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19 Jan 2011 206 views
 
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photoblog image The Sanctuary Knocker

The Sanctuary Knocker

 

Mounted on the North door of Durham Cathedral, this is a replica of the original medieval sanctuary knocker and represents the ancient privelege of sanctuary once granted to criminal offenders at Durham cathedral. Criminals could seek refuge at Durham by loudly banging the knocker to alert the attentions of the watchers who resided in two small chambers overlooking the door.

 

A watcher would then invite the criminal inside the cathedral. Upon entering the cathedral the criminal had to exchange his clothes for a black robe with a yellow cross of St Cuthbert imprinted on the left shoulder. He would then confess the details of his crime before a coroner and was allowed to remain inside the cathedral for a period of thirty seven days. Here he was provided with food and water paid for by the church. Before or on the thirty seventh day the criminal was expected to leave the country by an assigned port or else face execution. In the case of Durham the assigned port was usually Hartlepool The criminals were escorted to the sea port by the constables of each parish they passed through. On no account was the criminal allowed to stray from the king's highway during the journey as this was punishable by death. Offenders seeking sanctuary at Durham came from every part of the country and included burglars, cattle stealers and horse thieves. More usually the offence was Murder.

 (information from here)

The Sanctuary Knocker

 

Mounted on the North door of Durham Cathedral, this is a replica of the original medieval sanctuary knocker and represents the ancient privelege of sanctuary once granted to criminal offenders at Durham cathedral. Criminals could seek refuge at Durham by loudly banging the knocker to alert the attentions of the watchers who resided in two small chambers overlooking the door.

 

A watcher would then invite the criminal inside the cathedral. Upon entering the cathedral the criminal had to exchange his clothes for a black robe with a yellow cross of St Cuthbert imprinted on the left shoulder. He would then confess the details of his crime before a coroner and was allowed to remain inside the cathedral for a period of thirty seven days. Here he was provided with food and water paid for by the church. Before or on the thirty seventh day the criminal was expected to leave the country by an assigned port or else face execution. In the case of Durham the assigned port was usually Hartlepool The criminals were escorted to the sea port by the constables of each parish they passed through. On no account was the criminal allowed to stray from the king's highway during the journey as this was punishable by death. Offenders seeking sanctuary at Durham came from every part of the country and included burglars, cattle stealers and horse thieves. More usually the offence was Murder.

 (information from here)

comments (7)

  • Chris
  • England
  • 19 Jan 2011, 06:30
I recignised this at once Les but I had no idea of the very interesting history attached to it
Les Auld: Plenty of hidden history around Chris, thanks for the comment.
  • Ginnie
  • Netherlands
  • 19 Jan 2011, 11:29
OMG, Les. I've never heard of such a thing. That knocker...I think it can see right through you.
Les Auld: It is a bit frightening Ginnie, thanks for the comment.
Interesting history Les..I didn't know you were into Knockers!
Les Auld: Only as a sideline Ron, thanks for the comment.
Fascinating history Les and what a most unusual knocker.
Les Auld: Isn't it just Brian, thanks for the comment.
I have seen this before and I love Durham cathedral and the city of Durham too.
Les Auld: Only ever been there once Bill, but I'll go back one day.
Fascinating story and a great image
Les Auld: Thanks Martin smile
That's quite scary Les !
Les Auld: Certainly on a dark night Pamela, thanks for the comment.

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focal length 38.0mm
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