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 Textus is 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
global conflict and the individual
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
2015 Fundraising Concerts
The First one is The Rochester Cathedral Memorial Concert taking place with the kind permission of Lord & Lady De L’Isle at Penhurst Place on Sunday 31st May 2015. We can offer such a full programme starting at 5pm with entry via the private entrance and an opportunity to walk around the beautiful summer gardens (it is “Glorious Gardens Week”). Then enjoy your “bring your own” picnic in the grounds at the front of the house before attending a concert in the majestic Baron’s Hall. We are very grateful to Christopher Thornton, who has arranged this concert in memory of music lovers now departed. Ticket price also includes wine and soft drinks during the interval.
Performers are The Medway String Quartet, The Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus Male Voice Choir and the Choral Scholars from Rochester Cathedral. Ticket price is £45 with Senior Concessions at £40.
The second is another fabulous concert with James Taylor and his Quartet. We are delighted that this seems to be turning into an annual event! So those Jazz funk fans, please do put this in the diary. Last year the cathedral was packed and people were dancing in the aisles! James lives in Rochester and holds the cathedral very close to his heart and has written a very special Mass for our Choir which is being performed for the first time in The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in April, but will also be performed again here. Tickets £20.
The third concert this year is a very special “Land of Hope and Glory” concert, hosted by Cheryl Baker on Friday 16th October. Performing will be The Kent Sinfonia Orchestra, a 45 piece orchestra of international acclaim; The Ruby Chorus Choir are a 40 piece choir based in Tenterden consisting of a mixture of professional and amateur singers who perform to very high standards under the musical direction of Ms Maxine Wilson; Faryl Smith, a British teen mezzo-soprano who rose to fame after appearing on the second series of the talent show Britain's Got Talent in 2008; the tenor Jonathan Ansell, one of the UK’s most admired young tenors. He has sold over 2 million albums and shot to fame on the first ever series of The X Factor in 2004 where he was part of pop-opera group G4, came second and went on to top the charts with 3 albums and four sell out tours. Jonathan has gone on to release three solo albums; Katie Marshall is 14 years old and at a very young age showed a talent for singing classical music. She has been having classical singing lessons since she was 6 years old and her voice coach is the opera singer Julie Unwin. Our host for the evening will be Cheryl Baker, famously a member of Bucks Fizz. This promises to be an amazing evening so do come along and join us for excellent entertainment and some flag waving! This concert is being co presented by Abigail’s Footsteps, a local charity set up by David and Jo Ward after the tragic still birth of their daughter Abigail. The profit from the nights show will be shared between Abigail’s Footsteps who are fundraising for a bereavement suite at Medway Hospital and The Rochester Cathedral Music Endowment.
Our final fund raising concert for the year will be the annual “Messiah and Carols for All” on Tuesday 8th December. This will be yet another opportunity to listen to this outstanding piece of music and listen to our own Rochester Cathedral Choir treat us to some fun carol singing. More details about this will follow later in the year.
Wow! What a year! Please contact the Development Office for further information and ticket pricing and availability.
Hidden Treasures Fresh Expressions Project
Click this link for a copy of the HTFE Project Brochure
Click this link to access the video on our recent Archeaological tours https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9JX8nUAfWs&feature=youtu.be
Hidden Treasures, Fresh Expressions (HTFE) is a project that focuses on the Crypt, Library and the 'hidden collections' in the Cathedral's ownership. At the very heart of the project is the creation of a secure exhibition space within the medieval crypt for the display of the collections; a wealth of texts, books, documents, charters, stonework, embroidery, plate, paintings and historical artifacts. The library will also be repaired and renovated to house our remarkable collection more appropriately and enable us to make this part of the collection more accessible.
In February 2013 it was announced that we have been awarded £3.55million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It was the very welcome final piece of the funding jigsaw and would not have been possible without the generosity of other funders including Colyer-Fergusson, Friends of Rochester Cathedral, Rochester Bridge Trust, Garfield Weston, Wolfson, Headley Trust, Esmee Fairbairn who between them have committed over £1million to the project.
However since this award, the delay in sending the tenders out for the main building works resulted in all tender submissions coming in over budget. This gave the Project a bit of a set back but following further submissions to the Heritage Lottery Fund and to the World War 1 Centenary Cathedrals Repair Fund, additional funds have been secured to ensure that this project can now be delivered in full.
It will therefore be very challenging as we embark on a programme of construction works to undertake the necessary repairs and modifications to deliver our project. The works commenced in Summer 2014 expected to take just over one year. Whilst some areas will be closed during the works we will continue to be open to visitors and services will continue as normal albeit mostly in the Nave.
Further Information will be posted on the website and we hope you will follow our progress as we look forward to the future.