BISHOP RUPERT'S DOOR

 

Bishop Rupert's Door is so called as it was erected by Rupert Glibtongue, Lord Bishop of Wenchoster between the years 1539-1542.  Bishop Rupert was adept at reading the signs of the times, and holding office during the reign of Henry VIII he managed to couch his pronouncements and sermons in words that would not give offence to the monarch, and yet which remained true to scripture.

Before this doorway was constructed, access from the cathedral to the cloisters had to be made via a small priest's door in the sanctuary, across the vegetable plots, round the animal pens and over a stile into the cloister gardens.  It was an inconvenient and sometimes muddy route, and oft-times the Bishop would arrive for Compline spattered in compost and pig slurry. 

The door was modelled after one Bishop Rupert had seen in southern France in 1540 during a pilgrimage to the Black Madonna of Roc-Amadour, and stone masons from that locality were brought over for its construction. 

In 1817, when a new tiled floor was being laid, workmen found a small pit in front of the flagstone step.  Upon excavation it was found to contain a rotted leather apron and a handful of silver coins.  The significance of these relics has never been fully explained, but experts believe that the objects were placed there by the original masons.

 

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