A Church and a Cathedral
As we’ve seen so far in my reviews of Magna Carta exhibitions, there are some common themes. A strong story emerges when institutions focus more on what they have (Society of Antiquaries, Hereford) than on trying to tell a much bigger story (British Library, Durham).
One of the key Magna Carta sites is the Temple Church in London, somewhere I have always wanted to visit, and when better than the anniversary year of Magna Carta? As its name implies, it is an ancient church, originally the church of the Knights Templars, tucked away within the Inns of Court. Its plan can be described as keyhole shaped, the original round Templar church being augmented by a chancel. I was happy to pay the £5 entry fee – these ancient buildings need upkeep and it is a special place architecturally, interesting in itself even without the Magna Carta connection.
A Tale of Two Cathedrals
The Magna Carta trips keep coming . . . just like the numbers of copies themselves. There is no ‘original’ as such, only the four 1215 surviving ‘engrossments’ or original copies made simultaneously for contemporary distribution, and later copies of later ‘editions’ if you like, most particularly the 1216, 1217 and 1225 issues of the charter. So all are subtly different, and so too are the tales to be told at each exhibition.
In this 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, I have just been to a couple more of the the associated exhibitions, with the same friend each time (seeprevious post for review of Lincoln’s new display). I managed to catch the fantastic exhibition Magna Carta Through the Ages at the Society of Antiquaries of London before it closed on 31 July. This was a small but tightly focused and well-curated exhibition of three key Magna Carta documents: a copy based on a discarded draft sent to Peterborough Abbey in 1215, reproduced in a 13th century cartulary known as the Black Book of Peterborough; the beautifully written Halesowen Abbey Scroll which is a contemporary copy of the 1225 reissue of Magna Carta; and the 14th-century Hart Book of Statutes which likewise preserves a copy of the 1225 Magna Carta and demonstrates that the charter was now a key piece of legislation.
Yesterday I visited the David P J Ross Magna Carta vault at Lincoln Castle – the new vault intended to display Magna Carta in a fitting home as a UNESCO Memory of the World document.
I think that the building’s architects had been trammelled into a view of accessibility in which wheelchair access overrode everything else. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t disagree with level access. What I do disagree with is the lack of holistic oversight in which the blinkers came on and no other consideration seemed to have been taken.
I’ve started with a contradiction in terms – and no, this post isn’t about subtitling song lyrics – that would be far too obvious.
No, my theme tonight is quiz shows, namely two shows currently broadcast consecutively on BBC2 on Monday nights – University Challenge and Only Connect. Both programmes contain music rounds in which connections must be made: in University Challenge it might be identifying three works by the same composer, or three works premiered in the same year, that kind of thing. Sometimes, though, the questions are more akin to those in Only Connect – identifying a common thread in song titles or similar questions.
Kurt Jackson’s work captures a sense of place and of the essence of individual rivers: from the Thames, river of deep mud and slowly-moving history, to an path in Provence down an almost-dry riverbed, using both traditional media and multimedia installations. At River, on show at the Horniman Museum until January 25, I was very taken with a painting which I recognised immediately as the Thames – the depths of blue water and brown mud could only be the mouth of the river I have known since childhood.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted – work stuff has zapped my energy a bit – but I’m feeling quite positive about 2015.
After four and a half years, I’m still noticing new things happening – I took off like a Harrier jump jet when I was first activated, particularly by comparison with the previous complete and utter total silence. Progress now is more sedate and less spectacular, but my hearing ability continues to develop and I find myself pushing the boundaries of life in ways I never dreamt were possible.