Here we are in Chester, where according to popular myth it is still legal to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow after midnight on Sunday if he is within the city walls. According to other versions of the myth you have to use a longbow and be standing on the city walls. This is of course nonsense. The legend stems from the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr (pronounced WHO-CARES-HE’S-WELSH) and Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy against King Henry VI Part 1, who had stolen the crown fair and square from Richard II. Henry IV’s son, also called Henry because the English royalty have no f*cking imagination, wished to secure Chester against the Welsh, so sent a request that any Welshman found within the walls of Chester between sunset and sunrise be beheaded. There you go, if you want to slaughter Welshmen, forget the archery, and bring along an axe.
Later on of course, Prince Henry became Henry V. He gave up on persecuting the Welsh and took to persecuting the French who are just as annoying but have a far better climate.
But let’s go back a few Henrys, and talk about these guys.
On the right, looking grimly accusing, we have Henry II, and on the left looking smugly ecclesiastical, we have Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Having been at loggerheads for the better part of a decade, Henry uttered the fateful words, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Or perhaps not, since Henry’s native language was French and the only contemporary account we have is in Latin. In any event what he said was, kill this bishop for me, but with plausibility deniability, like when the president says he “hopes” something will happen. So this happened.
Four public spirited knights went stabbity-chop with the bishop. That’s a ceiling boss from one of the oldest parts of the cathedral, so it’s a depiction from about 750 years ago of events from a hundred hears before that – a lot closer than we are to the assassination of Lincoln. The four assassins were excommunicated, but suffered no other penalties, so obstruction of justice by heads of state is nothing new.
Chester cathedral, like Chester itself, is a mishmash of periods, styles, and activities. As we entered they were setting up for an orchestral concert tomorrow night, installing animal statues for an art exhibit, and constructing an exact scale model of the cathedral in Lego. We’ll get back to the Lego in a minute, but first the animals. The zebra is cool…
… but we weren’t sure about the gorilla…
… or the dead cat.
This one appears to be a cross between a camel and a mushroom.
Paula suggested calling it a Cameroon, but then we would have to call the country of Cameroon something else. How about Henry?
OK back to the Lego.
It’s a fundraiser. Every pound that is donated they add one more brick. So far they have raised about a hundred thousand pounds, and expect to need another two hundred thousand before they are done. Some of the Lego pieces have been ingeniously repurposed. For instance, the candlesticks on the font are sonic screwdrivers from Lego Doctor Who.
The 14th century oak carving in the choir stalls is amazing…
… the 1960s stained glass window is barely tolerable…
… and the 1990s stained glass windows are a waste of photons.
Yep, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly on this blog.
Chester is littered with Roman ruins. The old fort…
… the amphitheater…
… and the fast food joint.
There are a lot of black and white buildings, ranging from genuine Tudor period to Victorian and modern Mock Tudor.
This post had gone on too long already, and I haven’t even covered the older cathedral, or the organ that came by canal boat, or the falconry, so rather than show you more pictures of the self-consciously archaic, I think I’ll finish with perhaps the grandest building in Chester, a monument to utility and sanitation, the Boughton water tower.