St Fillan’s Kirk, Aberdour, Fife

St  Fillan's kirk exterior

We were visiting Aberdour Castle when the woman in the ticket office asked if we had ever visited St Fillan’s Kirk on the edge of the castle grounds. We hadn’t even known it existed so we made our way there to have a snoop around. The church dates from around 1123.

St  Fillan's kirk gravestones

These ancient gravestones are at the edge of the pathway leading to the church. They must originally have been inside the churchyard marking graves, but they’ve probably fallen over at some point in the last 500 years or so since they were erected, and this is the safest location for them now.

When St Fillan’s was built it would obviously have been a Roman Catholic church but since the Scottish Reformation it has been taken over by the Church of Scotland, and it’s still used every Sunday for worship.

St  Fillan's kirk interior

It fell into disuse during the 18th century and became a ruin and it’s only in fairly recent years that it was saved and brought into use again. There was a local campaign in 1925 to raise money to put a roof on it again and after only a year it was re-opened for use, quite amazing really when you consider that they even had to deal with a massive tree which had taken root in the chancel.

St  Fillan's kirk interior

The modern chairs which have replaced the original pews don’t really detract from the atmosphere of the place.

St  Fillan's kirk interior glass

I know that some people don’t like stained glass and although I’m really not at all religious, I’m always drawn to the windows because of the wonderful colours of the glass. Another point of interest for me was the framed lists of christenings which have taken place there in more recent years. I’m a bit obsessed by the changing fashions of names over the years, but I’m probably fairly unusual in that.

St  Fillan's kirk interior glass

There is obviously no charge to take a look around St Fillan’s and if you’re visiting Aberdour Castle you should definitely make time to look around it.

If you want to read more about St Fillan have a look here.

Cragside, Northumberland – again

I just managed to get this photo of the kitchen at Cragside with nobody in it, there must have been 40 people milling about the place, and there’s certainly plenty to see in the way of Victorian gadgets jelly moulds and copper. As you can see there are two kitchen ranges to deal with all the entertaining that they had to cope with, not to mention all the servants who would have been getting fed there too.

a Cragside house kitchen

I can’t remember what this room was called but I would call it the living-room, the inscription above the fireplace is EAST OR WEST HAME’S BEST – which is fair enough I suppose. The fire is in a lovely comfy alcove with stained glass panels either side of it, as you can see, all very Arts and Crafts design.

Cragside stained glass 2

And here is the other side of it, there are wooden settees either side of the fireplace too and I imagine that the place would have been full of dogs when the house was a home.

Cragside glass

Another bedroom, this time with some of the clothes which would have been worn in the house’s Victorian heyday. On the table there were bits and pieces of sewing, just as if the original owner had left the room for a short time and was going to be coming back and taking it up where she left off.

Cragside interior bedroom 3

Yet more stained glass, this time it was situated on a wide landing.
You can just see the very Victorian heavily embossed wallpaper, the bottom of the walls are covered with tiles.

Cragside interior glass 3

And just as a wee taster, here’s a bit of the beautiful gardens, the burn running through it is quite a torrent and I can see why Armstrong decided to harness all that energy and use it to light the house. You can read about Lord Armstrong here.
Cragside gardens 6 + old bridge

Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire

Ripon has never been on my list of places that I want to visit but when we realised that we were just a few miles away from the city, during our recent trip to Yorkshire, we thought we might as well take a look at it. It’s actually a really lovely cathedral, and I don’t much go for big religious structures, but this one has a good atmosphere, almost as friendly as Durham.

As yesterday was Hallowe’en, that makes today All Saints’ Day, so it seems apt to have a cathedral post today. I’m not madly keen on organised religion but I always like to have a look at the local churches.

Ripon Cathedral

This is the front door from the inside and as you can see they’ve added some modern glass underneath the medieval stained glass windows. Unfortunately the glass never seems to look half as good in photos as it does in real life. You don’t have to pay to go in to the cathedral but obviously they’re keen on donations as it costs such a lot to keep it standing.

front entrance stained glass

I remember when I was reading someone’s review of Trollope’s Barchester books that they didn’t understand all the church politics, and didn’t know the difference between high and low church. Well, this is high church, often referred to as ‘smells and bells’ because apart from the very ornate decor ‘high’ means the use of bells and incense at particular times during the church service. It’s almost indistinguishable from Roman Catholoic, although this is of course a Church of England cathedral.

I love stained glass, it’s the colours that get me, somehow they always seem so much more vibrant in backlit glass than at any other time. This is quite a modern window and as you can see, the altar cloth is also modern but a beautiful design, quite three dimensional which doesn’t quite show up in the photo.

a side altar +stained glass

aRipon Cathedral, Yorkshirefront altar and figures

Ripon Cathedral has definitely been a patron of the arts over the years. The side chapel below has really wonderful textural metal work, as you can see. They were busy setting up an art exhibition at the time we were there, it seems to be quite a hub of the community, which you can’t say of all cathedrals.

a side chapel modern art

Yet another altar, the original I would think, and more stained glass.

stained glass in Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire

This one is a very small window but I think it’s quite unusual to see stained glass in shades of yellow and green and it looked really zingy wth the sun coming through it.

stained glass in Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire