THE guests were piped
through the darkened Newcastle Cathedral by a
16-year-old Northumbrian piper, Tristan Seldon, to their candlelit
and decorated table in the nave. They were there for a medieval
banquet, and the meal began with a 16th-century grace by Thomas
The cathedral staff and
volunteers, all in costume, served an "authentic" medieval menu, to
be eaten using fingers, which included Cathedral Pottage, Vergers'
Pickled Vegetables, and a variety of roasted meats. While the
guests ate, they were entertained by the Northumbrian branch of the
Clarsach Society, playing traditional Northumbrian airs, as well as
more pipe music, and a mandolin. The clarsach, I am told,
is a small Celtic harp; and the Northumbrian pipes, unlike Highland
pipes, are a "sweetly toned bellows-blown set of bagpipes designed
to be played indoors".
Among the diners were many who had never been inside the
cathedral before, and they went away impressed by both the building
and the hospitality.