The Friends annual pilgrimage, this year, was a “fairly local” visit to the Soke of Peterborough and its St Peter’s Cathedral. Forty-four members and guests assembled at the Market Hall bus bay to board a splendid state of the art coach. The usual organiser, the indisposed Peter Raybould, was sadly absent and his heir apparent /apprentice Anthony Sharp had last been seen by this correspondent early Wednesday p.m. busily checking his tyres at the Sainsbury filling station.
The outward journey took us to the A14 at Kelmarsh and then eastwards and north eastwards passing the turn off to Nassington with a clear glimpse of Fotheringhay Church in the distance and then eventually the Cathedral dominating the skyline of Peterborough where eventually Tracey Snooks from the Peterborough Tourist Office met the bus and gave a formal welcome.
Armed with tourist guide book we followed her to the Cathedral precincts and the imposing medieval West Front of the building dedicated to St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Andrew where their statues stood, Groups or individuals then set off on their free time excursions.
Your correspondent’s explorations took in a route down to the river Nene where much waterside residential development was happening and then a stroll alongside admiring the ducks and swans. After the adventure of the missing cardigan the next venture was to head across the Nene towards” Rail world”, being treated en route to one of the LNER expresses thundering over the iconic railway bridge.
Time allowed an exploration of the nearby streets and led to” Yorkshire House”, a fine building, and close by the Art Gallery and Museum with an interesting exhibition of work. A visit to the adjacent St. John the Baptist church was curtailed by locked doors so an exploration around the perimeter gardens of the Cathedral was made returning to rendezvous with the rest of the party.
We were spilt into three separate groups for a detailed and most informative explanation about the origins and history and current use of this fine building.
There was much to admire: the light, few stained-glass windows, the uninterrupted view the length of the knave, the cleaned stonework, the short prayer sessions on the hour, the fabulous artistic intricacies of the painted and vaulted ceilings, the misericords and the Norman style arches.
The Hedda stone; the memorials to Catherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots and the marble high altar a late Victorian addition in the style of The Albert Hall were other features pointed out.The informative talk also told of the deeds of Hereward The Wake, the actions of King Henry V111, in reducing the size and power of the Diocese of Lincoln this creating Peterborough and Oxford and the damage during the English civil war and the Commonwealth rule of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell .The tour ended outside the West Door and the appreciative applause indicated the quality of the tour guides presentations .The party then strolled over to the nearby Becket’s Chapel for refreshments with a light afternoon tea. Several members availed themselves of left overs in” doggy bags” emergency rations in case a calamity saw us marooned near the A1 link on the return trip?
In fact, the journey was the more familiar route out of Cambridgeshire and through NE Northants towards Corby, and then eventually the A427, via Brampton Ash and Dingley and a safe return to Market Harborough.
A visit I hope was enjoyed by all and our thanks to John Gilding, and Anthony Sharp, who helped, and were instrumental in the successful organisation of this pleasant and rewarding day out.
Well done and thank you and as band leader Henry Hall used to sign off on Radio, “Here’s to the next time”! But where?