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.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Friday night was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden in 1945. The story of the raid and the continuing debate about its justification or otherwise can be found in the illustrated online account Bombing of Dresden in World War II

As I said, the debate continues about the raid and its morality, and indeed timing in the context of the Second World War. The speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the commemorations in Dresden has both highlighted that and has brought about some fairly predictable reaction from some press and politicians here. 

As the link above indicates there are complex issues which intersect around the raid, but I do wonder why, after seventy years, we as a country cannot be allowed to say that maybe, just maybe, we got something wrong on that terrifying February night.

There have, of course, been significant attempts at reconciliation - of which the Archbishop's visit is one further sign - and the rebuilding with British financial help of the great Lutheran church of the Frauenkiche is a physical sign of that. I was impressed by an exhibition about that project I visited in the University Church of St Mary in Oxford some years ago.

Built in 1726-43 the Frauenchiche collapsed as aresult of the effects of the raid and fire storm tow days after the bombing. A small portion remained as a ruin under the DDR until after German reunification. Then came the rebuilding which was completed in 2004-5.

The rebuilding commences


Posted Image

The rebuilt Frauenkirche
The portion on the left is all that survived standing from the original church


There is a history of this spectacular building at the illustrated online article  Dresden Frauenkirche and there are more photographs of the building in the German version of the same article here.


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