Sunday, 31 August 2008

Exeter Cathedral - Friday

After going to the University on Friday morning I made my way into the City Centre for a wander around. My first stop was the cathedral area. St Peters Cathedral was first built in Norman times, around 1114, and its present form was finished around 1375. The two magnificent towers are the main survivors of the original construction.

Beneath the cathedral's green there lies a Roman bathhouse. Excavated in the 1970's after its rediscovery - it was then subsequently wrapped and recovered a few years later. This bathhouse was built by the Roman Army and used by its soldiers of the Second Augustan Legion. There have been talks over the years to re-excavate the area for permanent public display. Personally, I like the green as it is.

A look at some of the gargoyles and faces led me to an internal debate about the relative merits of conservation and restoration. Some of the old ones are so weathered that they are almost obliterated. By contrast there are some in pristine condition. Some have been created as part of the restoration works over the years and I am torn between wanting to see what the original building is like (even in a weathered state) and enjoying the skill of the modern craftsmen working on what is effectively a living building.

I'm not quite sure why this bishop is holding what appears to be his own head!

The Three Gables in the Cathedral precincts were built in 1540 and were occupied by the craftsmen employed by the Cathedral.

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