Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dunblane Cathedral

On my way to work a week ago, I took a small detour and dropped into Dunblane, mainly for a look at  Dunblane Cathedral  . The first bishop of Dunblane dates back to 1150 but it was  Bishop Clement in the 13th century that built most of cathedral. The tower you see at the front is older, it dates back to the 11th century - at least it does up to the obvious change in the masonry - it was made taller in the 15th century. There was extensive restoration in the late 19th century. The roof had fallen in of the Nave (in the picture below, the left hand half of the building) in the 16th century and had remained that way for 300 years - services were held in the choir (the right hand half).

In 1564 William Chisholm became the last Catholic bishop of Dunblane and with the Protestant reformation the church moved to the Church of Scotland. Like St Giles in Edinburgh, Dunblane Cathedral it technically just a church - the Church of Scotland has no bishops and therefore no cathedral, though St Giles and Dunblane are still referred to as Cathedrals. Also, unusually, Dunblane Cathedral is owned by the Crown and looked after by Historic Scotland. 

A view of the inside of the choir.

From about half way down the choir, looking past the choir screen into the nave.

There are some medieval choir stalls in the choir and at the back of the nave (not in use of course) with some interesting carvings on them. This is the best photograph I managed of them (actually it's the only one with any suggestion of being in focus at all in it)

I managed better with the Misericords (fold down seats, sometimes called mercy seats, that when folded up can still be used for some support when standing - they usually have curious carvings underneath, often rude or pagan). This I think is a leopard with a fine set of wallies (that's dentures to the non Scots out there).

A bat.

Not quite the usual design but very definitely a green man.

A dragon with his tail in a knot.

Next to the choir is the chapterhouse, which the Cathedrals website thinks may have been used as a temporary church while the rest of the Cathedral was being built.

Amongst others, it contains this window by Douglas Strachan (remember him from St Giles in this blog ). More from him on my  windows blog.

At the back of the nave are two early christian cross slabs - sign says 10th or 11th century.

 A quick shot from the back of the nave down through the whole church.

This little window in a chapel at the back of the nave is of the churches main builder, Bishop Clement. It's by Gordon Webster, who did several of the buildings windows (more from him at Windows soon). It's certainly the smallest window I saw there.

Mr Webster's drawing for the window is hanging in the museum across the road. 

Also in the chapel are some examples of calligraphy by Helen Lamb. There are several pieces of her work throughout the cathedral including war registers in the chapter house and....

...this cradle roll.

Most of the woodwork in the church dates to the restoration under the command of Scottish architect Robert Rowand Anderson in the late 19th century. Including this pulpit surrounded by historical figures.

This is David I.

The ends of the pews are nicely carved with a selection of flowers.

The pews at the front have a selection of animals - I was quite glad this fine fellow was the one that came out in focus.

An angel from the choir stall.

On the South wall of the nave are a few windows by Louis Davis. The one below is St George giving the dragon a hard time again and Hope on the other side. He really excelled himself in a set of windows in the choir though. I've done a post about them here.

The 13th of March in 1996 in Dunblane saw Scotland's darkest day of my lifetime at least. This carved stone commemorates the 16 children and their teacher who were murdered that day.

Outside, and I'm sure people thought that a good strong iron gravestone would be a great idea - not that you can read much on them now.

There's a few extra pieces of medieval church carving in the museum across the road. This one features a savage looking dragon.

A much safer and apparently vegetarian dragon.

Adam and Eve perhaps. A fine set of whiskers on the chap for certain, which he seems to like to stroke, and quite a jawline on the young lady.


The Glebe Blog said...

Another fascinating post Sandy. Some interesting carvings too.
Now Cathedrals and City status is something I've never got my head around.
A while back the Galloway Gazette run an item about Whithorn and whether it had the right to call itself a city because it's priory also served as a cathedral.
Dornoch and Fortrose also possess pre-Reformation cathedrals. The mind boggles !

Sandy's witterings said...

Jim, This looked like a good candidate for a small investigation with my morning cuppa. Looks like city status is connected officially to towns with a city charter and in England and Wales seems to be those with an Anglican Cathedral before 1907. I didn't see how they worked it out here in the promised land. Nowadays they seem to take a more general role. I should think that Dunblane might get city status after Mr Murray became the nations hero last Sunday but I see Whithorn's chances as slim.

Lou Mary said...

This looks like a really interesting cathedral. I visited so many cathedrals and churches when I travelled around eastern and central Europe last summer!

Sandy's witterings said...

Lou Mary, It's probably easier getting into a church in Eastern/central Europe - I was in Krakow a couple of years ago and you could spend a week doing churches there. Unfortunately here, unless they're big of historically significant, most Scotish churches are firmly locked outside Sunday morning - Not Dunblane though where I found a second church open.

s.c said...

Ha, you covered that church very good. The theme if a city is a city or more a village is also present in the Netherlands . The city where our government is situated, the Hague, never got a city permit and the capital of the land, Amsterdam got it in 1306 but has and had no government institutions within its borders. ( In 1806 during the french occupation of Napoleon the status of the Hague was corrected but a lot of people don't think that that is right.)

Sandy's witterings said...

S.C. I knew The Hague had the government but didn't know the bit about the city status. Information is always gratefully accepted - thank you.
I visited The Hague with a friend a couple of years ago, on a day trip from Amsterdam. There's still a lot I've to see there (and Amsterdam too especially since the Rijksmuseum modernisation is done and opened). Not surprisingly, the visit is on here at and half a dozen posts in the month after it.

Lyn said...

What a fascinating post, I love the old and new mixed inside.
Thank you also for leaving a lovely comment on my blog.

Poppy (aka Val) said...

Great blog Sandy, I love Cathedrals as you know, this is another one I would love to visit :) Wonderful carvings and gorgeous stained glass, what more could anyone want? I am off now to check out the new blog:):)

Meggie said...

Lovely post...I'm one of your newest followers. I will be traveling to Scotland in October. I also write about the churches in my area of Texas.

Sandy's witterings said...

Welcome Lyn, churches seem really very good at incorporatng the old and new - I'm sure that there are traditionalists who grumble about it but they certainly don't have the upper hand. I can think of no better use for an ancient gothic window than to fill it with spanking new, multicoloured glass.

Val, it's been on my list for a while - considering I've driven so near it regularly for the last couple of years, it's long overdue. Dunblane's very near Stirling which has a good castle.

Welcome Meggie, hopefully we'll get a good warm Autumn for your trip. But plenty of indoor things over here if the weather fails to produce the goods. Some of the scenery's still great in bad weather. Enjoy.

Rosie said...

Thanks for visiting my blog - I left you a reply about the opening of St Pedrog's church. Your photos of the cathedral are wonderful. I particularly like the carved figures and the stained glass - the old and new fits together so well:)

Sandy's witterings said...

Thanks Rosie, as I mentioned to Lyn, churches seem good at old and new (though new is now only relative - the Webster windows from the 1960s are very new)

Linda said...

I've only been in Dunblane Cathedral once, at a wedding, and of course didn't see any of the detail for all the stramash. Thanks for the tour.

Sandy's witterings said...

I'd been in once before as well Linda, but don't remember the windows. One of the kids was doing some filming for something or other and I seem to remember it being a very dark building - they must have had some curtains up I think.

Shundo said...

Bringing up the rear again...
I liked the colour of the stone - presumably it has had a clean since the last restoration. Beautiful carvings and glass, though St George doesn't look old enough to be wielding a dragon-slaying blade.

Sandy's witterings said...

Shundo, A building like that in the city would certainly be black after a century of passing steam trains and other smokey emmissions. I'm not sure how grimey the air would have been out in Dunblane - certainly looks quite clean for it's age.

St George does look rather young - reminds me a bit of Narnia having a boy in armour. There's so many images of St George letting the dragon have it that I'm starting to feel quite sorry for the dragon.