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Saturday 3 January – a tale of 2 cathedrals

Saturday 3 January – a tale of 2 cathedrals
January 8, 2015 Linda Crossley

Today I travelled into my native city of Bradford, just a few miles from home.  I had 2 objectives – one was to visit an exhibition of the Bath Abbey diptychs in the Anglican cathedral, click here to read a little about them.  Created by Sue Symon, 35 panels depict the life of Christ in “One Man’s Journey to Heaven.” This link takes you to clearer images of some more of the panels.  However, I’m afraid I know no more of them than when I set out for, to my disappointment, the cathedral was apparently closed.  The website consulted beforehand, and the gates at various access points around the building, gave the “usual” opening hours (Saturday until 4.30pm) and details of the Christmas services.  So far, so good.  But there was no explanation at all of the closure – there could have been many reasons for it, of course, but I was still dismayed to find a cathedral closed in daylight hours at this time of year – not to mention that I shan’t now catch the exhibition, which closes on Tuesday! (PS After some days of deliberation, I emailed the cathedral querying the situation, and learnt that usual opening hours do not apply “for the majority of the Christmas and New Year period” and the cathedral was only open for services.)

My second objective was to view progress on a new shopping centre, being built after many years of delay.  When I was a child, Bradford was more influential, better-known and prosperous than its near neighbour Leeds, due to the wool trade centred there.  Wool from around the world was both traded and processed in Bradford; the prime minister Palmerston himself laid the foundation of the Victorian Wool Exchange, Grade I listed and now surely the most impressive Waterstone’s book store in the country.  But Bradford’s fortunes have declined steeply.  Much faith in its revival was put into a new Westfield shopping centre approved well over ten years ago, though building has only started in the past 12 months.  As you will see, it is coming on apace, and I am pleased that the developer and many large retailers have kept faith with a city of so many problems.  The footprint of this new cathedral of commerce brings shopping very close to the Catherdal Church of St Peter.  I wonder what they will make of each other at Christmas this year?  Linda