Leaving and Taking Away: Cathedrals and Material Culture

Bowman, Marion and Jenkins, John (2020). Leaving and Taking Away: Cathedrals and Material Culture. In: Dyas, Dee and Jenkins, John eds. Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals: Past, Present, and Future. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 215–233.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48032-5_10


In this chapter we explore a key aspect of the material culture of the pilgrim and cathedral visitor experience: the ‘takeaway’. From the earliest centuries of Christianity, a natural instinct of visitors to pilgrimage shrines, cathedrals and other sacred or special places appears to have been to take something away. At their most basic, material objects from medieval pilgrim badges to the bespoke merchandise to be found in the modern cathedral shop might serve as mementoes of the place and the experience, proofs of the pilgrim or visitor presence. These items can provide a physical connection with the special place or person for both the journey-maker and others (family, friends, fellow villagers, sponsors) through which the ‘reach’ of the cathedral or shrine can be materially extended.

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