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The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

Christine Smith

Grovedale, Australia

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Artist's Description

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

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 privilege 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.

Artwork Comments

  • Lynden
  • Clive S
  • Bernadette Watts
  • Christine Smith
  • MarjorieB
  • Christine Smith
  • Julesrules
  • Christine Smith
  • Julesrules
  • rocamiadesign
  • Christine Smith
  • Mary Sedici
  • Christine Smith
  • MaryinMaine
  • Christine Smith
  • Mary Sedici
  • Christine Smith
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