The problem with expectations is that they leave room for disappointment. We sadly admit that we were rather disappointed with England’s Durham Cathedral. Bill Bryson, one of our favorite writers (and not just among travel writers), has called Durham’s Cathedral one of the grandest in Europe. It is indeed grand, but we were underwhelmed. Had it not been for their summer exhibition of the Magna Carta, and if we weren’t making our way to eventually see all of England’s cathedrals, we might not have even mentioned it in a blog.
|The Nave of Ripon Cathedral: Note the Different Arch Shapes|
|Different Arch Shapes and Heights|
On the other hand, having no expectations leaves as much room for pleasant surprises, as we experienced with the Ripon Cathedral in Ripon, England (the same Ripon oft-mentioned in “Downton Abbey”). It might not be as large as its cousin to the north, but we think it’s considerably more interesting. The current structure is 800 years old, and a church has stood on the same spot since the 7th century, so it’s age rivals that of the cathedral in Durham. Owing to its construction and rework and repairs through the centuries, it’s central tower sports four different arch types and heights: some might call it architecturally inconsistent, we think it wonderfully interesting.
The Ripon Cathedral has fascinating art and a splendid little treasury. You can descend into the crypt, and photos are allowed throughout the church. And finally, on the back of one of the seats in the quire is a curious carving of a griffin chasing a rabbit while another rabbit (to the right) escapes into a hole. This carving is believed to have inspired Lewis Carroll in his writing of “Alice of Wonderland” (the author’s father had once been a canon in Ripon).
|Griffin Chasing Rabbits, Inspiration for “Alice in Wonderland”|
|Ornate Quire Entrance|