81. Memento Seeker

@Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

This happened at one of those stores on the way back from Sheffield and so despite my intention to escape from the memories, this one stays. I can remember that my favourite childhood book was Dracula, and that love never really left me. There might be many things that might bring nostalgia for people, but mine is a horror novel. I was indeed looking forward to Halloween in UK at that time until I had to return home due to personal reasons.

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Declared “evil” by the common man! *Sigh* But my greatest treasure.

Lot of people did ask about what I brought from UK, and it might have included a lot of chocolates, a small model of the Big Ben, pamphlets, photos and post cards, but there was nothing more valuable than this one, for which I have my cousin brother to thank (there is only one in England, so no confusion about that). This Halloween gift was not a dream come true for me, but a beautiful nightmare taking me on an undead journey.

Now, an early return didn’t stop me. We celebrated Halloween in our own way, as we printed notices about the festival and distributed them to make people aware of it, and on that night, with trick-or-treating, collected the old clothes and money to give them to the orphanages and old age homes. I don’t know what general impression people have about Halloween, but it is indeed a hallowed day as long we can keep it that way, and we have to do something which gives blessings in abundance.

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Is that my mouth or jaw? Where is the tongue? The final pose in England!

There have only been a few festivals that I ever cared for. I have been basically against all celebrations. May be the only celebration worth having was actually Halloween. I have never felt that any other festival was more kaleidoscopic than Halloween in all its darkness and the reminder of the other world; nothing more or less chaotic had so much order in it, and there was nothing so close to the harsh realities of life as the magnificent October 31.

There was no other day that I enjoyed more than a Halloween night, and what makes this souvenir special is that Ghostface. Not to forget the hatchet, skeleton arms, vampire cloak, witch plate and all the horror novels which I carried all the way to India from England. There are the treasures that crossed the seas with me.

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Still, even on a Halloween night, the question remains “Melody itni chocolaty kyon hai?”

Diving out —>
TeNy

This post is my entry for the ‘My Most Memorable Memento’ contest conducted by My Yatra Diary travel blog and Indian Coupons.

Here is my tag for 3 other bloggers:
Rohit

Harsha

Pallavi

73. Memoirs of the Soul

@Ringway, Greater Manchester, England.

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There are a few moments when one can’t be sure what he wants to share. Sometimes it is just a fragment of a memory, and there are times when it contains a photo which is a significant captured moment; what both of these successfully accomplish is the creation of a reflection which brings back the past from the grave, and create a moment of joy in a world in which there is nothing much to be happy about; for the present moments of the lack of happiness needs these drops of awesomeness which were incredibly effective even if short-lived. As one shall never trust the future by himself, the long lost joys are to be brought back through writings, and this short writing shall bring my mind of sorrow and fruitlessness to that little past, which was a twin delight, both in an intellectual as well as spiritual manner. There shall be no prizes in guessing the destination, and there can be nothing for those who can guess the weather conditions at that moment of the beginning of happiness. What one can be assured of, is the absence of the elements of inferno and purgatorio, as well as the creepy, disturbing elements who suck up the happiness and the beauty of eternity out of us, in a beautiful world declared round by a few. But I shall make no promises, as these are the ages of the unfaithful, when the promises are expected to broken and thrown down the Empire State Building or the Petronas Towers.

It was a dark day when I arrived at the Manchester Airport, the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom after London Heathrow and London Gatwick, as well as the twenty first busiest airport in Europem supposed to have dealt with around seventeen million passengers during the year which I travelled there, and has been on the increase – seems like the total number of passengers had been on the decrease until I set my foot there, and the statistics started getting better; forgive that package of nonsense, even as the facts seem to notice that lesser number of passengers, and the reason should be something I shall never know. I had to face strange question on my arrival about the possibility of me not going back to India, but I would let a crocodile eat my bundle of surprise which evaded me, for may be I looked like a man who shall never leave the land of English literature. Manchester Airport is still the largest outside the London region, a thing which I didn’t know at that time, and that was something which could have made me happier when I set my little finger on the ground. The airport can claim more than double the passenger compared to its next non-London counterpart, and the busiest outside South East England, another fact which evaded me at that time. Well, I was surely not prepared for facts at that time, on my first visit outside Asia, which was triggered more by sudden cancelling of a trip to Jerusalem, just like that visit to Singapore and Malaysia due to a failed trip to the United States.

The trip was supposed to start and end at Ringway, but it had to take a turn and end at London, Heathrow to be exact. But what came between didn’t change at all. From the beginning, it was a dark day as I said before, still not a day of the vampires even if I was not in any way less interested in them as I am now – it was a cloudy day and quite cold with rain waiting for that particular signal from the non-existent Thor or Zeus. By the time, the thirteenth step was taken outside the airport, the rain had started its procedure of welcoming someone who was new to that landmass – island to be exact. Well, isn’t the rain the same everywhere? I wouldn’t agree more, but with the background and the environment of awesome glory which surrounded my world of a thousand fairy tales, that was quite a varied thing. With an incredibly cooler atmosphere compared to what I had experienced before in a natural environment, the arrival of rain was something special at that time. It made that impact which nothing else could have done – for that was an initiation into a new world, as if all the figures of literature had made a decision to come together and affect the climate in such a way as to give a new experience of taking me in. There would be questions if I could do complete justice to them as an English literature student, and that is a question which would have no single, perfect, righteous answer that is undisputed.

Consider the photo posted with this blog; it is a photo which I thought I would never be able to click again – something which is proved right so far, but it is not a sight which I wouldn’t be completely deprived of. Well, the double-decker bus did come to Cochin and so did the dark clouds at the right moment with divinity creeping out from the inside – but never was such a photo clicked again, as the right moment never arrived here. But on the way to Leeds from Ringway, that moment did arrive. What is to be noticed is that the whole journey was full of such wonderful moments, some of them clearly taken into both heart and the brain as well as into the camera with both hands, and some of them missed and thought about for a long time keeping that imagery in the mind as if they were part of the soul. The photo is the symbol of whatever was gained and all that was missed during that wonderful journey through the land of literature and history; no surely not of the land of modernity, as I had clearly avoided those modern elements which made zero impact on my world. I would still make a long list of the things I missed and grieve over them, as I could have achieved near-perfection during that journey, but I didn’t. But, never in the history of my journeys was that journey a failure, for it had done a lot for my soul, just like that trip to Ceylon, for you learn when you travel, and by travelling to the Jerusalem or Rome of English Literature, what can a student of the same do, but be enlightened?

The route of the journey was from Ringway, to Leeds, then to Wakefield, York, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Bradford, Castleford, Walsingham, Carlisle, Lake District etc followed by Caterbury, Rochester, Dover and London. The Northern journey included Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc. The journey was clearly unplanned and without a clear tour map in mind or hand for the whole month. There were smaller trips being made, from here to there and from somewhere to the middle of nowhere, but all that could be made with the help of google maps and GPS was done. The best achievement of the trip was surely the visit to the Mecca of English Literature (just what I consider to be so) The Cantebury Cathedral – for that work of Geoffrey Chaucer, our own literary hero. But what interested me more was the Yorkminster Cathedral, as my favourite structure of that journey. The third in the list is the Liverpool Cathedral, these three making the triology of wonder complete. If one has to talk beyond the man-made structures, the Lake District created such a world of magnificience beyond doubt, and so did every journey through those areas outside the city – for the villages were truly what those poets talked about, for they followed the Lakes. Never did I think that I would agree to what William Wordsworth and Robert Frost had written; there were times when I thought they lied; but after the journey, I am sure that there can be no men who are more honest.

In Scotland, the Scott Monument caught my attention quicker than anything else. But I am not impressed by anything more than how much I was influenced by the Glasgow Necropolis; a place where one can’t stop oneself from desiring to be buried right there. The Glasgow Cathedral is smaller, but still glorious, and the same can be said about the Edinburgh Cathedral. The latter is surrounded by such beautiful structures of which I find myself out of words to speak, may be due to a failed memory which can’t cash into that moment of glory. Back to the South, the city of Carlisle was a moment of its own. The cities of London, Canterbury and York kept me in the world of awesomeness throughout. Leeds was special, and talking about each city fills me with a desire to go back there and finish what I had started at that time. I am more prepared and the idea which was introduced into my mind during that visit has grown up and has become a huge tree right now, and there is a plan which has come put of nowhere. There shall be a clear picture of what I am to visit the next time, all of those destinations clearly related to both literature and history. When I am back, I shall be stronger in intellect, and with a perfect idea with which to navigate through a world which I have already explored with books of history, fiction and cultural studies, and my path to take can be never more clear in both reason and faith.

Diving out —>
TeNy

59. Two Sides of Beauty

@Anglo-Scottish border, Cumbria, England.

The first question which is a question and is worthy enough to be called a question, about the Anglo-Scottish border would be the choice of being at this side or the other. It is not that much of a controversial question which makes one think so many times until being engulfed by nightmares as if it is Indo-Pak or Isreal-Palestine border. But here, it would be just as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe becoming a Scott in the Pierce Brosnan starrer from being a man from York. This would be just that much of different. Even the Indo-Pak thingy would be historically more of a lesser question considering the roots and not the present. The borders are never that much of a reality; it is just that creation of humanity for their security against their brethren about whom they have bad doubts due to their regionalism which they exaggerate using the term “nationalism” and that fake patriotism which would lead them to support sports team. Coming back to this particular border, it is the same United Kingdom on both sides, and it is that beautiful whichever side you are on. It is like the two sides of inspiration; on one side, it is the skylark and on the other side, it is the nightingale; here you see the beauty of Britian and on the other side also you see the same.

Therefore, casting that view through that area on this Southern side which inspired those poets of nature and committed that act of inception into Wordsworth, Coleridge and the rest of the team with a Lake Poet subconscious thingy and the unconscious of beauty, consisting of that Lake District and that Carlisle which was that border town which always deserved its title to be a gateway. There I was at this side of the border, the English side, moments before I was at that other side. At this time when months have passed after that Lake District, Kirkpatrick-Fleming and Carlisle write-up, the shades are alive and they live through every point of that road not taken, those which diverged in the woods for Robert Frost, and that road which diverged from Jerusalem, Amman and Cairo for me, from the religious and spiritual capital to the literature capital; to that aesthetic head which had no mere architectural beauty, but also that beauty of nature which created that effect of that edible thing they named sandwich, as on that special area I used to be, neither here nor there but still everywhere by intellect’s wraith like ability, for that was the time when Jerusalem took the backseat; even Rome would have backed away for Canterbury and York.

Thos mountains, or hills which were visible from that side; they would have been the holders of the Celtic secrets of the past; those motorways twisting all around them as if a serpent or a lost hair of that great Gorgon sister Medusa herself; the roads getting split into many as if to show that sign of a road not taken, as each road taken had lead to so many being not taken. When one is going at that high a speed, it wouldn’t be easy to see all of those until they are lost in that micro second; just like those trees, mostly green and a few of them yellow and of similar shades which claimed the attention of a semi-photographer with not that awesome a camera. There were the big trucks, but none of them reminded of the movie Joy Ride; not because of the New England setting of the movie, but also due to the absence of anything Gothic or horror related in that world of heavy Romanticism. Most of the cars were still faster; one has to wonder if they were guided by the love for nature creating that need to be there in the woods to answer the call of nature or just because there’s miles to go before they sleep and that barbaric world of no aesthetic sense had just infected their minds.

There was no scarcity of innocent creatures though; the sheep were many, but there were no lambs. Those witnessed were on this side of the border and so I would not think about them having anything of the Scottish side; a few of them raised their heads and looked up and the a few others walked away; there were the other proud ones who could not stop themselves from continuing that process of feeding themselves. The need for food brings that courage even to the most innocent creatures of Earth. Some of them didn’t even mind crossing the road of death for that. Blake would have been proud of the creatures of innocence which could stand on their feet, but what about Pan? The fauns and satyrs would be of less importance too. Their courage and wisdom would have to take a backseat. That Pan of Arcadia would need something extra from Athena or may be store a little more of what he get in those horns. May be he could get into a few of those intelligent sheep and learn that lesson which the animals learn the hard way rather than going to those universities. He could be fit and he could survive, considering the possible presence of powerful divine wine.

Lake District and then Carlisle on one side and Kirkpatrick-Fleming on the other side were the quickest ones to enter the camera and leaving only very less amount of time between them as if each of them wanted to be in the electronic device faster than the other. It was inspiration on the other side up north, even before reaching that monument made for Sir Walter Scott, and that was King Robert The Bruce’s Cave which was that spider inspiration for me. It was where that Bruce, the man who wasn’t depicted that greatly in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart took refuge during the Scottish Wars of Independence. Edward I might have been that much of a fiery figure for him, but he really choose such a cave or what resembled it, that would have been so difficult to reach even for Christopher Nolan’s much improved Dark Knight. But he still managed to see that spider which was weaving the web with so much difficulty and trying again and again without accepting defeat, and got that inspired and won the Battle of Bannockburn and the rest was history. For my journey, the other side of the journey can be attributed to this historic person, and not to anything which might seem more important for any materialistic soul who awaited a raven to say “nevermore”.

The Lake District which was beyond the border to the south would be without the need for any description, as that fame which the Lake Poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey might have brought to the area can be considered that immense. What inspired so many good men of great talent cannot be described that easily, but as a whole it has to be more known than any other place. If it is to be summarized in a shorter way, it can be considered a synonym for beauty, or whatever lies as the opposite of all those bad and evil things. As Carlisle lies near enough to the Lakes and that close to the border and hosts the Carlisle Lake District Airport, I had to consider them together; with the great Carlisle Cathedral and Castle which were spectators to some of the big events in history, being at the border of two kingdoms. With the Roman origins tracing to the beginning of Hadrian’s Wall, there is no scarcity of history and there is no absence of beauty at any moment. Each and every time one thinks about border, there is no stopping the mind to be at this border, on both sides in a small interval of time. When Keats said “”A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” in his Endymion and “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, there is no doubt which part of the world made him say it.

Diving out —>

TeNy

55. A Note of Sadness

@Dover, Kent, England.

As Dover faces France from the English side of the narrowest part of the English channel, one has to think about more than just water and beach; as a major port and a historic town, Dover’s relevance should be further different from how one would view it from the soul and not the brain. The administrative centre of Dover district is nothing less than a poem; what Matthew Arnold brought to us in 1867 has to be its best definition coming from someone who saw it from that viewpoint which changed what the English Literature students saw in that place, and upto an extent, in many beaches around the world. His “Dover Beach” was indeed superior; something which stood out in an English text book of poems which contained the poems of William Wordsworth, John Milton, John Dryden and John Keats. The poem was to be reflected; supposed to come back to the reader every time he visited Dover, or even saw a sign board with that name, clearly dragging the now transformed traveller and former reader right to it, giving his soul wings and making him fly, not with the wings but with those imaginations which used jetpacks. “Dangerous Dave” would complain about it, but this is that pack which needn’t expire with the missing fuel; it is driven by the ideas which comes more from the heart than the brain.

The Victorian Age wouldn’t come back to give that perfect effect provided by Matthew Arnold; what he saw would remain something which was special to him and what remains now is our combination of the same ideas with whatever we have. One would combine it with the White Cliffs of Dover, which is that sight of beauty from anywhere in the sea and the protector of that area for any attack other than from the air or heaven. It is that thing which welcomed the early visitors to the island even if they wouldn’t have to climb them, and it is that thing which symbolizes the protection of mother nature provided to the inhabitants without the need to build any ugly barricades or stone walls; protection through natural barriers is always a scene of beauty. On one side, there is science which fakes to guard the world and instead destroys the nature, and on the other side, there is the natural sentry; the guards of mother nature which protects its creatures including the human beings who repays nature with the most damage; a process which is irreversible. This would continue to be strange even for a possible group of Martian visitors who lack this much of a beauty in their planet; it might already be strange for all the other living creatures of Earth who has a mind which comes close to some thinking or reason.

The Strait of Dover should have inspired millions, and Matthew Arnold might be the best inspired of them all. The strange reflections, everlasting melancholy, abiding sadness and the delicately placed pathos of his poem would bring one closer to Dover just to look at the French coast as he did. The turbid flow of human misery which he mentioned in his poem was not something which was limited to his soul; it was everywhere and continues in a much more powerful way. He uses the mind of the Greek tragedian Sophocles for the same, but it is evident that there was no need for recollecting what he heard in the Aegean; surely no need for the same from Aeschylus and Euripides. Dover Beach would have been enough for him; for as those waves draw back and come again, the eternal note of sadness would still creep in and provide the much needed inspiration; no wonder the workd “Dover Beach” would create an impact which would challenge the best literary works of the era and beyond. The social, political, religious and intellectual disturbance of the age would still remain, years after he wrote it, and the situation would be worse; people would be more evil even with the presence of a much better conscience. The transition was from the almost evil to pretty much evil, instead of a journey towards eternal goodness.

“Oedipus the King”, “Oedipus at Colonus” and “Antigone” might be the prducts of Aegean Sea, but there is no doubting the hidden motivation in Dover. But what would make better, that sadness about the lost goodness, will be the Sea of Faith which has surely dried up for now. It was close to being extinct during Arnold’s time, but it is gone now and his work hasn’t really worked and brought it back. He could hear it withdrawing, but now it has vanished into thin air; dried up by selfish humans, the holders of a cursed mind. A small amount of it still lives in the mind of the religious fanatics, but not as goodness, but as the opium and alcohol which they need to empower their anger. The assault of science continues on religion, and in the end, the loss would be that humanity which is based on truth, justice, freedom and love leading upto heaven being replaced with perversion caused by a society lead by the loose morals or the complete lack of morals. There would be Fall, just like the fall of Doctor Faustus and the Satan himself, as it is that pact with Lucifer which science has signed with the blood of the poor and the starving when there is more money spent in research than for feeding the hungry. The exploitation of nature combined with that of the fellow humans; there wouldn’t be an easier path to perpetual hell.

The world still remains beautiful, but we are on that darkling plain as Arnold always knew; swept by confused alarms of never-ending struggle and flight; the world is where ignorant armies fight with arrogance, a world which was violent and continues to be so; only this time it is for no reason; there are no longer the direct wars between nations; there is just nonsense due to problems on small stretches of lands, water and oil. There is no humanity and there is no national unity; there is just selfishness and fake national pride among people who do nothing for their nation. Arnold wouldn’t have been able to write the same poem in this age, as it would have been an epic which would go beyond a hundred books and not to reach conclusion. He wouldn’t have been able to discuss the social and political nonsense and bring our attention to it; especially with an empty Sea of Faith. There should be no poet who is cursed enough to live in this century; as this is not their age; this is the age of selfish people of science; art exists in that corner which is less significant; it sticks to the other fields and make its mark, and the world of literature has reached that low level; fiction has taken over the next generation and it is the season of Twilight series; not of the Theban Plays, Greek Epics, Marlovian Tragedies or Shakesperean Histories.

One can still find the much needed inspiration from Dover, as there is no draining nature upto an extent to which it can’t take care of its people; for at that point, there is going to be that retaliation. One would want to visit the Dover Castle; the largest of its kind in England. It has blended so much of it nature, seemingly making it immune to the future attacks from beneath Earth. South Foreland Lighthouse of the Victorian Age might be that eye of nature which would guard the world. The shift in Arnold’s work is clearly visible there, as there is that time shift which will seem to occur for someone withe enough imagination; from that perfect world of nature to that of different worlds which seems to exist in turns. One can think about the lack of unity, but this absence of unity is what propells both the dreams and nightmares and makes thing happen in a world of less creativity and more logic. The poem is spell-binding without the unities; it would have failed in its purpose if stuck in those unities; and now it stays as if it has conveyed what it wanted to, but hasn’t changed the creature called man. The moral concern and turmoil would stay and the central problems would remain as it used to be, adding to the chaotic and turbulent world.

Diving out —>

TeNy

54. Victorian Gothic Revival

@Preston, Lancashire, England.

Another place unlisted in the literary books I studied and not part of the guides I read, was to be visited soon. This one might have been the least expected of the places to visit even if there was some idea given already. It was where the Ladyewell shrine stood; it was the major factor which attracted as the pilgrimage for a change. When all the other churches were more of architectural marvels, this one was a place for pilgrimage; not the Canterbury type, as this one lacked the historical importance and a big church structure and not many tourists came to the place which was located not that far away from the major roads, but still at a peaceful area which would not have been that easy to find if it was not supposed to be the ultimate destination. There was the spiritual atmosphere and there was the feeling of uniqueness; there was nature with all its beauty, that kind of greenery which brought the memories of Kerala back; there was also the feeling of God and the splendour of the place rested in the simplicity. There was also a cat who stared at people; it was kind of fat and moved slowly making it easier to take its pics; may be it also wanted to pray and worship in its own style, and may be it was its own time to pray at the shrine. There was the statue of Mother Mary and also a stone cross surrounded by the greenery; the autumn effects were less this time, but the beauty was still not to be considered inferior.

This was a pilgrim’s progress for me, another spiritual stop during that journey from this world to the other one which is to come; another stage in the different levels of my spiritual world, with my tales; which are just mine and not of any other pilgrim. The journey through the valley of shadow of death would wait, as there was the need to get ready. The church of St. Mary is also located near the shrine and it is quite beautiful even if small compared to the English church size and simple compared to its architecture splendour. The cemetery which is right in front of the church is another wonderful thing to watch, with all its tombstones which has blended with the nature around, and the central tombstone monument standing tall among the rest. What would be more beautiful than living and dying at such a place; for one can enjoy that beauty forever and even after death, be buried in that cemetery. Even Doctor Faustus would have sold his soul to be there, but Mephistophilis would disagree. The Renaissance love for beauty and the ever increasing love for adventure would guide him in the same direction, and he might have left those demonic spirits in the form of Helen of Troy behind just to be with the beauty of nature which is more real; instead of being with that beauty of a random creature who are continuously approaching the world with a perverted mind and that organism which can lead to millions of acts of hatred.

Preston, the administrative centre of Lancashire has evidence of Roman activity, but is supposed to have been established by Anglo-Saxons and is mentioned in the Domesday Book which followed the Norman conquest of Britain. As the name Preston might have come from something like Priest’s town, there could have been strong Christian roots for the city. This is evident from the Ladyewell Shrine as well as many other churches around even as there was no huge cathedral in there to be found. There were smaller, but still beautiful old churches around. Some of the other buildings also looked like they might have been churches earlier, at some point in history or even in the last few decades. May be these buildings were of no need after the number of believers decreased or almost reached a point of zippo. It has to be considered a strange thing if it happened so, but not that strange considering the evil and materialistic path on which the world is moving now. As the worship places go down, so will the goodness in the world and their conscience will also disappear leading to that highly immoral world for which Satan would be waiting. The truth is that there are so many Doctor Fautus’ around who are willing to sell their souls and many human Mephistophilis’ who are ready to bring that evil upon the planet. The lack of belief will be what will bring the world down into the abyss, not faith.

St, John’s Minster, dedicated Saint John the Baptist might provide proof against it with its beauty of architecture; it did remind me of the Wakefield Cathedral, and upto an extent about Bradford Cathedral and the Leeds Anglican Church, even as they had so many difference between them. It was more about the way we looked at the church building and how we approached it and those pictures taken from the side; they way of photography was so similar that there were similar photos of each of these churches from one or more angles. There was some kind of invisible unity which never gave an offer to leave the mind. Even the Elim Pentecostal Church of Preston was not that far away from attaining a level of greatness in architecture. The beauty of church architecture continued with St. Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs Catholic Church and its beauty was much to be seen even in the darkness which was slowly creeping in and preventing photography. Even its entrance provided so much of treat to the eyes. The museums and parks would add to what was provided by the church architecture, and the trip would be of more value than what was expected when it started and went through a period of foggy weather with some rain which led to a slow traffic which had almost spoiled all plans.

St. Walburge’s Church was that catholic church which was difficult to find even as its spire was visible from a long distance. Among all the parish churches of England, it was the tallest; not considering those huge cathedrals. It should be the most important building of the city, as it dominates the skyline, being a landmark. It is of Gothic Revival or Neo-Gothic architecture and was built during the Victorian Era. It is the symbol of peace and religious tolerance during the age of Queen Victoria; it is a symbol of Preston of that glorious age which saw the great poets like Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti and Matthew Arnold. The church is dedicated to Saint Walburga, an English saint who was born as an Anglo-Saxon princess and later became a missionary, known for her miraculous healing powers. The tall spire is what makes it one of the tallest buildings in Lancashire and after Salisbury and Norwich cathedrals, it has the next tallest spire in England, and it is unmatched among all those parish churches of the land. The height of the building acts as a wonderful addition to its beauty, making it something special. It looked as if it was an entirely different structure and is not part of any church building; that much was its superiority which was matched only by the beauty of the church which ebbed in size, but swelled in the beauty of its Victorian Gothic architecture and the peace which it gave away.

The churches like St. Walburge’s would explain why there was a revival of interest in Gothic architecture and how these Neo-Gothic buildings exceeded the number of original Gothic structures that had been constructed previously. All these were to end the trip, but on the way back, something caught my eye and it was something so different and angelic and there was the need to have a look at it; blame it on my ‘very late’ Renaissance spirit. The first impression was that it was a Pentecostal church, but it was the Preston England Temple, as they called it and it is the fifty second operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church. It was strange to find a church having a temple which was so contradictory. This temple was surely beautiful and at night, it was a wonderful feeling to witness it with all the lights on. This faith within Christianity was unknown to me until then, but hearing more about it was quite impossible as it was late and it was not possible to get in and see someone in charge of the building. As most of it seemed to be in the United States of America and the rest in Latin America and the continental Europe, there wasn’t that much to enquire in the United Kingdom. The only thing to do was to enjoy the beauty of that incredible building with a tall spire, from the outside and understanding that it would be an entirely different structure if checked during day time. It is a combination of modernity with the old architectural styles of Europe; it successfully mixed the tradition with modernity.

Diving out —>

TeNy

53. Early Gothic Splendour

@York, North Yorkshire, England.

It was a rainy day and I was at a walled city of historic attractions, the city of York Minster and all which followed to make the place a wonderful destination. It was the fort and city in Roman Britain called Eboracum which was transformed into what is now York, as the remains of that conquest from beyond the English channel can still be seen; even as the Roman conquest of Britain began in 43 AD, the city was only founded in 71 AD, and remains are mostly what is left of the walls and fortresses or what is added to them in the later ages. The Anglo-Saxons called it Eoforwic which became the capital of Deira and later of Northumbria. During the viking invasion, they called it Jorvik, as it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings making it a Scandinavian York. The trade relations of the city had extended to the Byzantine Empire and beyond; the Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in the city of York during their various campaigns, and the last one also died in the city and it began the era of his son Constantine the Great, known for adopting Christianity as state religion and also for the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all religions throughout the empire; something which was a new thing during that age; also for renaming Byzantium as Constantinople and shifting his capital there, which would later be the capital of the Byzantine Empire or the Eastern Roman Empire for over one thousand years.

There is a statue of Constantine the Great beside the York Minster, not just because of his abilities as an emperor, but also because it was at York that he was proclaimed the next king, following the death of his father; he would later defeat the others who tried to established their claims on the throne and would become on of the most well-known emperors of the Roman world and by his death, he had established a great name for himself across the empires and was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles which was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks after the fall of Constantinople. Some Eastern Christian churches consider Constantine a saint and so many people wished to adopt his name, as it was of that much popularity and it was an honour to be called by the name of an emperor who was more fit than anybody else to be called ‘the Great’. Constantine was depicted as an ideal ruler, the official standard against which any emperor should be measured; and it was great to see his statue on the side of that wonderful church which was the most amazing structure I had seen until then; the first Minster church I visited and the first of those historic church buildings even as it was not among my top ten churches to visit, but that was to change and it was to rise to the top of that list which had more changes than there were names in that list. The cathedral was going to inspire me with those stained glass and the architecture containing all forms of Gothic style through the ages; the Great East Window being the largest example of medieval stained glass in the world.

The JORVIK Viking Centre was the first place to visit and bring some Viking stuff resting in the mind to life, and the desire to go to the award winning National Railway Museum was there, which was to happen very late on the day giving me an idea about all those earlier railway engines which used to exist as well as those new models in which I could enter; as I knew it might not happen in real life; but first everything else was overtaken by the York Minster, especially when it kept dominating the skyline and asks for some attention. Also known as Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter, this cathedral is supposed to be the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and also the largest example of Gothic architecture which comes under the Church of England. It is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England after the Archbishop of Canterbury, and serves as the cathedral for the Diocese of York. A church is supposed to have existed there right from the time of the Romans, but the first recorded church goes back to age of the Anglo-Saxons and Northumbrian kingdom. It was being destroyed by people and fire and rebuilt and repaired on many occasions until there was a new chapel built, this time in the Norman style. The construction of the cathedral in the current form would not be complete until the 15th century even as it started in the 13th century, at a time when the Gothic Architectural was more prominent than the others, giving the church building that look which would make even the Canterbury Cathedral look inferior even when it was higher in status and the number of daily visitors compared to York.

The Protestant Reformation had affected the cathedral a lot, as it led to the looting of much of the cathedral’s treasures and the loss of a lotof the church lands due to the policies of Henry VIII. During the reign of Elizabeth I too, there was that effort to remove all traces of Roman Catholicism from the cathedral; there was much destruction of tombs, windows and altars, even as it wasn’t that wide spread as of the man who initiated the process of breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church. But the cathedral is stable now, and looking better than ever; even as there seemed to be a little work going on at one end of the huge building, but considering its size, it was so minute. It was the rain which helped us to reach the church so fast even as the scenes on the outside were so beautiful. There was that Roman Column which is supposed to have stood in a Great Hall of the Fortress of the Sixth Legion of the Roman Empire a.k.a Legio VI Ferrata whose symbol was the bull even as they also carried the symbolic she-wolf with Romulus and Remus. This column, which had collapsed long ago, was erected again at the site on the side of York Minster to mark the 1900th anniversary of the founding of the City of York by the Romans. It looked too old to make an exact comment about it, but a photo was taken; the rain had been preventing more photography by dropping water drops on the camera lens, but there was the need for more and the time was precious, and we went inside quickly.

The beauty of York Minster was beyond comparison on the outside and it remained the same inside. The cathedral has a cruciform plan with an octagonal chapter house attached to the north transept, and the entrance and exit on the south trasept; a central tower and two towers rise from the west front and reaches for the skies; the east end was undergoing some renovations on a comparitively small scale; the shop was located right on the side of the entrace and exit, but as the church is such a huge structure, it has to be considered far enough to take a few steps. There is the option to walk to the undercroft, treasury and crypt where photography was banned; there was the history of the church described from all ages, but what is it without photography as there was so much more to feed the brain later and it was to be forgotten easily; a photo should have reminded of all those which were lost in some random corner of the brain, but it went on lost in the memories. The tower was closed right at the moment we wanted to go up, which was a sad thing; the great opportunity to view the historic city from the top was missed; all I would get later was to be the smaller towers of Our Lady Of Dolours Basilica of Trichur and The Basilica of Our Lady of Vallarpadam at Cochin and a view which was not new; but being at England, the best aerial view was to be what was seen from the mound of the Sandal Castle even as the height was not that much.

Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York Castle is another runied reminder of what followed the Norman conquest of York, only to be destroyed by the rebels to be built again. It was acentre of the royal administration across England, as well as a very important military base, later becoming a prison and then demolished and still the Keep remains as a tourist attraction, even as it won’t satisfy William the Conquerer in any way. St. Wilfrid’s is a Roman Catholic church located near the York Minster; it could be considered to be of nearly moderate size, but in front of the huge Anglican cathedral, it remains as if it is a small chapel or just a part of the shadow of the Grand building. It is built in Gothic Revival style with its arch over the main door having one of the most detailed Victorian carvings ever, and its altar was incredibly beautiful as it was adorned with pictures and statues in such a way as to there was not much left to beautify any more. Upto an extent, it achieved in simplicity and difference, close to what York Minter had; even as the distance in the importance was still too much. The medieval structures never stopped appearing before the eyes, as I walked through those streets which were mostly stone-paved and on other occasions so narrow but still so beautiful that I had to wonder about the beauty of little things which exist as joy forever; thanks to history and thanks to those blessed writers. The joy of being at one of the best Gothic cathedrals in the world was combined with all these features of the historic city and I was a lucky man.

Diving out —>

TeNy

52. British History Arise

@Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.

I never knew about this place until I visited; ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’, the novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith was something which I came to know about, only later; for until then, I knew only one vicar, the priest who gave me handshake after a Sunday Mass; and that would contribute to my ignorance level which had to be obliterated slowly and steadily. This city located by the River Calder, was witness to a lot of wandering from me and should be glad not to see more from me, or might be missing my presence at least upto some extent. The city was even in the Domesday Book and its historic importance is not to be forgotten with that ease. Wakefield was indeed a wonderful place to start being a tourist, along with Leeds which were both in close proximity to each other; beginning from a city which was not even in the list of places to visit or could be visited, became the city most visited in that journey which was more memorable than the greatest trip that ever happened before that. There was life right from the name of the city; enough to awaken me to that field of battle which is life; there was no doubt about the city’s ability to inspire and motivate at a high level.

Right from the Sunday Mass at St. Austin’s Church, it was journey to remember, in all ways possible; for the beauty of that church would surely be exceeded by bigger churches of splendour, but that was a humble and simple beginning with certain amount of beauty. From staring at the Chantry Chapel of St Mary the Virgin, located on a medieval bridge over the River Calder in such a way that it was impossible to determine what it was. Being the oldest of the surviving bridge chapels in England, its importance had no limits though. The chapel which was used for worship until the Reformation when all of Wakefield’s chantry chapels were closed. The bridge chapel is supposed to have survived just because it is a structural element of the bridge. Even when we look at it, they are not to be treated as separate identities; even as there is a contradiction there concerning the bridge and the chapel. Wakefield Cathedral is the other important place of worship, and with the tallest spire in Yorkshire, dominates the skyline of the city as it is the tallest building in the City of Wakefield. The cathedral has Anglo Saxon origins even as it has undergone many changes from the first building on the spot. It is a Gothic structure with small, but beautiful interiors; still quite big considering the size of the churches back at home.

Being at Wakefield Cathedral was quite a feeing and so was staring at the bridge chapel; the need to go more into history then started trying to fly; that desire had got back its wings and it led to one place, Sandal Castle which was a ruined medieval castle overlooking the River Calder. This was where the Battle of Wakefield took place in 1460, one of the major battles of the Wars of the Roses; those series of dynastic civil wars fought for the throne of England between supporters of two powerful rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster with the red rose as badge and the House of York with white rose as badge. The opposing forces were a Lancastrian army and the army of Richard, Duke of York in which the latter was killed and his army was destroyed. There was the feeling of standing on a battlefield where so many were killed and their blood made the land fertile as if it wanted that blood like a vampire hidden in green clothing. This was the first time which I could feel history coming alive right in the same sequence by which I read it; the small world of the ruins of Sandal Castle was more than enough for that feeling, even as the castle before destruction would have provided more of that, but unfortunately, I was born in the wrong century; too late to witness history and also too late to see the greatest events.

During the English Civil War, when Sandal Castle belonged to the Royalists, there were many sieges of the castle and combined with neglect, it was left in ruins. This stone castle which was built over seven hundred years ago, some of it already being part of what was there two hundred years before that. The first castle was built by William de Warenne, the son of one of the noblemen who came to England from Normandy with William the Conquerer in 1066 during the Norman invasion of Britain. He owned the Manor of Wakefield and was in need of a place to defend himself when he came to the city. His faily owned castle almost continuously for another two hundred and fourty years before coming into royal ownership and being demolished. There is the clear description of all this history at the spot of ruins of Sandal Castle. There is a breathtaking view from the top of the mound on which the castle once stood; it is the natural beauty of Wakefield; something which would help someone to be ready before a visit to the Lake District; as this is some beauty which is so magnificient that everything else in the world is forgotten for a minute; even the Sandal Castle and the whole history behind it.

The ruins of a great castle, a battlefield, a river and greenery along with the cool breeze; what could be better than all these at the same time? There are not many things which can substitute to such a situation, but Nostell Priory did come close, even as that was the best it could do. Nostell Priory is a Palladian house; belonging to an architecture inspired from the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio’s works, and is so close to the nature that it made me wonder how it is possible. If this was somewhere back at home, there would be flats made on all these beautiful sides of nature and it would be exploited to the core; but there I saw all of nature, so perfect and as wild as it could get, with even cows roaming around with no fear; they were so fat and they had more order than some people; they were as if following a time table as they walked around. The Priory was a twelfth century Augustinian foundation, dedicated to St Oswald which was abandoned by the monks due to the Reformation and the resulting Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. But a holy presence might have still remained there, as there was so much peace even among the creatures; there was something special about the water bodies and the trees too, as the divinity still seemed to exist in the place.

Except for the historic significance, the Sandal Castle and the Nostell Priory are not to be seen as separate things as they both were that close to the nature that there were doubts about what they really were; other than being inspiration to the poets of nature. The Sandal Castle was too ruined to be called something of an architecture while Nostell Priory had a more significant nature side than the limited architecture which required to pay for the visit, except for the Obelisk which required such a long walk which made me think of walking all the way back home. The different crop fields on the road side and a golf course would contribute to the beauty of nature at a lower level; as the best of them had already become a treat for the eyes and also the soul where it would be stored for the rest of the life; may be to be used in future, somewhat in a situation which is more poetic than what I am doing right now. For the people who don’t know much about this city, it is Wakefield and it is an extraordinary place to visit; for it has everything as long as one doesn’t become too greedy and ask for something which is not fit to be in the city. I would support Wakefield football club about which I know nothing about, just for the love of this city.

Diving out —>

TeNy