Monday Photo

All Quiet on the North Bucks Front


Lodge Plugs factoryThe Lodge Plugs WW2 shadow factory, Olney.

Folks, I'm taking a break from the Wanderer. I'll be back next week but there are quite a few posts in the planning stage, with research and/or pictures to be finished. In the meantime, here's a few photos from the archives of the Monday Photo. Please click on the links if you want to learn more about the photos.

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The Queen

The Queen  Buddhist temple.

The Monday Photo

At the Buddhist temple in Willen, Milton Keynes, these two pictures of the Queen are arranged as a small shrine.

The small photo in the white frame is from the opening of the Civic Offices, in 1979. Monks presented the Queen with a statue of the Buddha.

I burned incense in her memory at this shrine on Wednesday. Today, of course, is her funeral.

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Light Relief

Peace Lanterns

The Monday Photo

These are peace lanterns, all lit and ready to go; just some of the 200 lanterns that were pushed out on to North Willen Lake on Hiroshima Day, 6th August.

I know this was a few weeks ago, but this picture had to join the queue of Monday photos, and also this ain’t no news blog.

The ceremony, held by the monks and nuns of the Peace Pagoda and Buddhist temple at Willen, starts at the pagoda as the sun sets. Then as darkness fell the lanterns are all carried down to the lake side, where temple volunteers take them out on to the water.

I used to be a regular volunteer at the temple, and I’ve had a hand in all the stages of lantern construction.

I’ve seen the design evolve over the years. Over a dozen years ago we were using tea lights to illuminate the lanterns, but found their light was too low down.

Now the lanterns use half a candle, just the right length to put the flame half way up the lantern. The old empty tea lights are there to prevent the base getting scorched. If you look closely you can see blackening on a couple of the lanterns, but those are very old bases.

Origami
The four origami peace cranes on the top corners are a fairly new innovation; this year just one volunteer made them for all 200 lanterns.

The bases are made to suit a particular size of tissue paper. In the weeks before the ceremony it’s not unknown for a temple visitor to find themselves decorating the lantern tissue.

Every year as the day approaches the bases are dragged out of storage to be inspected and counted; every year a few have to be replaced. It’s a surprisingly quick job to knock out a batch of new bases to bring the number back up to 200. The shrine room in the temple gets filled with lanterns in various stages of construction, and just in time the lanterns are ready.

The day after the ceremony temple volunteers borrow the Parks Trust’s boat. They spend hours on the lake finding all the lanterns. The bases are cleaned and left to dry so they can go back in storage, ready for next year.

As you can see there’s far more to the Hiroshima Day Ceremony than just turning up, and it’s the same with many other events when most of the work is done by volunteers.

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering in your local area. While the Peace Pagoda wouldn’t mind a few more volunteers, there are plenty of other places too in North Bucks. It wouldn’t be too hard to find volunteering work in a field you are interested in, and there’s the socialising part of it too.

Since you are reading this blog, you might like to do something at your local museum. Give it a try!

If you find volunteering not for you, not to worry; this being England, you’ll at least get tea and biscuits…

This post's photo waas taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

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Consider the Lilies

Consider the Lilies  Granborough church chancelThe firm of Clayton & Bell were making stained glass for church windows between at least 1450 and 1920, but nobody knows how old this Clayton & Bell one is. It does seem to be Victorian, and as there is no named benefactor I would guess that the glass was installed when the church was restored in 1880.
“Consider the Lilies” is from The Sermon on the Mount.

The Monday Photo

This small window is set quite low down in the chancel of Granborough’s 14th Century St John the Baptist church. It’s probably as old as the Decorated period church and is a lowside window.

Lowside windows, introduced in the 13th Century, are a bit of a mystery. They are always in the chancel, and nearly always found in the South wall at the end nearest the nave. They are always at low level; this example’s lower edge is below waist height.

Originally lowside windows had some sort of opening shutter in the bottom half. The most popular theory is that the shutter was opened during the service so that the small sanctus bell could be rung at certain points in the ceremony. There is little evidence to suggest this, but at least it’s a possibility.

Other theories like the one that think they are “leper windows” to let the afflicted hear the service without being in the church, are mere supposition.

I wonder if these windows were placed there for reading and writing before the days of artificial lighting, but now I need to look at quite a few of them to gather evidence for or against my theory.

Why don’t you have a look at this one and maybe some others and see what you think?

This post's photo was taken with a Sony A6000 camera and lens.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

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Change of Use

Church toilet window

The Monday Photo

Over the centuries the way churches are used has changed, and one recent common change is to make them more suitable for general community use, alongside services and ceremonies for births, marrriages and deaths.

In this case a corner of Lavendon’s church of St Michael has been converted into a toilet, which is why we see a 13th Century window with some ordinary household items under it. I'm seeing toilets added to churches more and more now.

This facility also makes things a bit more comfortable for the more elderly members of the congregation. The diagonal pullcord on the left side of the photo is to summon help if somebody gets into difficulties, perhaps more likely to happen if some of the parishioners are becoming infirm.

There will be a full post on this church, which dates back to Saxon times, at some time in the future.

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Zigging and Zagging at the Church

Stewkley church  Bucks

The Monday Photo

Chevrons are perhaps the most well recognised decoration in Norman buildings. This is St Michael’s church, Stewkley and it has many of them.

The church was built around 1150; masons, men not too different from us, built this church over 870 years ago. Chevrons or zig-zags are both the earliest and the most common decoration in Norman work, and there are two styles in this photo.

The horizontal string course has a double row of simple chevrons, with one row offset from the other. But around the windows there is just one row of more complex layered chevrons. These are very similar if not identical to mouldings on the West front of the church. 

There’s just the right amount of decoration in the church, somehow lightening the effect of the heavy masonry; imagine this scene with no mouldings. There’s another string course at the same height on the outside of the building.

This church, hardly altered over the centuries, shows an integrated design that gets lost when later alterations to churches (typically side aisles and larger windows) are made.

St Michael’s is one of just three Norman churches in this country that retain their original plan, in this case of a nave, a chancel under a central tower, (common on Norman churches) and beyond that a sanctuary.

This church is open every day between 9 am and 5 pm. If you'd like a foretaste, there's a more detailed post on St Michael’s church, Stewkley on the North Bucks Wanderer.

This post's photo was taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links like this one, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

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