THE SPECTRAL MYSTERY OF MINSTER LOVELL HALL BY ALLI TEMPLETON

A few weeks ago, after what seemed like eternity, I finally got to visit a medieval ruin again. Not a castle, but a rare example of a courtyard manor house built in the fifteenth century by one of of the wealthiest men in England. And for a sleepy ruin in a quiet Oxfordshire backwater it has a lot to offer. For a start, it’s tucked away in an idyllic location beside the River Windrush amid beautiful, rolling countryside. It also has connections with the Scottish medieval history module I’ve just completed, and it has links with two of my favourite medieval kings, one of which came to stay at the manor. Perhaps even more intriguingly, some say that its most notable owner never left, that he still lingers around the ruins of his former home.

The approach to the 15th Century hall with the porch on the left

The village of Minster Lovell was originally simply called Minster, denoting a settlement of secular clergy serving a church. The church was, and still is, dedicated to the young martyr prince Kenelm, the son of Kenwulf, King of Mercia, who is believed to have been murdered in 819AD, and the minster would have been an important centre for what was once a large ecclesiastical district. Then, around 1124 Henry I granted considerable lands, including Minster, to one of his barons, William, whose nickname was Lupellus, meaning ‘Little Wolf’, probably reflecting his military prowess. Over time the name morphed into Lupel, then Luvel, eventually settling on Lovel, and the bucolic setting of Minster Lovell became the centre of the family estate from the thirteenth century until the Lovell line ended in the 1480s.

The hall sits in a tranquil setting beside the River Windrush

The west wing and the northwest tower with the medieval St Kenelm’s Church behind

The manor was inherited by successive generations of Lovells, mostly – and confusingly – called John, with the odd William thrown in for good measure. One of the many Johns served King Edward I during the first Welsh war of 1277 (covered last year on my Castle Quest), and in 1296 when Edward turned his formidable gaze north, John was the marshal of the king’s army in Scotland, earning him the title Lord Lovell. He served Edward in Scotland in 1303 and 1304, and it was to him that the keys of Stirling Castle were surrendered following a three-month siege by the English king. The same good fortune, however, evaded his son, another John, who was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. But to meet the man who rebuilt the family seat into the grand courtyard home that we see today we must fast forward to the next century, to another Lord Lovell.

SEE THE REST OF THE POST: The Spectral Mystery of Minster Lovell Hall

The Monuments Men (and women): Let’s get it right this time. – SeanMunger.com

Let’s not just tear down racist Confederate monuments. Let’s put up something better in their place.

Source: The Monuments Men (and women): Let’s get it right this time. – SeanMunger.com

The Monuments Men (and women):
Let’s get it right this time.


Monuments matter. They just do.

Right now, in this moment of extraordinary reflection on systemic racism in our society arising from the quite justifiable outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other African-Americans by racist police, it may seem like a lot of frothing and fuming over lumps of bronze and marble that have been standing in parks and in front of courthouses for more than a century is a waste of time and resources. It may seem especially reckless to be having this national conversation while the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 110,000 Americans and counting, still rages. But it’s not. This needs to happen. It’s a reckoning with our past and part of a reassessment of our history. As a historian, and as a white man who has benefited greatly from the systemic racism that’s embedded in so many institutions in our society, let me make this clear: the Confederate and racist monuments all need to go. Every single one of them. But we also need to do more than that.

More than a few parks and courthouse squares in the U.S. have seen a curious nightly ritual. Men and women, some wearing masks, come in the middle of the night with cranes and jackhammers, and the next morning another bronze Lee, Forrest or Beauregard is carted away to a storehouse. Historian Al Mackey of the Student of the American Civil War blog has been documenting many of the removals, here. But when the pandemic is over (if it ever is) and the clouds of tear gas from the protests clear, we’ll be left with a lot of empty pedestals whose very emptiness will remind us of the battles we fought over them and the pain they’ve caused. So, tearing down racist monuments isn’t enough. We need to put up something else in their places that cements in our minds a new version of history, supplanting the false and disingenuous pseudohistory of white supremacism that the erection of Confederate monuments, most of them in the early 20th century, was deliberately designed to build.

The header image of this article is a large statute of Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman in Washington, D.C. The picture above is a Google Maps street view of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, and the statue of the man on horseback in front of it is John Brown Gordon, a Confederate general and likely head of the KKK in Georgia after the war (though he never admitted it). The statute of Gordon, erected in 1907 specifically as a response to a race riot, obviously needs to be torn down and melted into ingots. But that will leave that ugly pedestal standing there. What do we replace it with? How about William Tecumseh Sherman?

Sherman, who burned Atlanta and carved a path of destruction through the state in 1864, would be a perfect choice to honor in front of the Georgia State Capitol. It would represent a wholesale turn against the slave-owning past of Georgia and a powerful rejection of the toxic “Lost Cause” pseudo-historical myth that tries to pretend that the Civil War was about anything other than slavery. In fact, I think a statue of a gilded General Sherman on a horse, similar to the one in New York City’s Sherman Plaza, would look so good in front of the Georgia State Capitol that I’ve taken the liberty of photoshopping an image to show you how nice it would look.

Created with Glimpse

CONTINUE ON SEAN MUNGER’S SITE:

I’m Sean Munger.

BUYING YOUR HOUSE AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

After a lot of people suggested I get a UBS at least to deal with the router and modem, I went looking on Amazon and realized I don’t know anything about what I need. Nothing at all. I used to rely on APC, but their ratings have dropped precipitously. So now, I have no idea what would be a good buy.

Home

Owen says he has a friend who may have some answers, so I await information. The problem is that the UPS doesn’t give much power. Twenty to 30 minutes for things I can afford which would at least avoid the mini outages we get from our internet provider.

If we want to be really SAFE, we’d need a generator — and that’s big money. The generator isn’t expensive, but its installation is a major event and definitely not a DIY job. Something that would keep the water pump, refrigerators, lights, boiler, and maybe the TV running is a medium-home-sized unit, but by the time you get it installed, you are looking at thousands of dollars. Hospitals and other life-and-death places use huge generators.

Small, medium, or big, it is not happening. First, we need a boiler, a new deck, and a few replacement windows. And a big dehumidifier for the lower level to keep the mold away.

I feel as if we are buying the house a second time. I know it sounds stupid, but I somehow thought that once you fixed something, that was it. Done.

The new hot water system attached to the old boiler.

Who knew we’d still be living here when the roof we put in when we moved here started to deteriorate? Or when the 12-year-old boiler would suddenly (and startlingly) be a 31-year-old boiler 20 years later? Who imagined we’d still be living here 20 years later?

Who expected to need three hot water heaters, new pipes, three new well pumps — not to mention a new well. Life goes around, comes around. The problem is the money doesn’t necessarily show up at the same time.

IT’S ALL ON TOP – Marilyn Armstrong

EVERYTHING IS ON THE TOP

These are top pictures. Top of the line, top of the heap, top of the steeple. These are all the top of something. Exactly what depends on the picture.

But they are all, definitely, absolutely and totally, on top of something! Let’s enjoy the bird’s eye view of reality. Or look at the peak and think of how high we could go.

High in the sky, a helicopter

Three top-of-the roof pigeons

On Top of the World

On top of the rail yet still looking up

BOSTON HARBOR FROM THE TOP – Marilyn Armstrong

BOSTON FROM THE TOP

It was a wedding and I was all dressed up so I was NOT carrying a camera. Thus I found myself using my cell phone, not at all my favorite camera — it isn’t a good telephone and it’s a worse camera. It was, however, the only one I could fit in my evening bag so I did the best I colud.

It was a breathless site from the 66th floor overlooking the harbors! I was shooting through glass, but all things considered, not too bad.

I spent hours last night — like three of them — searching the online world for birdseed that I thought our birds will eat. There is cheaper food, but the birds don’t eat it. They literally toss it aside to get to the better stuff. Everything is backed up for weeks and in a lot of cases, months. I finally found some things on Chewy, so assuming it arrives on a reasonable schedule, the buffet lives.

And here are today’s squares. They are flying and gliding squirrels in the light of the moon. In some, you can see their big shining eyes.

From the top of the Harbor

ARCHITECTURE ON TOP OF THE WORLD – DAY 2 – Marilyn Armstrong

ON TOP OF THE WORLD 

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this church. Since it was abandoned now about 10 years ago, it has been slowly dying of neglect. What a pity. it’s a classic clapboard New England church. It could be a museum, a place for town history. It ought to be something and not allowed to simply collapse.

But that’s what is happening, so I take a lot of pictures. Because one of these days, it will really collapse or be knocked down.

The steeple on top of the world

DECORATING ON THE CHEAP – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry used to be a major-league cover-stealer. Early in our marriage, I tried to gently detach him from his tightly-held cover cocoon. It was hopeless. His technique was simple:  two 360-twirls while firmly clutching the covers. It left me with no covers while he was fully wrapped, neck to toes.

The old bedroom

At some point, I realized the gentle approach was not working. One night, as I lay shivering in the bedroom, I just gave him a solid kick in the butt and pulled the covers off him to my side of the bed.

“OUCH,” he said.

“Release the covers,” I snarled.

I think he couldn’t believe I was willing to get violent in pursuit of blankets. Ultimately, he got tired of getting kicked and then, we both had enough covers. Not everything in a marriage is negotiable.

The new bedroom


Over the years, we settled into a down comforter with a cover and too many pillows. I’ve always been seriously neutral about bedroom colors, but I realized that I was tired of grey, light blue, medium blue, and white. I wanted something bright and fun.

Not a coverlet, but a new covering for the comforter.

It’s a king-size comforter though the bed is queen-sized. To keep sleeping civilized, we need more breadth so we can wrap ourselves in our favorite way without ruining the sleep of our partner. But the size of the cover usually means a much bigger price tag, so I wasn’t sure I could afford it.

I saw some beautiful handmade pieces I would have been delighted to own, but they were more than I could manage. Then, I found a king-sized comforter on Amazon … for $30. For some strange reason, the queen-size was less expensive than the king-size. It was micro-fiber rather than cotton, but I was okay with that. They are doing some amazing stuff with microfiber.

It also came with two matching pillowcases — for king-size pillows. Of which I didn’t have any.

Hollywood and history. These are considered to be
“figures” rather than dolls.

When I was through redecorating the bedroom, I had bought two inexpensive pillows to fit the cases, the cover, and cases — for $43. When I sold off about 50 of my dolls, I kept all my history and movie star dolls. Without all the other dolls, they show much better than they used to. There is also a pretty big set of carved and rubber ducks, and of course, paintings, prints, and photographs. Oh, and beanie babies for Hewy, Dewy, and Lewy, Pluto the Dog, and a baby rhinoceros.

Today I finally remembered to take pictures before it got dark. I should have used my wide-angle lens. next time, I will. These were taken using my 50 mm lens which didn’t give me quite enough width. Next time, I’ll swap lenses.

A CENTURY OR MORE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Over 100 Years Old


Lucky us! We live in an old town. We officially became a town in 1662 and quite a few of our building were built in the 1700s and a few, even earlier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Built in 1882

1707

Another from the 1880s

Built 1720

VICTORIAN HOUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

We all think we’d like to live in one of those mansions. I know several people who bought one and tried to restore it. They acquired them with the best of intentions. They saw in their minds glorious images of perfectly finished wood paneling and ceiling beams with miniature gargoyles and carved balustrades in the hallways.

Gleaming wood floors and a kitchen big enough to run a restaurant with a dining room to match.

Despite those dreams, everyone ultimately gave up. The reality was too expensive. Every piece of every part that needed repair was too expensive and many parts had to be bought from places that collect parts of fallen down buildings and sell them to would-be restorers. It was just too much house and in due time, they moved on.

One couple actually finished the job. The house was magnificent. Then, they went bankrupt.

These are wonderful homes. Big rooms with plenty of light from windows much taller than me. High, airy ceilings, hand carvings, and stunning hand-carved wood interior decorations. But with those beautiful parts came rooves that were incredibly expensive to repair and early 1900s wiring never designed for modern appliances. Plus primitive plumbing that needed to be completely redone.

Those gigantic rooms and 12-foot ceilings made the homes much more expensive to heat than a “normal” house. Everything that made the house beautiful also made it a problem for a modern homeowner. Most particularly,  the sheer size and lack of insulation in these houses as well as the lack of modern infrastructure.

Beacon Hill mansion

These homes were designed to house large families with lots of children and probably two or three generations from babies to great granddad. And maybe the odd aunt or cousin, too.

Did I mention that they don’t have closets? What they considered a closet, we would call a “tie rack.” Because most people had a set of fancy clothing, an outfit for Sunday church-going, and work clothing. They didn’t need the amount of storage we’re used to.

Classic Victorian “Painted Lady”

In the real world, as we get older we realize we don’t need a 3-story house with 8 bedrooms and only one bathroom. We’d be fine with a single-story house, two bedrooms with one and a half baths. And hefty closets.

Luxury? How about a small fireplace and a fenced yard for the dogs?

In my middle years, I yearned for large and open. With tall windows. Oh, those windows!

For a brief time, I owned a one-fifth of a Victorian. It was a one-bedroom flat on the first floor of a much bigger house. By the time I bought it, the house had been broken up into five apartments — four in the main house and an even bigger one on what would have been the attic level. My piece was not huge by square footage, but it felt bigger than it was

It was elegant with twelve-foot ceilings and polished elm flooring. It cost me almost a thousand dollars to have simple cotton curtains made for the windows. Not fancy drapes, mind you. Just enough to cover those 7-foot windows.

My apartment was on the first floor and was not in the country. You had to have window coverings. I lived there for less than a year and then Garry and I got married. The apartment only had one small bathroom with no room for another. Garry and I can share many things, but NOT one bathroom.

NO closets. Well, in theory, the bedroom had a shallow closet good for hanging a bathrobe, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.  Real Victorian houses in their time never stored much. Whatever they own was on display. The rooms were huge, but there was no room to move in them. They were unbelievably cluttered with lamps, vases, statuary, knick-knacks, pottery wildlife and often, many dogs. You had to be a ballet dancer to not knock over the breakables — and it was ALL breakable.

Pre-plastic, everything was fragile although often surprisingly ugly.

Victorian, but a farmhouse along the river

We tried to buy the other (empty) apartment across the hall, but the condo association got confused by the concept. I don’t know why because combining two condos is not such an unusual thing and wasn’t even 30 years ago, but they got all fluttery about it. We gave up and moved elsewhere. I rented it out for a couple of years, then I went bankrupt.

No one wanted the apartment. At that particular time, this area was unsaleable and had gone far downhill. The GE plant had left with its jobs and the drug dealers had moved in. The bank canceled the mortgage and but I kept the place. I gave it to my son who lived in it with his wife and my granddaughter until finally, he passed it along to an ailing friend who completely remodeled it. It’s gorgeous and looks just the way I’d have done it if I’d had the money.

Many of these glorious “painted ladies” have been broken into pieces for condos. It’s probably the only way to maintain them. At least that keeps them as one building because otherwise, they end up falling down to make room for more sensible housing.

These are houses to dream about and for which we yearn. If you are wealthy, you can fix them up and live there, but you need some pretty big money to make them livable and it takes years to bring them up to reasonably modern living standards. Not only hundreds of thousands of dollars but a lot of patience. It helps if you don’t have to live in them while they’re being remodeled — if you want to come out of your reconstruction sane.

Not a Victorian, a big farmhouse

At this point, I can’t imagine dealing with so much room. I can barely take care of this house which is less than half the size of one of those Victorians — not counting their basement and attic sections. For most of us, Victorian homes exist to admire. Otherwise, they are the highest maintenance houses ever built with far too many stairways and an awful lot of glass.

When my rare moments of yearning come to me, I watch “Meet Me In St. Louis.” That makes me feel better and I can sing along, too.

THREE ANGLES: BOSTON STATEHOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Three Angles

From the back, Boston Statehouse – Built 1795–1798

From the front, Boston statehouse

Closer

Boston’s statehouse’s resemblance to the U.S. Capital is not accidental. The Capital’s cornerstone was laid by George Washington on September 18, 1793. The building was completed in 1800. Both buildings used the same architect (Charles Bulfinch) and were built during the same decade.

MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

A TINY CHURCH – Marilyn Armstrong

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such … Continue reading

IN THE WHITE OF THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

Marilyn gave me her small Leica as a Christmas gift, but not before her getting a small pocketbook camera for herself. Is it a bit early? Absolutely. She never waits for the holiday.

The Episcopal rectory on the Common.

She knew I wanted it and now, I have it. Thus armed with a camera in my bag, I went to the grocery store because after three days of being locked inside with snow blocking our driveway … and with a couple of hundred feet of downhill driveway (you could use it as the Bunny Slope), you cannot get out of here without a plow first clearing it.

Unitarian Church (empty) on the Common.

Meanwhile, not only were we running short of food (though we have enough dog food, birdseed, soup, and bread to keep us going for a while), we were almost out of half-and-half. What, no coffee? Oh NO!

1888 Library across the Common

Marilyn was also running out of some prescriptions and they do not deliver in this town. They don’t deliver anything. Contain your shock: they don’t even deliver pizza. Our salvation is frozen pizza which, coincidentally fits into our small counter oven.

1770 Quaker Meetinghouse

And, since I had that little Leica packed in my bag, I took pictures. It turns out she was right. If you have a camera, you just never know when a picture might turn up. There are more to come.

BLACK & WHITE – HALLWAYS, CORRIDORS, AND NARROW PATHS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:
Indoor Walkways, Hallways, Elevators

I’ve been thinking a lot about hallways and corridors recently since I’ve been wondering if I should start saving up for some version of a motorized wheelchair.

Medicare will give you one only if you are going to use it IN the house, not outside, but I don’t need one in the house. I need one outside, in the mall (for those rare times I go to one) … and moreover, I need one that could travel “off-road” on grass and gravel surfaces because that’s where I take pictures. If it only travels on smooth surfaces, it won’t get me anywhere I need to go.

It’s actually two hallways — up (with stairlift) and down (stairs only) — and only 39 inches wide!

All the books and DVDs make the hall rather narrow

If the thing will only run on flat, smooth floors, what would I do with it? We don’t live in a flat, smooth-surfaced world and the hallways in this house are far too narrow to navigate in any kind of chair. They are often difficult to navigate on foot and we are used to turning sideways when we are carrying packages — even small packages.

Narrow entryway

Almost too narrow to get the groceries up — the stairlift gets in the way!

Between Garry, me, and the pups, we knock a lot of stuff off shelves and tabletops. It makes one think seriously about what do you do when you can’t walk, but you can’t get up and down the stairs with a wheelchair either. Does that mean you have to move to “one of those homes”? Shiver.

NOTE:  Garry says we should hook up the dogs and make them work for a living. I pointed out we’d need more dogs. More dogs? MORE dogs?

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