Lancercost Abbey and Carlisle Cathedral
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Lanercost Abbey and Carlisle Cathedral

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Churches Together of Fulwood & Broughton
Pilgrimage - September 7th 2002
Lanercost Priory near Carlisle A day of brilliant sunshine and heavy showers for the trip - with two coaches on this occasion - to the northern borders of Cumbria, beginning here with Lanercost Abbey. It was founded about 1144 as an Augustinian priory. A quiet and peaceful place today, it is difficult to imagine it during times of violent Border warfare in the Middle Ages. Pillaged by the Scots in revenge for the invasion of Scotland by King John, laid waste again by Robert the Bruce, and still being harried by the Scots in the 16th century it is amazing that so much of it has survived in good condition.
The nave of the church was massively restored in the 19th century, but the rest of the church and the monastic buildings extended over a very large area beyond, only half showing here. Ruins of Lanercost Priory near Carlisle
 
vaulted roof at Lanercost Priory
A 19th century baby girl sleeps peacefully in a side chapel alongside the roofless nave

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Carlisle Cathedral

Carlisle Cathedral The history of this Cathedral, the other destination on this pilgrimage, is similar to that of Lanercost, as it too was caught up in Border warfare for a long time. Ten years after its foundation, also as an Augustinian Priory, in 1823 it became the cathedral.

Much later, following the siege of Carlisle during the civil war in 1644 General Leslie tore down the nave which had been in ruins since the dissolution of the monasteries, taking quantities of stone from there, the cloisters and other buildings to help repair the city walls and castle.

Serious restoration work was begun about 1835 - and is still ongoing. The cathedral is now one of the smallest in the country, only 39ft of the original 140 ft of the Norman nave still remaining.

Problems of subsidence faced by early builders can be seen clearly in the Norman arches. The topmost arch is rounded but the lowest one had to sink and settle first before building could continue! The architecture of the later columns and archways is quite obviously different.


Although the cathedral grew ever more elaborate much of the work done was to illustrate stories - in 'cartoon' form for those who could not read. The later aisles are lined with panels (left), or carved 'in 3D' as back pieces to an altar (right) The stories 'told' range from Biblical themes to lives of the saints.
East window, Carlisle Cathedral The cathedral would have been a blaze of colour, lit by the magnificent Decorated East window (left), which has the original mediaeval glass in the upper tracery.
Every inch of wall and column was painted,
the nave being topped by a barrel-vaulted ceiling, (visible left)
restored hopefully in the original colours (above)

Here a small selection from the choir stalls, which included mediaeval seats with elaborate carvings - some serious, some just for fun. The oak, black with age, would originally have been quite pale, biscuit-coloured, with statues in every niche.

Evensong to conclude our visit...

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The fratry, Carlisle Cathedral

This building, opposite the main door of the Cathedral, housed the refectory which is now the library, but visitors can obtain refreshment in the undercroft beneath where we concluded our visit with a splendid tea. Below a selection of the photos taken....



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