There is always something very satisfying when you see your plans coming to fruition.
That happened on Monday 20 August when a group of donors and other friends gathered in the Cathedral Humphrey’s Yard to witness the installation of three new corbels. When in 2017 we received funding under the WWI Grant Scheme to reroof the choir and to repair some of the masonry at high level we began working with the student stone carvers at the City & Guilds College in Kennington. Seeing their superb work the idea then came to replace four corbels which had badly deteriorated. These decorative corbels at aisle level dated from the first major restoration of the east end of the cathedral in the 1820’s. There was no record of who the corbels represented and so we were free to think afresh. The challenge to the students and to the children in Class 6 at Cathedral School was, who would you like to commemorate. The students came up with three suggestions and the children decided that they wanted to celebrate the Borough Market.
The Market corbel has yet to be installed but the three others depicting PC Wayne Marques GM ( he has recently been awarded the George Medal), one of the first First Responders on the night of the terrorist attack on 3 June 2017, who was himself injured by the terrorists, Evelyn Sharp, a local suffragist who played her part in securing votes for women one hundred years ago and Doorkins the Cathedral cat who needs little introduction to her many friends and admirers.
The corbels had been dedicated by the Bishop of Southwark on the first anniversary of the London Bridge attack. But we needed an opportunity to actually install them on the outside of the building. So, the stone masons returned and we watched as they were carefully slotted into place. They look wonderful. Wayne was present with his family to witness his face becoming part of the building, alongside all those faces from history. It was a moving and exciting moment for us all. For me, it was a reminder that though this might be an historic building it is a living and changing building and that every generation adds to the story it tells. That is what was so wonderful about this simple but profound occasion.
St Peter writing to the church says this
‘Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 2.5)
Our Cathedral continues to tell the ongoing story of this area and of the graciousness of God and God’s people.
The Very Revd Andrew Nunn