061124.Wells, ‘Black Friday’ in the Dark

November 24, 2006 at 11:38 PM | Posted in Architecture, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Preservation, somerset, Towers, Vaults, Wells | 2 Comments

The day after Thanksgiving is referred to as “Black Friday” because everyone in the country has the day off and goes out to start the Holiday season shopping spree, and shops that had been in debt before (“in the red”) are restored to being debt-free, in the black, or something. I celebrated the day atop Wells Cathedral in the “forest.” Here are shots from the interior of the roof gallery as it is above the “quire,” exterior, and the ceiling of the “quire.”


I got to walk accross all sorts of vaults and it was inredible for me. I’ve always wanted to be allowed into Cathedral roof spaces but given that my excitement manifested itself in taking a few too many photos while the cathedral engineer was giving the tour, I might not be allowed back into another one. (I imagine access cathedral roof access is controlled by an elite cathedral-ruling clique composed of structural engineers, bishops, deans, supposedly dead dictators, a few Bond villains, etc. who put out a secret list of people to exclude.) In terms of the photos, I used very little flash (only on three photos or so) and typically took them after others had taken the same shot…but I might have been the most ‘visible.’ Hmmm.

Sorry posts have been a bit scattered. I’ve been very busy recently and will probably be busy again soon.

(Can anyone else see the format has gone crazy…or can anyone see the pictures?)





061121.Westonbirt, Hang In There, Lil’Buddy

November 21, 2006 at 12:15 AM | Posted in Gardens & Parks, Gloucestershire, Overcast, Preservation, Trees, Westonbirt | 6 Comments

Acer Palmatum

s. Matsumarae

Japanese Maple ssp.

061114.180.Glos.Westonbirt.Acer Palmatum.JapMaple

I have no idea what any of that means but the classification does not apply to the photos below: enjoy.



061120.Bath, “How Hard It Is To Die.”

November 20, 2006 at 12:02 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Cathedrals and churches, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, Chisel Marks, Conservation, countryside, Gardens & Parks, Monuments and Memorials, Preservation, River Avon, Sculpture, somerset, towns, Trees | 1 Comment

060928.10.Bath.St James Cemetery

St. Jam es Cemetery, south of the Avon, between Lower Bristol Road and the Great Western railroad tracks. Again, this is just a Victorian Era cemetery with most of the graves dating from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and many of them were recent burials, nothing at all special here, except that just like the cemetery near Beckford’s Tower, this one is in total disrepair! This isn’t that old! Why do Victorian cemeteries never appear to be conserved here? Please tell me this is recent vandalism!

When I lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, I was a little astonished about the grave policies in some of the rural churchyards. I would look at their spectacularly old brick churches and the graves around them, only to discover they were all from the 1980s, 1960s, late 20th century in general. Upon inquiring at a few churches, I was informed that there, the land is leased in twenty year segments, with the option to pay for several leases at one time or have a family member renew the lease. The redevelopment of Århus with Arne Jacobsen incredibly famous rådhus (town hall) there was placed in the center of the city in open land. The city is medieval, how the heck was that land free to develop? Ah, it was a medieval Christian cemetery adjacent to an old Jewish cemetery. Attempts were made to angle the building so as to preserve the Jewish cemetery, but the other one was excavated for basement storage. (Ironically, I’m sure for death certificate records.)

Today’s title quote comes from the last words of Spanish fascist dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco who died on this day in1975 after having 3/5 of his stomach removed.

Incidentally, happy birthday to a (hopefully) loyal DP viewer.

061119.Bath, King: “I Had a Dream!”

November 19, 2006 at 12:32 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Crowns, cumulus clouds, gargoyles, Ladders, Light and Shadow, Olive Trees, Preservation, Restoration, Ruins, Sculpture, somerset, Stained Glass, stairs, Towers, towns | 7 Comments


Then he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the Earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

–Genesis 28:12

Firstly, don’t even think of looking up the skirts of these angels: they’re genderless…and God will know if you try. Weekends typically kill viewership so I was going to play it easy but here’s the story on the west façade (although it was briefly mentioned back in the first Hokusai post):

When the former secretary to Henry VII, Bishop Oliver King, came to his new diocese he found the old large Norman Church in a state of grave disrepair and so endeavored to get the King to pay for a new Cathedral.

Owing his ecclesiastical office (See earlier “Investitures Conflict”) to his former secretarial duties and far from being concerned with civil rights in 1499, King had a dream in which angels ascended and descended a ladder from heaven and a voice spoke to him proclaiming: “Let an olive establish the crown and a king restore the Church.” (See the built image here.) I should add that by King, I mean Bishop King. And that the actual king probably responded by having an equally vivid dream in which God told him to let his former secretary pay for it. Anyway, the royal master masons (Robert and William Virtue) were used, which explains the similarity between its fan vaulting interior and that of Cambridge’s King’s College Chapel. It is the last large scale medieval cathedral constructed in England.

It’s all very confusing since not only is there a King, king, Oliver, and olive in this story but the actual king, Henry VII, was eager to shore up his “crown” image since he had just established his dynasty. This Tudor dynasty was born out of overthrowing the “evil” Yorkist Richard III* and ended the War of the Roses (dynastic civil war) by “uniting” the families of Lancaster and York. (Actually, he just married a York and then the happy couple spent their Honeymoon and subsequent marriage executing the wife’s entire family on trumped up charges.) His son was Henry VIII so you can just imagine the mother-in-law jokes of the Tudor Court!

Clearly Bath Abbey wasn’t just a dreamed folly (built) but part of God’s divine plan. God willed a Cathedral there, or rather a new cathedral there (3rd on the site!), or rather a new bi-cathedral there (since the “cathedra” is split with Wells, making it the diocese of Bath and Wells.)

Or as Bishop Jocelin would put it: “…the folly isn’t mine. It’s God’s Folly. Even in the old days He never asked men to do what was reasonable. Men can do that for themselves. They can buy and sell, heal and govern. But then out of some deep place comes the command to do what makes no sense at all–to build a ship on dry land; to sit among the dunghills; to marry a whore; to set their son on the altar of sacrifice. Then, if men have faith, a new thing comes.” (Excerpt from William Golding’s The Spire, 1964…pick up a copy, much better than Lord of the Flies)

And new things did come: Reformation, which made this structure redundant and caused it to be sold at auction a mere three decades after King’s dream.

060927.07.Bath.Abbey.WestFacade.Angels Climbing Jacob’s Ladder to heavenMy favorite aspect of the Jacob’s Ladder is its uninterupted spanning of the windows. And despite their stone wings, the angel’s share a valuable safety lesson with us mere humans: NEVER CLIMB A LADDER WHILE HOLDING ONTO THE OUTSIDE RAILINGS SINCE IF YOU SLIP YOU WILL SLIDE DOWN. (Somewhere on this facade must be the equally famous Nilda instruction: NEVER EVER SHAKE A BABY) God bless the angels and fundamentally basic safety procedures.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking

Woe oh oh oh oh oh
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Led Zeppelin

 *Please note Paul Trevor Bale left a concerned comment on this ironic characterization that is well worth reading.

061118.Bath, ‘X’ Marks the Spots: Conserve Some, Remove Others

November 18, 2006 at 4:07 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Ladders, Preservation, Restoration, Ruins, Salisbury, Sculpture, somerset, Uncategorized, Wiltshire | 3 Comments

061026.097.Somset.Bath.Abbey.West.St Andrew Statue


Figure of St. Andrew

Height: 60 inches
Width: 20 inches
Depth: c8 inches

061117.1.Somset.Bath.Abbey.RolandNewman.DecayandConsofStone.MMEver stare at something for a long time? I’ve been watching this west facade of Bath Abbey like a hawk, which is why the statues and their surroundings have bothered me. At the Salisbury lecture, I learned that Salisbury’s west facade has the most preserved medieval stonework (mostly plain ashlars) even though most of its façade statuary was clearly Victorian (they’re wearing wigs, etc.) from Gilbert Scott’s notorious true “restoration.” Scott demolished anything that was built after the cathedral was first completed, and rearranged the remaining original fabric of the interior to make it symmetrical. His actions were a contributing impetus for conservation studies.

Anyway, I took this photo of St. Andrew (and several other statues) a while back and then found a case study on it by Roland Newman examining the previous restorations of the statue and the late 1990s conservation efforts that resulted in what you see above. The main efforts seem to have been removing the previous restoration addition’s use of cement and replacing it with a built-up sacrificial layer of lime mortar.

There have been four major restorations of the abbey:
1833 G.P. Manners
1860-73 Gilbert Scott: his work here was the considered scholarly and responsible (having gone in and replaced or removed most of Manner’s altercations)
1900 Thomas Jackson
1957-1960 (I believe carried out by English Heritage)
And the late 1990s conservation efforts by English Heritage.

The canopy around St Andrew is carved from Clipsham stone and dates from 1900, as much of the Bath stone weathers poorly. (This is infamously seen by its poor performance in the restoration of Henry VII’s Westminster Abbey Chapel, London.) Newman provides a very good explanation on the causes of decay at Bath Abbey, and Bath in general. “The weather in Bath is mainly from the South West, so the parts of the stone facing in that direction get perpetually washed whist those facing in other directions do not. This gives rise to mechanical erosion on one side of a figure and a build up of dirt and salts on the other.” (Newman, 17. See citation below.)

Will answer the demands of the Ruth, Natalie, and JC in tomorrow’s post.






Except for the top photo, all information diagrams and the second photo above come from

Roland Newman, The Decay and Conservation of Stone. Thesis (MSc). (Bath: University of Bath: 2000).

061101.Asbury Park, THEME DAY: “Something that is About to Disappear Soon”

November 1, 2006 at 1:48 AM | Posted in Architecture, Asbury Park, Bath, Conservation, New Jersey, Preservation, Restoration, Ruins, somerset, Waterfront | 5 Comments


I’m breaking the rules on this one. As a conservationist, I’m structure-oriented and this theme was almost too good to be true.

But I’m in Bath! I’m in the UK! Every British “Employees Must Wash Their Hands Before Returning to Work” sign has a lottery trust supporting a conservation board for it. England’s great this way, really. In fact, forty-nine percent of construction in Britain is for conservation purposes!

The problem for this theme then is that very little structurally will shortly disappear that I am familiar with, after being in the city for only a month (there are always minor altercations occurring and of course the loss of leaves for winter…). It is this dilemma then that takes me over the pond to the New Jersey shore where Monmouth County’s once great 1930s and ‘40s vacation destination of Asbury Park (founded in 1887 by James Bradley) has been decaying since the 1970s.

A long time ago when I was very young, I was lucky enough to be taken by my parents and grandmother into the Casino right before if was boarded up and shut to the public (at least I’m pretty sure it was the Casino and not Convention Hall). The inside has nice terra-cotta tiles, decorative bronze grills and light fixtures and a great “old timey” feel. More than the rest of Asbury, the Casino is not only decaying but slowly falling into the water (similar to the fate of the Brighton West Pier in the UK). It was the first building I saw that got me thinking about conservation since it “couldn’t be made anymore” and it “might disappear soon.” Hence, I figured it’d be great for this theme.

Today, I’m happy to report that Asbury Park is turning around. There’s a new mayor and beach goers have begun returning to the Jersey waters and the long and elegantly weathered boardwalk promenade. The last time I was there in 2006, the Convention Hall and part of the Casino had been opened up to walk through with blown up old postcard images as a tourist-draw. It seemed like a start to something good.

Take a look at the endangered Historical Buildings in your area. I’ll try to post some links later.

AIA 11 Most Endangered in US

The “New” Casino050101.78.NJ.AsburyPark

1 (Porto ) 2 (Seattle WA USA (Kim) ) 3 (London, UK ) 4 (Greenville, SC ) 5 (Albuquerque, NM (USA) ) 6 (St Paul Kate ) 7 (ShangHai, China ) 8 (Phoenix, Az ) 9 (Twin Cities, MN ) 10 (Sequim, WA ) 11 (Stayton, OR, USA ) 12 (Bandung (Indonesia) ) 13 (Dallas, USA ) 14 (Stavanger (Norway) ) 15 (Singapore (zannnie) ) 16 (Budapest (Hungary) ) 17 (Paris (France) ) 18 (Tuzla (BiH) ) 19 (Melbourne, (Aust.) ) 20 (Auckland, New Zealand ) 21 (Singapore (Raymond) ) 22 (Dubai UAE (DXBluey) ) 23 (Vantaa, Finland ) 24 (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada ) 25 (St. Paul MN Carol ) 26 (Singapore (Keropok) ) 27 (Delta Colorado, USA ) 28 (Rotterdam (Netherlands ) 29 (Queens, NY (USA) ) 30 (Tenerife (Spain) ) 31 (Santiago (Chile) ) 32 (Nelson, New Zealand ) 33 (( Japan ) ) 34 (Hyde (UK) ) 35 (Sydney (Sally) ) 36 (Manila, Philippines ) 37 (Aliso Viejo, CA (USA) ) 38 (Nottingham UK ) 39 (Brussels, Belgium ) 40 (Sharon, CT (USA) ) 41 (Sydney Australia (Nathalie) ) 42 (Edinburgh, Scotland ) 43 (Evry, France ) 44 (San Diego, CA (USA) ) 45 (Santa Clara, CA (USA) ) 46 (Saarbrücken, Germany ) 47 (Joplin, MO (USA) ) 48 (Indianapolis,IN (USA) ) 49 (rujillo (Peru) ) 50 (arcelona (Spain) ) 51 (erlin (Germany)) 52 (ancouver, BC (Canada)) 53 (Trier (Germany)) 54 (Houston, TX (USA)) 55 (Joensuu, Finland)

061023.Budapest, Fiftieth Anniversary of Hungarian Revolution

October 23, 2006 at 11:59 AM | Posted in Architecture, Berlin, Budapest, Conservation, Crowns, cumulus clouds, Gardens & Parks, Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Preservation, Restoration | 19 Comments

‘Tis the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution today. Although this does not relate to Bath, the Hungarian DPs Budapest and Szentes created interesting posts, and so I thought I could post some photos of Budapest taken last year.

As a tourist, I thought Budapest was one of the most beautiful and polite cities in Europe. As a conservationist, I always thought Hungary, above all other places I’ve visited, had the most interesting and honest conservation program in place in regards to their Soviet Era history.

Not being Hungarian, I reflect more on the Hungarians’ modern conservation and memorializing efforts than on their historical sacrifices. When minor damage (such as shrapnel or bullet holes) occurs to stone-clad buildings, the cost of restoration can be too great to re-clad the façade with new stone. Also, merely covering over the holes with cement or plaster only works on similar material structures (plaster to plaster restorations in St. Petersburg). Besides, the damage is historic and often equally or more valuable than the original building. Restoration against the damage is dishonest to the structure and indicates a willingness to forget the history that caused it.

The two options that remain are preservation and conservation. For the most part, the surviving bullet-riddled structures in Berlin chose to preserve their damaged history and leave the holes to weather as a reminder of the events there. (Below, left)



However, right in back of the Hungarian Parliament building, I found this interesting conservation of bullet holes memorial to the 1956 revolution. (Photo above, right: I may have the wrong building but I believe it was at the base of the old Supreme Court Building, now the Museum of Ethnography). This arresting conservation of (what I take to be) a damaged stone façade with inverted bullet holes and a small 1956 memorial plaque tucked away neatly to the side really is more moving than the honest preservation of decaying Berliner bullet holes. Perhaps I’m wrong, though, I don’t know. (I cannot read Hungarian so I do not know if this is simply an invented memorial, but I’d like to think they were emphasizing the bullet holes.)

Admittedly, some Soviet Era structures, which were a blight to the Hungarian cityscapes, have been removed or altered and treated much the same way as those buildings treated their plot predecessors. However, unlike most former Communist bloc nations, many Hungarian Soviet Era monuments were conserved, such as the one in Independence Square. If memory serves me, this monument commemorated those who died liberating Hungary from the Nazis. It is prominently in the center of the city in a main square, opposite the MTV building and several other embassies. The only altercation, I believe, was the removal of Russian name plaques at the base.


Monuments in Hungary are very interesting because they do not always denote triumph and thread a thin line between monument and memorial. Below is a Hungarian WWI “monument,” which although set up as a conventional monument is somewhat striking in its subject depiction, since as an American, I’m used to seeing a bronzed “doughboy” march happily home or see a mournful but proud roster of English names killed in action.

050423.167.Pest.VamhazGellert Sziklakapolona, (?)

Two other interesting Hungarian preservation and conservation observations were a bullet-hole in back of the central speaker’s box in the the Parliament building’s main room resulting from an assassination attempt, and also the bent cross atop a crown, which became Hungary’s most identifiable symbol.

Hungarian Coat of Arms


Budapest also bears the distinction of one of the finest Gothic-Revival structures in Europe for their Parliament building, but as it was a design competition, Budapest also built the second and third place winners (at a smaller scale and for different functions) in back of the first place Parliament design. It’s a great place to visit, and a heck of a lot bigger than Bath.

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