A look at Chelmsford

Why would we take a trip to Chelmsford? Well, for one thing, because we had never been there and didn’t know anything about it and it therefore seemed worth a look.

According to Domesday Book, Chelmsford then belonged to the Bishop of London and in 1199, the King granted a charter for the holding of a weekly market near the bridge that had been built over the River Can in 1100. Chelmsford’s history, however, goes further back than this. The Romans had a town there called Caesaromagus, but when the legions departed and the Anglo-Saxons colonised the area, they left the Roman town to fall into ruin, creating their own settlement, Ceomaers Ford. This name eventually mutated into modern “Chelmsford”.

Clifton Street
Clifton Street
Quiet on a Saturday

We caught a bus to Finsbury Square and walked through to Liverpool Street station. It was already around 9 am but the City is very quiet on Saturdays as the above picture shows.

Window cleaner
Window cleaner
Like a spider dangling from a thread

About the only life we saw was a window cleaner high up on a building, dangling like a spider from a thread. No flies to catch, though, just grimy windows to scrape clean.

Chelmsford
Chelmsford
It was quiet here too

We reached Chelmsford around 10 am and found that it too was rather quiet. Perhaps people were taking things easy for the bank holiday weekend.

Wood pigeon
Wood pigeon
Not looking for hand-outs

This wood pigeon was out and about and keeping busy, but although he kept a wary eye on us he wasn’t interested in the seeds Tigger offered him.

Old Quaker Meeting House
Old Quaker Meeting House
In use from 1824 to 1957

Anne Knight

From the station we went on a general ramble as is our wont. One of our first discoveries was the old Quaker Meeting House. This was built by the Chelmsford Quakers and used by them from 1824 to 1957, when they sold it to help fund a new building. It now seems to be in a rather sorry condition and I don’t know what use it now serves, if any.

On the wall of the meeting house is a blue plaque in memory of Anne Knight (1786-1862). To my shame, I must admit to never having heard of her before. She was the daughter of a Chelmsford grocer and a tireless worker for emancipation of slaves and for women’s rights, altogether a remarkable and admirable women.

Bricked up
Bricked up
Condemned or mothballed?

In Victoria Road South, we discovered this strange building. Google Street View shows it with a door and windows so it has only fairly recently been bricked up. There is no clue to be gained from the site itself, however. Perhaps it is due to be demolished.

Essex County Hall
Essex County Hall
The Duke Street entrance

In Duke Street is Essex County Hall, a large structure built in 1933, according to an inscription on the corner. From memory I think there is also an older part to the building though I neglected to note the date. The style might be described as “restrained elaborate”: as you see from the photo, there is some intricate carved work but it is limited to small areas.


Side door
Threadneedle Street

County Hall sits in a roughly triangular area limited by Duke Street, Threadneedle Street and Market Road. In that enclave an extension was added in the 1980s. I believe that it was completed in 1987 and opened officially in 1988. A very helpful librarian in the public library supplied the information.

The atrium
The atrium
Provides an entrance for the Central Library
and Council offices

There is an atrium with a high glass ceiling and a light and airy atmosphere. This provides an exhibition or display area, together with the entrance to the Central Library and to some Council offices and services (for examples, there were several wedding parties coming and going). I found the library very impressive though it is so large that staff must walk several miles every working day!

Chelmsford Market
Chelmsford Market
Not open today

The town we know today as Chelmsford grew around its market. The market dates back to at least the Roman period (Caesaromagus apparently means “Caesar’s market”) and I was glad to see that it still has a market and seemingly, a large one. However, we were unable to judge for ourselves as it was fenced off and being worked on.

Cathedral Church
Cathedral Church
Dedicated to St Mary, St Peter and St Cedd

What looks at first sight like a typical parish church, turns out to be the Cathedral. If that surprises you, it surprised us too. Its modest proportions derive from the fact that it did indeed begin as an ordinary church and was promoted to cathedral status only in 1914.

Main door
Main door
Currently closed while refurbishment takes place

There was originally on the site a church dedicated to St Mary. This was altered and repaired in several stages during the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries (and apparently, now also). When the church became a cathedral, St Peter and St Cedd were added as dedicatees.

Sea boots and key
Sea boots and key
That jolly fisherman, St Peter

Blue plaque

This striking figure sits on a corner of the building. As Chelmsford is nowhere near the sea (though two rivers run through it, the Chelmer and the Can), I wondered why he was wearing what appeared to be sea boots and carrying a guitar. Then I realized that the “guitar” is in fact a big key and that this sculpture represents St Peter. That also explains the dubious two-finger salute he is giving.

On the wall, this blue plaque tells us that Thomas Hooker served here as a curate when it was the Church of St Mary, 1626-29. Harassed for his Puritan views, Hooker lost his curacy and later fled to America where, falling out with his brethren in Massachusetts, he went off and founded the colony of Connecticut.

Shire Hall
Shire Hall
That’s the courthouse to you and me

Making our way to the High Street, we encountered this noble building with a façade of Portland stone (recognizable by the colour and by the fossils of sea creatures visible within it). This is Shire Hall, designed by John Johnson and finished in 1791. The three Serco vans parked in front and round the side give the game away: this has always been Chelmsford’s courthouse. It is also the town’s oldest building.

High Street
High Street
Shops and stalls in a pedestrianised street

The High Street, happily, is a pedestrian area so you can wander freely without worrying about traffic. By now the early quietness had come to an end and the place had come alive. There was a definite weekend feel to it.

Bridge over the Can
Bridge over the Can
The seed from which Chelmsford grew

Two rivers, the Chelmer and the Can, meet to form a ‘Y’ shape and Chelmsford grew up between the two branches. There was probably a Roman bridge hereabouts but no traces have been found. The first historic bridge, built of wood, was commissioned by Maurice, Bishop of London and Lord of the Manor of Chelmsford, around 1100. As a result of this opening up of the area to traffic, Chelmsford rapidly gained importance as a market town and a seat for itinerant justices. (As you see from the photo, by the time we reached the bridge, rain had started to fall.)

A sunnier view
A sunnier view
The western side of the bridge

By 1351, however, the bridge was being described as "broken", and in 1372 a new stone bridge of three arches was constructed. This one was to last about 400 years.  At the end of the 18th century, the bridge had fallen into a state of disrepair and needed to be replaced. In 1784, John Johnson, architect of the Shire Hall, was commissioned to design a new bridge, the present one. This was opened in 1788, presumably having taken longer to build than expected as the date incised on the bridge itself is 1787.

The view downriver
The view downriver
Further along, the Can runs into the Chelmer

Johnson took the opportunity to widen the bridge and used Coade stone, renowned for its durability, for parts of the structure, including the balusters. The newly formed County Council took responsibility for the bridge and still maintains it today, having had to repair it more than once after flood damage.

Monk and Centurion
Monk and Centurion
A Janus figure recalling phases in Chelmsford’s history

Beyond the bridge, the road becomes Moulsham Street. Where Baddow Road goes off to the left, we find this Janus-like figure, showing a monk on one side and a Roman centurion on the other. (Again note the different weather conditions!) Of more interest to us at this stage was an establishment in Baddow Road.

Bilash
Bilash
An Indian restaurant called Enjoyment

We had had only a light breakfast and it was now 2 pm, so we were more than ready for lunch. We had the enjoyable task of choosing between the several eateries in Baddow Road, finally deciding on the Indian restaurant Bilash. We asked what the name means and were told it means “enjoyment”. So we sat back and scoffed a vegetable thali, bilash indeed!

Moulsham Jeweller's
Moulsham Jeweller’s
Stepping back in time

Moulsham Street crosses a major road called Parkway and then you find yourself in Moulsham, which has a much older feel to it than the modern shops and shopping precincts of the High Street (though there are some interesting survivals there too). An example is this jeweller’s shop dated 1903.

Local shops
Local shops
This row has a village feel to it

Further along, this little row of shops with their old-style architecture had a village feel to them. In fact, walking further on, we soon found ourselves back in the 19th century!

Village school
Village school
Founded in memory of Thomas Tidboald

Thus we have the school, founded in memory of churchwarden Thomas Tidboald by his widow in 1885…

Hemp Cottage
Hemp Cottage
A reminder of Godfrey’s rope-making business

and this cottage dated 1878, bearing the name Hemp Cottage, recalling Godfrey’s rope-making business that was established near here.

Parish church
Parish church
St John the Evangelist, Moulsham

Or again, Moulsham’s parish church, St John the Evangelist, dating from 1837. Now, once again, it started to rain, so we took refuge across the road in the Star & Garter.

Friends at the bar
Friends at the bar
It seemed a nice friendly place…

It was quite busy and seemed a pleasant, friendly place, except…

The sinister cove in the corner
The sinister cove in the corner
Holding a fiendish device

… except for the sinister cove in the corner who seemed to be pointing a fiendish device (I assume it’s fiendish) at the rest of us. Is it Elton John Playing Mr Pickwick? Thankfully, we’ll never know…

Gray's Brewery
Gray’s Old Brewery
Now shops and restaurants

By the time we emerged, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining but we decided that we had seen enough of Chelmsford for now. We retraced our steps along Moulsham Street and the High Street, had a quick look at the recycled W. Gray & Sons Springfield Brewery (1828),

Not a peace camp
Not a peace camp
Black’s Tent Show and Camping Exhibition

and walked through Bell Meadow & Central Park, where, at first sight, I thought there was a peace camp or protest in progress but it turned out to be outdoor specialist retailer Black’s and their tent and camping exhibition.

Quite a pleasant park
Quite a pleasant park
This too is the River Can

It is quite a pleasant park but a nearby event was playing loud music with a deep throbbing bass that I found quite unpleasant. No matter where we turned, the music seemed to follow us.

Old College
Old College
Dating from 1931 with Art Deco features

We did, however, pause to take a look at this old building, now a building site. I hope they are refurbishing, not demolishing this piece of 1930s Art Deco.

Looking rather sad
Looking rather sad
A dusty beauty

I hope the building will rise again from the dirt and grime and assaults of the building site as it is a good piece of architecture and deserves to survive. Let it not be replaced by another modern monstrosity.

We had not known Chelmsford before this visit. Had our trip been worthwhile? Yes, I think so. We had dis­cov­ered some interesting buildings and other fascinating historical items. Will we return? Hm, I think that’s less likely, though you never know what fate has in store!

Torch of Knowledge
Torch of Knowledge

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Much water coming down

Today I went to meet Tigger to have lunch with her sister. We lunched in a cafe we know in Borough High Street and then I returned home. I would have been away for about two hours.

I found a note sellotaped to our front door. It was an apologetic missive from our upstairs neighbour, informing us that his bath had overflowed and that if any damage had been done to our flat his brother (a builder by trade) would sort it out. This was all the more annoying because it is the second time that this has happened. On the first occasion he caught it before any water came into our flat. What about this time, though?

I unlocked the door with trepidation and found there were puddles in the hallway and in the bathroom. Worryingly, water droplets hung from the fuse box for the bathroom fan and the central heating thermostat was showing an incomplete display.

I removed the fuse from the fuse box, hoping that the box could be left to dry out on its own, and set about mopping up the water on the floor. Apart from the details I have mentioned no damage seemed to have been done. It was only later that I realized that the central heating thermostat was malfunctioning. I removed its battery pack and hope that it will start working again once it has dried out, otherwise I will have to call the council to have it repaired. I have kept my neighbour’s note as a confession of responsibility in case there is a charge for repairs.

This experience took me back in memory to a time some years ago when I lived in Hendon, in a purpose-built block of four flats, two up and two down. Our flat was on the bottom left, looking from the front of the house. Above us and beside us lived two elderly ladies who had occupied their flats for many years and would no doubt leave them only when their sojourn on earth came to an end. The fourth flat, diagonally above us, was a different matter. A whole series of tenants occupied it in turn, some of whom I remember well and others whom I only vaguely recall.

There was the cabbie who parked his black cab in front of the house and had fellow cabbies round for animated chats in the front garden; the young woman who drove a Mini adapted as a rally car, though whether she drove it in rallies I do not know; the young couple who while in public showing the enthusiastic affection for one another expected of young couples, often in private engaged in shouted altercations followed by the sound of fist on flesh.

Then there were the Singhs.

The Singh family consisted of Mr Singh, his wife, and their children, a son and daughter in their late teens or early twenties. Mr Singh used to be absent for long periods and the other family members were very quiet and discreet so that we hardly noticed their presence. Until late one night, that is.

I was getting ready for bed when there came a frantic hammering on the front door. I opened it to find Mrs Singh standing there, looking frightened. She pointed upwards and muttered something in fragmentary English about water and the ceiling. I put on my shoes, grabbed a torch and followed her upstairs. She ushered me into the kitchen which was immediately on the left of the front door and I saw that there was indeed water coming down through the ceiling.

Supplying hot water to the sink was an old-fashioned gas geyser and this was roaring away and gushing steaming water into the sink, creating a rather surreal atmosphere. I guess they had turned it on, thinking thus to reduce the pressure on the water coming through the ceiling.

There was nothing for it but to fetch a pair of steps and go into the loft through the hatch in the ceiling on the shared landing. I there discovered that some previous occupant of the flat had had the bright idea of installing central heating and using the loft to install the pipes that ran here and there to serve the rooms beneath. This system was very poor and most of the joints had cracked and were gushing water.

I do not now remember the details but I somehow stanched the flow and returned downstairs. I told the Singhs that they should contact the landlord’s agent to have something done about the problem as it was likely to happen again. Did they understand? I don’t know. I assume so as the two youngsters seemed competent in English even if Mrs Singh was not.

Weeks passed and then, again late at night, there came a furious banging on my door. Again there stood Mrs Singh with her frightened expression. She pointed skywards and announced in a voice of doom “Much water coming down!”

I sighed, put on my shoes, grabbed a torch and went upstairs. In the Singhs’ kitchen, the gas geyser was roaring away, steaming up the place, and the two young people were catching water with pots and pans and emptying them in the sink. Water was pouring from the ceiling and, most worryingly, there was a stream running down the light fitting. Why the electrics didn’t fuse, I have no idea.

Once more into the loft, dear friends, once more…

Somehow I managed once again to cut off the flow, conscious that, as before, I had secured only a temporary damming of the flood. I explained this, again, to the Singhs and urged them, again, to contact the landlord’s agent. Possibly they had done so without obtaining a result. It was a firm that was very loath to take any action that required disbursement of funds, no matter how small.

Tired and wet, I returned to my own abode, hoping that this was the end of the story. Weeks passed and then one day there came a knock upon the front door. A gentle one this time. I opened the door and there stood Mr Singh.

Mr Singh was quite a short gentleman but with his Sikh turban and his beard and mustache twirled and pulled up into his turban in the Sikh manner, he somehow looked larger than he really was. He was dressed in a grey business suit with a shirt and tie. I greeted him affably, preparing to be politely modest in response to his expressions of gratitude for my noble interventions on behalf of his soggy family. My prepared phrases died in my throat, however, for that was not why he had come.

In a lilting Indian accent he said “I have to go to India on business. I shall be away some time.”

“When are you ever here?” I thought to myself. But no matter…

“While I am gone,” continued Mr Singh, “please look after my family.”

He said it in so mater-of-fact a manner, not asking whether I would, but simply instructing me to do so, that I did a double take: was he really appointing me guardian of his family? Well, so it seemed…

Apparently satisfied that he had fulfilled his responsibilities towards his family, and before I could say a word, Mr Singh bade me farewell and departed.

I never learned quite what my duties were with regard to the Singhs as, fortunately, I was never called upon to exercise them. In due course, the Singhs quietly disappeared from the flat on the upper floor and were replaced by other tenants. Whether they returned to India, or whether Mr Singh came back to London to take charge of them, I do not know. I never saw them again. More to the point, I never had to go back into the loft, torch in hand, to battle with the flood waters.

My reveries were interrupted by my neighbour knocking on the door. He was suitably apologetic. I suggested he acquire an alarm clock and set it to go off at intervals of 5 minutes whenever he ran a bath. Did he take this in? I doubt it. My neighbour has a speak-only brain. That is, he speaks and doesn’t seem to take in anything you say in reply. We parted on friendly enough terms but if there is another incident of flooding, relations are likely to become strained.

You may recall that it was water dripping through the bathroom ceiling, and the fact that he had left his mail uncollected, that led me to suspect that the previous tenant had died in his flat, a suspicion that had ultimately been proved correct. That story is recounted, as it happened, in Death of a pigeon fancier.

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More low-light adventures

Following on from a previous outing to do night photography (see As the light fades…), we went on another expedition this evening. We started by taking a bus to Waterloo Bridge.

Theatre Square
Theatre Square
An open space belonging to the National Theatre

The sky was still above the horizon but the shadows were length­en­ing. The golden light is good for photography because it is relativity soft.

The Thames from Waterloo Bridge
The Thames from Waterloo Bridge
Looking downriver towards Blackfriars Bridge

Waterloo Bridge provides a fine view of the Thames. Quite a lot of shipping moves around in the area, adding interest. The next bridge is Blackfriars. There are also several famous buildings in view: on the left bank, the dome of St Paul’s and the bullet-shaped Gherkin; on the right bank, shaped like a water carafe, the (expletive deleted) Shard.

Courtyard, Somerset House
Courtyard, Somerset House
Once a royal palace, now a centre for entertainment and the arts

We walked down to Somerset House and tarried a while in the courtyard. The first building here was a Tudor palace built in 1547 by Edward Seymour, Lord Protector (of the underage Edward VI) and Duke of Somerset. The palace was finished in 1573 but, alas for him, the Duke had already lost his head to the executioner in 1572.

The fountains
The fountains
In the quiet of the evening, the pigeons can come to drink

The present building, beautiful as it is, dates only from 1775. The original building had fallen into such a state of disrepair that the best course was to demolish it and start again. Thus was finally swept away a site with a complex history that had seen crowned heads and powerful statesmen as residents, and repeated phases of expensive rebuilding and decoration. An account of that history will be found here.

A lighted doorway
A lighted doorway
A splash of colour amid grey stone

After enjoying the peaceful surroundings of a courtyard once more restored to its natural state after being cluttered with temporary structures during a recent event, we walked through the arch into the Strand.

Gateway to the Strand
Gateway to the Strand
Lights show off the beauty of the moulded ceiling

In the Strand, we waited for a bus to carry us to the next place that we wanted to photograph. While waiting, I snapped the church of St Mary le Strand, the tip of whose spire was catching the last of the sunlight.

St Mary le Strand
St Mary le Strand
The spire is tipped by the last rays of
sunlight

The bus dropped us off in Whitehall and we walked around the corner to this famous arch.

Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch
A monument and also the gateway to the Mall

Admiralty Arch is one of those features of London that we feel has been here for ever but it in fact bears the date of its construction upon it, incorporated in the Latin dedication: In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910.

The Admiralty Nose
The Admiralty Nose
Whose nose it is, no one seems to know

The Arch contains a mystery. In the rightmost arch (as seen from Trafalgar Square), about 7 feet from the ground, is a stone nose. Many theories have been proposed but no one seems to know for sure whose nose it is meant to be. Some say that it is that of the Duke of Wellington (known for his large nose) and that mounted guardsmen rub it for good luck as they pass through. Others say it is Napoleon’s, put there to be insulted by passers-by. Still others claim it is a spare nose for Admiral Nelson atop his column but, in that case, why only a nose? Why not other spare body parts as well? The truth is no one knows to whom the nose belongs.

Gagarin
Gagarin
A monument to the first man in space

Just through the Arch is a statue to Yuri Gagarin, unveiled by his daughter Elena, on July 14th 2011, a gift of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos. Gagarin, as you of course know, was the first man to go into space when his space ship, Vostok, orbited the earth in 1961. The fact that he was a Russian was sufficiently disturbing to the US that it provoked the famous Space Race that led to the landing of American “astronauts” (the Russians, perhaps more ambitiously, preferred the word “cosmonauts”) on the moon.

The ICA
The ICA
A source of light in the darkness of the Mall

As you can see from the above photo, it was now becoming dark. Tigger was in her element taking night photos with her new camera. I am less keen because I have little experience of night photography and didn’t expect to get results I would like. But I had brought a tripod so it seemed worth a try, just see how it turned out.

Looking along the Mall
Looking along the Mall
Buckingham Palace is just visible in the distance

We put tripods on a central refuge and took pictures along the Mall. The one above was taken opposite the ICA looking south-west(ish) towards Buckingham Palace, which can just be glimpsed. Because it is a time exposure, the pedestrian near the car on the right looks like a ghost.

St James's Park
St James’s Park
The lake and illuminated fountain

We then moved into St James’s Park where I took a number of photos, including the above, which shows the lake and the fountain. Maybe if you attach adjectives like “mysterious”, “romantic”, etc., it’ll pass muster…

Tree with lamp
Tree with lamp
Where paths divide

This one is a bit odd. I don’t know why the light seems reddish as I don’t remember it as such though perhaps the brain adapts its vision to colour bias better than the camera does. The blue of the sky glimpsed through the foliage suggests the colour balance is about right. The war memorial is glimpsed to the left.

Parliament Square
Parliament Square
And the famous big clock!

We tarried a while in Parliament Square, where I took this photo of the clock we all know as Big Ben though, strictly speaking, that is the name of the bell that chimes the hours. By compensating for the surrounding darkness, the camera has over-exposed the clock face.

BT Tower
BT Tower
Looking from Hampstead Road

I would call the last 6 photos “interesting” rather than anything else. They demonstrate the difficulty of night photography in the city where the extreme contrast of bright lights in an almost dark environment makes a complete rendering of the scene virtually impossible: you can meter for the lights and black out the rest, or meter for the back­ground and get overspill from the lights. Either way, you need a tripod because no one can hold a camera still enough for the length of exposure required.

This high contrast is perceived as a problem in photography because the eye and the camera look at a scene differently. In the photo, you see the scene as a whole with whatever exposure the camera has adopted for it. When you look with the eye, you view the scene piecemeal. As you look at each little bit, the eye adapts to its level of brightness and the brain makes a composite whole so that you think you see the whole scene, not a collection of correctly "exposed" bits. Until cameras can be designed that see as the eye sees, we will continue to face this problem.

As photographic technology continues to evolve and cameras become virtual miniature computers, perhaps this problem will eventually be solved. One way of coping with the problem at present is called High Dynamic Range (HDR for short). In this technique, you take preferably 3 or more photos of the scene at different exposures (for example, using the exposure bracketing function of your camera if it has this) and then combine them in software. It is possible also the apply HDR techniques to a single frame if you shoot in "RAW" mode but don’t ask me how that works because I haven’t studied it yet (and don’t shoot in RAW, anyway).

Does this work? Yes, it does: just search on "high dynamic range" in your browser and you will find many examples of HDR photos as well as tutorials on the technique. If you have the money (for the software) and also the time and patience to play with your photos, you will get a result in which the correctly exposed parts from the different frames are combined into one picture. However, it is a result that I personally do not find pleasing. To me, HDR pictures look unnatural, rather as if they were scenes of an alien world executed in acrylic paint. There is a dream or nightmare atmosphere about them.

Although I do also edit my photos, I do so relatively lightly and my goal is always to make the photographed scene resemble as closely as possible what I saw with my own eyes, rather than to achieve a technically excellent photo. I may never win any awards in pho­to­graph­ic competitions but that’s how I like my photos – warts and all!

The Mall
The Mall
Looking along the pavement outside the ICA

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 4 Comments

A market town and a quiet beach

We managed to leave the house by 8:40 but just missed a 341 which would have taken us straight to Waterloo, and instead took three others to complete the same journey. Never mind; we got there in the end.

Sicilian Avenue
Sicilian Avenue
Looking smart after refurbishment

We changed buses at Holborn and walked through Sicilian Avenue which was partially closed for weeks during refurbishment. It’s nice to see it open again and looking smart.

Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station
Apt to become crowded on Saturdays

Waterloo, as is usual for a Saturday, was moderately crowded. Tigger went off to buy train tickets while I acquired a baguette and coffee breakfast from Upper Crust. This is a routine that we have perfected on our many trips.

Ready...
Ready…
Steady...
Steady…
Go!
Go!
Chichester Station
You need to cross the level crossing to reach town

We reached our destination, Chichester in West Sussex, just after 11 am. To reach the town, you need to cross the railway lines by the level crossing. We had to wait for two trains to pass so everyone was becoming impatient. When the barriers went up, it was like the start at Silverstone!

The Crown Court Turn and push
The Crown Court
Opening the door needs instructions

On the way, we passed the Crown Court. It is an unremarkable brick box, no doubt perfectly suitable for its purpose, but what amused us was that someone had seen fit to add instructions for opening the door. Doors can be tricky things to operate…

Pebble house
Pebble house
The façade of this house is faced with grey pebbles

We continued up Southgate and then into South Street. One of the pretty buildings along here is what I call the “pebble house” for want of a more accurate name. I don’t know how old it is but I am guessing it is Georgian and perhaps built as the home of a merchant. It is faced with grey pebbles and has steps to raise the front door from what would once have been a muddy street.

Mechanics' Institute
Mechanics’ Institute
John Barton’s Mechanics’ Institute building

Another building that caught my eye was this one. That is because it was built in 1849 for the Chichester Mechanic’s Institute and as my postgraduate education was funded by a mechanics’ institute grant, I have always been interested in them and their work. This building was provided by John Barton, a Quaker economist, businessman and writer who was one of the founders of this Institute in 1825.

Canon Gate
Canon Gate
This gate gives access the the grounds of
Chichester Cathedral

South Street goes past Canon Lane whose entrance is protected by this impressive gateway, called Canon Gate, giving access to the grounds of the Cathedral. Built in the 16th century, it was rebuilt in 1894.

View from the lane
View from the lane
Is the room above the gate still used?

I am intrigued by the room above the gate with its small leaded windows and wonder whether it is still used.

Chichester's Market Cross
Chichester’s Market Cross
The centre of the historic town

South Street also leads to the historic centre of Chichester, marked by the Market Cross. From it, four streets go off to the four cardinal points of the compass: North Street, South Street, West Street and East Street. A nearby plaque tells us the the Cross was given to Chichester by Bishop Story in 1501. It was used by market traders as a place to sell their wares.

Pallant House
Pallant House
Today part of the gallery of modern art

Another set of compass-directed streets is formed by the Pallants – North Pallant, South Pallant, etc. (No, I do not know what “pallant” means, if anything.) At their meeting point stands Pallant House, built in 1712 for a merchant. It is in late Queen Anne style and, being the first of its kind in Chichester, would have been considered the height of modernism if not somewhat overdone.

Ostriches
Ostriches
At least, I think that’s what they are meant to be

The gate is topped by two ostriches which look to me like ostriches designed by an artist who has never seen an ostrich. There is a certain cartoonish quality to them.

Pallant House Gallery
Pallant House Gallery
The new building, opened in 2006

Adjoining the original Pallant House is a new wing, opened in 2006. The gallery houses what is said to be an impressive collection of modern art. I will take their word for it as we did not go in.

Shipwrecked Mariners' Society
Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society
The canopy over the door is a feature of many of the local houses

I liked this house in North Pallant whose plain, classical-looking front offsets a gem of a doorway. It was built in the early 18th century and today belongs to the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, a very worthy organization.

The man with the golden guitar
The Man with the Golden Guitar
Slim Lightfoot entertains in East Street

North Pallant leads into East Street, one of the main shopping areas. Here, one Slim Lightfoot was making a fine old racket with a golden guitar. (See Update below.)

Corn exchange
Corn exchange
Once a business and entertainment centre, today a branch of Next

We followed East Street as far as the Corn Exchange and then turned back to the centre to find lunch.  The Exchange, designed by George Draper, was built in 1830, funded by a consortium of local businessmen. From 1883, it could be hired for entertainments and other events. Chichester’s first moving picture show was held here on December 26th 1896.

The Buttery at the Crypt
The Buttery at the Crypt
A good place for tea or a light lunch

For lunch we went to the Buttery in South Street, We have been there several times before and hoped it was still as good. I am glad to say it was.

The crypt
The crypt
The premises are part of the Cathedral estate

The building occupied by the buttery originally dates from the 12th century. It’s part of a group with the Canon Gate and Vicar’s Hall.

Tigger had once been to East Wittering and wanted to take me there, so we caught the bus and went.

Cottages at E. Wittering
Cottages at East Wittering
Cottages and small houses abound here

East Wittering (there is a West Wittering as well) is a small seaside town. It has small shops and houses, some houses so small as to suggest they were built as holiday chalets. There is surfing but no fairground rides.

Small houses
Small houses
Houses or holiday chalets?

Drawing swimmers, surfers and sunbathers is the beach. It is a shingle beach but it seems to go on for ever. The sun had come out and the temperature had risen, making the beach more attractive still.

Looking east
Looking east
You can see all the way to Selsey

The beach allows distant views along the coast. Looking east you can see as far as Selsey.

Looking west
Looking west
On the horizon is Portsmouth Harbour and the Spinaker

For some reason, there were more people on the western stretch of beach than on the eastern. Plenty of people were in the water while others paddled boats.

A flight of aircraft
A flight of aircraft
Probably on the way to Bournemouth

We were surprised by a sudden flight of four aircraft going past, holding formation. They were probably on the way to the Annual Air Festival at Bournemouth. It was only later that we heard the sad news of the fatal crash of one of the Red Arrows.

Wittering spider
Wittering spider
One of the smaller residents

I was, as usual, watching the animals. The spider was quite still in his web, perhaps resting in the heat. Then I spotted this dog, the very image of frustration.

Frustration!
Frustration!
The ball is just out of reach

The lead was just too short to allow the dog to reach his ball and his people were busy chatting and ignoring him. He kept trying but failing. After taking the photo, I rolled the ball to him.

Public library
Public library
Closed or we would have gone in to take a look

After enjoying the beach and the animated scene for a while, we went off to look for a cup of tea, passing the minuscule public library along the way. Unfortunately, it was closed as I would have liked to take a look inside. I have worked in big and small libraries and know that a small library often provides a greater service than its size might suggest.

Calamity's
Calamity’s
The cafe has a vast collection of tea pots

For tea, we chose Calamity’s cafe (the name refers to problems encountered when it first opened in 1989). A characteristic of this establishment (apart from the surly service that made us feel we were intruders in a family gathering rather than welcome customers) was the huge collection of tea pots, of which just one section is shown above.

Beach bee
Beach bee
We watched this bee working the wild flowers along the edge of the beach

We took the bus back to Chichester bus station and straightaway transferred to one to Midhurst. Why? Well, why not?! It might have been an interesting place to visit. In the event, we found that after 6 pm the bus services were greatly curtailed and so we deemed it safer to go back onto the bus and return to Chichester. Maybe we’ll get around to Midhurst another time.

Midhurst (From the bus)
Midhurst (From the bus)
I think in the distance is Cowdray House, the Tudor house destroyed
by fire in 1793

We went for a final walk around Chichester. Everything was closing down for the evening but that was to our advantage as there were fewer people to get in the way. One of the main points of interest, of course, is Chichester Cathedral, known also as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity.

The Spire
The Spire
Currently undergoing repairs

Originally consecrated in 1108, the Cathedral was greatly damaged by fire in 1197, rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1199.

Bell Tower
Bell Tower
An unusual feature

An unusual feature is the free standing bell tower, built in 1402.

Sundial
Sundial
Not the right time!

I liked the 18th century sundial, even though it wasn’t showing a time that was remotely correct, and…

Bewigged gargoyle Bewigged gargoyle
Gargoyle
This bewigged figure is obviously a modern addition

… some characterful gargoyles, of which I show one above. This bewigged gentleman is obviously much younger than the Cathedral, perhaps a later replacement for a damaged one.

Cloister
Cloister
Just one of the many passages

The Cathedral itself and the extensive grounds form a huge complex. It would need a book, never mind a blog post, to do it all justice. An introduction to its history and architecture may be found here.

The Market Cross
The Market Cross
Revealed at last

Free of the daytime clutter of people, the Market Cross could be seen, along with its various decorations, such as this shield-bearing angel.

Angel
Angel
Looking solemn and bearing a coat of arms

The light was beginning to fade and we felt it was time to be making for the station. Inevitably, though, other distractions awaited along the way. (Not that we minded!)

Butter Market
Butter Market
The Butter Market, now a shopping precinct

The Butter Market opened in 1808 and was designed by no less an architect than John Nash. Selling more than just butter, it replaced the Market Cross which was then closed off with railings to prevent trading there. An upper floor was added to the Butter Market in 1900 as an arts institute.

Inside the Market
Inside the Market
Modern shops

In the 17th and early 18th century, the town Council met in an upper room of a market building in North Street, which I think no longer exists. It was eventually decided that new premises were required and, with the cooperation and financial help of the Duke of Richmond, a Council House, designed by Roger Morris of London, was built in 1731.

Council House and Assembly Room
Council House and Assembly Room
More fitting and dignified than an upper room

In the 1780s, a need was felt for a venue where cultural events could take place and an Assembly Room was added at the rear of the premises.

Arcade
Arcade
The Council House is fronted by a covered court or arcade

Like all self-respecting public buildings, the Council House has a dedicatory panel in Latin. This one is guarded by a lion.

Latin Dedication
Latin Dedication
Possibly one of the Duke’s lions

The Duke of Richmond, who contributed what we might call the lion’s share of the building expenses, kept lions at Goodwood. This lion has perhaps been added as a reminder of these and, more especially, of the Duke’s generosity.

Chichester station
Chichester station
Level crossing closed for the approaching train

Back at the station at last (after more distractions not logged above) we caught a Victoria train and changed at Gatwick for London Bridge where we took a bus to the Angel and home.

Chichester, an ancient city, has much to interest the visitor – more than you can see properly in one day. In addition, Tigger introduced me to East Wittering and we almost visited Midhurst. A good day put? Most definitely!

Silver fish
Silver fish
Seen in a shop window in Chichester

Update 15/09/11

I originally stated that the “Man with the Golden Guitar”, Slim Lightfoot, was using a backing tape. I was mistaken. Slim has been in touch (see his comment below) to tell me so. As he considers it important to dissociate himself from the use of a backing tape I am keen to set the record straight and to apologize to Slim for any embarrassment caused. Please read his comment.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Tube mouse

As usual, this afternoon I went down to meet Tigger from work and, as usual, I took the tube from Angel station. Look who I met down there, busily foraging on the southbound platform.

Tube mouse
Tube mouse
Not at all concerned by the presence of people

He (I will assume it’s “he” though it could as easily be “she”) was trotting around examining anything that might be food and apparently unconcerned by the presence of us people.

I first spotted him under a bench and approached him cautiously, expecting him to run away. When he didn’t, I reached for my camera and started clicking away. At this point, I don’t think anyone else had noticed Mousey under the bench. I decided, reluctantly, that I needed to use flash and once I had done so, this attracted people’s attention.

The mouse then ran along the edge of the platform, quite calmly. Even when a train came in he didn’t move away, much less seek refuge. I was worried that someone might step on him but as this was my train, I boarded and lost sight of the rambling rodent.

Walking the yellow line
Walking the yellow line
Unfazed by people or by speeding trains

Mice are common down in the underground system, of course, and whenever I am waiting for a train I keep an eye out for them. They are most often to be seen between the rails sorting through the rubbish left by untidy humans. It is not uncommon to see them on the platform as well, sometimes to the consternation of waiting passengers.

That was something that intrigued me today: whenever mice appear in the underground, there is always someone who screams and makes a fuss. Today, no one did that, but people did watch the mouse and seem interested in its progress. Are Londoners becoming more tolerant of the creatures we share our common space with? I do hope so.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Animals | Tagged , | 6 Comments

A stroll with naked ears

I decided that it was time to get my hair cut and set out around 9 am to visit my barber. As I have to remove my “dolbies” (my hearing aids) while the barber is at work, I decided that I might as well simply leave them at home and go out with “naked ears”.

Saddlers Wells Barber Shop
Saddlers Wells Barber Shop
A good old-fashioned barber’s without frills

My barber’s is in Rosebery Avenue, within a stone’s throw of the Saddler’s Wells theatre. It’s old-fashioned and basic, the sort of barber’s shop your dad and grandad would find familiar. No fuss, no pampering, just a good haircut at a good price.

It’s easy to overlook barbers, because they are just there, doing their job without fuss, like postmen, say, or the milkman. But barbers are highly skilled and a good one is a joy to watch. Mine doesn’t measure the length of my hair with his fingers or use any other tricks: he simply cuts my hair free-hand and in less time than it takes to start a good conversation.

On one visit, I met an old gent who told me that his dad used to take him to a barber’s further down Rosebery Avenue and when that barber moved to these premises, they had followed him. His dad was long gone, and so was the original barber, but he continued coming here. Such customer loyalty is becoming rare in our restless world.

Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Unusual window decoration

The shop next door to the barber’s has reverted to a dwelling or perhaps a private studio or workshop. I was intrigued by this window covering bearing a gigantic grasshopper. Unusual and rather nice. Note the boot scraper at bottom right. Many older buildings in London still have these, though not always in good condition. They help date the building and they look back to a time when London’s streets were famous for their mud and dirt. The crossing sweeper was for this reason a familiar sight in Victorian times.

Angel of Peace
Angel of Peace
She tops the war memorial in Spa Green

I was enjoying the relative quietness resulting from not wearing my dolbies so I went for a walk, first entering the little park of Spa Green. One end of it is dominated by the war memorial on which stands what I take to be the Angel of Peace. She looks as if she is throwing a frisbee but I think she is supposed to be offering a laurel crown to the heroes of war. Her main purpose these days is to provide a perch for the local pigeons.

At the feet of Peace
At the feet of Peace
Spa Green pigeons enjoying the sunshine

If the dove is considered a symbol of peace, then I cannot see why the rock dove, alias the feral or street pigeon, should not equally be considered a symbol of peace. Peaceable they are, enduring difficult lives with fortitude.

Peace adorned
Peace adorned
with peaceful pigeons

If you cross over Rosebery Avenue and follow Arlington Way beside the Saddler’s Wells Theatre, you come to a pub called The Shakespeare’s Head, beside which there is an alley called Myddelton Passage. (If you want to follow this on a map you will find one here.) There are lots of streets and other local features in Islington bearing the name Myddelton and for a reason.

Map of the New River
Map of the New River
The path to the viewing platform

Myddelton Passage broadens and then turns sharp right and in that corner there is a gate. If you go through it, you see a map etched on the path. This is a map of Sir Hugh Myddelton’s New River, with which he brought much needed water to this part of London in 1613. The New River ends here, at what was called (and is still called) New River Head.

New River Head
New River Head
As you might have seen in 1752

The path leads to a viewing platform of New River Head though, today, there is not much to see anymore. In 1752 you would have had a much more interesting sight as the information board shows.

Fountain
Fountain
The garden of what is now a residential estate

These days, the only water you can see comes out of this fountain in the gardens of what was once offices of the water company but is now a residential estate. You can still see some of the buildings associated with the water supply but you need to crane your neck and look to the right.

The Ring Main
The Ring Main
This houses the shaft from which water is pumped from the Ring Main

The water is now all underground. The site is today owned and run by Thames Water and is connected to the Ring Main that circles London. The visible sign of that is this big circular housing over a deep shaft that connects with the Ring.

Traces do exist of the long history of New River Head but they are not easy to see as the whole site is understandably fenced off. Two of the more obvious features are best seen by leaving Myddelton Passage and turning left into into River Street and then left again into Amwell Street. This street takes its name from the Amwell Springs near Great Amwell near Hertford which were one of the sources of water for the New River.

Windmill Pump House
Windmill Pump House
Remains of the original windmill building

Photographed by poking the camera through the railings, the first is this round building (listed, Grade II) which incorporates the remains of the original windmill pump. It was built in 1708 to send water up to the “Upper Pond” (where the Claremont Square reservoir stands today), the idea being that the higher up the position of your pond, the greater the area that it could serve with water.

Claremont Square
Claremont Square
A corner of the reservoir photographed last December

In 1720, as the demand for water increased, wind power was supplemented by horse-driven pumps and later completely displaced by horses. Ultimately, of course, that did not suffice, either.

Engine and Pump House
Engine and Pump House
This was built to replace wind and horses with steam power

The second is best seen by walking around Charles Allen House to its car park where this view can be obtained. This Grade II listed building (which originally also included a tall chimney, taken down in 1954) is the Engine and Pump House constructed in 1768. I believe (subject to correction) that horses were still being used at this point because atmospheric steam engines were not introduced until 1786, finally displacing horse power.

Owned!
Owned!
Today, New River Head belongs to
you-know-who

The Pump House was extended in 1812 and the steam engines were replaced by more efficient models at least twice until electric pumps were introduced in 1950.

A residential estate
A residential estate
Surviving buildings, including laboratories have been converted into
apartments

Today, much of the New River is covered over though there may be indications as to its path. For example, between Duncan Terrace and Colebrooke Row there is now a park that is pleasant but suspiciously narrow! Further along, the water breaks the surface again. Thames Water supplies a booklet detailing the New River Walk, allowing enthusiasts to follow the whole route from Islington to the source at Chadwell between Hertford and Ware.

Site map Features
Site Map
From an on-site display

It was time for me to take my naked ears home and reward myself with a cup of coffee. Later, when I went out to meet Tigger from work, I put my dolbies on and my ears were again bombarded by the din of the streets. I must say I prefer the gentler version of the world provided by my natural ears.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Six faces and a lion

This evening on the way home from work we stopped off for coffee and then took a little stroll around the City of London. Needless to say, we took photographs of anything that interested us. I am presenting a selection of those photos here. There was no plan to the walk and I found myself taking photos more or less at random. From these I have select seven, all faces. Six are human and one is a lion (well, why not?).

Bearded face

Winged head

Mercury

Round face

King Charles

Sphinx

Lion

All of these faces are symbolic in one way or another but while I can identify Mercury (because of the serpents and the wings in his hair) and the golden-faced King Charles (I am not sure which Charles though I would guess Charles II), I am ignorant as to the identities or meanings of the others. I you can elucidate, please let me know.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 2 Comments