Romancing a castle, or is it romance in a castle? We are fascinated with the idea of a castle. Kids create sand castles, sculptors carve ice castles and street artists paint 3-D images of castles onto sidewalks. Castles were built for the Crusaders as protection–designed for strength, not beauty. Yet their massiveness and skillful masonry convey a sense of grandeur and of style. There is no mistaking the character of a Norman Keep at the top of a castle.
Durham Castle Keep exterior
Castles were designed to deal with weapons and tactics which changed slowly, and the availability of materials, manpower and skills was also influential. The shortage of timber in Palestine, for example, encouraged the use of more stone than in Europe.
For some centuries, the security of life in towns depended upon their fortifications, and the constricting girdle of walls and towers did much to shape the architecture of cities. As with the island of Manhattan, they encouraged high rather than wide building. Castles were fortified villages, sheltering people of every level of society and providing a store for grain against famine as well as imminent siege.
Durham Keep Terrace
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England. In 1837, the castle was donated to the newly-formed University of Durham by Bishop Edward Maltby as accommodation for students. It was named University College. Architect Anthony Salvin rebuilt the dilapidated Keep from the original plans. Opened in 1840, the castle still houses over 100 students, most of whom are in the Keep.
Castle Keep details (Dover Castle)
Click the Keep above for the details.
The castle stands on top of a hill above the River Wear on Durham’s peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral.The castle was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman king’s power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained “wild and fickle” following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an example of the early motte and bailey castles favored by the Normans. The holder of the office of the Bishop of Durham was a appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf, the castle was his seat.
Castle Bodiam moat
The design of castles has always been a subject worthy of princes. Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located 90 meters above the commune of Les Andelys overlooking the River Seine in the Upper Normandy region of northern France, one of the most original designs, was the personal achievement of Richard I of England. The owners of most castles played a large part in their design.
Chateau Gaillard, France
The evidence is scanty, but we can reasonably surmise there was a close working relationship between the princes and the peers who designed the castles and their usually anonymous master masons, who signed their work with their individual marks.
English: 12th century oak chest iron wrapped. Original purpose-to store alms from sinners seeking remission
The styles of this period are known as Romanesque and Norman (800-1150). After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the new king, William the Conqueror granted protection and repose to the conquered Saxon Thanes. Medieval homes were sparsely furnished by modern standards. The most common items were chests. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Besides serving as easily transportable storage containers, the chest also served as tables and for seating. Wood of the day was oak, or whatever local woods were available. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will give you a first hand look at this type of work.
Oak chest-iron wrapped
The seven Crusades that occurred between the years 1096 and 1270 were of great political, economic and artistic importance. The Crusades did not accomplish any lasting good so far as their original purpose was concerned. They brought, however, a great change in the thought and in the manner of living of the people of Europe that was first noticeable in the Gothic period. They awakened interest at home in the ancient civilizations of Greece, Asia Minor, and the highly developed culture of the Eastern Empire, and they developed a doubt concerning some of the doctrines of the established Roman church, that later formed the roots of the Renaissance.
Durham Castle is jointly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, a short distance across Palace Green.
Would you like to live in a castle? Hmm, well, experience living in one for a day, a week, a year?
Henry VIII Chateau. Tennis was played on the inside courts.
The word “Tennis” came into use in English in the mid-13th century from Old French, via the Anglo-Norman Term Tenez. By poet John Gower in his poem titled In Praise of Peace dedicated to King Henry IV and composed in 1400. “Of the tenetz to winne or lese a chase, Mai no lif wite er that the bal be ronne”. (Whether a chase is won or lost at tennis, Nobody can know until the ball is run).
Tennis in Newport, RI
Tennis is mentioned in literature as far back as the Middle Ages. In The Second Shepherd’s Play (c. 1500) shepherds gave three gifts, including a tennis ball, to the newborn Christ. it’s been said that the early tennis balls were made from wool. The Medieval form of tennis is termed as Real Tennis. Real tennis evolved over three centuries from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France.
King Henry VIII
Royal interest in England began with Henry V (1413–22).
Henry VIII (1509–47) made the biggest impact as a young monarch; playing the game with gusto at Hampton Court on a court he built in 1530. It is believed that his second wife Anne Boleyn was watching a game when she was arrested and that Henry was playing when news of her execution arrived. During the reign of James I (1603–25), London had 14 courts.
From the royal courts of England and France to centre court at Wimbledon, from Henry VIII to Federer the great, the game of tennis is steeped in history and tradition. The precise origins of tennis are disputed, with some historians dating it back to Ancient Egypt. According to the official website for “Royal Tennis,” the game was played in the fifth century Tuscany in Italy when villagers struck balls in the street with their bare hands. A more definable version was played by European monks, mostly in Italy and later France, in the 12th century, based around a closed courtyard. Francis I of France, who reigned from 1515-47, was reputedly an enthusiastic player and was responsible for the building of many courts and also promoted the sport among a wider cross section of people.
Federer the great
Yale bowl has tennis in New Haven this week. We had tickets and great seats through my good friend, Lorraine. We got there early, had a bite to eat, Ben and Jerry’s low fat Banana Peanut Butter frozen yogurt… OMG. Walked around picking up trinkets and freebies, when just as the matches were scheduled to begin at 7 pm, it began to rain.
The ticket holders held their breath. Will it stop raining?
Would they get to see tennis? We all stood huddled under the eaves. Finally… the rain stopped some. Wait again… finally… it stopped. A parade of high schoolers came out with squeegees and began drying the courts. Followed by fifteen leaf-blowers, controlled by fifteen high schoolers, finishing the job, when it began to rain again. This time they used towels as well as blowers to dry the courts. It was fascinating to watch this process. So the first match between Caroline Wazniacki of Denmark and Shuai Peng of China began around 9 pm. Shortly after, they announced the second match of the night was cancelled, and moved to the next day. Ms. Wasniacki was favored to win, but readily lost the first set 6-2. Wasniacki was ahead 3-0 in the second set when Peng called the trainer to her chair. We watched in horror while they took her blood pressure. We are big tennis buffs and had never seen this before. Something was very wrong. No… she got up and went back to play, She was serving, ran up, returned the ball, but bent over, possibly dizzy. She tried serving once more, and won her serve. Next thing we knew, she shook her head, called her opponent over, shook hands and retired from play. Peng announced she could not continue. So we spent about five hours in New Haven and watched less than an hour of tennis. Unexpected entertainment, fun of sorts, or was it sort of fun?
William the Conqueror, I wonder if he played tennis? He sure had enough castles to play in. Next week we’ll have a visit there. For now, here’s a fun video to watch if you have a few minutes. Tennis, watch Real Tennis for your enjoyment.
Do you play? What do you ‘love’ about tennis, besides a score of LOVE/40, yours?
Mark, a USPTA colleague, sat behind us at Yale…, it was fun to meet a fellow member United States Professional Tennis Association. The USPTA is the largest and most prestigious professional tennis teaching organization in the country. Teaching and playing tennis was a significant part of my life. They had asked me to execute a painting for their 75th Anniversary. It was wonderful to create the watercolor for them.
USPTA Houston, Texas. watercolor by Ingis Claus
Durham Castle–later a Cathedral (note crenelation on top edges, typical of fortified structures)
Durham Castle, seen here with its crenelated top edge was fortification.The Normans, upon conquering England, fortifications came first, they provided shelter and protection. But churches were also built, small and grand. Medieval churches were often hurried affairs in a wood design, replaced later with rusticated stone. The churches eventually grew into cathedrals, larger than life structures. Since religion was the dominant interest of Europe, architecture consisted primarily of church construction.
Bracewell in Lancashire church
Bracewell is a small village just northwest of Barnoldswick, Lancashire. The church of St Michael’s is a lovely old Norman building, dating to around the year 1100. It was not established as a parish church, but as a private chapel for the Tempest family.
St Michael stained-glass can be seen from inside the church.
Greensted Church north wall – wood
It has been told that Greensted Church, in the small village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar, near Chipping Ongar in Essex, England, is the oldest wooden church in the world and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century. Its full title is The Church of St Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar. It is, however, commonly known simply as Greensted Church. Greensted is still a functioning church and holds services every week. The most interesting feature is probably the south doorway, which is typically Norman, the chancel arch, also Norman, and the tower arch, which dates to the 14th century and an early example of the soon to come Pointed Gothic style. Very little of the original medieval glass remains, but there are fragments of 14th century glass depicting coats of arms of local gentry. The nave pews are by the famed Kilburn woodworker, Rober Thompson, aka ‘The Mouseman’, and show Thompson’s favoured mouse motif. The church was featured on a British postage stamp issued in 1972.
This is the Cathedral side of the ‘castle’ seen above in the first image. Durham Cathedral replaced the 10th century “White Church”, built as part of a monastic foundation to house the Shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. The Chapter Library contains one of the most complete sets of early printed books in England, the pre-Dissolution monastic accounts, and three copies of the Magna Carta. Durham Cathedral occupies a strategic position on a promontory high above the River Wear. From 1080 until the 19th century the bishopric enjoyed the powers of a Bishop Palatine, having military as well as religious leadership and power. It was built as the residence for the Bishop of Durham. Initially, a very simple temporary structure was built from local timber to house the relics of Cuthbert. The shrine was then transferred to a sturdier, probably wooden, building known as the White Church, later replaced by a stone building by the same name. The flow of money from pilgrims of power embodied in the church ensure that a town formed around the cathedral, establishing the early core of the modern city.
Durham interior zigzag and diamond patterns incised on columns and arches. Ceiling ribs have the patterns incised as well.
The current Cathedral was designed and built under William of Calais, who was appointed as the first prince-bishop by William the Conqueror in 1080. Since then, major additions and reconstruction has been prevalent. But, the greater part of the structure remains true to the Norman Design. This is a term related to the styles of Romanesque architecture by the Normans in lands under their influence in the 11th and 12th centuries.
There were other structures as well, all characterized by the usual Romanesque rounded arches particularly over windows and doorways.
The buildings show massive proportions in simple geometries, the masonry with small bands of sculpture, perhaps as blind arcading, and concentrated spaces of capitals and round doorways and in the tympanum under an arch. The “Norman arch” is the round arch and sometimes slightly pointed as in the Durham interior ceiling here above. Norman mouldings are carved or incised with geometric ornament, such as chevron patterns, frequently termed “zig-zag mouldings”. The cruciform churches often had deep chancels and a square crossing tower which has remained a feature of English ecclesiastical architecture. Hundreds of parish churches were built and the great English cathedrals were founded from 1083. As Gothic with its pointed arches became more popular, Norman eventually became a modest style of provincial building.
Do you have a favorite ecclesiastical architecture, past or present?
Look for more next week…
L‘église Notre Dame d’Esperance (The Church of Notre Dame d’Esperance)
- Cannes church arch
“Architecture, church architecture, describes visually the idea of the sacred, which is a fundamental need of man. Mankind has been capable of creating for itself this very particular kind of space. There is a great mystery in a church. For me it is a great privilege to be confronted with the design of a church, because it shelters the most powerful themes of humanity: birth, marriage, death.” By Mario Botta, Architect, in the book, Churches, by Judith Dupre (2001).
Perched at the top of Le Suquet hill overlooking Cannes, France is the centuries old Église Notre Dame d’Esperance. Église is French for ‘church.’ The church on the hill above the old port was originally a fortress, erected in the 11th century, to protect what was at the time a fortified village. The structure was both offensive and defensive providing a base from which raids could be launched as well as protection from enemies such as pirates and invasions. The design of the fortress is medieval, probably originally built with earth and timber, replaced later with rusticated stone as you see it today—where the front facade is early Gothic and has pointed spheres soaring heavenward. Stained-glass windows are prevalent in traditional Gothic where rays of sunlight pour through the high stained-glass, rose-medallion windows and buttresses support the structure. Over the centuries, the church, which was used by fishermen for prayer, was referred to as Suquet Castle. The bell tower was completed in the 14th century. The clock was added to the bell tower later, probably around 1815, about the time Napoleon visited and marched through the town. It has been a fortress, a monks’ castle, the church mentioned here, and now a cinema/museum.
The interior of the church displays art works, busts, and altarpieces. On the High Altar stands St Anne and a 17th century statue of a “Vierge Couronnée,” (Virgin with a crown) holding a ship’s anchor. There is a selection of 19th century paintings including a fresco by George Roux depicting the baptism of Jesus. The eight chapels of the church have links to the craft guilds of France going back to the 17th Century. One end of the church has a Romanesque chapel used years ago as a refuge. Inside the chapel, boat models sit at the feet of the Saints. This was when downtown Cannes was created—before that the main village was in the Saint Cassien neighborhood, which is around the Cannes airport. For centuries the main city in the region was Grasse, located 15 km to the north of Cannes.
About Cannes Le Suquet is the old quarter of Cannes, probably best known to tourists as the climbing, winding cobbled lane, Rue St Antoine, a pedestrian street lined with local restaurants. At the bottom of Le Suquet on Rue Dr. P. Gazagnaire is the Marché Forville, where the market is held in the mornings and early afternoon. The area was the original fisherman’s residential area of Cannes. The streets were laid out at least 400 years ago—some of the houses could be 200 years old. It is a 5-minute walk from the beach. Much of the area is pedestrianized and is a major tourist attraction. The Rue du Suquet is the original main road into Cannes.
Cannes was made popular as a resort when former British Royal Chancellor Lord Brougham stayed there from 1834. He popularized the town amongst royalty, artists and writers. Since then it has been visited by the rich and famous for the great winter climate. Prosper Mérimée, Guy de Maupassant, Domergue, Chateaubriand, JMW Turner, Victor Hugo, Stendhal, Picabia, Renoir and Picasso have connections with Cannes. The French government decided to create an international film festival just before the Second World War and chose Cannes for its location on the Riviera. The plans were put on hold until the end of the war, and in 1946 the first Film Festival was held. This gave Cannes the status of a city for movie stars, which attracted a lot of tourism. High-end hotels, restaurants and luxury shops developed and the reputation of Cannes as a city for the wealthy spread even more. Today Cannes is still just that: a town living on high end tourism. Each year in July during the “Nuits Musicales du Suquet” classical music is played on the square outside the church. Have you been to Cannes? What do you know about the film festival?
Kristan Higgins “The Best Man” all over the Marriott’s elevator door. That’s Gail with the red bag
Haven for writers. No, I think it was heaven for writers. This year, mid July, in the state of Georgia, in Gone With the Wind’s precious Atlanta. It’s not burning anymore, but it was HOT. It sizzled with humidity and hospitality. The national convention of Romance Writer’s of America (RWA) held their yearly in this magical place. Most of us holed up, for almost a week, at the Marriott Marquis, running hither and yon, friends, food, colleagues, and most of all, workshops, workshops, workshops. We mingled with the best of the best, writer’s who love romance and write it well. You have never seen 2500 of smiling faces all in one place at one time. I am sure you never have. It was a joy to behold. If you did not know how to write when you arrived, to be sure, you knew how to write when you left. Something happens in this conference where your synapses grow and mushroom, in fact, your new found confidence sparkles in your eyes, and you find new friends to share your joy of writing. How, when, where, why, all your questions get answered, you get notes to study and free fantastic books to either shlep or ship to your writing den at home.
CTRWA left to right standing Katy Lee, Thea Devine, Gail Ingis, Kristan Higgins, Jamie Schmidt, Marian Louette
My favorite was to be witness to my fantastic friend, who found me and showed me the way, author Kristan Higgins, who gave the most riveting speech to these 2500 writers. We all laughed, we all cried. The standing ovation, hugs, and praises continued all weekend. We are all still mesmerized.
Marriott’s glass elevator to the 42nd floor. Weeee!Fast too!
Did you hear about my lost cell phone? Red bags, each registrant got one. All 2500 of us. Sitting in a workshop at 8:30 a.m. with my cell phone a bother on my belt, I pulled it off and plopped into a red bag. Not mine of course, but I did not realize until after the workshop and we had all split. Found, but not for six agonizing hours. It was on vibrate, so Sandi never heard it. Oh, I didn’t know her name until she finally found it in her bag, found Tom’s number and called him. Tom, my hubby was in our room. How did she know it was the right number? I have his cell phone number marked as ICE. Known as an emergency number.
CokeCola from our room on the 42nd floor
I had a miracle, well, sort of a miracle happen to me first day, right after registration. I did not know Maria Connor, but now I do. After going nuts, and asking what that was, over the smallest thing attached to earbuds, in her ears, and a tiny rectangular thing clipped on her blouse, she said, “I have two, here, you can have this one I don’t use, it was lost for two years, so I got a new one, and this one is extra. You can have this IPod shuffle.” She said, “I will send you the charger.” It arrived Monday. Can you imagine? This gift was like winning the lottery.
left to right: Kristan Higgins, Gail Ingis, Katy Lee, Paula Sharon, Susan Andrews. This picture is about shoes/no shoes. One of us brought ten (10) pair of shoes. Want to guess who? All these wonderful people in my life, just because I write. Great folk! Don’t you think?