Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Our Lady of Lincoln

Today being the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady seems an appropriate day on which to post a view of one of the greatest churches built to her honour, the cathedral at Lincoln. Although I do not subscribe to the urge to list or decide which is the best amongst cathedrals or other works of art, I do consider Lincoln to be in many respects ina class of its own amongst English cathedrals, or indeed European ones.
This image is from the Churchmouse site about the cathedral, and is one of my favourite images of one of my favourite buildings.

Lincoln Cathedral (before 1808), Watercolour by Augustus Charles Pugin (1762-1832). Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester.

Lincoln Cathedral

Watercolour by Augustus Charles Pugin (1762-1832)
Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester.

The painting, by the father of the great architect, shows the cathedral before the removal of the spires on the western towers in 1807.

It appears likely that the towers and their spires were being completed about the time of the episcopate of Bishop Richard Fleming, which adds to the interest of the picture for me. However its real attraction is less academic - I simply think it is a beautiful painting of a beautiful building - itself one of the truly great works of medieval man. I regret, of course, that I cannot myself see the cathedral complete with its spires, but thanks to A.C.Pugin I can more easily envisage it. As a painting it captures an ethereal quality about the cathedral which I find particularly attractive. It is very much a case of dreaming spires and the last enchantments of the middle ages.

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