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?