Newsletter – May 2008

May 11th, 2008 by JCope

Joan Ryder opened the meeting on 6th May by welcoming new members and visitors, confirming the arrangements for the May Social and detailing the walk to Arley on 11th May before introducing Keith Cattell and his talk On a Wing and a Prayer – The Cathedral Builders.

We started with the first Saxon cathedrals and then moved on to Norman developments and subsequent rebuilding of many Saxon cathedrals.  Keith’s illustrations were not limited to British cathedrals and we were able to compare our familiar churches with those in continental Europe.

We learned how these buildings, which were the largest structures in the world until Victoria’s reign, were constructed.  Where did the stone come from?  What craftsmen were involved?  Why did construction only go on for eight months of the year?  Which end was completed first?  Keith answered all these and many more questions.  He took us through the development of vaulted ceilings, the emergence of the Gothic style, the use of flying buttresses and explored the reasons for some of the collapses and near-disasters.  The sheer audacity of the domes at Florence and St Paul’s left us full of admiration for their respective architects and then, all too soon, Keith was winding up his fascinating presentation with a look at the two twentieth century cathedrals in Liverpool and at Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona.

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