Tuesday, July 6, 2010
St. Paul's Cathedral Library-07/05/10
(image available from http://prodigi.bl.uk/ )
The above picture is an example of a psalter, similar to one I viewed at St. Paul's Cathedral library. This was very exciting, my first "in person" illuminated manuscript! The room was quite small and smelled wonderful (musty smell of old paper...nothing quite like it). We got to sit on benches and chairs in the library while our guide, the librarian Joe Wisdom (that really is his name) spoke to us about the library and the church. We viewed several other rooms on this level of the church and saw where some stone cleaning is done by volunteer students (overseen by the conservetor). There is one room, which is fairly empty, that they are unsure what it was originally used for. I inquired about it being a scriptorium, but due to the date that the church was rebuilt (after the Great Fire) printing had now begun, so they do not believe it was a scriptorium. I did get referred to the College of Arms ( http://college-of-arms.gov.uk/ ) that were still "hand script writing" at that time, so I might have to pay a visit if I get a chance. I also got to see the geometric staircase (I believe used in Harry Potter?) which was really great.
The Cathedral was beautiful, as well. I did not have time to climb to the top or to the Whispering Gallery, but did go down to the crypt. The crypt has a series of pictures that shows a timeline of events that have taken place in the cathedral. A few of my favorites include: 1621, John Dunne (poet) becomes Dean of St. Paul's; 1666, Great Fire of London; 1940, Blitz, Churchill declares St. Paul's must be saved; and 2001, after 9/11 becomes place of mourning. One other interesting item in the crypt was a memorial to the Korean Vets ("let them not be forgotten by God"). Possibly NATO was involved in this war? I was unaware and will have to check into.
A Cathedral has been at this location since 604AD, the current one is the fourth (after the Great Fire of London) and was designed by architech Christopher Wren. It was built from 1675 to 1710 and still holds an organ from 1695 which Mendelssohn played.