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posted 2nd November 2015
My Seven Churches – Salisbury Cathedral

From a series of articles in Platform Magazine about churches that have been an inspiration in Father Andrew’s life.

 
There is a great deal to be said for an attitude to prayer that comprises simply gazing at an object. Allowing your eyes to rest on something holy and allowing this outward contemplation to lead you into God’s presence.

I had the privilege of training for ministry in Salisbury and our college was in the Cathedral Close there and overlooked the Cathedral. Almost daily I would enter The Close in the early morning, when it was devoid of visitors and make my way to the college door and as I walked along I would gaze up at the majesty of this wonderful building. It never failed to inspire.

Sometimes when Church History lectures were getting tedious or I was struggling to make sense of what we were being taught, I would gaze out of the window of our lecture room and lose myself for a moment or two in the permanence and the scale of the cathedral. Just sitting there on the grass! For three years it formed an unforgettable backdrop to my life. Sometimes, when I needed space away from the college environment, I would steal across the green, and in through a side door and let myself be immersed in the beauty of Choral Evensong led by the fantastic choir.

On one occasion, when the Cathedral Choir was on holiday, a group of us were permitted to lead Choral Evensong ourselves and I was part of the “male voice” choir that led the service without accompaniment, using just Plainsong and simple chant. I remember processing into the choir stalls in my new black cassock and feeling that life could not get any more privileged than this.

Alison and I began our married life here too and at the end of our road, you could cross over into the famous water meadows and experience the wonderful view of the Cathedral from the angel that was the inspiration behind Turner’s most famous painting. There is something about Salisbury that will remain “home” to us forever.

During our final year at college, three of us were leading a Holiday Club at a church in Newbury and we brought over fifty children for a day’s outing to the Cathedral. The three of us were basically in charge of it all, and at one point when we needed to round the children up at the front of the building, we could only account for 27 of the fifty children in our care. The rest were rampaging around the cloisters uncontrolled!

“Who is in charge of this group of children?” bellowed an angry Verger. We did not dare admit that we were students from the college on the other side of the green. If they had found out, we might never have been allowed to have been Ordained.

If I find myself travelling down to the west country, there is no finer detour than to stop of at Salisbury and enter The Close once again and pause to gaze at the cathedral again and let its beauty speak silently of the glory of God

Fr Andrew