Sunday, 2 August 2020

A KNIGHT'S CHURCH IN A SECRET VALLEY

A KNIGHT’S CHURCH IN A SECRET VALLEY

 

In a valley in the Chilterns, frighteningly close to the M40 are the village of Radnage and its exquisite church, St Mary the Virgin. 

 

And it was OPEN!

Radnage is tucked away and up from the village the church sits on a shallow slope. There is a bench by the south wall one can eat one’s sandwiches (which cousin Wendy had made the night before) and enjoy marvellous views over steep fields and woodlands.


A bench by the south wall was the perfect spot for lunch


 

Inside the church all is spick and span, loved, cared for and be enjoyed by passers by.

 

This church was built in the late C12 or early C13 by the Knights Templar. It has a central crossing tower, a late Norman and Early English confection. Throughout there are wall paintings to enjoy and some excellent modern stained glass that sits well in windows that have shed light on worshippers for a thousand years.


Inside a absolute delight and full of lovely things


 

The church has benefited in recent times from the darling of film and TV companies.

 

A gentle and welcoming church and no matter that we cannot worship until I think September, when Services may restart, we can certainly, in daylight hours, find rest here.

 

More about the church and its vibrant community is found here: http://www.radnage.net/st-mary-the-virgin-radnage/

 

FOOTNOTE: we entered the churchyard from the Nature Reserve a steep area of woodland that leads down into the secret valley.  This a story for another time…

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

ATLANTA - HOW VERY POST MODERN


Atlanta: Rush hour traffic builds 

Atlanta: Walking to the office 


Graves' iconic Portland Building 


LIVING IN A POST MODERN WORLD

 

On one of my weekly walks with Trevor the Architect, I asked him who were his architect heroes where, when he was at architects’ school.  He confessed a mild infatuation with Michael Graves an American architect and darling of the§ Post Modern movement over in the USA.   

 

Postmodern architecture was a push back on the Modernist austerity and lack of variety. The impact was wild with building embellished with all kinds of motifs and shapes and plans, Gothic, classical and Gotham City style excrescences.

 

After poking around a bit on this movement I began to realise why I was so fascinated by the buildings in Atlanta, when I visited for work in 2015 2016.

Tall towers topped with all kinds of fanciful knobbly bits and malls in all shades of pinks, browns and ochre.  

 

More research revealed that Graves designed two buildings in Atlanta during his career, with Ten Peachtree Place in the heart of Midtown representing a restrained postmodernism that provides a unique feature within the urban fabric around Midtown MARTA Station.

 

I dug out photographs that I took during those trips during those visits and go to work with pen and brush.

 

https://www.artsatl.org/revisiting-atlantas-architecture-michael-graves-ten-peachtree-place-michael-c-carlos-museum/




Saturday, 25 July 2020

RIDING THE CAROUSEL


Golly gosh it great to be back on the bus!


I had to meet some chums in Amersham, discovered the best bus service ever.

It whistled me from Beaconsfield to Amersham in no time at all and all the bus stops are so conveniently located. In flight service was great and the pilot polite and welcoming.

 

Repeating the experience next Friday.




Wednesday, 15 July 2020

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER



July 2020

The locals call this part of the county, east of the Thames near Wallingford, the South Oxfordshire plain, lightly wooded and full of wide fields that drift up from the river. 


It is the area where two special churches are to be found.

 

 

ST MARY THE VIRGIN, IPSDEN, A TALE OF THREE CHURCHES

Tradition has it that the first church in Ipsden was a small chapel on Berins Hill, about 2 miles east of the present church, built by St Birinus when he came from Rome in AD 634 to convert the Saxon peoples of South Oxfordshire. 

 

The second Ipsden church was in a field south. It fell into disrepair in the 12th century and was eventually demolished. 

 

The materials from church two were hauled up the road to repair and enlarge the present church. It was much smaller and an upland chapel for the adjoining parish of North Stoke. However St Marys eventually became Ipsden Parish Church.

 

Sadly the church was closed. For now we could, even on a grey windy day, enjoy the church, its windows, tracery and flint work, surrounded by here and there by interesting brickwork. 


 

ST MARY THE VIRGIN, NORTH STOKE


Originally Saxon: William the Conqueror crossed the Thames at Wallingford with the help of a Saxon lord, Wigod; his daughter married a Norman Baron. Stability was brought to the area after the Danes had roamed the land for four hundred years

 

The place unique in as much as it is the only church whose churchyard has part of the Ridgeway running through it. 

 

The Saxon church is little to be seen, a Norman took its place with its Early English chancel and an East window in the Decorated style. Like Ipsden, there are wall paintings to enjoy. If one could go inside. 

 

However there is much to enjoy outside, a C15 tiled porch and a nicely kept churchyard and a lychgate made out of timbers from the old bridge at Goring!

 

Add in a constant stream of walkers and there was quite a festive air that Saturday afternoon and both churches are earmarked for a return visit.



Ipsden located in the centre of this map 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

BEACH PARTY?

BEACH PARTY

Right now any picture of crowded beach draws chagrin from many quarters.

The current issue of Vanity Fair carried a detailed piece on the push me pull you nature of the current US Administration over Covid-19. The magazine’s report was centred on the to’ings and fro’ings in the March April period. 

 

This editorial is particular prescient, in early July in the USA over 40,000 cases a day are being recorded. We can only hope this reduces and improves.

 

VF article (opening spread shown here) carried a remarkable picture of a beach in Miami. Seeing it, I was compelled to use it as the basis for a painting. The photograph is a great composition and as much fun to paint as those folk were having on the beach.



 

Hopefully my piece is not read as artistic ambulance chasing. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

ROMANIA REDUX




Entering Cluj one sunny evening

Suceave, from just across from Aldi

 A VERY ROMANIAN ROMANCE

 

Over recent times I have be casting around files of photos as inspiration for paintings. In 2018 we had nine days travelling through Romania.

One of the high spots each day, when entering the town or city in which we’d spend the night, was seeing the apartment blocks towering above us. I hurried took photos and squealed with delight.

 

My passionate appreciation of architecture built during the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu (1965–1989) probably puts me in a majority of one.  However I love the symmetry, curves and haphazard nature of these schemes heighted by when the sun hits them.

 

Ceauşescu had been to North Korea and China in 1971 and was impressed with the huge housing blocks that were constructed on ground levelled to make way for dormitory neighbourhoods. 

 

Rinse and repeat in Romania. Traditional urban areas were destroyed in a process christened Ceauşima (Ceauşescu’s system). 

 

The dictator’s bombast and swagger reached its zenith in the building of the 'Palace of the People' now post-revolution renamed the Palace of the Parliament which we visited, huge beyond belief.


Work Suspended 

Friday, 3 July 2020

HOORAY! Open for Business


 

In another one of my jaunts with Rosie, across the border into Berkshire, we alighted on Sonning on Thames. It was a super sunny day to mooch round St Andrews church.

 

Parking was a conundrum so I begged permission to park in the area next to the vicarage. The Revd. Jamie Taylor (I presumed) answered the vicarage door and said of course. 


“The church is open by the way he added”.


Open for business! YAY!

 

Joy of joys, for we had not been inside a church for twelve weeks so this was a much-missed treat.

 

St Andrews Sonning actually opened for business around 900 AD and became one of the twin Cathedrals of the Bishop of Salisbury. It was a good call; three of Sonning's medieval bishops achieved Sainthood.

 

Now inside the church is it full of lovely Victorian fancies. 


Hugh Pearson became vicar of Sonning in 1841. He found the church in a bit of a mess and set about to fix it up. With the drive and enthusiasm of Kevin McCloud in Grand Designs. The good reverend pulled in a good architect.

 

In 1852 Henry Woodyer led the church’s restoration. Woodyer, architect and pupil of William Butterfield (Butterfield ‘did’ All Saints Margaret Street in London which is simply fab. Woodyer was also a disciple of A. W. N. Pugin sometimes referred to as God’s Architect. 

 

Off came the roof and the height of the Nave was raised; any of the arches where repaired and then most of the windows where replaced. 


Woodyer's makeover - Victorian loveliness

 

Robert Palmer (MP) paid for the majority of the work. Mr Palmer liked a good rebuild having pulled down and rebuilt Holme Park round the corner.

 

I did miss the famous Rich Monument dedicated to Sir Thomas Rich who was buried in the vault below in 1667. The monument came in to a lot of flak when erected; The Ecclesiologist magazine described it as ‘the vilest paganism imaginable’ It appeared that sad putti and vast urns where not the writer’s thing. Monument has been removed to beneath the tower where it can be viewed through the curtained grill.

 

There is a imaginative portrayal of the Church’s history (from which I have immoderately borrowed) here http://sonningparish.org.uk/parish-history/