On Thursday 9 March, we had a fascinating Study Day with Lucia Gahlin who showed us the lives of ancient Egyptian families. She used the New Kingdom period 16th to 11th century BC, the time of Akhenaten, Hatshepsut and Rameses II.
The day was divided into three parts: Family parties, Temple festivals and preparation for the Afterlife with rebirth into the ‘Fields of Contentment’.
The themes of food, drink, music, clothes and adornment were used to develop our understanding of their importance in all aspects of life. Lucia showed us an enormous range of images from a small statue of a woman making beer to wall paintings of musicians and dancers.
We learnt about the different scripts: hieroglyphs for tombs and hieratic for everyday life, the sources of the minerals and pigments, and that your status was defined by the height of your chair!
We all enjoyed Lucia’s obvious enthusiasm as we were led through history, trading links, types of wheat, the importance of the Nile for trade and crops, and changes in fashion, wigs and jewellery.
It was a day in which we learnt so much thanks to Lucia’s love and knowledge for her subject.
On Thursday 10 November we spent a fascinating Study Day with Andrew John Davies showing us the changing styles, building materials and sense of place as seen in our parish churches. They are an integral part of our landscape.
The study day was divided into three talks, from Saxon and Norman through early English, decorated and perpendicular (ee, dec and perp).
We saw a timber church, St Andrew’s in Essex, the rough stone walls of St Enodoc’s in Cornwall (once buried in sand where the congregation used to enter by climbing down a ladder) and one of only 18 churches given a 5-star rating, St Lawrence’s, Ludlow with a 40 metre high tower.
Our second talk focussed on the Gothic style with wooden roofing for small churches and beautiful stone arching as seen in larger churches such as Sherborne Abbey.
Andrew showed us some of the 24 surviving London churches out of the 52 built by Wren after the devastation of the Great Fire, including St Clement Danes and St. Bride’s. We saw many Gothic churches with some nearer to us: St. Mary’s Redcliffe, Bristol, St. Thomas’ in Salisbury with its large Doom painting on the chancel arch and St Cuthbert’s in Wells.
In his third talk Andrew showed Nicholas Hawksmoor’s classical style built on new sites with the interiors emphasising preaching from pulpits as seen in a Hogarth print of a priest with his sleeping congregation! We travelled England to see churches by Pugin and George Gilbert Scott before reaching the 20th century with Liverpool Cathedral, post WWII rebuilding as at St Bride’s and new purpose-built churches.
All enjoyed listening to an amusing speaker whose knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject meant he didn’t use notes.