During the requirements gathering process in the early conceptualisation stage of our project, we attended Salisbury Cathedral in order to get a feel for how our app would work within the space. The requirements we obtained from being within the space can be viewed in here. However for me the most valuable part of this experience was being able to experience the tour ourselves, especially being students with an honest disinterest in history and likely not to visit the cathedral of our own backs. With this in mind, we were able to draw upon our own experience from this university organised trip to understand our target audience of school students experience in the past – i.e what worked well and what we can improve upon through the presence of our app in the space.
Upon our arrival at the cathedral, we were taken on a 45 minutes tour of a small portion within the cathedral where we received a condensed historical timeline of the life of the cathedral, its involvement with the Magna Carta and the key historical figures who are buried within its grounds. This was presented to us by a retired, unpaid volunteer with an obvious and inspiring passion for history. However it was often difficult to keep up with her extensive knowledge and take in everything she was informing us about due to the sheer magnitude of information. Resulting us leaving the tour being unable to recall the majority of the information we had just been bombarded with. For me and the other co designer on the same tour as me, a section which sparked our interest and our own further research into its historical value was the brief tour of William Longespée tome and the mysterious story which came with it:
Being King Johns illegitimate half brother, however his tie with Salisbury Cathedral stemmed from his marriage to the wealthy heiress and countess of Salisbury, Ela Fitzpatrick. Longespée’s alliance with the king was not only assumed but frequently exploited through being sent to war often. In the latter years of his successful marriage and while Longespée was away at war, the king came to the assumption that he had died in battle and his wife, a wealthy widower, became a desirable suit for many prying men. When William returned from war he was shocked to discover his wife’s harassment and demanded compensation for his wifes grief. Several days later he died, assumed to be wounds of war. However upon moving the bones of his body centuries later, a dead rat was found in his skull to which an autopsy was performed revealing that the rat died of poison. Opening up the question to William Longespée mysterious death… did he die of poison? A culprit for his death could of been his half brother, and the king who’s corrupt reign set the Magna Carta in motion. Perhaps due to his jealousy for Williams impressive skills at battle, nicknaming his “Long Sword” and the king “Soft Sword”. It has also been suggested that King John would often bed his half brothers wife while away at war. Upon her husbands death, the countess of Salisbury knew her rights as a wealthy widower (as per the recent sealing of the Magna Carta) and dismissed further marriage proposals which would involve losing her wealth to another man – making this famous historical couple an interesting advocate for the Magna Carta.
This experience inspired us to include the rat found in William Longespée skull as a cartoon character within the game who would act as mascot to reveal interesting facts through the “4 phrases, 1 sound” game structure. Thus aiming to inspire the users with intrigue for history, rather than to bombard the audience with large volume of heavy historical knowledge. Already in the very informative exhibition, this seemed the logical approach to take in our conceptualisation of the app in order to create something original and unique to the exhibition.
Heres the early conceptualisation for the design of the mascot: