December 2015Dec 312015
Our last meeting of 2015 and we made use of the greatest building on our doorstep: Canterbury Cathedral. Led by Martin Crowther, Community Engagement Manager at the Cathedral, our help was needed developing resources for education as part of the “Canterbury Journey” project being developed with the aid of Heritage Lottery Funding. We needed to come up with ideas for experience boxes based on the themes of crafting the Cathedral and spiritual journeys. For inspiration, Martin led us on a highlights tour of the Cathedral. It is a breath-taking place with a fascinating history. We saw the nave and the soaring epic pillars that have kept the Cathedral standing for hundreds of years. Next, our eyes were directed upwards to Bell Harry Tower, the highest tower in the Cathedral, although the height you can see is only a third of the total height of the tower. From the martyrdom, Martin regaled us with perhaps the most famous tale of the Cathedral, the murder of Thomas Beckett, while the tale of his shrine continued in the crypt. We were also taken into a side chapel, where a beautiful section of wall painting had been saved from the destructive hands of Henry VIII. Lastly and most excitingly, Martin took us into a private chapel that is not usually open to the public. Some of the best preserved graffiti is in this chapel with a beautiful carving of an African woman’s head. It was strange to be admiring something now discouraged on historical sites, but it was much more beautiful than current day graffiti (controversial, I know!).
Our tour over, we went back to the education centre and had a go at carving some of the Caen stone that the Cathedral is built from. Sat with biscuits and drinks, we compiled our ideas for experience boxes; the design of the boxes including mason’s marks and stained glass, but also options for what to include in the box such as documents from the archives or examples of medieval food. It was great to have our ideas part of a bigger project that will allow others in the community to appreciate the wonderful history of Canterbury Cathedral. Big thanks to Martin for running the session for us.-Ellie