As Muriel Letman volunteers to give guided tours of Westminster Cathedral she offered to take some of us round. On August 9th. a group of us met Muriel at the back of the cathedral where she gave us some idea of how the cathedral came into being on the site of Tothill Fields Bridewell Prison. The land was acquired by Cardinal Manning in 1884 and the cathedral was open but by no means finished in 1903. There is still ongoing work to be done as funds become available.
Muriel pointed out the domes of the interior, showed us the Baptistry, after which we visited several of the side chapels, each interesting and beautiful in its own way, rich in mosaic and marble. Before taking us into The Chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine, Muriel reminded us of St. Gregory who, on seeing some enslaved Anglo-Saxon children said they were ‘Not Angles but angels.’
Cardinal Hume is buried in this chapel and good works continue in his name.
We probably need another tour to remember everything we saw and all that Muriel told us but the Chapel of St Andrew and the Saints of Scotland contained very impressive stalls in ebony and bone and a floor decoration with fish and sea life to celebrate St. Andrew’s first occupation as a fisherman. In the richly decorated Lady Chapel, Mary is represented as patroness of London, standing in front of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Our thanks to Muriel for being such an excellent guide to this place that seemed so welcoming and full of life. Sadly we didn’t hear any music from the acclaimed choir but all the more reason to visit again.