Posted by: brigid benson | September 10, 2010

Many Waters Cannot Quench Love

In London for meetings on a glorious September day, fortunately there was time to walk between appointments, allowing me to be a tourist in town. At Trafalgar Square artist  Yinka Shonibare showcased a replica of Lord Nelson’s  sailing ship Victory, trapped in a perspex bottle on the Fourth Plinth, which makes a great stage for extraordinary creative work.

Later I saw more vessels going nowhere – houseboats were high and dry on the mud near Battersea Bridge.  At Southwark Cathedral, one of my favourite medieval London haunts, there’s a memorial ‘to those who drowned when motor vessel Marchioness was struck near Southwark Bridge’  on August 20 1989 – the inscription reads ‘Many Waters Cannot Quench Love’ from the Song of Solomon 8:7.

Cheek by jowl with Borough Market, the cathedral is stuffed with curiosities – a chapel to the memory of Dr John Harvard, founder of Harvard University.  Deeply coloured windows inform that he was baptized there in 1607.  A plaque on the wall is to the memory of Oscar Hammerstein 1895-1960, playwright and lyrist.

Before setting off to Canterbury, medieval pilgrims would gather at the Cathedral – there’s a window dedicated to pilgrim poet Geoffrey Chaucer.  His brother Edmund is buried nearby  in an unmarked grave.  There’s a memorial to William Shakespeare too – the cathedral’s just along the river bank from the Globe Theatre so Will probably popped in a few times.And there’s a plaque giving thanks to the memory of Sam Wanamaker 1919-1993 ‘whose vision rebuilt Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.’

The chapel of St Andrew is a place of prayer for all of those who live or are under the shadow of HIV and AIDS.  And this time I made another discovery – Doorkins Magnificat, the timid cathedral cat who arrived 18 months ago as a ragged kitten and refused to go inside until no longer able to resist the bowl of food offered by cathedral staff. Now quite at home, he lives outside for much of the summer and inside during winter.

“On occasion” a guide told me, ” he has been known to sleep in the choir stalls.”

For inspired escapes and fascinating people to meet, check out 52 Weekends by the Sea, look forward to joining you there!

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