Notes on the Cathedrals (Classic Reprint)

Notes on the Cathedrals (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Notes on the Cathedrals

The object, then, of these Notes' is not merely to give tables of building dates, but also to show how closely the cathedrals are knit with the general history of the land. The lives of the bishops, many of them the leading statesmen of their day, are full of interest, and their monuments, together with those of others not less worthy, arrest attention with an endless variety of story. We stand at the shrine of St. Alban, as thousands of pilgrims have stood before, and the early history of Christianity in Britain is recalled. Not that we are quite at the beginning, for Chichester, with its interesting legend of Pudens and Claudia, carries us back to a still earlier time. But both remind us that the Christian religion came to our country with the Romans. At Durham, the name of Cuthbert is romantically linked with thoughts of Iona, the Celtic missions, and the coming of the Danes. Canterbury tells of Augustine, of the Norman Conquest, of the establishment of foreign prelates in England, of the subsequent contests between the secular powers and the Church, of Chaucer and his Pilgrims. And so we might go on, associating different periods of history with different cathedrals: Salisbury, and Lichfield, and York, with the great building age; Winchester with the growth of public schools, and the Universities; Gloucester with the martyrs; Worcester with Cromwell; St. Paul's, and Wakefield with modern times. It would perhaps be best to link Liverpool with the future. For the faithful and the rich of Liverpool are now building a cathedral worthy of themselves, of their great city, and of the Church. But although periods or epochs of history be coupled with particular cathedrals, it must be remem bered that each can tell nearly the whole history of England in its own way. At St. Albans for instance, just as the very stones speak of every date from Roman times to that of the modern restorer, so its associations take us back to the earliest period in the history of our country, and carry us thence, through the Conquest, the Middle Ages, the story of Becket, the Peasant Rising, the Wars of the Roses, the Reformation, to the trans formation of the old monastic church into the cathedral of to-day.

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