Some of the members of the ‘Mapping Medieval Chester’ and ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ project team are now involved in a new AHRC-funded research project on medieval Swansea. Please visit our website at www.medievalswansea.ac.uk to learn more about this new work.
More photos of our ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.
Our new exhibition ‘Discover a Medieval City: Places, Voices, Journeys’ launched at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum with an evening event on Friday 3 May. Over 100 people attended, including representatives from local government and heritage / tourism organisations and Arts Council England (who funded the amazing 3D films of medieval objects in the exhibition – they really have to be seen!).
It was really exciting to see the exhibition come together. The number of objects on display from the Museum collections (which have normally been hidden away in archives) is astonishing. There’s also a range of wonderful medieval manuscripts, loaned from Chester cathedral, Chester Record Office and the National Library of Wales (the manuscripts had been gathered together for sending just before the terrible fire there). The exhibition also has a range of interactive content, from audio and video materials to those 3D films of medieval objects, kiosks with access to the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website, and a large map with doors to open and explore. The calligraphic interpretations of poems by modern writers, responding to the medieval material, are really beautiful, and the exhibition is laid out as a series of spaces – cloister, tavern, kitchen – which allow you to explore different aspects of city life. We will add a gallery of exhibition images to the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website very soon.
Thank you again to Sue Hughes and her team at the Grosvenor Museum for bringing together this wonderful exhibition. It has been a privilege to be involved.
The new Game, which forms part of the Discover Medieval Chester website, is almost finished and is coming soon. Will you manage to guide Tom or Alyson to the relics of the Holy Rood at St John’s Church? And how many pilgrim badges will you win on the way?
The Beta version of our new ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website is now live at discover.medievalchester.ac.uk.
You can explore an interactive map of medieval Chester, learn about the medieval city, and browse audio and video content. You can design and download your own tour of the city’s medieval heritage. We’ll be launching the website formally at the opening of the ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, this Friday.
This website is currently in a “beta” status which means we’ll be refining it in the coming weeks, so please bear with us as we sort out some remaining functionality and display issues. A mobile-optimised version of the website is also in development.
If you are using a Windows PC you may find there are some issues with using the site on older versions of Internet Explorer such as versions 7 and 8. We’re working hard to sort these out but in the meantime we suggest you use a more recent version of Internet Explorer or Firefox or Chrome.
We’re currently putting the finishing touches to our new ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website which will be going live very soon. We’re also in the final stages of producing our Game, in partnership with Make Sense Design. Here a few of the characters you’ll be meeting in the game, as you guide our pilgrims, Tom and Alysoun, to St John’s Church…
This Welsh pilgrim is on his way to Chester to visit the relics of the Holy Rood at St John’s and to have fun at the Midsummer Fair (though he doesn’t think much of Chester beer…).
He’s one of the characters who’ll be brought to life in our exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum from 4 May, 2013. You can download the leaflet, with full details of events and activities, here.
Last week, the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ project team got together at King’s College, London, to produce the audio recordings for the interactive tour content on our website. It’s great to see our work coming together, and we’re looking forward to launching the complete ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ web resource at the beginning of May 2013. We also all managed to get home – to Belfast, Cheshire and the south coast – before the snow set in!
While we were in London, Sue Hughes, from the Grosvenor Museum, picked up a 15th-century ring from the British Museum, which will be displayed in our ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition. Found in Huntington, Cheshire in 2010 (and probably another part of the deposit discovered in the 1986 Huntington Treasure Trove), this silver-gilt ring is engraved with an image of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. As well as the engraving, traces of white enamel are still visible on the side.
Sue and I enjoyed the privilege of holding this ring – now safely in the care of the Grosvenor Museum. The ’Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition opens on 4 May, 2013. You can view the accompanying leaflet, with details of events and activities here.
Here’s a taste of the wonderful poetry which is being produced by the ‘Write Stuff’ W.E.A. Creative Writers group (the ‘Hoole-igans’), inspired by the Discover Medieval Chester project. At the workshop with the Grosvenor Museum, the group reflected on Chester’s status – both in the medieval period and today – as a border city. I’ve been asked to point out that Jan Bengree’s poem is still a work in progress – though it’s already so evocative and draws a wonderful connection between the relationships between Chester and Wales in the medieval period and in the twentieth century. I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you here.
The Women from Wales
by Jan Bengree
The women from Wales talk in secret words
which lift and lilt and speckle
the solemn brown air in dignified Browns Of Chester.*
drifting between tweedy coats, camel coats,
mackintoshes with prim tight belts,
demurely waiting……like Ebenezer women, dressed for chapel.
Then the women (the women from Wales)
waft into English…
whisper how brown suits Bronwen…
how green’s the colour of Gwenda’s pretty Welsh eyes…
how black has shades…
of coal, of night, of Nain’s weary beautiful old eyes….
And I stand by the coats and I watch the Welsh ladies
BUT THEN my mother says: “Come!”
and she beckons me on and she scurries me on…..
away from the women from Wales.
* Brown’s of Chester: a long-established department store, at its peak in the 1950s. Long visited by folk from Wales, particularly for shopping on Saturdays!
As part of the Discover Medieval Chester project, Sue Hughes and a team from the Grosvenor Museum have been working with local writers in and around Chester. Some recent activities have involved the ‘Write Stuff’ W.E.A. Creative Writers group – also known as the ‘Hoole-igans’, as that’s where they’re based. Through their work with the Museum, the group have been reflecting on Chester as a border city and the connections between medieval objects and experiences and their own today. Sue Hughes sends this report on the recent events:
The Museum Service attended the poetry group’s meeting on 3 October to introduce them to the themes of the Discover Medieval Chester programme. Sue Hughes explained the thinking behind the exhibition; the concept of mapping the medieval city, the influence of the medieval texts, the various collections which would illustrate life in the city and how this relates to borders, both in the past and today. Liz Royles then showed them a range of medieval objects from the collections including personal items such as jewellery and sewing needles, religious items such as pilgrim rattles and everyday items such as pots and jugs.
On 15 October the group arrived at the museum to meet Welsh poet Aled Evans. He spoke to them about border poetry, read them some of his own work and then allowed them some time to start creating their own writing. The group then read out some of their draft ideas which were inspiring and included group leader Jan Bengree’s poem ‘The Women from Wales’. Everyone is looking forward to the work being refined and being displayed as part of the exhibition in 2013.