Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 27 and 28 July 2015 – Nada for Now

Dear readers and friends,
Although I have taken several hundred photographs over the last two days, they are for a private portraiture project and I am not able to share them with you.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!
Best wishes,
Me xx

In the meantime, here's something from my holiday in Germany last year.

Heiliger Georg

Monday, 27 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 26 July 2015 – Nerdery

Today I was checking that my lenses were focusing correctly by reference to the concentric circles visible on my laptop screen in this picture. It was all rather tedious. Added to which I realise that I don't understand how Adobe Lightroom is arranging my image files. It is the quest to improve my images that gets me through times like this. Deep breaths and plough on...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 25 July 2015 – Little Purple Flower

"Flowers…are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world"
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844


Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 23 and 24 July 2015 – Music and Rain

On Thursday 23 July we celebrated St James's Day at St Katharine Cree in the City of London.

St Katharine Cree is a Guild Church, its territorial parish having been taken from it by the City of London (Guild Churches) Act 1952 and passed to St Helen Bishopsgate. However we continue to honour St James as well as St Katharine in recognition of the incorporation of the parish of St James Duke's Place into the parish of St Katharine Cree in the 19th century.

For the last few years, the Evensong in honour of St James has been followed by a party with live jazz in the churchyard, weather of course permitting. The band, called Fascinating Rhythm, includes me on percussion for this particular gig. Here are three of us, captured on camera during a number where my musical input was not needed. The female vocalist is, sadly, just out of shot.

On Friday, 24 July it rained during all the hours of daylight, the fall becoming particularly heavy in the afternoon—not conducive in the least to music in the open air.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 21 and 22 July 2015 – The Joy of Commuting – Waterloo Station

One of the things that gives pleasure to commuting (no, I am not mad) is the way the glass in the roof of Waterloo Station diffuses light.

Morning light on Platforms 21 and 22 (originally part of the first London Eurostar terminal, the service later having been transferred to St Pancras International).

Evening light on Platform 17 as commuters race for seats on the 18:28 semi-fast service to Windsor & Eton.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 18, 19 and 20 July 2015 – Small Stuff

I am going to switch Saturday and Sunday's images, as I would like the rose and agapanthus to appear first. These lovely flowers were brought by friends who were returning home to Canada from Italy via the UK and who dropped by for supper on the 18th July. The photo was taken on Sunday the 19th of July. Don't know about you, but I have always gone nuts (in a good way) for yellow and blue.

There is a wonderful electrical shop in Twickenham, where among many other things, you can find all sorts of lightbulbs. This is a replacement I bought there for one of the fittings in our glass cupboard – once in place the little fellow gave subtle light to the supper we enjoyed with our friends on Saturday 18 July. I hope the shop prospers for many years yet, maybe into the next generation if any sanity remains in the UK economy. Let's hear it for independent traders.

If you don't wish to endure an interminable rant, please don't ask me about the uneasy relationship between piano casters (these ones, to be specific) and carpet.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 17 July 2015 – Canary Wharf

For the first time in my life I have taken refreshment and had a meeting in Canary Wharf.

What a strange place it is: alienating and deeply impressive at the same time. It is, for all its massiveness, a microcosm—emblematic of what the British economy has increasingly become. Developed by an overseas-led consortium that went bust in short order and then was part of the new commercial entity that then bought and was itself taken over by another giant a few years later, it houses headquarters of some huge players in the finical world. It was once the heart of the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade into the massive Port of London, but now it deals not so much in the physical realities and tangible fleshiness of nourishment, but in the sophisticated metaphysics of bond trading, derivatives and upper-end wheeler-dealing.

This is far from being a perfect photograph, but I hope it conveys something of the scale and swagger of the place.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 15 July 2015 – Peter Turner, Doctor of Physic (1542–1614)

Peter Turner, MD (1542-1614) was a physician and son of William Turner (c.1508–1568). He was born in 1542 and graduated with an MA at Cambridge, then obtained an MD at Heidelberg in 1571 (later “incorporating that degree at both Cambridge and Oxford.

He practised his profession in London and in 1582 was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians, although not before he had been fined for practising without the College’s licence. In 1580 he was admitted to the office of physician at St Bartholomew's Hospital, succeeding Dr Roderigo Lopez and being in turn succeeded by Dr Timothy Bright in 1584.

He represented Bridport in several of Elizabeth's parliaments and is said to have been zealous in in the Puritan cause in the House of Commons In 1606 he attended Sir Walter Ralegh in the Tower, and also numbered Ralegh’s friend and associate, Thomas Hariot, and the 9th Earl of Northumberland (‘the Wizard Earl’) among his patients.

He was the author of a pamphlet, 'The Opinion of Peter Turner, Doct. in Physicke, concerning Amulets, or Plague Cakes,' (London 1603). The cakes spoken of contained arsenic and were believed to ward off plague. Turner was also probably author of ‘A Spirituall Song of Praise' appended to Oliver Pygge's ' Meditations,' (1589), a hymn of thanks for England’s deliverance from the Spanish Armada.

He married Pascha, daughter of Henry Parry, Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral, and sister of Henry Parry, Bishop of Worcester. He died in the parish of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London on 27 May 1614. Although he had resided in St Helen’s parish for at least 20 years prior to his death, his body was brought to St Olave Hart Street for burial near his father.

Peter Turner’s monument was damaged when St Olave’s was struck by two bombs on 17 April 1941, one of the worst nights of the London Blitz. Although some portions of the monument were recovered when the church was being rebuilt between 1951 and 1954, the effigy of Turner went missing and was not finally restored to St Olave’s until 2011, following a year of negotiation with its then owner, a Belgian antique dealer, who had put it up for auction in 2010.

In 2013, Peter Turner’s monument was partly reinstated, using a mixture of the surviving stone pieces (including the effigy) and new cabinet work, while the monumental inscription, composed by Turner’s episcopal brother-in-law and recorded in the annals of the church, was recreated in gilt lettering on slate by Lucy Haugh. The conservation and cleaning of the effigy and the construction and installation of the new monument were carried out by Colin Bowles Ltd.

Peter Turner’s father, William, was the author of the first properly taxonomic herbal in the English language to have been based on original observations in the field (for which reason he is sometimes referred to as ‘father of English botany’). Recovery of Peter’s effigy and the restoration of his monument gave added impetus to St Olave’s plans to re-plant its churchyard to include herb beds in honour of William, and this work took place between August 2014 and March 2015.

A Year in Pictures – 13 and 14 July 2015 – St Katharine Cree: A Rich History

The Priory of The Holy Trinity was founded on the eastern edge of the City of London in 1108 by Matilda, Henry I's consort. By her generous endowment she gave not only the vast priory church and convent, but also the whole ward of Portsoken, four parishes (including that of St Katharine) and the City gate (Aldgate). By repute, the institution, with its widely extended buildings, was magnificent (the present Mitre Square lies above the priory cloisters, while a section of arches from the interior of the priory church survives in the reception area of an office building on the north side of Leadenhall Street).

The parishioners of St Katharine's first met for divine service at the altar of St Mary Magdalen in the south part of the priory church, but this was inconvenient because of the distraction from the reciting of the offices in the main body of the building. So it was that eventually, by agreement with the Priory, the church of St Katharine was built at the south-west corner of the Priory's land at the instance of Lord Richard de Graveshende, Bishop of London. This first church was built between 1280 and 1303.

The first church was, at the outset, served by one of the Canons of the Priory; in addition, the parishioners were obliged to resort to the Priory church at certain times of the church year. However "contention and discord" existed between the Prior and parishioners until 1414 when, by order of Bishop Clifford at his visitation, the church became again a parish church or chapel with the privileges appertaining to it and this was confirmed by Bishop Fitzjames on March 17 1568.

Little is known of the style of this first parish church. Plans made by A.J. Symans in 1592 (61 years after the Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII and given to Lord Audley) led Sir Walter Besant to comment that from the frequency of the window openings on the second floor plan "It would appear to have been in the Perpendicular style". Ancient masonry can still be traced, just above ground level, along the south and west fronts, that is in Leadenhall Street and Creechurch Lane. However it is known that the tower was built in 1504, with money left by Sir John Percivall, Merchant Taylor. The lower part of Percivall's tower is incorporated into the present structure, as is evident from the Perpendicular Gothic window at the first stage.

The church became known as St Katharine Christchurch, because of its connection with the Priory church, which had been named "Christ's Church" by Matilda (the Priory was commonly known as "Christchurch Priory"). Later this became varied to "St Katharine Creechurch" or, as now, "St Katharine Cree". The change is more readily understood if one remembers that "Christ" was once pronounced "Chreest".

In I531 the Priory was dissolved and its buildings given to Henry Lord Audley. He, in turn, offered the Priory Church to the parishioners of St Katharine but, for reasons that are no longer clear, they refused the offer. However, by 1620 St Katharine Creechurch was in serious disrepair—a deed dated 15 September 1629 refers to the "ruin and decay" of the church, causing structures to fall and so the building was pulled down.

By this time, the level of the high street had been, as John Stow (1598) says: "So often raised by pavements that now men are faine to descende into the…church by divers steps, seven in number". The current building is, therefore, much above the floor level of the first church. On the south side, just inside the building, can be seen the top of one of the pillars of the old church, now at waist height—an effective illustration of the change in floor level.

The new church was built between 1628 and 1630/1 under the influence of William Laud, at that time Bishop of London, and it was consecrated by him on 16 January 1630/1, as recorded in his diary. The ceremonial used by Laud at the consecration was later turned into a weapon to use against him at his trial and he was beheaded in 1645.

The church is one of very few left untouched by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It now stands in need of significant internal and external restoration and of friends and supporters for this task. They are beginning to appear.

St Katharine Cree, looking east.
The architectural style is a fusion of late Perpendicular Gothic and neo-Clasical styles, architecturally unique in London and rare nationally. The great rose window is 17th-century glass. On the ceiling are the coats of arms of the City and of some of the livery companies of the City, including the "Great Twelve" most ancient and wealthiest ones

St Katharine Cree, looking west.
The great organ, restored in 2003, is substantially an extremely good Victorian instrument, but retains some pipes from the original 17th-century instrument that was played by both Henry Purcell and John Blow.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 11 and 12 July 2015 – Greenwich and Hounslow

On Saturday 11 July my wife, daughter and I took a boat trip in the blazing sunshine from the London Eye to Greenwich and back again. It was amazing and thrilling to see such a stretch of historic riverfront and to ponder the depths and layers of history as well as the extraordinary architecture on display. Once at Greenwich, we spent a few hours walking through the Park and the Royal Naval College itself and for the first time in my life I was able to see what lay beneath the famous two domes designed by Christopher Wren.

Here is a detail from the Chapel that is in the eastern wing of the College. The rich plaster detailing everywhere was as overwhelming as its colours were bold, all set off by some of the best lighting in any building I have seen. Here is a small sample of what was on view.

On Sunday 12 July we had our annual Summer Big Lunch in the open air at our church in Hounslow, with games and activities for the children and adults, as well as lots of food contributed by those who came. Although it was an overcast blustery day, the rain held off until the event was over and we had cleared the church grounds, which will now revert to their usual use as parking spaces. Here is some of the food laid out at the start of the afternoon.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 6 and 8 to 10 July 2015 – Oceans of Glass

It is impossible to talk about photography without reference to glass, unless one chooses to limit the discussion to pinhole cameras. This week I have been concentrating on certain striking examples of glass to be found in the City of London and marvelling also at the capability of modern lenses in capturing detail.

On Monday 6 July, a wonderful group called Unity Arts visited St Olave Hart Street with their cameras and I took the opportunity of using mine. Their focus was a detail in the Lady Chapel window, one of the windows designed by A.E. Buss for the post-war restoration of the church. They were making a study of Edith Cavell, the British nurse who was shot by the Germans in 1915 for treason. She had helped over 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German-occupied Belgium and fell foul of the current German military code. You can see a representation of her in the top right of the window.

The window as whole celebrates women, Cavell's companions in the top lights being Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale and Josephine Butler. The lower lights represent the three parishes of the united benefice of St Olave Hart Street, All Hallows Staining and St Katherine Coleman. All Hallows collapsed in 1871 but its mediaeval tower is still visible in Mark Lane – Elizabeth I is shown with the bells of the church at her feet because it is said that the bells encouraged her while she was imprisoned at the Tower of London by her half-sider Mary. St Katherine Coleman stood on the south side of Fenchurch Street but was closed in 1925, its site now being taken up by Lloyd's Register of Shipping. St Mary the Virgin is the subsidiary dedication of St Olave's and her image appears in the middle panel.

The image for 8 July shows the northern end of Lime Street, with the iconic St Mary Axe (more commonly known as The Gherkin) in the distance. perhaps it should be called The Ant's Egg. I like this building, its coloured glass and helical window lines making a stunning display under different light conditions. Also visible is the medieval tower of St Andrew Undershaft, which in its early days would have been one of the tallest buildings around—"Undershaft" is a reference to the maypole that was placed close to the church in the 16th century and provoked rage among Puritans. On the left is the easily recognisable Lloyd's Building, while on the right is the headquarters of the insurance giant Willis. Quite soon the view of The Gherkin and (the now dwarfed) St Andrew's will be obscured by a new pointy building that will itself be taller than with Lloyd's and Willis—this will be 52 Lime Street, which has been christened "The Scalpel". Watch these spaces!

No new basic images to mark 9 and 10 July but I have instead been concentrating on the East Window at St Olave's, the central detail of which marked 7 July. First up now is a detail from the left side of the window, showing an angel and St Olave. Ólafr II Haraldsson, to give him his Old Norse name, was renowned in London for helping Aethelred the Unready defeat the Danes at London Bridge (c.1014). Returning to Norway, he was, as we might say now, "closely involved in" the conversion of Norway to Christianity, He died in battle in 1014 and it said that miracles started to occur near his grave. He was canonised and became the Patron Saint of Norway. St Olave Hart Street is the survivor of five London churches dedicated to him, and was probably founded in the late 11th century. In the window St Olave is shown with a dragon at his feet that has his own face—he is often depicted this way, as legend tells that the dragon he overcame was his own fiery nature.

Finally, the entire East Window is shown here for Friday 10 July. You can see the details already posted above and for 7 July. On the right is St George slaying the Dragon and representing Britain, while on the left is St Olave. The two saints stand on land but are connected by the waves of the sea, symbolising the links of friendship between the British and Norwegian peoples. In addition, the top lights carry the symbols of the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, while in the centre is the Christ symbol, the first three letters of "Jesus" in the Greek alphabet and the first and last letters of that alphabet, reminding us that Christ is referred to in Scripture as "the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End".

Not a bad time perhaps to be reminded of the hallowed place of the Greek language in world history and consciousness.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Year In Pictures – 7 July 2015 – Christus Salvator, Christus Victor

The central detail from the east window of St Olave Hart Street in the City of London, taken for the 10th anniversary of the bombings in London that constitute the worst terrorist action on British soil since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. 52 people died and more than 700 were injured in four separate explosions. The four bombers also died, as these were suicide attacks, the first such incidents on British soil.

The window was designed by A.E. Buss, chief designer for the stained-glass makers, Goddard & Gibbs, and bears the date 1953. St Olave's was damaged by two bombs on 17 April 1941, one of the worst nights of the London Blitz. A month later, incendiaries hit the church tower and the eight bells crashed to the ground in a mass of molten metal. For several years afterwards the congregation of St Olave's worshipped nearby in a temporary church building on land provided by the Clothworkers' Company, historic benefactors of the parish, while the church remained open to the elements, its monuments having been removed and stored in places of safety.

In 1947 the decision was made that the church should be rebuilt and the work of reconstruction was carried out between 1951 and 1954. The little parish church that had escaped the Great Fire of 1666 was restored to its pre-war plan, thanks to the determined efforts of many, not least its Rector, The Rev'd Augustus Powell Miller, who himself joined in the effort of collecting fallen masonry from the municipal yard with a wheelbarrow.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" – Psalm 30: 5

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Year in Pictures – 29 to 30 June and 1 to 5 July 2015 – Another Week Goes By

On Monday 29 June my brother and I went to The Royal College of Physicians for an evening of lectures about The Great Plague of 1665. It was the beginning of what became, for the most part, a week of exceptionally bright and hot weather. Lurking in the shade I caught this shot of the College, a wonderful Modernist building designed by Denys Lasdun (1914–2001) and now listed Grade I.

Tuesday 30 June saw my wife and I having an alfresco supper with friends by the canal at the foot of Horsenden Hill (in what used to be known as Middlesex). Another beautiful evening.

On Wednesday 1 July I sneaked up on one of the four sword stands at St Olave Hart Street, each of which was set up by the parish in the 18th century in honour of a different Lord Mayor of London. The stands are all topped by crowns and bear the Royal Arms of the time, along with the family arms of the dedicatee, the arms of his livery company and the arms of the City.

On Thursday 2 July I went to St Mary-at-Hill, the church closest to the starting point of The Great Fire of London in 1666. There was a short service of Evening Prayer followed by a talk on aspects of human rights by the former Tory Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, who traced the golden thread of rights law in England from Magna Carta until the present day and outlined some of the challenges of maintaining a robust framework of such law amid the pressures of the age of instant communication and soundbite politics. On the way to Bank Station afterwards, I spied three men making their way down the west side of the Walkie-Talkie, cleaning the windows in the rosy light. Two are clearly visible in the photograph, while the other is mainly hidden by the elegant ribs that extend outwards from both flanks of this perplexing building.

On Friday 3 July, on the way home from French class, I again made the short deviation from my route that brought me face-to-face with one of my favourite trees, the mighty oak that stands just inside Marble Hill Park. It was around the moment at which British citizens had been requested to observe a period of silence to honour those killed in the shooting of over 30 tourists in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. The last time I had contemplated this tree I was thinking of the sudden death of a much-loved and respected local pharmacist. Maybe trees, with their sometimes unfathomably long lives, are natural objects to seek out when we need a broader vision or a sense of stability or even eternity.

On Saturday 4 July, my wife and I attended our fourth wedding of the year, at St Stephen's Church East Twickenham, itself very close to Marble Hill Park. The church was built in the 1870s and above its chancel arch is this large Celtic cross cared in stone, another object I have contemplated over the years and reminiscent in shape and arrangement of a Hindu or Buddhist mandala, a circle typically divided into four quadrants and representing the Universe.

On Sunday 5 July we entertained two friends from church to lunch. They both brought beautiful bunches of flowers for my wife. Here is a detail of one the bouquets: stocks, whose perfume is of the luxurious variety. The weather was bright again today, but much cooler after the thunderstorms that had begun the weekend.