Clandon Park and Watts Memorial Chapel in Surrey , England

We have mainly been staying at home and taking care of the guinea pigs and cooking because it has been raining almost every day.

olaf and Elsa net

Waiting for their home to be cleaned

 

But we have found some good weather during part of the day to do a little exploring.  We went to Clandon Park, a home owned by the National Trust.  It is an early 18th-century Palladian  mansion.  It caught fire in 2015 and the entire inside was destroyed.  The Trust has decided to restore this mansion to its former glory.  But right now you can only go in to see it with hard hats and a tour guide.  Dave hard hat net  They have photographs of what the inside looked like before the fire, and you can see what a precious historical house looks like now.

Clandon Park Marble hall before 5x7 net

Marble hall before the fire

Clandon Park inside net

After the fire

Here are some other photographs of the damage that the house sustained.

Clandon Park wallpaper 5x7 net

Some wall paper made it through and will be copied for the restored room

 

Clandon Park fireplace 5x7 net

A marble fireplace that is still there

Clandon Park burnt window 5x7 net

A bedroom window

This statue must have fallen into the ashes (notice her broken knee) and was put back up into her niche with wooden safety bars.Clandon Park Venus 5x7 net

You have to applaud the grit of the National Trust to tackle this extensive restoration.  It is also  important for people to see what happens to historical buildings when fire rips through them.

We also had time to go the the Watts Memorial chapel in Compton.  This is an extraordinary example of  Art Nouveau version of  Celtic Revival  style in the village cemetery.  It was designed by Mary Fraser-Tytler,

the wife of the artist George Fredric Watts.  Watts memorial chapel back 5x7 net

Watts chapel outside 5x7 net

Outside panel of terracotta reliefs

Amazingly, “A group of local amateurs and enthusiasts, many of whom later went on with Mary Fraser-Tytler to found the Compton’s Potter Guild, constructed the chapel from 1896 to 1898; virtually every village resident was involved. ” ( Wikipedia ).  I think it is an incredible example of the Victorian sensibilities around a craft movement to inspire social improvement by using creative craft arts.  Here are some of the angels that line the inside of the chapel.watts chapel orange angel 5x7 net

watts chapel fire angel 5x7 net

watts chapel blue angel 5x7 net

watts chapel urn 5x5 net

watts chapel wind angel 5x5 net

These are all made from clay that was found on the Watts estate and hand crafted by Mary and the villagers.   They painted and gilded the work in gold leaf.  It is a truly stunning example of what ordinary people can do when their creative artistry is unleashed.

Advertisements

Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

I am fascinated by old cemeteries.  Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living.  In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries,  Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant  stories of the Irish nation.

Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics  have also been buried there since the 1920s.  It is an older monument type of cemetery.  There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward.  There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky.  Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe.  This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.[2] The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.”  This was not that long ago.  Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower.O Connells grave 5x7 net We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower.  We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt.  One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him.  There is only one caveat,  only their bodies can be stored here.  No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them.  I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.

The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave.  This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”

Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.

I have time to correct and show some of my photos from the trip; so today the Vatican Museum

We were overwhelmed by the amount and quality of art and sculpture we saw in the Vatican Museum.  I wanted to share some of my favorite photographs from that experience.  This is a Roman sarcophagus that shows the amazing skills of those who made this stone coffin; vatican coffin wm  A marble dog holding the side of a doorway on its back. vm dog face 5x7 small  A set of small marble angels playing on a plaque; vatican angels wm  Many of the ceilings were beautiful frescoes of religious or Roman gods and goddesses , here is Neptune the god of the oceans; vatican roman mosaic Neptune corr wm  And here is a ceiling that illustrates bible scenes; vatican ceiling wm  And my favorite pieces are these angel musicians that were saved from a fresco from the church of SS Apostali in Rome.vatican angel 3 angels 5x7 wmvatican angel drum 5x7 wmvatican angel lute 2 5x5 wmvatican angel lute wmvatican angel shell 5x7 wm  I am reminded of how important museums are that save art from being destroyed and keep it for future generations to enjoy.  I will do another blog entry with more of my photos from our trip to share with youl

Creepy gravestones in the Church of San Miniato’s cemetery in Florence Italy

I am getting behind in my chronicles of Florence.  It seems like there is history and wonderful photographs everywhere. Today, I am going to take you to the church of San Miniato which is located in the hills above Florence. “St. Miniato or Minas (Armenian: Մինաս) was an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius. He was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit and was brought before the Emperor who was camped outside the gates of Florence. The Emperor ordered him to be thrown to beasts in the Amphitheatre where a panther was called upon him but refused to devour him. Beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, he is alleged to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage. A shrine was later erected at this spot and there was a chapel there by the 8th century. Construction of the present church was begun in 1013 by Bishop Alibrando and it was endowed by the Emperor Henry II. ” ( from Wikipedia). san miniato church Florence Italy small There are an order of monks who have been in residence at this church since the 15th century. We got to hear Mass and Vespers sung in Latin by this group.  It is very inspiring to go to Mass in a church that is that old. We also looked at the Porte Sante cemetery that surrounds the church. This is a large cemetery with lots of marble statues and gravestones.  Some of them are quite unusual, for example; “Mario and Maria Mazzone. The life-size statues of these two young people who died so very long ago make even the most casual observer stop and look for details of this love story. One sees a young man in an airman’s uniform with a broad smile, looking squarely at the young woman whose gaze is turned slightly aside and downward, with just a hint of a smile on her face, their hands just about to touch. One looks closely and reads in the inscription that Mario, born in 1919, was killed in Hamm, Germany on 22 April 1944; Maria, born in 1922, died some 11 months later, in May of 1945. No other Mazzones are buried there, nor are there any clues as to who these people were. Were they lovers? Husband and wife? In fact, according to Graziella Cirri, who has done an exhaustive analysis of the sculpture in several Florentine cemeteries, Maria and Mario were in fact brother and sister and the statue was commissioned in 1947 by their mother.” ( from The Florentine). san miniato cemetery young couple face bw small san miniato cemetery young couple small Another interesting grave belongs to Silvia Marini Nei de Rogati 1886-1947 .  She is shown standing with a cape outstretched behind her and 4 young children in front of her.san miniato cemetery Silvia Marini Nei de Rogati small I also came across a couple of kind of creepy graves.  The first thing I saw of this particular grave were his feet.  Then I worked my way around to find the sculpted body of a life sized naked man lying over his grave. Click on the photo to enlarge it .san miniato cemetery fallen man small   Then there is this grave with a child being covered with an octopus.  I could not find any information on the web about it or the person, Maria Elizabetta Giustini whose dates were 1955-1956.  san miniato cemetery baby squid smALL There were also many large mausoleums that were made like mini churches; here is one that was quite large.san miniato cemetery domed mausoleum small  Here are a couple of other statues that I found interesting..san miniato cemetery broken angel small san miniato cemetery man small san miniato cemetery praying child small san miniato cemetery woman mosaic small It is a different kind of art; one that expresses a little bit of what one person’s life meant to other people they left behind.