Monday, January 30, 2012

Plans for Roll-Out at the James B. Hunt Library

We have agreed with Susan Nutter and the administration of the Libraries at NC State for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project to be featured at the opening of our new James B. Hunt Library (see above) in January 2013.

This library will have state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. We have been promised use of one room which will enable us to do a surround-sound and 360 degree visual presentation of our Virtual Paul's Cross and Donne's Gunpowder Plot sermon.

Here is an image of yours truly and David Hill, as we toured the building under construction last week to look at the space we will be using.

Clearly, we were not made to be construction workers.

3-D Model of Paul's Cross by Josh Stephens

Josh Stephens, our model-building expert, has developed a preliminary 3-D model of Paul's Cross and printed it out on a 3-D printer.

I must admit it is exciting to hold this model in my hands and be able to see it from all sides. 

Josh has based this model on two sources.

One is the set of specifications developed by Frances Penrose during archaelolgocal excavations of Paul's Cross in the late 19th century, published in Archaeologica in 1883 under the title, "On the Recent Discoveries of Portions of Old St Paul's Cathedral."

Penrose determined that Paul's Cross had an octagonal stone base that was 37 feet across, and that the pulpit structure itself was 17 feet across.

The second is of course Gipkin's painting.

Here, as in other questions about the overall model of Paul's Churchyard, we have discovered that Gipkin had a different sense of perspective than we do.

The figure Josh has placed in the image for the purposes of scale is (in scale) 5' 8" inches high, an average height for a man in the 17th century.

Is this how you imagined Paul's Cross to look? Comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

John Schofield Publishes St. Paul's Cathedral Before Wren

Advisory Committee member John Schofield has published his monumental study of the fabric of St. Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral Before Wren.

The publisher is English Heritage. The work runs to 412 pages and has 250 illustrations. It was published in England in late November and will be available in the USA later in 2012.

Here is the publisher's blurb:

Here is the announcement from St. Paul's:

Here is the all-important listing at

Here is the listing at, where for us in the USA they list the publication date as December 30, 2011 and promise to ship as soon as the book is in stock:

John's work -- years in the making and meticulous in the execution -- is absolutely central to our undertaking at the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

John has graciously shared his findings and his wisdom with us over the years. I, personally, am deeply grateful to him for his generosity.I look forward to seeing the work in person -- my copy is on the way.

Congratulations to John on this outstanding achievement!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tiffany Stern: Time and the Bells of St Paul's

Tiffany Stern, a Fellow of University College and Lecturer in English at Oxford University, read a paper entitled "'Observe the Sawcinesse of the Jackes': Clock Jacks and the Complexity of Time in Early modern England" today at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in Seattle, Washington.

Stern argued that time in the early modern period was a variable unit of measurement. For example, the hour glasses that marked the time of a sermon were hand made and varied in size from glass to glass, and also varied in the size of the grains of sand used to fill each one.

So even though the typical glass used for a church sermon was intended to mark the passage of one hour, the actual amount of time measured could vary from glass to glass, and thus from church to church.

The time measured by a given glass could also vary from time to time, since factors like changes in humidity could affect the rate at which the sand would flow through each glass.

Stern also reported that the churches in London rang bells on the hour, except for St Paul's, where the bells rang on the quarter hour as well as on the hour. St Paul's was known to have the most accurate clock in London, and other London churches rang bells on their own time.

This suggests that part of the ambient noise for a Paul's Cross sermon could have been the sounds of distant bells ringing on different schedules.

This also suggests that when Donne in one of his sermons at St Paul's says that people listening to sermons sometimes reacted to the preacher's points by interrupting him for up to a quarter of an hour, he had the sound of the cathedral bells ringing the quarter-hour to help him judge the length of the interruption.

I will be contacting Professor Stern to explore with her some more implications of her work for teh experience of the Paul's Cross Sermon. Stay tuned!