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Whoever Reads these Articles with their Hat on their Head Shall Forfeit 6d

By Ellie Jones, Cathedral Archivist

This small set of printed rules for the use of the Cathedral tower was one of the star turns at this week’s “Explore Your Archive” In Focus event in the Cathedral. It is about a hundred years old and was partnered with a handsome 500 year old volume containing medieval Cathedral statutes. We deliberately paired the old and the new, the formal and the ephemeral, the famous and the unseen in order to highlight the variety of sources in the Cathedral Archives. This hundred year rule card ably proved that it isn’t always the largest, the oldest, or the most famous items which draw the biggest response from visitors. Starting with a rule about cursing and swearing (forfeit 6d), and ending with a rule about absence (6d fine), and taking in fifteen other rules about good conduct, ringing, and the wearing of hats, the list is wide-ranging and frequently inclined to raise a giggle!

The rule card was selected partly for its great charm, but also to represent an important part of the collections: the records of the many groups who keep the Cathedral functioning every day. It is part of the archive of the bell ringers, and together with those of the Tapisers, the flower arrangers and others it takes its valuable place alongside the central records of the Dean & Chapter as part of the history of the Cathedral.