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St Teilo’s Church

February 2010

Precious Things

Posted by Sara Huws on 19 February 2010
I received the call on Monday. "It's in the post. Should be with you in three-to-five working days". The words put me in a geeky flutter: finally, the Thurible was on its way here!

Now, for those of you wondering, a thurible is basically a very nice incense burner indeed. It comes attached to a chain, meaning the incense can be swung at arm's length.

Still used in many churches, temples and shrines across the world, incense can play a very important role in a worshipper's experience of a sacred place. Smell, we are often reminded, is a short-circuit to our memories. The mixture of Frankinsence, Myrrh, and citrus oils usually favoured by the Catholic Church - though perhaps not as evocative as mothballs or freshly-baked bread - is a heavy mix which can transport you to some quite fantastical places. Some of these smells have been used in ceremonies and perfumes since the age of the ancient Egyptians and beyond. It is no surprise, then, that one's imagination can wander quite far off its leash when this stuff is burning.

Now, before i get too Herbal Essences, I should probably 'fess up - i'm an incense fiend. Not just any incense either. I'll snobbishly breeze past the day-glo, wood based tendrils and cones, and go straight for the resin. Usually made from sap collected from trees, each kind has its own history and associations. Frankinsence comes in rounded, amber-coloured blobs. Myrrh looks a bit more like the discarded pupae of a creepy-crawly. Damar looks like pear drops, and smells like a delicate, citrussy nectar...

Anyway, back to the thurible. Ours is replica, to be used in St Teilo's Church. Past experiments (using a thurible kindly loaned from St David's College) have yielded mixed results. Some enjoyed the experience, saying it gave an air of religious calm to the building. Others took two huffs and turned on their heels, coughing. Some just felt uncomfortable, perhaps due to their own religious instruction or beliefs about worship. We propose to use the thurible during re-enactments at first (more on those later...), along with period music and liturgy, to see whether we can really re-create the atmosphere of a Mass in 1500.

Only problem is that the Curator who commissioned the replica is on holiday. The parcel sits tantalisingly intact in the strong room. I'm trying my best not to take a peek - though, it would take considerable effort, seeing as I don't have the keys. We will have to wait, then, until Monday, when we'll have a very different unboxing video to show you!

Resources for Courses - New Tudor Pack

Posted by Sara Huws on 11 February 2010
Just another short-ish post to highlight the arrival of our new, updated Tudor packs.

Tudor Pack in English (.pdf file)

Detail of St Teilo's Story
A colourful detail from the reconstructed Tudor church at St Fagans National History Museum

These resources were designed with teachers and school groups in mind, but contain some lovely illustrations and ideas suitable for families as well.

We've put them together for use during, and after, visits to the site's Tudor buildings.

Through the Learning Department's training days for primary teachers, we've been able to get a fair bit of feedback regarding the contents - but we're always happy to hear more. What kinds of resources for learners, of all shapes and sizes, would you like to see at St Fagans: National History Museum?

I was up at St Teilo's Church this morning with Darren the photographer, taking pictures of our Tudor handling objects for use in a post-visit picture book for children. I'm excited to see what the designers will make of the photos, and how the finished product will turn out. I'll keep you posted!

For those of you wondering what other opportunities we currently offer primary schools and teachers, here's a handy guide: Opportunities for Schools (.pdf file)

Sant, Santes, Seintiau

Posted by Sara Huws on 9 February 2010

Happy St Teilo's Day!

For those of you wondering which particular kind of festivity to bestow on to this day, know this: St Teilo is the patron saint of apples and horses. Adjust your schedules accordingly.

See his life story depicted in an intricate, technicolour carving at the St Teilo minisite.

Emyr Hughes with this sculpture of St Teilos
Master Carver Emyr Hughes with his oak carving of St Teilo

The colour of things to come...

Posted by Sara Huws on 8 February 2010

It was really refreshing to see so many people out in the sun at St Fagans on Friday. The place really felt revived and busy - it's so easy to forget, over the winter, quite how many visitors we see once Spring kicks in.

Even though there's been plenty of coming and going over the last few months, it has been work done behind the scenes: securing thatch, digging trenches, conserving and installing objects. The site seems to have been reclaimed, by now, by the general public. A trip down to Cosmeston lakes over the weekend confirmed that half of the south east had finally emerged from hibernation, as there were more people about than mallards.

In St Teilo's church, artist Fleur Kelly has been back again to work on some painted panels in the chancel. Since this part of the church was - and still is in some cases - considered as the most sacred, the decoration relfects the taste and preoccupations of sixteenth century Clergy, rather than Laity. The wall-paintings depict the Archbishop Thomas Beckett, and the chaste, pious St George (for those of you wondering why St George appears in a Welsh church, there'll be a post on that soon!). We have chosen musical angels, playing instruments sourced from 1500-30, and linenfold motifs for the wooden panels on the parclose screens.

I took the Learning Department's new camera up to the building in the hope of getting some footage of Fleur at work, to share with you on the blog. Scorsese I am not, and so I present you with some stills from my otherwise wobbly film debut. Fleur will be back in a few weeks' time to put the finishing touches on the paintings. Traditional pigment paint dries very slowly indeed - hopefully by then I will have had a chance to practice with the camera and can bring you a little film that's more 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' and a bit less 'Pollock'...

Musical Angels St Teilo's Church
Line drawings, or 'cartoons' of musical angels used in St Teilo's Church


Fleur Kelly painting angels
Artist Fleur Kelly working on a parclose screen at St Teilo's Church