070314.Bath, No Tulips to Tiptoe Through Yet

March 14, 2007 at 2:26 AM | Posted in Bath, Bathampton, Bradford-on-Avon, cemeteries - churchyards - and tombstones, Claverton, Claverton Down, countryside, Flowers, Gardens & Parks, hippies, Light and Shadow, Overcast, somerset, towns, Trees, University of Bath, Wiltshire | 7 Comments

Considering it was the only reason people know “Tiny Tim,” statistically it’s no surprise that that was the last song he ever performed. Seriously, he suffered a heart attack while singing it at a Gala Benefit for the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. I have a lot of flower photos I want to unload to prove to everyone that it’s spring. This has taken a lot more work than I thought it would. Maybe I’ll have more but if you don’t hear from me again, you, you dear audience are my Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.
Someone knowledgeable about flowers told me the following: “The larger dark blue/purple are primroses. The smaller blue are scilla, the very small white are wild cyclamen.” Someone less knowledgable told me if I ever go back in time that I shouldn’t step on anything. Photos presented chronologically with most recent on top.

Below: Claverton Down, Bathwick Hill Road wall with “I think (not sure) it’s creeping phlox — a particularly strong color. Usually creeping phlox…is pastel — pastel white, pink or lavender. This is a really strong color so it might be something else.” The second photo is the view from my window.
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Below: Claverton Down, University of Bath
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Below: Bath (Twerton?), High Commons, Commune Garden:
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Below: Bath (Twerton?), Royal Victoria Park’s Botanical Garden (5Mar07): (with the exception of the night shot in Claverton Down)
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Below: Bath, Royal Victoria Park (5Mar07):
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Below: Bathampton, St Nicholas’ Cementery back on the 26th of Feb.
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Below: Claverton, St Mary the Virgin’s Cemetery back on the 26th of Feb.
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Below: My first flower shot of spring(?) in Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts. back on the 30th of January!
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070310.Claverton Down, Student Government is the Opiate of the Student Masses

March 10, 2007 at 1:16 AM | Posted in Bath, Claverton Down, cumulus clouds, somerset, University of Bath | 2 Comments

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Student elections are nearing, or at least that’s what the signs and the hundreds of people wearing inked T-shirts would suggest; but I can’t vote, I’m an immigrant. “By now you would have noticed a vast array of banners and posters (and general chaos!) on campus. If you haven’t already figured it out, there are 22 regular students trying to fight for your vote to become one of the six Sabbs. A Sabb is a regular student who takes a year out of their course to represent the views of students.”070309.02.Somset.Bath.ClavertonDown
Apart for this “Vote Hayden,” the signs have been less than creative, which I guess can be expected from an engineering school. Most of these A4 sheets look more like missing posters than pleas to be elected. They feature a name, Yearbook picture, and a “clever” quote (ie: “Vote for me for VP. I can do the job.”) This “Vote Hayden,” which is along the arcade that leads from the bus stop to the campus heart is the only time that this corridor has looked decent. I always feel that this entire university campus looks like a complex about to be demolished — like it once was something and has been stripped of anything salvageable before demolition. Will any of the candidates do something to fix this?
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What surprises me is the number of posts and candidates to fill them. What’s interesting is that the English frequently have these occupation-oriented sir names. Here Fisher uses an image of a fishmonger for her campaign. Why there’s a post for “sport” I have no idea, I assume it is mimicking the English Ministry of the name (Culture, Sports, and Media). There’s a Bell who has stolen the Taco Bell franchise logo to immediately gain image recognition and possible free signs (The color signs appear to have been from wrappers and bags). Take that other candidate with long unmemorable Polish name. Others (below) must not have a visual last name, such as “Pistol Pete” for Pres. Hopefully there’s no other Pete’s running for that office and maybe he supports handguns. I dunno.
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And of course, there’s Kristy for VP. She appears to not be able to spell her own name, which isn’t vital to the VP post. But perhaps, she’s so smart she knows this will bring her attention.
And in other news, I learned from Wikipedia’s article on Facebook.com that there was controversy over this election.

070220.Combe Down, The Blob — Quarry

February 20, 2007 at 12:03 AM | Posted in Bath, Chisel Marks, Combe Down, Overcast, roofs, somerset, University of Bath | 8 Comments

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Combe Down is littered with former quarry sites–mostly dating from Ralph Allen’s time. Everyone seems to have one in their backyard. Sometimes they appear overnight. “Mom, am I imagining things or did the hill face move closer to the house?” You get the picture.

Bath has several different types of oolitic limestone, each named for the hill it was quarried on but I’m not going to get into details now. Most of the quarries in Bath, however, are underground. In fact, Combe Down is mostly tunnels and the quarries were more or less labyrinth underground cities with the stone being carted out by horses (leading to the tunnels being filled with stone-carved water troughs.) Even part of the U of Bath campus on neighboring Claverton Down hill used to be a quarry.

Technically, if a quarry is underground then it becomes a mine (even though the tunnels aren’t for metal) but the Combe Down tunnels retained their “quarry” name to avoid mine legislation.Today, however, these quarry tunnels are legally mines and the larger concern facing the government is filling them in.

Sinkholes used to constantly appear and collapse roads and structures on this hill, so that now the government is spending millions of pounds to secure and fill the tunnels, so I hear. It’s an odd cycle.

Tune in tomorrow for more Ralph Allen Week on Bath DP.

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.

070213.ClavertonDown, Remains of the Day Before Saturday

February 13, 2007 at 12:04 AM | Posted in Architecture, Claverton Down, countryside, Foggy & Misty, Gardens & Parks, Overcast, somerset, University of Bath | 8 Comments

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070208.Combe Down, “Alice is a sexy sl*t” Was Here: Modern vs. Historical Graffiti

February 8, 2007 at 12:11 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Columns, Combe Down, doorways, Gardens & Parks, Ionic Order, Mansion, Monuments and Memorials, people, Pevsner, Restoration, Ruins, somerset, University of Bath | 5 Comments

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Prior Park Mansion burned down around 1989 and was restored from 1989 to 1992. The company that rebuilt and redecorated it also cleaned off the graffiti that had been painted and carved into the walls of the classical garden buildings Grade I Listed landscapes. In so doing they had to match the patina of the old stone but were also given a lit of what had to be removed and what had to stay. Here, on the left pier an erased inscription can still be read “** F**k FOX.” The letters appear to have been painted large and are still somewhat discernable. Underneath that, however, was “D.H. 1945,” which remained. The whole structure is littered with grafitti, which I’m sure other Daily Photo sites would have found some artistic merit in. Name a public monument that hasn’t had something carved into it? What makes it historical, and therefore possible to preserve?

(Again, in the second photo above,) More than halfway up the right pier where now only the white dot-dot-dots remain was inscribed “Alice is a sexy slut.” What remains are the best efforts to match the patina of the stone after removing the line. The Managing Director of St. Blaise’s, Ian Constantinides, responsible for the restoration joked to our class yesterday that it “was air-braised out of existence into a spiritual purity that she didn’t maintain on Earth.” He joked whether this was part of the history of the bridge and determined if it had been an equally crude Georgian inscription it would have been protected. (Constantinides gave a great lecture on materials, going an hour and a half past the regular end time. Last year, he apparently talked well into the night but I guess our year wasn’t as interesting to him. Somewhat eccentric, he’s the one in the red pants and he brings millions of slides and just asks the class what they want him to lecture on. We got the run down on lime mortar repairs, stone and plasterwork. Apart form Prior Park, he worked on Windsor Castle and countless other historic buildings—a very interesting person. One classmate said he’s been featured on several television shows. )

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“Built as his villa in 1735-c.1750 for Ralph Allen. It is built of Bath stone and was meant to be Allen’s proof of the suitability of the product of his Combe Down quarry for work of the highest order. Prior Park certainly is a composition in the Grand Manner, the most ambitious and the most complete re-creation of Palladio’s villas on English soil. The architect was John Wood the Elder. But after a quarrel between him and Allen, the completion was entrusted to Allen’s clerk of works Richard Jones. The house was to consist of a corps de logis connected by galleries with two pairs of pavilions. It lies on the hillside, and its grounds extend down a green combe to the old village of Widcombe whose church is the final closing accent of the vista. Halfway down however the vista is crossed by the Palladian Bridge, a copy made in 1750 by Jones of Palladio’s famous bridge design in the Burlington-Devonshire Collection at the R.I.B.A. This was later published in Bertotti-Scamozzi’s Palladio edition. The drawing had been copied before (in 1736) at Wilton. The bridge is roofed and has two pedimented end pavilions with arched openings and an open colonnade of four Ionic columns between.” – Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1958), 114.

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The house (not featured in this post) was based on Colen Campbell’s first design for Wanstead House in Essex (labeled Wanstead I) and was a giant showcase for Bath stone. Allen had made his money by reorganizing the postal system and then investing that capital in Combe Down, Bath quarries, where the soft cream colored stone was found. The material was not favored in fashionable circles, which is why he constructed his mansion to the popular design published by Campbell, insisting that John Wood the Elder design the column diameters to 1.5x those at the actual Wanstead.

After Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the structure was purchased by Bishop Baines, who used the mansion as his humble abode. When it burned in 1836, the bishop raised funds to restore his house by purchasing another mansion, Hunt Street House on the Mendips, which had been mothballed near its completion in 1770s after the owners ran went bankrupt. Had this mansion been completed, it would have been in the top three of Georgian mansions. The bishop stripped this newly purchased abandoned house and moved its grand staircase, plasterwork, and several other architectural features to his mansion, heavily subsidizing them. It has since become a Roman Catholic college.
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Here’s the wonderful University of Bath arcade and I should mention that the Prior Park photos were taken in October 2006, and just happened to feature the “Alice is a…” that he referred to.

061129.Claverton Down, Campus Weather Conditions

November 29, 2006 at 8:49 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Claverton Down, Overcast, people, somerset, University of Bath | 8 Comments

Keepin’ it daily, so far.

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You see, it rains a bit around here. I don’t bother posting much about the university because it looks terrible but in fact, the entire campus core is designed with cantilevers to protect students from the weather on “Level 2” (our base floor…there’s a road with traffic, which is on Level 1). This is in front of the library, which as you can see is not only cantilevered on Level 2, but also Level 3 continues the public footpath access but is totally encased for really terrible windy weather.

There’s a pretty good architecture and civil engineering department at this Uni and a lot of these artsy/technical people come up with great ideas on improving British impermeability standards. I saw an interesting improved raincoat student project that simplified the poncho concept and protected pretty much the full person. I can’t say it was too stylish, and the lack of maneuverability for one’s feet could affect the wearer’s mobility but I post whatever I happened to see in a day, a today’s full day of lectures made this it.

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