Appreciating Architecture

Appreciating Architecture

Jack Burns (L6, NH)

Mr Nelson took a number of enthusiastic Sixth Form students for a guided tour of one of the country’s most treasured and important cathedrals, Gloucester Cathedral. This was part of the architecture activity that aims to provide pupils with a better understanding of Europe’s, and the rest of the world’s, buildings, styles and movements, which all help shape the environment in which we live today.

Richard Cann (DB, 1955), an Old Cheltonian who knows nearly everything there is to this complex and fascinating building, gave the guided tour. The cathedral is most famous for its massive stained glass window at the east, which is the same size as a tennis court! This window is of significant value and importance and is rivalled only by York Minster as the largest stained glass window in the country. It is of such importance that it was dismantled and brought down to the crypt during the Second World War. Throughout the rest of the cathedral there are 156 stained glass windows, each depicting another significant moment in biblical, English and local history. Furthermore the cloisters enjoy some of Europe’s best display of fan vaulting: intricate and complex stone carvings in the ceiling and walls, the very first of its kind.

Gloucester Cathedral has seen many events over the time of its existence. It is the burial place of King Edward II and in 1216 Henry III was crowned there, breaking the perceived tradition of all coronations being in Westminster Abbey. The Domesday Book, created by William the Conqueror, was commissioned within the cathedral and stated that all residents of England should be recorded along with how much land they owned. This was a revolutionary idea and has evolved into the modern day census. The style and structure of the building also has a rich and intriguing history. The building employs two unique styles, the first being Norman and the second Perpendicular. The later style was employed after the old Benedictine Abbey was converted into a cathedral.

I greatly enjoyed this tour and it has inspired me to carry on with my architectural studies and I hope that I may go back in the near future to view this incredible building in more detail.

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