Posts Tagged ‘churches’

Living close to places of interest often means we pass them by, assuming we’ll get round to visiting some time or another, which is what has happened with me and Chichester Cathedral. I had never been inside, until this week when, after meeting friends for lunch in the town, I remedied this oversight. On first impression, the interior is very much like any other cathedral – except that there is a rather stunning altar piece tapestry designed by John Piper, paintings by Patrick Procktor and Graham Sutherland and a beautiful stained glass window by Marc Chagall.

Depiction of Psalm 150, Marc Chagall, Chichester Cathedral

Depiction of Psalm 150, Marc Chagall, Chichester Cathedral

This immediately brought to mind an outing I took last year with my mother – on her suggestion that she and I visit a tiny church in the Kent village of Tudeley. She had been before, and thought I’d be interested.

I was. I was astonished.

All Saints' Tudeley

All Saints’ Tudeley

Views across the Weald of Kent

Views across the Weald of Kent

All Saints’ Tudeley sits nestled in beautiful countryside, overlooking the Weald. From the outside, although pretty, it looks similar to many other small churches in this area, but inside…well, the inside is unbelievable.

The walls are whitewashed which complements the stonework and instantly this evokes an airy atmosphere of meditative calm.

Light through the windows onto white walls and honeyed stonework

Light through the windows onto white walls and honeyed stonework

The windows, all twelve of them, were designed by Marc Chagall. It is the only church in the world to have all its windows decorated by the Russian artist – and it’s only here in the UK and in Chichester where his stained glass can be appreciated.

Chagall was originally commissioned to design the east window at Tudeley in 1963 for Sir Henry and Lady d’Avigdor-Goldsmid in memory of their daughter.

Window commissioned as a memorial to a drowned daughter

Window commissioned as a memorial to a drowned daughter

He had been searching for a place of worship in which to display his stained glass since being disappointed at his artificially lit windows, depicting the Twelve Tribes of Israel, at the synagogue of the Hassadah Medical Centre in Jerusalem. When he arrived at Tudeley for the inauguration in 1967, he was so taken by its simplicity and natural light that he agreed to decorate all the windows.

An abstraction of butterflies

An abstraction of butterflies

The final windows to be installed, those of the chancel, were fitted in 1985 – the year of Chagall’s death.

Find out more about the church at Tudeley here.

Churches seem to house the most unexpected works of art which, unless you visit on the off chance and discover them for yourself or you hear by word of mouth, these treasures are likely to remain hidden forever.

John Piper's tapestry at the altar, Chichester Cathedral

John Piper’s tapestry at the altar, Chichester Cathedral

Noli me Tangere, by Graham Sutherland, tucked away in Chichester Cathedral

Noli me Tangere, by Graham Sutherland, tucked away in Chichester Cathedral

Read more about Chichester Cathedral here.

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In Bruges

We’re just back from a weekend in Bruges. How we have missed visiting this little gem of a Belgian city for so long I can’t imagine, it being so accessible from home.  We left at 9.00 am on Saturday and were tucking into moules frites at lunch time in Burg Square. Unusually for us, our journey was without setback – straight down to Folkestone, through the tunnel and out of Calais before you could say traffic jam, industrial action or unforeseen weather conditions.

The only hitch encountered was when Sat-Nav woman gave up once we were within the city walls, leaving us high and dry and armed only with a historical walking map. A fair amount of swearing ensued, which for those familiar with the film, “In Bruges,” was suitably fitting.

The city is crammed with churches (including the Basilica which alleges to have a fragment of the Holy Blood); once we’d exhausted all things ecclesiastical we found the most amazing exhibition of Picasso’s drawings shown alongside contemporaries such as Cocteau, Braque and Chagall. It was almost too much to take in to be honest, so a visit to several chocolate shops redressed that particular cultural overload.

I’d recommend a trip to Bruges –  it doesn’t involve flying, which has, for us, on many occasions, ruined a short break by conspiring to make it even shorter through delays and cancellations.  No hanging around in air-conditioned lounges for hours on end either – almost independent travelling – marvellous!

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