070714.Bathwick, “Explicit hoc totum; Pro Christo da Mihi Potum”

July 14, 2007 at 12:11 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bathwick, Columns, Conservation, Corinthian Order, Light and Shadow, Mansion, Museums, people, somerset, University of Bath, Window | 2 Comments

From the archives now: last day of class party in front of the Holborne Museum. The first day of class also ended in the Holborne Museum for drinks. It was quite enjoyable but with cases of champaign, one must remember that the grades aren’t all in yet and to just keep it to one social glass. The faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.
Either way, a nice coda to the end of the academic year, as the above title’s eighth-century manuscript postscript line-inspired suggests:

The job is done, I think;
For Christ’s sake, give me a drink.

I should do a post on this excellent Georgian structure, the Sydney Hotel by Thomas Baldwin, now the museum redesigned and added to during all periods. The last changes occured early in the 20th C and now there is a controversial modern extension that has planning consent.
A great skit from December 2006 by Rico Galliano of Marketplace from American Public Media (and Public Radio International)

Cross fragile office politics with the social minefield of a party, douse liberally with spiked eggnog, and voila: [you have] a recipe for disaster, otherwise known as the annual holiday office party.
But not to worry, the Marketplace Players are here to help with an educational primer they call:
[cue Fifties-style music and Fifties-styled Announcer:] “Holiday Party Dos and Don’ts”

Meet Herbert.


My, Herbert, don’t you look spiffy!

I’m off to the Office Christmas Party!

Ow! You blasted my ears with a foghorn!

That’s because you just made a big faux pas, Herbert. Never call it a Christmas party; call it a holiday party.

You mean to show respect to all coworkers of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds?

You got it!

[At party, sound of background chattering.]
Boy, this is a swell party but hey, where are you headed?

The open bar!

Oww. What now?!

You’re not drinking on my watch, Herbert. Not at an office holiday party.

…But…isn’t that the point?

No, the point is to put in an appearance and leave with your job and reputation intact.

That’s true. Can I have just one?

Well alright.

Bartender, give me a scotch straight up—make it a double!

…I mean a single.

That-a-boy. Wow, Herbert, there’s that coworker you’re keen on.

You’re right! Hey, hot mamma!

[angrily] Look, you have no right meddling in my love life.

It’s your career I’m worried about, Herbert. Now that coworker thinks you’re creepy. If you must flirt, be a gentleman.

OK, I’ll try with someone else.


Excuse me, but…that’s a lovely dress.

Why thank you.

I haven’t seen you around the office. If I had, I would have asked you to lunch.


What do you do for us?

I’m your boss’ wife! [cackles]

I tried to warn you, Herbert. Better cut your losses, circulate a little and then high-tail it home.

OK, right after I finish this shrimp cocktail.
[FOGHORN!] HERBERT: [muffled curse]

Oops. You got cocktail sauce all over your shirt.

[angrily] Only after you blew that insane horn in my ear!

That sauce makes it look like you got stabbed. Leave. Pronto.

This is the least…fun…Christmas….


Oh silly Herbert, when will you learn: It’s not a party, it’s work!

070418.Bath, Shaniqua Don’t Live Here No Mo’

April 18, 2007 at 2:17 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Conservation, Crescents, Mansion, Museums, New Jersey, Preservation, Restoration, somerset | 5 Comments

Uh, title? Yeah. I didn’t write down the title of who the portrait featured and the only title I could come up with was Royal Landing. This is the first floor landing of No. 1 Royal Crescent, restored and currently run by Bath Preservation Trust. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no Shaniqua ever lived here, though I stress this statement should not be necessarily considered fact.


Back to school today, and first thing will be a trip to Ty-Mawr for a class on Lime. Let’s see what happens.
Dated 27 Oct 1967 and retained in a small envelope by the Bath City Archives, the stair diagrams were produced during the terrace house’s restoration and conversion into a museum of its former Georgian self.


070327.Walcot, ‘Water Is Best:’ Local Industry

March 27, 2007 at 1:54 AM | Posted in Bath, Museums, Sculpture, somerset, Walcot | 4 Comments


Hi all, I will be gone for quite some time. JC of Monmouth has been kind enough to offer to post for me. I hope everyone enjoys spring, if they’re not lucky enough to have a spring break!
061029.018.Somset.Bath.Walcot.JulianRd.BathAtWorkMus.Bottle Filling.Bottled Mineral Water

“Bottle Filling:

“The development of efficient means of filling bottles was slow until the patent bottle closures of the 1870s began to replace the cork. The basic method of filling cork-stoppered bottles involved four stages: putting flavoured syrup into the bottle from a dispenser, filling the bottle with carbonated water, inserting the cork and finally wiring the cork down.
“The improved fillers, invernted to cope with new forms of bottle closure such as the marble stopped, were able to combine all carbonating pump. These fillers commonly had guards because of the constant danger of bottles exploding under the pressure of gas. After one of J.B. Bowler’s own daughters lost an eye in this way, a wire mask was always on hand for protection when using the older type of filler.
“Although there were machines for the purpose, the labeling of the bottles was usually done by hand. Bowler’s daughters spread the labels out on a table, applied glue with a brush and then struck them on the bottles.”
061029.016.Somset.Bath.Walcot.JulianRd.BathAtWorkMus.Bottle Filling.Bottled Mineral Water
061029.017.Somset.Bath.Walcot.JulianRd.BathAtWorkMus.Bottle Filling.Bottled Mineral Water
061029.019.Somset.Bath.Walcot.JulianRd.BathAtWorkMus.Bottle Filling.Bottled Mineral Water
This is at the Bath at Work Museum on Julian Road in Walcot, Bath.

070325.Bath, But What To Write on a Writing Table?

March 25, 2007 at 12:10 AM | Posted in Bath, Museums, somerset | 3 Comments

Some people study furniture. This is in the Guildhall (the City Hall), so I’ll just quote the unsigned plaque found nearby:
“This Library Writing Table was made by Thomas Knight of Bath for the 1862 International Exhibition at South Kensington. It was subsequently purchased by William Preston to furnish Ellel Grange in Lancashire, and Italianate Villa which and been built five years previously. Messrs. Gillows of Lancaster were responsible for making most of the furniture for the house in addition to a new base for the superstructure of this desk, around 1864. The Gillow base in considerably narrower than the original made by Knight and lacks the first drawers.
“Thomas Knight was one of the leading cabinetmakers inb the West of England. His firm held a special appointment to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, and was responsible for the furnishing of the Grand Pump Room Hotel and several British Embassies on the Continent. In 1870 the firm manufactured an escritoire which was presented by the City ot the Princess of Wales in 1870. Thomas Knight, later Knight and Son, flourished from 1833 to 1896. The firm had promises on Milsom Street, George Street, and John Street and traded as Cabinet Makers, Upholsterers and Auctioneers.
“This desk was sold by Christies at Ellel Grange in October 1979 and subsequently purchased from a London Antique Dealer for the Victoria Art Gallery by the Charles Robertson Family Trust with a 50% Department of Education and Science Grant.”

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.

061022.Bradford, Lansdown Hill, Beckford’s Tower and Cemetery

October 22, 2006 at 8:46 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bradford, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, countryside, Gardens & Parks, Museums, Ruins, Sculpture, somerset, Towers | 3 Comments

061021.163.Somset.Bath.Bradford.Landsdown Hill.Beckford’s Tower


061021.163.Somset.Bath.Bradford.Landsdown Hill.Beckford’s Tower


061020.Claverton Down, Fresher’s Week: A Little Campus Diversion

October 20, 2006 at 11:34 PM | Posted in Bath, Bathwick, Claverton Down, Museums, somerset | 4 Comments

Now that a few weeks have passed I can say that “Fresher’s Week” was interesting. It happened one Saturday night when this security guard and I were taking cover during a storm in the library when we started seeing all these people walking around in togas.

060931.Somset.ClavertonDown.Bath.Univeristy.Fresher’s TogaParty.Pouring Rain

There’s no frat life in British universities but certain traditions remain. Fresher’s Week not only had this classic(al) party but it was the extreme version: a “Wet British Toga Party.” Sure, toga parties must be great, but this was a soaking-wet British one.

The partygoers were running in the rain from one campus pub to the next (the drinking age is 18 here so the on campus pubs are not only the local bars but also the student dining facilities). Every time the rain direction changed or it really started to downpour, the girls would start screaming and some people just stopped running and did their toga-ing in the puddles.

Intrigued, I asked the guard where to sign up for this drowning merriment, but then to my surprise she asked me if I was a student?
Indignantly I replied, “I’m not only a student, I’m a post-grad!” (Whoops.)

“Oh, well then you’re too old to be joining them. It’s just for undergraduates.”

But here’s the thing. First off, the Brits graduate in three years so I could be 20-21, how can I not join them?

Deprived of the bedsheets and with the storm continuing, my outrage generated into other discussions and before I knew it, the guard was pregnant—though several months along, I should add.

It was in the stage where I could listen to and feel it kick. I didn’t hear or feel anything but it required me to kneel down and put my ear up against her exposed stomach just as two toga-clad students escorting/supporting a sickened third in a pungently stained toga rushed the library to find its bathroom. Then it happened, each of these drunk soaking-wet British toga-wearing undergrads stared at us like we were the freaks—even the girl in the middle, who was practically choking on her own vomit!

Sadly, the photo didn’t come out so well of the rain, linens, and purging undergraduates so I include one from the first day of Conservation class. We rented out the Holborne Museum and got drunk there—lots of free champagne. The other Conservation classes don’t do that, so Bath is pretty cool.




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