"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 29 January 2018

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

End of January means it is time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch - like many of you I've been doing this for years and it is always interesting to read on other blogs what people have seen in their gardens.

It was raining heavily on Saturday and there were few birds about so I did my birdwatch yesterday when it was dry and sunny. Our garden faces South making photography (and even watching birds at times!) a bit of a challenge but it did cloud over a bit for the last half hour.

So what did I see?

House Sparrow x 5

Wood Pigeon x 5

Robin x 2 (sometimes we get 3 in the garden and it is amusing to watch the "resident" robin chasing away the other two intruders!

Blackbird x 2

Great Tit x 1

Blue Tit x 3

Dunnock x 3

Goldfinch x 3

Starling x 1

Long-tailed Tit x 2

Essential equipment!

As many of you have commented several species fail to put in an appearance during the hour - here it was Magpie, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren and Coal Tit. The Blackcap we had on the feeders for about two weeks has disappeared but the Ring-necked Parakeets are still visiting - they turned up an hour after the Birdwatch finished.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Birmingham Cathedral

"The church that became a cathedral in the town that became a city"

I recently paid a brief visit to Birmingham Cathedral which is located in Birmingham City Centre.

St Philip's was originally built as a parish church in the ornate Baroque style and was completed in 1709. The architect was Thomas Archer from Umberslade Hall, near Tanworth-in-Arden. As Birmingham developed into an important industrial city the church was given cathedral status in 1905 when Charles Gore became the first Bishop.

There were two 19th century alterations at St Philip's when a gallery was inserted, the chancel extended and stained glass windows were added. Today it is a Grade 1 Listed Building.

Important Baroque details include the dome, volutes (scrolls), the giant pilasters, door surrounds and oval "Bulls-eye" windows, rusticated stonework and balustrade with decorative urns.

Statue of Bishop Gore

Although the churchyard was closed for burials 150 years ago it still contains around 60,000 burials.

The South West Porch still contains the original early 18th century staircase, balustrade and panelling.

The stained glass windows were all designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by William Morris and Co. Burne-Jones was born in nearby Bennett's Hill and was baptised in the church. His imagery was inspired by medieval art although he used his images in a different way using simplified shapes enhanced by bright colours - reds, pinks and blues in particular.

The Last Judgement,in memory of Bishop Bowlby, was installed in 1897.

A few of the memorials.

This stone plaque set in the floor commemorates Dr William Small who worshipped at the St Philips and was buried there in 1775. He was a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham and spent some years in Virginia where he taught Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States.

Bishop Gore's crozier - a crozier is the staff of office of a Bishop and is often in the design of a shepherd's crook to represent the role of a Bishop as a shepherd of Christ's people. He was bishop between 1905 and 1911 and was co-founder of the Christian Socialism Movement and a campaigner for social reform.

The organ was made by Thomas Schwarbrick of Warwick. The case is original although its workings have been renovated several times.

The three East windows were also all designed by Edward Burne-Jones

The Ascension (1885) depicts Christ wearing red robes in Heaven surrounded by angels. His disciples below are praying and looking towards Heaven.

The Crucifixion (1887/8) - Jesus Christ looks down on his mother Mary. Mary and St John with their hands clasped look upwards. Mary Magdalene weeps at the base of the cross. The cross is surrounded by soldiers with lances and flags.

The Nativity and Annunciation (1887/8) Joseph and three angels pay homage to the Virgin and child. At the top of the window 3 shepherds look upwards at the angelic host - the arc of the latter is replicated by the cave roof and forest.

Divine Beauty is a new project to restore and celebrate the stained glass windows - they are 130 years old and their condition is deteriorating and careful restoration is now required.

The font was designed by John Poole in 1982.

Several notable people have been linked with St Philip's. For example,

Matthew Boulton, industrialist and co-founder of the famous Lunar Society was baptised here in 1766.
( I am sure I have exchanged a number of comments in the past about the Lunar Society - if you read this Rosie - I think it may have been with you??)

James Keir, a glass manufacturer, chemist and another Lunar Society member was married in the church in 1770.

The printer John Baskerville, designer of the Baskerville typeface, was at one time a church warden.

Artist Moses Houghton, Gunmaker William Westley-Richards and architect H Yeoville Thomason (designer of Birmingham Council House) all have memorials in the cathedral.

Doctor Edmund Hector also has a memorial - he was a friend of Dr Samuel Johnson, and lived near the church.

As always time for the visit was limited and when I got home and read the guide books I realised I had missed some interesting features in the cathedral, churchyard and nearby. Hopefully, I will return one day and have another look around.

Photos taken with the Panasonic Lumix Bridge Camera FZ 330. I am still learning the best settings for the camera but overall I am very pleased with it.

Reference : A Guide to Birmingham Cathedral
Edward Burne-Jones Pre-Rapahelite Glass in Birmingham by Alastair Carew-Cox and William Waters