Tag Archives: Tom Denny

Edward Wilson and Glorious Gloucester Cathedral

11 Jul

Gloucester Cathedral IS glorious. Originally St Peter’s Abbey, founded in the 11th century, it was one of the great Benedictine monasteries for 500 years until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540, when he broke his allegiance to the Pope and Catholicism. This was ‘a moment of shattering change’ with the loss of the monks, pilgrims and many of the monastery’s wonderful treasures, which disappeared into eager secular hands.

A Bishop of Gloucester was appointed with duties in the parishes and diocese and where St Peter’s had been an Abbey, there was now a cathedral.

It is difficult to know what to be more impressed with; the building itself is magnificent and in it there is exquisite fan vaulting, wonderful stained glass, including three vivid blue windows created by Tom Denny in 1993, tombs (Edward II amongst them, also Robert Curthose, in vivid red, lying relaxed, one spurred foot across the other), the silver, the books, the masonry.

Edward Wilson loved Gloucester Cathedral. He was confirmed by the Bishop of Gloucester, Dr Ellicott, ‘the good Bishop laid his hands on me’. A compulsive artist, he drew the interior of the building.

On July 5th the cathedral dedicated an afternoon and evening to Wilson’s memory. I gave a talk about his life in the Chapter House. His sledging flag, which was sewn by his wife Oriana, was brought from The Scott Polar Institute for the occasion. A service gave thanks for his life. His poem ‘The Barrier Silence’ was read.

The service ended with Scott’s letter to Oriana Wilson: ‘If this letter reaches you Bill and I will have gone out together……. his eyes have a comfortable blue look of hope and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty……. he died as he lived, a brave, true man – the best of comrades and the staunchest of friends’.

Sledge flag


Gloucester Cathedral and sledge flag