JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This wonderful, pagan knocker is on the door of Durham Cathedral.

In the Middle Ages, the cathedral could be used as a place of sanctuary by fugitives. If you'd committed a serious offence, you could claim sanctuary by knocking at the door (the knocker is very high). You then had 37 days to organise your affairs, and either stand trial, or leave the country by the nearest port.

I took my reluctant boys to the cathedral yesterday morning as we were passing, and it's very close to the motorway. There's a chapel for the Durham Light Infantry, my grandfather's regiment, and I was glad to be there the day before the anniversary of his death in 1941. He served in the DLI in the first world war; in the second world war he served in the Royal Artillery, so his name is not in the DLI roll of honour in the Cathedral. But it was good during this hectic season to have a quiet moment's reflection about a man I love but never met.


Celia Hart said...

Oh this made me smile Joanna! One of my tutors at Art School, Mike Gillespy, made the replica knocker for Durham Cathedral, the original is in the cathedral museum I think. He had to appear on Blue Peter with both the old and the new door knockers. The programme ended with infamous words - you've guessed it - 'what a wonderful pair of knockers, Mike'. We never let him forget!


Joanna said...

Well - it's beautiful, and, as you say, the original is elsewhere these days, somewhere in the cloisters, I think. It's oddly pagan for a Christian place - but I suppose its original purpose was at least partly secular. Clever of your tutor make it look so timeless


Katiecakes said...

Awh, I live just near Durham! It's a lovely place, so peaceful and super spooky at night.

Hope you had a great time!

Katie xo

Joanna said...

Never been there at night, but I can easily imagine how spooky ;) It is a very special place, even for those not Christian


VP said...

My first job was in Durham with a view to the Cathedral and castle from the window! I still miss the North East.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Poignant memoir, lovely boys, and great doorknob. Merry Chrismas, Joanna!

Anonymous said...

Christmas, that is.

Helen said...

Thanks for this Joanna, I was at university in Durham which I loved. I lived in the shadow of the Cathedral for 3 years.

"Grey towers of Durham
Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles
Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot
And long to roam those venerable aisles
With records stored of deeds long since forgot"