10th Annual Dinner of St. Chad’s Cathedral Association

By Anne Symonds. The St. Chad’s Cathedral Association makes an important contribution to the life of the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, a hidden gem designed by A W Pugin, situated on the edge of the Birmingham’s world famous Jewellery Quarter.

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham and President of the St Chad’s Cathedral Association was the principal guest at the 10th Annual Dinner of the Association, held in the Canons’ Dining Room at Cathedral House, Birmingham, on Friday 8 November 2013.

More than 70 members and guests enjoyed an excellent four course meal which was well served by sixth form girls from St Paul’s School, Edgbaston. The Canons’ Dining Room had been transformed into a sea of autumnal colours with beautiful flowers and seed heads.

Guest speaker, Jane Dew, an expert on church vestment embroidery and on St Chad’s amazing collection of vestments, spoke about some of the fantastic items not normally seen by the general public. She was helped by Frances Crockett, the Cathedral Sacristan, who had prepared the vestments for display from the 43 historic sets of vestments owned by the Cathedral, one of the largest in the country. A guest from Lichfield Cathedral commented that they had only three sets. Amongst these was the wonderful blue and cream set worn by our present Archbishop at his installation. This set was designed for Archbishop Edward Ilsley’s Golden Anniversary and the granting of Metropolitan status to the Cathedral in 1911. The magnificent Shrewsbury set were designed by Pugin for the opening of the Cathedral in 1841. The design for the damask was based on the 14 century Syon cope. The black extremely heavy cope was made for the funeral of the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1852. It is the only vestment not made in Birmingham as it needed gold wire embroidery for the heraldic hood and this was not available in Birmingham at that time. Jane’s talk was most informative and amusing but sadly time did not allow her to go on. Her closing comment was that hopefully one day the Crypt will be turned into a Heritage Centre where the treasures would be able to be on permanent display to the public.

2013 has been a very successful year for the Association. We held a spectacular multi-faith flower festival for three days at the end of June which ended with a concert on the Sunday evening by Birmingham Schools Wind Orchestra. The soloist was Jonathan Warburton, a world renowned trombonist playing a British premiere. Our next big event will be providing refreshments for the Annual Carol Service on 22 December.

The Association was formed as a result of the increased awareness and interest in the Cathedral during the 150th Anniversary Appeal. The Association exists to support the Dean by providing funds for special projects and activities within the Cathedral. Members receive the Basilican Magazine twice a year, copies of the Cathedral Events Diary and Music list and an invitation to the Civic Mass and other events.

Anyone who is interested in joining the St Chad’s Cathedral Association should contact the Honorary Secretary, David Symonds,
Email: david.dsace@blueyonder.co.uk or telephone 01212491487 or the Cathedral Dean, Canon Gerry Breen 01212306201.

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