As promised in my last blog I am extremely pleased and proud to announce that I have received a Master Craftsman Certificate from the Worshipful Company of Masons for my contribution to stone masonry over the past 29 years. I went up to London at the start of the month to Saddlers’ Hall where the ceremony was held.
The Master read the charge, which is to continue mentoring people who want to pursue a career in stonemasonry. Then each of us were presented with the beautiful certificate you can see in this month’s header picture. I will be putting it up in my office with, I must confess, a huge degree of pride as only five people in the whole country received the award this year.
The stunning new Magna Carta exhibition in the Chapter House is now complete, the entire Cathedral workforce have contributed in some way or another working tirelessly over the past few months to truly make 2015 a celebration year to mark the 800th anniversary of its signing. My workers have been doing all manner of things, from cleaning and painting the entrance screen (check out the 'before and after' in the Gallery) to re-instating Victorian floor tiles following the removal of the previous display cabinets and installing new lighting.
We were treated to a preview evening recently, and to see the exhibition as our visitors are going to encounter it really made it all worthwhile; the document is now shown to its best advantage and the interpretation, I think, will give something to everyone. It officially opens on 6 March and I urge you all to come and see it, you will not be disappointed. The interactive display caters for all ages, from trying to make a jigsaw of the Prisoners of Conscience window to looking around the room at the medieval frieze or marvelling at the document itself.
I have also been very privileged to have done some filming with George McGavin for a BBC4 programme called the 'Oak Project', which is essentially about the birth, growth and finally the use of an oak tree. George is a famous Entomologist who has been seen on TV in programmes such as the 'Lost Land of the Tiger' and the 'Borneo Expedition'. The filming involved George and me walking through the Cathedral roof spaces, then wearing harnesses and climbing the ladders inside the spire talking about the medieval timber work; George is a very passionate and inspirational person. The programme is due to be screened in spring 2016.
The Cathedral will be hosting the South Wilts Business of the Year awards in June and I was delighted to be approached by Ceri Hurford-Jones who is Chairman of the judging panel not only to attend the official launch evening on 12 March, but also to make the actual awards here in the workshops. We have designed them already… but I’m not going to tell you what they will look like and spoil the surprise! If you are interested in voting the closing date is 24 April.
Some of my regular readers will remember that last year we had Peregrine falcons nesting on the south side of the tower for the first time in 61 years. Very excitingly, we have heard and seen them over the last few weeks so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that they will nest again. We have plans for a screen in the West Cloisters this year with a camera at the nest box showing live footage of hopefully the little bundles of joy. They should start getting broody mid to end of March so I’ll keep you informed of progress next month.