Monday, August 21, 2006

Castle Drogo

On the way to Exeter, I stopped at Castle Drogo - a large, 20th C. house designed by Lutyens - the last castle to be built in England. Monumental, brooding over the Devon landscape, and only lived in for 60 years.

A view down the side of the castle

Lutyens is all about details - look at this doorway - so elegant!

Worcester Repertoire

Gibbons: Service in A flat
Di Lasso: Jubilate Deo
Dupré: Gloria-Final

Bach: Dies sind die Heilgen Zehn Geboht
Wesley: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis
Viadana:Exultate Justi in Domino (Ps.33)
Mendelssohn: Prelude, c minor

Vierne: Symphonie No. 3 - Adagio
Wood: Service in E Flat
Gibbons: Hosanna to the Son of David
Messiaen: Les Enfants de Dieu

Couperin: Récit de tierce en taille
Harris: Magnificat and Nunc dimitts
Lange: Esto Les Digo
Reger: Toccata, d minor

Tournemire: Cantilene
Arnold: Service in A
Purcell: O God, Thou Art My God Henry
Tournemire: Improvisation sur le Te Deum

Duruflé: Veni Creator - Variations I-IV
Vaughan Williams: Mass in G Minor
Vaughan Williams: O Clap Your Hands
Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus
Duruflé: Veni Creator - Variation V

Howells: Praeludio sine nomine
Weelkes: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis
Handel: Hallelujah, Amen
Vierne: Symphonie No. 2 - Allegro maestoso

Saturday, August 19, 2006


New commentary on Haddon Hall, Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral

On Tuesday, after the side trip to Barnstaple, I drove down towards Exeter, with a stop at Castle Drogo and Powderham Castle. I drove into Exeter to see the beautiful Cathedral - a wonderful building with the longest unbroken gothic vault in existence - quite beautiful with its restored bosses (the carved stone medallions in the center - some of which weigh 2 tons!). The towers are Norman but the cathedral is quite decoratively gothic and its architecture is consistent throughout the building. A choir was rehearsing for the big service of the day - so heard some beautifully sung Grieg.

The View down the nave

The view thru the Choir

A close-up of the vaulting

The organ case is the original from the 17th c., and you can see a 32' pipe in the south transept where they just made it in under the arch.

now that's close

the view from the nave past the organ and showing most of the longest gothic vault

The most exquisite ceiling in one of the Chantry Chapels

The Norman tower


The Earl of Pembroke - owner of Wilton House

Paul & The Fox!

Matt, Gary & Dr. J in the doorway of Gloucester Cathedral

Matt & Katie

Dr. Johnson & his Couture Royal Worcester China

The Choir

Matt & Dr. Johnson waiting to go up to the Cathedral Library

Friday, August 18, 2006

More Pics from Worcester

A view thru a cloister window towards the west end of the cathedral

another afternoon alone in the Cathedral - the sun was blazing thru the west window

Practicing with the headphones so not to disturb the tours - Electronic organs have one advantage!

Chittlehampton and Devon

On Monday I drove down to Devon to stay with Paul and Antony in Chittlehampton. Had a flat tire on the way - long story. Paul and Antony rescued me, we went to Knightshayes Court for some more National Trust sight-seeing, then off to the cottage for a yummy dinner. The town is charming, thatched cottages, a beautiful 13th C. church on the hill.

The view up the street towards their cottage - thatched roofs everywhere! Their cottage is several centuries old - used to be a pub. Inside, the old oak beams are not straight so the ceilings have v. interesting shapes.
A view from above the village towards the church with its beautiful and commanding tower - the church was a place of pilgramage for several centuries because of a local saint

The men rescue me!

My fab Ford Focus in not so fab condition!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Eating lunch on a bench in the garden - dramatic skies, the Derbyshere Dales, a small corner of the house

the view from the first state room towards the Emporer Fountain

some of the extraordinary carving in the first state room

A silver chandelier in one of the state rooms - and some of the large collection of Chinese porcelain

The state Bedroom

A view across the painted hall

Haddon Hall

Such a romantic and evocative place - Haddon Hall is a medieval castle, added to over the next few centuries, lastly by the family in the 16th C. (Dukes of Rutland), and then left quietly to slumber for a few centuries until the 9th Duke fell in love with it, restored it and brought it up to date in a v. careful way. It sits up on its hill, overlooking the river and valley.

There are several legends about the place - the most famous being Dorothy Vernon's elopement with John Manners during a party - they supposedly left the Long Gallery, went out the stairs by the side and thru the gardens, down into the valley.

The Long Gallery is one of the prettiest in all the Tudor houses - the light streaming thru the windows plays on oak paneling of indescribable color: is it brown, is it grey, is it beige; the color changes with the light. The carving is exquisite. The panes of glass are set at differing angles to catch the sun - the effect outside is dazzling.

The plasterwork is v. graceful.

The Great Hall is quite majestic in an intimate way. The carved screen is of the same wood as the Long Gallery.

Gloucester Cathedral

A view of the Cathedral: the junction where the Norman nave immediately becomes flamboyantly English gothic!

The Cloisters have some of the most spectacular fan vaulting in all of England.

A view of the organ from the Choir.

The vaulting in the Choir.


I'm sitting down in the lobby of the gloriously art deco Metro Palace Hotel in Bournemouth after a very eventful week - no time until now till update this and will load some pictures later.

Here's what's been happening: after seeing Tewkesbury we drove to Glouscester cathedral - a truly beautiful place, and another transitional Norman/Gothic building - v. evident at the transepts where one can actually see the new Gothic vaulting in front of the Norman south aisle. Another Gilbert Scott renovation.

We raced back to Worcester just in time for rehearsal and Evensong - and the afternoon went v. well.

Wednesday night, after dinner we all went out to hear The UK's BEST ABBA COVER BAND EVER! Fun fun fun - and everyone was partying!

On Thursday, I got up early and drove up past Birmingham, through the Derbyshire Dales and the Derwent Valley - v. slow traffic which gave me lots of opportunity to see the views - to Haddon Hall and Chatsworth - a glorious day - Haddon is dreamily romantic and evocative - a 13th C. castle that was basically left untouched by the family for a couple hundred years till it was restored in the 1920's and is truly magical. The long gallery is one of the most serene places - exquisite plasterwork and the color of the oak paneling is indescribable - sort of grayish, beigeish, brown - and v. beautiful.

Then a quick whiz around the corner to Chatsworth and the Glory! haven't been there in 20 years and it's even more impressive now that I know what i'm looking at. spent 2 v. happy hours wandering about the house - and v. happy to see it after last year's disappointment.

A long drive back to Worcester and an intense musical weekend which went v. well. We had a big, happy, noisy last dinner together at Cafe Rouge and then everyone went to pack. up at 6 am to see everyone off on the bus and no one knowing whether their plane would be going.... Got in the car and headed down to Paul and Antony's in Devon - a fast drive down the m5 and all went well till the Tiverton roundabout where the A361 was closed due to a horrific accident. So in the confusion i had to figure out a new way to Paul's and managed to get a flat tire! Luckily they came and rescued me and off we went to their gorgeous cottage in Chittlehampton - a small v. picturesque village in north Devon with a 13th c. church which has a v. nice 19th c. organ . Antony cooked a yummy dinner, we all went to bed early.

up this morning at the crack of dawn and drove to Barnstaple to get the tire fixed - a v. nice town on the west coast, full of nice people.

Then down the A377 and some v. twisty one lane roads to Castle Drogo - mammoth, towering over its hillside, v. impressive. From there a quick dash over to Powderham Castle (used for filming Remains of the Day) for another 13th c. castle added to over the last 6 centuries, brilliantly in the 18th Century, v fun and beautiful.

A quick drive into Exeter and a visit to its Wow of a Cathedral - quite flamboyantly Gothic - beautiful restored, with its original 17th c. organ case. A choir was rehearsing for the big service to celebrate The Feast of Mary so heard some Grieg - v. nice.

Left Exeter, headed east along the coast to Bournemouth - and here I am - at the Metro Palace hotel - there'll be lots of pics and commentary coming along. But internet is a little spotty to find - be patient!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tewkesbury Abbey

Wednesday - threw the Music Director, Matt and Gary in the car and whizzed down to Tewkesbury Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral. Tewkesbury is a wonderfully evocative building - transitional Norman/Gothic and saved during the Dissolution of the monasteries because the townspeople bought it from Henry VIII. It saw one of the bloodiest battles in the civil war inside the Abbey. There are two famous organs - one played by Milton!

The view from the Choir, past the Milton Organ, down the Nave.

The restored Gothic vaulting over the Choir

Hanbury Hall

Tuesday - a v. fast trip just north of here to Hanbury Hall - an early 18th c. William and Mary house - lovely collection of furniture and objects - and a THORNHILL painted hall! A Big Wow! the restored 18th c. gardens are spectacular and there are espaliered pear trees!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This cathedral is just stunning - a mix of styles and periods but has an enormous and charming grandeur. It's also massive - v. tall and sturdy with closely packed arches. There isn't a lot of stained glass so the sunlight pouring in on the sandstone is unlike anything anywhere - the light is a revelation. They get rather sniffy here about Scott's renovations and additions but, you know, it's glorious. Yesterday and today when I left the Choir school to go to the organ I had the cloister all to myself - all the tourists had gone - a profound and moving moment - and thru the Miserimus door into the south aisle and there it all is. At the end of the service today I was the last to leave - I had it all to myself! I walked down this glorious nave with the sunshine pouring in thru the west window - Painfully beautiful! I have to say the organ has been v. good to me - it's taken me all over and given me phenomenal experiences. Humbling and exhilirating.

The Norman crypt

The Chapter House cloister

I sit between these two fellows - Oswald and Wulfstan - the two resident saints - they're on the front of the Bishop's throne right in back of the organ console.