In December each year the Friends organise a Concert of Carols by Candlelight which attracts members not only from all over the United Kingdom but also from abroad. The choir rehearse in the cold cathedral the night before and members from the Flower Guild decorate the cathedral with seasonal greenery and candles. After the concert the audience meets the choir for mince pies and hot fruit punch
In 1986 the Friends received a generous legacy from Mr Edward Mason who had been a life-long member and a well known solicitor in the city. It is the Friends policy always to try to mark such generosity in an appropriate way and it was decided to finance the restoration of the Masons’ Window in the North Transept which was in a poor state of repair.
At the time the Cathedral did not have its own glaziers department and the conservation was carried out in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. The glass was duly returned but had to remain in store until the work on the Dean’s eye window had been completed.
And so when all the work was done on the Dean’s Eye, the Masons’ Window, together with its sister window, the Musicians window (also financed by the friends) was re-installed in its proper place.
The glass is 13/14th century and is thought to have come from the windows in the Angel Choir. Surmounted by a pair of compasses, the window comprises a series of rectangular panels of six-pointed stars made by two interlocking triangles. The design is completed by quatre-foil flowers on cross hatches.
In 2010 the County Council informed the Works Department that they could no longer finance the training of a young mason. Rather than lose the opportunity to offer training to a young person the Friends decided that they would take over the funding and provide the £45,000 for the three year course.
Adam Wilcockson was the successful applicant out of a large field. He had trained as a brick layer but at the time was a shelf stacker at Tesco.
In the three years he has embraced his training, attended college, passed his exams to NVQ level3, visited Trondheim to work on the Cathedral there as is a valued member of the works department team.
Now that his initial training is complete the Friends at their AGM will decide to further finance him as an " Improver Mason" for the next two years, afer which he will be a fully qualified mason.
These pictures show his developments in masonry over the past three years. The final photograph shows him with the blocks he has prepared to be fixed in St Hugh's Turret on the West Front of the cathedral.
The Friends have just paid for the restoration of the Germanic Frontal which is used on the altar for all services connected with the military. Legend has it that it was made in the 1920s, just after the First World War for such a purpose.
Over the years the braids and fringes had rotted and were falling off and the embroidery in places was non existent. In the past it had been filled in with felt tip pen
When it was examined by members our Embroiderers Guild many of the braids turned to powder. Repair was not an easy task, the new embroidery had to merge with the original so that the conservation and mend was not noticeable.
All the braids and fringes had to be specially woven and dyed to match the original and we are fortunate to have so many skilled embroiderers in the Cathedral’s Guild who were able to carry out this work ‘in house’.
Funds for this restoration came from a reserve we have built up over the years for such tasks. Its first use after the conservation was at the recent Battle of Britain service.
On the evening of 30th November 2008 a would-be thief secreted himself in the Cathedral and waited until it was closed and deserted. When all was dark and quiet he moved out of his hiding place and consequently set off all the alarms.
However, how do you escape from a Cathedral which has large, barred oak doors with strong locks and thick walls?
Unfortunately the intruder chose the part where the walls are thinnest ~ the windows.
After climbing fifteen feet in the South Transept he punched a hole in one of the 14th Century lancet windows, which are underneath the Bishop's Eye, and wriggled out.
Fortunately there are photographs of all the Cathedral's windows in the archives and it is planned to recreate that which was destroyed. Our glazier, Tom Kupper, said, "It is glass which has survived for seven hundred years. It survived the Civil War, two World Wars just for some idiot to come along and kick it in."
The window was insured but there is a £1000 excess which the Friends immediately paid
The Friends’ harpsichord was built in 2005/6 by the renowned London firm of Morley.
It is a copy of the celebrated Taskin instrument in Edinburgh University’s Russell Collection, and has two manuals, three sets of strings, a lute stop and a coupler; it is therefore equipped for the full range of harpsichord repertoire, from English virginal music to Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Its maker, Roger Blackbourn, is especially proud of the instrument, considering it to be his best work in a very long career.
Particularly notable is the harpsichord’s unusually rich and resonant bass register. It is regularly used in services and concerts, both as a solo and continuo instrument.
The Association is proud of the part it has been able to play in providing finance for those areas of the cathedral which would otherwise received little funding and also the financial support we have given to the major projects.