070623.Stonehenge, The Devout, Conventional, and Worldly Hengers

June 23, 2007 at 11:18 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, Ruins, Salisbury, Sculpture, Wiltshire | 7 Comments

Stonehenge Solstice 3/3: [One], [Two], [Three]

So who was there?

It’s hard for me to break down and categorize the individuals at the Hedge, due in large part to the vast diversity present. I’ll rely on my old undergraduate dissertation crutch and conform the myriad of groups into three relatively irrelevant entities: the devout (authentic Druids, New Age-inspired magicians, and the heavily intoxicated, most reverend at these events), the conventionally pious (LARPers, Aging Hippies), and the worldly (flat-out tourists). Since I’ve been out of the liberal arts loop for over a year, my classifications are not up to snuff. For the official, if now outdated, list of terms, check out the various joke guides that all play on the pseudo-scientific classification of subgroups [1] [2] [3], but I’m just breaking down the groups to decide the order to post my photos.

First, a brief word that the “stewards” of Stonehenge, the security detail there that searched bags at the entrance and confiscated any glass bottles really controlled events brilliantly. The only serious incidents that occurred resulted from people accidentally falling from stones and suffering mild concussions. They were all quickly attended to. From my vantage point toward sunrise, I saw the security detail go into overtime and escort numerous people out for various infractions, including perching on higher stones….
Unfortunately, there were many people dressed like stewards who were not in fact stewards or had anything to do with security.
There didn’t appear to be any serious theft at the site, personal property was reasonably secure and there were few, if any, altercations between individuals.

The Devout
Overheard Conversation from this Idio:
“This is a once in a thousand years event! (Even though it’s every year…)”

-Druids [see previous post]
-Possible Druids/ New Agers/ Grieving Family Members Illegally Disposing of Human Remains. Not sure what type of ashes these women were scattering over the crowd, but they got them on hundreds of people, and then proceeded to sprinkle them on the rocks too.
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-Musicians in the Sacrificial Mosh Pit
-Industrious People on our former rock who raised a crystal rod to try to catch the sunbeams…sadly, there was no sun.
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-the Disabled, this might be a bit un-PC to single them out, but I was shocked and impressed at the number of people there in wheelchairs and with walkers at the site. These people were camping out like the rest of us and I saw them touching the stones, making me wonder if they made this pilgrimage expecting something. That’s intense, especially because I often mistaked their walking canes and gray hair for cheesy wizard costumes.
-Long Distance Tourists/ and the extreme version: long distance tourist families.
-Witches burning basil/other herbs and shoving it into natural holes in the stones. Is it legal? This is a Grade I Ancient Monument – defacing it is a criminal offense.
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The Conventional
Overheard Conversation from this Idio:
“So what do you think? Yeah, I guess it’s cool, kinda like a rave without electric.”

 

 

-Those surrounding the musicians in the Mosh Pit who cheered and snapped their fingers like they were at a lame poetry reading. I don’t know what they should have been doing, I was nearby and trying to sleep…
-Photographers going to the extra length standing on others shoulders, climbing the large post sarcens for the excellent picture while risking expulsion, bringing your own tripod… (I saw others who climbed great heights just to drink…maybe that’s in devout category, but it’s also stupid, should have brought a camera up there…)
070621.046.WI.Stonehenge070620.486.WI.Stonehenge
070620.456.WI.Salisbury -Artists of various sorts, their paintings and other work might not be spectacular but they can claim they did it from life and up close.
-Families: it takes guts to allow your kids to jump around on crowded slippery wet rocks over five feet high, while among the craziest members of society.
-Roving bands of costumed musicians, or simply the processional possessed.
-Political Message Mongerers, a***oles who brought banners to unfurl in the center of the Hedge at sunrise….they didn’t make it to the core, I think they were driven out in fact. “Save [Something]…” No idea what there message was since it was too packed.
-Stay still, you have Merlin on your neck! The beard here was real. It’s debatable if full beards and pointy hats should be added to the devout, I doubt that he grew it to fit in with this crowd…

The Worldly
Overheard Conversation from this Idio:
“Could all of you just bend your necks to the right, I NEED this photo…”

-Casual photographers, I can’t stand seeing so many people taking pictures with their cell phones. This ticks me off. They’ll claim they don’t have the cash to get a real camera, but then they’ll spend the rest of the day calling international talking about trivial things. These are people who need to have cell phones with them at all time, they need to be in touch at all time. Where’s the fun in camping out at the Henge and not being isolated from modern society. The photos is not going to come out, either, so why do they try?
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-Posers, tourists who posed near the costumed folks…like this guy next to a warlock with a dead ferret on a stick.
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-Tourists more interested in getting a group photo up close than with anything substantial in the background. A photo isn’t a photo unless it has a good structure somewhere in it. Why don’t these people wrestle back in their suburban homes?
070620.509.WI.Salisbury -There’s nothing better than having reserved great spots and then contently sleeping through sunrise while occupying triple the ground area needed. It was so packed with people trying to get this close, that no one woke any of the multiple sleeping couples up out of spite for the space they continued to take. Who suffered there?
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-People who quit the wait around the stones for the allure of the charcoal fire (no questions on how I have a photo of said fire.)

070622.Stonehenge, Druid Woodstock From Dusk Till Dawn

June 22, 2007 at 11:19 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, hippies, people, Pilgrimage, Salisbury, Sculpture, Supernatural, Wiltshire | 6 Comments

Stonehenge Solstice 2/3: [One], [Two], [Three]
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Our position throughout the night looking east, high up in the inner circle on one of the fallen slabs. This was near the center of the sacrificial mosh pit, where there was a nightlong drum banging concert. Maybe it was music, maybe. It was cheered and had many replacement musicians. The final twilight shot includes the ominous cumulus cloud that here forms a lintel but soon joined with other clouds to block the sun.

Sunset: 9:26 pm
Sunrise: 4:58 am

With that said, I will state that my group was running late…. The bus dropped us off after nine and a good mile or so away from the Henge, nevertheless, we could see the pink-glowing stones. Having now seen the Henge on several occasions and in different lights, I’ll tell you it is like the Taj Mahal, which continuously changes color during the day. However, this being England, the stones are mostly gray due to the overcast climate. Sure enough, before we could get a good shot of the pink stones from afar, a cloud moved in and blocked the sun. This became a theme of the experience: relatively cloudless skies skewered during the final moments by a streak of clouds. Why the ancients ever decided to build the monument dependant on sun-caused shadows in England beats me, but they did – and I came.

Getting There:070620.513.WI.Stonehenge

While walking with thousands of others through the fields to get to the Henge, I began to familiarize myself with those in attendance. There was a good number of students, many parents with children, several elderly and disabled individuals, many adult tourists/hikers, an overwhelming number of twenty/thirty something New Agers, with the rest of the large cast made up of adolescents with Lord of the Ring or Dungeon and Dragon inspired consumes. Also, I met several tourists from quite a far ways away in the US and Canada who came with large families for this event.
Were there any Druids without these pop-culture inspired robes, frills, and walking sticks? Hardly. Somewhere in that mix were the Emos, Goths, Hipsters, and Punks. It’s fair to say that every single person in England who had a shaved head or mohawk was at this event. And one in every two people in attendance had dreadlocks. This will be better detailed in tomorrow’s post on the people there.

Because all of these subgroups were all English, (I assume), they were all quite polite – even the excessively moody ones. One robe-wearing girl (or young woman) with gnarly walking stick, who appeared to be quite old from behind stammered out a thank you when I held a sheepgate open for her. Those words looked like they were killing her. She was supposed to be an elf, or witch, and supposed to be deeply lost in thought – but she yielded to the civilized culture. Very odd.
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Druids:

Early on, the Druids were kind of lame [Lame, Better, Nice]. I saw one solemn adolescent Druid in a brown Franciscan robe with cord being escorted around by his decidedly middle-aged, ordinary, and slightly embarrassed parents. I explained that many of what might be considered Druids at the event owed more to D&D or LotR, and others were more like aging hippies, but I don’t know. The ones that were there had banded together to chant and play on small drums or recorders, truly the devil’s instrument. One group, reduced to hyping modern tourist gimmicks, tried to get folks to vote for Stonehenge as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Only later did I see Druids throwing (hopefully non-human ashes into the crowd) and sprinkling them at the base of each stone. That seemed cool (largely because I avoided being hit with the suspect ashes.)

There’s too many photos to post here, so I won’t try even uploading that many. None were great.

Music:

The center of the Henge had one or two bongo/drum players at all times. There was sometimes a recorder or horn there. These were not Druid musicians, who were forced outside of the Henge with their screeching animal horns. Whenever a musician handed over the bongos to another, there was clapping but no audible change in music. I stayed in the center perched high on a slab for most of the night; the night was clear and the stars were incredible from inside the Henge…and the outside of the Henge glowed blue from floodlights set up by the authorities for that night.
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There were bands of Druids roaming outside with horns and other small drums, but the funniest other musician was a lone bagpiper outside the Henge for a long time. Not one person was listening to him, it was extremely sad and he eventually quit.
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Sunrise:

At twilight, it began to rain lightly and then quit, just God’s way of washing Druid-hippies. I usually hate umbrellas but here they looked interesting in profile and in shadow. It had been clear, if quite cold, all through the night … but as sunrise neared clouds suddenly moved in. It was like a race between the sun and the clouds. Everyone knew when the sun would rise over the hill and they could figure that the overhead clouds’ speed meant that there was no hope in seeing the sun unobstructed. Some left, but others continued to hope since they were only minor clouds….nothing happened. More clouds came and what had been a clear day turned into one that was completely overcast. Thank you England. Twenty minutes after sunrise a very small hole in the clouds cleared that allowed the sun to be seen, if not shine through. It disappeared before I had zoomed in on my third picture.

If I can manage it, I’ll post some videos….and more photos tomorrow.

070621.Stonehenge, Summer Solstice

June 22, 2007 at 12:12 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, Light and Shadow, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, Ruins, Salisbury, Wiltshire | 7 Comments

Stonehenge Solstice 1/3: [One], [Two], [Three]

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Camped out last night/this morning for the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. It was quite an experience as there were thousands of people (as tomorrow’s post will detail) there and it was actually chilly. Normal visitors are not allowed to go near the stones while we camped out on them, so it was worth it to go just for that reason — I have now touched all the stones (and others did much worse). Below, an image the Druids might think was magic — all the cell phone cameras and digital camera screens glowing amidst the twilight and the ancient monument.

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070620.Bath, “People will say we’re in love.”

June 20, 2007 at 12:37 AM | Posted in Bath, Dogs, river, River Avon, somerset | 15 Comments

You fly back to school now, little Swan. Fly, fly, fly. Fly, fly, fly….
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“I’ve been in this room for eight years now Clarice. I know they will never, ever let me out while I’m alive. What I want is a view. I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water. I want to be in a federal institution, far away from Dr. Chilton.”

[At the Parade Gardens, right over where the Great Roman Drain empties into the River Avon.]

-Tomorrow’s post might be a bit late as I am camping out at Stonehenge tonight for the solstice! (To blend in, I’m bringing a sheet just in case I run into any Druids.)

070619. 10/46, Thirty-six Views of Bath Abbey. My tribute to Hokusai’s Fugaku Sanju Rokkei

June 19, 2007 at 12:58 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Columns, Doric Order, Fugaku Sanju Rokkei, Gardens & Parks, Hokusai, Overcast, river, River Avon, Riverboats, Ships, somerset, Towers | 12 Comments

The series so far…

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The “Cleopatra” in front of Bath’s Parade Garden shore and Hokusai’s Bushu Tamagawa. Right in back of the Cleopatra is where the “Roman Great Drain” empties into the Avon. It leads from the Roman Baths to the Parade Gardens, there it was extended during the medieval period. the short section that now empties into the Avon, right where the ground dips down, was built in the 1960s. The Roman brick drain is the oldest working structure in the city, and one of the oldest continuously working structures in the world. The concrete 1960s section of the drain collapsed last year….“no respect for stones.”

070618.Walcot, History of St. Swithin’s

June 18, 2007 at 12:52 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Conservation, cumulus clouds, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 19 Comments

060924.11.Somset.Bath.Walcot St.St Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-90

The former warden of the church, Des Brown and his wife Maureen, wrote the nice historical pamphlet “Parish Church of St. Swithin: Walcot, Bath,” which is available for free if you visit the church. It’s open for Sunday services at 6:30pm and for walk in visits on Wednesday. It also has a youth service at 8pm on the second Sunday of each month. The main part of the church has just been reopened and the crypt space should be ready by September.

Currently, the Parish of Walcot at St. Swithin’s is absorbing the congregation of St. Andrew’s.

History of the St. Swithin’s, Walcot (from the Brown pamphlet)–07013.17.SO.Bath07013.18.SO.Bath

1. Possibly a site of worship since the Roman times since Walcot and not Bath was the centre of the Roman settlement (Bath was the site of the hot springs and temples only)
2. The first St. Swithin’s Church was constructed on this site in 971, one of fifty churches around England dedicated to the Bishop of Winchester (852-862). The foundations for this church are still present in the crypt. It was very small (16 x 21 feet.)
3. Second church is constructed at some point during the medieval era while Walcot is still a hamlet far outside Bath’s city walls, but is included in the city when the boundary is extended in 1590.
4. 1739 Medieval church damaged during gales and a new church, designed by Churchwarden Robert Smith, was built in 1742. Smith was chosen after designed by John Wood the Elder were rejected! The foundations of this church are also visible in the crypt and the original size is marked by the inner columns. Nave was 40 x 30 feet and chancel was 14 by 20 feet.

5. Future City Architect and City Surveyor (and parishioner) John Palmer demolished the thirty-year-old church for a larger structure, utilizing the former structure’s foundation for the interior column supports. The new church was consecrated in 1777. Built to the same length as the Smith church but wider.

6. It was extended eastward (where it needed to shore up a steep slope) in 1788.
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7. A spire was added in 1790.

8. It was THE parish church of Georgian Bath, and the only remaining one of the city.061002.101.Somset.Bath.St Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-90
9. During the nineteenth century, the parish was one of the largest parishes in the country, so it was broken up with the construction of three new parish churches: Holy Trinity (demolished in 1955(?) parish moved), St. Stephen’s (Lansdown Hill), and St. Saviour’s (Larkhall, yet to be posted).
10. An oriel window was inserted into the east end in 1841.
11. East end pews were removed for choir stalls (removed in 1985) in 1871 under the influence of the Evangelical Revival.
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12. A landslide destroyed 175 horses opposite the church in 1881 (Bath is a very hilly place and has the most landslides in the country), thus creating Hedgemead Park. The damaged church was strengthened by tie-bars, and the galleries were cut back from the columns and new supports inserted (except where the organ was. See below.)
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13. 1942: During the Blitz, the east window was shattered by bombing and a new window replaced it in 1958 (the new window is favored over the old).07013.27.SO.Bath
14. 1951 Communion table introduced
15. 2006-2007 a major refurbishment re-ordered the church interior and the crypt.

Notable parish Members

Rev. George Austen, (Jane Austen’s father)
Fanny Burney, novelist
Comte d’Arblay (Fanny’s husband)
William Wilberforce
John Palmer, City Architect and City Surveyor
Sir Edward Berry (fought with Nelson at Trafalgar)

070617.Walcot, St. Swithin’s Pevsner Architectural Church Chat

June 17, 2007 at 12:09 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, Columns, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, Pevsner, somerset, Towers, Walcot | 12 Comments

061002.105.Somset.BathSt Swithins.d John Palmer.1777-9007013.23.SO.Bath
Designed by Jelly and Palmer and built between 1777-1780, St. Swithin’s is the city’s only classical parish church, “extended east to its present six-bay size by two further bays in 1788. The central square west tower, circular drum with arched openings, and octagonal spire (dismantled and rebuilt in the early 1990s) were finished by 1790. All round the exterior are giant Roman Ionic pilasters, unusual for an C18 church (cf. All Saints, Oxford, but this has a prominent attic above the order). Each bay has two tiers of windows, segment-headed and round-headed, and a string course at gallery level. The west doorway is in the base of the tower, but the access is managed in a rather feeble way, with shapeless lobbies either side that cut across the lower parts of the giant pilasters, giving access to the galleries.”
On either side of the nave are three giant Ionic columns. The galleries were cut back following structural damaged during a landslide. “W. J. Willcox added a shallow sanctuary corbelled out on the Walcot Street elevation in 1891.”
“Notables buried here include the painter William Hoare d.1792, Bath poet and editor the New Bath Guide, Christopher Anstey d.1805, and Jane Austen’s father the Rev. George Austen d.1805. George Austen, one time curate of the parish, and William Wilberforce were both married in the church. ”
–Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 227-228.

(Below: West End, Rt: East and West End during the Victorian Era)

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