Royal Mail stamps out ten of Britain's cathedrals

By staff writers
May 14, 2008

In a move which belies the anger of Christian groups complaining at the downgrading of religious imagery on British stamps, the Royal Mail yesterday issued a set of ten stamps celebrating ten of Britain's historic cathedrals.

They will probably now face secularist ire at "propaganda on the rates". But the creators and distributors of the stamps say that they are delighted with their creations, which embody the enduring appeal of their subjects.

Julietta Edgar, Head of Special Stamps, Royal Mail, said: "The level of detail achieved on all the stamps is quite astonishing."

She added: "The interiors of these cathedrals have been captured on the stamps in breathtaking detail, which perfectly conveys the grandeur of these beautiful buildings."

The stamps showcase the interiors of cathedrals ranging from Westminster Cathedral in London and Belfast Cathedral in Northern Ireland, to St Magnus Cathedral in the Orkney Islands - Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian, respectively.

The stamps feature specially commissioned photography. The issue also includes a special four-stamp St Paul's Cathedral Miniature Sheet in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the completion of St Paul's.

Fr Christopher Tuckwell, Administrator, Westminster Cathedral said: "It is a tremendous honour for Westminster Cathedral to be featured at part of the Royal Mail's 'Cathedrals' stamp series."

He continued: "Westminster Cathedral is the principal Roman Catholic Cathedral of England and Wales, and a sign of the Church's presence at the centre of our national life. The 72p stamp shows the magnificent nave of Westminster Cathedral (the widest of any Cathedral in England), with a commanding view of the High Altar. I hope that this stamp makes more people aware of the splendour of one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture and Byzantine art in the world."

Westminster Cathedral, built on the site of the old Tothill Fields prison, was designed by John Francis Bentley after seeking inspiration in Romanesque cathedrals on the continent, including St Mark's in Venice.

Work began in 1895, its great striped campanile soon rose higher than the western towers of the nearby Abbey, and it opened in 1903, but work on the interior mosaics continues to this day.

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