In praise of sacred spaces: Salisbury Cathedral, UK

Followers of this blog will have noticed that I have been conspicuous by my absence in recent weeks. Most bloggers, especially those like me who have been keeping noses to the blogging grindstone for a number of years, feel the need for a break now and then, no matter how much fun it all is. Sitting staring cross-eyed at a visually attractive wall, hand clutching a cup of tea, is a great way of chilling out and revitalising, I find. Throwing in a little therapeutic travel also helps!

So, after a week of travel therapy, I am now home. Our last port of call was the historic English market town of Salisbury. Much though we loved Salisbury, its world-famous cathedral, unsurprisingly, was the highlight: awesome, in the pre-social media sense of the word. I was especially moved by the Trinity Chapel and its magnificent Prisoners of Conscience window.

Prisoners of Conscience window
Prisoners of Conscience window

photo: Anne Whitaker

And – I found the statue of the Black Madonna.

(mentioned by Jamie in my April 10 reblog from her site..) 

Black Madonna, Salisbury UK
Black Madonna, Salisbury UK

photo: Anne Whitaker

Here is Jamie, from that excellent blog Sophia’s Children, on the topic of the black madonna archetype...”….But the real surprise, as I wandered through the beautiful cathedral was coming upon a chapel dedicated to prayer for ‘prisoners of conscience’, which featured a stunning stained glass window.

Looking over this chapel, dedicated to mindfulness of and prayer for those who are being held prisoner throughout the world, was a dark madonna.

For any who know the archetype of the dark or black madonna, and the many things She symbolizes, you will know that there is no more appropriate place for Her than this space dedicated to those who have been forgotten, who are being held captive, who are being treated cruelly…”

Given the awful atrocities we read about daily which are being perpetrated all over our world more than ever, we need powerful symbolism to remind us how far we still have to evolve as a species in order to become civilised…

We also took some time to wander through the cloisters and the extensive grounds around the cathedral, soaking up the atmosphere. Salisbury Cathedral is visually stunning, not least because of its magnificent spire. I hope you enjoy this unusual view!

Salisbury Cathedral Spire
Salisbury Cathedral Spire

Photo: Anne Whitaker

 One of the surprises of our visit was this: despite the constant traffic of noisy schoolchildren, mingling with tourists of all races, colours and creeds, it was possible to find contemplative spaces. For me, sitting quietly in Trinity Chapel, contemplating the beauty of its magnificent window which offered such a powerful, poignant message, was something I treasure and will not easily forget.

Where would we be, believers or not, without the power, grace and inspirational quality of those spectacular mediaeval monuments?


450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


14 thoughts on “In praise of sacred spaces: Salisbury Cathedral, UK

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this post with your beautiful photographs, Anne – it was like having a wee visit with this beautiful sacred space again. I’d like to reblog the post, so let me know if that’s okay with you. Blessings, Jamie

    1. Yes, I was glowing as I returned home, but the serenity has become a bit ragged as I survey all the stuff which has piled up since I’ve been away. And spilling a cup of tea all over the table at which I work in the Writing Cave, soaking everything in sight, hasn’t helped. Ah well…after the ecstasy, the laundry, as that wise American Buddhist Jack Kornfield so memorably titled one of his books…

      1. I am extremely lucky to have a place of serenity where I live on the river. I also have access to lots of wooded areas free from the sounds of civilization.

        Life had fun taunting you on your return, but now maybe it will tease someone else. My friend Bob wrote a post a few days ago about spilling his coffee (third cup!) on his laptop!

  2. Welcome back after your respite from blogging. Sounds like you had a wonderful get-away Anne. I zoomed in for a closer look at the stained glass windows…spectacular! I also enjoyed reading the interesting story behind the black Madonna. .

  3. Of all the places I visited in England, Salisbury, both the cathedral and the plain, were at the top of the list. Some places, like St. Paul’s in London, are interesting for the history, and some, like the Christopher Wren parish churches, are a different kind of sacred space. But Winchester, Salisbury, and Yorkminster are wonderful santified spaces. I do love them all!

    I’m so glad you had a chance to get away, and I hope all’s well — that you’re refreshed and (spilled tea notwithstanding) ready to get back at it!

    1. Thanks, Linda – nice to know we have both trodden the same holy ground with similar appreciation! Yes, it was refreshing…but I have that longing to sit staring out at the sea, which warns me that I need to create ‘time out’ in my week in order to let the beginnings of the next book emerge ( I hope…) from the depths.

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