This was originally the site of the Norman central tower; after its demise in 1322, the central pillars were removed and the side arches were set back at 45 degrees to form an octagon rather than a square. Huge triangles of strong English oak rest on eight extra-large supporting pillars, which bear sculptures (1325) of scenes from the life of St. Etherelda. From the apex of the triangles rise the vertical posts of the octagon gallery, which are 20 feet (6m) high. These support a ring beam, on which rest the vertical posts of the lantern (40 feet / 12 m high).
The lantern took 14 years to build, weighs 200 tons, and exerts a perfect perpendicular downward thrust. By 1340, the roof was covered in lead and the ceiling was carved and painted. The ceiling seen today, as well as the wooden panels painted with angels in the octagon, are Victorian renovations. These wooden panels swing open like doors, from which you can get a vertigo-inducing view down to the floor below (via a guided tour).
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