Some of you might have noticed that I haven't been around for the last couple weeks. We took my son to visit a college in England, and didn't have a lot of internet access while we were travelling. Since it was his trip, and he is planning on studying British and Roman military history, most of the places we went involved the military. We put 1200+ miles on our rental in a week.
I thought I would share with you the places we went. Since most of you are interested in art in one way or another, I thought I would challenge myself to share some inspirational art with you from each place we went. I'm using the word "art" loosely, since art and military don't usually go together, but you might be surprised.
Of course, while in London, you really ought to see the Tower of London if you haven't seen it. It's kind of morbid, but it gives you a sense of how old everything is. The first time I went there I realized all of America is pretty much temporary. Anyway, this time I got a picture of this very beautiful foliage design on a suit of medieval armor:
This was done by a process called "mercury gilding". It is a form of gold plating. Apparently it had something to do with a mixture of gold and mercury, and somehow the evaporation of the mercury bonded the gold. The evaporating mercury would be extremely toxic however. It may have taken many craftsmen to complete this entire suit of armor.
While in Canterbury visiting the University of Kent, we visited the Canterbury Cathedral. This is the head of the Anglican church in England. Although not military, there apparently are stories of murder and drama here as well. I found lots of really interesting old architecture to photograph. This one I like because of the two different types of arches:
What I have learned about arches is that the smaller arches with the rounded tops are Roman arches. These were no doubt influenced by fact the Romans who were in this area prior to this era. The arches with the pointed tops are gothic arches, which were popular during the late middle ages.
We went to Dover for the sole purpose of seeing an ancient Roman lighthouse that is attached to a medieval abbey at the Dover Castle. This is a picture of one of the doors in the castle:
I guess this is a medieval design, but to me it looks like something from a cartoon. Maybe the cartoons I watched as a kid had some medieval influence! Anyway, it's an interesting design.
The HMS [Her Majesty's Ship] Victory was number two on the list of things my son wanted to see, and it is in dry dock in Portsmouth at a Royal Navy Base. It is famous for the Admiral Nelson and Battle of Trafalgar. Even though the battle was in 1805(?) the ship is still commissioned today, and even has a crew assigned to it. You can also see the HMS Warrior, which was the first armored ship, and lots of other things pertaining to ships and the Navy.
This is a masthead from an old ship -- I don't know which one. It does kind of remind me of pieces I have seen online by various talented PMC artists. Can't you just see this in silver on a locket?
We were actually in Leicester to see relatives, but there are some ruins from a Roman bathhouse there, and the ruins of the home of Lady Jane Grey (who was Queen of England for nine days). The former Grey estate is now on public land called Bradgate Park. The park is very scenic with lots of wild deer and ducks, and the trees are very twisted and gnarly. Legend has it that when the woodsmen in the area found out that Lady Jane Grey had been beheaded (at the Tower of London), they were so upset they went and chopped the tops of all the trees on the estate in her memory. Some of the trees there are very old, and it sure looks like that could be the case. You can follow the long, long, winding sidewalk back to the ruins. I say long because the first time we went there many years ago, we had to turn back before we reached the ruins because it was so cold and windy. The weather was much better on this trip however, and we actually made it to the ruins.
There was one building that was actually still standing among the many partial, crumbling walls. Inside we found this crypt. I'm pretty sure somebody is still buried in their. There was an inscription in the floor with several names & titles, so I'm not quite sure whose grave it is. It appears to be all carved out of marble.
Number one on the list of things my son had to see in England was Hadrian's Wall. This was the wall the Roman Emperor Hadrian built along the border with Scotland.
Maybe calling this a work of art is a bit of a stretch, but my son would beg to differ. From what we saw at the nearby Roman Army Museum, this seems to have been very similar to the Great Wall of China, complete with the same notches along the top. That's quite a coincidence that they are so alike. Or maybe it's not a coincidence at all, but I don't know the reason why. Anyway, this picture is a little deceiving. It was raining and the wind was blowing like crazy when I crossed a sheep pasture and climbed to the top of the ridge to take this picture.
OK, now I'm grasping at straws but this is the best I can do with this one. We did a quick stop in Leeds to see the Royal Armory -- more weapons than you can shake a stick at.
This is a big, eight-sided vaulted ceiling that is covered in various kinds of weapons. They had so many weapons they didn't know what to do -- it's like these are the extras. Anyway, there is a multi-sided mirror down below so you can see all the weapons easier. Art? Well, at least it's creative. (I told you I was grasping at straws with this one.)
Back to London just in time for our flight out the next day. All we did was eat dinner, but I think pubs are artistic:
This is the Rose and Crown, where we ate dinner our last night there.
Well, it was surprising how many creative and inspirational things you can find on a military tour. I hope you enjoyed my pictures. If you would like to see more you can find them at this link: