A couple of years ago, I went to a Cathedral in Bristol, England to attend the convocation of my daughter who had just graduated with honors in LLB. It was a proud moment for the whole family which includes the grandmother, aunts, uncles, nephews and niece. Unfortunately my dad had passed on otherwise the occasion would have been his proudest moment too.
As I entered the beautiful, vast and glorious grounds to the Bristol Cathedral, I couldn't but help wonder at its magnificence and having the Graduation Ceremony at this historical church built in medieval times held a certain nostalgia for me. Its history dates back to the 12th century and it is one of England's great medieval churches. Reading its history on the website, I learned that it was built as an abbey in c. 1140 by a rich local merchant, Robert Fitzharding, who became the first Lord Berkeley.
The intricate carvings and the architectural designs of its building are absolutely ingenious. The Cathedral has held important community events, like the graduation of my daughter for one and is stated in its website as being "one of the most important buildings of its era in the country and that it is even hired out for corporate entertaining and candlelit dinners." How awesome is that! It is so deeply etched in history that I was totally captivated reading about it just as I was awestruck the first time I stepped into the Cathedral.
Interestingly I recently read of the Bristol Cathedral's new research project with the University of Bristol (where my daughter studied) wherein they are going to explore the nature of sound inside the building and the way it impacts visitors! Reading further I found out that The Cathedral had a long rich history also associated with choral music. The project intends to record the different sounds in different parts of the building and look at ways in which people look for silence in the Cathedral. They intend to explore the difference that live music make to visitors' experiences. I think silence is a great communicator. It is altogether an important research to discover why people seek silence and have designated areas in the Cathedral where they go to seek it. I know I go to the church to just sit in silence and feel the peace of it. I would also choose the most quiet part of the church to meditate in silence.
This excerpt is partly taken from the Bristol Cathedral announcement webpage detailing a little bit on the project :-
'This project will map the soundscape of different parts of the building – and outside spaces – at different times of day, so that the changing nature of the cathedral’s sound signature can be better understood. It is also hoped that new events, such as Led Silences or Sound tours might be created. The project will also commission 2 pieces of music which will respond to the findings of the research to be performed by the Cathedral Choir and other local musicians.
The project is being led by Dr Beth Williamson, who has published on sound and silence in the medieval devotional experience, serves on the Fabric Advisory Committee of Bristol Cathedral, and has published a collection of essays on the art, architecture and history of the Cathedral.'
I guess after the research is concluded, Bristol Cathedral will have another historical project to add to it its preeminence. I am indeed privileged to have witnessed and shared a proud moment in its vicinity and would encourage everyone who visits Bristol to drop by the ever effluent and magnificent Bristol Cathedral!