Coventry Cathedral

I visited Coventry Cathedral a while back and found it astonishing. I was struck most about the theatrical power of the arrangement which was incredibly effective and considered, quite inspirational actually.

Entry was through the bombed out remains of the gothic predecessor – now a walled war memorial and sculpture garden, which gave a slightly eerie but peaceful and contemplative air. Passing through what was once a church nave at the back and under a freestanding arch you come to the glazed mural front of the new Cathedral. Once you have passed through the memorial space you’re in a contemplative headspace. When you see the mural of life and death on the main glazed front you understand it coming from that, but you can also see something beyond the glass – an allusion to the faith. On entry the place is much darker than your eyes are used to outside and it is very quiet. There are no visible windows for the length of the building. Your eye is drawn to the far extremity of the space to an enormous tapestry of Christ in green and gold which is lit and which glistens in the light, and being the illuminated focus of the whole space you move towards it automatically. During your procession your eye adjusts and things grow brighter until you reach the altar. It is here the most amazing theatre takes place – assuming you are attending a mass, you would at this point greet the Father and receive Christ through holy communion – having found your way from the violence of the gothic memorial space, passed through the barrier of life and death, gone into the shadow and towards the light and ‘found’ Christ and taken holy communion, upon turning around you are blown away – there were windows the whole time, arranged to be invisible upon entry but now blasting bright all at once, complimented by the main glazed wall which now appears so bright you cannot see the demons painted on it anymore. It is a revelation! The whole process you’ve taken has been an analogy for death and afterlife, and joining the kingdom of heaven. Really truly exceptional architecture, and we’ll worth a visit.
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Spectacular.

K

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