On 23/24 June 2017, Lincoln Cathedral was host to the Heritage Skills Festival, an event designed by the City of London Livery Companies to raise awareness outside the capital of the work that they do.
Around 27 Companies, plus some local organisations representing their crafts, were represented at the Festival. The nave, chapter house, cloister and greens outside the Cathedral were filled with craftspeople at work, with many finished pieces on display. The Worshipful Company of Coach Makers had even deposited a couple of Bentleys in the middle of the nave to show their modern work (they do the interiors).
The SSI was invited by the Worshipful Company of Scriveners to join them on their stand and Cathy Stables, an SSI Fellow, represented the society. Cathy worked throughout the two days on a piece about the Charter of the Forest, a document published two years after Magna Carta, laying out the rights of the people with respect to use of land, hunting, farming and the environment around them.
The theme had been used by the Cathedral authorities for a children’s calligraphy competition, so their entries were on display too. The winner was Eagle CP School in the tiny village of Eagle in Lincolnshire. Their entry consisted of a set of four panels depicting various historical events in their area. The head teacher explained, “The gold letters at the start of each panel, if put in order, spell the word CALM, which reflects our school ethos and of course how being in a forest can also make you feel.
“The children have illustrated each panel with various media and four children were selected to use calligraphy pens to copy out a piece of collaborative writing.” A splendid entry for primary age children.
There was much interest, with the thousands of Festival visitors able to watch Cathy at work and ask her questions about what she was doing. The many questions rather hampered her ability to get a lot done, in fact! Also demonstrating on the stand were Annette Reed (Heraldry Society) and Nicholas Humphery- Smith (Scriveners) who cut quills for two days! Members of the public were invited to try to write with them and this proved a very popular activity, with people from 8 to over-80 having a go.
In all, this was a wonderful chance to promote calligraphy to the wider public and to do so in a magnificent setting in the company of top-notch craftspeople.