Vaulting ambition

26th November 2010 | Daily Life, Inspirations, Travel | 0 comments

King's College ChapelTo Evensong at King’s College, Cambridge. At this time of year it is quite dark when the service begins at 5.30pm. As the sound of the choir floats upwards, it seems to draw the eye up to the beautiful fan vaulting (see photo). I never get tired of hearing how subtly the long resonance dies away, shading masterfully into silence. Not much good for an instrument like the piano, alas, but marvellous for the choir.

These days when I am in a building like King’s Chapel, my main feeling is of wonder that such an ambitious project should have been attempted by 15th century people with no electricity, no cranes, no powerful lighting, no drills, no safety helmets, no easy way to lift heavy weights – and no insurance or compensation schemes for any accidents that happened to the workers. It seems incredible that the sheer practical challenges didn’t deter them from designing a building so magnificent in scale. My respect for their ingenuity and determination seems to increase with the years.


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