Sunday, 25 November 2012

Can you ever have enough candlesticks?

There is something rather comforting about candlelight.
Candlelight creates a warm glow and a sense of timelessness (and intimacy) that cannot always be achieved with electric light - despite its undoubted convenience.
The use of appropriate lampshades can go some way towards creating a similar ambience:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
But for my money there is nothing to beat the comfortable cosiness of a candlelit room and as Winter fast approaches our thoughts turn more and more to the use of candles to create that magical quality we love.

Which leads to the question: Can you ever have enough candlesticks?

This weekend we have begun to clean and spruce up our candlesticks in readiness now that summer is long gone.  I see that we have around twenty-two, not including tea light glasses and their ilk.  Twenty-two good honest dependable candlesticks.

To give some idea I decided to do a candlestick 'fashion shoot' (some with, and some without candles) to give you a sampling of our collection.

So, off we go then!

This pair of English Edwardian barley twist candlesticks, made of oak, have nice brass cups on top to hold the candle itself:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This German 'Biedermeier' candlestick is made of tin:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Very plain and somewhat simple; it does however have a rather nice scalloped lever for pushing the candle up.  This way the thrifty householder get maximum use out of said candle!
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
AGA tells me that this brass candlestick is also Biedermeier.  It is German and a little worse for wear around the rim although the Victorian brass candlewick trimmers resting on its base work perfectly!
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
These two handsome chaps are French bronze candlesticks from around the 1870s.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
They have enameled, painted decorations around the base.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This tiny candlestick comes from a shop in Stockholm.  It was given to me as a present by a shopkeeper after we had bought one of his cartel clocks.  It is the sort of candlestick you carry to bed with you and then snuff out.  It isn't designed to hold a candle that is going to burn for too long. . .
This somewhat blurred Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
These four gentlemen are Edwardian barley twist candlesticks made in oak.  They have rather ornate brass cups for the candles to go in.  You will see that they are in fact two pairs.  One set has the twist going one way and the other set has it's twist going the opposite way.  I decided to set them up alternately for this photograph:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This is an old Church candle.  I am told that it comes from France.  I like it with its brass lilies and 'fancy' acanthus leaf base:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Meanwhile, Pope Pius XI enjoys sitting between these two brass candlesticks in the kitchen.  They are English and my father's family at one time had a hand in making them, at their brassfoundry.  Originally these formed a set of pairs ranging from extra large down to very small.  They were very popular in the late Victorian era. 
My grandparents had the entire set but most were lost when their house was destroyed during bombing in WWII.  Only two pairs were able to be salvaged: The really large one and the next one down.  One still carries its bomb dent with pride!  I occasionally come across other sizes in our travels and here are two that I found at a fairly reasonable price on the Portobello Road.  An old antique dealer asked me if I had the 'rare' Queen of Diamonds' candlestick made for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.  I couldn't remember if that was one that we had a home.  The next time we were back in Melbourne I looked - but alas it wasn't.  These two make their appearance at dinner time, when they come into their own but for this photograph they are sitting peaceably with the Pope and a duck.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Moving right along:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This large one, newly made - which at the moment has a rather ugly looking purple candle in it from last year's Advent Wreath - is a beauty!  I don't like those candles that have a 'plasticy' non-melting cover around them.  I shan't buy those any more. We bought the candlestick while in London because it had such wonderful looking feet!
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This is a little Swedish wooden candle 'holder'.  You can't light those for too long or the whole thing would catch fire!
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
AGA took this photograph for you.  It shows one of his prize French bouillotte lamps.  Most bouillotte lamps these days have been converted to electricity but this one can still hold candles:
This Photograph was  taken by AGA!
And I know these are not, strictly speaking, Candle Sticks but they fulfill the same function.  In Germany (where these two Pewter ones come from) I believe that they are called 'Blakker'.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
They reflect quite a nice light in the evening:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Looking for a book by candlelight lends a magical, mysterious air to an otherwise ordinary activity...
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Do you use candlesticks at home?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Vicar and his wife

Today has been cold and it grew dark rather earlier than I expected.  Sitting at the writing desk I gazed at this little collection of conkers and acorns - a reminder of Autumn which is slowly departing to make way for Winter. . .
The leaves of the oak tree outside the window have already changed from green, to yellowish green, to orange, to a coppery brown.  Soon they will fall away and be no more.

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale

This set me to thinking about people and the things that are left behind when they have died.

Tangible things.

The many photographs that we take our ourselves and our family - what will become of them?  Will they survive the years after we have gone?

What will become of our earthly reminders?
* * * * *

A couple of years ago I was spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon, strolling through e-bay (as one does) when something caught my attention: A silhouette.

It looked like this:

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.

A fairly standard, early-to-mid nineteenth century silhouette.  

The name of the sitter was on the back: Susannah Coulcher.

And there was a short biographic note which stated that her maiden name was Bohun, and that she died in 1842:

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.

I liked the fact that this was not an anonymous piece and decided that I might like to put a bid on it.

Was she a descendant of the great de Bohun family?  If the answer was 'yes' then she would be related (extremely distantly) to me!

Having spent some time in idle contemplation of the piece and its possible history, I continued my stroll when my eye was arrested by another silhouette:

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.

Another standard early-to-mid nineteenth century type except that this one was a little worse for wear with a cracked glass and a lot of brown staining of the previously white paper.

This silhouette also had a note on the back:

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.

Rev. George Coulcher.


Taking a second look at Susannah's silhouette to make sure, I was able to confirm that not only did they have the same surname but they were being put up for auction by the same seller.

I suppose it makes business sense to sell these as separate items when one is wanting to make as much money as possible on the sale; but to me it seemed a travesty because a quick look at some suitable records showed me that George and Susannah were in fact husband and wife. 

That settled it.

I could not let them be sold, separated, to end up goodness-knows-where, when in life they had been together.
It would be in my opinion extremely bad form and so I did the gentlemanly thing and placed bids on both of them.
AGA is more sensible than I when it comes to bidding on ebay and so I asked him to be in charge as I often get cold feet and put unrealistically low bids that fail.

And so it came to pass that George and Susannah ended up with us, in our bijou apartment where they are living most comfortably.

And here is what I have found out about them:

Once upon a time there was a man named George Coulcher.
The son of the Rev. Martin Coulcher and his wife Elizabeth; he was born at Little Plumstead, Norfolk and baptised at the Parish Church of St Margaret, Lynn, on the 10th of November in 1805.

(Those of a literary bent might recognise the name Plumstead.  In the Barchester Chronicles, Anthony Trollope gave this name to the place where Dr. Grantley lives.) 

Anyway, George followed the usual path.  He finished school and was sent to University and from there became an ordained clergyman in the Church of England.

Just like his father.

Now that he was set up, with a living (or perhaps two) of his own, it was high time that he married.
It is possible that his was an arranged marriage as his father, and the bride's father, were neighbours.  It was the year 1838 and his bride was Susannah (sometimes known as Susan) Bohun, the daughter of a certain Squire Bohun.  I want to say that his first name was George too but I forget.

Susan and George resided in Cambridge and it was here that their son George Bohun Coulcher (1842-1912) was born.  He would eventually become Vicar of Maidstone which is interesting because a relative of mine was also a vicar of Maidstone, but at a later date.

However, after only a few years of marriage, in the early part of 1842, Susan died possibly of some illness associated with the birth of her son George Junior.

George Senior was now alone with at least one child and his pastoral duties to take care of.
He remarried: But not right away.  I like to think that he missed his wife and could not think of any one taking her place.  Perhaps this is why he retained those silhouettes, making sure that they were kept together.  Perhaps, after his death, his son inherited them and then?  Who knows . .

Anyway, eight years passed before he again walked down the aisle, his bride being Sarah Jane Hawtayne (1813-1902) because a responsible Clergyman needs a wife to help him with his duties.

George ended his clerical career as Rector of Wattisfield in Suffolk where he rebuilt the rectory as well as helping to fund a new Church school.   He died at Wattisfield in 1863.

This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.

George and Susan are long gone.   These silhouettes, like autumn leaves, are a faint reminder of what they had been.

I am so pleased that I have been able to keep them together when others would have parted them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

11 November

This is the story of two young men.

Cousins - or if you want to be precise, second cousins because the grandmother of one and the grandfather of the other were siblings.

The first was born in Lincolnshire in the year 1895.  His parents named him Leslie James Denman. He was their first child.

The second was born in Nottinghamshire in the year 1898.  He already had two brothers and his parents named him Will.  Not William.  Will.

Leslie's father was the Vicar of Gainsborough.

Will's father was an electrical engineer who specialised in the theatre.  When Will was still a baby, the family moved to Staffordshire, taking up residence in the town of Stoke-on-Trent.

Both boys grew up within a loving family.  Both went to school.  Both had friends and fights and adventures.

Leslie had a good life at St. Edwards.  Excelling in sports, he was a member of the School's Cricket XI and Rugby Football XV, in both of which he 'gained his colours'.  Fond of amateur dramatics, he had taken part in various theatrical events staged by his father at Gainsborough. In 1913, aged eighteen, he left school and became an undergraduate at Christ's College, Cambridge.

This photograph of Christ's College, Cambridge comes from Wikimedia Commons
In 1913 Will had presumably finished school.  Unlike Leslie, his is a hidden life and we know little although I am told he wanted to become an engineer like his father and elder brother, Arthur Llewelyn.

The cousins had an ancestor who had fought at the Battle of Waterloo.
The story handed down about him was that in the aftermath of the battle, he wandered the battlefield and later declared to the family that after Waterloo there would never be another battle because humanity could not, and would not, put up with such another huge loss of life.  From that point on no members of the family joined the military and the family directed its talents to the arts and to the mercantile world instead.

All this changed however in the 1914, when what was known as the 'Great War' began and the lives of the majority of young men and women throughout the world, changed forever.

At University, Leslie joined the Officers Training Corp.  He was gazetted in September of 1914 and joined the Lincolnshire Regiment.  His father accepted this with a heavy heart.

Leslie entered the 'Theatre of War' in February of 1915, with his battalion.  Thanks to his training he was now a Lieutenant however a few months later he caught enteric fever (a form of typhoid) and invalided home.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that none of the family had lived in Wales for many years, Will's father was fearlessly proud of his aristocratic Welsh heritage.  Were they not descended from the Wild Knight of Caer Howel?
Will's father had tried in vain to gain back the ancestral lands on the Welsh borders, pending large amounts of money in the process.  Now was his chance for his sons to follow in the ancestors' footsteps and he directed them to join the Welsh Regiment, as his own brother Henry had done.
Will was young.  In 1914 he was just sixteen years of age.  He decided to join the Army Cycling Corps instead but when this was disbanded he too joined the Welsh Regiment.  He was now a Private in the 16th Battalion.

This Photograph of Soldiers in northern France during WWI comes from Wikimedia Commons.
Late in 1915, having completed his training, Will also entered the 'Theatre of War'.

After a few months of recuperation, Leslie returned to his regiment in October 1915 and received a promotion.  He was now a Captain.  His scholarly younger brother Aubrey had also joined up, becoming a Lieutenant.

Will remained a Private.  His service number was 40660.  He marched.  He used his gun: His weapon of war.

In December of 1915 Leslie was sent to Egypt.

In Europe the enemy were using poison gas.  In April of that year they had launched chlorine gas against Canadian troops in the Second Battle of Ypres.  This was the first time gas has been used as weapon in this war. The result was horrible.

Leslie returned to the nightmare that was the Western Front, in February of 1916.  He was stationed with his men near Mont St. Eloi in northern France.

He was killed a few weeks later.

In writing to his grieving parents, his commanding officer stated:
"He was a gallant officer, never hesitating to expose himself when necessary, and setting a fine example to both officers and men with whom he was on the best of terms.  He is much regretted by all ranks and particularly by his  brother officers who admired his cheery spirit, good society, and never-failing courage.
(The Times, 25 March 1916, Page 6)

Months passed and on the 19th of August 1916, Will and his battalion arrived at Ypres.  Fighting was fierce on both sides.

Just outside of Boezinges lay the famous Essex Farm military hospital.  It was here that in the previous year, the solider poet John McCrae had penned the words that would become the famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'.  By the time Will arrived he had left and was serving at Boulogne in his capacity as a physician.

Less than one month passed and Will was dead.

Meeting his uncle Henry some time later, Arthur Llewelyn told him how Will had died.  The brothers had found themselves stationed near to each other, when the order came to advance.  They had run forward amidst the bursting of bombs and the sound of bullets.  At one point something made Arthur turn his head and he saw his brother shot and fall.  But this was war and he could not stop.
Despite his sudden tears and the ache in his heart, he must push forward.  To stop might mean not only his own death but the failure of the 'push'.  Later he searched the battlefield until he located Will's body and then got him back to the camp for burial.  This last thing he could do for his dead brother.

The Cemetery at Essex Farm in war conditions.  I can't remember where I found this photograph.
* * * * * * * * * * * 

Leslie was buried at Mont St. Eloi.  He was twenty years of age.

Will was buried at Essex Farm Cemetery.  He was eighteen years of age.

Back in England the grieving parents received the news they dreaded.

Any feelings of 'romance' for war was well and truly dead and buried.

As dead and buried as theirs sons.

This Photograph of Will's grave was taken by Kirk Dale.
This Photograph of Leslie's grave was taken by Kirk Dale.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Horseman, St. Otto, and the Heavenly Garden.

This is my last post on our motoring holiday into Germany otherwise you will be thinking: "Not more holiday photos!!!  When will it all end!?"
When we visited Bamberg, two sites made a huge impression upon us.  I would like to share them with you.  The first one is Bamberg Cathedral.

Bamberg Cathedral celebrates its 1,000 anniversary this year.  It is a big old church with (I think) copper roofing on its four towers that has gone green with age.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
The outside of this building is adorned with architectural treasures that are a joy to behold:
This is one of the side portals to the Cathedral.  The scene above the doorway shows the Final Judgement.  Sinners on Our Lord's left and saved on His right:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
 Here is a close-up.  I like the fact that one finds all sorts among both sinners and saved.  The sinners grimace in terror as a devil hauls them off, while the saved smile beatifically:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Here are the sculptures above the main portal.  Our Lady and the Infant Jesus are with St Peter and St George:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Another portal shows the various Saints associated with the Cathedral:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
St Stephen the Martyr, St. Kunigunde and St. Henry are on the left, while St Andrew and Adam and Eve are on the left.  These are not the original medieval statuary.  They are to be found within the Diocesan museum, having aged somewhat badly, however these are exact replicas.  Here is a detail of St. Kunigunde and St. Henry:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
And here are Adam and Eve with the appropriate leaves.  You will see that the replicas lack arms hands and other parts.  This is the condition of the medieval originals and the replicas are modelled similarly:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Once inside the Cathedral there are more treasures to behold.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This is a late Medieval statue of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
And here is the famous thirteenth century sculpture: The Bamberg Horseman:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Some people think that it represents St Stephen of Hungary, others say it is the Emperor St. Henry while still others say it is a chap called Conrad.  No one really knows for certain and it all just guess work really.
Putting that to one side though, it looks as if the statue were carved recently rather than nearly eight hundred years ago, but I guess this is due to the fact that it is inside, high up, and out of the elements.

Here is the tomb of the royal Saints: the Emperor Henry II and the Empress Kunigunde; founders of the Cathedral.  The tomb was carved in the 1500s by the famous sculptor, Tilman Reimenshneider.  I have seen another work of his: a huge altar piece in the church at Rothenburg ob der Taube.  In the crypt one can see the skulls of the two Saints however as these are Holy Relics I did not take a photograph.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
And here, on the side of the tomb is carved the Empress Kunigunde walking barefoot across red hot plough shares before the Emperor, to prove her innocence when accused by the cathedral workmen (who didn't like the way she was bossing them about when it came to finishing the Cathedral buildings) of being unfaithful to the Emperor in his absence:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
 Here is a prosperous Prince Bishop of Bamberg giving his blessing:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Here, just behind the current Archbishop of Bamberg's throne, is the tomb of Pope Clement II, the only Pope buried in Germany.  This is a restricted and sacred area, being the High Altar, and as such off limits to wandering tourists, so I have taken a photograph using the zoom lens:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
And finally here is a statue of poor old Saint Denis, bishop of Paris, who had his head cut off during a Christian persecution in about 250.  A popular saint in medieval times:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
I really liked this cathedral.  It has gone through a lot not the least being the 'modernization' undertaken by an interfering 19th Century King of Bavaria (when much medieval painting was lost forever) and yet it retains a sense of dignity and gentleness that I found palpable.

The second place I would like to show you is the Michaelsberg Abbey:
Here it is bathed in autumnal sunlight.  It sits on its own hill and until secularization in 1802 was a prosperous monastery.
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
There are two treasures within this building:
The first is behind the High Altar which in itself is a thing of beauty:
This somewhat blurred Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
If you walk around the altar you come across a small room in which you find the tomb of St Otto of Bamberg.  St Otto (known as Otto the Good) died in the year 1139 and was later recognised as a saint.  Here is his tomb:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
St Otto is a Saint who looks after you if you have back ache (a problem that both AGA and I were suffering from, thanks to long hours of sightseeing).
If you crawl through the hole in the tomb, making a true and pious request, St Otto will cure you of back ache.  Well it isn't very scientific I know but AGA and I are Catholics and so we 'did' it.  There are no photographs as the process is somewhat ungainly, however we took it in turns to crawl through the hole and, I kid you not, our backs did not ache for the rest of the trip!
So thank you St Otto the Good!

The other treasure of the Michaelsberg Abbey is the Heavenly Garden; the painted ceiling of the Abbey Church.  Here it is:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Undertaken in the early part of the seventeenth century, it contains many, many paintings of flowers, trees, and other plants.  There is even a cactus and a pineapple plant (I thought I had taken a photograph of this but find that I did not, so I can't show you).  
The ceiling is awe-inspiring.  Wouldn't you agree?
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
Here is a close up.  You can see a Turk's Cap Lily amongst the floral delights:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
And here is an even closer look.  This foxglove is a work of art.  You know exactly what you are looking at.  Correct in all details, I could have spent all day looking at these little gems!
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
 Here is one more. I am fairly sure it is a geranium although I may be wrong:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
What I particularly like is the care and attention to detail taken by the artist, even though most people among the congregation would not notice the finer points because they were too far away for the eye to see.  And yet how often do we look at a flower but not really 'see' it?  Often we merely gain an impression before moving on to something else.  To have the ability to paint flowers, and to paint them with such detail - that is a talent I wish that I had!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post.  I am glad that I have been able to share with you these two cultural and artistic wonders!

And just before I go I feel I must show you one more thing: The Bamberg Tickler...
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
This sculpture is over the entrance to the old Bishop's Palace.  It shows a 'wild woman' reclining on the ground.  A cherub or some such thing is doing something to her toe and I read where he is supposédly tickling her!  Here is a close up:
This Photograph was taken by Kirk Dale.
It certainly looks as though he is tickling her, either that or he is pinching her!