English Churches - Cambridgeshire
square Norman central tower collapsed in 1322, probably due
to unstable ground and insufficient foundations. Rather than
replace with a similar tower, it was decided to build a
wider structure which would spread the load. An octagon with
a lantern top was the answer. The four original tower piers
and adjoining nave, transepts and choir were removed,
opening up a larger area. This moved the weight of the new
structure further out, so increasing stability. The roof and
lantern were supported by a complex timber structure rather
than stone also reducing the weight. There is a model
showing the wooden framework in the north transept.
The Octagon forms a large open space in the heart of the cathedral, with a small altar under the centre of it. On one of the pillars is the pulpit with the Millennium carving of Christ in Glory above it.
The Octagon is surrounded by tall stone columns leading to pointed arches.
The painted lantern ceiling has Christ in Majesty at the centre, surrounded by seraphim, cherubs and angels. It is glorious.
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