Durham Cathedral – one of the wonders of the world

For over 900 years, Durham Cathedral has stood atop the peninsula in a twist of the River Wear in Durham City.

Durham Cathedral from Palace Green
Durham Cathedral From Palace Green

The forty year long construction process started back in 1093AD and work to conserve, protect and maintain the building is a constant labour of love for a highly skilled team of crafts people.

This ancient building remains very much a working church and those who wish to do so, may still attend regularly services.

The Sanctuary Knocker

Up until the 1800s, the Bishops of Durham were known as Prince Bishops. Their power meant they effectively ruled the area with the power of the King Himself.

On the north door to the cathedral you will find the fearsome Sanctuary Knocker. During the Middle Ages the Cathedral would provide a refuge for people running from the law. If someone who had committed a serious crime could get to the cathedral and knock on the north door, they could claim ‘sanctuary’.

The process of sanctuary effectively bought the accused a thirty seven day breathing period to put their life in order. They then had to face trial for the crimes of which they were accused, or leave the country forever by the nearest sea-port.

The tower from the cloisters

There are still stories told about men sprinting towards the north door, laying their hand upon the knocker and shouting “Sanctuary!” only for the Parish Constable in pursuit to have to stand back and respect the authority of the Bishop.

The Cloisters are may favourite part of the cathedral. Here you can sit in quiet contemplation in the fresh air, though the more eagle-eyed reader may recognise the cloisters which appeared in the one of the early ‘Harry Potter’ films.

You can find out so much more about the cathedral at its own website https://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/

The Rose Window
The Rose Window

 

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