Ever since I was a tiny child I have loved Chichester Cathedral. Not only is it a beacon for home but it is a beautiful building containing a Chagall window an uncovered Roman mosaic floor and a myriad of other delights. The Cathedral has long been an advocate for the arts and alongside medieval stone carvings there are many contemporary pieces, mostly commissioned by Dean Walter Hussey who was a great patron to musicians and artists. The Arundel Tomb inspired Philip Larkin to write the famous poem of the same name and the composer Leonard Bernstein (who wrote West Side Story) composed the Chichester Psalms. It is a cliche to use the term 'treasure trove' but the Cathedral really is just that, especially to a child on the lookout for the carved mice on the wooden furniture or the monkey in the Tudor painting.
Lambert Barnard (what a name) was an English Renaissance painter during the early 16th century and was Court Painter to Bishop Sherburne for twenty years. During this time, Barnard painted a series of works on wooden panels which are displayed in Chichester Cathedral and which are currently in desperate need of repair and conservation work. Last night's Culture Show on BBC2 features the paintings and has some lovely shots of the Cathedral, you can watch it here. There is much more information about the campaign to save the paintings and about their relevance to English history, on this website here. The image below of Henry VIII is believed to be the only secular image of the King remaining in the Country thereby giving an indication of the way that he was seen by ordinary people.
I was so pleased to see these paintings being shown on the Culture Show as they are not in a gallery so do not always get the notice that they deserve. They hang on cold grey walls during christenings, marriages, funerals and watch over the general bustle of Cathedral life. The painting pictured at the top hangs in the South Transept which is where Coffee is served after a service. I like to look at it and think of all the eyes before mine which have done the same. The paintings are a constant presence, silently soaking in history as transient human activity takes place below. If only they could tell us all that they have seen.