Bath Abbey – messages from the past.

Bath Abbey – messages from the past.

Tower tours at Bath Abbey have always been very popular with the general public but research work that has just started within the structure – with its two spiral staircases and 212 steps – is designed to make them even more enjoyable still!

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People enjoying a Bath Abbey tower tour in today’s gusty conditions.

Members of the Wiltshire Field Archaeology Group have started a major survey of ancient graffiti.

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Special lighting is showing up the symbols. Here’s a design representing the Holy Trinity.

The carvings of names and symbols scattered throughout the tower and dating way back to medieval times – as the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer Dr Oliver Taylor explains.

The group are starting at the top and working their way down. They are also taking note of more recent additions – carved in the lead on the church roof.

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Lots more graffiti carved in the roofing lead.

Climbing the 212 steps to chat to the survey leader Tony Hack meant experiencing the full force of a cold and very noisy early spring wind!

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Hopefully, you can make out this amazing carving of a hand with a decorative sleeve cuff at the bottom. The carver has literally drawn around his fingers.

Like other members of his group he has been involved in research graffiti at several Wiltshire churches, but it was while on a Bath Abbey tower tour with his wife that he realised just how rich a resource of graffiti history the city’s parish church was.

With the Rector’s permission, this new survey has got underway.

I have a feeling the Virtual Museum will be returning to Bath Abbey tower many times – over the coming months – to report on new findings.

The Wiltshire Archaeology Group have a website – http://wiltshireafg.weebly.com – for anyone who would like to join members in their graffiti research across the county.

The survey group can be found via http://www.wiltshire-medieval-graffiti-survey.com

Unfortunately, the narrow confines of Bath Abbey tower don’t allow for any more people to join this particular project as volunteers – at this stage. Making contact with the group is your best bet.

More information about Bath Abbey tower tours via http://www.bathabbey.org/towertours

 

 

 

 

Christmas at Bath Abbey.

Christmas at Bath Abbey.

The BBC will be broadcasting a live Christmas Day Eucharist from Bath Abbey as part of the seasonal celebrations which includes everything from carol-singing to spectacular choral concerts.

Shoppers visiting the Christmas market can enjoy  20-minute informal carol services on Saturday afternoons (28 Nov, 5 Dec and 12 Dec). There is also the opportunity to climb to the top of the Tower and soak in the marvellous atmosphere of the scenes below while drinking a glass of mulled wine or soft drink thanks to our Festive Tour Tours.

The tree has gone up in Abbey Churchyard

The tree has gone up in Abbey Churchyard

For families, there are Family Carol Services (unofficially called the ‘Donkey Service’) where children get dressed up for a nativity scene. It also features Mr Frosty the donkey and is very popular with families with young children (Sunday 20 Dec 3pm and 4.15pm). Another event that will keep families thoroughly entertained is the Carols for Choir and Audience, a festive concert featuring performances from all three of the Abbey’s choirs, with full audience participation (Sat 19 Dec, 7pm).

christmas market

Last year’s Christmas Market in the shadow of Bath Abbey.

There will also be a variety of services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to choose from. Join in an informal service of Carol Praise (24 Dec 4pm), be there at the very start of Christmas at Midnight Communion or take part in the Christmas Eucharist (25 Dec 10am, tickets from Bath Abbey Office and website) a live BBC broadcast with music from the Abbey Girls’ and Men’s Choirs to celebrate Christ’s birth.
FESTIVE TOWER TOURS
Climb the Tower during the Christmas Market; get a bird’s eye view and enjoy a free glass of mulled wine at the top (hot chocolate alternative available). Every 45 mins during the Bath Christmas market (26 Nov-13 Dec) Mon-Thu 1.30-6pm, Fri & Sat 12-7.30pm. No tours on Sundays. Tickets: Adult £6, Child (5-15 yrs) £3. Includes free mulled wine or hot chocolate at the top.

Bath Abbey - the lantern of the west!

Bath Abbey – the lantern of the west!

SPECIAL SERVICES
Shoppers’ Carols
Sat 28 Nov, Sat 5 Dec and Sat 12 Dec 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm
An informal 20-minute service with traditional carols. Ideal for weary shoppers.
All welcome, no reserved seating or tickets required
An Advent Procession by Candlelight
Abbey Boys’, Girls’ and Men’s Choirs Sunday 29 Nov 6.30pm
One of the most popular services of the Abbey’s year. Join us for a candlelit service with music and readings to mark the beginning of Advent. Entrance is by (free) ticket only. Tickets need to be obtained in advance from Bath Abbey website or Office. Please note tickets will not be available to collect at the Abbey door.
Family Carol Services
Sunday 20 Dec 3pm and 4.15pm
Children are invited to come dressed as a shepherd, angel, wise man or citizen of Bethlehem to create a stunning Christmas tableau. Features Mr Frosty the donkey!
All welcome, no reserved seating or tickets required so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
FESTIVE CONCERTS
Handel’s Messiah
Friday 4 Dec and Saturday 5 Dec 7.30 pm
Bath Choral society’s annual and ever-popular performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Bristol Ensemble, conducted by Will Dawes.
Tickets: £8-£29
Available from Bath Box Office / 01225 463 362 / http://www.bathboxoffice.org.uk
A Christmas Celebration
Saturday 19 Dec 7pm
Featuring the Abbey’s Choirs of Girls and Men, plus organ and harp, and the traditional candlelit performance of Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ by the Abbey Girls’ Choir.
Tickets: £8-£15
Available from Bath Box Office / 01225 463 362 / http://www.bathboxoffice.org.uk
CHRISTMAS EVE
Carol Praise 4pm
An informal service with traditional carols. All welcome, no reserved seating or tickets required but we expect the Abbey to be full to capacity.
Festival of Lessons and Carols with Abbey Boys’ and Men’s Choirs 7pm
Entry to this very popular service is by (free) ticket only. Tickets need to be obtained in advance from Bath Abbey website or Office. Please note tickets will not be available to collect at the Abbey door.
Midnight Communion with Abbey Girls’ and Men’s Choir 11pm
Be there at the very start of Christmas. A celebration of Christ’s birth, and with him the birth of new hope for the world.

CHRISTMAS DAY
BBC Live Christmas Eucharist 10.00am
(congregation to be seated by 9.15am)
A unique opportunity for the Abbey to express the joy and hope of Christmas to millions of people in the UK and around the world. This live service will include all the Abbey choirs, carols and communion. Tickets are limited, apply via application forms from the Abbey Office or download from the website www.bathabbey.org
Sung Eucharist for Christmas 11.15am
A formal service of Holy Communion. Music led by the Abbey Girls’ and Men’s Choirs.

Bath remembers…….

Bath remembers…….

The Mayor of Bath’s Office has issued details for the City of Bath Remembrance Sunday Parade and Service on 8 November  starting with a wreath laying ceremony and parade inspection at the War Memorial in Royal Victoria Park. That’s at 11 am.

The annual temporary war memorial erected outside Bath Abbey for people to plant poppy crosses.

The annual temporary war memorial erected outside Bath Abbey for people to plant poppy crosses.

At 2.30 there will be a Royal British Legion Remembrance Sunday parade and march past the Guildhall steps. That salute will be taken by Air Marshal Sir Peter Norriss KBE CB AFC NA FRAeS MCIPS RAF (Rtd).

A civil procession will leave the Guildhall at 2.50 for the Royal British Legion Remembrance Sunday service at Bath Abbey which lasts for an hour and starts at 3 pm.

Milsom Street, New Bond Street and Northgate Street will be closed from 1.00 pm. The Parade route is Milsom Street, New Bond Street, Northgate Street, High Street, Cheap Street, Farrs Passage, Abbey Churchyard. Orange Grove and Manvers Street will be closed from approximately 2.20 pm ready for the March past the Saluting Base in the High Street at 2.30 pm.

Meanwhile, the Mayor’s secretary Ms Elizabeth Mence has written to Charter Trustees and Honorary Aldermen to give them details of Armistice Day arrangements for November 11th.

On that day maroons will be fired from the Parade Gardens to mark the start and finish of the two-minute silence to remember those who died in the service of their country.

The two-minute silence will be incorporated into a short service being held outside the West Door of Bath Abbey. Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion will be located there. The Abbey Church Yard is generally the area where people gather to join in this act of remembrance. The immediate part mayor – Cllr Cherry Beath – will be present.

The West Door at Bath Abbey.

The West Door at Bath Abbey.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Bereavement Services will be holding a Remembrance Service at the Cross of Remembrance at Haycombe Cemetery at 10.45am. Past mayor Honorary Alderman Malcolm Lees will attend.

A service will be held at Hold Trinity Church, Combe Down at 10.00am. The Bath United Services Association will be holding a wreath laying ceremony at 11a, at the War Memorial in Firs Field.

The immediate past mayor Cllr Cherry Beath will be present.

A wreath laying ceremony will be held at the War memorial at Twerton which is on the north side of St Michael and All Angel’s Church at 11 am.

This will be attended by St Michael’s Junior School and past mayors Cllr Tim Ball and Honorary Alderman Mrs Sharon Ball.

Go dippy for Diptychs at Bath Abbey!

Go dippy for Diptychs at Bath Abbey!

In the first event of its kind, Bath Abbey is opening up its Diptych collection and inviting children to try their hand at making their own. The Abbey has a superb collection of Diptychs (works of art in two parts, one painted, the other textiles) which we’ll be opening up for children to take a closer look at and use as inspiration for their own works of art in paint and embroidery. These free family fun days take place during half-term on 27 & 28 October as part of Heritage Open Week.

Star over Bethlehem Diptych 2

Star over Bethlehem Diptych 2

Ollie Taylor, Bath Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, said: “This is the first time we’ve invited children to come to the Abbey to make their own diptychs. Many people might not know about the Abbey’s Diptychs, so this is a really exciting opportunity for them to come to the Abbey, to see this beautiful collection of artworks, and use them as inspiration to create their own in Bath’s most beautiful building.

There’s no need to book and both days are free so we hope that many families come and have a go at sketching, painting and stitching with the local artists and needle workers who’ll be in the Abbey to give them a hand.”

Sue at work in Bath Abbey

Sue at work in Bath Abbey

The Abbey’s Diptychs were made by local artist Sue Symons and tell the story of the life of Jesus in calligraphy and needlework. She was inspired to create them after attending a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion whilst living in Canada. She completed the series between 2006-2007 after returning to Bath, a labour of love which took her 3,000 hours’ work.

The works have been on display in the Abbey since they were bought in 2007 and have had a profound impact on the Abbey’s visitors. In the next 12 months the Abbey will be re-displaying and curating thematic groups of Diptychs with each season of the church year.

It is a chance for local people to look at them anew and the free family fun days begin this new way of displaying them and showcase a hidden gem of Bath’s rich artistic collections.

At these free family fun days, children and families will have the chance to get up close to the Abbey’s Diptychs and use them for inspiration to create their own. Local needle workers and artists will be on hand to help children sketch, paint, and stitch their artworks which they will be able to take home with them.

For your information:
You can find out more about Bath Abbey’s educational programmes by visiting our website: www.bathabbey.org/visiting-abbeyeducational-visits
Follow updates on twitter @BathAbbey #Diptych #HeritageOpenWeek
Find out more about Heritage Open Week on Bath & NE Somerset Council website: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/tourism-and-heritage/museums-galleries-and-tours/heritage-open-week

Bath Abbey Bake attracts record crowd.

Bath Abbey Bake attracts record crowd.

Plenty of customers for the Bath Abbey Bake sale. Click on images to enlarge.

Plenty of customers for the Bath Abbey Bake sale. Click on images to enlarge.

Bath Abbey held another Great Bath Bake Sale on Saturday to raise over £2,000  for the church and other charities – and to honour the Great Bath Feast Festival.

The Abbey was swamped with food thanks to the generosity of community groups, businesses and school children from all around the city.

The North Aisle was packed full of stall after stall of cakes, pies, buns and savoury delights.

A chance to win a Christmas Cake.

A chance to win a Christmas Cake.

The event was open to members of the public of all ages and offered the chance to sit and enjoy a slice of cake in one of the most architecturally inspiring and atmospheric churches in the country.

All proceeds from the Bake Sale go towards Bath Abbey’s Footprint project, plus charities Bath FareShare and Bath FoodCycle.

The event’s special guest was Alan Barrett, who has produced show-stopping cakes for London’s West End and who impressed people with his sugar craft skills – producing thirty bouquets of intricate flower arrangements.

The Virtual Museum popped in early on Saturday – to see exactly how the Abbey had added another ingredient –  a temporary one – to what makes it a ‘feast’ for the eyes!

Katie McGill, Bath Abbey’s Fundraising Administrator, said after the event: “It’s been such a fantastic day. I have been humbled by the level of support shown for the Abbey and our Footprint Project. It’s been lovely to see so many friendly faces from our local community at this year’s bake sale. This is just the boost everyone needed to take us through the final few months of fundraising for Footprint.”

We would like to say a special thank you to all the businesses who contributed their produce for our Best of Bath table: Sally Lunn’s, Made by Ben and Bickie Boo. And to our congregation and the community groups who gave not only their bakes but their time on the day: Bath Abbey Mother’s Union, Bath Spa University, University of Bath, City of Bath Bach Choir, Piano Shop Bath, Bonhams Auctioneers, Advanced Studies in England, St Andrews primary School and former Home Economics teacher Linda Turner.

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “It has been incredible to open our doors to the city’s community and be flooded with this level of generosity. Since last year’s Great Bath Bake Sale, we have made a fantastic amount of progress on our Footprint Project and are now in the final months of fundraising before our next application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. If all goes well, we could start work as soon as next summer. We have come such a long way, but we need to keep pushing to get us over the next few hurdles.

Big displays of fund-raising produce.

Big displays of fund-raising produce.

Katie McGill, Bath Abbey’s Fundraising Administrator, said after the event: “It’s been such a fantastic day. I have been humbled by the level of support shown for the Abbey and our Footprint Project. It’s been lovely to see so many friendly faces from our local community at this year’s bake sale. This is just the boost everyone needed to take us through the final few months of fundraising for Footprint.”

We would like to say a special thank you to all the businesses who contributed their produce for our Best of Bath table: Sally Lunn’s, Made by Ben and Bickie Boo. And to our congregation and the community groups who gave not only their bakes but their time on the day: Bath Abbey Mother’s Union, Bath Spa University, University of Bath, City of Bath Bach Choir, Piano Shop Bath, Bonhams Auctioneers, Advanced Studies in England, St Andrews primary School and former Home Economics teacher Linda Turner.

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “It has been incredible to open our doors to the city’s community and be flooded with this level of generosity. Since last year’s Great Bath Bake Sale, we have made a fantastic amount of progress on our Footprint Project and are now in the final months of fundraising before our next application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. If all goes well, we could start work as soon as next summer. We have come such a long way, but we need to keep pushing to get us over the next few hurdles.
All this puts a massive strain on the building – we are bursting at the seams! The floor is slowly collapsing, space is severely restricted, and the building is struggling to cope with the huge numbers of people who use the Abbey every day.

Our vision for Footprint is to maintain and make the most of what we have in order to continue inspiring all for hundreds of years to come. And what better way to bring people together in aid of this good cause, than over a slice of cake?”

For your information:

Bath Abbey needs to raise a significant amount of matched funding in order to unlock £10 million allocated by the Heritage Lottery Funding towards the Footprint Project – a £19.3 million building programme. The project will introduce an innovative eco-friendly underfloor heating system using Bath’s famous hot springs as a source of energy, as well as create 200 sq metres of additional space and improve facilities to ensure the Abbey is more hospitable and usable for the half a million people who pass through our doors every year.

Music, Song and Dance – Come to the cabaret!

Music, Song and Dance – Come to the cabaret!

Calling all budding writers! Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Library Service wants to hear your short stories!

Bath Central Library.

Bath Central Library.

Following a successful short story competition last year, the Council’s Library Service is once again partnering up with A Word in Your Ear and Kilter Theatre, for the Library Service Annual Short Story Competition 2015.

This year’s theme is Cabaret. You can interpret the theme in any way you wish, but please remember when writing your story that it is specifically for reading out loud so your narrative will need to keep the interest of the audience. The word limit is 2,000 words and entry is FREE.

Prizes include book tokens and tickets to Bath’s Theatre Royal for the two winning stories written by writers new to the Story Fridays events. Story Fridays is a popular and regular spoken word event featuring local writers reading stories written to a theme.

The winnings entries will be read out at Story Fridays, at Burdall’s Yard, 7a Anglo Terrace, Bath on the evening of Friday 13th November. If you are a winner you can read the story out yourself or alternatively have one of the actors at Kilter Theatre read it out for you. It is, however, a requirement of entry that winners will be there in person.

The competition, which is open to anyone aged 18 or over, is now open for submissions. The closing date is Friday 23rd October.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring local writers to share their work with a larger audience. Each year the judges are impressed by the standard of entries received.”

Cllr Martin Veal

Cllr Martin Veal

You may submit your story on the A Word in Your ear website: http://www.awordinyourear.org.uk or send it in by email to june_wentland@bathnes.gov.uk .

Alternatively you can pop it into any of our libraries in Bath and North East Somerset. Entries need to be accompanied by an entry form which can be picked up from any of our libraries or downloaded from our Library Service website:
www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives/events-and-activities

Those who need help writing their stories can attend a writing workshop hosted by June Wentland and Clare Reddaway at Bath’s Central Library on October 3. Booking is essential as places are limited. For further information and to book your place visit: www.awordinyourear.org.uk.

For further information log on to the Library Service Events and Activities pages on http://www.bathnes.gov.uk.

Let your new lights shine.

Let your new lights shine.

Bath Abbey - the lantern of the west!

Bath Abbey – the lantern of the west!

Bath Abbey’s nickname of being ‘The Lantern of the West’ refers to its many giant windows and the light shining through them.

There are 52 altogether and they occupy around eighty percent of the wall space on this – the last great Gothic church to be built before the Reformation.

However, it’s the light shining onto the building that concerns the Virtual Museum.

As part of their 19.3 million pound Footprint Project – which will tap the thermal waters for heating, stabilise the Abbey floor, provide a Refectory, Interpretation Centre, Choir School and public toilets! – the church wants to replace the current floodlighting with an LED-based system.

Part of the Abbey's floodlighting system.

Part of the Abbey’s floodlighting system.

One which (1) matches the lights that are planned for the rest of the city centre, (2) uses less energy, (3) provides better quality lighting which can be varied in intensity and (4) reduces the maintenance load.

This has also involved a transfer of ownership from B&NES to the Abbey and – while the Abbey might radiate outwards as a giant ‘lantern’ – it’s also Bath’s ‘time-piece’ for anyone walking in High Street below who wants to know how late they are!

Bath Abbey clock.

Bath Abbey clock.

The Abbey’s clock – moved from the north face of the tower to its current position in 1834 after fears that its weight would damage the structure – was until recently the only real piece of the church fabric that it did not own. B&NES have handed that over too.

The clock now positioned at the end of the North Transept was designed and installed in 1888. It was driven by large weights that had to be wound up by hand.

The weights were attached to long ropes inside the Abbey’s tower. Once they were wound up they began to lower very slowly.

It was this energy which powered the clock, until it was fitted with electric motors at the end of the twentieth century.

As discussed the ownership (and cost) of the floodlights along with the clock and carillon has been transferred from B&NES Council to the Abbey.