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.
070601.002.SO.Bath
A great skit from December 2006 by Rico Galliano of Marketplace from American Public Media (and Public Radio International)

KAI RYSDAAL, HOST:
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”

ANNOUNCER:
Meet Herbert.

HERBERT:
Hi.

ANNOUNCER:
My, Herbert, don’t you look spiffy!

HERBERT:
I’m off to the Office Christmas Party!
[FOGHORN!]

HERBERT:
Ow! You blasted my ears with a foghorn!

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

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

ANNOUNCER:
You got it!

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

HERBERT:
The open bar!
[FOGHORN!]

HERBERT:
Oww. What now?!

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

HERBERT:
…But…isn’t that the point?

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

HERBERT:
That’s true. Can I have just one?

ANNOUNCER:
Well alright.

HERBERT:
Bartender, give me a scotch straight up—make it a double!
[FOGHORN!]

HERBERT:
…I mean a single.

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

HERBERT:
You’re right! Hey, hot mamma!
[FOGHORN!]

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

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

HERBERT:
OK, I’ll try with someone else.

ANNOUNCER:
Herbert…

HERBERT:
Excuse me, but…that’s a lovely dress.

LADY:
Why thank you.

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

LADY:
Oooh-la-la.

HERBERT:
What do you do for us?

LADY:
I’m your boss’ wife! [cackles]
[FOGHORN!]

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

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

ANNOUNCER:
Oops. You got cocktail sauce all over your shirt.

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

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

HERBERT:
This is the least…fun…Christmas….
[FOGHORN!]

HERBERT:
…h…holiday…party…ever.

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

070701.Walcot,THEME DAY: RED [Ball Express Zooming Over the Cleveland Bridge]

July 1, 2007 at 2:30 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bathwick, Bridges, Doric Order, people, river, River Avon, somerset, Walcot | 9 Comments

07016.02.SO.Bath
Here’s the [or Grandpa’s] Red Ball Express going over H. Goodridge’s Cleveland Bridge, 1827! It has four Doric pavilions and is EU compliant; this thing can carry trucks! To prevent those heavy things from going off the edge and busting the historic cast iron railing, a fiber-mesh-futuristic-material-thingy was installed between the road and pedestrian path to bounce trucks back into the road if they drift.

Like this Model A (?), I’m off! I’m going to be gone for eleven days. I wish everyone a good July!

On this 1st of July, 96 cities are participating in the City Daily Photo theme day, “Red”.
To see red right around the world, click on the following links:

Bath, UK
Shanghai, ChinaMumbai, IndiaNew York City (NY), USAManila, PhilippinesAlbuquerque (NM), USAHamburg, GermanyStayton (OR), USALos Angeles (CA), USAHyde, UKOslo, NorwayBrookville (OH), USAMelbourne, AustraliaStavanger, NorwayBellefonte (PA), USABucaramanga (Santander), ColombiaJoplin (MO), USASingapore, SingaporeSelma (AL), USACleveland (OH), USAKuala Lumpur, MalaysiaChandler (AZ), USAStockholm, SwedenSeattle (WA), USABoston (MA), USAArradon, FranceEvry, FranceBaton Rouge (LA), USAMaple Ridge (BC), CanadaBoston (MA), USAGrenoble, Francehttp://www.blogger.com/Greenville (SC), USAHilo (HI), USANelson, New ZealandLa Antigua, GuatemalaBrisbane (QLD), AustraliaSingapore, SingaporeTel Aviv, IsraelHong Kong, ChinaSequim (WA), USAPaderborn, GermanySaarbrücken, GermanyRotterdam, NetherlandsTenerife, SpainKyoto, JapanTokyo, JapanSydney, AustraliaNaples (FL), USACologne (NRW), GermanyWassenaar (ZH), NetherlandsSaint Louis (MO), USACypress (TX), USAOcean Township (NJ), USAMainz, GermanyToruń, PolandMenton, FranceMonte Carlo, MonacoSingapore, SingaporeNorth Bay (ON), CanadaJakarta, IndonesiaMontréal (QC), CanadaTuzla, Bosnia and HerzegovinaMinneapolis (MN), USABaziège, FranceSan Diego (CA), USAPrague, Czech RepublicAmpang (Selangor), MalaysiaNew York (NY), USAKajang (Selangor), MalaysiaSharon (CT), USANewcastle (NSW), AustraliaPort Angeles (WA), USANottingham, UKVilligen, SwitzerlandChicago (IL), USATorquay, UKBrussels, BelgiumSan Diego (CA), USAMexico (DF), MexicoSaint Paul (MN), USACape Town, South AfricaParis, FranceSeoul, KoreaManila, PhilippinesMilano, ItalyChennai (Tamil Nadu), IndiaAustin (TX), USAChennai, IndiaMadrid, SpainSeoul, South KoreaWailea (HI), USAToronto (ON), CanadaAjaccio, FranceBuenos Aires, ArgentinaSilver Spring (MD), USAZurich, SwitzerlandSydney, Australia

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.

070626.Bath, Richard Brinsley Sheridan: Coffee, Duels, and Bills Payable

June 26, 2007 at 2:15 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, doorways, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, people, River Avon, somerset | 6 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]
The Parade Coffee House opened in 1750 and is now Bridgewater House. (See next photo down for the view from the building looking toward Abbey Street, Pierrepont Street, and the North Parade Buildings, River Avon.)

070114.08.Somset.Bath.TerraceWalk.BridgewaterHouse


So when we last left Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792), her short engagement to the elderly Mr. Long had ended and she was now the [negative] talk of the town. Depressed, she felt the whole city trapping her and she longed to escape to France, which is when she met the penniless Dublin-born Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), who had only two years before come to Bath with his father and older brother Charles, another one of her ardent suitors. He didn’t quite sweep her off her feet, but swept her in a waiting carriage and there used his time well while he escorted her to France. The couple left the Royal Crescent, Bath, under the cover of nightfall on 18 March 1772 to pass through London before arriving in Dunkirke. Later, she would write of the journey that she had not known him well before the carriage trip but found his concern for her welfare comforting as the two traveled to France, and there were secretly married in Calais. Elizabeth’s father, Thomas, tracked them down to Lille and escorted them both back to Bath. [1]

070114.09.Somset.Bath.TerraceWalk.View from BridgewaterHouse

RBSheridan.Hall Engraving from Joshua Reynolds Painting

[Right: Sheridan] Back in Bath, the Sheridan-Linley elopement was greeted with the wagging of “patrician tongues” and pleasure-seekers “gossiping their powdered heads off from mid-morning until late afternoon.” [2] The affair also angered one of Elizabeth’s former die-hard suitors, Captain Thomas Mathews, who placed an advertisement in the Bath Chronicle on the 9 April 1772 that stated “because S. [Sheridan] had run away and had made damaging insinuations against him, S. must be ‘posted’ a ‘L[iar] and treacherous s[coundrel].’” This type of public attack was unusual since these challenges were often just posted at Coffee Houses and not in the newspaper. [3]
The resulting altercation during their first duel with rapiers nearly cost Sheridan his life when the militarily-trained Capt. Matthews quickly disarmed the poet and made him beg for his life apologize. Matthews then spread the story to further humiliate Sheridan, which resulted in a second more clumsy duel, in both swords broke but the poet was seriously injured. [4]Capt. Thomas Matthews
[Left: Capt. Mathews] Responding at night in the Parade Coffee House after returning to Bath, Sheridan was probably addressing the printer of the Bath Chronicle when he wrote: “Mr. Mathews thought himself essentially injured by a young Lady to escape the snare of vice and dissimulation. He wrote several most abusive threats to Mr. S— then in France. He laboured with a cruel intensity, to vilify his character in England. He publickly posted him as a scoundrel and a Liar— Mr. S answered him from France (hurried and surprised) that he would never sleep in England ‘till he had thank’d him as he deserved.” Sheridan goes on to claim that he won the second duel and that Mathews has lied about everything. [5] Later in another letter written to Mathews’ second at the later duel, Sheridan rhetorically asks: “Did Mr. Mathews give me an apology as a point of generosity, on my desisting to demand it? –He affirms he did.” [6] Sheridan just didn’t quit.
Despite being the cause of disgrace to his family, Sheridan wrote to his father “I returned here [to Bath] on Friday evening. I am very snugly situated in Town…” And so once returned, the young couple found both their fathers’ forbidding them to see each other again. [7] Naturally, they ignored parental dissatisfaction and continued the tryst. This is evidenced in Sheridan’s bill for goods “Bought of William Evill, In the Market Place” between 20 November, 1771 and 9 September 1772 where his bachelor days’ most extravagant expense recorded at this particular shop was for “1 neat Toothpick Case.” However, between 10 of June, and 9 of September, 1772, after his secret marriage, return to Bath, and order to never see Elizabeth again, he purchases “1 neat Hair Locket,” “1 neat fancy Ring,” “1 neat Gilt Watch Key,” “1 pair neat Garment Buttons,” and other assorted costly items and services including “fitting a Picture in a Case.” Possibly fearful of a third duel, he ran to the shop on the 9th of September to purchase “2 neat German hollow Blades to Swords with Vellum Scabbards, neat Steel and Gold.” [8]
One can assume Richard bought these items because of his involvement with Elizabeth, and the two “were able to meet only clandestinely, and to exchange furtive letters and verses which were left for each other in a grotto on the banks of the Avon.” [9]
711128.Bill Sent to Mr Sheridan
Above: “Bought of William Evill,” courtesy of the Bath Central Library

__
Cited Above:
[1] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981). 36-38
[2] Ibid, 34.
[3] Cedric Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[4] Lowndes, 38.
[5]Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to the Printer of the Bath Chronicle?” (May-Jun 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[6] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to Captain Knight” (Jul 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 33.
[7] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to Thomas Sheridan, Esq.” (May-Jun 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 34.
[8] Bought of William Evill, In the Market Place, [Bill for] Mr. Sheridan (Bath: 20 Nov 1771-9 Sep 1772)
[9] Lowndes, 38.

070625.Bath, Elizabeth Ann Linley at Abbey St, Pierrepont St, and the Royal Crescent

June 25, 2007 at 3:59 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, people, somerset, Towers | 9 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]
Here is the Abbey Yard with its large central tree. The street to the left is Abbey Street (with the Roman Baths in the background) and the street to the right is Church St (obviously with the Abbey behind.)
070114.11.Somset.Bath.Abbey Green

Scandal in Bath! Part One: Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792)

Among Bath’s most prestigious artistic families, the Linleys remain difficult to rival. Father Thomas “was a musical entrepreneur who arranged concerts in Bath, gave singing lessons, and played the harpsichord expertly. His eldest two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary were singers of considerable ability….” Even his son, also named Thomas, was extraordinarily gifted in music. As a talented violinist, young Thomas “visited Italy as a child prodigy in 1770, won the friendship and approbation of Mozart, and died tragically in a boating accident at the age of twenty-two.” [1]

As all Jane Austen-philes will know, addresses translate into social status in Bath. Although father Thomas was originally from Wells, the family had long lived in fashionable Bath, which had enough sophisticated visitors to appreciate and propel the careers of family members. They originally lived on Abbey Street before moving in 1764 to Pierrepont Street, and finally moving in the autumn of 1771 to the Royal Crescent, which was conveniently near the Upper Assembly Rooms, where Elizabeth and Mary sang to rapt audiences and where their father organized concerts. [1] Each relocation to a new and better address reflected the family’s increasing prosperity and social status.

Elizabeth LinleyAfter the death of young Thomas, Elizabeth with her divine voice was the brightest star of the family. The organist at Exeter Cathedral wrote that “[h]er voice was conventionally sweet, and her scale just and perfect, from the lowest to the highest note the tone was of same quality… Her genius and senses gave a consequence to her performance which no fool with the voice of an angel could ever attain.” Likewise, her beauty was renowned, and testified to in paint by Gainsborough. Reynolds used her for his painting of St. Cecilia, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Her qualities attracted royal attention when she performed at Drury Lane, George III “gazed at her with more than a paternal interest.” The close royal confidant, son of first prime minister, and cultivator of the Gothick style Hon. Horace Walpole, who was certainly unconcerned for himself, told a friend that “Miss Linley’s beauty is in the superlative degree, …the king admires her, and ogles her as much as he dares to do in so holy a place as an oratorio.” [2] Of course, the king was married and too old for the teenage Elizabeth but this did not deter her vast army of suitors.

Capitalizing on his daughter’s popularity, her father quickly arranged a marriage between her to a Mr. Walter Long, who apparently was a very rich and very elderly gentleman, but not much else. Perhaps sensing the game was up, the age difference, his own mortality, her disinterest (and possible interest elsewhere), Mr. Long withdrew from the engagement a few months later but compensated her with 1000 pounds worth of jewelry and 3000 pounds sterling. Gossip about a possible scandal began, which eventually spawned Samuel Foote’s play The Maid of Bath, playfully satirizing her failed engagement and emotional problems. [3]

Subsequently, Elizabeth became very depressed…but who would come to lift her spirits…and herself out of the country? Find out tomorrow!


[1] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981), 35.
[2] Ibid, 36.
[3] Ibid, 37.

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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