The replica Coronation Crown carved for Her Majesty by one of our craftsmen has rightly attracted much praise for its skilled workmanship.
It is fabulous, but for most of its life it will sit 100 feet above the ground near the top of the South West Turret. We should be able to see it glinting in the sun for a few decades. Those with binoculars should be able to see at least some of its detail, but for the rest it will become lost in the mists of time.
We are often asked why did craftsmen centuries ago labour to create such intricate carvings so high up on the building of Lincoln Cathedral where no-one would ever see them in their full splendour? Possibly more puzzling is why, in these economically challenging times, do we replace these carvings with work of equal merit. Surely now we could compromise and put something up there that looks good from 100 feet below?
Why put heart and soul into creating something so intricate that will never again be seen at close quarters? For the Coronation Crown there is of course the reason that Her Majesty will see it, but also and importantly that it will sit there as a reminder of our truly remarkable Queen.
To the medieval mind there may have been a more literal sense in which the carvings so high up were believed to be visible to God alone, but that sense of an offering to God is present today too. It is central to what the Cathedral is all about. Services are not put on to impress or entertain those who attend; they are part of the daily round of prayer, of worship to Almighty God. However, we have thousands of visitors who come to the Cathedral to see the beauty within the architecture. The carvings are like all great art, they can be experienced and enjoyed.
To our crafts people, it has something to do with the relationship they have with the building with which they spend so much of their life. To offer the very best, and to continue the work of our past masons, is worship in its truest sense.
It can take two to four months to complete a carving, depending on the size and intricacy of the piece. We only replace a carving when the structural integrity is compromised, and failed pieces of stonework may fall from the building. We have a duty under guidelines set by English Heritage to try and replicate carvings like for like. However where a carving has been completely lost it gives our carvers the opportunity to leave their own mark on the Cathedral. They are encouraged to produce something which not only reflects the architecture around them, but reflects our moment in time.
Could we inspire you to consider sponsoring a carving? The costs range from £2,500 – £5,000 depending on complexity. Your gift would fund the wages of a crafts person during the carving of your piece, and it will help to keep our traditional crafts alive. You could meet our team, take photographs and have your name, or that of a loved one, inscribed in a book of dedication.
If this is something that appeals to you, please phone Sally Crawford, Fund Development Manager on 01522 561614 or e-mail FDManager. It would be truly appreciated.