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Behind the Scenes at Christ Church Cathedral

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The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Mike Kinman, generously invited me for a tour of the cathedral, pointing out many of the interesting aspects of the church.  First of all, while it’s a Gothic Revival church, the nave’s ceiling does not have a groin vault, but rather an intricate wood frame design.

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The apse, however, does have the more traditional groin vaulting, which is hidden in shadows most of the time.

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Much to my delight, Dean Kinman also took me on a tour of the bell tower, which was only built in the Twentieth Century.  And despite the claims of Compton and Dry, this was the first bell tower; if you look closely, you can see a pointed arch that was once on the exterior of the church (as most people know, the building is faced with sandstone and limestone.  If you look closely, there is a thick layer of coal dust on this arch; most likely, it was exposed to the elements for decades before the bell tower was built.

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The basement was equally fascinating; deep under the nave of the church, this massive inverted Roman arch, and others like it, provided structural support for the walls above.  I must admit that I have never seen this construction technique–the inverted arch–in any structure in America or Europe.  I recently found a written reference to such construction in another St. Louis building, but for the most part, this seems to be a rare type of structural element.  It was really a pleasant surprise to see it.

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Thanks again to Dean Kinman and Christ Church Cathredal for allowing me to see these normally private spaces.

3 Comments

  1. WOW – Thanks, Chris and esp. Dean Kinman!
    As a kid and teen and Catholic of the ’40s and ’50s, we were forbidden to enter non-Catholic places of worship; I think we would go to Hell or Limbo or perhaps Coventry – I forget which.

  2. Thanks for the behind the scenes look at Christ Church! I was baptised there more years ago than I like to remember.

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