Thursday Doors – The Watching Loft

img_3172My door this week comes from the ancient cathedral of St Alban, and is the entrance to the fourteenth century Watching Loft.

img_3175Prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, St Alban’s Cathedral was part of a huge abbey complex, at the centre of which was the shrine to the martyred saint. The Watching Loft was constructed so that monks and soldiers could keep watch over the shrine at all times, ensuring the sacred remains were undisturbed.

img_3173The doorway, as you can see, is quite narrow, and the loft itself seems quite cramped – I imagine the monks and soldiers up there crammed in like roosting pigeons, not to mention the contortions it would have taken to get up the stairs. Still, it is a wonderful surviving example of its type – the beautiful carving and ornate design a reminder of a time when people built things to last.

This is my entry to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.

31 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – The Watching Loft

  1. Wow – just wow. Looking at that, I can feel the cool air, hear the echo of footsteps on flagstones, get that slighty dusty, “holy” smell of old churches in my nostrils… And is that a ghostly monk behind those carved window openings?

    1. Ooh, I had to go back and take another look at the photo – I always hope I might catch something like that in there. I’m not sure… I think it’s the archway inside, but then again..
      And you’ve described the atmosphere perfectly 🙂

  2. Beautiful doors and architecture indeed, but it sure seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through to keep an eye on someone who wasn’t going anywhere 😉

    1. Yes, it does. I think though it might have been all the gold and precious jewels on the casket they were keeping an eye on, rather than the bones. Although, the bones themselves were very valuable at the time, as they brought pilgrims to the cathedral who then made donations – the bigger the donation, the more favourable their heavenly destination. Sort of like The 700 Club, six hundred years ago!

    1. Thanks, Sarah. It is an unusual space, isn’t it? I’m always quite drawn to it whenever I visit the Cathedral – I’d love to go up there, but would be a bit freaked out at the same time…

    1. Thanks so much, Kate – I’m glad you enjoy them 🙂 I learn a lot too – often things I didn’t realise when I was actually visiting the place, so they are fun to write 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jesh 🙂 I did know that – changing nutrition has made huge changes to our physiology over the years. It’s just, this door seems so small, especially for a man in armour like a soldier. However, like you say, people were smaller then 🙂

    1. Hehe – they’re sort of hidden away next to the shrine, so unless you go into that bit and walk around, you won’t see them. I swear I see something new every time I go there!

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