I have just received the new DVD-ROM published by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, English Cathedrals and Monasteries. For several hours I’ve been happily exploring case studies of individual abbeys and monasteries (including Barking Abbey, featured in both The King’s Mistress and A Triple Knot), a 3D film of a monastic day in Micklegate Priory in York (see how dark the priory church was at Matins in the early morning when there were no electric lights), a tour of Durham Cathedral, an excellent section on the religious houses of York, and sections on York Minster and Westminster Abbey (where Joan of Kent took her marriage vows–several times). Enough for one day–there is so much more, and I intend to take my time and relish it all.
The Centre’s purpose is “to provide background for people interested in “the rich cultural heritage to be discovered in art, literature, music and historic buildings [of England]. However the fact that so much of this heritage has been substantially shaped by Christian belief and practice can pose a major problem of access and understanding for those who lack familiarity with Christian concepts or biblical themes.” You’ll see on their website that this DVD-ROM is one of several: http://christianityandculture.org.uk/ If you teach English literature or history, medieval literature or culture or history, these resources are invaluable for the classroom. And those of you who read historical fiction set in the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods–or write it–will find these useful. I highly recommend all of them (I have them all!).