Friday, March 27, 2015

Days 8, 9, 10: Churches, churches, and more churches!

Hi everyone!

These past three days have been busy for us, as we have been criss-crossing London examining various watched churches.  As a reminder, the term "watched" means that the church was being attended to by a volunteer church watcher from the organization Friends of City Churches.

On Wednesday the team visited St. Magnus the Martyr, St. Stephen Walbrook, All Hallows London Wall, and St. Sepulchre's.  At each of these locations we spoke to the church watchers on duty, and made note of important features of each building.  Some of the major artworks we saw are pictured below:

The beautiful Wren dome at St. Stephen Walbrook

Part of the famous model of London Bridge that resides in St. Magnus the Martyr.  Notice the reflection of the beautiful stained glass windows on the glass of the case.  

A stained glass window from within St. Sepulchre
Yesterday was equally as productive, as the team travelled to Camden to visit the Churches Conservation Trust, where we conducted an interview, then back to the city to visit to St. James Garlickythe.  While today has been less exciting, we have begun to dive further into the piece of our project that examines access.  We held an interview and we were surprised to find how many details are involved when considering whether a building is accessible or not!

Over all this has been another productive week, and we are learning a lot.  We would also like to thank all of the people that have been helping us out with everything so far! This project would not be possible without the information that we have received from all of you.  We're looking forward to week 3!

Over and out,


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 6 and 7: Church Visiting!

Hello Readers!

An exciting new week just started! This week, we will be focusing on exploring different city churches and talking to the church watchers who are own duty to collect their opinions about promoting and curating religious heritage in the city churches. We mapped our journey based on the watchers' schedule, and so far we have visited four of them!

On Monday afternoon, we went to St. Botolph without Aldgate located at the boundary of the city of London and the East End.

Churches located at the city gates were often dedicated to Botolph. Travelers could pray there upon arrival and departure. The present church was built by the architect of Mansion House, George Dance, and restored by J.F. Bentley, the architect of Westminster Cathedral. Here are some pictures of the significant historical pieces inside the church:
Decorated ceiling by Bentley, with plaster angels in high relief, holding shields

Reredos, with Corinthian columns and batik hangings by Thetis Blacker, 1982

Organ with pipework attributed to Harris, from an instrument given by Thomas Whiting, 1676 (restored in 1966)

We had a tight schedule on Tuesday because we visited three churches: The Dutch Church, St. Michael Cornhill, and St. Dunstan-in-the-West. We were able to talk to the church watchers on duty and take some nice pictures of some of the highlights of these three churches.

The Dutch Church is a monastic church, originally of the Austin Friars. It was completely destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in 1954.

Commemorative window, a gift from the Protestant churches in the Netherlands, designed by Max Nauta

Large tapestry, the Tree of Life, by Hans van Norden

A bible from the Netherlands, 1618

After the Dutch Church, we walked to St. Michael Cornhill, one of the few city churches known to have been of Saxon origin. It was destroyed by the Great Fire and completely remodeled in 1857-60.
Tuscan columns and blue-painted ceiling by Sir George Gilbert Scott

Stained glass

Eagle LECTERN, carved by W. Gibbs Rogers

Organ, built from the case of the Renatus Harris organ of 1683-84

Our next stop was St. Dunstan-in-the-West. This church is different from the other Anglican churches because it has a Neo-Gothic exterior, and an octagonal interior. We wandered inside this beautiful church and took a few pictures of the historical art and artefacts.
Interior design

Iconostasis, brought from Antim Monastery, Bucharest, in 1966

Organ, by Joseph Robson, 1834

A statue of Queen Elizabeth

The church watchers in St. Dunstan-in-the-West suggested we also take a look at St. Bride Fleet Street, even if it isn't watched by watchers from the Friends of the City Churches. This church is located by the end of Fleet Street.
The exterior of St. Brides, five octagonal stages of diminishing size, was used as the model for the traditional wedding cake

In the interior of St. Brides, large, plain glass windows allowed a great amount of light into the church

We were struck by how beautiful and significant these church buildings were! We will be visiting more church buildings in the next few days, and will  continue updating with more information!

-AAiC IQP Team

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Days 4 and 5: More Exploring!

Hello Readers!

We have officially wrapped up our first week in London! Over the past few days, we have been busy conducting interviews as well as visiting museums and churches.

On Thursday morning, we visited the British Museum to check out the various technologies and tours they had to offer. Like the V&A, the British Museum had touch screens in many of the exhibits to aid in the interpretation of the artwork and artefacts on display. In addition to the touch screens, there were a variety of tours available. Many of the exhibits had daily guided tours. The museum also offered touch tours, audio tours in multiple different languages, and British Sign Language tours. Overall, our visit to the British Museum allowed us to further explore what museums are doing to enhance visitor experience and accommodate people with disabilities.   

A copy of the Rosetta Stone that is a part of the touch tour at the British museum.

In the afternoon, we visited St. Anne and St. Agnes Church and St. Benet Church. Unfortunately, St. Anne and St. Agnes was closed due to an orchestra rehearsal, but we were able to step in for a few moments to take a look around and listen to the music. We will be visiting this church the next time it is open so we have more time to explore. St. Benet's Church is a Welsch church located off of Queen Victoria Street. The present building was built in 1683 by Sir Christopher Wren. We were able to take some pictures of the building as well as the art and artefacts within it, but would like to return to learn more about the history and the highlights of the church. A few of the pictures we took at St. Benet's can be seen below. 

Yesterday, we conducted three interviews and looked through the catalog of the art and artefacts found in St. Mary Abchurch. In the afternoon, we ventured over to Westminster Abbey. There, we had tea and coffee in the Cellarium Cafe and attended Evensong. The service was beautiful and the abbey itself was absolutely breathtaking! We hope to go back soon for a day tour. 

Westminster Abbey

That's all for this week! Next week will be visiting even more churches and conducting more interviews, so be on the lookout for more posts. Have a great weekend!

AAiC IQP Team 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Days 2 and 3: Editing, exploring and a few other things...

Hi all!

We are halfway through our first week here in London and making good progress.  Thanks to our sponsor, we have been able to make contact with many individuals who we will be interviewing over the coming weeks.  Since we are still arranging our schedule, we found ourselves with some spare time yesterday.  We decided to use the day to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was one of our predetermined key locations for research.

The V&A Museum, as it is known, is an art museum that is located in South Kensington.  The V&A Museum was decided to be one of the places that we should visit during our time here because of the amount of technology that is incorporated into the exhibits there.  We came across a wide variety of technological tools that are used to enhance the visitor experience, including hands on features, touch screen quizzes, and a film room.  Additionally, we noted that most of the exhibits were physically accessible, thanks to a lift that serviced the entire building and many ramps.  In terms of other features to improve accessibility, we found that all of the museum's touch features included braille, there were audio guides throughout the museum, and large text books to aid visitors in reading the exhibit plaques.  Some of the museum features can be seen below:

English and Standard Mandarin braille captioning a vase in one of the exhibits.

One of the museums many touch features.  The yellow below the text was a braille strip to explain the piece.

The V&A museum also offers a variety of guided tours, including BSL tours and audio tours.  Overall, the V&A gave us a good look at some of the things that can be done to enhance the way that art and artefacts can be presented to visitors.

Upon our return from the museum, we worked on editing some of the writing we did during C term, along with more emails.  This morning we are continuing to work on the housekeeping of all of the information that we have collected so far and our calender.  This afternoon we are headed out to get back into the interview groove!  Keep an eye out for more updates soon!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting Started!

Dear Readers,

First, we would like to welcome you to our blog!  This blog will be following the journey of our team, comprised of four students, as we explore the religious heritage of the United Kingdom, and the access barriers surrounding it.  We will be working on this project in London, along side our sponsoring organization, Art Alive in Churches.  This project will be the team’s Interdisciplinary Qualifying Project (IQP), which is a graduation requirement of our school, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in Worcester, Massachusetts USA.

For the past 8 weeks the team has been researching topics such as the current state of religious heritage in the United Kingdom, promotion and curation of religious heritage art, artifacts and architecture, and access to the churches of the UK for individuals with and without disabilities.  This research has been done in order to prepare us for the 7 weeks we will be spending in London.  While we are in the UK, we will be collecting and analyzing data relating to our project topics, with the overall goal of creating a list of suggestions to help better the way that the religious heritage of the UK is being represented.

Yesterday marked our first day on the job, where we visited our base for the next two months, St. Mary Abchurch.  St. Mary Abchurch is a beautiful Anglican church located on Abchurch Lane here in London.  This small church was built in the mid 1680s, and contains some very interesting artifacts, as well as woodwork from the artist Grinling Gibbons, who also worked quite a bit on St. Paul’s Cathedral.  While at St. Mary Abchurch yesterday we interviewed two individuals who gave us some very valuable information, starting us off with a bang!

For the rest of this week we will be conducting more interviews, along with visiting a few key sites for data collection!  We look forward to continuing our exploration of the religious heritage sites of the city of London and can’t wait to see what the next 7 weeks has in store for us!

About Our Team

We bring a diverse set of skills to this project:
Nicole is a physics major and is minoring in music. She is very interested in how music and other forms of art tie into religious heritage. She is looking forward to learning about the religious heritage of England through art, and is excited to start the process of sharing that knowledge with others.

 Kayla is a biology and biotechnology major. Last year, she completed a humanities capstone project that focused on American literature, history, and culture. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to explore the culture and history of another country and looks forward to working with Art Alive in Churches to preserve historical artefacts.

Paulina is also a biology and biotechnology major, who is working to complete a humanities concentration in history. Her interest in this project stems from both her love of history, and the importance that her own religious heritage plays in her life. As a science major, she is also excited to blend her background in technology with her background in history.

Lingyi is majoring in Industrial Engineering and Management Information Systems. She is an international student who came from China. She has decided to minor in International Studies and this project will be a good start for her learning experience. She wants to utilize her ability in database management and help with promoting religious heritage.