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One size doesn’t fit all deans

22 November 2013

by a staff reporter


WHEN the first woman Dean was appointed to Guildford Cathedral, it quickly became obvious that although much could be handed over from her predecessor, the Dean's cope could not.

The cathedral had commissioned five festal copes - for senior members of the Chapter - to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the cathedral building in 2011.

But when the Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams succeeded the Very Revd Victor Stock, several inches' difference in height and a narrower frame meant that the Dean's cope could not be made to fit.

The textile designer Polly Meynell said that the cope could not simply be shortened because it would cut into the design. She spent a year designing and making a new one to fit.

"If you lay a cope flat, it is a semi-circle, only kept on by a clasp. On women, it can look like a tent," she said.

She created a more tailored shape. "I've tried to soften it. Traditionally, a cope is a man's garment and that shows.

"You wouldn't get a man in this new cope," she said.

The cope complements the others, which were all originally designed by Ms Meynell.

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