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Hidden Tours Guide

HIDDEN MANCHESTER (part 6)

Manchester Cathedral Next stop is the Cathedral and some details which can be easily missed.

First walk from the entrance right across the nave and look straight into the Regimental Chapel. At the far end is the Fire Window which seems to flicker and burn as you watch. This commemorates the place where a bomb dropped during the Second World War. Manchester was the second most badly damaged cathedral in the country after Coventry.

On the north wall close to the regimental chapel is the Lever memorial which records in very moving verse the loss of six children to the pestilence which struck the city from time to time during the 1500s and 1600s.

Don't miss the five hundred year old Choir of magnificently carved oak. This, and other work in the Cathedral, has been called the finest example of mediaeval wood carving in the north of England.

On the side of the first stall (row of seats) on the right as you enter, you can see the Lathom Legend. There is a castle and a group of people in contemporary clothes walking through a wood, in which there is a tree containing an eagle and a child. The story goes that Sir Thomas Lathom was carried off as a child by an eagle, this taken as an indicator of the family's grand future.

On the underside of the misericords, the ledges the priests would rest upon as they chanted the hours of the day, are sprightly and humourous carvings of stories and legends, such as, a pedlar asleep as monkeys rifle his pack, the fox running off with the goose, piglets dancing to the tune of bagpipes and the Rabbits Revenge where the bunnies occupy themselves in preparing dinner as the huntsmen is tied to the spit.

There is more mediaeval wood work on the screen of the Lady Chapel behind the altar. But here the faces have been sliced off, courtesy of Thomas Birch's sword, a puritan, who during the civil war in 1649 rode a troop of horse around the church. Puritans thought that it was blasphemous to make holy images hence the defacement. Fortunately Birch never took his horse or his sword into the choir. Look also at the ceiling of the nave where a choir of beautifully carved angels play an orchestra of ancient instruments.




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