060217.Monkton Combe, Ye “Olde Locke Up”

February 17, 2007 at 12:59 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, Jane Austen, Monkton Combe, Overcast, somerset, towns, Trees | 7 Comments

Hostess: “…and these are our holding cells. I’m sure Ünterland has much larger ones, y’know, you being a whole country and all.”
Guest Henchman: “Ünterland…has…no…prisons.”
Hostess: “Really? Oh, how progressive…”
Guest Henchman: “The master has instated the death penalty for all infractions of Ünterlaw.”
070215.60.Somset.MonktonCombe.The Olde Lock-up.c1776
This is not a lame title, it’s the structure’s name: the “Olde Lock-Up,” constructed around 1776 in a town three miles south of Bath. You might think how desireably quaint, the small scenic little windowless prison is and that small town life used to have small town prisons, which represented a generally more peaceful society back then, but you’d be wrong. Petty theft of an item valued (by the retailer) at five shillings or more was a capital crime! The Georgians loved to hang everybody, no age limit: babies included. (See below Jane Austen’s aunt’s trial.)
In many ways, this small prison’s date of 1776 contrast sharply to the declaration of independence (this is not really that lame a segway, I have a point:) with Thomas Jefferson’s repeated attempts to limit the use of capital punishment to only murder and treason. In this same time period, peacefully Quaker Pennsylvania went one step further by introducing “degrees of murder” with first being the only one eligible for the death sentence. And finally, one of the American rights was anyone could only bring to court any argument involving a value of 20 dollars or more.
070215.61.Somset.MonktonCombe.The Olde Lock-up.c1776
And also…I got nothing. Here, check this out: it’s also small.
070215.62.Somset.MonktonCombe.The Olde Lock-up.c1776
“Jane Austen’s maternal uncle, James Leigh Perrot, possessed two of the status symbols of the respectable Englishman, as listed by Jane in her unfinished last novel Sanditon: “symptoms of gout and a winter at Bath.” Uncle James had a touching (but unrewarded) faith in the therapeutic powers of the waters of Bath, and he and Aunt Jane Leigh Perrot spent almost as much time at that famous resort town and spa as at their home in Berkshire called Scarlets. In the winter of 1799-1800 Bath was particularly unkind to Uncle James’s ailment, because, instead of conversing with his well-born friends at the Pump Room or the Assembly Rooms or promenading on the Royal Crescent, he spent the season with his wife at the rude home of the warden of Ilchester Gaol. For Aunt Jane had been arrested in Bath in August 1799 on the inelegant charge of filching a card of white lace from the William Smith millinery shop….”
“A prima facie case of shoplifting was found to have been made out, and Aunt Jane was committed to Ilchester Gaol to await trial at the next county assizes to be held in the spring at Taunton. The offense on which Aunt Jane was to be tried was far from trivial. Shoplifting of an item valued at five shillings or more was a capital crime, and the white lace was put down in the indictment at twenty shillings. For capital punishment the price was right. Although the penalty would likely have been commuted to transportation to Botany Bay in Australia, subjection to the rigors of the penal colony could be equivalent to a death sentence for convicts whose constitutions were not hardy.
“Aunt Jane’s social position had not exempted her from commitment pending trial, but it did win her the privilege of lodging in the house of the warden, Mr. Scadding, rather than in the prison itself. She was joined by Uncle James, who bore bravely a new onslaught of gout as well as a quality of accommodations far below the most modest Michelin rating. Aunt Jane wrote of the indignities suffered by her fastidious husband: “Cleanliness has ever been his greatest delight, and yet he sees the greasy toast laid by the dirty children on his knees, and feels the small Beer trickle down his Sleeves on its way across the table unmoved.” Aunt Jane declined the kind offer of her “sister Austen” to send her daughters Jane and Cassandra to stay with them. Aunt Jane had stated that she could not procure the girls accommodations in the warden’s house with her, and that she could not let those “Elegant young Women” be inmates in a prison or be subject to the inconveniences she and her husband were obliged to put up with.” —Albert Borowitz, “Trial of Jane’s Aunt,” Legal Studies Forum, Volume 29, Number 2 (2005):724-725.
Jane’s aunt ends up being cleared, only because a jury of peers couldn’t conceive that a rich woman would shoplift. The same jury that day, however, sentenced several (poorer) others to hanging, including a few children.

070203.Bath, Be Careful Where You Bathe

February 3, 2007 at 9:18 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Corinthian Order, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, Pilgrimage, Ruins, Sculpture, somerset, Supernatural | 12 Comments

A photo from back in October during the filming of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.061007.049.Somset.Bath.Bath St.Filming Austen's Persuasion near the Cross Bath
Here, terminating the Ionic-ordered Bath Street’s (formerly Cross Bath Street) western vista is the Corinthian-ordered Cross Bath, with the John Wood Building of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist as its background. On page 126 of The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol (1958), noted architectural critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the street as a the “finest piece of formal planning at Bath,” and “a perfect piece of design made especially attractive by its modest easily manageable size.” The pictured Cross Bath east façade was designed principally by Thomas Baldwin, completed in 1784 to replace the Elizabethan structure. The Cross Baths have been heavily remodeled since then, most recently in 2003.

cross bath

Miracle of Miracles:

James II’s consort, Mary of Modena, who followed her sister-in-law’s failed attempt at an infertility cure at the Cross Bath and succeeded. Exuberantly expecting a male heir, the Earl of Melfort commissioned and then erected the Melfort Cross at the site, just three months after the 10 June 1688 birth. Descriptively almost a metaphor of Robert Campin’s c.1425 Annunciation Merode Altarpiece, the monument itself was referencing that Biblical subject too literally. The costly marble monument rose from the center of the baths and was composed of a Trinity-referencing three Corinthian columns “springing from a pedestal and supporting a dome, surmounted by a cross with a crown of thorns. Around the dome were three cherubim holding aloft a crown, scepter and orb.” A dove, clearly representing the Holy Spirit, descended between the columns toward the bath, implying the miraculous conception of Queen Mary, soon to mother of a king of three kingdoms. Should this monumental message be missed by the Protestant majority, it was spelled out with numerous religious and political inscriptions, dedications and heraldic shields. An embarrassed Corporation maintained the monument until the Glorious Revolution later that year when the Melfort Cross became a memorial for the Catholic cause. A slow process of dismantling ended in 1783, the same year Baldwin drew up his plans for the new Bath. However, given its expense and quality of workmanship, Melfort Cross fragmentally resurrected around town as decorative parts of shopfronts and in the North Parade Gardens, as late as 1907.

All facts and historic images came from Manco, quoted text from page 65.
See Manco, Jean. “The Cross Bath.” In Bath History, ed. Simon Hunt. Gloucester: Alan
Sutton Publishing Limited, 1988. 2: 49-84.
Melfort Cross

070128.Bath, 1:3 Tree to Huggers (ie: Waste of Fresh Air)

January 28, 2007 at 12:18 AM | Posted in Bath, Chisel Marks, countryside, Gardens & Parks, Jane Austen, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, somerset, Trees | 8 Comments


So this was the most boring thing I ever had time to watch, back when I had time to watch things. Excited about this post? So am I.
This was from a while back, back when I was taking pictures of the Jane Austen film shoot at the Royal Crescent. I was waiting for one of their 45 minute breaks to end when I started listening to these three guys. They had been trying to decide where to put a new memorial plaque for this tree. Apparently, there was an old one on the stone but it was no more. Instead of putting a new one back on the stone, they wanted it hover above the ground. However, they weren’t going to remove the old stone “because the stone’s foundation was deep” and they’d need a shovel, or something. They didn’t want to test how deep but they had apparently called up a retired predecessor, interviewed him about this particular plaque, and decided that it was too much trouble to remove the stone.
I wasn’t paying too much attention then, and I’m not paying too much attention to what I’m typing now but the debate went as follows:
*If they placed the new and improved plaque in front of the stone, it’d be too far away from the tree
*If they placed the plaque in back of the tree, there’d be a relationship established but the rock would block the plaque.
-“Can we keep the stone but move the plaque to the other side of the tree.”
-“No, no. We need the plaque to relate to the Royal Crescent,” or something. I’m forgetting the exact reasons.
They discused the potential of tree roots, the effect of the growing tree trunk, the angle the plaque had to be at for the rainwater to wash off smut. In the course of these technicalities, Shakespeare was quoted, both Latin and Greek were spoken and the modern affect of classical education was explored. I listened to this for about an hour. I had nothing else to do. Then it started to rain and I left. But not them, they kept discussing the future of this memorial.
I should go back and see what they ended up doing with it.
My heart’s just not into this post. I could never take care of memorials for trees.

061201.Bath, THEME DAY: “Taking a Photo of a Person from the Waist Down”

December 1, 2006 at 12:37 AM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Bath, Jane Austen, New York, Peephole Views, people, Peter Schickele, somerset | 15 Comments

061002.087.Somset.Bath.PumpRooms.Filming Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Above, Jane Austen’s Persuasion actors filing into Pump Room for scene. Below, classmates and mayor at a mayor’s reception in the Pump Room.

061128.92.Somset.Bath.PumpRm.Photo by MIUM.jpg

Didn’t realize how often I omit the full person in photos, tracking down “waist down” shots was a challenge in itself.

I’m posting some photos of friends but I don’t feel I’m violating their privacy because the bottom half on an individual is too abstract to extrapolate any identification.

I remember hearing Peter Schickele (P. D. Q. Bach) tell a story about his college years on the radio. One of his friends was taking a shower in the communal (all-male) dorm’s bathroom at the far end of the hall from his room. This friend realized after finishing his shower that he had forgot to bring a towel and only had a small washcloth.

Apparently, this wasn’t all that unusual for this person, except that it was parent’s visiting weekend, and there were moms and pops innocently roaming the halls!

The friend took the washcloth, placed it over his face, and proceeded to walk back to his room down the adult-filled hall, which quickly cleared for him.

He figured, if put in the situation, it was decent to let your privates be public so long as you kept your publics’ private.

Truly, a lesson to live by.

ethan on subwayGetting arrested in subway

Finally, last year two friends participated in NYC-based Improv Everywhere’s “No Pants Day.” The full photos were funnier but he and everyone else rode the subways, etc. together, which confused the heck out of genuine New Yorkers until the police arrived to write up the indecently exposed pseudo-commuters. (See the black pants of the cop in the extreme right of the second photo.)

What can I say, this is an odd theme, but I play along. So did these folks:

1 (Porto) 2 (Greenville) 3 (Evry) 4 (Queens) 5 (Seattle, WA, USA) 6 (Stayton, OR, USA) 7 (Albuquerque, NM, USA) 8 (Joplin, MO, USA) 9 (Raymond, Singapore) 10 (Guadalajara, Mexico) 11 (Santiago, Chile) 12 (London, UK) 13 (Jakarta, Indonesia) 14 (Bandung, Indonesia) 15 (Melbourne-John, Aust) 16 (Phoenix, AZ, US) 17 (Twin Cities, MN, USA) 18 (Newcastle-upon tyne, England) 19 (St. Paul-Carol, MN, USA) 20 (Szentes, Hungary) 21 (Tuzla, BiH) 22 (St. Paul-Kate, MN, USA) 23 (Dubai, U.A.E.) 24 (Nelson, New Zealand) 25 (Sharon, CT, USA) 26 (Tenerife, Spain) 27 (Auckland, New Zealand) 28 (Budapest, Hungary) 29 (Sydney-Sally, Australia) 30 (Sequim, WA, USA) 31 (East Lansing, MI, USA) 32 (Vantaa; Finland) 33 (Zannnie, Singapore) 34 (Paris, France) 35 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) 36 (Shanghai, China) 37 (Sydney-Nathalie, Aust) 38 (Hyde, UK) 39 (Akita City, Japan) 40 (Tokyo, Japan) 41 (Rotterdam, Netherlands) 42 (Manila, Philippines) 43 (Not Strictly Seattle, USA) 44 (Stavanger, Norway) 45 (Hong Kong, China) 46 (Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA) 47 (Barcelona-Irrendento, Spain) 48 (Trujillo-Irrendento, Peru) 49 (Naples, Florida, USA) 50 (Delta, CO, USA) 51 (Bath, UK) – 52 (Alexandria, VA, USA)

061007.Bath, Bath Street, Austen Strikes Again!

October 17, 2006 at 8:33 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Horses, Jane Austen, Overcast, somerset | 1 Comment

This is becomming almost personal between Austen and me. I was turning down Bath Street toward the Cross Baths for a shortcut when, lo and behold, I ran into all of these Austen groupies. “Persuasion,” which won’t be shown on TV until March, took over the entire street and even brought their own lamp posts. The production company set up Bath Street as a market street, more or less like a Sunday flea market with all the stalls and crazy outfits.
061007.049.Somset.Bath.Bath St.Filming Austen's Persuasion near the Cross Bath

061007.025.Somset.Bath.Bath St.Filming Austen's Persuasion near the Cross Bath

061006.Bath, Royal Crescent, Jane Austen’s Digital Camera

October 17, 2006 at 8:21 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Horses, Jane Austen, Overcast, somerset | Leave a comment


Again, filming Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” at the Royal Crescent. On his break, this chap took out his digital camera from a watch pocket and took some great shots of his horses and carriage. The only shot I got was him reviewing his pictures.

061006.Bath, Royal Crescent, The Face Off: “Get Down!”

October 17, 2006 at 8:18 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Crescents, Jane Austen, Overcast, somerset | 1 Comment

Damn that Jane Austen and her filming crew! First, she blocked my entry at the Pump Room, and then on Wednesday she foiled my Conservation class’s field trip to the Assemby Rooms, and now she blocks off the entire Royal Crescent. I took these shots with the ultra zoom lens from Royal Victoria Park. There were two coaches present and the horses looked as if they were going to play chicken with each other.
I’ve posted several different creatures on this photoblog so far (cows, cats, spiders, pig carvings, and now horses), but no chickens yet. I did take a shot of some roosters and a duck from the Glastonbury Rural Life Museum. Maybe you’ll see them tomorrow. I should post some of the other shots from today too. The driver of one coach had a single muttonchop sideburn from the costume shop that didn’t connect well with his actual hair. Clearly on film, he was only meant to wear a hat and be seen from one direction. During the breaks, a couple of the other Austen-era costumed actors were taking digital pictures of the horses and architecture as well. [See the clip here.]


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