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St Teilo’s Church

March 2010

Wales and the History of the World

Posted by Sara Huws on 25 March 2010
St Teilo's Church was featured on the BBC's 'Wales and the History of the World' last night, and is now available to view on the iplayer. The programme will be available to watch here until the 31st of March.

Mural fragment - rose and throne
Original mural fragment, showing a Tudor rose and a throne, from St Teilo's Church. Copyright RCAHMW/Coflein.

Presented by rugby lej Eddie Butler, the show presents a refreshing view on what I mentioned in my last post: what makes us, 'us'. You'll see many unusual, interesting and iconic objects from your national collection on display throughout the programme.

Of course, I'm a bit biased but St Teilo's was beautifully shot, and the team was fun to work with. I only wish I'd brought a crate to stand on for my interview, as Mr Butler is a giant! You can see my grinning mug at the 9 minute mark. Hope you enjoy.

It exists, but not according to this...

Posted by Sara Huws on 16 March 2010

I was just visiting the St Fagans library, looking to do a little reading up before the Easter tours of St Teilo's Church. A chance encounter and a fleeting chain of thoughts later, I'm here on the blog.

It begins when I bump into a colleague clutching a hefty old book, in the reference section of our research library. Rather cryptically, he tells me "It exists! And it's in here!". Taking the book to one side, he lets it fall open - and rightly it does, on the very page he was looking for.

In my experience, old dictionaries and manuscripts that fall open like that usually contain something very juicy. Finding a page in this way always makes me think of the people who read the book before me. I feel almost as if I am joining a secret club, where generations of readers have sought out and read the same pages carefully. My old art history professor had a story about illuminated Biblical manuscripts, painstakingly drawn and handled by monks. Almost without fail, they will all fall open at the same page: where Bathsheba is described in the bath. Thankfully, I wasn't confronted with anything as lascivious - but certainly something scandalous.

"WALES, see ENGLAND", Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The near-apocryphal entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: 'Wales, See England'. I had always thought of it as an idiom, muttered under my breath at Jeremy Clarkson's use of 'us'; defensively invoked on seeing corporate maps which leave out Anglesey, and, most recently, when Google decided to celebrate St David's day by putting one of Kind Edward's castles on their homepage. I suppose it isa lot of history to squeeze into so few words.

That's just my reaction, of course. Debates about Britishness, Welshness, and other -nesses will continue as long as there are people on this island, and in the darker corners of the internet. Whatever your take on the matter, whichever 'ness'-ness you subscribe to, the museum's job is to take a reading every now and then; keep an eye on what makes us, inexplicably, 'us'.

I optimistically dropped by the updated Encyclopaedia Britannica. I was hoping to tie up this post with a point about Wales' growing confidence and international profile using a pithy, concise definition. By now,, as it's known, refers to Wales as a 'constituent unit'. I must admit I was disappointed. Over a 150 years since the phrase "Wales: see England" was first published, even as new law-making powers are invested to our Assembly Government: it's strange that 'Country' still does not describe what some people see, when they look at Wales.

Tudor Guided Walk

Posted by Sara Huws on 11 March 2010
Having filmed, unwrapped and admired the thurible I mentioned in my last post, it's time now to edit the video!

While you wait (with baited breath, I hope), I'd like to share some new pictures with you.

St Teilo's Church Chancel. Photo: Wales News
The Chancel of St Teilo's Church, as it looks today.

Musical Angels, St Teilo's Church. Photo: News Wales
Angels, shown playing the Crwth and Harp. Painted by Fleur Kelly.

Natural pigment, St Teilo's Church. Photo: News Wales
Verdigris pigment, used to make green paint in St Teilo's Church

If you feel inspired after seeing those, why not hop over to the events page to book a place on our Tudor Guided Walk. The walk, lasting around an hour, will take place next weekend, the 20th of March. As well as a tour of our Tudor buildings, you'll get a chance to handle replica objects, and explore Tudor smells - good and bad! Places are limited, so booking is essential.

I hope to see you there!