Did I mention that one of the best things about working in a research university is that you get to hang out near elegantly curated collections of beautiful old things?
Last night I was introduced by Jacky to St Cecilia’s Hall: the only place in the world where it is possible to hear 18th century music in an 18th century concert hall played on 18th century instruments.
St Cecilia’s is one of those buildings in the Cowgate that you walk straight past, never realising that inside is a trove of treasure. And a stunning collection of shiny bagpipes. The University has a plan to renovate the building and make it a lovely venue again. It’s the second oldest music venue in the UK (the oldest being the Holywell rooms in Oxford).
In case you are wondering, St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians ( feast day: 22nd November). She is also the subject of Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale. She was sentenced to be boiled alive, but miraculously, the cauldron of boiling water did her no harm, and she sat quite comfortably in it, singing for an entire day, after which they had to try to chop her head off to shut her up. This makes St Cecilia the perfect illustration of Eleanor Roosevelt’s assertion that ‘“A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.”