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Author takes the train

10 January 2014

NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM

Rail and religion: the opening of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway in Sussex, 1841; from Murray Naylor's England's Cathedrals By Train: Discover how the Normans and Victorians helped to shape our lives

Rail and religion: the opening of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway in Sussex, 1841; from Murray Naylor's England's Cathedrals By Train...

A FORMER senior Army commander, who now assists as a guide at York Minster, has spent four years researching trips from London, by train, to 33 Anglican cathedrals in England.

Major-General Murray Naylor, who is now retired, has devised excursions to each of the cathedrals, including a trip that takes in 14 of them, which can be completed in little more than a week. The results have been published in a book, England's Cathedrals by Train.

"I have had an enormous interest in trains since the first day I could think about them," Mr Naylor said, "and I have developed a great interest - and indeed a respect - for our Anglican cathedrals. I saw the connection between them as two great achievements: first, by the Normans, and more recently by the Victorians, and the obvious connection that you use one to reach the other. 

"[The book] doesn't follow a mile-by-mile description of the journey, but picks up on certain aspects of the railways - their history, their development - which I thought might be of interest to people who don't know an awful lot about how our railways came to be."

Each chapter describes the route to the cathedral, and a history of the building. "The description of the cathedral seeks to draw out aspects that somebody in a hurry might not find for themselves. It points them to the unexpected or the interesting that are not readily apparent."

The book is about provincial cathedrals; so London is excluded. Others omitted include Derby, Sheffield, and Blackburn, because: "No disrespect to them: they are not as interesting as our magnificent medieval cathedrals."

England's Cathedrals by Train is published by Pen and Sword (Books, 20/27 December 2013).

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