‘Hallowing God’s House in 1121: the consecration of the abbey church at Tewkesbury’
Professor John Harper, by Zoom video conference
Theulf, bishop of Worcester, consecrated the new abbey church at Tewkesbury on 23 October 1121. This lecture explores the likely order and ritual of the rite of dedication of the church on that occasion. Much of the Norman building survives, and there is good knowledge of what was changed in later centuries. That provides one side of the story. The other side can be found in surviving books of the kind that Theulf will have used on this occasion: two pontificals, bishop’s books which contain the rite of dedication of a church and were written in the later eleventh century, have associations with Worcester. Of course, much of the detail has to be imagined – but then the study of the past always requires imagination; nevertheless, it is possible to establish much that happened at the liturgy on that important day.
During the past decade, John Harper’s research has explored the relationship of medieval churches and the liturgy, asking what was the experience of worshipping in a cathedral, monastery or parish church? His current work is focused on the emergence of the highly influential liturgical Use of Salisbury Cathedral in the period 1075–1225. He is emeritus director, The Royal School of Church Music; emeritus professor, Bangor University; and honorary professor, University of Birmingham.
On 13th March about 100 individuals gathered virtually to hear a lecture by Dr Andy Moir on the recent findings from dendrochronological research into timber framed buildings in Tewkesbury, including timbers at the Abbey. This excellent talk was recorded and is now available from this page on the website.
Dr Andy Moir, dendrochronologist, will be speaking about his recent project tree-dating some of the town’s ancient buildings, including the Abbey. Booking is required in order to obtain the Zoom meeting link and details – click here to book by email. This is a free event but donations to the Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey will be welcome. It is hoped that a recording of the talk will be available on this website for a short period afterwards.
28th November 2020 saw the Friends venture into something new! Not being able to meet together for most of the year, the Friends turned to the virtual world and hosted an online lecture.
The Dean of Hereford, and former Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor, gave a fully illustrated and entertaining lecture to some 80 ‘virtual attendees’ logging in from around the world. His subject was ‘Tewkesbury and Hereford – Compare and Contrast’ with topics ranging from history, buildings and library to events, local characters and famous visitors.
The lecture was a great success, with many able to attend who are usually unable to travel to Tewkesbury, and so this type of event is sure to feature in future Friends’ programmes. For a short period of time the lecture is available to view on this website – click here!
On a cold and damp day in November 2019 I was able to explore some of the hidden spaces in the Abbey. The weather did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. If you would like a glimpse of the medieval roof spaces of this 900 year old building, without climbing all the steps, you can follow my story here – “A Day in the Loft”. Along the way you can see more of the work the Friends do for the upkeep of the fabric of the building. I hope you enjoy reading about a hidden aspect of the Abbey.
Congratulations to Rachel for her winning submission to the Young Friends’ Lockdown Story Writing Competition!
The clock struck 13 as the knitted monks came to life.
The Abbey was silent except for St Faith’s Chapel where the knitted monks began to move. This was the one day each year when the clock struck 13 giving the monks the power to come alive for 1 hour to go on a magical pilgrimage. This magic makes everything look different. The Abbey is transformed to look like how it used to be in Monastic times, with colourful paint depicting scenes from the bible everywhere. The stone pillars become covered in colour, the tombs are decoratively painted, and the ceiling is now alive with colour.
April and May are usually very busy months for the Friends, putting everything together for the Annual Friends’ mailing. Things had to be revised this year – the uncertainty over whether the Friends Festival, AGM and other events could go ahead, being unable to access the Abbey for photographs and printing, and not being able to gather the usual team for putting things together led to it all being scaled back rather and a different timescale to work to.
But a Spring Report was produced and delivered, albeit in early summer! The closed Abbey doors on the front cover are rather poignant in the current situation. The report can be accessed for online viewing or pdf download via this link.
It is disappointing, but not surprising, that under current circumstances it is impossible for the Friends to meet on the first Sunday of July for the customary Friends’ Festival and AGM or to have the now traditional excursion on the following day. Council therefore recently passed a resolution to cancel Friends’ Festival and to postpone the 2020 AGM indefinitely. We very much hope to be able to hold the latter before the end of the year. A mailing to all Friends will be sent out at the beginning of June.
We are sorry but the following have been cancelled
Friends’ committee meetings
Friends’ Council Meeting, 18th April 2020
Fitzhamon Lecture, 25th April 2020
If you have pre-purchased tickets for the Fitzhamon Lecture please hold on to them and arrangements will be made for a refund to be made to you when the Abbey Shop re-opens, or they may be exchanged if the lecture is rescheduled for a later date.