070630. 11/46, Thirty-six Views of Bath Abbey. My tribute to Hokusai’s Fugaku Sanju Rokkei

June 30, 2007 at 12:41 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Food, Fugaku Sanju Rokkei, Hokusai, Peephole Views, somerset | 4 Comments

See the series so far!

07017.44.SO.Bath
FHH139_c
Hokusai’s Tokaido Yoshida

070629.Bath, Grotto, Grottos, Everywhere…

June 29, 2007 at 1:45 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, Monuments and Memorials, river, River Avon, Ruins, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Grotto2
Delia’s Grotto seems to be designed around the proportions of a contained separate bench, which fits two comfortably. At a human level, it offers minimal protection from the elements, with a depth that barely protects the legs of sitters from a straight downpour. The grotto’s riverside façade is composed with vermiculated rusticated blocks, executed in the finest quality. The arch spanning the façade is rusticated in this style but launched from protruding untextured ashlars. The protruding dropped keystone is also not rusticated but connects to the top of the pediment. Lacking a cornice, the molded pediment rests on ashlar blocks and is surmounted by a statueless Paladian pedestal, which is aligned with the keystone and resembles a chimney.

[Below: Stowe’s Grotto before and after alteration that transformed it from a formal folly into a more naturalistic ruin…]
Copy (2) of Grotto Stowe
Copy of Grotto at Stowe1
In the American state that lays claim to the world’s smallest church, the Iowan town of West Bend features the world’s largest grotto. This not only continues a nineteenth-century religious-themed tradition of Marian grottos but also demonstrates the folly legacy of such structures. Although many famed grottos are naturally formed caves, the grotto as an architectural folly, though shown in numerous guises throughout England and the continent, shares two common characteristics: intimacy and rustication. The rustication may be created either with whimsical classical architectural ruin details or sometimes with simple facades of natural stone.

070104.25.Somset.BathCopy of details

All grottos are exposed to the elements, and many feature water in their design. The grotto in the Boboli Gardens, Florence, which was begun by Vasari and completed by Ammanati and Buontalenti between 1583 and 1593, features an apse of natural volcanic rock enclosing a fountain and water-themed statuary. Stourhead’s deliberately dark and dank cavernous space features Neptune presiding over a pool and a nymph reclining over a cascade [immediately above]. The originally symmetrical Dido’s Cave (built in the 1730s and renamed in the 1800s as the Marchioness of Buckingham’s Seat) at Stowe had its original façade removed in the 1800s and its structure transformed into a ruin by being partially buried under rubble and clad in tufa stones bolted on over the original 1730s classical details with metal clasps.[1]
Copy of 070104.22.Somset.Bath
The vermiculated rustication on Delia’s Grotto is of the finest nature [pictured above], being of a much higher quality in Bath then at Baldwin’s Guildhall or Baldwin and Palmer’s Pump Room ground stories, and also Wood’s hidden rustication behind the Hospital of St. John’s doorway. Such a high quality of rusticated treatment indicates the classical garden building’s ruined state within nature. Similarly the unusual protruding dropped keystone evokes the image of a time–worn, loosened arch.

Below: Protruding dropped keystones in descending formality of Delia’s Grotto, Stowe’s Temple of Friendship, Stowe’s Dido’s Cave, and Stowe’s Grotto
Delia's Grotto Keystone
detailsDido's Cave keystoneGrotto at Stowe keystone
These architectural peculiarities and higher degree of quality in particular areas fits well into the genre of folly architecture, which “with their whimsical pertinence and contemporaneously fashionable design were often constructed in avant-garde styles.” Often times these structures were the architectural innovations of their day since their modest size, cost, and design effort favored novelty.[2] The low cost of garden buildings lent themselves to experimentation since “new styles could never attract the same financial commitment as buildings in an established taste.” The after effects of low budget and experimental designs often meant that few of the successful designs survived. Great variety exists in all forms of garden buildings, in part because flops could be “easily demolished with little financial loss,” and new construction could commence with an enlightened design. [3]


Cited Above:

[1] Stowe: A Description of the Magnificent House and Garden, etc. (Buckingham: B. Seeley, 1783), 17. See also James Elliott, Visit to Stowe Landscape Garden, Information Packet (MSc), (Bath: University of Bath, 2003), 9.
[2] Alistair Rowan, Garden Buildings (Feltham, Middlesex: Country Life Books, The Hamlyn House Group, 1968), 2, 3, 11.
[3] Ibid, 11.
[Apart from original condition of Dido’s Cave, all drawings in this post were by the author…(me).]

070628.Bath, History of Delia’s Grotto, c. 1734

June 28, 2007 at 1:56 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Light and Shadow, Monuments and Memorials, river, River Avon, Ruins, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Copy of 070104.07.Somset.Bath
Although it is in back of John Wood the Elder’s well ordered 1740s North Parade houses, the grotto looks older. Scenic in nature, its alignment is to the path that runs along the river and under the North Parade Bridge (begun 1836) suggests it was not built in tandem with the North Parade houses, nor was it meant to be so completely overshadowed by the taller houses or the much more imposing and nearby bridge. Like finding modern alignments that correspond to ancient Roman roads, such as the south side of the Abbey, the path along the Avon was part of an early eighteenth-century development called Harrison’s Walk. Originally constructed in the early 1700s as a gravel extension northeast of the now demolished Lower Assembly rooms, the path connected to the Parade Gardens, constructed at the level of the site’s seventeenth-century orchard. As such, the Grotto may have been part of Harrison’s Walk as early as 1734. [1]

Delia’s or Sheridan’s Grotto was thought for a time “to have been built in the Spring Gardens, on the other side of the river.” The popular belief was almost certainly based upon the well-read biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), in which author Thomas Moore (1779-1852) speculates the playwright’s famous verses about Elizabeth Linley to have been set in a Spring Gardens grotto, “then a fashionable place of resort.” [2] This assertion was widely copied down as fact.[3] However, the 1904 discovery of “Grotto and North Parade, 1772,” by Emanuel Green established that the grotto had always been on location at Harrison’s Walk and that it was the site of the Sheridan-Linley Affair, as affirmed by common tradition.
Grotto and N parade.1772
Green writes: “In the topographical collections in the Bodleian Library at Oxford there came up a drawing entitled —A north-west view of Bath—dated 1773, and here reproduced (pictured above). Made actually at the Sheridan time it shows the elevated North parade, ‘one of those noblest walks in Europe,’ with its abrupt ending and the river passing beneath, and shows also exactly for the present purpose, the grotto, standing exactly where it stands to-day, exactly stone for stone, looking damp enough on Avon’s sedgy bank, surrounded and almost covered by foliage, and secluded enough to suit any pair of clandestine lovers. In other drawings from a different point of view trees large and small are shown here on the river bank which appears as a public spot, not as attached to any house. The arboreal surrounding and the possible seclusion have now disappeared, but,—the bridge being removed from the mind’s eye,—the early scene can be at once plainly realised and the conclusion stands out clear, that our tradition is confirmed, and that we have still here with us the veritable original Sheridan grotto.” [4]

The copy provided by Green of this drawing titled “Grotto and North Parade, 1772,” is reported by him to have been dated a year after.[5] The date inconsistency is not a typed error since it was transmitted and reported on by the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.[6] Green’s own published copy of his lecture notes, presented to the Bath Central Library, has several corrections in his handwriting to the text but leaves the dates untouched. The most likely cause for the date to be changed in the title of the drawing reflects on Green’s own romanticism in more readily connecting the grotto to the single year Sheridan was connected to it. Nevertheless, it is a fine drawing, featuring the Parades as viewed from the north from the Recreation Grounds across the Avon and focuses on a beached small sailboat being pulled by four visible men. Needless-to-say, the view is impossible today due to the North Parade Bridge. And it is worth mentioning that the picturesquely overgrown landscape depicted in the 1770s drawing of the grotto and path matches the scene engraved by W. Watts in “South Parade,” created and dated: London: March 1, 1794. (Pictured Below)
070104.43.Somset.Bath

In the 1730s, Harrison’s Walk was incorporated into Wood the Elder’s St. James’ Triangle and Parade housing block development.[8] The walk is visible in an engraving in that architect’s Essays Towards a Description of Bath (1749). Titled “A Plan of the New Buildings at the South East Corner of the City of Bath,” the engraving is centered on the Parades and incorporates the Walk into Wood’s design of St. James’ Triangle and also into his Parade developments, where the walk runs along the river toward his proposed Royal Forum.

Although the Royal Forum in the Ham district of Bath never came to fruition, the Parade houses were realized. Constructed near the end of the architect’s life, after he had succeeded with Queen’s Square and before he had begun the King’s Circus, the Parade buildings were quite fashionable and reflected the importance instilled in them by the city’s master architect. And where the North Parade and South Parade block between Pierepont and Duke Streets enclosed their own courtyard garden, the development east of Duke Street looked out into the River Avon with Harrison’s Walk in its backyard. Wood incorporated the Walk but did not include it in plan in his 1749 engraving. There is no indication of the grotto but this does not rule out its existence since Wood did not necessarily capture the exact site in plan. An ornamental folly could easily have been missed in plan but deliberately kept on site as an additional fashionable lure.

Wood’s construction came at the time when the garden’s popularity, based on the Assembly Rooms and alfresco entertainments, was ebbing. Social scenes for entertainment began migrating around 1735 to the Spring Gardens in Bathwick.[8] Later, John Wood the Younger’s Upper Assembly Rooms (1754-1758) transferred the social scene above to the New Town, closer to the fashionable housing of the Circus and Royal Crescent, from Simpson’s (now Lower) Assembly Rooms.[9]Copy of Delia's

The best-published illustration of this piece of garden architecture is “Delia’s Grotto, North Parade” in Walter Ison’s Georgian Buildings of Bath (1980). The perspective drawing showing the grotto featuring a more substantial bench and is surrounded by planting with a dead tree to its left and a young willow planted at its right side. Most importantly, however, the pavilion stands independent of any garden wall, which now occupies the space of both trees. This suggests that the wall was either added after Ison’s drawing was completed, or that Ison had access to an older image.


Cited Above:
[1] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 208.
[2] Thomas Moore, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), 52.
[3] Emanuel Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, Their Residences at Bath with a Notice of the Sheridan Grotto (Bath: Herald Office, North Gate, 1904), 21-23.
[4] Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 27-28, 26.
[5] Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 19.
[6] Somersetshire Archaeological & Natural History Society Proceedings of Bath & District Branch 1904-1908 (Bath: J.B. Keenr and Co., “Journal” and “Bladud” Works, 1909), 108.
[7] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 209.
[8] Walter Ison, The Georgian Buildings of Bath from 1700 to 1830 (Bath: Kingsmead
Press, 1980), 80.
[9] Ison, The Georgian Buildings of Bath, 25.

070627.Bath, The Grotto for Scandal!

June 27, 2007 at 1:14 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, river, River Avon, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Below: Delia’s Grotto, now encased in a garden wall in back of No. 14 North Parade in early and late January 2007, as it is being prepped for a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. The toilets are now gone…but where? [See previous two posts: Linley and Sheridan]

John Ede’s terse description: “At the river end is a grotto in the garden said to be associated with Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Miss Linley,” indicates that not just the structure but a rich history is hidden in that overgrown riverside garden. –John Ede, Special Walks (Bath: Department of Leisure and Tourist Services, Bath City Council, 1984), 19.
Delia's Grotto070129.03.Somset.Bath.NorthParade.Delia's Grotto

Secretly married but barred from seeing each other, both Richard B. Sheridan and Elizabeth A. Linley clandestinely met against their parent’s consent at Delia’s Grotto, on the banks of the Avon, along the old Harrison’s Walk. After a particular grotto tryst [see this excellent historical illustration of archival merit] [ebbed] by Sheridan’s jealousy, he composed the now famous twelve verses:

1.
Uncouth is this moss cover’d grotto of stone,
And damp is the shade of this dew dripping tree;
Yet I this rude grotto with rapture will own;
And willow thy damps are refreshing to me.

2.
For this is the grotto where Delia reclin’d
As late I in secret her confidence sought;
And this is the tree kept her safe from the wind,
As blushing she heard the grave lesson I taught.

 

3.
Then tell me, thou grotto of moss cover’d stone,
And tell me thou willow, with leaves dripping dew,
Did Delia seem vex’d when Horatio was gone?
And did she confess her resentment to you?

 

4.
Methinks now each bough as you’re waving it, tries
To whisper a cause for the sorrow I feel;
To hint how she frown’d when I dared to advise,
And sigh’d when she saw that I did it with zeal.

 

5.
True, true, silly leaves, so she did, I allow;
She frown’d; but no rage in her looks did I see;
She frown’d but reflection had clouded her brow;
She sigh’d; but, perhaps, ‘twas in pity for me.

 

6.
Then wave thy leaves brisker, thou willow of woe;
I tell thee no rage in her looks could I see;
I cannot, I will not, believe it was so;
She was not, she could not be angry with me.

 

7.
For well did she know that my heart meant no wrong;
It sunk at the thought but of giving her pain;
But trusted its task to a faltering tongue,
Which err’d from the feelings it could not explain.

 

8.
Yet, oh! if indeed, I’ve offended the maid;
If Delia my humble monition refuse;
Sweet willow, the next time she visits thy shade,
Fan gently her bosom, and plead my excuse.

 

9.
And thou stony grot, in thy arch may’st preserve
Two lingering drops of the night fallen dew;
And just let them fall at her feet and they’ll serve
As tears of my sorrow intrusted to you.

 

10.
Or, lest they unheeded should fall at her feet,
Let them fall on her bosom of snow; and I swear
The next time I visit thy moss cover’d seat,
I’ll pay thee each drop with a genuine tear.

 

11.
So may’st thou, green willow, for ages thus toss
Thy branches so lank o’er the slow winding stream;
And though, stony grotto, retain all thy moss,
While yet there’s a poet to make thee his theme.

 

12.
Nay, more—may my Delia still give you her charms
Each ev’ning, and sometimes the whole ev’ning long;
Then, grotto, be proud to support her white arms,
Then, willow wave all thy green tops to her song.[2]

With a gothick atmosphere created by the “moss cover’d seat,” and a picturesque ideal fostered in Delia’s Grotto near the willow and “slow winding stream,” it is easy to suppose this location was selected for mere romantic settings alone. Selecting this grotto as the rendezvous site most likely came about from four facts. First, as stated above, the area’s social popularity for fashionable daylight strolls had ebbed since it was first laid out and then later incorporated into the North Parade. Additionally, there was a degree of privacy on the Walk since no development in the area ever fronted the river. [1] Conversely, the area was already popular with Sheridan, who frequented the Parade Coffee House at night, as seen yesterday’s post. Finally, the most compelling motivation for the selection of the grotto as a meeting point was that it was two streets away from Pierrepont Street. Here, Elizabeth had lived during her formative years from the age of ten until she moved at age seventeen to the Royal Crescent, where she was quickly wooed to elopement by Richard. Thus, the romantic grotto not only avoided the crowds, it was situated near a coffee house Richard frequented and in Elizabeth’s old neighborhood and emotional home.
BIRTHDAY! 034 copy
Above: Detail of altered ordnance survey map by the Bath Archeological Trust…Below: Current hidden location in the garden of No. 14 North Parade and in the shadow of the North Parade Bridge.
070104.10.Somset.Bath

The meetings did not last since Elizabeth’s father exiled her to Wells (his hometown), and Sheridan’s father sent him to Waltham Abbey in Essex. But the two were able to meet again when Elizabeth performed at Covent Garden. Slowly opposition to their union finally eroded with a second and official wedding on the 13 of April, 1773 in the Marylebone section of London. As was customary following the marriage, Elizabeth retired from the stage and Sheridan only allowed her to perform in small private gatherings. He gained fame and wealth quickly with his plays The Rivals (1775) and The School for Scandal (1777) and with his investment in the Drury Lane Theatre, which he purchased with Elizabeth’s father, who sold off his own Royal Crescent house. [3] In 1776, Sheridan took up politics as a Whig. He was elected MP for Stafford in 1780, became Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1782 and Secretary to the Treasury in 1783. [4]
Through it all, Richard and Elizabeth remembered their courtship and on one occasion when Elizabeth was visiting her relations in Bath, Richard wrote to her poetically alluding to their grotto days:

“To Laura.
Near Avon’s ridgy bank there grows.
A willow of no vulgar size.
That tree first heard poor Sylvio’s woes.
And heard how bright were Laura’s eyes.”[5]

Elizabeth responded to her husband:

“To Sylvio.
Soft flowed the lay by Avon’s sedgy side.
While o’er its stream the drooping willow hung
Beneath whose shadow Sylvio fondly tried.
To check the opening roses as they sprung.”[6]

Nostalgic as this scene might be, the courtship turned out to be the happiest point in the couple’s lives due to Sheridan’s infidelity.[7] After Elizabeth died of tuberculosis at the age of 38, biographer Percy Fitzgerald suggested that Sheridan had copied his love letters to Elizabeth to woo his second wife (Perhaps he recycled his gifts as well). Regardless, Sheridan’s verses certainly were true to Delia’s Grotto, which today occasionally bears his name, and represents an aspect of its folly architecture that it was created to engender.
(Tomorrow, see the grotto!)


Cited Above:
[1] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 210.
[2] Emanuel Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, Their Residences at Bath with a Notice of the Sheridan Grotto (Bath: Herald Office, North Gate, 1904), 20-21.
[3] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981), 38.
[4] Cedric Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[5] Richard Brimsley Sheridan, “To Laura,” in Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 23.
[6] Elizabeth Ann Sheridan, “To Sylvio,” in Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 23.
[7] Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath, 39.
[8] Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 27.

070624.Walcot, Georgian Garden of No. 4 King’s Circus

June 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Flowers, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Restoration, somerset, University of Bath, Walcot | 9 Comments

Was going to go down and take picture of the mayoral procession to St John’s Hospital today but because it was raining too hard, I only got halfway down the hill before deciding the rain might not be good for my camera. (I don’t have an umbrella.) So here’s a historic gardens and landscape post to christen the University of Bath’s new MSc in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Landscape programme. I’ve retyped almost all the plaques to cut down on photos and I’ve included this rare image of a soil leveler.
070610.14.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn

Plaque I:

“In 1985 work began on recreating a Georgian-style garden. The existing garden was mainly Victorian, with a lawn and rockery, although a classical pavilion and a fish pond had been added in the 1920s.
070610.11.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn
No. 4 Circus was completed by autumn 1761. No illustrations or written descriptions of the original garden survive but excavations by Bath Archeological Trust, the first to be undertaken in an English town garden, revealed three garden plans pre-dating the 1920s alterations.

“There was no grass at all in the first garden here. Most of it was converted with gravel mixed with clay. Three flower beds were placed on the central axis with a large, round-ended bed across the bottom. The garden was self-contained, designed to be seen purely from the house.

“Around 1770 the paved paths were extended across the ends of the bottom bed to provide access, via a flight of steps, to the Gravel Walk, which linked the newly built Royal Crescent with Queen Square.070610.17.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn

“In 1836 a basement area was added to the back of the house and the surplus soil was spread over the garden. Above this protective clay layer, generally 18” thick, a new garden was created. For the next 150 years the garden saw little change until archaeologists removed the clay in 1986, and revealed the 18th century garden plan. The basement area was filled in and the garden restored to its layout of c. 1770.”

Plaque III:

“The archaeological excavations of 1985-6 revealed the design of the 18th century garden beneath soil spread over the area during work to the basement of the house in the 9th century. The original paths and beds were located but it was not possible to identify the species or location of the plants/ The garden has been reconstructed according to the plan of c. 1770 after alterations had been made to include the steps to Gravel Walk.

“The planting is based on a plan and list of plants prepared by Dr. John Harvey of The Garden History Society. It attempts to recreated the mood of a small town garden of the period as known from documentary sources. The trellis screen and honeysuckle pole are located in positions identified as post holes during the excavations although they are modern reconstruction. The seat is an exact copy of an 18th century original.
070610.15.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn
“Grass lawns were not easily maintained prior to the invention of mechanical lawn mower in 1832. Rolled gravel or ‘hoggin’ was used here instead. The borders are edged in Dwarfed Box, which together with the clipped topiary of Box, Yew and Holly reflect the lingering formality of earlier garden style. In the late 18th century the plants themselves were the main interest, not as today for their mass effect, but as individual botanic curiosities, often recently introduced by travelers to the New World and Indo-China. Fragrant flowers were favoured, double flowers preferred to single forms and variegated foliage was a novelty. The walls too were used to train fruit trees and climbing plants.

“The size of this garden had prevent the use of any large trees but there are small trees, shrubs, roses, hardy perennials and bulbs, with annuals planted in the central beds each Spring. All the plants used are known to have been available in the 18th century.

“The garden was completed in 1990 and is maintained by Bath Museums Service.

“Excavation of the garden was by Bath Archaeological Trust. We gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of Bath Preservation Trust, Avon Gardens Trust, The Garden History Society and Dr. John Harvey, and the financial support of The Charles Robertson Trust, Mayor’s Honorary Guides and Bath City Council (Conservation Section)”

Contact: 

Tel: +44(0)1225 477752 Fax: +44(0)1225 444793

Georgian Garden Links: 

Georgian Gardens in Context, Garden Guides, “A Georgian Garden Reborn”by Yvonne Cuthbertson, Georgian Gardens by David C. Stewart,

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.
070621.054.WI.Stonehenge
-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.
070621.060.WI.Stonehenge
-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.
070620.481.WI.Stonehenge070621.066.WI.Stonehenge

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.

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