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Christopher Somerville, author of the acclaimed The January Man, pictured cathedrals as great unmoving bastions of tradition. But as he journeys among Britian's favourites, old and new, he discovers buildings and communities that have been in constant upheaval for a thousand years. Here are stories of the monarchs and bishops who ordered the construction of these buildings, the masons whose genius brought them into being, and the peasants who worked and died on the scaffolding. We learn of rogue saints exploited by holy sinners, the pomp and prosperity that followed these ships of stone, the towns that grew up in their shadows.
Meeting believers and non-believers, architects and archaeologists, the cleaner who dusts the monuments and the mason who judges stone by its taste, we delve deep into the private lives and the uncertain future of these ever-voyaging Ships of Heaven.