“When morning comes, I’ll wear a dome of hope, intact.” – states St Paul’s Cathedral in its heroes glorifying poem.
This weekend Historic England invites us to remember and express our thanks to those, who protected Saint Paul’s Cathedral during World War II. Organised in collaboration with The Poetry Society and Edinburgh-based studio Double Take Projections, it brings us a short film made of pictures, archive reports and a poem narrated by its author.
The organisation commissioned a London based poet, playwright and fiction writer Keith Jarrett. He worked with poetry groups gathered from four city schools: Archbishop Tenison’s, Eastbrook, George Green’s and Lady Margaret. He collected research about St Paul’s watch at the cathedral itself, the British Library and the Imperial War Museum.
The way in which the students reacted to this collected material was a key element in structuring the poem. He also used the ideas and borrowed some words from the Exiled Writers Ink – a migrant poetry group and the Creative Writes group located in Islington.
Historic England also commissioned research on the event as a part of their project. The projection shows the vital historical figures – King George VI, Winston Churchill, but more importantly, it pays tribute to those who risked their lives to protect the cathedral.
Volunteers inspired by their love for their home city and it’s heritage. It is the ordinary peoples’ story. Instead of hiding in the underground they were patrolling the area ready to put out any flames.
It highlights the destruction of the high altar and the time-delayed bomb that was defused by the Royal Engineers. One of the protagonists of the story is a firefighter Gillian Tanner, who drove a lorry full of petrol needed for the water pumps while the German planes continued bombing.
A follow-up event is being organised at the Coventry Cathedral with a poem written by Jane Commane. It will run from Thursday, 14 November until Saturday, 16 November. The projection will tell the story of the old cathedral that, unfortunately, got demolished.
Where: Saint Paul’s Cathedral
When: Thursday, 24 October, 18.30 – 22.00
Friday, 25 October, 18.30 – 22.00
Saturday, 26 October, 18.30 – 22.00
Sunday, 27 October, 20.00 – 22.00
The event is free.
Words: Neringa Ruseckaite
Images: Neringa Ruseckaite