21 July 2012
The Tale of Lisa's Trip to Gloucester
The Cotswolds countryside is beautiful! The ripening grain is nearly the same color as the stone of the houses right now and it makes the landscape come alive with color! With the tall poplars, I thought this view could almost have come from somewhere in Italy ~ so gorgeous!
The wheat here is amazing ~ so lush and full! I actually got to see all of this twice. I made the drive to Gloucester and discovered that I had left my wallet at the B&B. I couldn't even pay for parking! So, after a few moments of frustration, I decided to take the time to go back and get it and return again. The drive was so nice the second time around when I wasn't focused so much on finding my way!
At last I arrived in Gloucester! I had two things I wanted to see here, the Cathedral and a special little attraction that I'll tell you about shortly. Every time I told someone where I was going, they said, "Oh. Gloucester isn't really a very nice city." As though it was impossible that anyone would actually want to go there. Well, though I didn't see a lot of Gloucester, what I did see was lovely! And I thoroughly enjoyed my time there! On the first drive in, I passed a horse pulled Vardo going down the street! I thought they might have been on their way to the fair being held this weekend.
But my first stop was the Cathedral. The earliest planning for it began in the 900's! It's a magnificent building, soaring into the sky, the big bell called St. Peter, ringing out the hour. It has been ringing for 700 years!
This portion of the building is known as the knave. The enormous stone pillars date to between 1000 to 1130 AD.
They kept adding on to the building, taking it to lofty heights. This is the Quire (choir), dating to between 1300 to 1450. The stained glass is amazing, rising greater in height than the length of a tennis court. Each window unique, all lovely and in amazing condition considering their age.
Beyond the Quire is yet another chapel with another lovely stone ceiling high above. Lacework in stone. There were chapels around every nook and cranny and each one different and unique.
These two photos of stained glass are from a series depicting the fall and redemption of Adam and Eve. Stunningly beautiful.
The painting on the glass is exquisite.
Another lacy ceiling. It looks almost like wood, but this is artistry in stone, carved by hand with a chisel and mallet. Incredibly precise and delicate.
Somehow, Gloucester missed the destruction that so many abbeys experienced under the rule of Henry VIII. That means that it's cloisters are intact. The windows look out into the Garth, the common area of the abbey.
The door to the Garth. Here was a protected place to get out of doors, to access the well and socialize.
The cathedral as seen from the Garth ~ just stunning.
I walked these quiet halls at length, my feet treading where a thousand years of feet have trod. The light was amazing. So was the quiet. It was the contented quiet of meditation - it just welled up around you, enveloping with deep quiet. I could have spent all day just walking those halls in meditation.
I had one more place to go before the day ended. By now, I had already spent hours in the cathedral (and could tell you so much more about it in words and photos but that would need a significantly longer post) and could have spent so much more time there. But it was time to leave for now. I made the short walk across the square in front of the cathedral to College Court.
Here was the House of the Tailor of Gloucester! I had chanced upon it when doing some Beatrix Potter research a while back, and since it is my favorite of all her books, I knew I had to go!
It sits right next to St. Michael's Gate in College Court. Through that gate, it's just a couple hundred yards to the cathedral!
Inside, they have a lovely little shop and some areas made up to look like the illustrations in the book. Here is Simpkin checking on the mice he had trapped under teacups and discovering much to his chagrin that the Tailor has let them all out! All of this is life size and it was a delight to see!
Of course I had to buy a couple of souvenirs! A commemorative edition with special dust jacket for the shop! What fun it was to learn that the story had it's basis in a true story! Though embroidered by Beatrix Potter and with her special touch, it became a magical story! All those mice in fancy dress, bowing and curtsying ~ and that lovely illustration of the embroidered waistcoat with the tiny pinned note, "No more twist!"
And, my treasure, a limited edition of Beatrix Potters original handwritten version in black and white of Peter Rabbit! I found out about this through Susan Branch's blog during her recent trip to Hilltop, and was so hoping I'd be able to get one for myself. Then when she did a drawing for one, she had said that they'd sold out and I was so disappointed! Imagine my delight to spy this in a locked cabinet, and upon inquiring about it, discover that it was available for sale! The shop had just a few copies, and it was tucked in with some other antique copies of books that weren't for sale, so other visitors must have passed it by! It was just waiting for me!
It's just lovely and a bit expanded from F. W. Warne published in the final edition. I love seeing it written out in her handwriting and with her little black and white drawings!
After I made my purchases, I walked up the lane to see if I could figure out where Beatrix Potter had done her illustration of the house and gate from. I think it was right about here!
By now, it was late afternoon, and so I popped into Lily's Restaurant and Teashop just across from the House of the Tailor of Gloucester for a bite to eat. To my delight, they offered a Tailor of Gloucester Tea!
I was served a mug (featuring an illustration from the T.o.G.) upside down on a plate along with my pots of tea and cream. When I picked up the mug, There was a surprise mouse underneath!
I lovely little sandwiches; egg mayonnaise, and cheese with chutney, which I loved! Then there were tiny scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam and Simpkin's Cherry Silk Banbury cakes! All very tasty!
Where I sat, I had a lovely view of the shop and gate, so I pulled out the sketchpad.
And here's my illustration of the gate! Complete with Union Jack bunting from all the Jubilee and Olympic festivities that have been taking place!
Now it was early evening and headed back to the Cathedral for Evensong. I was dying to hear the organ in that space. The usual choir and organist were on vacation, but the visiting choir and organist were magnificent.
The gentleman with the crutches appeared a bit gruff at first, but when I asked about the Evensong and the organ, his entire face lit up and he gave me such an introduction to both! He attends every evening and after years of doing so, it still moves him to tears. We sat chatting quietly while waiting.
And then the organ started playing. OH! The sound in that amazing space! It palpably filled the air until a deep thrum rose up through you. Glorious! My Dad, who loved organ music and the sacred music of the church, would have loved it so.
Then the choir sang... and when the music of choir and organ stopped on a clear crisp note, it hung in the air with poignant clarity for the longest time ~ you didn't want it to end, it was so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Such beauty. No recording in the world can capture that essence of sound or that deep thrum that you can feel from the tip of your toes all the way up through your head in a magnificent place like that.
What was astonishing to me, was that there were so few people there, maybe 15 or so. To have this greatness on a daily basis is astonishing to me, and that more people don't cherish it and attend it daily... I hope and pray that this lovely service will long continue. It would leave such a void in the world if it were to end. I've yet to hear any modern church music that can match the worshipful nature of this music. It focuses one on the greatness of God, on his glory and majesty.
With the memory of this beautiful inspiring music still ringing in my mind, I made my way back through the picturesque Cotswolds to my B&B.
And when I parked the car got out, these beautiful Ivory Blush Roses were right there next to me, filling the air with sweet scent. What a beautiful ending to a a glorious day!