I was pleased to be asked by the flower arrangers of St Albans Cathedral to make a bowl for the Lady Chapel in memory of one of their members, and today I went to see how they had used it. Cascades of white flowers under the statue of the Madonna almost obscure it (above), but you can just see it there.
I went through the Cathedral, took pictures of some familiar things, and saw some things I hadn’t noticed before.
The flowers are always wonderful.
The guide told me that the Shrine of St Alban (below) contained the saint’s shoulder blade, donated by Cologne Cathedral in 2002. The bones had been taken to Rome in 429, then went to Cologne at the time of the Great Schism.
The site of the original tomb, the holy grail of archaeologists, is unknown and sceptical historians think St Alban may have been invented to control English heretics, but my guide didn’t agree.
The carved figures and capitals are in good condition and I wondered how they escaped the Puritan iconoclasm. “They didn’t,” said my guide, “They are 19th century restorations.”
I knew the medieval wall paintings in the Norman arches, but there was a smaller painting in one of the chapels that I hadn’t seen before.
Votive candles and personal prayers.