Monday, September 5, 2016

The Great Fire Redux

London burned again yesterday, only this time only in the form of a 320 foot long replica built for the occasion out of wood on the banks of the Thames. 

Watch the London Replica burn here:

Here is how al-Jazeeria covered the story:

For the Guardian's version of the story, go here. 

For more pictures of the event, go here. 

The Guardian also has a story about major buildings that were destroyed in the Great Fire, including St Paul's, here.

Given the profound impact that the Great Fire had on Wren's career as an architect, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Wren set the Fire in Pudding Lane. 

But I know that's silly talk. Just joking folks, just joking . . . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2016

St Paul's and The Great Fire

The Great Fire of London reached St Paul's Cathedral 350 years ago today, on September 4th, 1666.

The photograph above, from the Evening Standard, suggests that the folks at Wren's St Paul's have been having fun projecting images of a fire onto the dome, perhaps as part of a memorial event.

We proposed several years ago that the folks at the cathedral work with us to have a more elaborate exhibit on this 350th anniversary occasion. 

Our plan would have involved projecting images of the preFire cathedral onto the facade of today's cathedral, then adding images of the fire, to conclude with today's St Paul's rising from the ashes.  

But we didn't get anywhere -- the cathedral's response was that they weren't sure their fire insurance would cover the risk.

Seems they figured out the difference between virtual and real fire, in time for the Great Fire Anniversary.

In any case, if you want a chronology of the Great Fire, please see below. 

And watch the VPCP website for some significant changes in the days and weeks ahead. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Paul's Cross on TAP

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project was discussed on On TAP, a podcast about Theater and Performance Studies sponsored by the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St Louis. group, consisting of Sarah Bay-Cheng of Bowdoin College, Pannill Camp of Washington U, and Harvey Young of Northwestern Unnversity.

Go HERE to listen to the podcast, all of which is very worthwhile, but if you want to hear their discussion of our work, forward to the last 10 minutes or so.

The folks at On TAP describe this podcast as "a three-headed, freewheeling conversation about topics of current interest to graduate students, professors, independent scholars, and all those interested in academic Theatre and Performance Studies. 

"Each edition features Sarah Bay-Cheng, Pannill Camp, and Harvey Young talking about several topics of field-wide interest, including trends in ideas, theories, methods, pedagogy, career development, and developments in research, publishing, and hiring. 

"Something like a cross between a casual faculty seminar and an impromptu conversation at the conference hotel bar, On TAP features established scholars discussing a rapidly evolving field of knowledge. It is free to download and a great way to stay connected to the field."  

I'm honored that these folks have been discussing our work, especially since I've been reminded how preaching at Paul's Cross (or anywhere, for that matter) was a kind of theater. One reason so many clergy in the early modern period have negative things to say about the theater of that day was, of course, that they were all in the same line of work. 

For more on the folks who do this podcast, go here.  

If you want to hear our podcast from this site, we are part of Podcast #4. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

John Schofield publishes St Paul's Cathedral: Archaeology and History

John Schofield, the Archaeologist at St Paul's Cathedral, member of our Production Team for the Virtual St Paul's Project, and author of St Paul's Cathedral Before Wren (2011), is now publishing a companion volume, St Paul's Cathedral: Archaeology and History, due out in September from Oxbow

UK preorders are being accepted here, from the usual source in the UK.

USA preorders are being accepted here, from the usual source in the USA. 

Dr Schofield's work documents the archaeological history of Wren's St Paul's, and describes as well the changes it has gone through since its initial completion in the early 18th century. 

While, to me, this building is important chiefly as the home for John Donne's memorial statue, Wren's St Paul's has served as the cathedral of the Diocese of London through the rise and fall of England's empire and through the crises of English history in the 20th century.

Everyone knows the iconic image, above, of St Paul's dome rising above the smoke of bombs dropped on London during the Blitz, embodying the spirit of England's commitment to keep calm and carry on during Hitler's efforts at conquest.

The publishers celebrate Schofield's work in this volume, reviewing the cathedral's "history from the early 18th to the early 21st century, as illustrated by recent archaeological recording, documentary research and engineering assessment."

Schofield also provides "A detailed account of the construction of the cathedral . . . based on a comparison of the fabric with voluminous building accounts which have survived and evidence from recent archaeological investigation."

This volume is a must-have for people interested in the history of baroque architecture, the career of Sir Christopher Wren, and the cultural role of St Paul's as the iconic center of London's growth as a world capital and as the best-known building at the heart of the Church of England and the world-wide Anglican Communion. 

Congratulations to John Schofield, our good friend and professional colleague, for bringing us this landmark of archaeological and architectural history. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Willard McCarty Visits Virtual Paul's Cross

Willard McCarty, a member of our Advisory Committee, Professor of Humanities Computing at King’s College London, and Adjunct Professor in the Digital Humanities Research Group, Western Sydney University, joined us in Raleigh for several days in late June of 2016.

McCarty visited with the digital humanities faculty here at NC State and was able to explore a number of our on-going projects on display in our Hunt Library's Teaching and Visualization Lab. 

McCarty also learned about our new interdisciplinary Visual Narratives cluster project, just now getting developed.  

McCarty's visit was a highlight of our summer, and a reminder that we are grateful when members of our Advisory Committee can drop by for a visit. 

The Paul's Cross -- and soon to be Cathedral -- website gives a great deal of information about our work, but the opportunity to experience the installation at our Hunt Library is a whole 'nother experience. 

The 10 high definition projectors cast a seamless 270-degree image of Paul's Churchyard, and the 21 speakers immerse the viewer inside the acoustic model of the churchyard. 

If you can come to Raleigh, this is not to be missed! We promise to roll out the red carpet. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Virtual Paul's Cross and the Project on Space, Place and Image in the Poetry and Prose of John Donne

Space, Place and Image in the Poetry and Prose of John Donne 

FNS Project, Université de Lausanne, 2014-2017 

Dr. Kirsten Stirling, a Senior Lecturer in the English department of the University of Lausanne, and two of her graduate students -- Sonia Pernet and Kader N. Hegedüs --have announced the launching of a project entitled Space, Place and Image in the Poetry and Prose of John Donne.

 Dr. Stirling's project is funded by the Fonds National Suisse de la recherche scientifique (FNS).

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project is now linked to this project, here:

This project is sponsoring a major conference on the topic Space, Place and Image in Early Modern English Literature, to be held on the campus of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, on 11-13 May 2017.

The Call for Papers for this conference is here:

Happy to see that Mary Morrissey, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, is already signed up to be a keynote speaker at this conference.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Events for the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London

In addition to the events at St Paul's Cathedral, the City of London will recognize the anniversary in a variety of ways.

There will be a children's book about the Fire,  entitled The Great Fire of London: 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of 1666, by Emma Adams, James Wesston Lewis, and Fiz Osborne, available from, here.

Also, a commemorative coin, presumably available for two pounds in the UK.

In addition, the City of London Museum will open an interactive exhibit on July 23rd, up through April 17th, 2017, called Fire! Fire! which will include artifacts like the 17th century leather fireman's helmet shown above. 

London's Guildhall will also open an exhibit on July 23rd, called The Dreadful Fire,
which promises in addition to the usual sorts of exhibits, to include a hands-on feature, so you can touch what remains of early modern London.

The Heritage Gallery will open a show on August 6th, 2016, up through December 8th, 2016 a show featuring the Hooke Diary and other archives relating to the Great Fire. 

There will also be a city-wide festival called Great Fire 350, running from August 30th through September 4th, 2016. For a guide to the events of this festival, go here.

So, much to see and do in London in this year both of the anniversary of Shakespeare's death AND of the Great Fire. 

The Stones and Monuments of Pre-Fire St Paul's

We are recreating pre-Fire St Paul's in bits and bytes. Good to be reminded that the cathedral survives in the hard reality of rock fragments excavated from the grounds of the cathedral from time to time over the years.

The "Gentle Author" of the Spitalfields Life blog published a nice story about these remains, with lots of pictures, earlier this spring, go here.

The stones gathered above, on display in the Triforium of today's St Paul's, were collected by Francis Penrose, the 19th-century archaeologist, who is important for us because he excavated and surveyed the foundations of Paul's Cross.

 (Effegy of William Cokain, Lord Mayor of London, died 1626) 

Our Gentle Author gives us, in addition to his photographs of the stones of pre-Fire St Paul's, images of funeral monument effigies that still bear the soot of the Great Fire. 

This collection of stones from the pre-Fire cathedral has contributed a great deal to our model. For example, stones that have been traced to the framework to the cathedral's Great East Window have helped John Schofield and his colleagues work out the design of that window. 

I personally am hopeful that at least some of this material will be on display at St Paul's in its Great Fire exhibition opening later this year. 

Time, as always, will tell!

Virtual Paul's Cross and the Great Fire Anniversary

St Paul's Cathedral has organized a series of events in observance of the 350th anniversary 0f the Great Fire of London. 

This series of events started this past May, and runs through April of 2017. 

The full list of events is here:

If you look carefully at the cathedral's page, you will see the image above, familiar to us as one of the Virtual Paul's Cross website images,  constructed by Joshua Stephens and rendered by Jordan Gray.

Events of special interest on the cathedral's calendar of Great Fire Anniversary events are the following: 

From August 2016
The Out of the Fire exhibition: A display on St Paul’s before, during and after the Great Fire. Discover evocative objects and experience the award-winning high-definition Resurgam film.
From September 2016
Great Fire 350th Anniversary Bell Peal: 12 noon to 4pm  Saturday 3 September The College of Youths ring a special 1666 peal.
St Paul’s Late – Visit the Cathedral floor and Crypt on two special atmospheric evenings Friday 2 and Saturday 3 September (Times and cost tbc). 
Out of the Ashes - London The Rt. Revd and Rt. Hon Richard Chartres KCVO - Sunday 4 September 11am
The service recreates the 1666 setting with 17th century instruments and anthems. Bishop Richard, the 132nd Bishop of London, is founder and life president of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, created after the church was totally destroyed by an IRA bomb in Bishopsgate, London in 1993. He is a member of the House of Lords and Dean of the Chapels Royal.
All worth checking out if you are in London!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Virtual Paul's Cross at the University of Reading

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project was presented in the poster session at the Digital Visualization in the Humanities colloquium, funded by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at the University of Reading, on March 31st, 2016.

Many, many thanks to Matthew Nicholls, of the University of Reading and creator of the Virtual Rome project (go here) for assisting in making this poster presentation possible for us.   

Enjoying the poster in this photograph, made on March 31st, is Mary Morrissey, also a member of the faculty at the University of Reading and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.  

We continue to be grateful to her for her ongoing support, as well.

Friday, February 26, 2016

John Schofield and Wren's St Paul's Cathedral

John Schofield, our authority on everything archaeological and architectural about St Paul's Cathedral in the 17th century, will publish his definitive study of Wren's cathedral from Oxbow in September 2016. 

Together with his St Paul's Cathedral Before Wren, these two books contain the definitive account of the Diocese of London's cathedral for our time and for generations to come.

Schofield's work is of course the basis for all our claims to architectural accuracy and authenticity in both the Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project and the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

We are all deeply grateful to Schofield for his support and assistance, and for his untiring efforts on behalf of these projects. 

Schofield will soon also publish his study of the Deanery at St Paul's in the 17th century, based on his extensive research in the London Metropolitan Archives. 

More on that when it appears! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

David and Ben Crystal Discuss Original Pronunciation

Linguist (and author of the Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, forthcoming from the Oxford University Press) David Crystal and his son the actor Ben Crystal (see image below of Ben recording Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon for 1622) were recently featured in an extended conversation about Original Pronunciation on BBC Radio 4, on the Word of Mouth program.

Go here -- -- for their conversation about the theory and practice of Original Pronunciation Early Modern English.

The program is very informative, and includes lots of examples of their work.

The Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project is honored to have David and Ben as part of our Production Team.