Monday, August 8, 2011

Cathedral mice

The Cathedral of St Michael and St George is the most prominent building in Grahamstown and is visible from just about everywhere in town.  The church is an Anglican Cathedral and this is where the Bishop of Grahamstown keeps his throne.  Construction on the building was started in 1824 and finally completed 128 years later in 1952.
The reason for the double name of 'St. Michael and St. George' dates back to the early days of the church when the Dean excluded the Bishop from St. George's Church and the congregation split between St. George's Church and St. Michael's Pro-Cathedral, where the 4th Bishop set up his throne.  The breach was healed in 1885 after the death of the Dean when St. Michael's congregation moved, with Bishop Webb, back to St. George's.  It was decided to keep both names as part of the healing process.

The building is Victorian neo-gothic in style, with a granite and sandstone exterior, plastered interior walls and marble pillars. The building of the cathedral was finally completed in 1952 with the addition of the Lady Chapel and can accommodate about 500 people.

The cathedral contains many memorials to fallen soldiers of the conflict between the European settlers and the Xhosa.  Many of these memorial refer to the Xhosa using terms which are no longer acceptable in the Rainbow Nation of South Africa.  This lead to one of the interesting features of the cathedral where certain offensive words and frases on these memorial plaques are covered as an acknowledgement of the diversity in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

But now for the dilemma of the day.  How do you go to an historic cathedral like this with a 9 year old boy and keep his interest?  Well, you tell him to find the church mice... Is that a puzzled look on your face?  Let me explain.  The cathedral has two carved memorial plaques done by the well known North Yorkshire furniture maker Robert (Mouseman) Thompson.  He got his nickname from the fact that he carved a mouse in every piece he did.  

Chaos Boy found the first one...

... but the second one was hiding too well and I had to show him.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you share history with your children. Beautiful church.