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The exhibition in the south transept viewed from the crossing tower
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Pearsons’ tomb from ground-level
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Pearson’s tomb from above

A further advantage of being in Chester Cathedral this afternoon as part of the Speaking with the Dead exhibition was that I got a chance to take a tower tour. This was great fun and with an expert guide. In addition to a fabulous set of views of the cathedral building itself inside and out, there were mortuary dimensions as you might expect!

An archaeodeath advantage of the tower tour was a chance to view the exhibition during my ascent up the crossing tower of the cathedral; our large display boards are dwarfed by the space of the south transept. This is a good thing; since our displays do not impede movement around the space or access to the tombs, memorials and chapels.

I also got a different take on cathedral tombs and memorials during my ascent. It allowed me to look down upon the Victorian memorial to the 17th century bishop and theologian Pearson, situated in the north transept. I include here views of this monument from the ground as experienced by the visitor and worshipper, and the striking view as seen from above, a more exclusive gaze onto the memorialised dead.

Also, it was fascinating to see mural monuments from above, as I did at Birmingham Cathedral. They seem so high from below, but again, their scale and design do not operate from the distances and height of the tower. Perhaps an obvious point, but one that reminds us of the careful consideration for scales and angles involved when these monuments were designed and located (or relocated as in many instances).

Furthermore and conversely, it was an opportunity to see some of the Victorian memorial stained glass up close as well; text intended to be seen from down below. There was also historic graffiti on the walks up to the tower; another commemorative dimension as discussed at Coventry Cathedral.

I also got a chance to see the bells – a commemorative material culture in their own right – and a commemoration of their first ringing in modern times.

On the outside, I got to view down onto the cloister garth – itself a commemorative space. Further afield, I got to view out over the city from the vantage point of the tower and in very high winds to my home in North Wales!

A further form of commemoration is encouraged by Chester Cathedral: tower selfies. My selfie was a bit naff since I angled it too high and blotted out the view, still, here it is.

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Roman columns reused in the Romanesque architecture of the Norman cathedral
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IMG_20141021_160841 Memorial stained glass, seen up close
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Memorial stained glass
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Another commemorative dimension: bells names
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medieval tombs, stained glass windows, memorial trees and plaques: the memorial space of Chester Cathedral cloister garth and walks
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the cathedral’s largest bell
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View from Chester Cathedral tower towards my home in North Wales
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View from Chester Cathedral Tower
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My tower selfie

 

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