Postcards from Kiplin Hall

Heritage, North Yorkshire, Walking

Kiplin Hall. That was our destination on Sunday. We first went there a few years ago for joyful Shakespeare productions, such as Romeo and Juliet, by the irrepressible Handlebards. These days, we go if we need a quiet few hours at a country house whose grounds are extensive enough to offer a walk, a view and coffee and cake after. Here are my picture postcards – monochrome, as picture postcards always used to be – for Mid-Week Monochrome #110 – and to send to Jo, of Jo’s Monday Walk fame.

Kiplin Hall was built as a hunting lodge in the 1620s by one George Calvert, who was Secretary of State to King James VI. American readers may like to know that he was made Baron Baltimore, and was granted a charter to found a colony in America. This colony became – the State of Maryland.

Here’s our first sight of the hall:

Goodness, it was breezy that day. But walk we would, all the way round the lake -into the wind at first – one of the images give an idea of the scudding waves. We set off to get various views of the lake and hall. Here’s a clutch of postcards.

There are woodlands to explore: but the wind was picking up. Better to find shelter and explore the huge walled garden perhaps, where they grow all the fruit and vegetables used in their tearooms, and to make the jams, jellies and chutneys on sale. But wait! Suddenly it’s quite forbidding … Hallowe’en is on the way…

We’ll take our courage in both hands and enter anyway … there, that’s not so bad …

Although …. who’s that sitting on the bench over there?

We decided the tea room was a better option. Coffee, date and pecan cake anyone? No photo available. We ate every crumb before we gave the camera a thought.

A Heavyweight at Harewood House

Heritage, history, Yorkshire

Harewood House is the archetypical country house. Built for Edward Lascelles, the first Baron Harewood, in the mid eighteenth century to designs by John Carr and Robert Adam, it is set in one hundred acres of garden designed by Capability Brown. It’s among Yorkshire’s most prized treasures. These days, such treasure has lost some of its lustre as people remember that the Harewood family acquired their immense wealth from being slave owners and having plantations in West India. The present Harewood family can’t change that past, but their exhibition programme does what it can to redress the balance: this month there’s an exhibition on Windrush generation Arthur France, founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival.

I mention this, because as you enter the house, this is what you see:

A spacious and gracious entrance hall: delicate plaster work, elegant columns: and slap bang in the centre, a mighty sculpture, monumental, assertive and demanding attention. This figure isn’t a slave: he’s not even Afro-Caribbean. No, this is a sculpture by Jacob Epstein, who was greatly influenced by what was in the early twentieth century thought of as ‘primitive’ art – that of Polynesia and Africa. This is Adam.

How he got here is a curious tale. Back in 1961 the then Lord Harewood saw this sculpture in of all places, a Tussaud’s peep show in Blackpool, together with other works by Epstein. A long and complicated story, but he eventually bought it, and now it’s recognised for the stirring and monumental piece that it is, rather than a grotesque to be laughed at. Do look at this post here to get a flavour of how Epstein’s work was regarded in its early days, at least as it was displayed in Blackpool. The short video below however places Adam in the context of Harewood House.

I wanted, for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge #220 One Subject Three Ways by Patti, to observe Adam in several ways, to look at how this potent figure works in a space to which it seems in many ways unsuited. I found the lighting difficult and am not pleased with my results, but … I did it anyway. You’ve seen the first one already. Here are more…

So … Adam. But knowing the story of Harewood and where the money came from to build it, I found this figure, which relies on an African, rather than an European artistic heritage, makes a powerful statement to those who enter this house to enjoy its treasures and its finely proportioned and handsome grandeur.

I’m going to have another go at the challenge, perhaps tomorrow, when I take a stroll in the artfully designed ‘natural’ landscape of Harewood House.

Last on the Card: I couldn’t possibly comment …

Heritage, Yorkshire

We all trotted off to Harewood House yesterday. This must-visit stately home between Leeds and Harrogate is a little notorious these days because the enormous wealth and privilege it represents was built as a direct result of the slave trade. Designed by architects John Carr and Robert Adam, it was built, between 1759 and 1771, for Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood, a wealthy West Indian plantation and slave-owner.

These days, the family does what it can to move on from these distasteful roots. I’ll probably write more later about a current exhibition there – Radical Acts: Why Craft Matters, which looks at a wide range of social justice and environmental issues. But I found my last photo of the month, taken there, irresistible. It’s perhaps not the sort of poster you’d normally find gracing a stately home?

For Brian (Bushboy)’s Last on the Card: July 2022. A chance to show our last photo of the month, however good, bad or indifferent.

Postcards from Premià de Mar

Barcelona, Catalonia, Heritage

We’re having a quiet day. We’re exploring Premià’s change from fishing village to dormitory town via its skirmish with industrialisation in the 19th century. Few signs are left of its days as a textile town, like many in Catalonia.

Fishermen’s cottages built round about 1839, just before industry arrived and expanded the town.

But here’s something we can’t get our heads round. The textile and gas industries depended on coal. And the coal was transported from Barcelona by rail, on the very first trainline in Spain, opened in 1848.

But where did the coal come from? Asturias, some of it. But most of it came by sea from England. Just think: England, all the way down the coast of France to the Iberian peninsula which had to be skirted virtually in its entirety. It seems economic madness, but it can’t have been.

The station still exists. The nearby docks hardly at all. One man and his dog play in the shallows of la Descàrrega. I’m sure they don’t give a thought either of this area’s industrial past, nor of its more recent role in the Spanish Civil War. Bunkers were erected here to protect the railway signals from attack by Francoist troops, and you can see their remains in the featured photo..

One happy dog. His master’s having a swim. That’s Barcelona in the distance.

The Odd Frog or Curious Creature

Barcelona, Heritage

One of my favourite places in Barcelona is the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which I’ve written about, here and here. It’s a hospital ahead of its time, begun in the late 19th century, set in gardens for the patients to enjoy. Gardens containing odd little delights to spot such as this frog, crouched above a window.

For Becky’s Square Odds,

A morning walk with the rangers at Studley Royal

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Heritage, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Walking

It’s 7.45. Here’s the sunrise on our way to Studley Royal.

And having met the rangers and our fellow walkers – volunteers on the site, here’s who we’d come to see.

Red deer, but ancient trees too. Cherry trees aren’t meant to last 400 years, but somehow this one is clinging on. Whereas the oak nearby is thought to be more than 800 years old, and dating from the days when the monastic community was at its height in nearby Fountains Abbey.

Come with us as we walk past the entrance to the park, framing the view down towards Ripon Cathedral, before we climb uphill to less frequented parts of the parkland, where deer usually roam free and we could enjoy open views across to Ripon and the North York Moors beyond.

And by 10.00, the rest of the day’s our own.

For Jo’s Monday Walk, because I know Jo would love this walk too.

Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, North Yorkshire

Somehow, we forgot all about Masham Sheep Fair last weekend. We forgot about the dozens of different breeds of sheep on show; the sheep-shearing demonstrations; the sheep dog competitions; the children, some really quite young, demonstrating their knowledge and prowess as sheep-handlers. There’s no help for it. We’ll have to revisit this post from October 2014 instead. And by the way. Please don’t show yourself up. Pronounce Masham correctly. Mas-ham. Anyone who lets the side down and calls it Mash’em is immediately recognised as an outsider.

And let’s include this blast-from-the-past in Becky’s Past Squares, as well as including it in Fandango’s Flashback Friday, a celebration of past posts which deserve another outing.

A SHEEP IS A SHEEP IS A SHEEP …

… or not.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

A Window to the Soul?

England, Heritage, National Trust

It’s been a strange Not-Quite-Christmas – in our case quite an enjoyable one, and today I’m going to offer a Not-Quite-Monday-Window. Why not? Eyes, it’s said, are the windows to your soul, and we saw plenty of eyes when we visited Knole Park the other Christmas with Team London. Those eyes belonged to some rather over-friendly sika deer. I’m not clear about whether deer have souls, but they they certainly provided a different sort of window through which we could remember our visit. Here’s a picture of me with my son and his son, as seen through the eyes of a passing deer.

Playing a Viking Game

Heritage, North Yorkshire

Way back in what we no longer call the Dark Ages, this part of the world – north east England – was overrun by Vikings.  They came, they saw, they settled.  They left their mark on the language: villages such as Thirn, Thrintoft, Skeldale, Kirkby, Slingsby, Ainsty all betray their Norse ancestry.  Vikings have a reputation for ravaging and plundering, but in fact many of them and their families made their lives here.

The scenery won’t have been so tidily organised back then.

And settlers need some down-time in among the hard work of clearing and working the land and looking after stock: pursuits like this forerunner of the board game, which was played throughout what is now Scandinavia. We found one while walking the Howardian Hills last weekend. It looks like a maze, and it’s called City of Troy.

 

City of Troy, near Dalby, Sheriff Hutton.

It’s one of only eight still left in England, and this one is the smallest- barely bigger than a large picnic blanket.  There used to be one near Ripon apparently, but it was ploughed up in 1827.  Nobody any longer knows how to play this game.  Why City of Troy?  Well, it’s thought that it refers to the walls of that city, which were apparently built in such a way as to prevent unwanted intruders finding their way out.  I’m astonished by the idea that the average Norseman (or woman) was up to speed with Ancient Greek history and myth, but what do I know?

A close up view.

It’s related though to labyrinths found all over Europe.  Every ancient culture: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Indian, Native American – had their own take on this one-way-in and one-way-out puzzle.  The labyrinth made its way into mediaeval churches.  There was even one in the cathedral local to us in France, in Mirepoix.

The labyrinth in Mirepoix Cathedral.

To Christians of those days, it may have been a symbol of wholeness, and an aid to reflection and prayer.  That spiral path within a circle may represent a meandering path, leading us to our very centre, then back out into the world.

The maze game probably doesn’t run so deep.  But what its rules were, and when and how it was played, out on a hillside some distance from any known settlement is a mystery that will almost certainly never be solved.