Local residents and visitors can now explore Bath Abbey in a whole new way by listening to audio guides about how the buildings stonework, stained glass windows, bells and other architectural features have been kept at their best.
Nine new mini audio guides are available to download from the Abbey’s website: http://www.bathabbey.org/creatingvoices, as part of the successful completion of the ‘Creating Voices’ oral history project, which has been supported by a grant of £22,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
‘Creating Voices’ has enabled the Abbey to gather, preserve and share the memories and experiences of over 30 men and women who helped care for and restore the Abbey between 1942 and 2000.
These stories have been pieced together into a collection of unique audio guides which will enrich even the keenest historian’s knowledge of the Abbey’s history and beautiful architecture.
These range from Fire Watchers’ memories of how the Abbey’s massive East window was shattered during WWII to accounts of when thousands of toothbrushes were used in the 1990s to painstakingly clean the stonework inside the Abbey that was black from hundreds of years of soot and pollution.
Dr Oliver Taylor, Oral History Project Manager at Bath Abbey, said: “The ‘Creating Voices’ project has swept the dust from our history books and has opened our eyes to fresh first-hand personal stories of Bath Abbey from as far back as 1942. Visitors who download the audio guides, whether from Bath or further afield, will be the first of many to engage with newly-discovered stories of the Abbey.
It’ll be like having your very own tour guide in your pocket, taking you back in time and helping you learn about aspects of the Abbey that have been restored , whether it’s the magnificent West front that you walk past every day or the melodic bells that still ring out across the city every day. Often the person you hear is the person who kept that part of the Abbey in such good condition!
“All you’ll have to do is download the audio guides in the comfort of your own home, then bring your MP3 player or smartphone with you and listen to them in the Abbey. For those without a MP3 player or smartphone, there’ll be Listening Points throughout the Abbey on the day so that everyone can listen to the fascinating tales and memories of those who have restored and cared for the Abbey throughout history!”
The ‘Creating Voices’ project and the new audio guides are the result of 18-months of hard work by volunteers from the Abbey’s congregation and Heritage students from Bath Spa University, as well as the generosity of the craftsmen and women who came forward to share their stories. In addition to the HLF funding the project was made possible by £7,000 from the Friends of Bath Abbey.
The new audio guides will be available to download from 18 August via the new pages about the restorations on the Abbey website.. These pages can be found at www.bathabbey.org.uk/creatingvoices.