smokingboot: (Default)
A chum and I did something just a bit wonderful last night. We bimbled down to Lincoln's Inn Fields around 4.30, waiting for this:

A gentleman in a fine old hat warned us that though the Soanes Museum closes at 5 to reopen at 6, this candlelit viewing of John Soanes' house is always very popular, and if we didn't queue early, we would be waiting for hours. We didn't pay that much heed. Lincoln's Inn Fields is so very pretty as dusk falls into dark, and the windows light up across the centuries. There are snowdrops under the trees, first I've seen this year. We wandered through arches, and found slabs under which lost laywers lie. Then we returned to Soanes house at about 4.45, to find over 40 people waiting.

God, god, how cold did it get as we waited! The man in the hat did not exaggerate...the queue went beyond our sight and round the corner. One might wonder if it was worth all the while in the freezing dark. I couldn't feel my feet. Then they let us in, small groups at a time, and I didn't wonder any more.

I suppose there is an argument against seeing a museum by candlelight. After all, you will obviously miss certain details. But the atmosphere is so evocative, and the Soanes Museum is unlike others; it's basically a townhouse, whose owner had the kind of wealth that enabled him to knock out walls and ceilings in order to position awkward antiquities just so. At points it becomes a strange temple to many gods. Then it seems that the whole thing folds in on itself along tiny corridors, surrounded by courtyards and demi-rooms all lit by magic. In one, a nymph stared out for all the world as though she had just seen us. Through another we could just make out a memorial engraved with the words 'Alas Poor Fanny'*. Apollo Belvedere strutted his stuff, proving that even sun gods can benefit from shadows playing on their abs, Diana of the Ephesians smiled above her necklace of testicles/breasts, bronze Chinese lions danced in the flicker, gargoyles played on the walls and King Seti's sarcophagus lay there glowing.

We left the candlelit museum happy and ready for something to warm us; a glass of ginger wine in the nearby Ship Tavern proved just the ticket. This is Imbolc time, called Candlemass by many. It was a beautiful way to celebrate.

*Fanny, it transpires, was the family doggie.
smokingboot: (whitepeacockopen)
A post for my scrapbook of the beautiful and bizarre, x-posted to [profile] 19th_century.

This chapel is quite extraordinary. It's got a touch of every influence you expect from the artistic imagination of Victorian England: Pre-raphaelite, Celtic, Egyptian and Indian all created by Mrs Watts, herself a curiously true-to-form Gaskellian archetype: a hardworking lady philanthropist/devoted wife/social liberal reformer/spiritualist determined to express herself through her visions and help the poor away from 'the gin palaces of Guildford' at the same time.

The Watts Chapel link is rich in info but poor on pictures, which is why, fascinating though it is, it's the last link I have added. When [profile] the_lore introduced me to the chapel I had no camera so I apologise for relying on other people's images.

Watts Chapel outside, inside and web page )

Still not writing what I want to write. That may have to wait till night time. Must try not to fall asleep.


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