scribbles tagged ‘church’

Spring Garden Lutheran church

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Spring Garden Lutheran churchWhile wandering around MN, I stopped at the Spring Garden Lutheran Church, founded in 1858. It’s white wooden construction, wrought iron railings, and graveyard intrigued me.

The church itself was locked. Sadly, passing travelers like myself do not feel welcomed.

I wandered through the graveyard and admired the many Scandinavian family names, the old (1870’s) gravestones and the lush grass that gave the church it’s name.

graves, trees and sky

Spring Garden Lutheran church
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Beethoven in the baroque basilica

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
St. Mary's Basilica

St Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary's BasilicaSt. Mary’s Basilica  (1914)  is less than a mile from my home, I can see it’s imposing dome from my windows. It was the first ‘Basilica’ in the USA. Designed by a French architect, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, trained in Paris, the Minneapolis-opedia says:

The pro-cathedral’s architecture reflected Masqueray’s training at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The pro-cathedral was designed in the style of late Renaissance and Baroque churches in France and Italy. Masqueray wanted the pro-cathedral to create a serene impression through perfect proportions, good lighting, and sincere composition. The focus of his design was the wide nave, or main worship space. At the time, it was said to be the widest nave in the world.

The lower windows are colourfully decorated with characters from the old testament. It’s not a church style I’m familiar with. I did recognise the fluer de l’isle built into the decoration, recognise the French connection.

I lit a candle for Dad

St. Mary's Basilica

Detail of glass window

I wandered in at 2.05pm on a Saturday afternoon to find a fantastic concert in progress. Minnesota Sinfonia performing Beethoven’s piano concerto #4 in g major, opus 58. Beautiful music filling this vast place. The audience were all shapes, sizes and colours. Some people looked homeless, shabby and sleeping in the pews. Other’s looked wealthy, dressed-up for a special event. Children in smart outfits, families that looked like tourists

The event was free

Because it was free, it gifted a spontaneous happiness, I donated more than I would have paid for a ticket. Free, quality, live music produced by experts in a building built by experts, built for the people, this is the sort of ‘humanity’ that inspires


Beethoven in the baroque basilica
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1949 Modernism in Minneapolis

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Eliel Saarinen Lutheran ChurchCoincidences in the suburbs.

Eliel Saarinen designed one of my favourite buildings, Helsinki central train station. One day I’ll ride the line from Helsinki to St Petersburg with a layover at Viipuri, my fathers birthplace. Eliel Saarinen also designed the Viipuri train station. Train stations are fabulous places, they are the door to adventures, they bring loved one’s home.

Eliel’s last building was a Lutheran church in Longfellow, a suburb of Minneapolis. One of the earliest examples of a modernist building in the USA and listed on their national register of historic places. It stands in very stark contrast to the surrounding classical wooden, suburban, homes. No more of a contrast than the pseudo-gothic, often Germanic, red stone churches in most other districts.

Eliel’s son Eero appears to have worked with Charles Eames, clearly knew both Ray and Charles. Eero also designed the educational annex on the church, added to the building in 1962.
minneapolis residential street
On the Saturday morning that I spontaneously  visited, all the doors to the church were locked. No sign of life inside, no opportunity to see the wonderful light streaming through the cleverly placed windows to fill the space for worship. The door design is simple and beautiful. Ashame that someone felt the need to add the instruction to “Pull” the door handle which already displays all the affordances of being ‘pull-able’ more than ‘push-able’.

Eliel Saarinen Lutheran ChurchThough far more beautiful, the outside design reminded me of the Danish church in Hull that the House family occasionally visited when staying with Hull branch.

I’ll be back, with some locally rounded-up fellow building-lovers on an official, docent-led tour day

1949 Modernism in Minneapolis
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the Mansion at Elfindale

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Mansion at Elfindale Springfield (16)Mansion at Elfindale Springfield (20)Day 4: October 24th

For the first 3 nights of my road trip I treated myself to staying in USA ‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation. Each night I’d look online to find a place to stay at my next destination, then phone them using my USA SIM in my unlocked Nokia Lumina. This worked well for the first 2 nights. In Springfield Missouri I was one of 2 guests staying at the Mansion at Elfindale. The other guest was a visiting Pastor, I never saw him. The mansion seemed deserted apart from a very friendly kitty. It was very impressive. Before disappearing the receptionist gave me a full tour of the building replete with historical comment. Beautiful. In it’s lifetime the Mansion had been a private home, convent and a boarding school. It’s currently owned by a church, that has a church building behind the Mansion. They’ve raised money to refurbish and keep the mansion in good condition.

Mansion at Elfindale Springfield (18)My room was above the main entrance way, with a balcony, and en-suite bathroom with original brass fittings and a claw foot bath. The floor-space on my room seemed larger than the floor-space in my UK Wendy home! Huge and luxurious.

Mansion at Elfindale - my roomIt was another beautifully sunny day, but the ‘storm warning’ sign with directions on how to find the basement suggested that Springfield has more dramatic weather than the UK.

Tired after a long day driving, I didn’t drive into downtown Springfield, I took a long bath enjoyed the room and looked for a place to stay tomorrow night. Not easy, it seems as if Oklahoma city is full. After contacting 7 places, none of whom were ‘able’ to recommend an alternative, Rachel had a space for me in a town south of Oklahoma city, Norman. Maybe I should be pampering myself less and staying in Roadside motels? Maybe later on the trip…



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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

St Margarets churchSt Margarets churchI’m in Swinton to look for the burial plot of Peter (1873) and Mary (1870) Robertson in St. Margaret’s church.

St Margaret’s Church is a large parish church, suggesting the town was wealthy when it was last built, following a fire, in 1899. The walls of the church are puritanically plain with a simple wall hanging between each window marking the stations of the cross, from the passion. I associate the 14 stations of the cross with Catholicism.

Some gravestones mark burials as early as 1843. The earlier graves are closer to the church. Many of the grave markers are missing. Once there would have been neat rows of east-west facing stones. It looks like nearly half of the stones in this early part of the graveyard have gone. Fallen. When I asked the Verger about the missing stones she said it was due to ‘Subsidence’, quite literally fallen. There are no maps of the burial plot, she doesn’t know of any records. I suspect they were lost in the fire of 1897, I’ll ask the vicar.

St Margarets graveyardSt Margarets bluebells in the graveyardI’d emailed the Vicar 2 weeks before visiting, he hadn’t acknowledged receiving my email. He must be a very busy man.  Two hours carefully uncovering, reading, the names on all the headstones in the older part of the graveyard, I regret not having  phoned the Vicar before I visited.

While I search the graveyard children run through, it’s a through-route to the local park. Elderly people carry shopping through the graveyard, it’s a through route between social housing bungalows and the main shopping high street. This place is alive with people.  Most passers-by say hello and comment on the lovely weather.

This is a warm, friendly place

The Verger explained that the Vicar is very busy.  The Verger looks busy. She is here. The Vicar only answers the phone in his office, in the church, but he’s rarely there. I wonder what keeps the vicar so busy away from the home of his congregation.  The Verger suggests that I visit the church on a Monday night between 6.30 and 7pm, that’s when the Vicar comes to meet the public and deal with things like arranging weddings. But not this Monday because he’s very busy with Whitsun.  Again, I wonder how this vicar spends his time caring for his living flock.

Alas, I didn’t find Peter (1873) and Mary (1870) Robertson’s burial plot. I did spend a very pleasant afternoon looking.

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steam cleaning souls

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 | tags: ,  |

Chapter House Stairs, Wells Cathedral c.1306wearing and tearing

washing and drying

sin ickle stains lifted

away in awarm steam

clearing a pathway to


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top of the word

Monday, October 31st, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Virgin me!

Never been on the roof of a Catholic Cathedral…until….NOW!

on the roof of the cathedral

 Watching the mason’s cut stone, in-situ, to fit windows. Clouds of stone-dust swirling into the air. Orange roofs, the mediterranean, in the distance. Being on top of a Cathedral gives you all sorts of new perspectives and an appetite for Paella…

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one small letter can mean so much

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The wedding practice-party mingle in the sunshine outside St James and St William of York church. I skirt the party and slip into the substantial entrance porch of Pugin‘s psuedo Norman church. A handsome young man in the porch is talking on his mobile phone:

I’d just like you to take the “a” off the end of my name. At the moment it looks like two girls are getting married – Nicola and Alexa. My  name is Alex not Alexa. Please just put it right

I imagine the wedding with the grooms name miss-spelt as a girls name. If they are having the rehearsal, the wedding is probably fairly soon, I am impressed at how well the groom maintains a semblance of calm as he delivers his plea


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inspirational places

Saturday, September 17th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

The sound of christian church bells calling people to prayer cheerfully echos around the Wendy House garden on a Sunday morning. In April London Road, Wokingham Road, Cumberland Road, adjoining streets and park come alive with orange clad Sikh’s singing and sharing goodwill in the streets for Nagar Kirtan

MosqueUntil recently there were only a couple of Mosques in Reading town. Converted buildings rather than purpose built. Can you imagine approximately 10,000 local Muslims using a couple of tiny converted buildings?

Reading town’s first purpose built Abu Bakr Masjid Islamic centre is part of the solution, and nearly complete. It adds wonderful colour, spirituality and architectural interest to the already diverse and vibrant Oxford Road

It’s on the outstanding Number 17 bus route. Alas, it’s not big enough for 10,000 muslims

Another beautifully architected Mosque is now planned for East Reading, also on the awesome Number 17 bus route

Reading town feels multi-cultrual and as-if people care about more than just the acquisitiveness of capitalism


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octagonal church tower

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Octagonal church towerIn the infamous Dioscese of Bath and Wells Ilchester, the 13th Century church of St Mary Major has a 50 ft high octagonal tower. The first octagonal church tower that I’d ever seen

According to the church guidebook Jane Austen’s aunt was imprisoned in the local Gaol for shoplifting


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‘peeling church bells

Sunday, October 31st, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Why I love England #15:  ‘peeling church bells

Seattle Sunday and Saturday felt interchangeable. The main percievable difference was that Saturday night heralded a sleep-in while Sunday night heralded the start of the working week. Saturday and Sunday were both filled with open, buzzing, malls, bowling alleys, ski-slopes and roads. Returning to England returned my beautiful Sundays.

English Sundays start well with a warm, naturally slow, awakening. Things just keep getting better from there. Whether sunshine, rain, fog, drizzle… going out in it or staying in, the choice is mine and the doing is free from shopping. Then comes the distant peal of church bells. Sunday gives time to be with beautiful people; to do nothing or something. Perhaps a spot of painting, a walk in the park, pull weeds from the garden, talk, listen.

On colder days a log fire fills the house with the gentle scent of warm woodsmoke, the clicking of the Stove as it warms, the sparking of logs and roaring of flames.  Lashings of tea, Sunday lunch followed by lashings more tea.

An evening amble to a pub quiz, real ale, laughter, debates and arguments in the company of friends.

Sunday draws to a close with me all wrapped up in sweet smell of fresh laundry and crisp, silence, of the white cotton sheets. They engulf me as I contentedly fall into deep sleep.

‘peeling church bells
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Sunday, December 13th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

you’re the only girl for me

We laughed together at his assertion.    It was one of the most honest expressions of closeness I’d heard then or since.

After two weeks of dating that involved lots of

  • laughter,
  • sleeplessness,
    loud singing after dark,
    passionate debating of  the relative efficacies of pychological theories,
    burning of incence, nicotene and canabis

He dumped me.

Easing the suprise with the phrase ‘you’re the only girl for me’ and  explaining that he preferred boys.   With hindsight, this explained the dearth in exchanges of bodily fluids.

20 years later. He’s still passionate, humourful, debating, smoking, prefering boys and I’m still the only girl for him.   Only now there is even  less excahniging of bodily fluids because the boy’s grown into a christian


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coptic Cairo

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

hanging church wall decorationThe word ‘Coptic’ appears to refer to an Egyptian language spoken in Pharonic times  and currently written with the Greek alphabet

The language is now used in the Coptic church,   a christian church with it’s own Pope (not the  Catholic one).    The apostle Mark reputedly bought christianity to Egypt  in the first century AD when Egypt was governed by Rome, Emperor Nero

The Copts seceded from the other Christian churches in the 5th century  because they rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon (451)  that Christ had a dual nature, both human and divine, believing instead that he had a single, divine nature

Christianity is now the largest minority Religion in Egypt.   About 95% of Egyptians are Muslim.   The christains have a difficult relationship with the state, government and some Muslims

hanging church wall paintingThe external architecture of the christain churches was such that I found them difficult to spot.   The give-away sign was a cross,   normally on a dome

I visited the 7th century St. Mary’s hanging church in Coptic Ciaro.   Called the ‘hanging’ church because it  is built overhanging the Roman gatehouse of old Cairo.    This church was increadibly beautiful.   Painted walls with motif’s that often looked celtic, arabic writing, gold-leaf

Wall panels were delicately carved wood inlaid with ivory in regular geometric designs.   Often straight lines constructed to enable you to see circles and curves.    The colours created a warm celebratory atmosphere,   very different from the white-washed  walls of many Church of England churches.   This celebration in art appeals to me.

Mary and Jesus - Coptic churchI was suprised to find the paintings of people (Mary, Jesus, Saints) depicted very pale-skinned people that looked like North Europeans,    an over-emphasis on pale skins given the likely colouring of the people portrayed.   They were at least portrayed with brown-eyes and dark hair

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Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque

Above Cairo, within the Saladin citadel, sits the Ottoman style  Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque  (1848).   An ornate structure that provides water for washing before prayer sits in the centre of an quadrangle.   The huge prayer room is lit by hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in glass jars that may once have held candles.   Tourists  glide around using flash photography with blue plastic boots covering their shoes.    I followed my muslim guide’s example and removed my shoes.

Outside the mosque is a panorama across the city.   If you listen carefully you can hear the peep-peep-peeping of the traffic below….

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Africa, through the door

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Africa, through the door, second star to the right….  

The swallows in St Nectan’s church were flying from window to stained-glass medieval-window.   Chirruping.    Sounding distressed, desperate, like people making 999 (US = 911) phone calls.  Plenty of painted stars on the church ceiling but no phone service to answer the calls…  

It’s autumn equinox, getting noticably cold.   It’s a long flight south,  I hope they find the door before winter sets in.  Painted stars can be fatally distracting from the things that really make life…

My drab, starless,  self  felt helpless in the  hermitted church.

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church bells

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

view from a church bell towerThe Islands of the Cyclades are strewn with white churches,   often with blue roofs and all with bell-towers.   The bells would ring between 6pm and 7.20pm a single tone,   often flat, with a basic tune conveyed by a regularly varied pace between the rings.

Graveyards were normally accompanied by a small church,   mainly churches stood alone on island high ground,   often perched on Island mountain tops.

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rigged religion

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

koufounissi church riggingOn the small island of koufounissi they’ve rigged St. Georges church.  

One highlight of my Greek holiday involved sitting on this church wall in the early evening listening to the ceremony songs waft through the open doors,   children wobble in and out of the church,   two old ladies greeting attendees and shepharding the children,  watching the passers-by cross themselves as the sunset gathered on the horizon.

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Great Knollys St.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Great Knollys street is cited on several websites as being named after a family, with no information on the family beyond the name.   Snooping the net leads me to suspect it is the family that included Sir Robert Knollys,   born 1547 in Reading,   progeny of the Lord Mayor of London in 1409-1410.   Sir Robert  Knollys was variously an MP for Reading,   and keeper of Twickenham based  Syon House  for an  order fo Brigittine nuns (and monks – mixed orders).   Wikipedia ingenouosly describes him as ‘one of Henry VIII henchmen.   There is a quaint story stemming from Sir Robert Knollys’ time as lord Mayor of London that I stumbled across here:

The Knollys Rose Ceremony commemorates an ancient City custom dating from 1381. Sir Robert Knollys owned a house on the West Side of Seething Lane. During one of his absences abroad his wife is reputed to have purchased a property on the east side of Seething Lane and built a footbridge over the lane to the other side, without the equivalent of planning permission and resulted in the City Corporation of the day imposing a rent of one red rose, payable each year on the Feast of St John the Baptist.

There are some red roses blooming in the Wendy House garden. In Reading.

Robert Knollys’  son Francis Knollys is also a likely source for the street name.   Francis  was  a puritan protestant who was ‘granted the manor of Caversham’  .   The Wikipedia description is slightly less partisan than its description of his father.   Francis was a friend  of Henry VIII.   Francis was also a  close confident of Elizabeth I throughout her life.   He is cited on web site as being given the title  “Treasurer of the Royal Bedchamber .   He was also  long-time warden of Mary Queen of Scotts during her detention.      Francis frequently resided in the disolved Reading Abbey where he would entertain Queen Elizabeth I.  

My emerging picture of Reading’s character is growing to be pro-Royalty,   pro-protestantism with lashings of pre-christianity,   and welcoming of  female roles extending beyond those stereotyped  as wives and potential wives.

 I like Reading.

Edited after Mrs. P.s comment to systematically add an s to the end of evey use of the word Knolly,   and move around a few apostrophes just for fun.
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electric prayers

Friday, August 17th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

they do not drip messy wax,   they do not blow-out in the gentle church breezes, securely collecting donations,   equal lights for each prayer, only the bulbs need replacing and the cover  eases dusting and cleaning.   These prayer installations were in both the Cathedrals I visited in Spain.


The emotional, sensual, experience of an electric prayer barely touches that of lighting, smelling, watching real candles.  

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Monday, July 16th, 2007 | tags:  |

This is one of ‘Wardance’s way-too-small collection of ‘miss-spelt’ church signs they are all so vary god.   I want Maw!

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city of e-mail

Sunday, June 17th, 2007 | tags:  |

on the western  high plains of eastern Washington in the tiny city of Outlook  stands  a small white church.   Where e-mail meets knee-mail:

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13th Century Corporate Chapel

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005 | tags: , ,  |

UK Vacation 3

This “Lord Mayor’s chapel” was originally built to service a hospital in the 13th century.   It was bought by the City of Bristol and is the only chapel owned by a “city” (corporation).   Rather than owned,  for example, by a religious order or private family.

It clearly demonstrates the close relationship between local city administration and religion in Britain.   Whether this close relationship is a good thing is open to debate.   Id be curious about people’s opinions.

When I looked around the church I found the mix of old and new artefacts intriguing.   Illustrated by the desk and computer photographed below.

The Flags look like they may show ‘coat of arms’ representing ‘sponsorship’ of this Church.    The bristol city coat of arms, is one possibility.   Other possibilities include families that have significant relationships with this church,   for example the Dragoo family,   professional Guilds, or oganisations (e.g. Universities).    I wish I’d asked about them while I was there…

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