We visit Winchester Cathedral quite often; this time we had been told about the flower festival. After a late breakfast at Wetherspoons we sauntered down the road to the cathedral. It was a week day so we weren’t expecting to see a queue to get into the cathedral, but a flower festival by definition can only last a short time.
It was worth the wait; it was a flower festival like no other I have ever seen and the rich colours cannot be conveyed in the pictures. What can be shown is the crowds. There were a lot of very English,’ excuse mes’ and ‘sorrys’ as we all tried to take photos or stay out of the way of other people taking them. Winchester is very light inside and gazing up you could forget you were not alone.
The rich reds, blues and purples reflected this year’s theme which was inspired by the Winchester Bible.
The Winchester Bible is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles. A single scribe wrote out its text in Latin, while artists worked its exquisitely illuminated capital letters. Their glowing colours, including gold and lapis lazuli, are as intense today as 800 years ago.
We have never seen the Bible. On a previous visit, hoping to see it, we were informed with great satisfaction by an officious lady that the room where it was kept was closed that day! This time we could have queued to see one volume in a temporary exhibition, but made the decision to queue for the crypt.
Down here, often standing in water, is Antony Gormley’s statue. Cyberspouse got a picture years ago when he pushed open a door that was ajar to see where it went; that time the statue was a complete surprise. This time the surprise was to see a candlelit path to the man with cupped hands.
On staycation you visit places for the day that others may have travelled across the world to see. We chatted to a couple who had come down from the North, but had the convenience of a son-in-law who worked at the cathedral and lived in the cathedral close, so they had free delightful accomodation and the opportunity to look round when everyone else had gone home.
In my novel Three Ages of Man the stranger has never seen anything as old and solid as a cathedral and marvels as he lays his hands on the stone walls of Winchester Cathedral.