Doors of the UK – Church Doors

Our recent trip to the UK included visits to many older churches. One of our first stops was at the Kilmartin House Museum, located south of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. This museum displays some of the 5,000 years of human history in this area, and is well worth a visit. The Kilmartin Parish Church is next door to the museum. The purple church doors were attractive, while the sign “To the Stones” was intriguing. Alas, not the Rolling Stones, but the stones that were on display in the graveyard included a well-preserved collection of early grave slabs. Two late-medieval grave slabs with interesting geometric designs are illustrated here.

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Kilmartin Parish Church
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early 18th Century grave slabs

Travelling north-west from Oban we visited the island of Iona and the Iona Abbey.  The abbey is located on the site of the original monastery established by Columba, who arrived here from Ireland in AD 563. The Book of Kells was started by the monks of Iona, before they had to retreat to Ireland to escape Viking raids.

Next door to the abbey is St. Oran’s Chapel, a simple church structure that was orignally built around 1150. The Romanesque arched doorway is original, although the chapel was abandoned for 100’s of years, and was only recently restored at the same time as the abbey. Surrounding the chapel is Relig Odhráin (Gaelic for Oban), which is a graveyard that has been used for over 1,400 years. Iona is the symbolic centre of Scottish Christianity, and many Scottish kings have been buried in this graveyard.

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St. Oran’s Chapel
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St. Oran’s Chapel door

Hexham Abbey is another site of an early Anglo-Saxon monastery, founded in the old Kingdom of Northumbria in AD 674-8 by St. Wilfrid. The abbey is located in Hexham, England, in proximity to Hadrian’s Wall. The only remaining portion of the original monastery is the crypt, which is lined with stones recycled from a nearby abandoned Roman fort.

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the view from the crypt at Hexham Abbey

This is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of October 18. To see what other contributors have posted, check out Norm’s blog post here.

Doors of the UK – Holy Island

I have recently returned from a month of travels in the UK. In addition to the many new experiences we enjoyed on this trip, I have  a new collection of doors to share with others who participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors every week.

Holy Island – also known as Lindisfarne – is a tidal island located off the east coast of Northumberland. Being a tidal island means that it is accessible by car over a one-mile long causeway during low tides, but otherwise only accessible by boat. The Holy Island HM Coastguard is kept active by having to rescue motorists from their stranded cars when they attempt to make the crossing during high tides. About a dozen cars have been stranded during the summer months over the past three years.

The Holy Island Coastguard are a team of eight volunteers. Their all-terrain vehicle and equipment are stored in this shed, which is located near the harbour.

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Holy Island Coastguard shed

There are many boats in the harbour and along the shoreline, including several fishing boats. Some of the older boat hulls have been repurposed as sheds, such as this one with the lucky horseshoe on the door.

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fishing boat shed

Lindisfarne is best known as an important historic monastic site. The first monastery was founded here in 635 AD when King Oswald invited an Irish monk named Aidan to travel east from Iona to introduce Irish Christianity to the northern kingdoms of the resident Anglo-Saxons. A cult later developed around the relics of St. Cuthbert, who served as the bishop of Lindisfarne in the late 7th Century. The Lindisfarne Gospels were created by the monks of Lindisfarne in the early 8th Century, but Viking raids beginning in 793 reduced the prominence of the church on the island.

The church regained its stature on the island after the Norman conquest of 1066, and Lindisfarne Priory was constructed about 1150. In 1537, about 400 years later, the priory was closed on the orders of King Henry VIII, and was abandoned. The ruins of the priory are a popular tourist destination, and the site is managed by English Heritage. You can imagine that there may have been a pair of impressive doors located in the archway that now serves as the entrance to the priory grounds.

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Lindisfarne Priory

Old School Doors – Series 2

Central Technical School is located on Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The school was opened in 1915 as the Toronto School Board’s flagship technical school.

The front entry has some interesting features. There are three pairs of oak doors at the front entrance to the school. Above the doors is a stone archway with some carved features. These include two sculpted gargoyles that represent industry and science, or technical and academic, depending on how you wish to interpret the two educational streams.

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Central Tech main entry

Featured above the archway is the original City of Toronto coat of arms, with the motto “Industry, Intelligence, Integrity”. It is the only school in Toronto to display this coat of arms, because the school was fully funded by the municipal government. It is also an early version of the City’s coat of arms. The shield consists of four quadrants, depicting the following: three lions, alluding to the coat of arms of England; a beaver (a symbol of the City’s history for industry and activity); a ship; and a sheaf of wheat. Standing on either side of the shield are an indigenous chief, with an axe and a bow; and Britannia, bearing a trident. A crown and another beaver are positioned above the shield.

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Central Tech entry details

Some of the doors at other entrances are painted blue – the official school colours are blue and white.

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Central Tech blue doors

This is my second post dedicated to old school doors – to see my previous article, please check this link. Like all of my other posts on doors, this is my contribution for Norm’s Thursday Doors this week.

 

 

Doors of Happiness

I recently visited the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The AKM opened in 2014, and celebrates the arts of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.  The collection includes various artefacts and cultural objects that span from the eighth Century to the present.

The stated purpose of the Aga Khan Museum is that it will become “a centre of education and of learning, and that it will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

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the aga khan museum

Among the items on display I found and photographed three pairs of double doors, which are displayed here as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of July 12, 2018. There was no indication of the context in which these these doors were originally used, so they can only be admired for their design and craftsmanship.

The first pair of doors are from Northern Iran, and are very specifically dated to have been carved in the years 1486-1487 AD. In the Muslim calendar, this is equivalent to the year 892 H (Hijri). The geometric design is quite unique, especially when compared to contemporary arts and crafts design in Europe.

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Iranian doors, 1486-87

The second pair of doors originates in either Iran or northern India, from the late 18th or early 19th Century. The doors are embellished with carved and painted floral patterns around the edges of the frames and inner panels. The Persian inscription in cartouches at the top is translated to state:

Open the door of happiness for the owner of this door, opener of doors.

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doors of happiness

There is very little information provided about the third set of doors. They are constructed of wood, metal and mother of pearl, and probably originate from Gujarat, India, in the 19th-20th Century.

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pearly gates

A Visit to Stratford – Part 2

The evolution of the use of older church buildings is an interesting study topic. Originally built as places of worship during the early growth of towns and cities, churches were imposing structures funded and constructed by community members. Over time, as local congregations have moved on, and religion has lost some of its relevance, increasing numbers of church buildings have become surplus and may be re-purposed.

The church located at 70 Brunswick Street in Stratford is a good example. According to one source, it was originally named the Congregational Church when it was built in 1873-1874. Congregational churches comprised Protestant groups arising from Puritanism, and were organized on the principle that each congregation should be autonomous. Many congregational churches later joined with other churches in the creation of the United Church of Canada in 1925. At some point in time, this church was named the Mackenzie Memorial Gospel Church.

About 40 years ago, the church was re-purposed as The Church Restaurant, and offered fine dining to local residents and theatre goers. In 2015, the church and restaurant were sold to new owners, and the premises were renamed Revival House. There are three components: Revival, a street-level event space; Chapel, a second-floor gastro pub; and Confession, a small balcony VIP lounge. After the restaurant re-opened, a leak was discovered in the roof. A group of local musicians assisted the owners in organizing a fund-raising event to help pay for a new roof.

Community support to build the original church in the 1800’s has evolved into community funding for the repair of a restaurant and event space in the 21st Century! The new roof can be seen in the accompanying image.

The hinges on the front doors are also noteworthy. Apparently, the ironwork on the doors was crafted by workers at the Grand Trunk Railway, which later became the Canadian National Railway, at their shops based in Stratford.

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Revival House

During our visit, we found a door oddity on Wellington Street in downtown Stratford. This image of a horse (at least I think it is a horse and not a mule) could be attributed to an aspect of the history of the city: either as an “iron horse,” to early railway buffs; or a role in a Shakespeare play, as there are references to horses in several of the bard’s plays. I chose the latter. I also found this Shakespeare quote about a painted horse, which may or may not be relevant.

Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion’d steed,
His art with nature’s workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
So did this horse excel a common one,
In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone.

Perhaps another visit to Stratford is warranted to inquire into the origins of this door. For more encounters with doors, be sure to check out other contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors.

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the painted horse

Thursday’s Special – Traces of the Past Y4-01

I have been working on some images from a walking holiday along the Scottish Borders almost three years ago. By coincidence, these tie in nicely with this week’s Lost in Translation theme of Traces of the Past.

Paula Borkovic posted an image of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Just downstream along the River Tweed lies Dryburgh Abbey. The abbey is located in a secluded area and is somewhat off the beaten track.

Dryburgh Abbey was founded in 1150 and it was occupied for over 400 years.  It was established by a group of canons from Alnwick Priory in Northumberland, and became the mother house of the Premonstratensian order in Scotland [also known as the Norbertines or the White Canons elsewhere]. The abbey was closed following the Scottish Reformation, and the site remained abandoned until it was purchased in 1780 and converted into a landscape garden. The novelist Sir Walter Scott was buried here in 1832. Parts of the abbey are well preserved, and the daffodils are plentiful in the spring.

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Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland

Further to the south lies Jedburgh Abbey, which is in the centre of Jedburgh and located along the Jed Water. The abbey was founded by a group of French Augustinian canons at about the same time as Dryburgh Abbey. It was established in a prominent location in order to be close to the local king’s palace. This abbey also fell out of use after the Scottish Reformation of 1560, and it was partially dismantled for other purposes. A significant portion of the abbey church remains and is the most visible feature today.

I have been experimenting with the use of textures and other techniques in Photoshop to create a vintage look for these images. I hope that you enjoy them.

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Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland