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Rochester Cathedral to speak on Draco Roffensis at 'Cultural Cities'

Image: Part of Textus Roffensis manuscript (courtesy Rochester Cathedral)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that the Reverend Canon Dr Gordon Giles, will be contributing to Future Cities Forum's 'Cultural Cities' this week at the BFI, on the new exhibition 'Draco Roffensis', celebrating 900 years since the creation of the medieval text which gives its name to the visitor experience.

Gordon studied Music at Lancaster University, and Philosophy, and then theology at Magdalene College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge before being ordained in 1995. 

He served his curacy at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cambridge, and then served as Succentor of St Paul’s Cathedral between 1998-2003 before becoming Vicar of St Mary Magdalene’s, Enfield (London). 

Between 2008-2019 he was also Director of Post-Ordination Training in the Edmonton Area of London Diocese.   Gordon’s doctorate is in hymnology and he is an Editor of Ancient and Modern (2013) and a Director of the English Hymnal Company, and has written several Lent and Advent books for the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) as well as being Editor of their 'New Daylight' notes. 

This summer Rochester Cathedral is marking 900 years since the creation of Textus Roffensis, the Cathedral’s hugely important contribution to medieval writing. The centrepiece of Textus 900 will be the installation of a spectacular dragon made of gold, silver and copper foil in its Nave.

The exhibition will be called Draco Roffensis: The Rochester Dragon and has been inspired by illuminated artwork found within the pages of Textus Roffensis. The dragon will take flight at the Cathedral from June 1st to September 21st. 

Draco Roffensis has been designed by celebrated artist Wendy Daws. Made of gold, silver and copper foil sewn onto wire panels, it will be suspended above the Nave allowing services and events to continue underneath. The underbelly of the dragon will be made from recycled materials from ‘Tape’ a recent exhibition at Chatham Dockyard by Numen/For Use. Quotes from Textus Roffensis will be written on the tape allowing visitors to discover more about early Medieval England. The dragon will be covered in thousands of embossed golden scales.

The embossed foil scales will be decorated by visitors to Rochester Cathedral as well as local community, art and school groups. Artists from the Kent Association for the Blind will also be very involved in the project. From the 4th May until the 30th May visitors will be able to emboss the scales with decorative patterns creating a stunning final effect. Textus Roffensis was written by monks from Rochester so it is only fitting that Draco Roffensis should also be created by the people of Rochester, says the cathedral.

Artist Wendy Daws states; “I am truly honoured to receive this commission to celebrate Draco Roffensis and delighted for the opportunity to create an artwork for Rochester Cathedral to mark this special occasion. I’m excited to work together with so many different communities, to help create the embossed foil scales, an integral part of the design that will bring the dragon sculpture alive!”

Alongside Draco Roffensis will be a programme of events celebrating Textus Roffensis. Full details of the programme will be announced later in the year but will include family activities and lectures. Textus 900 will culminate in the premiere of a new lightshow by Luxmuralis inspired by manuscripts, illustrations and the culture from dark ages through early Middle Ages.

Textus Roffensis is one of the most important Medieval manuscripts in England. It was written in Rochester in the 1120s by monks at the Priory of St Andrews.  Amongst its contents are the earliest English laws recorded dating all the way back to the 7th century. In 2022 Textus Roffensis was added to the prestigious UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register.

Draco Roffensis: The Rochester Dragon opens on the 1st June. Details of the events programme will be announced soon on Rochester Cathedral’s social media and website.


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