Manchester Cathedral Stained Glass

It was a beautiful sunny day in Manchester last Saturday, so I decided to call into the Cathedral to have a look a the stained glass. With the sun pouring through the windows, they’d be shown off at their best’

All the Victorian stained glass was destroyed during the Manchester Blitz in 1940 so new glass has been installed starting in the 1960’s. The most recent is the Hope Window in the east wall and at the end of the north quire aisle, which was only installed at the end of last year (2016). The glass is contemporary in style, but with some traditional influences

This is my favourite, Fire Window by Margaret Traherne (1966) which is at the end of the chapel dedicated to the Manchester Regiment

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It was designed by the artist to commemorate the cathedral’s rebuilding after the blitz and represents the flames of the fires caused by the bombing. It’s a simple design but very effective, especially on a sunny day with the sunlight illuminating it – you could easily convince yourself that the street outside was ablaze. The window was destroyed by the IRA bomb that was exploded a few streets away in 1996, and it had to be reconstructed by the artist.

This is the Healing Window, (2004) by Linda Walton, which was installed to commemorate the restoration of the cathedral following the bombing.

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There are four large windows by Tony Hollaway

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The St. Denys Window (1976) by Tony Hollaway,

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The St Mary Window by Tony Hollaway (1980)

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The Creation Window (1991) by Tony Hollaway

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The Revelation Window (1995)  by Tony Hollaway

This is the most recent window – The Hope Window by Aaln Davis – that was installed in October last year and dedicated in December.

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The abstract design of the new window revolves around the themes of hope, innovation, growth and new life.

The window design includes the form of a tree (The Tree of Life) and seedpods, symbolising life and growth, and textile patterns relating to the city’s cotton industry. There is also a bee, the symbol of Manchester and an allusion to the beehives on the Cathedral roof. (Cathedral website)

The statue in front of the window is of Humphrey Chetham, founder of Chetham’s school and library.

Strange and Familiar in Manchester

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While I was in Manchester last Saturday I called into the City Art Gallery to take a look at Strange and Familiar, an exhibition curated by Martin Parr featuring photographs of British society and culture by leading international photographers from the 1930’s onwards. It had previously been shown at the Barbican in London. It’s a large scale exhibition with over 250 photographs by 23 photographers and shown in a chronological order. There was a lot to take in and it is difficult to do justice to it in a relatively short post.

Publicity for the exhibition quotes Martin Parr as saying

“The exhibition will reveal a very different take on British life than that produced by British photographers. It is both familiar and strange at the same time.”

Having visited the exhibition a couple of times (I’d been previously not long after it first opened) I’m not certain I fully agree with him. The picture of Britain shown in the photographs from the 30’s up to the “swinging sixties” were familiar rather than strange, although taken from the perspective of International photographers from a number of countries, the photographs probably represented a realistic view of British culture and society.

The exhibition starts in the 1930’s with works by  Edith Tudor-Hart. A lifelong Socialist, her work reflected her political commitment and the exhibition includes photographs by her of ordinary people in London’s East End and living in the slum housing areas of Tyneside.

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Child Staring into Bakery Window, London ca. 1935 by Edith Tudor Hart

Other highlights for me included

  • the Dutch photographer Cas Oorthuys photographs of Cambridge, London and Oxford – commuters queuing at bus stops, bowler-hatted city workers and London markets.
  • The Swiss-American photographer Robert Frank’s photographs of a Welsh mining community
  • The Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain’s expressive, Modernist photographs of London shot from unusual angles, with ground-level viewpoints, double exposures, blurring and innovative focusing.
  • Photographs of London during the “Swinging Sixties” by American photographers Evelyn Hofer and Garry Winogrand, the German Frank Habicht  and the Italian Gian Butturini
  • The photographs of Bruce Davidson from the 60’s, especially his wonderful Girl Holding Kitten and his photographs from the Welsh mining community
  • German photographer Candida Höfer’s photogrpahs of people and places in Liverpool in the late 60’s , many of them reminiscent of when I lived in Liverpool in the mid 70’s.
  • The massive, closely cropped, stark colour portraits of ordinary people, (not exactly pretty) from Essex and West Brom

So much to see. So many excellent photographs. Much to learn from them.

Trinity Bridge, Salford

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I took the train into Manchester on Saturday – the main reason being that I’d decided to look for some new walking boots. It was a fine sunny, day and after alighting at Salford Central train station and walking up to Deansgate, I stopped to take a few snaps of the Trinity Bridge, a footbridge that crosses the River Irwell connecting the “twin cities” of Salford and Manchester.

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It was designed by the architect, structural engineer and artist, Santiago Calatrava.- it’s his only bridge in the UK – and was opened in 1995.

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It’s a cable-stay design with a 41-meter cigar shaped pylon, angled towards Salford, with the cables attached asymmetrically to form a cris-cross effect– rather reminding me of a “Spirograph” pattern.

It’s difficult to take a photo that properly shows the design. On the Salford side there are three ramps, two of which curve in from either side, combining at the pylon  to form the deck across the river. The Manchester bank of the Irwell is higher than on the Salford side so the bridge slopes up to meet the bank.

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It’s a radical design and there have been some problems with maintenance but there is no doubt that it’s an attractive landmark structure.

Hawkshead Brewery

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Before driving over to Kentmere we called into the Hawkshead Brewery at Staveley. It’s a real brewery where they brew there own ales, but they also have a beer hall where they serve their beer as well as food. It’s open lunch times and also during the evening on Friday and Saturday (food only served until 3 pm, though).

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Visitors can look over the brewery from a viewing gallery at the back of the building

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and they have 2 large storage tanks next to the beer hall.

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They also run brewery tours at 2 pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

It might seem odd that they’re called Hawkshead Brewery when they’re a few miles and across the other side of Windermere from the village of that name. However, that is where they started. But they outgrew their original premises after four years and moved to the present site, in the Mill Yard, beside the River Kent, in Staveley. Their range of craft beers are rather excellent (you can buy bottles to take away so no need to try them all at once!).

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Next door there’s a rather excellent craft bakery that sells scrumptious bread and cakes, and they have a café too.

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So two yeast based production facilities next door to each other.

There’s a number of other manufacturing, commercial and retail businesses based in the mill yard, including a shop that makes and sells chutney’s sauces and relishes and the UK’s largest cycle store.

It’s worth pulling off the fast road between Kendal and Windermere for a visit.

Kentmere Tarn circular

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The weather forecast for the last day of our break in the Lake District wasn’t promising and when I got up it was raining heavily. So time to chill out, relax and do some reading. However, by midday the rain had eased off so, despite the grey skies and low cloud up the valley, I decided to go out for a short walk. It ended up being a little longer than intended!

From the front windows of our cottage we could see the small tarn  a little way down the valley, so I decided to walk over and have a closer look.

The original Kentmere Tarn was a larger body of water that was drained in the 1830’s to provide reclaimed farm land, but it was of poor quality. However, deposits of diatomite, also known as diatomaceous earth, were found in the former lake bed – the only source of the material in the UK –  and were mined for use in the production of insulation products. The mine was originally owned by Kentmere Diatomite, an independent company which was taken over by Cape Insulation. The process involved drying off the earth in a kiln which burnt off the vegetable matter. The resultant powder was then mixed with several minerals including asbestos. Production finished in the 1970’s but the old insulation factory is still there, and is now used by a company manufacturing packaging. (There’s some good information about the diatomite mining in this document). The present Kentmere Tarn was formed due to the flooding of the workings.

I set out after midday. Visibility was poor down the valley due to the cloud and mist.

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I headed past Kentmere Hall and then set off down a muddy path toward the Tarn.

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15 minutes later I reached the Tarn. Access to the banks is restricted to fishermen and the path was a little way above the water line.

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After passing the Tarn the path goes through the factory yard – watch out for fork lift trucks!

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A little further along down a quiet lane, near confluence of the River Kent and Park Beck, there’s the old mill where Kentmere Pottery is now based

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The confluence of the two rivers

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Cutting inland along the path which heads up towards the moors

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I passed this old abandoned building. A shepherd’s hut?

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Heading further up towards the moor. Looked like there was some rain ahead.

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Good views, though, if a little misty.

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The path turned back down towards the valley

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Some sections of the route were very  “slutchy” (a Lancashire term for wet mud)

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Further along I got a good view down towards the Tarn

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and Kentmere village came into view

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The path back down to Kentmere Hall

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Heading back to the church, a nice, warm, dry cottage and a brew!

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Kentmere Hall

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This is Kentmere Hall. It’s a 14th century tunnel-vaulted pele tower which had an extension built on the side during the 15th or 16th century. Today it’s used as a farmhouse.

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Pele towers were defensive structure to protect the local population from marauding Scots and Border Reivers.

They were small stone buildings with walls from 3 to 10 feet thick, square or oblong in shape. Most were on the outskirts of the Lake District, but a few were within its boundaries. Designed to withstand short sieges, they usually consisted of three storeys – a tunnel-vaulted ground floor which had no windows which was used as a storage area, and which could accommodate animals. (source)

Today some, like the one at Arnside, are in ruins, others, like at Sizergh and Muncaster, were extended and incoprorated into grand houses while the one at Kentmere was extended to become part of the residence of the local big wigs, the Gilpins.

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There’s a good paper about the Hall published by the Staveley and District History Society.

Today the Hall is part of a working farm. Returning along the road back towards the church and Capplerigg, we passed a large barn full of sheep – obviously a lambing shed with the ewes brought down from the fells ready to give birth. Hearing a loud high pitched bleating we peeped inside to see a new born lamb.

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(Unfortunately not a perfect picture but I hope you like it Barbara Winking smile )

A walk up Yoke and Ill Bell

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The second full day of our stay in Kentmere and we’d planned a walk up to the top of Ill Bell via the Garburn Pass and Yoke. We’d had a good view of the two mountains from across the alley during our walk up Nan Gield pass the previous day.There was low cloud on the fells, so there was risk we’d finish in fog and miss the views from on the fells, but we set out anyway as we knew we’d still enjoy the walk.

The start of the walk – the road from the village leading to the Garburn Pass

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We passed Shepherd’s Nook

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and shortly afterwards we began to climb the path up the pass.

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Passing the crags on our right

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Reaching the top of the pass we took the path towards Yoke. There was low cloud on the fells restricting visibility but the top of Yoke looked clear.

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Looking over the Kirkstone Pass we could make out Red Screes but visibility was poor restricting the view of mountains further away. But on a good day the views are stunning.

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Reaching the top of Yoke (2316 feet) , In the distance, the summit of Ill Bell was shrouded in cloud.

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Looking over to the fells on the other side of the valley, the Nan Bield Pass was visible through a gap in the cloud. It was a little like a science fiction film – looking through a portal to another world!

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Carrying on along the ridge there was a good view down to the reservoir

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A short, sharp climb and we reached our final objective, the summit of Ill Bell (2483 feet)

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Looking along the ridge to Frostwick, the next peak, and High Street. We were tempted to carry on but decided to stick to our plan. But, all being well, one day we’ll be back to walk the horseshoe!

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This is the view over the valley to Nan Bield Pass and Harter Fell.

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Looking back towards Yoke

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Visibility was improving, and walking back along Yoke we could make out the whole length of Windermere

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and looking to the north west we had a decent view of Rred Screes on the other side of the Kirkstone Pass and over towards Helvelyn

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We retraced our steps down the Garburn Pass. The sun lighting up the crags

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Looking down on Kentmere village

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It was a sunny afternoon when we got back to our cottage – and there were some new neighbours!

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