The Times‘ walking correspondent, Christopher Somerville, discusses his book Ships of Heaven: The Private Life of Britain’s Cathedrals.
“Ships of Heaven is the story of Britain’s flotilla of cathedrals, tossed on waves of power and glory, scandal and mayhem for a thousand years. Nowadays these great stone ships seem as solid and unshakeable as any Rock of Ages. But they are leaky old vessels in uncharted waters. They creak and groan, they fail and founder, then resurface against all odds. Theirs is a thrilling saga of crisis and boldness, of ruin and revival.
“Christopher goes behind the scenes to seek out believers, non-believers and troubled souls, bishops and architects, glass makers and embroiderers, the Holy Duster who cleans the ears and noses of the cathedral monuments, and the stonemason who judges his building stone by the way it tastes. He travels with a motley crew of jolly rogues and prophets, painters dangling at a rope’s end, monks who watch as their life’s work comes crashing down before their eyes. In such colourful company we delve deep into the private life and the uncertain future of these ever-voyaging Ships of Heaven.”