Preserving the Past for Future Generations - Reflection by Canon Val


Read Canon Val's Reflection for Thursday, October 8, 2020.

Before the pandemic I worked in the Cathedral Archives with a team of Volunteers. We catalogued and organised documents, photographs and artefacts charting the building and the people who have contributed to the life of the cathedral. Since lockdown things have changed, I have only recently been able to return to the Archives in person. The team will not be back for some time.

During my absence from the cathedral I have continued to receive enquiries. People have taken the opportunity to spend time researching their family history. This can be helpful to the cathedral if the relative has been involved in the building of the cathedral – stone masons, carpenters, sculptors. Many of the enquiries relate to the Choir. A recent request was for a photograph of a chorister who held open the door of the Rankin Porch at the visit of Princess Elizabeth. We were able to provide a copy of the original photograph. Requests such as this add vital personal information to our Archives.

Recently Pat Starkey, a member of the team and I have been working remotely with a Postgraduate from Liverpool University via zoom to look at a future project with other students to complete an oral history of the cathedral with the University “ Making Liverpool Cathedral” which will look at interviewing builders, musicians, clergy, congregation, staff and  volunteers. It is an exciting project and will be a valuable resource for future research as we move towards the centenary of the consecration of our cathedral in 2024.

One of our largest collections in the Archives consist of paper copies of service sheets dating back to the consecration of the cathedral in 1904, the consecration of the Lady Chapel in 1910 and many other special occasions. We are grateful to those who had the foresight to start this collection and continue to keep copies of our present-day services. Over the years, styles have changed from simple typed sheets to ornate service sheets with designs by Edward Carter Preston. This affirms the vital place of worship in the life of the cathedral.

As we began to close our activities it was important to continue a pattern of worship in a new way. The Chapter began to embrace the use of technology to provide worship and met remotely via Microsoft teams – staying safely at home but still able to share the experience daily with colleagues. Members of the team learnt new skills as they moved forward. It was good to keep up the connections and see people daily on screen. Each meeting ended with a friendly wave to each other. A new tradition was born.

Moving forward the Prayer for Liverpool website was introduced with daily reflections from the Chapter. Services were extended to being streamed daily as well as the Sunday Eucharist so that our congregation and other supporters could join us at home. It has been such a blessing to be able to reconnect with all those who were missing their regular contact with the cathedral, the clergy, and friends. We have learnt new skills to make this possible and are grateful to those who already had I T skills.

As the lockdown was extended Cathedral Archivists across the country wondered how to record the events that were taking place in our cathedrals at this difficult time. Future generations will look back at 2020 and wish to know how we overcame the difficulties of continuing to provide worship during the pandemic. To provide this information a Digital Vault is being set up and each cathedral will have the opportunity to store their digital services and other items such as the Prayer for Liverpool reflections. I am very grateful to Chris Newton for helping me to Archive all the digital material from Liverpool and to all those who have contributed to services and reflections. Our record will be added to the National Archives at Kew and the North West Film Archive in Manchester for future researchers to access and we can continue to build up the Archives for future generations.

I wonder what enquiries will come to the Archive team in the future in relation to our activities in 2020.

Canon Val

While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of our prayer blog, Prayer for Liverpool: