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    Three Gothic Cathedrals compared

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    Please compare and contrast these three works of art Notre Dame, Wells, and Salisbury Cathedrals, all are from the gothic (medieval period). Please discuss materials used, style, meaning, symbolism, and any other aesthetic issues concerning the art you have chosen. Explain how the works of art fit into the context of the time period. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_Cathedral

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    I copied and pasted for you here the relevant information from several websites, whose URL references are also included. My comments are at the end of the document, which is attached, since this text box does not show hyperlinks.

    SALISBURY CATHEDRAL - United Kingdom
    From the Salisbury Cathedral Website: URL: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/history.magnacarta.php

    Magna Carta (Latin for "Great Charter") is one of the most celebrated documents in English history. At the time it was the solution to a political crisis in Medieval England but its importance has endured as it has become recognised as a cornerstone of liberty influencing much of the civilized world.
    A visit to view the best preserved original Magna Carta in the Chapter House is for many visitors the highlight of their time at Salisbury Cathedral.
    How did the Magna Carta come about?
    The feudal system bound medieval society together in a hierarchy of relationships. Under the feudal system the King was all-powerful. Dispute grew between the barons and bishops and King John over his poor government, heavy war taxes and quarrels with the Pope.
    Weakened by his defeat by the French in 1214 and keen to avoid a civil war he feared losing, King John met the barons at Runnymede (between Windsor and Staines in Southern England) on 15 June 1215 and agreed the terms of the document now known as Magna Carta. Its content, driven by the concerns of barons and church, was designed to re-balance power between the King and his subjects. When King John set his seal on Magna Carta he conceded the fundamental principle that even as king he was not above the law.
    The Salisbury Connection
    At Runnymede King John was urged to accept the demands of the barons and agree Magna Carta by his half-brother, William Longspeé, whose Effigy is in Salisbury Cathedral. Also present at Runnymede was Elias of Dereham, who at the time was steward to one of the key players in the crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. Elias himself was a skilled negotiator and was at the very centre of the discussions between the King and the barons. Once Magna Carta was agreed and sealed he was entrusted with delivering ten of the thirteen copies made, one of which was given to the original cathedral at Old Sarum. Elias later became a Canon of Old Sarum before masterminding the building of the present Salisbury Cathedral.

    Salisbury Cathedral - History: URL: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/history.cathedral.php
    1075 - 1092 Norman Cathedral built at Old Sarum
    1215 Magna Carta sealed
    1220 New Cathedral started on Salisbury Water Meadows. Foundation Stone Laid by Bishop Poore
    1240 - 1270 Cloisters Built
    1258 Cathedral dedicated and most Canonries built. Old Deanery built and became residence of the Dean
    1263 - 1284 Chapter House built
    1265 Bell Tower Built. West Front finished (approximate date)
    1327 Licence granted to build Close Wall from stone taken from Cathedral at Old Sarum.
    1330 Completion of Tower and Spire (approximate date)
    1331 Wall around The Close was built
    1370 Construction of Tower Scaffolding
    1612 James I lodges at King's House
    1624 Taverns and ale houses in The Close
    1714 Wren Hall, the Old Choristers School is completed
    1788 - 1791 Restoration of the Cathedral by James Wyatt. Demolition of Bell Tower and levelling of churchyard to grass
    1823 The artist John Constable paints his famous view of the cathedral from the grounds of the Bishop's Palace 1860 - 1878 Restoration of the Cathedral and some Close houses by Sir George Gilbert Scott
    1945 - 1951 Top 30 feet of spire rebuilt
    1947 Bishop's Palace became Cathedral School
    1981 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museums established in King's House
    1985 Spire Appeal started to raise £6,500,000 for the repair and conservation of the Spire, Tower and West Front 1991 Commencement of the Major Repair Programme, a 20 year, £20 million programme partly funded by English Heritage
    2000 Redevelopment of "The Plumbery" providing new shop and restaurant facilities under a glass roof giving new views of the Spire
    2000 Completion of the repair and conservation of the Spire, Tower and West Front
    2000 New statue of second Angel installed on West Front
    2001 New statue of St Aldhelm installed on West Front New Cathedral Statutes and Constitution
    2003 New statue of poet George Herbert installed on West Front
    2004 Present Dean - the Very Revd June Osborne installed New Cathedral Chairs (Howe 404 - designer David Rowland)
    2004-5 New embroidered cushions on plinths in Chapter House
    2006-7 New stained glass window for the Army Air Corps Memorial
    2008 750 Anniversary year
    Relighting of Cathedral. Won the Lighting Design award in the Heritage category.
    New statue of Canon Ezra installed on West Front
    Permanent Font installed, designed by William Pye and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at a special 750th Anniversary service on 28 September
    2010 15th century text uncovered behind the Henry Hyde monument

    Salisbury Cathedral - History of the Close URL: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/history.close.php
    By the Very Reverend Hugh Dickinson

    It was on a rough field called St. Mary's Mead in 1220 AD that Bishop Richard Poore and his brilliant architect Elias de Derham decided to build a new state-of-the-art Gothic style Cathedral to replace the old Norman Cathedral at Old Sarum.
    Because they take so many generations to build, almost all other English Cathedrals are a mixture of different architectural styles. However the main body of Salisbury Cathedral which includes the tower and West Front, was completed in a mere 38 years.
    The huge Cloister (the largest in England) and the magnificent Chapter House (containing the Magna Carta) were added later. But then the 14th century the most daring and astonishing addition was made. The tower was raised and on top of it they built the slender soaring spire which we see today, completing the Cathedral 95 years after Elias first started the work.
    Considering that at 404 feet (123 metres) Salisbury Cathedral's spire is the tallest medieval structure in the world it is amazing that it is still standing with foundations only four feet deep. Thankfully nature was on Elias's side and the thick bed of gravel that lies beneath the Cathedral supports the building's immense weight.
    Once the building was finished the Bishop recruited priests, canons, and clerks to serve it. These church workers were given an acre and a half of land with the more senior clergy being given three acres around the perimeter of The Close. The Bishop built himself a great palace, which now houses the Cathedral School. Today only four members of the Chapter are resident in The Close and other properties are mainly leased from the Cathedral by private residents.
    As you look around The Close today you see a great array of English Architecture, some designed by Sir Christopher Wren, dating from the 13th to the 20th century. The oldest building in The Close is the Medieval Hall as many of the older houses have been pulled down or rebuilt over the years.
    Salisbury Cathedral has been carrying out a major repair program since the spire appeal was founded in 1986. To date nearly £16 million has been spent with another 10 years or so of work still to be completed. However it has stood the test of time and is more intensively used now than ever before. The music and worship are superb and and thousands of people come here regularly to worship in addition to the 500,000 visitors a year.

    WELLS CATHEDRAL - United Kingdom
    URL: http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/archaelogy/thewells.shtml

    The wells, which gave the city its name, are the corner stone of the development of this area from prehistoric times. These natural springs can be found in the garden of the Bishop's Palace, including the holy well of St. Andrew, which is just to the east of the Camery Garden on the south side of the present cathedral.

    Two excavations in the nineteenth century and a much more extensive archaeological investigation from 1978 - 1980 revealed exciting proof of religious buildings stretching far back into the past and confirming the existence of the great Anglo-Saxon minster church of St. Andrew.

    Near the wells were found the remains of stone age flints and fragments of Roman pottery. Finally the remains of a late Roman mausoleum, probably Christian, were revealed, with the burial vault, robbed of its original contents, still intact. It is a stone-lined burial chamber with postholes and slots in the walls showing that it was originally contained within a larger building. This site became the core of the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical buildings.

    A Middle Saxon mortuary chapel superseded the mausoleum. There was a position for the altar and evidence of seven burials. In due course graves were dug all round this area. Some rare finds including a Frisian silver coin of the mid-eighth century were discovered. This is the furthest west in Europe that such a coin has ever been found.

    Wells Cathedral - URL: http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/archaelogy/standrew.shtml

    Legend has it that permission to found was given by Ine King of Wessex around 705. The first reference to this impressive minster church is in a charter of 766 - "the minster near the Great Spring at Wells." During the latest excavations, the deep foundations of an apsidal (curved) sanctuary with probably a crypt underneath were examined. This apse disappears under the present east cloister.

    Most of the minster church whose apse this was, lies unexcavated, under the present cloisters and would have fronted directly onto the market place. The original Saxon chapel was much enlarged during the late Saxon period but was still separate from the eastern end of the minster. It was by then known as St. Mary's Chapel. So it is possible to see that there was a direct linear development from the holy well of St.Andrew at the eastern end, through the St.Mary Chapel and the minster church, to the market place and directly onto the High Street to the west.

    This was evidently a planned Anglo-Saxon town which grew up because of the minster church. The plan lines follow the topography of the area and are not a true east - west alignment. What was most exciting was that from the buildings and the direction of the tombs it was clear that the Anglo-Saxon line was 12°off the east-west line of the present cathedral.

    URL: http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/archaelogy/wellscathedral.shtml

    In 909 the large diocese of Sherbourne was split and the minster church of St. Andrew became the first Wells Cathedral. Giso, the last Saxon bishop built both to the south, buildings for live-in priests, and north, a cloister. Pottery and animal bones were found to the south and a fine tomb cover of the tenth century with a pattern representing the Tree of Life to the north.

    After the death of Giso in 1088, his successor John of Tours moved his seat to Bath Abbey and Wells was temporarily demoted. In the early 1100s Bishop Robert partially rebuilt the neglected church and carved stone fragments of the Norman period were recovered during the excavations.

    By 1180 the foundations of an entirely new church were being laid to the north of the old one and on a better east-west alignment. Bishop Reginald, the then Bishop of Bath and a Norman by family, brought with him the exciting ideas of a new architectural style - the Gothic.

    Probably by 1196 the demolition of the Saxon cathedral began as the new church was sufficiently advanced to be used for worship. Some stone was recycled for use in the new building. Out of respect for the ancient sacred site of the Roman mausoleum, the St. Mary Chapel was preserved and joined on to the new east cloister at a skewed angle. It became known as the "Lady Chapel by-the-Cloister".

    In 1477 Bishop Robert Stillington embarked on a complete rebuilding of the chapel on a grand scale. The foundations of this cruciform building are what can be seen today in the Camery garden. This grand chapel did not last long and ...

    Solution Summary

    Commentary and comparisons of three medieval Gothic cathedrals: Notre Dame of Paris, France, Salisbury Cathedral of England, and Wells Cathedral of England. Web-based sites and URLs included.