First few steps for Bath Abbey Footprint Project

Bath Abbey has made two new appointments in the roles of Interpretation Officer and Cataloguing Archivist. Both are newly created positions which will prove key to the Abbey’s Footprint project and have been made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of their initial support for the Bath Abbey ‘Footprint’ project.

Left to right - Anna Riggs and Oliver Taylor
Left to right – Anna Riggs and Oliver Taylor

Oliver Taylor joins the Abbey full time as the Interpretation Officer. He will be developing and managing the Abbey’s interpretation programme which includes exhibitions, education and learning, as well as activities for visitors.

He will also be working with volunteers to understand how visitors engage with the Abbey and help develop these areas. This work will form an essential part of the Abbey’s Footprint project.

One of Footprint’s key objectives is to provide a new interpretation centre which will inspire and encourage visitors to explore the church building, as well as to help people make connections with the Abbey’s present day activities.

Prior to this, Oliver had been managing the Abbey’s successful Oral History Project: ‘Creating Voices’ over the past 18 months, which captures and records the memories of the many craftsmen and women who have helped care for and restore the Abbey since 1945. Oliver had also previously worked at Gloucestershire archives which tells the story of Gloucester’s pioneering engineering firm Fielding and Platt, manufacturers of Britain’s first vacuum cleaner and the paving slab machines that helped to pave most of the country.

Speaking about his appointment, Oliver, said: “The Abbey has a rich and fascinating history spanning over 1,200 years and remains very much a living church today. The architecture, archives and people, including the stained glass windows, memorial stones and thriving community, are a rich source of inspiration. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to develop the learning and interpretation programmes that will enable us to tell the story of the Abbey in new and interesting ways in order to engage and inspire others for many years to come.”

The Abbey’s second new appointment which is also being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund is Anna Riggs who takes on the new role of Cataloguing Archivist. Anna will be working on the Abbey’s extensive archives using new collections management software to ensure it is all catalogued to industry standards. Anna’s work will also support the Abbey Archivist’s role and provide research and material that will feed into the interpretation programme being developed by the Interpretation Officer.

Anna brings over 15 years experience in the field. She had previously worked at the University of Bristol on the digitisation of the Brunel Collection and cataloguing and reorganising many other collections, particularly the University’s institutional archives and papers relating to the history of music. She has also worked at Birmingham City Archives on a project called ‘Connecting Histories’, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which explored the history of multicultural Britain through an extensive programme of archive cataloguing, research, and community outreach.

Speaking about her appointment Anna Riggs said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Abbey at such an exciting time. Although I have just started my role, I am already realising the sheer number of records the Abbey holds, and how important these are to the hundreds of thousands of people connected to the Abbey. They can be used to tell really interesting stories about individuals who at some point were part of the Abbey’s community, from being baptised to being buried here, or whether they were a member of clergy or sung in the Choir.”

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director at Bath Abbey, said: “I’m delighted to welcome both Oliver and Anna to the team at Bath Abbey in these new posts, and grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support which has enabled us to take another step forward in the Footprint project. We are really looking forward to the next 12 months in particular and seeing the results of Anna and Oliver’s hard work. ”