The stone roses have arrived in the cathedral: more of that below. But first of all, if this Blog is to be faithful to what’s really going on in our cathedral life, then I guess I have to at least allude to some of the trickier things going on as well. So the objections to our plans for the coffining of the remains of the king came back last weekend, in the form of a petition to Cardinal Vincent Nichols to please, please make us change our minds. In particular, the request was for ‘catholic prayers’ at the time when the remains are laced in the coffin, with the suggestion that to deny this was to deny Richard the rites he would have wished for himself. and that this was itself a gratuitously hurtful and unnecessary thing to do. And all of this was accompanied by a Media Release that itself gained quite a bit of coverage – and which we felt necessitated our own formal response – not least because we were contacted by the BBC and asked for one!
The Cardinal himself, on receiving the petition, simply stated that he is content with what is proposed, and other than to say how much I welcome that quiet endorsement, that’s all I want to say abut that. But the longer local response was produced by Fr Andrew Cole of the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham and myself, and I do want to say al little more about what it says – and why we felt it necessary to say it.
So back to the stone roses. That’s the ones going around the tomb of Richard III, of course. They’re all in now, but the image at the head of this Blog shows them in the process of being unpacked from the box in which they arrived. when you all come to see us, have a look for them in the ambulatory floor. And much more positive – and exciting – than continuing external objections from a few, is the fact that this week saw the effective completion of the works inside the Cathedral. By Thursday the main hoardings had all come down and we can all see, for the first time, the results of moving back the Nicholson screen by one bay, and the amazing opening out of the space in the new sanctuary under the tower.
And as it happened we had a visit that day from Rev Edward Bundock, author of the definitive book on the work of Sir Charles Nicholason, the architect who created the screen back in the 1920s. He was thoroughly appreciative of the impact of what we’ve done with Nicholson’s screen. We think everybody who sees it will agree.
The ambulatory and the new Chapel of Christ the King are also completed, and on Thursday we were able to show them to an invited audience of local business people – who are beginning to wake up to the impact all of this will have on their one particular areas of interest! Possibly a little late in the day, you might think… But then we have stories in our Christian heritage about the return of lost sheep, lost coins and lost children. They’re always welcomed back!
Our 100 day countdown is now halfway through, with lots done – and lots still to do. If I just list it: constructing the plinth for the tomb on site; installing the balance of the new PA system; completing the new cathedra, altar and liturgical furnishings and receiving them into the building; ditto for the interpretation panels, new donations boxes and mini-point-of-sale; organising the many rotas of welcomers, stewards, wardens, sound crew that the home team will need to arrange; finalising rehearsal times and arrangements for the three main services; liaising with Channel 4 staff over all their broadcasting requirements. And all of that is just what falls within my part of the Project; I have colleagues working on Communications; Events outside the Cathedral; Marketing; Educational heritage; Invitations and Hospitality strategies – and more. Alongside which I need to hold onto my role as an ordained minister in the ongoing life of the Cathedral – so I’m leading both our morning services tomorrow. Which is good.
So – a snapshot of the good, the not so good and the extremely busy. More next weekend – if I can stand the pace!