on December 30, 2009
Manchester Cathedral near to Harvey Nichols, Urbis and Victoria Station unfortunately was also near to the site of an IRA bomb in 1996. Nearby buildings reduced to rubble but the cathedral escaped with minor damage. It looked a bit like a bomb-site when we visited though as scaffolding, because of continuous maintenance, hid part of the interior.Restored during the Victorian era, there is still much of the original medieval architecture. The cathedral stretches back to 1421 though evidence of an early Saxon church here comes from the Angel Stone discovered embedded in the wall of the original South Porch of the Cathedral in the 19th century. This stone dated back to around 700 CE. The present day building is in Perpendicular Gothetic style replete with tall windows and flat fan-vaulted ceilings and is dedicated to St Mary, St Denys and St George. It was given cathedral status in 1847 and is now the seat of the Bishop of Manchester. A tower was added in 1868, which enhances the striking majesty of the church. It contains 10 bells, which are rung for church services on a Sunday. A side chapel is dedicated to the Manchester Regiment and contains its old colours. Located in the oldest part of the city - overlooking the river Irwell, between St Ann's Square and Victoria Station - it is a popular tourist attraction with fine stained-glass windows, wonderful carvings and the widest nave of its kind in Britain. The recently finished Visitor's Centre provides an intimate experience for newcomers to the cathedral. While it's mainly used as a church, it also hosts concerts, exhibitions and occasional multimedia events.Some of the most historically important parts of the cathedral are the woodcarvings. The quire stalls have a hinged seat arrangement known as a misericord, which gave support to the back during long services. Hidden on the underside of the seats are carvings of mediaeval tales and legends dating from the 16th century.The misericords are some of the finest in Europe. Many of them depict a moral. In one of them a woman is scolding a man for breaking a cooking pot - a warning to careless husbands perhaps? In another, men are playing backgammon, no doubt the carvers had heard the mediaeval priests denouncing the game as the devil’s own for hindering church attendance. There's painstakingly carved features around the whole building. In the middle of the church, look up and you will see angels playing musical instruments as they did in the 15th century. Many of the stained-glass windows look surprisingly modern. This is because the Germans in World War II hit the building with a bomb, which caused damage that took 20 years to repair. The Fire Window in the Regiment Chapel records the destruction. The IRA bomb of 1996 damaged it but it is again in new condition. Outside there are splendid stone gargoles and a golden Madonna.This historic building is well worth a visit. The architecture inside and out is magnificent.
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