Our annual outing with Battersea Riverside Group of Churches this year was to Chelmsford Cathedral.
40 Christians from the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and Church of England churches in Battersea took part. After an uneventful journey of 1 1/2 hours we arrived safely at 10.30am. The rather gloomy weather soon brightened up and a pleasant day lay ahead of us.
The Cathedral is the second smallest in the country, but serves the second largest diocese. It was first built about 800 years ago as the church of St. Mary the Virgin. It was rebuilt in the 15thand early 16th centuries, and in the early 19th century the nave collapsed and had to be rebuilt. In 1914 the church became the Cathedral for the newly created diocese of Chelmsford, incorporating all of Essex and a large part of east London.
There is a tower and spire with a weather vane which lacks the usual N, S, E and W. Anyone wanting to know the direction the vane is pointing has to refer to the 2 story main entrance porch which faces due south.
Following a very warm welcome and a cup of coffee or tea, we were split into three groups for a pilgrimage round the building. Among the highlights inside the Cathedral is the TREE OF LIFE by Mark Cazalet, a twenty-foot painting situated in the North Transept. Unveiled in January 2004 to celebrate the 1,350th anniversary of St. Cedd’s arrival in Bradwell.
There is also the CATHEDRAL BANNER: designed and embroidered by Beryl Dean it took 850 hours of work and was presented to the Cathedral in 1960. The stained glass windows were installed in the 19th & 20th centuries. The Cathedral also has 2 organs. During the Second World War, many U.S. air bases were located in Essex and in 1953 the South Porch was extended to mark Anglo American friendship during and after the war. In 1983 the interior of the Cathedral was extensively refurbished and the inside of the building is very welcoming as a result.
After a picnic lunch in the grounds and a bit of free time in the town (or rather city since 2012), and because the Cathedral was being used for choir practice prior to their Evensong at 5.30 (too late for us), our service of Evening Prayer with a couple of hymns took place at 4.00 in the Cathedral Learning Centre, led by Reverend Peter Wintgens, followed by our return to Battersea.
Our thanks go to Reverend Peter for organising a very pleasant and interesting day out.