Day #121: Entre el cor i el fons del mar

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Wednesday, 30 December 2009 at 13:30

Yesterday I upped sticks from this sleepy little village, and headed East, to the West Country. Due to my love for Cathedral Architecture it was kind of obvious that I'd have to head to Wells Cathedral, having already seen all of Exeter Cathedral earlier this year.

Leaving the light snowfall of Wales behind, the three amigos on this journey ended up in the dull drizzle of Bristol-and-Avon, passing by places with absurdly Olde England names, and villages spread so far apart they may as well have been a single detached house. After a brief stop-off in the Oldfield area of Bath, and lunching in that fine establishment Burger King, I decided it would be prudent to invest in an umbrella. Lo-and-behold, on moving on to Wells, the rain ceased.

Wells itself is so much more than Bath. It's worlds apart from the commercialised Bath Stone city on the Cotswolds, which bustles with life no matter what the weather, and seems very impersonal and tourism-oriented. As much as I love the Georgian architecture of Bath, I much prefer the semi-rural idyll of Wells, which, in spite of being a City, with its hotchpotch of architectural styles, from the early Georgian fronts of many of the shops on the High Street; to the 14th century row houses at Vicars' Close.

The jewel in the Crown, and the reason I went, is obviously Wells Cathedral, an imposing early Gothic building, with its blended architecture. I'm no expert, far from it, but until I saw the dates I was convinced it was one big late Romanesque building, as the pointed arches seem to round off; there seems to be a distinct lack of pomp and circumstance; and the overall feeling it gives off is one of a Cathedral on the verge of being Gothic. But, on actually taking the time to look at the dates, it's practically Gothic through and through, built in the Early English style, one which (being taught about Italian church architecture) I'm unfamiliar with. Still, it's beautiful, and, in my eyes, actually more wondrous than Exeter with its vaulted ceiling - the Inverse Arch and the Chapter House are more than enough to make this a diamond in the rough; and it keeps topping it with the astronomical clock, and the pristine nature of all its tombs and memorials.

All in all, it was a catharsis. I love wandering round being in awe of the architecture, and reading the tombs (even with my lack of Latin I can still guesstimate a lot based off Italian and Spanish knowledge). It makes me think how small and insignificant we are; it's a memento mori, a giant memorial to the fact that we will all die one day, and how we leave our mark is up to us; whether we will be remembered as a wooden cross in a courtyard, a traditionalist tombstone in a communal graveyard, or buried beneath the floor of one of the most beautiful things to come from religion.

Next time, however, I will know to take spare batteries for my camera so it doesn't cut out when I'm taking photos of the outer architecture, leaving me no way to take any photos of the inside. It really is something that sits deep in me as a love, dins el cor, and yet I can't fathom it, com el fons del mar.


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