Cathedral Link

April 2000

Bangor Cathedral in 1840

pril’s Cathedral Link is not with Chester, but Bangor. On an impulse on Shrove Tuesday I went by train and visited its Cathedral. The tide was fully in along the coast, with white horses on the waves. I arrived in time for a Julian Prayer meeting at 12.30pm in the Presbytery. This was held in complete silence for half an hour, which was a very peaceful experience. Afterwards the ladies invited me to share a frugal lunch with them in diocesan House – whose walls are lined with paintings of previous Bishops. Also with us was the Revd Ainsley Griffiths, a minor Canon at the Cathedral and his wife (who turned out to be the Bishop’s daughter!). Life is full of coincidences. I was telling the lady siting next to me at lunch that Alf had been evacuated to Bangor from Liverpool Collegiate School during the outbreak of war, and she said "My father was headmaster." (Mr Gibson) the boys attended Friars School in Bangor, which dates back to the 1600’s.
The Cathedral Church of St Deiniol was founded in a cell about the year 525AD. Much of the present building dates from the 14th century, as in 1073 it was destroyed by the Vikings. In 1210 the Cathedral was burnt by King John’s men, and between 1870 and 1880 it was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Gilbert Scott had copies made of three of the early 14th century tiles, which were found during the restoration. They can be seen on the floor of the chancel and the Lady Chapel – an eagle with two heads, clutching a fish; a peculiar bird which supposedly visited the room of a sick man – if the bird looked at the man he would recover, if it did not the man would die; a rabbit with a bow and arrow "hunting the hunter".
As with Chester possessing the rare Polychronion, Bangor has Bishop Anian’s Pontifical. A Pontifical is a book containing those services, which only a Bishop can perform, such as Confirmation, Ordination and Consecration of Churches. It has an interesting history. It has survived the ravages of wars; it was lost after the Owain Glyndwr rebellion, but returned to the Cathedral in 1485, returned again in 1701 and from 1939 to 1945 shared with some of Britain’s most historic treasures in a sanctuary of tunnels beneath the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. It returned from its third exile in April 1946.
The "mouse man" Robert Thompson, has carved a mouse on the screen at the end of the north aisle and another one on the screen at the end of the south aisle near to the entrance to the Lady Chapel. It proved to be an interesting day.
On 17th March there was a special service at 5.00pm. A 150th Anniversary Service to mark the opening of the Britannia Bridge and after the service the Dean would be dedicating the train "Bangor Cathedral" at the City Railway Station.
(This again was of interest to me, as Roger, our son, had done all the organising of the Railway event.)
Margaret Croston
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