Friday, 29 November 2019

A Day Out to Bolton Abbey and Skipton

A view of the River Wharfe and Bolton Priory

Each year, several coaches set off from various parts of Rotherham to take part in the Rotherham Deanery Pilgrimage, which involves a formal church service in the morning followed by extended leisure time in the afternoon. 

A general view of the Bolton Abbey Estate

Although not a religious person, having helped out with various practical tasks at St. Helen’s church in Treeton in the last few years, I went on the pilgrimage to Hull in 2018 and had a great day out and I immediately signed up to the trip to Bolton Priory and Skipton

Bolton Abbey Hall

In contrast to my trip to Manchester a week earlier, when it was glorious summer weather from start to finish, this day out started with a small group huddling beneath a tree to avoid the pouring rain; however, by the time we arrived at Bolton Abbey, it had turned into another fine day. 

The Old Rectory

I was very surprised to discover that the Bolton Abbey Estate is a fully fledged tourist destination owned by the Duke of Devonshire on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the ruins of Bolton Priory – incorporating the church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert – set next to the River Wharfe

The Priory church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert

Appealing to my interests in geology, archaeology, ecclesiastical architecture, historic stone buildings and tourism, I could have easily spent a whole day here but, having to fit in with the timetable of the Pilgrimage, I had only an hour to explore this wonderful place.

The Devonshire crest

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A Quick Exploration of Manchester

A general view of St. Ann's church

When in Manchester to attend a fashion buyers event at the ABode Hotel, organised by FashionablyIn, I had expected to be busy for most of the day and had made no plans to explore Manchester; however, the event turned out to be low key, with very few exhibitors, and I found myself with time on my hands. 

The Duke of Wellington monument

Having spent much of the year investigating mediaeval churches, I did do a bit of research on Manchester Cathedral but, with the bulk of the original masonry being replaced in the C19 with Upper Carboniferous sandstone and gritstone, it wasn’t high on my list of places to visit. 

The Queen Victoria Monument

Wandering around in the sunshine, I didn’t stop to closely look at any of the very many historic buildings and monuments but, like Leeds and Sheffield, numerous building stones have been used and I have since thought that it might make a suitable field trip for the Sheffield U3A Geology Group

Manchester Town Hall

The only building that I did take time to look at in any detail was the Classical style St. Ann’s church, built during the reign of Queen Anne in 1709 using Collyhurst stone, which was also used for Manchester Cathedral. 

The tower of St. Ann's church

Quarried 2 km to the north-east of the church, this red/purple Permian aeolian sandstone was an important building stone in the pre-industrial Manchester but it has not proved particularly durable, as can be seen in the extent to which the masonry has been replaced. 

A general view along the north elevation of St. Ann's church

A major restoration was undertaken from 1886 to 1891 by Alfred Waterhouse and there are various phases of more modern repairs, in the 1950’s which were considered to be very unsatisfactory, with the last being completed in 2012

A restored doorway

The dark purplish Collyhurst sandstone has not been easy to match for restoration work and several stones have been used over the years – with bright red sandstone from Runcorn and the red and mottled Hollington stone, both of Triassic age, being the best geological match; however, buff and pale brown Upper Carboniferous sandstones from Darley Dale in Derbyshire and Parbold in Lancashire respectively have also been used. 

Red sandstone from Runcorn used in the restoration of the apse

I really didn’t have the time to look at any of the stonework in detail, but some of the most recent restoration has a distinctive pink colour, with darker bands, and is apparently from the Matlock area – suggesting that this is Hall Dale stone. 

A view of the interior of St. Ann's church

Looking quickly at its interior, apart from some marble in the floor of the chancel, there is not much of interest for the geologist and, with time moving on, I stopped to take a photo of the Boer War Memorial in St. Ann’s Square and then walked quickly down to Manchester Cathedral. 

The Boer War Memorial in St. Ann's Square

Quickly looking at its exterior, I didn’t see anything that obviously interested and me and, popping my head inside to see that a charge is made for taking photographs – albeit a small one – I decided to leave this for another day. 

Manchester Cathedral

At the end of a sweltering Friday, it seemed that everyone in Manchester was preparing for a good weekend and, after briefly taking advantage of the Wetherspoons on Picadilly myself, I continued to Manchester Picadilly Railway Station – where there is a wonderful World War I memorial – and then headed back home.

A war memorial at Manchester Picadilly railway station

Friday, 22 November 2019

Silk Scarves in Manchester

Modelling at Wortley Hall

Having had a few busy and productive months in the first half of 2019, my next day out, to Manchester, was prompted by numerous e-mails that I had been receiving over the previous few months from FashionablyInI presume that they had seen, via Social Media, my attempts to market a set of beautiful silk scarves that I had made for me, using images from my Glowing Edges Designs “Rock Art”, which is based on photomicrographs of rocks and minerals.
Back in 2001, when cataloguing more than 1500 minerals that were held in store by Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham – at a time when it had a dedicated art gallery space – I came up with the idea of a temporary display of their very best mineral specimens, combined with a few photomicrographs of rocks and minerals on the walls.
Making the most of the connections that I had made as the principal surveyor and former Chairman of the South Yorkshire RIGS Group, I used a few rolls of Fuji Velvia film in my first attempt at photomicrography – at the now defunct Department of Geology at Sheffield University. Although the manager, Steve Blackbourn, was very impressed with my ideas, news that the museum had been awarded National Lottery funds for its refurbishment was received days later, which prevented these from being put into practice.

Glowing Edges Designs on ceramics

Knowing that the response to my unique designs was extremely positive, I then had various images printed as framed photos, canvasses, wall tiles, ceramic coasters and associated tableware and even a design to decorate a ceramicised basalt table top – a speciality of the Catania region in Sicily - which I haven’t yet received, but is still marketed without my permission or payment to me on the Artesole website.

Uno tavolo in pietra lavica ceramizzata

A few years later, I was invited to take a stall at the Doncaster Art Market on a Saturday morning when, 10 minutes after the opening of the event, the heavens opened and it stayed like that for the rest of the day.

Glowing Edges Designs at the Doncaster Art Market

With nobody coming to Doncaster to buy their fruit and vegetables from the nearby traditional market, a very well-spoken woman in her 50's strode up to my stall out of the blue, pointed at one of my large Glowing Edges Designs and exclaimed “that should be a silk scarf”!

A Glowing Edges Design identified as being suitable for a silk scarf

I was once described by a friend as “having the fashion sense of Indiana Jones” and, without any experience or interest in the fashion industry and not having the financial resources, I didn’t act on these comments at the time.

A 4 metre length of Chiffon silk

The idea stuck in my head and four years later, following an aborted AA2A project with fashion students at Doncaster College, I had a 4 metre length of Chiffon silk digitally printed and cut and sewn by a local manufacturer. Although these were unsuitable for sale, the very positive reaction was such that I began to investigate this idea further. After all, Liberty of London – via the BBC's Britain's Next Best Thing – had been convinced that images of polished minerals could be turned into silk scarves that could be sold for a very good price.

An attempt at the sewing of Chiffon silk

I spent more than 6 months producing a formal Business Plan for a small business that would grow alongside other work that I had developed in Rotherham, based on my experience as a geologist, but a succession of let downs by various organisations and individuals took the wind out of my sails and brought this project to a standstill.

A set of Crepe de Chine silk scarves by Glowing Edges Designs

5 years after leaving my ideas on the back burner, I finally put these into action in the summer of 2017, when I had two sets of 12 new designs digitally printed on to Crepe de Chine silkwith a high quality hand rolled hem. Being based in Rotherham hasn't helped, with many promises of a sale coming to nothing, and more than 80% of my orders have come from abroad.

The FashionablyIn event in Manchester generally proved to be a disappointment for me because, except for a manufacturer from India who dealt only in large quantities, it turned out to be a gathering of a very limited number of small businesses that had little in common with me.

A reference from the former editor of Earth Science Ireland

Although things hadn’t turned out as envisaged, I still have faith in these beautiful scarves - which are still available directly from me or via my Etsy shop - and I just shrugged my shoulders and headed off in the glorious sunshine to explore Manchester. 

Enjoying the sunshine in Manchester

Sunday, 17 November 2019

St. Lawrence Hatfield - The Interior

A view up the tower

The exterior of St. Lawrence’s church in Hatfield, with its various building stones and styles of masonry, has plenty of geological and archaeological interest and I was hoping to see further evidence of the various phases of building in the interior. 

A view east along the nave

Unfortunately, the walls to the aisles, the nave and the spandrels between the arches to the arcades have all been plastered and I was therefore a bit disappointed not to be able to investigate this further. 

A general view of the north arcade

The arcades are considered by Pevsner to be C13 in date and they comprise circular piers with round abaci, with double chamfered pointed arches. The report for the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture refers to a plinth in the churchyard that matches one in the arcade, which is believed to be C12, but I didn’t notice any of these. 

A general view of the south arcade

Although the most ancient masonry was not visible, there are still some interesting features. The Norman west door has a double arch and, to the north side, there is the remains of the stairway to the Norman tower, which is in the form of a rounded projection from the wall. 

The west door and old staircase to the tower

Looking along the north aisle, a series of transverse arches span from the piers to the outer wall, which Pevsner thinks coincide with the late C15 building work. He further suggests that these may have been added for structural support but relating to the building of the tower and clerestory but, if this is their purpose, these should presumably also appear on the south aisle. Also, compared to the south aisle, where the window reveals show a very thick wall that is characteristic of Norman churches, the wall of the north aisle is very thin and indicates that the only C12 remains are those seen in the cobbled west end. 

Transverse arches along the north aisle

To the east of the aisles, large blocks of well squared dolomitic limestone are still visible in all of the walls but these aren’t generally of much archaeological interest. That said, the slender octagonal pier and arcade between the Lady Chapel and the chancel provide a good example of how the elegant Perpendicular Gothic style reflected a better understanding of the distribution of loads in the structure, compared to earlier periods

The arcade between the Lady Chapel and the chancel

The section of walling that separates the north transept and St. Catherine’s Chapel appears to show a remodelling of the arch between them, with a butted joint and a part of an arch providing evidence of this. Looking at the same wall from inside St. Catherine’s Chapel, the outline of this arch is much more pronounced and the stone used in the voussoirs is very different in colour

Views of the arch between the north transept and St. Catherine's Chapel

Also, when looking at the arcade to St. Catherine’s Chapel from the chancel, various discrepancies in the masonry are clearly seen, with the lower sections of walling being built in irregularly sized and shaped blocks and the upper sections built of larger rectangular blocks. 

Variations in masonry within the chancel

Various wall monuments are scattered around the transepts, chapels and chancel but the most interesting, from a geological point of view, is the C15 tomb chest with cusped lozenges carrying shields, which is placed against the north wall of the Lady Chapel. 

The tomb chest in the Lady Chapel

I didn’t examine it with a hand lens, or apply hydrochloric acid and scratch tests, but it is a very fine grained grey stone that reminds me of the side panels of the Daubeney tomb at St. Botolph’s church in Saxilby, Lincolnshire, which I thought was made from a muddy limestone quarried from the Lias Group.

A  detail of the Daubeney tomb in Saxilby

Friday, 15 November 2019

St. Lawrence Hatfield - The Exterior III

A detail of the west elevation of St. Lawrence's church

The oldest part of St. Lawrence’s church in Hatfield is its west end, and this has been attributed to the de Warenne family, descendants of William de Warenne who was awarded the Manor of Conisbrough after the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. 

The west end of St. Lawrence's church

The use of cobbles, as seen in the lowest section of the walling in the south aisle, is continued in the west elevation, where it forms the walls of the nave and both of the aisles - with the west door and various slit windows being typical of the C12

Various views of the west end of the north aisle

The cobbles are predominantly Coal Measures sandstones, with some very siliceous varieties that look like ganister and others that are distinctly reddened, and there is also Permian dolomitic limestone. They display roundness to varying degrees, with many being very angular in nature. 

Possible sources of cobbles in the Hatfield area

As with those seen at St. Oswald’s church in Kirk Sandall, it would need further fieldwork and petrographic analysis to determine their provenance. Within a few hundred metres to the north and north-east, there are small patches of Quaternary river terrace gravels that could be the source of field stones. Also, 3 km to the east, there is a low ridge of glaciofluvial deposits similar to those at Thorne and Lindholme, which could also be a source. 

The west door

The quoins, the surrounds and columns to the west door and window dressings are all built in dolomitic limestone from the Cadeby Formation, as is the walling in the principal elevations of both aisles. Unlike the limestone used in the C15 – which includes the masonry above the west door – this would have been undoubtedly brought from the Don Gorge, which was under the control of the de Warenne family. 

A detail of the capitals to the north side of the west door

The extent of the alterations in 1872 by Thomas Jackson and the restoration by Edwin Dolby in 1882 are not known, but the arch of the west door, the columns and one of the capitals have been renewed. The unrestored masonry is very plain and is in much better condition than that seen in the late C15 masonry at the east end, where softer beds have been differentially weathered and in places have developed cavernous decay

A general view of the north aisle

Moving round to the north aisle, the north elevation is built out of limestone in courses of various thicknesses, with frequent large blocks and a few cobbles. Unlike the south aisle, where the lowest part is built of cobbles, the north aisle has a very sturdy looking chamfered plinth built out of large blocks of limestone. 

Pisolitic limestone used in the plinth

Where weathered, it is seen to be strongly cross-bedded and has the form of a pisolite, a limestone that contains ooliths that are the size of peas, which I had seen only once - at Hooton Pagnell - when re-surveying the RIGS (Regionally Important Geological Sites) in Doncaster.

Geometrical tracery in the north aisle

The easternmost window of the north aisle is arched, with Geometrical tracery typical of the early C14, but the four other windows are square headed with tracery in the Perpendicular Gothic style, which was used from c.1350 onward.

A Perpendicular Gothic style window in the north aisle