see over the city - and also the windows and bricks so close by ... quite a perspective, when you peeked down with the camera - I was holding in the table here (not so happy about heights ;-)
    One of the life-time events, I'd say!

  21. This adventure was beyond words. So amazing. That shot looking down the scaffolding at the big arched stained glass window took my breath away. Thank you so much for sharing your exciting adventure.

  22. What a fantastic experience. I did nothing as unusual as climbing a cathedral. I'd say you take the prize! Such wonderful close up views that very few people would have the chance to see. The construction of the cathedral is amazing. Thanks for sharing your climb with us.

  23. Chel, I want to thank you for taking me on this fascinating tour. It is something an old
    woman could never do. Thank you so much for this adventure. The village is beautiful.

  24. I just put you on my sidebar. yvonne

  25. Quite impressive and a great tour of the restoration in progress! Thanks for sharing.

  26. Some fabulous photos from your very unique adventure :-)

  27. Wow! What a gorgeous series of photos for OWT and what an experience for you ~ thanks ^_^

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  28. Great shots. Most interesting.

  29. What an experience! You must feel quite privileged to be able to see a work of art up close like that. I'm not sure I would have had the nerve to climb up that scaffolding though.

  30. I must say I have nothing better to offer than climbing a catheral! Your pictures are amazing and we were able thanks to you to see tings we normally never would have been able to see. I'm a little dizzy, though!

  31. All I can is wow! And maybe you are so lucky! Thank you for taking your camera and wearing proper footwear. This is a great post!

  32. Absolutely breathtaking! Some of your photos made me feel a bit woozy!! I would have been so nervous up there! But I would have gone, life is all about the risks :)
    I hope you're having a great week,
    Much love to you,

  33. Oh Chel, what an incredible opportunity for you to be able to explore that magnificent Cathedral up close! How wonderful to see that building in all its glory; what a privilege you were given! Thanks for the tour and being able to experience it through your beautiful pictures!

    Las Vegas, NV

  34. Chel, this was an amazing post! You are very brave to climb that scaffolding...but, wow, was it ever worth it. I really enjoyed your tour, and look forward to your second journey!

  35. Holy noodles woman that was REALLY brave of you I don't think I would have ever done something like that but, it sure paid off you came out with outstanding photography, just beautiful. ♥

  36. Wow! So crazy cool! You are very brave to climb all that way. Something you will never forget. Such an awesome place!


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