Monday, 9 December 2013

Her Majesty The Queen, the window and the broderers at Southwark Cathedral

I should have written this blog on the day it happened but somehow that didn’t happen:  a very exciting morning nevertheless.

The Needlemakers Company is very fortunate to have as its chaplain the Bishop of Southwark – the Right Reverend Christopher Chessun. If you follow this blog you will have read about a summer party he hosted for us during my year as Master – see The Bishop, the sun and Southwark. Part of the proceeds from that event added to by the Needlemakers Charitable Fund in subsequent years, went towards the purchase of fabric to create new copes for the Bishops of the Diocese to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.  The Copes are being embroidered by the very skilled Guild of Broderers of the Cathedral – some of whom trained at the Royal School of Needlework, another of our charitable beneficiaries.

I was delighted to be invited with Sue Kent, the current Master of the Needlemakers and Henry Milward, chair of our charity committee to a visit by Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh to Southwark Cathedral to see the embroidery and a window which was also commissioned for the Jubilee on November 21.

The window is by the Icelandic artist Leifur Breijdford who won a competition to design and make the window which was  donated by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers. This is a link to a picture of the window which will give you an idea of the design but not show the amazing sparkle provided by a large number of prisms of glass which glint as if the sun were shining – which it wasn’t that morning. It represents jewels descending from heaven to earth and the eye is drawn from earth to heaven. Diamond Jubilee Window. The window fills a space  in the Retrochoir which had been filled by a plain glass window after the original was destroyed during WWII.

The copes are not yet complete but work in progress was shown to Her Majesty and Sue Kent was presented to her.  When the copes are complete they will be formally dedicated and worn on all diocesan occasions in the Cathedral. The detail and skill of the work is breathtaking – not something that can be rushed – each lily on the orphreys takes 50 hours to embroider.

The whole event was superbly supported by the Great Choir of the Cathedral composed of boys and girls from the local area and Lay Clerks.  Apart from the National Anthem they also sang an anthem Vast Ocean of Light which was specially commissioned for the Jubilee.

There were many members of the Cathedral Community, staff, volunteers and students from the Cathedral’s three foundation schools – and us! How lucky we are.  Henry and I had front row seats – close enough to touch Her Majesty (no of course I didn’t). 

It was a very special morning, not only seeing the Royal Party but also meeting and talking to some of the staff and volunteers.

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