Wednesday, September 28, 2016

the doors of Westminster Abbey

Visitors to London usually flock to Westminster Abbey first. Its massive double doors are a favourite subject with tourists, photographers, and lovers of history and architecture.

Westminster Abbey's Great North Door
Photo courtesy of The Enchanted Manor

But wonder | wander | women recently walked through with some friends, and since doors are our obsession, we noticed some much smaller but intriguing doorways and wanted to share them here.

The Abbey claims Britain's oldest door, so old that no one can remember quite when it was built. The sign on it says 'Most likely constructed in the 1050s for Edward the Confessor.'

Emerging from the crowds and corridors of the Abbey (where no photography is allowed), we came to the Cloisters, where stained-glass archways framed a peaceful lawn.

Our favourite door, of course, was the one to the librarian's office. The Reading Room upstairs is open Monday to Thursday (except for lunch), but the Library itself is only available by appointment, and its guardian's doors were suitably intimidating.

The sign over the letterbox reads 'Librarian and Keeper of the Muniments', that is, the legendary hand-written and illuminated manuscripts of the Abbey.

The Abbey is still a living and working unit of the Church of England; this means there are a staff of priests, deacons and chaplains that live and work on location.

The Cloisters lead to a residential area, much of it off limits. Some of the doors are along the public walkway though, and it was fun to wander and wonder about the living residents of Britain's most famous mausoleum.

This door had a pet flap! Does the Abbey have some prowling cats who stalk the tombs at night?

This was a door that we could have seen along any modern London street. We could see a blurry stairwell through the upper panes. What a place to live!

We wish the residents of Westminster Abbey well. They serve crowds of tourists as well as a great congregation, but it seems well worth it to have this view every morning.

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