Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Cathedral of the Peak - The Interior


A detail of the 'De Bower' tomb

“The Cathedral of the Peak” is a magnificent church and its gradual, essentially uninterrupted change from the Decorated to Perpendicular style is very unusual but, from the viewpoint of a standing buildings archaeologist, there is very little in the external fabric to provide interest and this is reflected in the interior. 

A view east along the nave

Looking down the nave, although the architectural historian will be interested in the unusual quatrefoil sections to the columns in the arcades, which rise nearly to the level of the clerestory, I found it a bit sterile; however, various heads can be seen, as at St.Mary’s church in Nottingham, when looking closely. 

A view west along the nave

As a geologist, with a background in restoring historic buildings, I like to see changes in the styles of masonry or building stones that indicate a major phase of rebuilding or restoration, which record the passing of very many years.That said, the Perpendicular Gothic period brings with it a great sense of achievement in the accomplishment of feats of stonemasonry and, although I barely noticed it at the time – except to take a quick photo – the pulpit here is quite spectacular. 

The pulpit

Moving in to the chancel, the ornate sedilia has quatrefoil mouldings and ogee arches that are also seen in the flat recesses on the opposite wall, and the east end has various ornate niches containing statues – carved in the 1950’s. 

The chancel

Looking at the masonry, large blocks of precisely squared gritstone are used throughout and the most interesting part of this in the chancel is the old roof line and the rubble masonry that is seen either side of the chancel arch, which has surprisingly been left exposed when all of the other masonry is finely finished ashlar

The east side of the chancel arch

In the centre of the chancel, there is the large alabaster chest tomb of Sir Sampson Meverill, d.1462, which is topped with a large slab of Purbeck Marble from Dorset, and set in the floor are the tombs of Sir John Foljambe , d.1348, and Bishop Pursglove, d.1579,both of which are slabs of shelly Carboniferous Limestone inset with a figurative brass


The tomb of Sir Sampson Meverill

The Lady Chapel was unfortunately closed due to safety reasons and I could not take a good look at the effigies of two females, dated c.1300, but I was able to closely examine the most spectacular monument in the church – in the De Bower Chapel


Effigies in the Lady Chapel

Attributed to Sir Thurstan De Bower and his wife Lady Margaret, there is considerable doubt that, being a wealthy yeoman who owned several lead mines, a monument would depict him as a knight in full armour like this. Nonetheless, this defaced grand alabaster monument, restored in 1873, is a work of very fine craftsmanship. 

The 'De Bower' tomb

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