Meet Lawrence Edmonds, the York man with a taste for the church.
Lawrence is Britain’s leading – well, only – cathedral licker.
You name it, he’s licked it. Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s – and when he licks our own York Minster he’ll have run his tongue along every cathedral in England.
So why does he do it? He’s mad. No not really, it’s the result of a bet. In January 2011 Lawrence’s friend Adam challenged him to lick every Anglican cathedral in the UK within two years.
“Leaving the Minster until last was very symbolic – mainly because of my links with York,” Lawrence told YorkMix. “It seemed like a poignant way to finish the English leg of the bet.
“Adam had also threatened to form a human barrier around the building, as well as numerous other dastardly plans to prevent me from getting close enough to lick it.”
If Lawrence loses the bet – and he’s still got 20 Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish cathedrals to pucker up to – he must run round York Minster naked. If he wins, Adam must do the streak.
“The idea was that the naked streak would take place on the same day, but then the terms of the bet changed – Adam allowed me an extra six months when I discovered the 20 extra cathedrals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“So, the new deadline is December 16th, by which point Adam will actually be living abroad! No matter though, he will have to do it some time.”
Lawrence’s parents moved to York in the 1970s and he was born and raised in the city, living in Heworth and going to Hempland and Bootham Schools.
Now 26, he lives in London and works at the Jewel Tower in Westminster. But he says he “will be moving back to York in the next few months hopefully. I am looking for a job in the city at the moment.”
Since starting his quest with a lick of Norwich Cathedral, Lawrence has kept a blog of his activities and hopes to turn his quest into a book.
“As well as this being a daft bet, I also have a love of history and travel,” he said. “It’s taken me to places I never thought of visiting before, like Coventry, Leicester and Southwell in Nottinghamshire.
“You always learn something interesting or unusual in each place you visit. It’s been a journey of discovering new places, and licking them as well.”
Each lick has to be photographed to provide proof: see the full gallery below. Lichfield Cathedral in the Midlands is number one in Lawrence’s taste league: “The reddened sandstone was beautifully warm on the tongue, without any hint of saltiness or other foul taste to ruin the experience,” he wrote.
Wakefield wasn’t so enjoyable. “Now I’ve tasted some pretty revolting things in my life, from rotten shark meat to a sheep’s eyeball, but Wakefield Cathedral defeats them all,” was his verdict.
At Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire, Lawrence’s dad was taking the licking photo when a red-faced attendant appeared behind some glass doors, and started screaming for security. They had to hot-foot it out of there.
Cathedral licking isn’t Lawrence’s only unusual hobby. He’s a fan of the Faroe Islands football team, and once played against them for the Luxembourg fan side.
He explained: “I became a fan of the Faroe Islands football team because they’ve got a really interesting stadium, which has really nice mountains around it and that kind of thing.
“I went to see the Luxembourg fan team compete against their fan side, but Luxembourg were a man down. I stepped up an ending up playing right-back for them.
“It was on TV, I think we lost 11-5 in the end. Before the game I had to take part in singing the Luxembourg national athemn, which was quite surreal if I’m being honest.”
Lawrence is also a big York City fan, travelling to see them at Bootham Crescent when he can, while catching them at their second home, Wembley.
So what will he do after his cathedral-licking quest is over? Sniff castles?
“I don’t know what I’m going to get up to yet, but I’ll try and make sure it involves travel.
“Some friends in Scandanavia recommended that I should go and lick cathedrals out there too, but I think that might be taking it a bit too far…”