It’s been a hectic summer, during which there has been very little time to sit down and write about my cathedral adventures. Even these have been infrequent, but I am still well on track to complete the challenge before the December 16th deadline. Before that time my friend and bet-master Adam will be getting married, with me serving as bestman! In the unlikely event that I complete the challenge by the time of the wedding (September 28th) he is going to have one hell of an unwelcome surprise during the my bestman’s speech.
I am planning to write up the accounts of the remaining English cathedrals in greater detail when time becomes available, but for now a short description of each will have to suffice.
No. 38 – TRURO
After licking Exeter Cathedral I jumped onto the train and visited this Cornish gem. Its relative isolation from other English cathedrals had been a thorn in my side for months, so it was a huge relief to finally get it done. The building is a real Victorian treasure and well worth a visit. The choir was in full song upon my arrival, which provided some welcome backing music for the lick.
No. 39 – CHESTER
I have the wonderful Mr. Mike Brimmage to thank for this photo: it was he that put me up for the night and drove me to Chester and Liverpool the following day. He quickly became a staunch supporter of the cause and encouraged me to ignore the strange looks from passersby when licking this sublime cathedral. This place is the epitome of a hidden gem – beautiful architecture, fascinating history and a wealth of treasures to be discovered inside. Top audio guide to boot. We even saw the Queen later that day!
No. 40 – LIVERPOOL
Liverpool Cathedral is a monster! The sheer scale of the place is staggering, like some huge, impregnable fortress from the future. The interiors are enough to make the knees grow weak and the view from the colossal central tower is well worth the punishing climb and trip in the face-meltingly fast lift. Also packed full of gorgeous artworks and ingenious architectural features that leave you in no doubt that this is one of the World’s finest. A must for all cathedral perverts.
Thanks again to Mike Brimmage – host, driver, photographer and local guide.
No. 41 – CARLISLE
The penultimate English lick took place on a sweltering day in Carlisle. Many thanks must go to Marc and Rachel Barkman-Astles for driving me there from their home near Newcastle. Carlisle Cathedral is wonderfully odd, having seeminly been built in the dark to sets of different designs by blind (but incredibly gifted) builders. A hodge-podge of styles and eras all rolled into one. The collection of bawdy misericords was a real highlight as well. Further thanks must go to my great cathedral-licking companion, David Sleep, for showing me around Roman Vindolanda afterwards, before kindly offering a lift back to London. What wonderful friends I have.
No. 42 – YORK
The big one – my home cathedral of York Minster. I had left the best until last purely for symbolic reasons, but also in the hope that Adam might be in town to witness his defeat. He wasn’t, but the photos in The Sun gave him a rude shock a few days later. It was marvellous fun confusing the hoardes of tourists outside, and meeting the delightful family from Norwich in this picture. If they are reading this, sorry for spoling your holiday. With this lick, every Anglican English cathedral had been done, and part 2 of the bet began. Oh God.
I am delighted to say though that I have begun licking in Wales. There are many more miles to be covered and stone to be moistened, but I am confident and extremely excited about the adventures ahead. More to come soon!