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The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral by Christine Smith

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The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral by 

FEATURED in Windows and Doors 08-10-2010
FEATURED in This, That and the Other Thing 19-06-2011
FEATURED in Artists Universe 20-06-2011
FEATURED in Withered 27-01-2014
TOP TEN FINALIST in the Artists Universe – Door Knockers Challenge 28-06-2011
TOP TEN FINALIST in the Windows and Doors – Door Knockers Challenge 27-07-2012
TOP TEN FINALIST in the Withered – Parts of a Door Challenge 27-01-2014

Camera: Canon EOS 400D, Lens: @ 44mm, ISO: 200, Aperture: f5.6, Shutter: 1/50

Taken at Durham Cathedral in Durham, England. During the Middle Ages Durham Cathedral could provide refuge for fugitives. This knocker can be found on the North Door of the cathedral, facing onto Palace Green, and is a near perfect replica of the twelfth century original which can be seen in the cathedral’s Treasury Museum . It features the face of a hideous lion-like beast and represents the ancient privelege of sanctuary once granted to criminal offenders at Durham cathedral. They would seek refuge at Durham by loudly banging the knocker to alert the attentions of the watchers who resided in two small chambers overlooking the door. A watcher would then invite the criminal inside the cathedral. Upon entering the cathedral the criminal had to exchange his clothes for a black robe with a yellow cross of St Cuthbert imprinted on the left shoulder. He would then confess the details of his crime before a coroner and was allowed to remain inside the cathedral for a period of thirty seven days. Here he was provided with food and water paid for by the church. Before or on the thirty seventh day the criminal was expected to leave the country by an assigned port or else face execution. In the case of Durham the assigned port was usually Hartlepool The criminals were escorted to the sea port by the constables of each parish they passed through. On no account was the criminal allowed to stray from the king’s highway during the journey as this was punishable by death. Offenders seeking sanctuary at Durham came from every part of the country and included burglars, cattle stealers and horse thieves. More usually the offence was Murder.


durham cathedral, durham, england, churches, cathedrals, door knockers

Photography been a longtime hobby that has now become an obsessive passion. I am fairly eclectic in my choice of subjects, and try to see beauty in most things. Thank you for dropping by my site and I welcome any feedback and tips.

Christine’s images have had:
793 Features & 41 Challenge Wins

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  • Lynden
    Lyndenabout 4 years ago

    Nice shot Christine!

  • Clive S
    Clive Salmost 4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your artwork with the Photomatix HDR Group!

  • Bernadette Watts
    Bernadette Wattsalmost 4 years ago

    Featured in Windows and Doors – October 8, 2010

    Fascinating, Christine! What a history. Excellent photograph!

  • Thank you so much for featuring this image Bernadette and for the lovely comment.

    – Christine Smith

  • MarjorieB
    MarjorieBalmost 4 years ago

    Excellent capture, and great background information. I really appreciate knowing some of the history that goes with the pictures; it gives it so much more meaning.

  • Thank you for stopping by and for the lovely comment Marjorie. It means a great deal.

    – Christine Smith

  • Julesrules
    Julesrulesalmost 4 years ago

    congrats on your feature – great knocker!!!!

  • Thank you so much Jules.

    – Christine Smith

  • Julesrules
    Julesrulesalmost 4 years ago

    congrats on your feature – great knocker!!!!

  • rocamiadesign
    rocamiadesignalmost 4 years ago

  • Thank you.

    – Christine Smith

  • Mary Sedici
    Mary Sediciabout 3 years ago

    Click the Banner to be taken to the group.
    After joining, please submit your images – 2 per day
    ►Please Participate in Challenges

  • Thank you very much for inviting me to join Artists Universe Mary. I look forward to contibuting and participating in some of the challenges.

    – Christine Smith

  • MaryinMaine
    MaryinMaineabout 3 years ago

  • I’m absolutely thrilled that you have chosen this image for a feature Mary. Thank you very much.

    – Christine Smith

  • Mary Sedici
    Mary Sediciabout 3 years ago

    June 20th, 2011
    ► See your work in the Permanents Featured Gallery
    ►Please participate in the ongoing Challenges

  • I really appreciate you featuring this image Mary and an thrilled that it has been selected for the Permanents Featured Gallery. Thank you very much.

    – Christine Smith

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