Textus Roffensis Online
Rochester Cathedral's World Firsts
In partnership with the The University of Manchester Library’s Image Collections, Rochester Cathedral has, for the first time, made the greatest treasure in its Library available online in its entirety. The Textus Roffensis is the only existing copy of the first code of English law and was written in Rochester during the early 1120s. It has been described as one of the most important documents in English history. This manuscript, written in Old English and Latin, is hugely important in the history of English law and language and is believed to have influenced the wording of the Magna Carta of 1215 and, later, the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. Historian and television presenter, Michael Wood, who has supported the project, says that the Textus is of ‘supreme importance...one of the few crucial works in the history of the civilization of the British Isles.’
Included in the Textusis an account of ceremonies of ordeal for testing innocence using red-hot irons, boiling water and a terrible curse in which the wrong-doer is cursed by the Holy Trinity, archangels and angels; he is cursed living or dying, working or resting, and every part of his body is cursed down to his toes nails!
The Cathedral has digitised another unique manuscript, the Custumale Roffensis, which is now available online for the first time. Written in Latin in about 1300, it tells, not only, of the Priory’s lands and income, but also details the domestic arrangements of the Monastery at Rochester. This manuscript throws light on the services and bell ringing of the Cathedral and, together with descriptions of services and the duties of senior officials, and vergers, we are told of the bakers, porters, brewers, cooks tailors and laundrymen, even of the arrangements for the stabling of horses! The title page of the book carries a warning: ‘Whoever shall alienate or fraudulently destroy this title, or diminish the rights of the monks contained in the same, let him have his portion with Judas, the traitor...So be it. Amen.’
World War I Remembrance
The War that didn’t end war…
Rochester Cathedral has outlined a programme of commemoration from 2014 to 2018. We hope to use the five years to develop a greater understanding of war, the world and the Kingdom of God, and listen to and learn from local and individual experiences:
CLICK HERE for the Lent Themes 2015
Points of remembrance
These have been identified by the Church of England as
Outbreak of war: August 4th 1914
Battle of Jutland: 31 May – 1 June 1916
Battle of the Somme: 1 July – 18 November 1916
Battle of Passchendaele: 31 July – 6 November 1916
Armistice: 11 November 1918
The National Advisory Panel set up by the Government has chosen three themes:
Remembrance, Youth and Education
The cathedral will take up the three themes thus:
The names of the fallen will brought into a peaceful reflective installation in the Lady Chapel where visitors can tie a cardboard tag to a wire-structure bearing the name of someone who died in the war. This structure will flow towards the central altar where a single candle will burn representing Jesus the Light of the World – a sing of God’s presence and love in bad times as well as good.
Working with the cathedral community, University of the Third Age and Medway Youth Parliament, we hope to research some stories and create interpretation panels telling the stories. These will be added to from August to November so that by Remembrance Sunday 2014 there will be a large installation to surround with poppies.
Youth and Education
In the Cathedral’s Education and Visits Department there will be a programme for younger children on Remembrance along with work using banners/standards and books of remembrance noting the curriculum change to local history which extends to the Royal Engineers in Brompton and the Historic Dockyard in Chatham. There will also be stories about soldier volunteers, dance workshops re: soldiers and families, sounds of war etc. and we hope to develop an interfaith dialogue.
There is also a plan to engage the young with the elderly and those with dementia in singing together songs from the war through Sing for your Life and Drumbeat School – a brand new special school for children and young people with autism in Downham and Brockley and in particular using music therapy.
The Cathedral Programme has included these :
beginnings and causes of war and conflict (including rivalry, greed, fear, vested interest, prejudice etc)
During the summer there were outside floral commemoration of the
outbreak of war and in the Lady Chapel there was a reflective space and display for daily use at midday prayers, by schools and individuals
Sunday 20 July
Canon Neil Thompson, Precentor:
Might and right among the nations:
What part do justice and peace play in the road to war?
Sunday 27 July
The Ven. Simon Burton-Jones, Archdeacon of Rochester
‘Love your enemies’ – is war ever just and can it ever be limited?
Sunday 3 August
Canon Jean Kerr, Missioner
The price of peace in a competitive and untrusting world:
How do we live with rivalry, greed, fear, vested interest and prejudice?
In the autumn towards Remembrance Sunday a series of three talks were held (and thence each year to 2018)
Religion, Literature and Propaganda ~ Dr Philip Hesketh, Canon Pastor
Philip Hesketh has produced a pamphlet which is available at the Cathedral Shop
global conflict and the individual
NB * The 2015 Lent Sermons are available as booklets free of charge, from the Cathedral Shop, or at the Great West Door.
attrition and its cost
Kingdom season 2017 (All Saints to Advent)
remembering and honour;
protest and conscience
All Saints/All Souls 2018
guilt and forgiveness; repair and reparation
Performance of Britten’s War Requiem
We are planning a performance (possibly two) of Britten’s War Requiem in the Nave with a parallel art display taking up the work of the war poets ~ War and the pity of war. The possibility of streaming the performance to the Historic Dockyard in Chatham is being investigated. An educational lead in to this event is also planned to make the Requiem as accessible as possible particularly to schools and colleges.
For Further Information on Local Events, Please visit :
The UK Government Site
The Royal Engineers Museum Website
We must not let this place fall silent.
Music is our single largest expense but we cannot sustain or develop it further if we don't take action now. It costs £220,000 each year to ensure the continuity of Rochester's choral tradition, so we have established a Music Endowment to ensure that music will continue to ring out from within these walls far into the future.