We started our learning this morning with a practical lesson about how the master builders built the cathedral, using 6,000 tons of stone. Whereas the cathedral at Old Sarum was Norman in style, the cathedral in Salisbury was Early English Gothic (pointed arches as opposed to rounded). But how did the 13th century builders map out a plan for design? We re-capped our learning about the Fibonacci sequence yesterday and found out that they designed the arches using the principles from the golden ratio.
Our students then took over a section of the cathedral floor and, using similar instruments to the master builders’ beam compasses, they scaled up their drawings exactly as the master builders would have (but with pens instead of clay!)
Sally, a volunteer at the cathedral, then gave a presentation on the art and architecture of the cathedral, including why the cathedral was built, who it was built by and why it had a particular saint attached to it (St Mary). We also had the opportunity to do some floor rubbings.
After lunch, we were given a tour of the cathedral library by Emily. The library dates back to 1445, and contains bookcases made with 30 royal oak trees. It houses 10,000 books, with the oldest from the 9th century and includes 250 manuscript books from before the printing press was invented. Originally, books were chained to the shelves because they were so valuable – and certainly for the books that were written by hand, there was usually only one copy.
We learned what parchment was and how it went from being animal hide to writing material, how ink was made, and about the writing implements that were used (quills and reed pens). We also found out the origin of the word pen-knife. The feathers of a female swan, or pen, would be used to make quills, and a knife was used to sharpen the keratin at the end of the feather – pen-knife, simple!
We also found out another use for books (animal welfare campaigners please look away now) which was really rather gruesome – as you can see!
We then went to a calligraphy workshop with another volunteer, Rosemary. Our students really excelled at this!
After this, we went to see the Magna Carta (all 3,500-ish words of it, written in approximately 50 hours). Then we had some time exploring more of Salisbury, fitting in a football match before we attended Evensong in the cathedral. We witnessed the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire awarding 750 volunteers a collective MBE from the Queen, in recognition of their amazing volunteer service in all aspects of cathedral life.
We were pretty hungry after that, and Mr Parkin-Haig had organised a meal at Pizza Express for staff and students. Needless to say, we had a fabulous evening.
Then it was back to the Youth Hostel for the last quiz of the trip, which was won by Team Mompesson, captained by Mr Perfectbrain Parkin-Haig (the team also won overall) before making our way to bed. And tomorrow – our last day…