ELHAS Meeting Report - June 2014

Meeting Report June 2014

Our last meeting before the summer break saw 42 members and guests welcoming Eric Wright and Simon Bulmer from Rothwell History Society. Eric, the chairman and Simon, the secretary have both been involved with the society for many years. In fact Eric has been a stalwart for over a quarter of a century. Eric's main interest lies in churches and cathedrals, and his has visited all of the cathedrals in England. The subject of his illustrated talk was Worcester Cathedral, which Eric described as one of his favourites. Before he began telling us about the history of the cathedral, he treated us to a potted history of the town of Worcester. Interesting information he told us included the fact that the English Civil War (1642 - 1651) both began and ended in Worcester. He also described some of the industries which the town is famous for such as glove making and porcelain. One interesting story concerned the famous Lea and Perrins sauce. The recipe for this was brought back from India by Colonel Sands who asked chemists Lea and Perrin to make it up for him. These wily men also made a barrel for their own use, but on tasting it found it was too fiery for their taste. The concoction was therefore left for some time after which it had mellowed and become more palatable. The partners bought the recipe from the Colonel and began manufacturing it becoming rich men on the proceeds.

Eric described how the present cathedral is the latest of several, there having been two Saxon versions and a Benedictine one dating from 961. Part of the current building dates from 1170 but there have been several additions and refurbishments over the centuries. The 170 foot tower was added in 1370, the north porch is also 14th century, whilst the south door is contemporary with the original building. He showed us images of the different styles of architecture and explained that the building of the cathedral had been interrupted by the black death which decimated the population of Worcester. Eric's internal photos of features such as the choir screen and the font had the audience exclaiming at the beauty and stunning materials of the objects, and at the conclusion of his talk many were heard to say that they would like to visit the cathedral.

A major feature inside the cathedral which Eric showed photos of is the tomb of King John of Magna Carta fame. He told the story how some 600 years after his death the tomb was opened to reveal the red hair of this less than popular King. After showing many lovely images of the cathedral, Eric concluded his talk with snippets of information about some famous people associated with the it. He described how the small organ belonged to George Frideric Handel, and is believed to be the instrument he used to compose The Messiah. He also mentioned another composer Edward Elgar and showed a photo of the Gerontius window in the cathedral, a homage to Elgar who composed The Dream of Gerontius. Perhaps the anecdote which most struck a cord with his audiences was when he showed a plaque to Geoffrey Antetell Studdert Kennedy. This Anglican priest began his ministry at St Aiden's in Leeds and was well known as a chaplain to the troops during the First World War. As well as offering the soldiers spiritual comfort he was famous for handing out packets of cigarettes and became known as "Woodbine Willie". On his death his coffin was adorned not with flowers but a packet of Woodbines. Eric's talk was very well received and appreciated by his audience.

The next meeting on Monday 29th September 2014 will be an illustrated talk by the Friends of Holbeck Cemetery - "Holbeck Cemetery & the People Buried There."