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Add Your Memories to the Cathedral Archive...

Fall of Spire
Fall of Cathedral Spire

A new and exciting project is about to start in Chichester Cathedral’s Library.  The Library – a hidden gem high up in the Cathedral’s triforium – houses a rare and unseen collection of historic photographs documenting key events in the life of the Cathedral since the late nineteenth century.  Thanks to an award of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, these valuable and important photographs will be catalogued and digitised, and therefore preserved for future generations.  Crucially, this project will also make the photographs available online – a significant change as the Cathedral Library is reached via a steep spiral staircase and is open only occasionally to the visiting public.
 
This substantial project will run throughout 2012 and will be launched with a ‘Bring Along Event’ on the 30th March 2012 in Vicars Hall, at Chichester Cathedral, from 10:30am to 13:30pm. At this event, the public are invited to bring along any Cathedral related memorabilia, this could include photographs, objects, or even just a memory or story to tell.  These various objects and recollections will form a ‘People’s Archive’ and will start to unveil an untold history of the Cathedral throughout the ages.  Interestingly, this project will not aim to create an overarching historical account but will instead reveal a woven history of documents, oral testimonies, photographs and objects.  All are welcome at this event and if you would like to attend, or find out more, please contact the Programme Manager Dr Charlotte Hansen on 01243 813 587 or on library@chichestercathedral.org.uk
 
The recruitment and contribution of volunteers will also be central to the success of this project.  Volunteers will be needed to conduct research, to deliver a specially devised education programme, to interpret documents and take photographs, and also to help with scanning and cataloguing.  If you are interested in any of these roles then please contact the Programme Manager Dr Charlotte Hansen on 01243 813 587 or on library@chichestercathedral.org.uk An information meeting for potential volunteers will take place on 14 March at 12:00 in the Alexandra Room at Chichester Cathedral.
 
At its forefront, this exciting project will include the dramatic events of 1861 – when the entire Cathedral Spire collapsed into the nave below.  Fifty fascinating photographs relating to the collapse will form the basis of a new educational programme and specially trained volunteers will deliver workshops and e-learning packages, and explore the collapse and rebuilding of the Spire.  This educational programme will also explore the different ways of building spires and research surprising stories about the ongoing life of the rubble created by the collapse.  In time, the collated images, descriptions and research will be displayed in the Cathedral and bring to life - for the first time - this dramatic archive for the Cathedral’s thousands of daily visitors.
 
The Cathedral’s Chancellor, Canon Dr Anthony Cane, explains: ‘In a landscape of reduced funding we are especially delighted and fortunate to have been awarded this grant.  The funding will enable us to preserve and make accessible a large amount of unique material, and also to generate significant learning resources.  It is our aim that schools, researchers and the wider public will all be able to benefit from and enjoy access to the many images and stories that have, so far, been unseen and untold.  Chichester Cathedral Library is moving from the 19th into the 21st century!’
 
Chichester Cathedral is open every day and all year with free entry and free guided tours.  Further information about the Cathedral is available on www.chichestercathedral.org.uk or by telephoning 01243 782595.
 
Endnotes: 
Archive image of the collapsed Cathedral Spire. An account of the collapse says that the Spire: ‘was seen to incline slightly to the south-west, and then to descend perpendicularly into the church, as one telescope tube slides into another, the mass of the tower crumbling beneath it’. 
 

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