Discovering Albion – day 8: Soapbox…

scotland trip jan 15 006It was getting late by the time we left the island. Ten miles back to the last hotel we had passed or forge ahead and see what happened? We forged ahead and fell lucky, finding a little place north of Alnwick where we could spend the night. Next morning we were up and away early, breaking our fast on the provisions with which we had stocked the car… and deciding, in true Hobbit fashion, that second breakfast could be had in Durham.

Jumping Bean cafe

Jumping Bean

We found a superb little place in the city centre… the Jumping Bean Café. I warn you, stay clear… unless, of course, you want to end up addicted to crumpets covered in toasted cheese. In which case, I highly recommend it. We looked at the artwork on the walls and watched a pied wagtail on the decking as we waited, curious to taste this unheard-of combination. Cheesey crumpets were, we decided after the first bite, definitely the way forward…

Friendly chaffinch…

Friendly chaffinch…

The police had reopened the bridge across the river by the time we had done; the body floating in the water had been recovered and turned out to be no more than a log washed downstream. We wandered through the ancient alleyways… ginnels we would call them in Yorkshire… and up towards the castle and Cathedral. A huge memorial cross in the Celtic style dominates the green, but is dwarfed beside the majesty of the cathedral itself.

narrow ways

narrow ways

Now, you’ll have to excuse me but there are a couple of things that get my goat and I fail to understand either of them. No flash photography within the Cathedral… no photographs in the chapels set aside for prayer… those I can understand. The first may cause damage to delicate materials… and I never use a flash in historic places for that reason. The second is unfair and distracting to those who are simply there to pray.

Medieval arms.. though I still say it looks like the Loch Ness monster on that helmet...

Medieval arms.. though I still say it looks like the Loch Ness monster on that helmet…

But no photography at all… sometimes ‘for copyright reasons’… on a building whose copyright probably ran out the best part of a millennium ago… this I fail to understand. Obviously they want you to buy their illustrated guides. But then there is copyright on the images…

Memorial cross and catherdral

Memorial cross and cathedral

Unfortunately the first thing I ever do when walking into any church is turn towards the altar end with the camera and take at least one picture. For the colours we talked about in The Initiate… So I had taken two pictures before we got in as far as the sign that said we couldn’t.

Norman castle keep

Norman castle keep

The other thing, that really gets to me…of which Durham at least, I have to say, is not guilty is charging entry. To a church. Either a house of prayer, or important parts of the national history and heritage, depending upon your religious bias. And some of them charge £18 per person. Which makes it bloody expensive to visit, say, Westminster Abbey… Now, I know these buildings take a lot of upkeep and the cost of renovation and preservation is huge. But make it discretionary, please. Or charge an affordable price at least. Charge, by all means, to visit the bits normally out of bounds… like the tower or the crypt … that’s fair enough. It makes it a choice. It doesn’t prohibit people from visiting these wonderful buildings on purely economic grounds. Even Jesus got angry at usury in the Temple…

City streets

City streets

As a matter of course we always leave a small donation in the boxes of the little places we visit…or buy the little guides…We value our history deeply and want to see it preserved for future generations to enjoy as much as we do. But charging entry at such elevated prices…? It only serves to exclude the poor.



I know that entry is usually free to the services held in the chapels of these great buildings, but for those who wish to touch the heart of the nation’s history and perhaps show their children the wonders they themselves saw when they were young… it should not become a financial impossibility surely?

Okay, I’ll shush and we’ll continue the tour…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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17 Responses to Discovering Albion – day 8: Soapbox…

  1. I wonder if the “no photography” is enforceable if the copyright is long gone? And have we actually ever seen a wood soap box? Just wondering. I would like to have a real soapbox of my very own 😉


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Well as you are the same sort of height as me, I can see the benefits in having our own… 🙂

      The trouble with the no photography rule is perhaps less to do with copyright on the old stuff as the new… these are evolving buildings. Durham, for example, is also known today as Hogwarts.


  2. Running Elk says:

    Haha. My favourite cathedral in the northern grouping. If you climbed at all, you might have seen some of my handiwork… 🙂 (Though you would need to go to the new one in Liverpool to see my greatest moment… Who could blame me for turning up at the wrong one initially? How COULD that be the NEW one… lol)
    Now, if you’d only been a little less desperate to get out of Leuchars… you would have discovered that some of the early stones at Durham were cut, carved and placed by the same masons who built the little circular space on top the rather prominent sacred mound in the middle of nowhere in the Kingdom… (Just in case the lack of pictures warrants dropping Durham from the story board… gotta defend my favorites, here, you know… 😉 )


    • Sue Vincent says:

      You and I are going to have to sit down and do some serious talking come April, H…. 😉 I believe you have tales to tell….


      • Running Elk says:

        lol Not nearly as interesting as it sounds… Tis but a little mark in Durham (maybe 20). The only story worth telling is the ticking off I got from a very irate bishop following a dropped hammer incident part way through a Sunday service – if he’d been out of frock, I’m sure there would have been a few more colourful words applied. Couldn’t blame him either… :p
        Liverpool – well, turns out that nobody considered car parking… ironic really, as all the really old ones have ample space for them. Who’d have thought that 800 years ago they’d have had the foresight… 😉


  3. Running Elk says:

    PS – Lunkies we call them in the SW. Up here? They feign complete ignorance that there should be a name for them… I need to find a really, really, REALLY old guy / gal who might remember the name… there HAD to be one… :/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you totally about the entry fees. We ran into those in India also. They wanted to charge me a lot more because I’m American. My husband argued with them that I was married and with him and should only have to pay what he did. They gave in. 🙂


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