A talk on the Science of Ancient Buildings by Peter Cooper, launched a new series of Culture Bite lectures, organised by Crewkerne & District U3A. U3A Chairperson Sheila Seymour said: “The series of six talks on the theme of science will build up on very solid foundations. This was a really great talk. It was mesmerising and I learned so much.” Like the previous series earlier this year, the lecture at the George Reynolds Centre was open to members of the public as well as U3A members.
Peter Cooper spoke about the qualities of the different types of stone that were used, such as Portland for St Paul’s Cathedral, Caen for Tewkesbury Abbey and Freestone for St Bartholomew’s Church in Crewkerne, which was described as being very good for fine detailing but is not weather resilient. Peter said: “Ham stone is considered to be the loveliest building material in England, as it is rich in colour, resilient and yet easy to carve. Sherborne Abbey is a good example of its use.” Peter also explained architectural features such as corbelling, flying buttresses and fan-vaulting, which he regards as the greatest feature of ancient English buildings.
Fan-vaulting is seen at the top of columns, apparently to support the roof but in reality is just there as a wonderful form of decoration. Peter said: “Teams of master masons were brought over from France for the earliest cathedrals because the English were not considered good enough. But what good students they were as Fan-vaulting was a skill which the English excelled in and the French could never master.” Peter’s talk finished with a virtual tour of local churches, to show the wealth of glorious and clever architecture there is on the doorstep.
Tickets at £5 per lecture are still available from the LIC in the town hall for the U3A’s remaining science talks – October 23rd, Jenny Bryant on the contribution made by women to the study of seaweed from Victorian times to the pioneering scholars of today and Astrology Beyond The Zodiac Belt on the 30th with Ana Stasia, which will look at the star constellations that were mainly forgotten when Claudius Ptolemy selected the 12 signs of the zodiac in AD 100. The final lecture the Science of the Dead takes place on November 6th with Dr Martin Smith, a biological anthropologist with Bournemouth University who applies his skills to the skeletons of those who lived thousands of years ago as well as working with the police and coroners on modern forensic cases.