Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Jubilee river pageant

I watched most of the Jubilee River pageant yesterday on television. I think some of the criticism today of the coverage by the BBC can perhaps be expalined by the fact that this was an event they had little expereince of covering, and there was not the imaginative camera work that could convey the sweep of the Thames and the flotilla passing along it. The almost chat-show format was not very good, and again, I think, probably stemmed from not having precedents to draw upon for linking studio and outside  broadcast.

That said the pageant itself appeared very fine, and a spectacle that, despite the weather, drew the crowds, and showed how the river flowing through the heat of the capital could be used to great effect on occasions like this.




The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh watched the river pageant from aboard the Spirit of Chartwell. The royal barge is actually a luxury Thames river cruiser which was refurbished for the Jubilee, incorporating ornate gold prow sculptures and a gold-coloured canopy atop splendid red upholstery. The design was inspired by the idea of a diamond on a red cushion, with the Queen as its centrepiece. The barge was enhanced by hundreds of flowers from the Queen’s garden.

Image: Daily Telegraph/John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

I had a somehat more particular interest in the decoration of The Spirit of Chartwell - much of it was the work of a colleague at the Christ Church Picture Gallery here in Oxford who is also a tutor in gilding at the City and Guilds College in London. She had gilded the prow of the vessel, the plaques on the side and also made, painted and gilded the four cartouches with the national plant badges affixed to the corners of the canopy on the top deck. Another tutor at City and Guilds and his studens did the gilding of the Gloriana.


One of the students putting finishing touches to the gilding of the prow.


Splendour: The royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' carrying the Queen cruises down the River Thames during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant

The prow of the boat during the pageant
Image: Daily Mail/AFP/Getty Images

There are more illustrations of the pageant in this newspaper report which can be read here.

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