As photography wasn't allowed during the proceedings, I only managed a couple of snaps of the choir rehearsing beforehand and the magnificent cathedral from the outside. However, there are some wonderful pictures of Bishop Stephen and a good flavour of the ceremonial on the Diocesan site. Look out for my dear friend, Bridget, who is the Bishop's chaplain and at his side the whole time.
Tomorrow I will be departing early to make a special personal delivery of 2300 hand-made biscuits to Ely Cathedral, specially commissioned for the installation of the new Bishop, Stephen Conway. This large project has been occupying my thoughts for over two months now and has involved sourcing moulds from the Czech Republic, cutters from USA and a recipe from Holland.
It all started when a university friend, Bridget, who works in the Diocesan Office in Ely got in touch after getting my Christmas email newsletter. She wanted to let me know that the Deacon of the church we attended when at Durham Uni was about to be installed as the new Bishop of Ely. Then, very tentatively, she asked if I would be interested in baking biscuits to celebrate the occasion. Also tentatively, I said I would - what sort of numbers, what sort of biscuits?
Quickly we started discussing St Nicholas biscuits, a tradition of the low countries and some central European countries. St Nicholas is often depicted as a Bishop, which made his image appropriate. A bit of research started to lead me to Speculaas biscuits, a Dutch and Belgian Christmas speciality. This shop in Antwerp gives you some idea of the sort of thing and they often use St Nicholas as a design as he is closely associated with Christmas in central and northern Europe.
The next question was where to find a mould suitable for the job. My research took me to the wonderful online resource, The Saint Nicholas Centre. A vague speculative email enquiry produced the most full and generously helpful email reply from Carol Myers pointing me in all sorts of useful directions for moulds, cutters and recipes. Very soon, I was in touch with the lovely Oldrich Kvapil in the Czech Republic, one of the few remaining reverse relief mould carvers around. Olda was also extremely helpful and, once I had provided a link to this image, he was off and carving. Imagine my delight when, a mere 10 days after ordering it, this arrived:
It is perfect and quite beautiful. Such a privilege to be making use of wonderfully skillful hand trades like this wood carving. I would be using this mould to make just under 300 biscuits for the children attending a children's service on 5 March.