Over the coming week, to mark today's Feast of Consecration, members of our community will be sharing their favourite part of the cathedral as a special thanksgiving for our building. Today the Precentor shares his favourite space.

The Lady Chapel has always been my favourite part of the cathedral. The poise and the elegance of the Early English architecture seem entirely fitting for a chapel that was built to honour and to express devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to give thanks to God for her pivotal role in the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Although the lockdown prevents us from doing so at present, we normally gather in the Lady Chapel from Monday to Saturday to say the office of Morning Prayer at 7.30 am: on Sunday, Matins is usually sung in the quire. As I am definitely a morning person, who enjoys being up and about early in the day, it is a delight to join with a small band of fellow pilgrims who pray together in the Lady Chapel as the city around us stirs into life. It is a particular pleasure during the early Spring and the late Autumn each year, when sunrise takes place during Morning Prayer, and the rays of light shine directly through the stained glass windows in the east wall above the reredos, increasing the contrast of light and shade on the multi-shafted frames of the five lancets, and bringing to life the kaleidoscopic colours of the glass, which was a triumph of design by N J Cottingham, and features a delicate organic weave around the twenty-one roundels depicting scenes in the life of our Lord Jesus. How blessed we are to be able to gather for worship in such an inspiring space day by day, even though too often I have had to refocus my prayers, because I have become distracted by those sparkling windows and the Gospel stories that they tell!

To focus purely on the aesthetics of the chapel, however, would be to overlook its most important quality, which is the serenity of the space that it encloses, in which prayer was first offered eight hundred years ago. The presence of the shrine of St Thomas of Hereford in the centre of the Lady Chapel for two centuries until 1550 must have added a depth and intensity to the spiritual atmosphere, which has endured despite the Lady Chapel having been pressed into service as the ‘newe library’ for almost three hundred years from the mid-sixteenth century until 1842. Even a brief visit to the Lady Chapel today invites us to be still and to wait patiently upon God, as we join our prayers to those of the thousands of pilgrims who have gone before us in this ancient and hallowed place.


Through all the changing scenes of life,

 In trouble and in joy,

The praises of my God shall still

 My heart and tongue employ.


Tate & Brady New Version 1696


We would like to thank our community for their support during this time as we, like so many other organisations, face a very challenging period. We have been truly touched by the kind messages from those who have been in touch to ask how they can support us. If you would like to find out more about supporting the cathedral please click here.