Database project

Our history is incomplete

Did you know that there is no complete record of the choristers who have sung in the cathedral? One might be forgiven for assuming documents might have been lost during the Reformation or that over the centuries, books might have perished.

However, this is not the case. We don’t even have the complete records for the 20th century. The history of this great country of ours is often not the work of dedicated academics. Untangling the knots of the rich tapestry of life, you quite often find that history is written by everyday people. They might be brewer’s assistants or monks (or both), but without people going to the trouble of writing things down at the time, we wouldn’t be able to look back and understand the past in the way we can.

This is where we come in. As the cathedral’s only official body for former choristers, if we don’t fill in the blanks it is quite probably nobody ever will. Students of the future will never be able to look back and see who sang the daily services.

We can change this. In conjunction with the head archivist, Cressida Williams, the CCOCA is beginning a research project that we hope will uncover lost information and change the way records are kept for the future.

The project has three key aims:

  • Identify who sang in what year, going back as far as possible.
  • Find out what became of them after leaving the choir.
  • Reach out to people who we have lost touch with and invite them to re-join the association.

This is our chance to put our names – quite literally – in the history books. But to do this we need your help.

We are asking all association members we are in touch with to answer a few simple questions about yourself and who sang in your year. We then need you to pass this message on to the people you are in touch with, by email, by Facebook, by post, or just by picking up the phone. Some of our older members would be delighted to receive a call, we have no doubt.

The questions we want the answers to are:

The contact information will be held by the association only (at least until enough years have passed for it to become irrelevant). The choir information will be shared with the cathedral archives, and the names recorded for posterity.

Please don’t assume we have your information already. Data may have been recorded in different ways over the years, or it may have been recorded inaccurately. As historians will tell you, it’s better to have multiple sources.

If you want to get involved and you have any questions about what we’re doing, please email

The people of the future thank you for your help.