2-Lord Archbishop of York

You can’t visit Peterborough without visiting or at least taking a look at our Cathedral – The outside photographed a zillions times over, we’re going to take a deeper look, the details, items glanced over or taken for granted. We’re going to get up close and personal!

Walking inside everything is awe-inspiring; huge columns spanning out either side of the nave, the coloured ceiling above and as you walk round you see statues and walk over tombs, but do you really take it all in?

Along the aisles look up and you’ll see stone arches cascading away from you. Each individual stone placed exactly to form this amazing pattern overhead. When hazy sunlight comes through the windows it can be ethereal. (1)

Pass the transept to an impressive monument. Ever cold, a smooth marble body of The Lord Archbishop of York who died 5th May 1891. Look closer at eyebrows, hair and body lines carefully sculptured. (2) (William Connor Magee was offered the position of 26th Bishop of Peterborough by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli for his previous oration successes regarding the disestablishment.)

You’ll nearly miss a bland rectangle of concrete which is the empty tomb of Mary Queen of Scots. Buried here in August 1587 after her beheading in nearby Fotheringhay, later exhumed and moved to Westminster Abbey. Today it’s the wrought iron curls that attract detail to this area and when looking through them you’ll see into the sanctuary area and Apse Chapel. (3) Go in under the arch and look up to the 15th century wood Presbytery ceiling. It’s as much stunning as the nave ceiling with so much detail in carvings, you can’t imagine it being created so long ago. (4)

In the heart of the Cathedral nave is the choir area – dark and cruel intricate wood carvings everywhere, almost warning not to be touched, but do take the time for a closer look at the workmanship in them whether above your head or in front of your knees. (5) Now, not so uncomfortable for their modern-day occupants, you may get a glimpse of brightly stitched cushions for our choristers neatly lined up in highly polished pews. (6)
The ultimate neck-aching must-see is the unique 13th century wooden painted nave ceiling. Suspended 25m above it has 4 rows of 40 panels forming a diamond pattern with individual figures at their centres including 6 kings, 4 bishops/archbishops, St Peter and many more – for ease why not use the unique rolling mirror! (7)

There is so much more to see here if you spend a while. The Cathedral is unfortunately closed to the public except for private prayer, but once this glorious building is open again, come and see for yourself. There is no entry fee, just donate to aid this amazing building’s upkeep – You can now purchase Cathedral Keys as a way of donating to this wonderful building which will help with their loses through this last year’s lockdowns – you’ll find more information here: www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk

This was the Spark Magazine article 6 for March 2021.

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