070605.Bath, God Is in the Details

June 5, 2007 at 12:01 AM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Columns, Corinthian Order, doorways, Overcast, Peephole Views, people, somerset, Stained Glass | 5 Comments

Mayoral Procession Part 3 of 3: From the Guildhall, Around the Abbey, Into the Abbey
Bath Abbey welcomes The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath, Councillor Mrs Sharon Ball — the city’s 780th mayor! 070603.31.SO.Bath
I was going to title this “Take a Picture, I’ll Last Longer” and bring attention to the other digital camera screen in the lower left hand corner but I thought again about bringing attention to that off center screen. This scene is special for me since I’ve never seen these wonderful sixteenth-century doors opened (or looked directly into this fine Perpendicular Gothic structure from the outside) — but note that I am in the center and therefore I got the better picture when compared to the camera screen in the lower left hand (right?). What does that say about me — I live here and I took the prize spot away from a passing tourist (I presume the people near me were tourists since they seemed to only speak Japanese). I didn’t stay in the spot after I had taken this shot, so at least I wasn’t overly greedy….still maybe I should have just cropped or photoshopped the camera screen out. In the end, I kept it in because it fascinates me! I can see someone else’s picture…maybe even before they saw it! Considering the focus of this photo was the traditional mayoral procession from the historic Guildhall into the Abbey, and in historic costumes no less, the camera screen adds an almost anachronistically presence to this composition! It surprises even me and I’m not old. Honest.
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I really love the costumes and the characters in them. I’m sure they’re all prestigious city councilors but something about wigs, stockings, and funny hats really brings out a caricature in a person — especially if they’re English. What I like about the above photo is the total disregard of the two girls in the rear, sitting against the abbey facade and painting a “Pirates of the Caribbean” ad on the pavement. You’ll see them better tomorrow.
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070603.Bath, Today’s Procession

June 3, 2007 at 11:46 AM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Bath, Columns, doorways, Ionic Order, Overcast, people, somerset | 7 Comments

Mayoral Procession Part 1 of 3: From the Guildhall, Around the Abbey, Into the Abbey

TODAY I saw a mayoral procession from the Guildhall to the West Door of the Abbey. They marched just as I had earlier reported that they would. (Reminds me of the one at the beginning of each Peabody’s Improbably History Segment) I’ll try and find out what was going on. Anyone know? (Perhaps they’re celebrating this site hitting 30,000 visitors today!)
The mayor is in red, although the term only lasts one year. The red-clad figure is not Mayor Paradise, which must mean her term has expired. Note the fur-clad figures in front of the mayor-in-red holding the golden expensive maces topped with crowns; these are historic weapons to smash the head in of anyone threatening the mayor and her expensive necklace. Bath is quite unique among cities since all mayoral processions are entitled to one one mace but Bath gets TWO. Also, the term of the Bath Mayor only lasts for one year. I’m not sure what the police are carrying. Perhaps Bath gets to have two sets of two maces. Or perhaps the police are just feeling particularly violent today (the constant overcast environment does that to you now and again).
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Bath has a new mayor now, our 780th!: The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath, Councillor Mrs Sharon Ball! And the theme for this year has been decreed as “Caring.” As usual, brace yourselves for the ruthless change.
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070414.Bradford, Door Halfway Up a Cylindrical Staircase Tower

April 13, 2007 at 10:54 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bradford, doorways, Mansion, Peephole Views, somerset, Towers | 7 Comments

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So, uh, where do you want to go, up, down or through Beckford’s Tower.

070322.Claverton, “More Wright than Wrong”

March 22, 2007 at 3:10 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Claverton, Claverton Down, countryside, doorways, Light and Shadow, somerset, towns, University of Bath | 3 Comments

“A doctor can always bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise where to plant a vine.”

–Frank Lloyd Wright

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Basset Farm House, Claverton
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vs. Bath University Campus, Claverton Down: This blank concrete panel wall faces the only scenic part of the campus, so grow little vine grow!
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070321.Swainswick, “Cave Canum”

March 21, 2007 at 3:44 AM | Posted in Architecture, Conservation, countryside, Dogs, doorways, Overcast, somerset, Swainswick, towns | 4 Comments

Behold Prince and Beauty, who are not the seven bay buttressed 1629 Manor House barn with its tie beams and collar-beam roof that lies at the end of this inconveniently private drive. Yaaargh. 070205.43.Somset.Swainswick
A good conservationist, or downright tourist for that matter, should always carry some bacon in his/her pocket while (excuse me, “whilst”) traveling ’round the countryside — just in case one encounters a “fleabag.” (Dad’s term, not mine.)

070225.Claverton, Exit Ralph Allen, Pursued by Pyramidal Mausoleum

February 25, 2007 at 1:49 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, Chisel Marks, Claverton, Conservation, doorways, Overcast, Restoration, somerset, Tabernacles, Towers, Trees | 11 Comments

BDP to the moon!

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I’m not sure who designed this mausoleum for Ralph Allen and various other family members but this is where he lies. He did not have children so his estate went to distant relatives, which is why his house ended up belonging to a rich Roman Catholic cardinal and then became a Catholic school. This is in the small parish churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin in Claverton, which is below Claverton Down. Again, I don’t know why he was buried here in this town versus Combe Down or Bath proper, but true to his life, he used his death to advertise his life in stone. As you can see, the pyramid has required many tie rods over the years, the repair supports almost become a structure in themselves. (The structure was recently restored in 1965.)
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060218.Bathampton Down, A View to a Killing

February 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Castles, Chisel Marks, Claverton Down, doorways, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Mansion, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, Peephole Views, Preservation, Restoration, Ruins, somerset, Towers, towns, Trees, University of Bath | 9 Comments

Walked by this two days ago after I picked up a package from the mailroom. It’s surrounded by the University of Bath‘s campus but is still somewhat difficult to reach. This is more of an excuse since I’ve never posted a shot of it and it’s a five minutes walk away from my house.
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Born in Cornwall, Ralph Allen (1693 – June 29, 1764), transferred from a post office there at age 17 to one in Bath. Two years later in 1712, he became the Post Master of the city. He shortly reorganized the entire postal service and became very wealthy doing so. Surprisingly, however, he saved his money and refused to invest in the quarries that surrounded Bath (and that he would become famous from) until the completion of the Kennet and Avon Canal, which allowed stone to be shipped to the Thames.

Shortly, He owned nearly all of Combe Down, creating a cart rail-track that took the stones down the hill from the quarries to the canal warf in Bath’s Dolmeads section where it would be shipped out. He was also able to keep costs down by paying his workers less. This was not necessarily cruel since he, unlike most other quarry employers, employed year-round, and had John Wood the Elder build model terrace housing for them in 1729.

In addition to these organized and economical applications to selling stone, he promoted the creamy-colored stone through his own constructions, such as this Sham Castle (1767), his Palladian Mansion of Prior Park (1742) with its Palladian Bridge, and in supplying it for free for prominent public buildings such as the General Hospital (1738-1742). To introduce stone to new markets, such as lucrative London, he sold it at a discount with guarantees that he would personally cover the cost of replacing the stone if it failed. Unfortunately, it often did and London’s smoggy environment frequently caused him to empty his pockets.

He died at age 71 and is buried in a mausoleum in Claverton (down the opposite slope from Bath of the Claverton Down hill). The old rail line that went from his quarries, past his mansion, and down to his warf is now Ralph Allen Drive, as well as one of the city’s secondary schools. A statue for the Lower Assembly Rooms was also carved in his honor (not sure where the statue is since the structure was demolished), paid for by the City of Bath Corporation.
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The “Sham Castle” was built by Allen’s Clerk of Works Richard Jones (the same person who completed John Wood the Elder’s designs for Prior Park after the latter’s dismissal) in 1762 as an eye-catcher for Allen’s town house mansion in Bath proper. That house, which is now hemmed in with other buildings, faces this hill (it was probably designed by John Wood the Elder, although his account of its design is cryptic.) In many ways, this castle is the equivalent of the Palladian Bridge on Allen’s Prior Park Estate. It can still be seen from the city when lit up at night (although it is very very small). Jones claimed the design for the façade structure was his, but Sanderson Miller had been approached to design it seven years earlier and Jones has a record for accepting credit for designs that he merely supervised (Prior Park). The structure replaced “Antsey’s Lodge.”
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Tune in tomorrow for more of Ralph Allen Week at Bath Daily Photo.

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