Although I’ve lived in Manchester as a student since 2007, I’d never actually been inside the cathedral until yesterday, when me and my friend Tristan resolved to visit it to make up for the fact that we didn’t go to see Lincoln Cathedral yesterday as we had originally planned because we were both too tired to get up early enough. The hoots of fascists are in the air, and so we get curtailed by deciding to look at the protest first. Well, Tristan decides to, because he’s actually interested in politics, in a kind of preachy way. I actually study politics and philosophy, but I’m mostly committed to the philosophy side, and anything political that isn’t normative postulating bores me to death, so I’d rather just avoid the dangerous atmosphere. And then there’s a service going on for the St John’s ambulance when we finally do get to the cathedral, so we miss the chance to get a guided tour because we have to wait an hour (till four, when apparently tours normally finish) for it to finish to get in. Manchester Cathedral is mostly famous for its 16th-century misericords, which really are cool, ace intricate designs of mysterious beasts and all that, though a lot of them seemed to have been turned up today. There’s a tiny nave and the chancel is right in the centre so its really a very unusually-shaped cathedral. By the time we’ve got there, there really is that unpleasant ‘about to close’ vibe to it, so I feel kind of uncomfortable.
The diocese of Manchester was only created in 1847, but this church has been there for aaaages, being charted as a collegiate church by Henry V for example (the collegiate buildings are now the Cheatham’s School of Music, or some of them are, or more). But really, the main history that seems to get emphasised is the big-time bombing of the cathedral during World War II, where the ‘Ely Chapel’ got totally destroyed. Now instead there is the Chapel for the Royal Manchester Regiment & The King’s Regiment which has a) a really cool flame stained-glassed window and b) An exhibition there currently called A4 God (art for God), which ostensibly “reflects the name of God who is everywhere, like sheets of A4 paper”. Brilliant. But, as far as smaller cathedrals serving post-industrial revolution dioceses go, its got nothing on Birmingham Cathedral, really.
[pictures to follow, one day]