30 January, 2013
Chelmsford Cathedral is the second smallest cathedral in the country - but they try harder. It's just a jumped up parish church really. They try harder with artworks too. When the organ was moved to the back of the nave, it exposed a blind window. They have now filled this with a tree of life showing Adam and Eve in T shirts with an A and an E on them. St Cedd makes aan appearance as do some butterflies and a rubbish tip with bin bags. The Cathedral authorities als provide interpretation boards to tell you what to think about such things: I prefer it when they leave things ambiguous. Who knows what it will mean in 500 years time, if Christianity survives that long. There is also some good 20th Century glass painting and church furnishing including a westmorland slate font and altar, with bronze and steel pulpits. Small doesn't necessarily mean mean. Not sure about this chap on the outside though. Is he holding a yale key? Chelmsford Museum is out at Moulsham and tells the story of Chelmsford with some interesting other collections including a working model beehive and stuffed animals. There is also a good numismatic collection although not particularly well displayed. It has been extended recently to include the museum of the Essex Regiment and there is a fine display of regimental silverware. The museum also reflects the town's former inductries with lots of knobs to twiddle to produce sine waves and tell you the difference between AC and DC. Cromptons Electric Lamps have a lamp standard outside the museum and Marconi industries make up the bulk of the displays in the new part of the museum. All in all an excellent local museum with a bit more to offer.
27 January, 2013
Idolatory in a London Park? Yes. I wasn't sure whether to begin this post with 'Rhoda Rhoda had a pagoda, Selling tea and coffee and soda Buns and biscuits and bread of bran In the pretty Pagoda Rhoda ran!' except that this pagoda doesn't sell anything, or 'There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Battersea, There’s a little marble cross below the town; There’s a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew, And the Yellow God forever gazes down.' The gods are quite yellow too. It's called the London Peace Pagoda and it stands in Battersea Park. Battersea Park Station was a surprise destination on the East London Line this morning - so surprising that Sonya ('cos she get'S ON YA nerves') can't even say the words 'This train is for ___. The next station is ___.' The day started at Canary Wharf Ideastore with a quick look at MS Stubnitz a music and performance art venue currently moored in docklands. Battersea park station is a short walk from Battersea Park, with the LCC monograms carefully concealed by Wandsworth Borough Council. Battersea park has some nice things like the Pump House Gallery (closed when I called) and some very peculiar statues, including a war memorial to the 24th (East Surrey) Division described by Lord Edward Gleichen. He states that the plinth is pleasantly low. There is also a statue of a brown dog, although this is hidden away and I came upon it quite by chance, disturbing an amourous couple in the process. Lord Gleichen doesn't deem this worthy of comment, but is a controversial monument to those noble animals that have laid down their lives to the improvement of humanity. There is an Old English Garden in the park although not as good as the one in Danson Park and was looking rather sorry for itself when I visited, although the water feature was in full flow. Battersea park was the site of the Festival of Britain pleasure gardens and there are still some remnants of this there, although refurbished in 1994. The ponds with fountains present a playful panorama and the tea terrace with its steel frills and flounces make a humourous place to have your tea.
06 January, 2013
In the town of Lancaster there is a serene estate of cottages surrounding a war memorial, Lancaster's tribute to the bravery of the men who fought in the 1914-1918 world war. Originally established in 1919 as a Lancaster charity the Westfield War Memorial village is now run by Guinness Trust and is so secluded even google streetview did not visit it. The cottages are in the Cottage Plans and Common Sense style of Parker and Unwin but thankfully without the lavatory being next to the front door. All the cottages have names of either the benefactor who gave the money or a battle honour - Co-operative Cottage doated by the Lancaster Co-operative Society and Ypres Cottage by the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment depot. One or two had a brass plaque commemorating a particular effort of the Regiment. The whole estate was most attractively laid out with a bowling green and tree lined streets with different styles of cottages in each. Although it was not laid out as originally planned it still appears a pleasant place to live. The whole village is centred on a war memorial showing a wounded soldier receiving a drink of water from a comrade.
03 January, 2013
The linoleum king, Lord Ashton wanted to build a Taj Mahal of the North, and, like the mogul emperor he thought he was, would dedicate it to his wife. But he liked it so much he kept it for himself. Lancaster Council says it's a folly but then Lancaster Council would know all about follys having got involved in Blobbyworld, and having responsibility for Morecambe. When you visit Lancaster you can see where all the money goes - It is to Lancaster and not the seaside resort of Morecambe. I just imagine when Lancaster councillors gained responsibility for Morecambe they saw it as a hostile takeover bid. No matter. The Ashton memorial is not a folly, it's a public shelter, viewpiont and an art gallery. The fact that it performs one of the functions of a folly and catches the eye does not make a thing a folly. In fact it catches the eye from many locations not least the M6 where it towers above the gloomy gothic of Lancaster Moor Mental Hospital and most of Lancaster. It was a rainy day when beloved and I visited. After one of the 'bus companies refused to take my plusbus ticket (but would take beloved's disabled pass) we had a fairly long walk in the rain to get to Williamson park as the other 'busses go nowhere near the park. Williamson park was built on old quarries and is the highest spot in Lancaster. It was laid out in 1877 as a public park and the monument was opened to the public in 1909. It was very welcome to have a dry and warm place to sit. There was nothing much on the ground floor but a marble floor, well polished, and a model of the memorial. There were supposed to be ceiling paintings but these were obscured by a cloth that covered the ceiling and was draped around the huge electrolier. Going upstairs on an elegant cantilevered staircase there were pictures on the walls and an upper room with stained glass windows that was used occasionally as an art gallery and fitted out with a projection booth for cinematograph shows at some time in the past no doubt. A notice stated that the viewing galleries were not open but this was only partially true as one of the decks was open, although it simply looked out over the back of the park. I would not have seen Cumbria anyway through the mist. I could hardly see Lancaster. After tea in the Lancaster Corporation Cafe (don't bother - not much choice and super costly) it was time to walk down the hill to the bus stop again.