Strawberry Hill

The house frontage onto the gardens with current marquee/ cafeteria extension. Note Queen Mary’s University is actually attached.

An iced fairy-cake,
White Gothic structure
Shining in the sun with
Turrets, towers and chimneys
Spires, like icing sugar
Spiking heavenward,
Brilliant against
The dome of a blue sky.
Castellations of legends
And pointed, arched windows
Full of intricate tracings.
Paradise of imagination,
Packed with curiosities
In the collections of
Walpole’s desires
And eccentricities.

Strawberry Hill, London, is currently open to the public with an exhibition of some of the items collected by Horace Walpole (son of Britain’s first Prime Minister). He was an avid collector of art and curiosities, from fine art to armour and coins etc.

Chimneys and spires against a stormy sky at Strawberry Hill.

The house originally fronted onto the Thames, but the land in front has now been built upon and the site has been developed as part of Queen Mary’s University, London, in fact the students wander around the campus on the lawns outside and have lectures in the adjoining rooms.

Walpole designed this house together with his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as a ‘private retreat and a house for show, a place for study and for elaborate parties.’*

Not only is the exterior beautiful, but the interior has rooms or varying shapes, and sizes, ceilings which must be some of the best examples of Gothic revivalism known. There is a mirrored gallery, glitzy with gold and cream Gothic pinnacle ceiling and the prettiest library I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately I could not photograph the interior this time due to so many of the artefacts being on private loan.

It is well worth a visit though for those who like the Gothic style.

The turret and ornate iron staircase at Strawberry Hill.

Poem, prose and photos copyright Englepip©

The death that greets at Butser

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Haggard  skeleton;
Sockets deep;
Horns of plenty,
Decaying bone.
An Iron Age greeting?
Welcome talisman
Or deadly curse?
Dare I enter……?

I was privileged enough last weekend to visit the Iron Age replica settlement at Butser in Hampshire UK. The original farm was an archaeological experiment from the 1970s. It has now moved to a different site nearby where there are houses from Pre-Neolithic to Roman times some recreated from actual archaeological finds in Wessex, giving a living museum. They run various course throughout the year in skills used by our ancestors. I got to make felt for clothing and a friend learned to knapp stone tools. There are skulls above the doors of the neolithic houses. Probably the houses were built by a group and an animal killed for a feast on completion. The skull representing the animal spirit was put over the door maybe to ward off evil spirits.

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Words and photo copyright Englepip©

Four Minutes: tribute to Sir Roger Bannister

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Farewell.

I couldn’t do it

Run that far in four minutes.

In four minutes I can:

Almost sew on a button

Maybe respond to an email

Almost boil an egg

Perhaps  walk 400 metres

But Sir Roger Bannister

Ran

He ran and ran

Til his lungs were bursting

And every tendon

Stretched till he had run

A mile; in less than four.

Breathless

The first man,

Panting

1954

Heart racing

Breaking  the record.

Amazing national hero.

Sir Roger Bannister

Breathed his last.

Yesterday.

Farewell.

 

Words above and picture copyright Englepip©

 

Sir Roger Bannister, a British athletic hero passed away yesterday 3rd March 2018 at the age of 88 years.

He was one of the last true amateur athletes running on a cinder track just outside Oxford. Wikipedia reads:

“In the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres and finished fourth. This strengthened his resolve to be the first 4-minute miler. He achieved this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chatawayand Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer, Norris McWhirter, declared “The time was three…”, the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister’s exact time, which was 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days. He had reached this record with minimal training, while practising as a junior doctor.”