The Pilgrim Doors, Southwark Cathedral Millenium Building, London

The Architect, Richard Griffiths, asked if I would be interested to undertake a commission for Southwark Cathedral. I agreed that I would. In his written brief for the main entrance doors to the New Millennium Building, the Dean, The Reverend Colin Slee, specified that the ornamentation of the doors should embody the idea of Pilgrimage. Pilgrims have long been associated with Southwark’s Cathedral and the Borough, the most famous being those described by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales.

A door or doorway is symbolic of both departure and arrival. Pilgrimage is the undertaking of a journey, the leaving one place with the intention of arriving at another, particular, destination. Most travellers require a map, so the idea of pilgrims and maps became the theme for the doors.

The ancient Borough of Southwark and its Cathedral, an institution crucially central to the life of the parish, are depicted on many beautiful historic maps. Four of these maps appear on the glass panels of the doors. They chart the presence and position of the Cathedral from the 16th century to the present day. The Cathedral now appears in the London A to Z, a familiar reference to every Londoner and a multitude of visitors. The central panels of the door carry the names of the old streets and trades of Southwark which are deeply incised into the glass, as clearly printed as in the A to Z. The history of the parish can be traced through these names; they have their own beauty, rhythm and logic. A gold inlay enhances and indicates the unchanging relation of the Cathedral to its parish. Two door handles, turned from phosphor bronze bar, represent the pilgrim’s staff. This ancient symbol can be clearly understood: it is the support, the aid and the mark of the pilgrim traveller. The staff is carried in the hand from beginning to end of the pilgrim’s journey. The new doors of the Cathedral celebrate the idea of pilgrimage as both an ancient and a contemporary concept.

DOOR PANELS
GLASS AND GOLD LEAF
DOOR HANDLES
PHOSPHOR BRONZE
2000/2002
SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL MILLENNIUM BUILDING, LONDON
11 GLASS PANELS, VARIOUS SIZES: 6 AT 56 X 56 CM; 2 AT 280 X 27 CM; 3 AT 60 X 78 CM APPROX
BRONZE DOOR HANDLES: 200 X 10 CM
PHOTOGRAPHS: GEORGE GAMME

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The Pilgrim Doors, Southwark Cathedral Millenium Building, London



Art for the lettered glass of The Pilgrim Doors



Detail of the glass for the Pilgrim Doors of Southwark Cathedral Millenium Building, London



Close up of the door handles for The Pilgrim Doors, Southwark Cathedral Millenium Building. London