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Tremors and Rumours

The fons et origo: rule-breaking architect Sly-Telli Grumpi pictured in the bowls of the cathedral in 1902 shortly before the first "minor" collapse.

Rumours that Bothenhampton’s famous “minor basilicaThe Sacred Funnel [La Segrado Embudo]* was melting away as a result of unusually wet conditions were dismissed today as mischievous by Spanish-born chief architect Anne-Toni Veri-Grumpi. Branding those who have promoted the story as “atheistic nihilists” who couldn’t tell the difference between a modernist cathedral and a melting ice cream, she said that the structure was sound and that construction works on the iconic ecclesiastical edifice were still only £1.5 billion over budget and barely 83 years behind schedule.

Originally scheduled to open in 1904 in time for the Great Dorset International Exposition of Science and Trade, work has been interrupted on a more or less constant basis. The latest disruption was caused by a strike of decorative piping operatives.

* This status was conferred during the visit of Dorset Papal Nuncio Monseigneur Kipling-Cayks in 1957. See A Pasticcera [1992] “Una cialda sul respiro di Dio” ([A waffle on the breath of God”] [Editions Cucina Catholica, Compton Abbas] and Gîl Atto [2002] “Building with Sugar Cones: a structuralist approach” [Architectural Essays in Honour of Professor Brian Thrupiece, Theeadbone Press].

Papal nuncio Monseigneur Kipling-Cayks in 1957. Ms Veri-Grumpi's second cousin once removed pacifist Y. Bisso-Grumpi is seen standing near to the nuncio third from right.

The controversial building, which was begun by Ms Veri-Grumpi’s grandfather Sly-Telli Grumpi [cousin of WWI pacifist Y. Bisso-Grumpi) on a large tract of surprisingly cheap wasteland once owned by Threadbone Anthrax Ltd, is a regular destination on the See Dorset in a Day official guided bus tour. Millions queue for hours throughout the summer waiting to see if soaring temperatures and the notoriously high local humidity will result in further slippage of any one of the 10 extant towers (a further are under construction with a total of 23 planned). Rarely are they disappointed, says local observer Icaena Daly-Diferens. “You generally see a sizeable chunk either fall off or slip down if you hang around”, she says, “and if you’re lucky you take enough home to feed a family of thirty four”.

Controversial architect Sly-Telli Grumpi's buildings have, critics say "form". This private house "settled" by more than 3 metres in 12 years requiring its occupants to stoop when moving into unsupported spaces.

From the cathedral’s inception architects of a more traditional stripe have been sceptical about the tensile strength and weight bearing capacity of its marshmallow foundations and marzipan bracing. German structural engineers BGB (Boxe, Gerda, Bridge) are on record as saying that the main nougat-based pillars - intended to support the huge peanut brittle tower which will cap the whole structure - are unlikely to last more than 300 years before nature - be it climate or the ravenous local fauna - inevitably takes its toll. However, others have more faith. Project supporter and preferred icing sugar supplier Tatum Lyle believes that the nature-inspired confection will withstand the test of time and prove an inspiration for generations to come; whilst lead sculptor and external decorative consultant Candi Flosse is confident that - deo volente - her creations will “still be around for a while yet and will feed the stomach if not the soul of children yet unborn”.

La Segrado Embudo today. Though thoise close to the project denby anything is amiss, many believe it is no longer a pretty sight.

In the meantime anyone who hasn’t yet visited the Grade 1 listed and recently UNESCO adopted construction is advised to book soon. "Tickets are disappearing almost as fast as the facade" a spokesperson said - “before long it will look like a scale model of Brenda Oats’ post prandial cereal bowl and as everyone knows that’s not a pretty sight … and certainly not worth the £35 entrance fee”.

The eastern facade: modelled in patisserie cream on a mixed biscuit and wafer layer.

Tickets for the La Segrado Embudo Experience [valid only for day of visit and - for health and safety reasons - for a period of 25 minutes only] can be purchased online from

Customers are advised to book in advance but not so far in advance as to risk the cathedral disappearing between time of booking and day of visit. No refunds will be made in the event of cancellation by the company for any reason [including non availability of the structure]. also advises intending visitors that surfaces can be slippery and safety rails insecure. Wheelchair visitors are advised to fit thicker treads.

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