Saturday, 30 July 2016

Friday night at the Empire Cinema, Sandwich.

Empire Cinema at night.

Yesterday being the last Friday of the month we went to the Empire Cinema in Sandwich for their Classic Cinema presentation in the downstairs lounge. The cinema is an art deco building in the centre of this small town. 

It opened in 1937 but was extensively altered internally about twenty years ago when the auditorium was divided to provide two screens and a lounge, thankfully, much of the art deco detail was retained.

Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough in Trial and Error.

Last night's film was a black and white classic: Trial and Error, also released as The Dock Brief. It starred Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough and is based on a play by the Rumpole author, John Mortimer. A film based on a play always stands out by the quality of its dialogue and this was augmented by the performances, particularly that of Richard Attenborough as the mild mannered murderer who just wants to plead guilty. A good story, excellent dialogue and skilled actors: three qualities which are hard to find in present-day films.

If you are in the area of Sandwich on the last Friday of the month, pop along to the Empire Cinema and enjoy their Classic Cinema presentation.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Rosenkrantz, Wickhambreaux and Art Nouveau

St. Andrew's Church, Wickhambreaux, Kent.
The Church of St. Andrew, nestled alongside the Little Stour stream in Wickhambreaux, Kent, conceals an art nouveau treasure. 

Although the church dates from the 14th century, like many parish churches in England it 'suffered' renovation and repair in the nineteenth century under the enthusiastic patronage of local Victorian worthies. 

East window.

In this case, the east window which had consisted of a pair of lancet windows was replaced by a contemporary stained glass window depicting the Annunciation. To my eyes, the construction suggests that the original lancet windows were left in place and the surrounding stone infill was pierced to augment the display, but I am no expert.

Astonishingly, the stained glass was manufactured in New York in the Greenwich Village workshops of John La Farge. He was perfecting the application of semi-opaque coloured glass which had been used for decorative vases etc. to the flat stained glass needed for a window. It is claimed that it was La Farge who taught Tiffany how to make opalescent glass. 

The designer of the window was a Dane called Arild Rosenkrantz. He espoused the modern style which in 1896 was Art Nouveau. 

Just look at the sea of lilies and the swirls of green, yellow and blue at the top of the window.

And this remarkable Opus 1 of Rosenkrantz, his first and most important stained glass work, can be found in a small village church in England.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 21

Continuing the series of passport portraits from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.

Mrs Jessie Jutton de Roig,  A Spanish lady aged 45 years. But she doesn't look Spanish does she?

The description on her passport says that she has blue eyes and a healthy complexion. It also reveals that she became Spanish by marriage, having been born in Margate, UK. She now lives in London.

It is July 1928 and her Spanish passport is about to take her on a one month trip of Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Hollyhocks at Sandwich

Two years ago I took a cycle ride to Sandwich with a box full of seeds from the hollyhocks in my garden. 

Alongside the river Stour workmen were rebuilding the defences so I sowed handsful of seeds over the freshly turned earth.

Several plants are well established and have self seeded further along the river bank.

There are six different colours present. This autumn I will try to add some bright yellow and pale peach.

And all this beauty costs nothing.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Hello Russia

According to my blog management system you've visited my blog 329 times in the last twenty four hours but you have not read one post. What are you playing at? 
Is there something I can help you with? Do let me know.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The cranes at sunset.

As the sun sets over Canterbury the tower cranes loom over the city, as if stalking their prey like the horrific alien beasts in H.G.Wells' story of world invasion, The War of the Worlds.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

St Katherine's Church Canvey Island.

Former St Katherine's Church, Canvey Island.
And this is the former St. Katherine's Church, the first church on the island. It does not look very English, does it?  It was built in 1745, lay derelict for a while in the 1980s and has now found a new lease of life as a heritage centre. 

The population of the island when the black and white photographs of the creek below were taken was about 300. Now it is over 40,000.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Dutch are to blame for Canvey Island.

A few days ago I was on Canvey Island in Essex. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and I tried hard not to remember that I was at the side of the River Thames and below sea level.
Canvey Island on the coast of Essex in the Thames Estuary, 1955.

Canvey island really owes its existence to the Dutch. In 1621, the owners of the lands around Benfleet called a meeting to try to resolve the problem of the sea encroaching upon the marshes of Canvey, south of the town. Sir Henry Appleton, the principal landowner, invited Joas Crappenburgh over from Holland and agreed to make over to him a third of the land that he managed to drain and safeguard from the sea.
Low tide, crossing from Essex mainland to the island in 1899
He surrounded the island with a sea wall twenty two miles long and dug the channel deeper around it and Canvey Island was saved. For centuries the island was only accessible on foot or by carriage at low tide. A line of stepping stones and planks led the people across the muddy bed of the creek until the first road bridge was constructed in the 1930s. 
High tide, same day, looking from island to the mainland.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Canvey Island still had no telegraph wires, only one pillar box for posting letters, no butcher's or baker's shop and the nearest doctor lived seven miles away on the Essex mainland. Dutch could still be heard often spoken in the pub of an evening where the skippers of the Dutch fishing boats from the Texel would congregate. 

It was generally said that Canvey Islanders, 'talk slowly, walk slowly and think slowly'.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Bathing in Bexhill

These children had intended to bathe in the sea at Bexhill until they discovered this occasional fountain.

Their mother sat by with a bemused smile on her face as they ran, jumped and rolled around in the icy cold water. They were drenched through to the skin but seemed not to feel it.

Ah, the insouciance of youth.

Staircase,  De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill.

The new fountain feature has been installed on the seaward side of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

The Pavilion was built in the late 1930s in the art deco style of the day. I am always amused by the mock seriousness of art deco architecture. It seems to be lauding the modernist whilst alluding to the whimsical.

De La Warr Pavilion seen from the seaside.
Adopting the industrial system of iron girder framework (in this case welded not riveted) and concrete cladding, buildings in this style often suffer from the rapid visual deterioration of the concrete.

In the Pavilion's case, this was remedied by £8 million received from the Heritage Lottery Fund which was used to renovate this grade 1 listed buildling.
Block of flats, Bexhill seafront.

This block of flats was erected a few hundred yards west of the Pavilion about five years ago. As far as I am concerned it displays no architectural merit of any sort.

Some of the apartments appear to be unoccupied and the shops below have never found tenants. The orange colouring on the facade is the lichen that you find growing on World War 2 concrete bunkers.
Already falling apart....

A closer inspection of the facade shows that it is already crumbling away.

I hope this building does not last as long as the De La Warr Pavilion has done.