Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle


Normally at this time of the year I visit Saint Asaph Cathedral in North Wales to photograph the Christmas Tree. It’s a very large tree positioned just before the entrance to the Choir and twinkles with lots of Christmas lights. This year is no exception but there’s no tree. Just a small one in the corner of the cathedral, almost tucked away out of sight. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. So I’ve decided to use one from a previous Christmas visit to the Cathedral which I’m sure will fit the challenge this week.

Christmas from the Cathedral at St Asaph

Whilst I was in the cathedral I took the opportunity to try out some ideas incorporating the lights in the Choir Stalls and whilst I was doing so spotted something I wasn’t expecting to see. In fact I’m amazed I haven’t spotted it before because I have stood in the same spot loads of times taking photographs. What am I talking about?

Cathedral Lights

There’s graffiti carved into the wood. Mainly initials, probably of choir boys. I say boys because traditionally in the past Church and Cathedral Choirs were made up of boys and adult males.

The use of choirboys in Christian liturgical music can be traced back to pre-Christian times. Saint Paul’s dictum that “women should be silent in churches” (mulieres in ecclesiis taceant) resonated with this largely patriarchal tradition; the development of vocal polyphony from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and Baroque thus took place largely, though not exclusively, in the context of the all-male choir, in which all voice parts were sung by men and boys. – Source Wikipedia

That set me wondering. How long ago were the carvings done? It’s not recent, because nowadays there are cameras installed in the Cathedral for security purposes, so it is likely that no one would chance carving the wood now. But there again the carvings are not ancient as the writing looks modern. In the end we are left with a mystery – a sort of “Whodunnit” but without an ending.

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14 comments

  1. Love the tree – sorry to hear it’s been downsized! The carving looks like the underside of the desk lids at primary school when I was a kid – years and years of additions – that was probably the work of boys, too. Girls didn’t generally have pocket knives, but a lot of boys did, back in the sixties.

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  2. Mike, this one is beautiful. Maybe money was short so it was decided not to put up a large tree. Maybe the Christmas spirit was lacking for who ever “:runs” the cathedral.. No matter just the lamps alone or gorgeous on the old wood that has a beautiful patina.

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    • Not sure, Yvonne, and there was no one around to ask. Normally there are volunteer guides who will show you around the cathedral but even they were missing. The whole time I was there I only saw three people, two of whom stayed about 5 minutes to take a photograph and the other just popped their head through the door and then left.

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