St Teilo’s Church
They say Rock 'n' Roll is hard on the knees...
... if that's the case, 'they' should try being a Learning Interpreter of Late Medieval History!
No, but seriously: we've had a blast (if that's the right word) up at St Teilo's Church this week, and we haven't finished yet! We'll be performing a lost play, called Y Gwr Cadarn, tomorrow, at 11.30 and 14.00. Anyway, the re-enactment of the Tudor service went well, with participants from all over the world taking part.
The service was 'iterated' (i.e. the sacred words and songs recited) three times, and was also filmed. Keep an eye on this 'ere blog for video updates in the very near future.
Yesterday was particularly special, as members of the public attended the service - some from the area where the church was originally built, near Pontarddulais. Others were practicing Catholics, who, while familiar with some of the rites, were surprised at how moving an experience it was, especially in the presence of the murals.
I was in my Tudor costume, not for show, but to see how comfortable it would be to participate in a Tudor service in an appropriate costume (i.e. one with a wooden corset). There was at least 20 minutes of prostrate kneeling - that's on your knees, with your nose as close to the floor as possible - in the ritual. I felt that I should enter into the spirit of things (no pun intended) to get the most out of the experience. It was, to my surprise, much more comfortable in Tudor costume than in my civvies. Margery Kempe, a woman whose devotional practices were recorded in the 15th Century, describes how you can roll up the front of your dress to create a kneeling cushion. It worked to a degree, but I'm still nursing bruises!
Shortly after the service finished, we were beseiged by a pensioners' trip from South East London. The solemn atmosphere created by the chanting and kneeling was replaced by an impromptu rendition of 'We'll keep a welcome in the hillside'. It was very, very surreal and I may have got a bit too excited - I caught it all on camera, so maybe I'll try making a mashup of both films!
In all seriousness though, The 'Reconciliation of Penitents' was a very moving service, which served in the past to welcome sinners who had been excluded from the community back into the Church. All the clergy, students, singers, academics and anthropologists involved made a huge effort, and I hope they learned as much as I did from the experience. After a short break from all things Tudor (aka a trip to Barry Island), we will be discussing how we can use the footage and audio of the service. What would you like to see?
Latin Service at St Teilo's Church: An Invitation
Numbers are very limited so let me start off by encouraging anyone interested in attending to ring our education booking office on (029) 20 57 3424 to reserve a place. It will take place on the 24th of June, at 11.00.
It will be the first Latin service to take place in St Teilo's Church since it was moved 50 miles down the M4, from near Pontarddulais, to the Museum. Part of a wider conference exploring worship in the Middle Ages, the service will be open to the public, but booking is absolutely essential. The conference is a meeting of experts from around the world, who study the nitty-gritty of everyday life, Latin texts, architecture, archaeology and visual history, to build a fuller picture of what life was like over 500 years ago. We will be testing their theories out, and you are welcome to come and help us!
In a way, the performance will help us at the museum to see whether our reconstruction of the Church - a lengthy process of research, archaeology and good ol' Vitamin Compromise - is right. We'll also be able to help researchers to see whether current theories about the performance of liturgy actually work when you try them out. We've yet to find a real Tudor priest we can phone to check these things out: so the only way to learn, really, is by trial and error. That's until I find a flux capacitor in the collection somewhere, obviously.
St Teilo’s Church