About the project
What is 'Creating Voices'?
‘Creating Voices’ is an oral history project designed to gather, record and preserve craftspeople’s stories of the Abbey from over a 60-year period, from 1942 to 2000.
WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF THE PROJECT?
Thanks ‘Creating Voices’, we have found out (and recorded!) lots of interesting anecdotes and facts about the Abbey during two different periods of major restoration (post-war and during the 1990s-2000).
We also now have brand-new downloadable Audio Guides and webpages about the Bath Blitz, the Abbey's stonework (inside), stonework (outside), woodwork, East Window, lighting, bells, organ and clock which we hope you will enjoy exploring.
The stories of these people and their memories help us to see the building in a new light. Just some of the stories include how the Abbey's timber frame was rescude from Death Watch beetles, how the massive East window was blown out during WWII and how some of the sculptures on the magnificent West front were replaced in the 1950s and 1990s.
Why do this project?
Thousands of people visit the Abbey and worship here every year but often take for granted the amazing architecture and atmosphere, not realising just how many individuals have helped contribute to this. If we don’t collect their stories now, we might not get the chance again and they'll be lost forever.
Why pick this period of the Abbey's history 1942-2000?
The Abbey you see today began to be built around 1499 and was complete by 1616. Since then, it has been changed and repaired many times. Two major restoration projects took place in the 20th century: one between 1948-1960 and another between 1990-2000. During both periods, many people used their skills in crafts such as woodwork, stonemasonry, glazing, conservation and more to make sure the Abbey is as beautiful as it is today.
Who is responsible for the project?
Under the supervision of an Oral History Project Manager, volunteers from the Abbey congregation and Heritage students from Bath Spa University worked together to collect and transcribe audio recordings of the memories of people who have helped care for or restore the Abbey fabric between 1942 and 2000.
So far over 30 people have come forward to share their memories for 'Creating Voices'. These include a variety of craftspeople including sculptors and stonemasons, their family members as well as members of the Abbey community including a former Rector. They have provided some fascinating insights into what it was like to have worked on the Abbey’s fabric from 1942 through to 2000.
We are really grateful to all our volunteers and to the people who have come forward so far. It has been a real privilege listening to your stories; some funny, some surprising, many thought-provoking and moving. What it has really emphasised is how the strong connection many people have with the Abbey and how crucial their contributions are.
The ‘Creating Voices’ Project was funded by a £22,200 ‘Your Heritage’ Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £7,000 from the Friends of Bath Abbey.