The Sanctuary Knocker

It is tempting to think of cathedrals simply as places of worship, but theire civic function was as a place of sanctuary. People who had committed a ‘great offence’, for example killing in self defence or escaping from prison, could clame sanctuary within the cathedral for 37 days. after which they either had to have solved their problems or were given a safe passage out of the country. The state of sanctuary was a bit like ‘refuge’ status today – one lost some of one’s rights as a citizen. Durham’s famous sanctuary knocker was allegedly what those claiming sanctuary had to grasp. The current knocker on the cathedral’s door is a replica; the original is on display inside the cathedral.*

*Durham World Heritage Site, A Guide to the Castle and Cathedral – Published in 2013 by Durham World Heritage Site.

18 Comments CherryPie on Oct 16th 2013

18 Responses to “Sanctuary Knocker – Durham Cathedral”

  1. Steve Hayes says:

    Ah, these pics remind me of times past — I spent two years at St Chad’s College, just across from the Cathedral on North Bailey.

  2. james higham says:

    Looks almost sinister.

  3. Ann says:

    We were in Durham last year at this time of the year, I geocache and met up with friends who live in Lincoln who also geocache. At that time there were challenges set around the world (they have withdrawn the challenges now, shame) and one of these challenges set in Durham was to knock the knockers, which my friend and I did and had our photographs to prove it.

  4. Claude says:

    Hello there, Handsome. Let me in, please!

  5. “Knock, knock!”
    “Who’s there?”
    “Asylum seekers.”

    Should Theresa May pretend she’s not in or what? ;)

  6. Barbara says:

    I have a bowl with the sanctuary knocker on it. Had it for decades so thanks for the reminder of where I got it!

  7. J_on_tour says:

    Your processing is a great idea amongst the so many standard images that can be taken of this, nice work.
    The last shot I took of this, I edited out the the connecting bar from the base of the knocker to the door, it was an interesting project but not very realistic to those in the know.