Movement and Light … and More : St Germanus Church, St Germans, Cornwall

NB This post was prepared in July during the Port Eliot Festival

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St Germanus Church (the teepee is part of the festival!)

Last Sunday, the final day of the Port Eliot Festival 2014, my train was not due to arrive at St Germans until 11.29. Lynne was scheduled to speak with our first author of the day Peter Benson (“The Farm” and “The Valley”) at 11am. So when I arrived I made straight for the church. Sunday was the only day on which it was open and I joined the last 20 minutes of the local parish Service. I had read great things about this church. It achieves three stars in my Simon Jenkins “Bible” – England’s 1000 Best Churches; its description runs to 5 pages in Pevsner’s Cornwall  and I read an article about just one of its monuments in Country Life earlier this year. P1140345

Peter Beacham signs his ‘other’ book “Down the Deep Lanes” in the DGR Tent

Peter Beacham, who updated the Pevsner Guide to Cornwall (published in May this year), was one of the guests in the Dovegreyreader Tent last Sunday.

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Pevsner’s Cornwall

But back to St Germanus itself. My heading is taken from the Country Life article which I have been unable to find a link to so will copy out here.

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My picture doesn’t do justice to the monument

Set in the base of the north-west tower of the former priory church in St Germans, Cornwall, is the large monument to the MP and landowner who died at the age of 38, in 1722. It was commissioned by his widow and is enclosed by a fine iron railing. The monument is one of the earliest English works of the brilliant Antwerp-born sculptor John Michael Rysbrack, who settled in London in 1720.

With its obelisk and animated figures, it is ultimately inspired by Roman Baroque example. It could have been designed by the architect James Gibbs, an early associate of Rysbrack in England, who trained in Rome.

The subtle lighting of the space in which the monument stands sets off its carefully arranged constituent marble – white, veined-grey and dark-grey – to superb effect. Eliot, in Roman armour, stares upwards, with a mourning figure at his feet. On the obelisk is a roundel portrait – presumably his deceased first wife – supported by cherubs.

The relative simplicity of the architectural elements focuses the visitor’s attention on the interrelationship of the different figures that is suggested by their gestures and lines of sight. Busy drapery also adds to the illusion of movement and life that Baroque artists struggled so hard to capture.”

[Text by John Goodall. Country Life 22 January 2014, p.36]

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Text of the description attached to the monument

Simon Jenkins comments on the first-rate Morris & Co. Burne-Jones windows.

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The East Windows

The east window is a Burne-Jones masterpiece, a ten-light composition in his most mature style. The background is soft green-yellow, leaving figures in red and blue to glow even more vividly in half-light. Burne-Jones also designed a window in the south wall of the aisle.” Representing Joy, Justice, Faith, Hope, Charity and Praise

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Window on South Wall

As Peter Beacham expresses it at the beginning of the St German’s section of Pevsner’s Cornwall “The memorably picturesque ensemble of church, house and park is of the highest architectural and historic interest“. I wonder what the Anglo-Saxon Bishops responsible for the creation of St German’s Priory would have said if they had seen last weekend’s picturesque ensemble of tents and stalls scattered over the estate.

The Dovegreyreader Tent at Port Eliot Festival

NB This post was prepared back in July during the Port Eliot Festival

Ready for the off

Welcome to the Dovegreyreader Tent at Port Eliot Festival!

It’s an Aladin’s Cave of quilted, patchwork and knitted hangings and of crocheted and sewn bunting: all stitched with love and care.

Quilt

 All Her Own Work

What writer could not feel relaxed in these surroundings, plumped down on the comfy couch with DGR (DoveGreyReader, alias Lynne) quietly and humourously encouraging them to speak about their work? It’s a far cry from the usual literary festival round of upright chairs, microphones, spotlighting and a hushed audience. We did have microphones and the spotlight (sun) shone all the time. We weren’t able to turn down the heating but we offered our guests a fresh cup of tea served in china teacups.

Table

The Festival itself is not all literary. There’s music and food and comedy and a Flower and Fodder Show. The FFS is open to all attendees and beyond. We were encouraged to make a tea cosy for the Fortnum and Mason competition and ‘we’ submitted an entry to the Flower Show. Yes, I, even I, who can neither sew nor knit nor crochet made a tea cosy. And here it is:

The Cosy

My Tea Cosy … on a theme of Tea Sayings

And we had an entry in the Flower Show – the theme was One Lump or Two. Fran made this beautiful display with knitted contributions by Liz. Designer Jane Churchill awarded it Second Prize. Well done, Fran!

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Each of our guests received a well thought-out gift for taking part. Needless to say it was handmade with care and relevant to the topics discussed. Our Knit Angel, Liz, produced the knitted or crocheted gifts. In addition the ladies received a quilt block again in a design connected with their topic and made by Lynne.

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Helen Rappaport (author of Four Sisters) received Sister’s Choice Design

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Helen also received Four Sisters of her own

Comfortable, informal, relaxed  and inspiring – and all in glorious colour!

It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new!

NB This report was prepared back in July during the Port Eliot Festival

programme

And that includes me! I spent yesterday afternoon at Port Eliot. I went straight there on the train from Par Station. Alight St Germans for Port Eliot. From the station it’s a mere few steps to Never Never Land the Festival. For many months now I have been wondering whether I am going to “fit in” at a festival and whether I will really be any help as I neither knit nor crochet nor sew nor flower arrange. After one afternoon I still felt as if I was an observer and not a participant. Even though I had a wristband that said “Port Eliot Festival Crew”.

DGR Tent

I think I will be quite safe from full festival conversion in the Dovegreyreader Tent. I already knew a couple of people and have now met four new ones including the very welcoming and hospitable Dave, the Dovegreyreader’s husband, who makes the tea and hands out food and generally turns his hand to anything that is required of him.

Rear dove grey tent

The decorations were just finished when I turned up and it was time for a cuppa and sandwich – most welcome but I felt I had done nothing to deserve them.

There’s a big programme of events (in both meanings of the word); the festival bookshop is right next door to us; there is food everywhere; there are stalls selling vintage stuff and there will be events all over the place.

 

Vintage deckchairs

Get it here

 

Love Lane Caravans

 

More vintage stuff

 

More vintage

 

Old buttons and stuff

 

Old maps

Somewhere near the heart of Port Eliot House is the Big Kitchen – just as somewhere near the heart of the festival is a passion for food. Over the weekend, local chefs and foodie legends give talks and demonstrations, celebrating all aspects of food from planting and growing to prepping and eating.”

Vintage Airstream

 

Lemon Jelli

My first taste was a delicious Gumbo from Strawbridge & Son BBQ Smokehouse which I took back with me to the B&B.

BBQ Smokehouse

Also there are many many campers. From in front of the house you see a sea of tents of all shapes and sizes and colours … but I’m glad that’s not me. I will take the train back to my B&B each evening. Being vintage myself I am past that sort of thing!

Sunny PE

Port Eliot Festival

It is all great fun and I couldn’t wait to get back today and to get started …

Railholiday

As I made my way to the station I noticed you can even stay in a vintage railway carriage at St Germans station.

Great for Rail fans

 

 

 

Diamonds and Dioramas in the Bern Natural History Museum

In addition to the Barry exhibition at the Bern Natural History Museum there were several other setions which attracted my interest. By the way, re-reading my post of yesterday reminded me that I’d seen a real live Barry on the Gornergrat a few years ago. I thought he was having a day out just like me but apparently he’s part of the scenery.

A St Bernard poses for the camera

A St Bernard poses for the camera

Like most Natural History Museums the world over the museum in Bern has its fair share of mammals from around the world but these were not of great interest to me. I prefer something of more local interest.

The Planggenstock Treasure has been on display in the Museum since 2011. These quartz crystals and crystal clusters were discovered under the Planggenstock Peak in the canton of Uri in Central Switzerland in 2005.

Planggenstock

The largest group of crystals weighs 300kg.

Smoky rock crystals

Smoky Rock Crystals

3 crystals group

The oldest objects in the collection are three rock crystals found in 1719 on the Vorderer Zingenstock.

As time was limited I left the collection of minerals, crystals, diamonds and rocks and moved on to the section featuring dioramas of the wildlife of Switzerland. Here was diorama after diorama of birds and animals in their settings. I was particularly interested to se all the different types of deer. I would call a deer a deer but in Switzerland they always distinguish between roe deer and chamois and red deer and ibex.

Gemse

Gemse = Chamois

Chamois

More Chamois

Chamois feeding

Chamois feeding at Innsbruck Alpine Zoo (2010)

Ibex

Ibex Diorama

Ibex feeding

Ibex at Innsbruck Alpine Zoo

The Alpine Ibex is known at the Alpensteinbock in German. Chamois are Gemse and Reh is roe deer and Hirsch are Red deer.

Red deer

Red Deer or Hirsch

Mountain hares summer

Mountain Hares in Summer

Mountain hares winter

Mountain Hares in Winter

Storks

Storks

Please take me home!

And finally … Please take me home!

Barry : an exhibition for a Swiss icon

On arrival at Bern Railway Station on Monday evening (18th) the first poster to catch my eye (well, it’s quite a big one) was this :

Barry Poster

Barry, the most famous rescue dog in the world, died 200 years ago but remains a legend to this day. Barry can be admired at the Natural History Museum Bern, where a new exhibition explores the heroic deeds attributed to this extraordinary St Bernard from the Great St Bernard Pass. The question is, which of the stories surrounding him are fact and which are myths? The exhibition tells the whole truth.”

I knew Barry was a popular dog’s name in Switzerland. I have a children’s picture book which tells his story. So on the Wednesday morning I took the short stroll from Barbara’s house to the Natural History Museum of Bern to find out more. The excellent display is on the second floor of the museum.

Barry diorama

Trusty Barry Diorama

Trusty Barry, cask at the ready. Left to his own devices for days on end, Barry patrols paths and ravines looking for travellers who are lost or buried in the snow. Wherever he goes he carries a cask of wine round his neck. The victims he finds are first offered a good strong drink. The faithful dog then runs back to the hospice to fetch help.

The Barrel

 

The real Barry

The Real Barry reworked by Georg Ruprecht in 1923.

Barry had been stuffed in 1814 using the primitive techniques of the time. Ruprecht used modern techniques at the time to create a plaster model of Barry’s body and clad it in the dog’s skin.

Barry was born in 1800 at the hospice on the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass. At almost 2500m altitude cold, fog and snow posed a danger to travellers and, accompanied by dogs, clerics and lay brothers from the hospice would go out each day looking for lost and weary travellers. Barry was to become their most tireless assistant he is said to have saved over 40 people from an icy death.

In 1812 a servant from the hospice brought the old and weary dog to Bern and he died there in 1814. After his death his body was handed over to a taxidermist so “that after his death this loyal dog will not be forgotten” [F. Meisner, 1815]

Great St Bernard Pass

The Great St Bernard Pass in Winter

The Hospice of the Canons Regular of St Augustine at the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass has been a place of safety and shelter for travellers for almost 1,000 years. In the 11th century, in order to help wayfarers, Bernard of Menthon founded a simple monastery at the highest point of the pass, and so the hospice was founded.

Modern Day Monks

Nice to see the modern-day monks (clerics) enjoying a tasty meal with wine

By providing shelter, food and a bed for the night the hospice vanquished the perils of the frightening, seemingly infernal, mountain world outside. Exhausted travellers and victims of bandits knew that they would be safe as soon as they reached its doors. For this Bernard was widely revered, and in 1123 eventually made a saint.

In addition to the story of Barry and the hospice high up on the pass the exhibition moved on to tell about the real dangers of avalanches today and to dispute the exaggerated stories of Barry. Even the best trained and strongest St Bernard dog could not have carried a child on his back as the story is told. But dogs still do important work in the field even today.

Barry Book

The Story of Barry

Finally, we could listen to the shocking stories told by the fortunate survivors of avalanches; as a clock ticked away the number of minutes that are needed in order to achieve a successful rescue. The chance of survival declines dramatically after just 15 minutes.

Around 70% of avalanche victims survive if the remaining members of their party manage to dig them out straightaway. This is only possible if everyone is carrying a detector device and knows how to use it. If an external rescue party is required the survival rate drops to 30%.”

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Warning

Miladys Grand Tour and August Summing-Up

After Cornwall and Port Eliot Festival I returned home briefly on 28 July, made excursions to Manchester, Jervaulx and Scarborough and on 12 August set off on a Swiss adventure with a foray into Italy only returning last Thursday 21 August.

Here are links to a couple of my posts over at Lynne’s blog Dovegreyreader

http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2014/08/barbara-visits-the-idler-academy-porteliotfest.html

http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2014/08/st-germans-and-the-great-war-exhibition.html

Not my post but here is my entry for the Port Eliot Flower and Fodder Show Tea Cosy Competition:

http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2014/08/teacosies-part-two.html

On 11 August I re-opened My Swiss Diary  briefly and a further Swiss Post will follow here shortly. Meanwhile I can show you a few photos of the places visited in Italy :

The View

The View from the house at Luino (Lake Maggiore)

The Pool

The Ecological Swimming Pool

Varese

Il campanile (1585-1774) Varese

Art Deco Varese

Art Nouveau in Varese

Varese Art Deco

Art Nouveau Varese

Cannobio Market

Arriving in Canobbio on Lake Maggiore for the Sunday Market

 

In Daphne’s Corner of Cornwall

OS Map

On my walk ‘Strolling hand in hand with romance‘ I visited the church in which Daphne Du Maurier married Major Tommy “Boy” Browning in July, 1932. I’d visited the Daphne Du Maurier Centre in Fowey and seen one of her former homes nearby in my only previous visit to Cornwall in 2008.

 

Daphne Du Maurier Centre

The Literary Centre in Fowey in 2008

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Daphne Du Maurier’s former home (1942-1943) at Readymoney Bay

But I hadn’t realised that I would come across so many other  Du Maurier connections in my small corner of Cornwall and during such a short visit.

For a start when I drove into the village where I was staying I noticed that it features The House on the Strand in its sign. And when I asked my hostess about this she declared “This IS the house on the strand!”.

Tywardreath

I decided to find out more and came across this walk and the following :

Tywardreath means “House on the Strand”, as the village was once surrounded by tidal waters on all sides bar the east, and the ground beneath the church was a creek.

A Benedictine Priory was founded here soon after the Norman Conquest, and the possessions included the church, St Sampson’s Chapel at Golant and huge nearby estates. The monks were a corrupt, drunken and dissolute bunch as described in du Maurier’s [time travel] novel; knowing it was true adds to the fascinating reading.

Bumblebee Farm

Bumblebee Farm, alias The House on the Strand …

Priory Lane

… is on Priory Lane, Tywardreath

In fact archaeologists were visiting the site that very Saturday to ascertain exactly where the Priory stood and what remains might be found on the farm’s land.

Bumblebee

The House on the Strand from the Village Road

Then at the Festival I heard talk that Port Eliot House itself had been Daphne’s inspiration for Manderley the house featured in her most famous book : Rebecca.

Port Eliot front

Port Eliot House in Festival Spirit

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited. No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.” [Opening lines to Rebecca]

Port Eliot - rear view

Rear of Port Eliot House

Daphne Du Maurier was a prolific writer. She produced novels and volumes of short stories, five biographies and her own autobiography. The place Cornwall held in her heart and the inspiration it provided was captured in many of her books. Her special connection above all was this small estuarine area where by chance I happened to stay.