Next to a glass case, tucked away in Gloucester Cathedral, is a plaque that reads:
This processional cross
is used regularly for processions during
services and was used for the
Queen Elizabeth II in 1953
The processional cross rests in the glass case.
You have to love these unexpected finds. Cathedrals hold an unbelievable role in history. The artefacts inside are often no less engaging.
I drag Megan into cathedrals and churches each time we travel. I think she is starting to catch onto why I do this. Even so, I feel a little monotonous each time I suggest we venture towards the church spire in the distance.
My family’s quizzical response to our wanting to visit Gloucester for a day trip was not entirely unjustified. Gloucester is not high on the list of must see cities in the United Kingdom. Yet our trip last December has been a source of fond memories over the year.
The city was helped by being covered in a beautiful layer of frost when we got off the train. The crisp clear morning air combined with glittering frost covering every surface dispelled any preconceived notion of a drab uninspiring destination.
It is worth noting the train platforms in Gloucester are long; where we stepped down from the train had me wondering if we had even reached the city proper. In both directions were industrial looking buildings and a platform that stretched on and on. We had arrived. It was just a bit of a walk to the station buildings and then into the centre.
Gloucester is not unlike Hereford or another regional county town. The usual selection of shops and cafes are here, along with a cathedral that dominates the list of must see sights.
In the cathedral grounds a robin flitted close by.
What we were unprepared for was the redevelopment of the docks. Now an area proudly labelled as Gloucester Quays. A once industrial section of the city transformed into apartments and a factory outlet centre. All very new and busy with shoppers.
Having been I can recommend a day trip to anyone passing nearby. I am not sure I can recommend specific sights or things to do, but we spent our time easily wandering around. Gloucester turned out to be a surprisingly photogenic town.
We had been advised to visit Sainte-Chapelle but had not researched what to expect. When we arrived there was a short queue of about half an hour’s worth of waiting. The queue consisted mainly of Europeans with a heavy leaning towards Italian being the main language.
The chapel is on two floors. The ground floor, where you enter, is beautiful and alone worth the time to visit. There is an obligatory shop embedded on the left hand side. Odd but not unexpected in a popular tourist destination.
We joined the visitors milling around quietly. Lots of photos, lots of hushed whispers. After a reasonable amount of time, Megan and I decided it was time to move on. At this moment, I had presumed we had seen the chapel proper and that the upper floor would be more or less the same.
The upper floor is a treat. The small spiral stone stairs are tucked away in a corner. They take you from the lower floor and up out into the main chapel. Immediately you are surrounded on three sides by huge towering expanses of stained glass. It took a moment to adjust.
I took my photos, most of which turned out badly, and some footage. The resulting short film of Sainte-Chapelle comes closest to recreating the visit.
There are photos on the Internet that try to capture the awe. These photos feel overworked and artificial compared to what we saw. There is something reassuring in that seeing Sainte-Chapelle in person, you gain an experience that is impossible to replicate remotely.
What photos I took that did survive the difficult lighting are reasonable. A selection are below.
Having experienced the sensory overload of Sainte-Chapelle’s two floors, it would forgivable to overlook the outside. Sainte-Chapelle is a religious building enclosed within a courtyard. Surrounded on all sides by administrative buildings the chapel is difficult to photograph in isolation or at any distance. The views looking up however exude power and prestige.