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Image and Reflection: the font at Salisbury cathedral

Image and Reflection: the font at Salisbury cathedral

In a new series of blogs about images and how they inspire us, Cathy Michell, ERMC’s chaplain, reflects on a photo of the unique font at Salisbury Cathedral.

“It was whilst struggling to prepare an address for the baptism of a 13 year old girl in our congregation, that this image sprang to mind. If you visit Salisbury cathedral it’s always to this unique font in the centre of the nave, that you’ll find yourself drawn. I love it for a variety of reasons. Firstly, its water, like a still pool, is a mirror that appears black as you walk towards it but then opens up to reveal magnificent, perfect reflections of the building around and above it. Glowing windows and vaulted spaces magically appear as you gaze on the surface, changing like a kaleidoscope as you circle it. Wonderfully, by looking down you are looking up with refreshed sight.

“Secondly, I love how skilfully the designer has shaped the font so that at each of its four corners, an elegant curving spout directs an endless stream of water down from the pool to apertures in the floor of the cathedral. There the water perpetually vanishes into the mysterious space beneath. The joy of Salisbury cathedral for me is that this vast building was raised on the most shallow of foundations. Underneath the font, the cathedral’s paved floor and its great stone body, lies nothing but a few feet of emptiness grounded by a base of river gravel and the waters of a stream whose constant flow has enabled the entire structure to stand for nearly a thousand years. It is these clear waters that spring up to feed the font through which pours constant beauty, refreshment and regeneration. With the rise and fall of its subterranean river, the entire cathedral becomes a place of baptism and the font is revealed, despite its still, dark surface, to be a true place of reflection and a source of living water welling up to grant abundant life.”

We are grateful to Tony Hisgett for this photo of the Salisbury Cathedral font.