Members of our Library and Marketing team visited the crypt at Hereford Cathedral yesterday during the winter solstice to test a theory relayed to our Cathedral Archivist Elizabeth Semper O'Keefe:

"I was aware that the altar in the crypt was set forward from the wall, but have to confess that I had not really given it any other thought as to why that might be! Then, earlier this year a friend mentioned to me that at noon on the winter solstice, the sun comes through the windows on the east and strikes the central panel of the reredos highlighting the carved figures there, which might explain why it was positioned there; it may have been done deliberately to enable this phenomenon!

Though it was curiosity that drew me down to the crypt to attempt to witness this for myself and test the theory, I found the “Solstice Stake-out” to be a an amazing moment of stillness within the busy Advent period, and it was poignant to watch the sunlight move across to gently touch the face of the carved soldier - modelled on Basil Webb, who died in World War 1, in whose memory the crypt was restored in 1920.  While the sun shines on him each year, his memory will never be forgotten."

We managed to capture the light movement with photographs between 11.30 and 12.30, which show how the light moves to illuminate the side of the panel.