Durham’s Lumiere festival will be taking place on November 12-15. It is Britain’s largest light festival. Most impressive perhaps is the illumination of the great cathedral on its eminent position above the river, in which medieval images are projected upon the ancient stonework and towers.
Durham was well-known to Richard III; he and his wife Anne were admitted to the fraternity of the cathedral priory in 1474 when he was still Duke of Gloucester. He had a special veneration toward the northern St Cuthbert, whose shrine was (and still is today) a prominent feature of the cathedral.
In 1484, as King, Richard visited Cuthbert’s shrine while on progress and presented the monks with his parliamentary robe of blue velvet, stitched with lions in pure gold.
If Richard were to come back today, he would recognise the building and much of its surrounds for the cathedral is little changed since his time…although Cuthbert’s shrine was robbed out in the Reformation. Before that time, it was heaped in jewels worth a king’s ransom and festooned with unusual offerings, including narwhal horns which many thought were unicorn’s horns and hence magical.
I don’t know what Richard would think of modern illuminations but the cathedral looks so dramatic and awe-inspiring with scenes from its long history projected onto its architecture…I like to think he might approve!