Exploring Cornwall: Castle, Cave and Cathedral

Cornwall is my second home from home! If you’re after seeing magical places, Cornwall ticks all those boxes. It is a heritage treasure trove! I’ve just got back from another two weeks down in the far south west of England, trekking about the Cornish countryside in the back of a van and thought I would post an update about three of the sites I’ve seen.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, Marazion
Walking along the causeway to the Mount

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion is a new favourite of mine. The St Aubyn family still reside in the castle however the island is now mostly owned by the National Trust to ensure its long term preservation.

It is a beautiful island, complete with a harbour, exotic gardens, Victorian dairy and a winding cobbled path up to the castle. After traversing across the man-made granite causeway (which was being re-made on our visit) we were led through the island’s picturesque harbour featuring a 15th century pier and a series of cottages. The island was once home to over 200 people in the early 19th century until the growth of nearby Penzance across the bay.

St Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall
View from the gardens of the castle

The castle itself is a magnificent and imposing work of architecture and really is worth the long hike up the island path. It boasts a combination of building fabric spanning centuries, from a chapel built on the site of a church from 1135 to a period of construction in the Victorian era. It’s a romantic building and has been used in popular culture, such as the exterior of Dracula’s castle in the 1979 film Dracula.

Gull Rocks at Holywell
Gull Rocks (the two islands, right) at Holywell

Moving on to another special place I visited was the sandy bay of Holywell featuring a site of pagan pilgrimage- a holy well inside a cave.

This holy well takes the form of naturally-created basins shaped in the cave’s wall from a spring that falls from a hole in the ceiling.

Caves at Holywell
Caves at Holywell

It is said that mothers travelled from afar to baptise their children in this well. The tide was coming in too quickly to get photos, so have a look at the Megalithic website for images of the well.

The last place I visited was Truro, Cornwall’s only city. The city did have an almost York-like feeling about it with the skyline being dominated by a cathedral presence- Truro Cathedral.  This cathedral surprised me as being a recent construction in the Gothic Revival style, built from 1880 – 1910 and designed by John Loughborough Pearson. I have always been amazed by how the Victorians recreated the gothic styles of the Medieval England’s past with such attention to detail and iconography.

Truro Cathedral
Truro Cathedral

Truro sits alongside Lichfield Cathedral and St Mary’s Episcopal Church (Edinburgh) as being the only UK cathedrals with three spires. What is also interesting is that the cathedral is the “first to be built on a new site since Salisbury was started in 1220.” (Quote from Truro Cathedral website)

There are lots of other places of historical and spiritual significance in Cornwall and I hope to write more about those in the future…

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Bones, Baguettes and a lot of Architecture!

Just arrived back from a “Royal Spaces in Medieval Europe” study trip to Paris! I had a lovely time (I tried escargot and it was a better experience than I had originally thought it would be!) and here are some photographs from the trip to celebrate my last term of my undergraduate degree:

  • Day 1: Baguette, Cheese and Wine on the viaduct (trying to be french!)
  • Day 2: Sainte-Chapelle and the Notre-Dame
  • Day 3: Cluny Museum and Saint-Denis Basilica
  • Day 4: Pere-Lachaise Cemetary

(above the Sainte-Chapelle, private chapel of King Louis IX of France to store his Passion relics- amazingly beautiful, makes you feel like a bug in a jar made out of stained-glass!)

(above, St-Denis holding his head on the facade of Notre Dame!)

(above, the interior of the Notre Dame during a two-hour mass for the veneration of the Passion relics)

(above, the original jamb statues from the Notre-Dame, now in the Cluny Museum)

(above, Saint-Denis Basilica, the royal necropolis!)

(above and below, the world-famous Pere-Lachaise Cemetary)

Tour of London’s Museums and Galleries!

This term I’m studying for my 3rd year module “Art and the City: Georgian London and York” which is interesting and very Hogarth based. Highlight of the term so far was a two day escapade to London on the 7th-8th November. We stayed in a unique-looking youth hostel in Kensington (see image below) for the night  and it also happened to be my 21st birthday, so we all went out for a lovely meal in the evening!

We visited the Museum of London, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Courtald Institute, The Foundling Museum and the Sir John Soane Museum. Despite it being my birthday it was spontaneous presentations galore in all of the  sites, so time for relaxation was out of the question! Exhausting but interesting day!

The place I loved the most was the Sir John Soane Museum- a completely untouched Georgian house of the C18th antiquarian and architect John Soane. Fragments of ancient buildings, sculptures and paintings everywhere and even an Egyptian sarcophagus 🙂 See www.soane.org/ 🙂

The Summer begins!

So my uni life as a second year student has ended for the summer- our last English Country House trip was to Bramham Park and then Studley Royal/ Fountains Abbey and was definitely the most amazing one featuring endless peramblating and tiredness! Not many images unfortunately as my camera battery died :( however this view was the main highlight of the day with the ruins of Fountains Abbey in the background (Sublime <3) :

Now term’s over I have a 5000 word examination essay to write on architectural cappriccio, which is a subject of my own choice and due in 3 months time. Shouldnt be too bad and hopefully this summer I’ll get to ramble a bit more! 

Bramham Park: www.bramhampark.co.uk/                                                                    Studley Royal / Fountains Abbey: www.fountainsabbey.org.uk/

Castle Howard- 1st June 2011

Today was our study trip to Castle Howard. It annoyingly chucked it down with rain the entire time, however I got some good photo opportunities. I had to do a presentation on the south parterre which was very difficult to do since it was raining and everyone was exhausted from walking all around the grounds all day! The Atlas Fountain was switched off unfortunately, however highlight of the day was being able to go inside the Mausoleum.

The Mausoleum was so unstable we had to wear crash helmets and were forbidden from leaning on the baustrades as they may collapse! Exciting stuff! We even got a further treat (remembering the Mausoleum isn’t open to the general public!) by being allowed in the catacombs- no photography was allowed in there however I could describe it as a half empty mortuary, for several spaces were filled with the Howard ancestors since the 1700s and the rest were left empty awaiting the future generations- so it could be said that the Mausoleum is a dynastic building for both the past, present and the future!

Above image: My classmates in their crash helmets approaching the Temple of the Four Winds en route to the Mausoleum. 

Image below: My tutors frustratingly trying to unlock the gates (took them awhile!)

Chatsworth House- 19th May 2011

Just arrived home from my second field trip of this term: Chatsworth House. Lovely looking house, bit of a shame the west front was covered in scaffolding though! The interiors contained a wonderful collection of sculpture (my favourite being the Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaele Monti pictured below), Egyptian artefacts, Minerals, China plates and wonderful, illusionistic wall-paintings! My favourite part was the water cascade, however we ran out of time to go in the maze and the rockery :( Will have to visit again!