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a life in architecture

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David Hope

The Archbishop of York, David Hope, lives in splendour in a Yorkshire riverside palace, but the building that really inspires him is Wakefield Cathedral (below), where he was a choirboy. He recalls 'a space that is very different. The arches, the glitter, were what impressed me in childhood'. Then he discovered the hidden corners that were underneath and enjoyed the contrast between 'the friendliness of the downstairs and the awesomeness of the upstairs'.

Wakefield Cathedral has a spire that soars 82 metres - an emotional, spiritual and visible landmark in the archbishop's life. He remembers the controversy when the William Comper figures were installed above the screen, and the introduction of the austere Austin Wright crib figures in the 1950s. A critic of the time called Wright's Holy Family 'concentration camp figures'.

Returning to Wakefield as its bishop, he still felt the cathedral's spiritual atmosphere. He believes stones, being porous, actually 'absorb' the ambience of their surroundings. St Mark's Chapel, a 1905 addition, is his favourite part of the cathedral. He calls it 'the engine-room of the place' and loves its 'delicate loftiness'. And he applauds 1980s additions which made the building more accessible. In spite of all its magnificence, he describes it as 'a surprisingly intimate place where you can meet with God on a personal level'.

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