Friday, July 19, 2019

Ely Cathedral

In the way-back-before years, I think we had seen Canterbury, Westminster, Salisbury, and the York Minster. In 2009, on our first post-retirement campaign in Britain, Ely, in Cambridgeshire, was the first new (to us) cathedral we saw, and it made an immediate impression...the monumental Romanesque structure, the painted wooden ceiling, and especially the octagonal lantern tower. We were eager to see it again this time, so much so that we inadvertently got in the building with the opening of the 7:30 mass doors, well before visiting hours, and had the whole cathedral to ourselves. (The mass was off in some some chapel). We did leave a small offering in gratitude.
Another great big one that fills the lens and more
Love the entwined arches
All the ingredients of Norman/Romanesque
Elevation, with the giant gallery so typical of the age
A bit of the painted wooden ceiling
Closer up
Looking back from the crossing
The original central tower crashed down in 1322, and rather than risk a repeat
of that disaster, the builders elected to go with the wooden octagonal lantern tower
that is now in place
It is Ely's most distinctive and beautiful feature
Also at the crossing...the cathedral has very old origins
With the choir and chancel and then the Lady Hall, fashions changed, from
Romanesque to Decorated
Hovering angels, just like we're seeing now in the parish
churches of the area

Beginning stages of fan vaulting and some incredibly intricate carving
Also some nice windows
In the Lady Hall, full-tilt Decorated (ignore the despicable
contemporary statue of Mary)
It was in the Lady Hall that Cromwell's troops did their greatest damage to this
church (and many others) in the Civil War, lopping of heads of anything that
smacked of Roman Catholicism, smashing windows, even scraping off paint
Outside: I developed my interest in funny faces--grotesques--sometime after Ely,
probably not until we saw Kilpeck months later; but now I noted that, like any
decent Romanesque church, Ely is fairly covered in funny faces
Scores, maybe hundreds of them, two lines here on aisle and nave

Alas, some appear to have been redone
Not sure we like this---wondering what it might have meant to a 12th century
craftsman versus looking at a 21st century caricature
I would leave you, kind reader, with this final image, but...
In Ely, Cromwell's home town, his family's house is now the Tourist Information

Hard to think of anyone who did less for British tourism!

Anglesey Abbey Garden

We did the garden tour, as we always try to do.

Tulip tree tulip


One of many eye-catchers (Culpability Brown terminology)

Beautiful lime tree avenue; it was a warm day and the fragrance was wonderful

Cain bonking Abel; wait, no...

In the beautiful walled garden, the border in full tilt

Pano, thus

Brave young gardener--braving the bees--tying up the flowers

Another, trimming the esplanade, bees threatening all about

Now approaching the rose garden

Recognizable garden copy of Donatello's David; thus
Anglesey Abbey...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Anglesey Abbey House

We tried really hard to like Anglesey Abbey, spending nearly the whole day there. In the end, it was just too nouverau riche and too nouveau English (Vicki's appraisal). Traces of the 13th century Augustinian abbey remain, but mostly it is a house renovated and enlarged, since way back in 1926 (CE), by the American Urban Huttleston Rogers Broughton. Long story short is that his English dad, an engineer, immigrated to America, made some money in the railroads, but wisely married into the oil-rich Rogers family, associates of the Rockefellers, Fricks, Vanderbilts, and the like. His American mom took him back to the UK, where he inherited the title that had been awarded his dad, attended Harrow, and spent the rest of his years living the good life, hunting, horse-racing, and buying antiques and art to fill Anglesey. The Trust's consultant had described the collection, we were told, as "desultory and undistinguished," but the Trust took it anyway, apparently in view of the endowment that went with the house, the collection, and the lands. Lord Fairhaven wanted it all preserved as a testament to a way of life, he lamented, that was vanishing. And good riddance! some would say.
Entrance to the house

The only remaining part of the abbey

A reputed self-portrait by Canaletto...very dubious

Lord Fairhaven's American father-in-law was a close
friend and associate of Mark Twain, hence this specially
bound  edition of Tom Sawyer

Interesting furnishings

One of two reputed Claude Lorraines

Lord Fairhaven; he served with the British in WWI; BTW,
Fairhaven, in Massachusetts, was his mom's hometown

Note carved headboard

The Hall of Nudes; he had a fondness for nude paintings apparently inherited
from his mom

The Plywood Room, as Vicki described

All the rooms are name; Cambridge is only a few miles away

Turner's Bristol; I might have been more impressed, but

Then these were on the nightstand of one of the guest rooms

The library, large but not very old

First great house we've seen that had a men's room

The Kindness of Rebecca tapestry, Rebecca

Dining room, in the remains of the abbey