Doors Open London

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September, 2019

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I had been outside “St. Paul’s Cathedral”: in London, Ontario during the “Heaven and Hell”: walking tour last year to see its English Gothic Revival style but I had not been inside until the “Doors Open London”: event this past fall. Although there has been a church on this site since 1834, the current church was built between 1844 and 1846 after the previous structure burned to the ground in 1844. The tower, which was built in 1845, has a connection to England: according to one of the cathedral leaflets, “the gargoyles on the pinnacles and doorways are carved from stone quarried at Portland Bill, the same quarry Sir Christopher Wren used to build St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England.”

The connections to England don’t end there. In the Narthex you will find pieces of England in the form of a cross from Canterbury Cathedral and marble from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. There is also a stone in the Nave from Canterbury, England.
The stained glass windows are lovely and there is a very good leaflet you can pick up to guide you through them. Four of them (#4, #5, #15 and #16) are Louis Tiffany windows and two of them clearly show his signature. The ones that really caught my attention are #4 – The Madonna of the Lilies with The Virgin Mary surrounded by lilies symbolizing peace and serenity and #16 – Jesus Standing at the Door. Not to be missed in the chancel and sanctuary are the embroidery panels by Mrs Betty McLeod which show the history of the city and of the church.

I walked through the door in time for the organ recital – it was so good I returned the following day for the next performance. The organ was built by Cassavant Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec in 1953 and it has over 3,000 pipes from 2” to 34’ in length. The connections to the old country continue with the musician. The organist for the event, Ian Sadler, Interim Director of Music and Organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, started his musical career as a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. His musical training took him to The King’s School, Canterbury and then to Bristol University, both on scholarship. While at London University for his postgraduate studies he held the Organ Scholarship at St. Paul’s Cathedral. However, you don’t have to come to Canada to hear him play. Anyone who’s seen Chariots of Fire will have heard him; that’s him playing the organ. He also travels extensively so it’s possible to hear him play overseas. This past year he conducted The Cathedral Singers of Ontario for a week’s residency at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and was organist-in-residence for a week at Ely Cathedral. His musical career is vast and impressive and it was a treat to hear him play. The program consisted of: Dambuster’s March by Eric Coates; Sonata No. 2 in c minor, Op. 65 by Felix Mendelssohn; Will o’ the Wisp by G. B. Nevin; Toccata & Fugue in d minor, BMV 565 by J.S. Bach; Hornpipe Humoresque by Noel Rawsthorne and Toccata by Georgi Mushel. After his performance Ian answered questions about the organ and its pipes. There are concerts every Tuesday at 12:15 (except in July and August) and one of these days I’m going to make it to one.

Denise Bridge

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