Dead and deader: cathedrals, churches and graveyards

For a non-Christian, I have am weirdly drawn to cathedrals. When I visited England in 1991, I spent much of my time visiting cathedrals. This trip had a bit of everything, but we managed to see several churches, chapels, abbeys, cathedrals, and their ubiquitous cemeteries.

On our first full day in London we walked past St. Paul’s with the intent of going back; we never made it but both of us had been there before. It’s still very photogenic (especially when compared to the images from World War II when it was nearly destroyed during the Blitz).



and now

and now








My grandmother was born in Whitby, and it’s one of my favorite towns in England. The ruin of the seventh century abbey is haunting, and the church graveyard offers the best views of the city, harbor and sea. Plus, this is where Dracula hung out when he arrived in England, a fictional “fact” that’s part of its tourist appeal.

St. Mary's church, Whitby

St. Mary’s church, Whitby







View of Whitby from St. Mary's graveyard

View of Whitby from St. Mary’s graveyard

The abbey

The abbey

Whitby abbey arch











It rained our first day in Edinburgh, so we ducked into St. Cuthbert’s Church. A sweet, elderly docent named, of all things, Mary Stewart, graciously showed us around.

St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh

St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh

St. Cuthbert's altar

St. Cuthbert’s altar

St. Cuthbert's graveyard

St. Cuthbert’s graveyard

Garden and graveyard

Garden and graveyard










A tiny chapel on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, St. Margaret’s, is a quiet spot to meditate, with a beautiful altar cloth.

St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle

St. Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle

We had to pay two pounds for the privilege of taking photos, so we shot away.

We had to pay two pounds for the privilege of taking photos, so we shot away.








Edinburgh’s best-known cathedral is St.  Giles, at the foot of the Royal Mile.

For crossword puzzle fans, the St. Giles ambo

For crossword puzzle fans, the St. Giles ambo

According to Rick Steves, the statue of John Knox is moved around the cathedral like a large chess piece.

St Giles John Knox









One of my father’s favorite stories was “Greyfriars Bobby,” and I’ve wanted to track it down for years. I bought a copy of the story at the castle, and learned that Greyfriars was nearby.

Fludden wall, Greyfriars cemetery

Fludden wall, Greyfriars cemetery

Modern building beyond the cemetery

Modern building, castle, and tattoo arena beyond Greyfriars cemetery

Greyfriars memorial

Greyfriars memorial

Loyal Bobby, who (if the story is true) lay by his master's grave for 14 years.

Loyal Bobby, who (if the story is true) lay by his master’s grave for 14 years.

I’ve already mentioned how strange I found Bath. The Abbey was quite photogenic against the summer skies of western England.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

The Abbey from the Roman Baths

The Abbey from the Roman Baths

Gary thought this guy looked like a character in a Roz Chast cartoon:

Bath Abbey Chast figure

Separated at birth?

Separated at birth?









Cambridge’s crown jewel is Kings College Chapel, familiar if you’ve seen PBS’s Christmas Eve service.

Mgnificant organ. We never found Henry and Anne's initials supposedly carved somewhere.

Magnificent organ. We never found Henry and Anne’s initials supposedly carved somewhere.

Kings college chapel

Kings college chapel

Henry VIII coat of arms, the hound and the hart

Henry VIII coat of arms, the hound and the hart

My favorite saint, St. George and the Dragon

My favorite saint, George and the Dragon
















Newmarket: St. Mary’s, where I was christened, and thought I was Catholic until I was seven or eight.

8N Jill at St Marys church








Back in London, we skipped Westminster Abbey, having seen it before. A walk on the South Bank of the Thames took us past Southwark Cathedral.


A rainy day lunch in the busy, warm and crowded crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields wrapped up our British “church” experience.

Lunch with the dead in the crypt.

Lunch with the dead in the crypt.

4E Edinburgh cemetery sepia, Jill


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2 responses to “Dead and deader: cathedrals, churches and graveyards”

  1. Michelle Riesterer says :

    I am thoroughly enjoying your pictures and stories about your trip to England. Thanks Aunt Jill !

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