Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Inside Norwich Cathedral

click photos to enlarge

In a recent post I was a little less than complimentary about the exterior of Norwich Cathedral. Today's post shows two views of the inside of the building, the part of the building that impressed me greatly.

There are a number of architectural historians and afficionados of medieval architecture who are somewhat dismissive of Norman work. I have a feeling this stems from the nineteenth century revival of Gothic when the consensus seemed to be that the Early English and Decorated periods were the summit of achievement, Perpendicular was (in many respects) a sign of decline, and Norman was the barbarous phase before the invention of the pointed arch. Today many people have got past that point of view and can see virtue in the heavy massing, solidity, and simple, sometimes rather naive looking decoration of the style.

There's no doubt that the small windows, narrow arches and deeply cut moulding of Norman architecture gives shadow and drama that the photographer can exploit. My first image was taken in the apsidal ambulatory that wraps around the east end of the cathedral. Rounded apses with chapels are a French idea that isn't found in too many English cathedrals (there were more, but they have been re-modelled). The English taste was for a square east end that may have suited the liturgy better, or may simply been a matter of aesthetic choice, but with a square design the vistas are definitely not as interesting. The second shot shows the nave looking east from towards the west end. Norman cathedral naves in England invariably have wooden ceilings. This is because rounded masonry arches are unable span such wide distances in the way that pointed arches can. Where there is a vaulted masonry ceiling above a Norman nave (as there is at Norwich) it is invariably a later substitution (in this case after a fire of 1463).

The lighting in the cathedral on a dull day challenged the capacities of a hand-held LX3, but, apart from a slightly HDR look to the shot of the nave (partly due to the lighting) I think it acquitted itself quite well.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1 (Photo 2)
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/25 (1/30)
ISO: 800 (400)
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On