Saturday 21 October 2023

Belton House

Built between 1685 and 1687 by Sir John Brownlow, 3rd Baronet, Belton House in Lincolnshire is one of the finest examples of Carolean (Restoration) architecture. Carolean being considered the only truly vernacular style of architecture that England has produced since the Tudor period. 

The house was fitted with the most upto date innovations, such as sash windows for the principal rooms, and the layout followed the latest thinking on house planning. Successive generations have altered the interior of the house reflecting their changing social position and tastes, yet the fabric and design of the house have changed little. I no longer take interior shots of houses visited, but the following two items in particular caught my eye in Belton House.
This lovely painting of Adelaide, wife of the 3rd Earl Brownlow, which was painted by Frederick Lord Leighton, and below a delightful
enamel on metal plaque showing Nina Cust by Alex Fisher.
Emmeline "Nina
" Cust was herself an artist, and a very skilled Sculptor. She was married to Henry John Cockayne-Cust whom she adored and loved dearly, but her enduring love and the early demise of her philandering husband wove emotional sadness throughout her married life.  

This exquisitely carved tomb was sculptured by Nina for her husband when he died in 1917. It resides in the church of St. Peter & St. Paul which overlooks the gardens at Belton House. He had been the heir apparent to the barony of Brownlow, the Cust baronetcy and to the extensive Cust estates centred on Belton House. However, having predeceased the 3rd Earl by three years, the inheritance fell to his surviving younger brother. Nina too was finally laid to rest besides her husband when she died 38 years later in 1955 at the age of 88 years.

Belton's Conservatory was crafted around a cast-iron sub-frame, making it the first garden building of its type in England.

Time to head off now to the NT Stables cafe for a bowl of their delicious homemade soup and a freshly baked cheese scone to sustain us on our journey back home following our few days away.

Monday 16 October 2023

The World Changed Here......

In a quiet Lincolnshire hamlet on Christmas Day 1642 Sir Isaac Newton was born. 
Born sickly and premature, two servant women were hastened from the household to collect urgently needed items for the new child, but they sat down on a stile and said there was no need to hurry for they were sure the boy would have died before their return. But baby Isaac beat the odds and lived on for 84 more years.
An English polymath active as a mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, and author who was described in his time as a natural philosopher. He was a key figure in the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment that followed. 
His mother described him as different from other boys saying "he could not bring himself to concentrate on the rural affairs of the farm - set to watch the cattle, he would curl up under a tree with a book."
"I know not what I appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me".
At the age of 12 he attended The King's School in Grantham, where he was taught Latin, Ancient Greek, and mathematics. He was unmoved by literature and poetry but loved inventing, and made an elaborate system of sundials which was accurate to the minute. His mother had hoped he would run the family farm, but his uncle and his headmaster realised that he was destined for an intellectual life. Newton was admitted to Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in 1661. Soon after he obtained his BA degree at Cambridge in August 1665 the university had to close temporarily as a precaution against the spreading outbreak of the Great Plague. 
Newton returned home to Woolsthorpe Manor to escape the plague, and whilst there he wrote "I was in the prime of my age for invention."
He tried to solve the system of the universe whilst musing in the orchard about the power of gravity causing an apple to fall down from a tree to the ground. This could not be limited to a certain distance from the earth, but he reasoned that the same power must extend far further than was commonly thought. Why not as high as the moon? This led him to consider what influenced the moon's motion.
This is the Flower of Kent apple tree behind the inspiration for Newton's theory of gravity. Dendrochronology done by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at the University of Oxford, confirms this tree to be over 400 years old, having regrown from roots surviving from a tree which was blown over by a storm in 1816.
Paper was expensive, but as the walls of the manor would have been lime washed regularly, using his bedroom walls as a sketchpad as he explored the world around him made sense. 
The coloured lights from a prism on his bedroom wall has been achieved using Newton's very own original prism. It was recently discovered in a box at Trinity College, Cambridge and given to Woolsthorpe Manor. There is a YouTube explanation showing Newton's prism experiment here.
Newton became Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, an MP, Master of the Mint, and President of the Royal Society. He was the author of Principia, one of the most important books in the history of science, was fascinated by calculus, the planets and the 'laws of motion', and, in keeping with his age, blurred the borders between natural philosophy and speculation: he was as passionate about astrology as astronomy and dabbled in alchemy, while his religious faith was never undermined by his scientific reasoning.

Friday 6 October 2023

Norman Treasurers

A fine Norman gateway leads to an architectural gem.

Peterborough Cathedral is one of the finest Norman cathedrals in England. Founded as a monastic community in 654 AD, it was to become one of the most significant medieval abbeys in the country, the burial place of two queens and the scene of Civil War upheavals. The catheral has a really dramatic West Front exterior, an extraordinary creation of medieval architecture. It would be easy for the interior to be an anticlimax, but it is not.

The dramatic Romanesque interior is little altered since its completion, but arguably the painted wooden nave ceiling is the jewel in the crown being the only one of its type surviving in Britain. It is the largest of only four wooden ceilings still in existence from the same period in the whole of Europe. It is known from dendrochronology that the construction of the ceiling took place in the late 1230s and 1240s.

The clock without a face
The monks of Peterborough Abbey had to keep track of time in order to observe the eight daily services set by the Rule of St Benedict. For centuries they did this with the help of sundials and by ringing bells. Timekeeping was helped with this early clock. It has no face, but strikes every half hour so that the monks knew when to pray.
The wooden frame and earliest parts of the mechanism date from 1450 and are painted black. In 1687 local clockmaker John Watts added a more accurate pendulum and other parts (painted green). In 1836 a new mechanism (painted blue) was installed on top of the frame with a three-meter pendulum. This clock was in use in the bell tower until 1950 when it was replaced by an electronic device. It was restored and relocated within the cathedral in 1984, but it still works. 

Katharine of Aragon's tomb

The pomegranates are left by well wishes sometimes tied up with scarlet and gold ribbon, colours which represent the Spainish flag. Ever since her early childhood, Katherine wore a pomegranate brooch, and as Queen she had a pomegranate emblazoned on her shield.

Robert Scarlett, known locally as 'Old Scarlett" was born in 1496 and died on the 2nd July 1594 at the remarkable age of 98. His life spanned the reigns of Henry V11, Henry V111, Edward V1, Mary 1 and Elizabeth 1. His longevity is thought to be due to his physical fitness as, even into his eighties, he was still digging graves in Peterborough. He has the distinction of having interred two queens in the Peterborough Cathedral - Katherine of Aragon and Mary Queen of Scots, and after he buried his first wife Margaret he claimed he had buried three queens! Scarlett then went on to marry his second wife, Maud, by this time well into his eighties. 

These are just a few of the treasures that took my interest.


Since I have been away, I have been unable to comment on any blogs or reply to comments on my own blog. I have tried everything I can to rectify the situation but all to no avail. If anyone is able to help I would really appreciate it.

* I have just discovered that if I use a different browser I am able to comment*