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Interview with Robert Weaver FSA, Keeper of the Fellows’ Library, Dulwich College

May 9, 2016

Local history lovers will get the rare opportunity to see items drawn from the collections of Dulwich College on 12 May as Robert Weaver, Keeper of the Fellows’ Library, presents ‘A History of Christ’s Chapel in 10 objects’.

The artefacts reflect the history of Christ’s Chapel over significant and often turbulent periods in the nation’s life. Material with iconic status will illustrate major periods of change in politics, belief and society such as the English Reformation, the world of Edward Alleyn and his Chapel foundation and the Civil War era. From the plain looking to the finely made all of which has significance in bringing to life the four hundred years of Chapel history.

We spoke to Robert to understand his thinking behind the talk.

Your talk will guide us through the history of Christ’s Chapel in 10 objects – how did you decide on the 10 objects in question?

I chose objects that gave variety and were as wide-ranging as possible. They had to be visual, resonant of the history they represented, accessible and engaging to the viewer. So we will see the human record expressed in vellum and paper, in books  huge and intimately tiny, artefacts and fragile pamphlets representing deceptively explosive times.

Is there one object in particular that you could pick out as the most interesting, iconic or illuminating of them all?

My favourite has to be the 1611 King James Bible, which is a monster of a tome (which for size would defy the hand luggage allowance at Heathrow). Its gothic type encloses a major contribution to our English language and culture as well as heralding future religious controversies with Darwin etc.

Christ’s Chapel has witnessed some of the key moments in the history not only of Dulwich but also of the UK – do you have a favourite era in Christ’s Chapel’s history?

A favourite era is probably the turbulent late 17th century from Civil War to corruption and resulting investigations to flutter the Chapel dovecotes in SE21.

Should Christ’s Chapel continue to exist for another 400 years, what objects and artefacts from today do you think might represent our era most accurately to future generations?

Artefacts from our own time might be the startling 20 century stained glass and modern silver plate, plus the wonderful restoration of our famous George England Organ, not forgetting recordings of the choral contributions and concerts which enrich worship and celebration in Chapel.

There are two sessions for Robert’s talk which will take place at 6pm and 7pm on 12 May in the Old Library of Dulwich College. Tickets are available here: