15th Century Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog call #Thursday Doors. Below are two ancient doors found in the historic King’s Manor at the University of York in northern England.

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A beautiful, if crumbling façade of an entrance to King’s Manor.

 

The remaining building dates from the 15th century and began as the Abbot’s House.  It survived the dissolution of the monasteries, although the adjacent St Mary’s Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII. King’s Manor houses the departments of Archeology and appropriately, Medieval Studies (but not Renaissance studies?).

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Entrance Door to the Centre for Medieval Studies.

 

What better place to study the Medieval period than in the City of York which boasts incredible medieval architecture (see previous blog: historical-york-england).

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A Pair of Ancient Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog called  #Thursday Doors.  It hadn’t occurred to me previously that other people were as taken by doorways as I am; they can be interesting.

Stone dogs guard the entrance

I  came across this handsome entry way (above) in a small town east of Gloucester, England. I wish I knew more of its story to tell you.  It shall remain a mystery ( unless one of you out in the world happens to recognize it).

Below is the doorway to Schola Moralis Philosophiae (School of Moral Philosophy) at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford – not the main entrance of course.

Oxford University

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in Europe.  Oxford University itself dates from at least the 12th century. The magnificent architecture of the colleges include some of the more ancient buildings  along with those from subsequent centuries.

 

The Cotswold Region

I have always wanted to visit the Cotswolds and see the gardens, cobblestones and thatched roof cottages. We did one better – we rented an enchanting cottage that must have been built 200 years ago.

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Orchard Cottage

The beams were all rough cut, the ceilings and upper floor sagged – all adding to its rustic charm. Turns out Graham Greene lived here in the 1930’s.  (We rented through Honeypot Cottages my contact was Andy Smith:  info@honeypotcottages.co.uk  They even left us a delicious homemade cake to have with tea when we arrived.)

Ancient stone birdbath

Once a wealthy producer of fine wool, the Cotswold countryside is dotted with sheep and crisscrossed with walking trails. Most roads are hardly wide enough to pass another car without slowing to a crawl – a hardship to people used to driving on the other side of the road! However Main Street in certain towns, like the one we stayed in, were built wide to accommodate the carts and animals coming to market.

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covered market at dusk

The picture above shows the old market (middle right) built in 1627.

Below is the bell tower of stately St James church built 500 yrs ago…and do you suppose this was a dipping trough (right foreground) for sheep?

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All of the cottages and buildings throughout the region were built of the same honey-hued limestone and today it is required of new stone buildings.  Eight Bells Inn (below) dates from 14th century.ChippingC_pse0176

 

This is the oldest house in Chipping; note the wavy roofline. Back in the 1300’s, when the villagers lived in smoky, damp “wattle-and daub” huts, a  well-to-do wool merchant built this first stone home with chimneys, instead of just holes in the roof.

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There are a number of pretty gardens in the area; we visited well-known Hidcote Manor with gardens divided into a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, each with its own character. The manor house was built in the 17th Century as a farm house; and the garden and lawns were begun in early 20th century by American Lawrence Johnston.

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Manor

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The red border

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The Cotswold may have been the hi-lite of our trip to Great Britain – I guess we saved the best for our last week. Have you been there? Live there?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING To ALL

November arrives here with chilly rain signaling any Indian summer is over; incongruously, we usually have sun for Thanksgiving. Who is to question the weather gods when they play in our favor?

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Tom and I planted this pistache tree 20 years ago. It makes a wonderful shade tree in summer.

(Thanksgiving is a US holiday, originally a harvest festival.) The Pilgrims celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” in 1621 with the Indians who helped them survive in the New World.

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This gingko was 7-ft tall when we moved in and perversely refused to grow more than a few inches in a decade. Its roots must have found the water table as it has made up for lost growth since then.

 

Charming Bath and Remarkable Avebury Henge

Set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, Bath hardly needs an introduction… it is famous for Jane Austen, its 18th-century Georgian architecture and the Roman baths. In fact it was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa.

The main thermal bath

One of the excavated pools not open to the public.

View of the rooftops from our room.

Honey-coloured limestone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including the museum built over the original Roman-era Baths and the Abbey. We didn’t need a car.  Bath is compact and once again the hop-on-hop-off buses took us everywhere we wanted to go (although not quite as reliable and convenient as in other cities). Don’t bother with the secondary tour that circles above Bath in hopes of a panorama; the city views are obscured by trees etc. and you barely get a glimpse.

Historic Pulteney Bridge built in 1774 over River Avon (photos above and below). It is sometimes compared to Ponte Vecchio in Venice because of the rows of stores lining each side.  Pulteney Brdg,1774 AvonR _pse0159

 

A few people from early 18th-century, Jane Austen’s era:

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No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the Royal Crescent. The 30 terraced houses with ionic columns, laid out in a sweeping curve and fronted by this expanse of green, have been seen in many period movies.

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We were lucky to be there when a dog was demonstrating how she could herd geese. In the 3rd slide below, she drove the whole gaggle across the red bridge.

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In planning this trip, we debated whether to see Stonehenge and decided not to.  (The actual stones are fenced off for protection, and somehow we didn’t think we would feel the “mystical power,” sharing our time with the crowds.) After all we’d already wandered through Castlerigg Stones in the Lake Country mists, so now we decided to visit the Neolithic Avebury Henge on our way to the Cotswolds.   The term “henge” applies to most of these stones monuments, but the definition includes a large circular bank and a ditch.  A path has been built over the surviving ditch in the photo below.           This prehistoric site, contains the largest megalith circle in Europe and features two inner stone rings. In fact to really appreciate the size you need an aerial view; note the mound around the perimeter and the excavated ditch just inside.  Incredibly labor intensive, it was constructed over several hundred years circa 3000BC.

AVEBURY STONE CIRCLE, (photo by English Heritage)

Avebury village first began cropping up around one edge of the monument during the Early Middle Ages, eventually extending into it.  In the ensuring centuries a large number of the stones were re-used as building materials, buried or destroyed because of their association with paganism, but many remain or have been restored.

Tom in Avebury

One nice thing about Avebury is the lack of gaudy commercialism that accompanies so many world class sites.  We could hike among the stones and wander through the village. Do you think we made the right choice?  We do!

 

Pourquoi le Français ?

I went to France with Sue, my francophile friend last year. She is there once again studying French – as she is every year – and writes this (bilingually).
“A common icebreaker in French classes is to explain the motivation for studying French. The responses are as varied as the people. For some, it’s a love of French food and wine, for others, it’s because someone they love speaks the language and they want to communicate with them in their own language. Still others have a family connection with France.”

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Sue sur la Pont Neuf_

“Une entrée en maniéré courant dans les cours français est d’expliquer la motivation pour étudier français. Les réponses sont aussi variés que les gens. Pour certains, c’est l’appréciation de la cuisine et du vin; pour d’autres, c’est parce qu’on aime un français et on voudrait se parler dans sa langue maternelle. Encore d’autres ont un lien ancestrale en France.”

It’s difficult to explain my obsession with French. I love the sound of the language and the culture but this would be true of many other languages. Before I began my study of the language, I had no french friends, no french lovers, no french connection that I knew of.”

“C’est difficile d’expliquer mon obsession avec le français. J’adore la culture et la poésie de la langue mais ça serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues. Avant que j’ai commencé mon étude de la langue, je n’avais ni des amis français, ni des amants français, ni des ancêtres français.”

My (CCM) response: No other language has the melodic sound and poetry of French. This must be the reason why I have taken a class once a year for the last 8 years and meet a group of French speakers for lunch once a month.

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Ma réponse (CCM): Juste un point de désaccord sur “serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues.”  Il n’y pas autre langue avec son mélodique et la poésie du français! Ce doit être la raison pour laquelle je prends une classe une fois par an et rencontrer une groupe de francophones pour le déjeuner une fois par mois!

Are you a francophile, anglophile? (Are you a French speaker?  Feel free to take out your red pen and make any corrections!)  What other language do you speak or would you like to learn? Open the door to another culture and it will open your mind.

Historical York, England

York, situated in northeast England, can keep you delightfully occupied – a history buff needs more than a couple of days (which alas was all we had). It is home to the largest medieval church in northern Europe, the Minster, as well as the longest circuit of medieval city walls.
We’ve seen a lot of churches (really… another one?) but this may well be the most beautiful and certainly the grandest. We were able to attend an evening song and a kind resident invited us to sit in his box with him: “best seats in the house.” The gentleman said, “Just kneel when I kneel and stand when I do and you’ll be fine.” The Gothic cathedral was built in the 13th century and boosts impressive stained glass windows. An exquisite Rose Window commemorated the union of the royal houses of Lancaster and York, through the marriage (1486) of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, which ended the Wars of the Roses and began the Tudor dynasty.

The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles fought from 1455 to 1485 between the Lancasters and the Yorks…both belonged to the House of Plantagenets (albeit different branches) and both laid claim to the throne. The wars ended with the defeat of Richard III of York, by Henry Tudor (father of Henry VIII) who united the Yorks and Lancasters by marrying Elizabeth of York (who Phillipa Gregory made even more famous in her book “The White Princess”).

We stayed near Bootham Bar (gatehouses are called “bars” here – as in “bar the way”), one of 4 or 5 ancient bars one must pass through to enter the medieval web of narrow streets composing Old Town York.

Bootham Bar – an entrance to Old Town and stairs to the city walls.

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York is a warren of medieval streets like this with narrow alleys called “Snickelways” to explore.

You can climb up the stairs of a bar to get on the 13th-century city walls. …. A magnificent circuit  nearly three miles long with marvelous views of the city. York walls_pse5642

After walking the wall we descended at Micklegate Bar near the estate called Gray’s Court, built (on Roman ruins) by the first Norman Archbishop of York in 1060.  It has been continuously occupied and renovated in the centuries since. They were booked well in advance so we could not stay here, but we treated ourselves to afternoon tea.

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Grey’s Court as seen from the city walls with the Minster looming behind it.

Afternoon tea is served on three tiers of plates with small sandwiches, scones and sweets in this lovely setting. Enough for a light and lovely lunch (especially if you’ve had a British breakfast earlier!).  We did this in the Lake Country and will be having it again!

If we had more time we would have boated along the River Ouse. But it was a lovely few days as is. Have you been here? Next week: Bath and the charming Cotswolds – the train leaves for Bath in the morning! (And then maybe I’ll get back to the themes of “writing, expats, and nature” or even Colombia… I am a bit eclectic I guess.)