Chester Is Overwhelming in Its Englishness, Its Cosy Cathedral Displaying a Continuity of History

By Barker, Paul | New Statesman (1996), April 10, 1998 | Go to article overview

Chester Is Overwhelming in Its Englishness, Its Cosy Cathedral Displaying a Continuity of History


Barker, Paul, New Statesman (1996)


A little display commemorates John Cornwell. The 35 sailors who died on HMS Chester at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 are all listed here, including:

John Travers Cornwell, VC, BOY A typed transcription gives Admiral Beatty's citation for the Victoria Cross. Cornwell was mortally wounded, Beatty says, but he "remained standing alone at a most exposed post till the end of the action, with the gun's crew dead and wounded all around him. He was 16 1/2 years. I regret that he has since died, but I recommend his case for special recognition injustice to his memory, and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him." Next to the fading typescript, an old picture postcard of the ship.

All around me, in Chester cathedral, I hear the triumphant crescendos of the Eroica. Beethoven is interrupted, every so often, when the conductor sets the oboes or the violins right. It is a dress rehearsal for a Chester Philharmonic concert. An orchestra of very serious amateurs.

I can't remember when I was in a place which so overwhelmed me with its feeling of Englishness. Chester was, of course, built as a frontier town, facing the Welsh. People at a boundary have to make their allegiances clear.

Like all English cathedrals, it is littered with evidence of war. An RAF flag hangs from the south transept wall. Opposite it, a white ensign. A little plaque commemorates Czech soldiers who came to England in the second world war and were based in Cheshire.

I read about a captain in the Light Dragoons, dead at Waterloo, "Killed by a musket shot in the Hour of Victory!" A window speaks of the battles of the Chester Brigade in 1914-18: France, Egypt, Palmyra, Salonika, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Italy, East Africa. In 1792 an Irish naval lieutenant died in Chester "on a journey to see his Aged Parent". The Church of England has always been the British armed forces at prayer.

In 1895 a captain in the Light Infantry died in Poona and is honoured here by his fellow officers. Immediately beneath his memorial lies the grave of Chester's most famous monk, from the days when the cathedral was an abbey. Ranulph Higden wrote a history of the world, the Polychronicon, from the Creation down to 1352. (He died in 1364.) It was one of the books Caxton printed.

In churches outside England it is rare to have this sense of continuity; of history carrying on into the present. I can look at the misericords in the monks' choirstalls: a monster kills a knight; a woman beats her husband; a fox shams dead; a portcullis falls on the horse of Sir Gawain (a local hero).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Chester Is Overwhelming in Its Englishness, Its Cosy Cathedral Displaying a Continuity of History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.