Thursday, June 19, 2008

The magnificent spire...

...of Chichester Cathedral soars above West Sussex, a landmark from coast and Downs alike. So it was interesting to read, in an excellent historical display in the Cathedral, of how it collapsed in the 1860s one ferociously stormy night, after great cracks had been appearing in the walls and despoerate engineering work had failed to stem off the disaster. The spire was rebuilt thanks to the speedy and effective generosity of local landowners, including the Duke of Norfolk. It is said that a group of them gathered for a breakfast meeting soon after the disaster and immediately agreed that Sussex' greatest landmark must be restored, and before the ham and eggs were even finished, they had each agreed to give a generous sum.

The Cathedral was at its most glorious in mellow sunshine. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had telescopes set up in the cloister so that one could view the peregrines who are nesting on the roof. A Memorial Service for some distinguished person was taking place inside and the sound of voices raised in "Tell out, my soul" rang out as I walked round to the West Door.

I was in Chichester to award prizes and certificates gained in the Association of Catholic Women/CTS Schools Religious Education Project by pupils at St Richard's School. A delightful afternoon: the solemn small boy who had won Second Prize wasn't sure if he was allowed to open his parcel, and sat politely holding it very tightly, until I suggested that we open it together, and he was thrilled with the three beautiful books that emerged, while the Headmistress was even more delighted with the generous cheque for the school, which he was able to hand over to her with a suitable flourish.

Later I met, by pre-arrangement, the team from Continuity organising this year's Martyrs' Walk in London on Saturday. Come and join us! Just turn up at 11 am at Tower Hill (we're gathering at the site of St Thomas More's execution)

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