Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Gorgeousness of St Paul's

Some places just don't live up to expectations. Canterbury, especially. I went there once, perhaps ten or eleven years ago, and I expected it to be all wattle and daub buildings and peopled with jolly mediaeval characters straight out of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. (Yes, yes, I know it's possible to have too many links to Wikipedia in one post and I'm running that risk already, but please bear with me).

Anyway, instead of any of this, Canterbury turned out to be, mostly, a large and ugly shopping precinct with a magnificent cathedral next to it. The cathedral - damn, I snuck in another Wikipedia link there - was stunning. The rest of it really wasn't.

St Paul's Cathedral in London, which I saw yesterday for the first time, on the other hand, was not a disappointment. It was wonderful. Here's a photo of it and the Millennium Bridge. Yes, yes, another link, but all you need to know is it's a footbridge across the Thames, built for the Millennium, known as the "blade of light" - - but, in true British manner, it wobbled as soon as people started walking across it and had to be closed for a bit and adapted.

As you may remember, I went to London with Silverback and it was his - excellent - idea to visit St Paul's - he'd been there a few times but I never had. I don't really know why not really - I haven't been to London that often: St Paul's was - - well, always there, I could always see it next time - - so, even though I love churches in spite of not being religious, I'd never been there.

The Millennium Bridge gives a great view of the dome as you cross the river towards it, but I'd never seen even a photo of the front entrance, with its huge columns, before. You go through one of those revolving doors which stops every few seconds as someone tries to push it, even though there are signs saying not to. So all that's a bit crowded and takes a while.

And then we went in and it was just gorgeous. Fantastic. It made me stare up in a kind of open-mouthed fish way. Fortunately Silverback is used to that expression from me as I wore it all the time we were in Florida.

There was a sign saying NO PHOTOGRAPHY. Okay, lots of signs. And some very officious attendants telling everyone this.

Well, no FLASH photography I can understand, both from the perspective of it being annoying and from the perspective of it damaging the colours of paint etc. But no photography? To me, there's no logical reason for that and who decided upon this rule anyway? So a sign that says NO PHOTOGRAPHY is just Red Rag to a Daphne, but because of the officious officials my photo's a bit wonky.

Still, if you're in London, I'd strongly recommend a visit and many thanks to Silverback for suggesting it. We had a lovely time in London and oh, yes, I'll be telling you more. Possibly with fewer Wikipedia links.


Anonymous Milo said...

Glad to hear you liked St Paul's (I went to a wedding there end of 2003, a former colleague whose father was someone high up - a lovely occasion). Sheridan loves it there too, goes to the City carol service they have there each year.

Mildly ruffled feathers to hear you say you don't like Canterbury (which is the city I grew up in / went to school in from 87 - 92). I have such fond memories. Granted, the shopping centre in the middle is a bit over the top (it wasn't there way back when), but the city has some lovely parts to it away from the centre. Also has the university, lots of good schools, is quite a mixed / cosmop place, especially for Kent (as near as I can get to a county I'm 'from' - much of the county being rough and not so nice in places; to me, Canterbury has always been something of an oasis in this regard).

Glad you had a good time in London overall!

2:38 pm  
Blogger Arthur Clewley said...

the reason for the photo ban is because St Paul left the lens cap on when he tried to snap the vision on the road to damascus and therefore became the patron saint of people who swore they did really see something but couldn't get a shot so you're supposed to just beleive them

5:28 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Arthur - - I think you could well be completely right!
Milo - - I'm prepared to take your word for it about Canterbury - it's true we were very near the centre and also in a deeply rubbish b and b which forgot totally about the breakfast bit. So perhaps my view of Canterbury is somewhat warped!

7:05 pm  
Blogger Kippers Dickie said...

Good for you. Take your photos when you like. I agree no flash...but no photos is not looking!!!
I remember, some years ago on holiday in Elba. We visited the place where Napoleon was held prisoner. They had the same sort of rules.... my camera was hanging on its strap and I just shot away from where it hung.
They turned out very good.
And so has yours.

9:59 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Did you go up inside the dome to the very top of St Paul's with its once incomparable views along the Thames? Speaking of "no photography" - it was so refreshing when I visited the Getty Art Museum in Los Angeles in 2005 to be told "Hey no problem man - just no flash". To tell you the truth I don't like flashing in art galleries anyway!

10:15 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

My mind for trivia says to tell you that Christopher Wren designed St. Paul's, and for once I think my mind is correct. I also am reminded of Julie Andrews singing "Feed the Birds" (you know, "Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag") in Mary Poppins because the Bird-woman was out in front of St. Paul's.

I would have bet you money that Yorkshire Pudding likes flashing in art galleries. Goes to show you (no pun intended).

10:43 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

I also visited St. Paul's with Silverback. The real reason he takes you there? It's cheaper than Westminster Abbey!

I have pictures of Shakespeare's grave...not sure how, as there was a sign there too that said 'no photography'!

2:15 am  

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