Tag Archives: cathedral

Charming Coutances in Normandy, France

Mentally, if not physically, I’m headed back to Coutances in Normandy today to share some photos of this lovely town.

Mairie (mayor's office) in Coutances, Normandy, France


Cathedral tower in Coutances, Normandy, France

It is hard to imagine when you walk through the tranquil streets that 70% of the town was bombed out during World War II.

Streetscape in Coutances, Normandy, France


Cathedral in Coutances, Normandy, France


Chapel attached to the Centre D'Accueil Diocésain C.A.D-Diocesan Offices and Retreat Centre on Rue Daniel in Coutances, Normandy, France

This beautiful town could be an excellent place to base yourself for travels throughout the English Channel coastline and the World War II battlefield areas.

Hope you have enjoyed this tiny peek at a lovely town in Normandy!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Beautiful Bayeux Cathedral

The spires thrust high into the skies over Normandy — asserting themselves proudly over the smaller stone or timber and plaster buildings all around. There are far too many ancient cathedrals and churches to count in France, but this one had a special air about it that broadcast its importance.

Bayeux Cathedral -- Notre Dame de Bayeux exterior


Ornate roofline and spires of the Bayeux Cathedral

The historic Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, France is such a beautiful building and has such a wonderful atmosphere that I thought it deserved a separate photo essay of its own. This was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry, now housed in a separate museum a mere few blocks from the cathedral. It was consecrated by William the Conqueror, also known as William, Duke of Normandy and King of England, on the 14th of July 1077 — a mere 11 years after the Norman conquest of England.

Heavily detailed exterior of the Bayeux Cathedral

This 11th-13th century masterpiece of architecture is astonishingly light and airy inside due to the number of windows which punctuate the deep stone walls. The ornamentation is simply beautiful, so I have included several photos of interesting details.

Interior of the Bayeux Cathedral


Quatrefoil detail in stone inside the Bayeux Cathedral


Ornate details on interior of Bayeux Cathedral


The Dragonslayer in a side chapel at the Bayeux Cathedral

The crypts have an energy all their own which is quite different from the hustle and bustle of the ‘upstairs’ main church. But occasionally when there are other people down in the crypts, some rather annoyingly ignoring the signs indicating that NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY is to be used, you simply have to wait for a few minutes for the clattering and shuffling in and out to cease.

Entry to the crypt from the side aisle of the Bayeux Cathedral


Frescos on arches in the crypt of the Bayeux Cathedral


Angel fresco on top of a column in the crypt of the Bayeux Cathedral

Then, in that tiny space of a moment or two, you can feel the energy shift back to an interesting state of otherworldliness and even the sound of your breath looms large. This is a very popular tourist site, even out of season, so you must purposefully snatch those moments of serenity whenever it is possible.

Mark absorbing the brief and fellow-tourist-free serenity of the crypt at Bayeux Cathedral

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Photo Break – A ‘Holy’ Use for Wool

She would love this, I thought to myself and then I heard myself say it aloud. I was thinking about a woman that I know who is positively obsessed with wool and the items that she can create from it.

This display in the gift shop at the St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in the town of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk actually made me chuckle out loud a bit too loudly for that subdued atmosphere and I glanced over my shoulder to see if the two elderly women at the cash register were glaring at me. Indeed, they had stopped talking, but they were smiling sweetly at my amusement.

And now for your amusement, here is what I was laughing at.

Holy Socks

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Serene and Sacred in Bury St. Edmunds – Part 2

The warmth of the cathedral’s interior was a welcome respite from the icy cold outside. We had come to Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk for the afternoon and we had just entered the serenely beautiful St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. Our eyes were immediately drawn upward as we absorbed the vast height of the interior.

This massive structure was typical of a European cathedral since it was built in stages over rather a long period of time. Construction of the surrounding abbey had begun in 1065 and building on the church began in 1503. But ongoing work has continued over the centuries that followed and the Gothic style tower was only completed in 2005.

St. Edmundsbury Cathedral-centre aisle

Those blue items that you see in the photos above and below are kneeling cushions — and what an array of them there are. Lovingly handstitched in tapestry, they bear the coat of arms of various villages, parishes, and organizations.

Kneeling cushions in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral

Light floods in from the lantern tower overhead and from all sides through the vast windows making the interior bright and airy.

St. Edmundsbury Cathedral altar

St. Edmundsbury Cathedral altar

In spite of its turbulent beginnings and oft-times violent history, the remnants of the abbey and the current beautiful cathedral are tranquil places to visit when in Suffolk.

We spent about an hour walking slowly through the cloisters, the cathedral, and the side chapels. There is a very welcoming sensation inside and there is none of the cold or austere atmosphere that you sometimes encounter in buildings such as this.

It must be a massive and expensive undertaking to maintain such an important building, so it is certainly worth taking the time to consider a donation to the cathedral if you have enjoyed your visit. Their amusing but accurate donation box makes that easy to do.

Donation box at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.

Serene and Sacred in Bury St. Edmunds – Part 1

Grateful for a rain-free day, we set off across the Suffolk countryside toward the historic town of Bury St. Edmund. Our destination was the medieval abbey ruins and St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. Both of these lie side by side right within the town itself instead of being in a separate location out in the nearby countryside.

As we entered through the arch beneath the Abbey Gate seen in the photo above, we emerged into the Abbey Gardens.

Even with the winter-muted palate and bare-branched trees, the gardens are a peaceful place to walk or sit quietly on a bench.

Other than the entry gates and the beautiful old wall that formerly surrounded the compound, there is very little left of the old abbey since it was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 during the reign of Henry VIII.

We meandered through the side garden, following the sign for the cathedral’s restaurant, The Refectory. Although we weren’t looking for food or drink, entering on that side of the building allowed us to walk the full length of the enclosed cloister and enjoy the austere beauty of the stone walls and floors, the vaulted stone ceilings, and the plain timber benches.

Cloister of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral

In tomorrow’s Part 2, I will have photos of the stunning interior of this cathedral. Make sure to check back!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.