Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Monday, July 13

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Our day started with a class meeting then off to St. Paul's. Holly, Emily, Rachel and I walked along the Thames and then crossed the Millennium Footbridge where we ended up just steps from St. Paul's. The view was phenomenal as we approached the cathedral during our walk. We headed downstairs to the cafe for a nice lunch in the Cloister area. We walked around a bit before our class met for our tour of the library and were treated to a concert on the steps by a group of students from Baltimore. Their selection of "Feed the Birds" from the movie Mary Poppins couldn't have been more appropriate.

The highlight of our day was a tour and brief lecture by the St. Paul's librarian Mr. Joe Wisdom. This delightful, dapper gentleman was a marvelous tour guide, full of anecdotes and other information about the cathedral and libraries. He took us through an unmarked door up the 93 stairs of the Dean's Staircase. This flight was used in one of the Harry Potter movies and it will be fun to watch the film again having trod the same steps as Harry and Hermione!

Being upstairs at St. Paul's and looking down into the cathedral was a magical experience. What a view! We were standing where the BBC had placed cameras during the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The effect was enhanced when later a group of choristers began to practice.

We then visited the Model Room which houses a large model (1/25 scale) of a cathedral, similar to but not exactly the one we know as St.Paul's. This room is filled with drawings, other models,sketches and a wooden medallion featuring architect Christopher Wren. It was interesting to see some of the transmutations of the cathedral and to see how it could have been constructed if Wren's vision had not been made manifest.

Mr. Wisdom then ushered us into the library. While identical in size and dimension to the model room, the library feels much smaller. Possibly this is due to the walls of bookshelves, intricate mouldings, a functioning fireplace and furniture. A working library and office, this room is replete with books, busts, and other bibliographic packages (as Dr. Chan would say!). Bookshelves line the walls and a second, balcony level allows for easy access to the shelves on that level. Mr. Wisdom shared a great amount of information about this unique library ranging from the esoteric (appealing to us librarians) to the mundane. He showed us one of the prizes of the collection, an illuminated manuscript, and described it as "what I would grab if the building were to go up in flames".



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After tea outside a wonderful little patisserie, we wandered back to Stamford Street across the bridge. Later that evening King's College hosted a welcome reception for us at their campus across the river close to the Strand. We gathered in a beautiful and highly ornamented Chapel on the campus and then retired to a Ballroom for drinks and nibbles. Dr. Welsh introduced me to the President of the University of Texas-Tyler and his wife who were both natives of Kentucky! I also met Dr. Bowersox who is a Georgetown grad who hails from Owensboro.

It was a full day with much more yet to come!



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