Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Things I am learning from Visiting Castles

You may already know but I have the goal of building my own castle. It is part of the reason why I have been adventuring around America. I am visiting lots of castles and learning a lot about them, why they were built, how they were built, and what makes each of them unique.

It has been a wonderful learning process for me. And I have learned a lot. Let me give you an example.

Here is Grey Towers Castle in Pennsylvania. It’s a wonderful 100 year old castle. Yet pretty standard stuff when it comes to the castles in America.

But, I did discover something about this castle and gained a wonderful insight. You see, this castle is a bit unique, a little bit different than many of the other castles I have visited.

 

 

 

This castle has a wonderful network of narrow paths and secret areas around back. You can go for a walk in a charming wooded area just outside the castle. And in this area is a group of secret and intimate little spots like a covered gazebo a small fish fountain and some little buildings. It is just wonderful!! So, when I build my castle I am going to have an area just outside the castle like this. It is perfect for having intimate little gatherings of friends, maybe have dinner outside or a barbeque and drinks.

Want to learn more about Grey Towers Castle?   

Here are some pictures of intimate little areas around the castle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ascending into the Cloisters

There is only one museum in America devoted specifically to the Medieval Period. It is “The Cloisters” in New York City. And it is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This museum was designed from the ground up with the Medieval period in mind.  And that is a big thing. Even the architecture is medieval inspired.  This was very carefully thought out by the architects. So, not only does it house medieval works of art the building itself is a medieval work of art.

Some of the structure was actually purchased from medieval buildings in Europe, shipped across the ocean and incorporated into the cloisters.

So, to the point of my blogpost. “Ascending into the Cloisters”.

 

 

In the Medieval period the Catholic religion was very strong. It was the basis and inspiration for much of the building and much of the art.  The Church was a powerful and wealthy organization going through strong growth.  This growth and strength manifested itself in various arts including illuminated manuscripts, stained glass windows, enamels and of course architecture.

And in the cloisters I want to discuss one very important piece of it: “The entrance”.  You see that nothing in a building is by happen stance or by chance. Everything is carefully designed and for a reason. And that’s why the entrance is so unique.

To get into the museum proper you  have to go up this long and quiet corridor. You ascend quietly into the museum. And there is a spiritual aspect to this. You are transitioning from the outside world to the quiet, religious and contemplative world of a cloister.

 

It’s really quite a remarkable thing and as you are climbing these stairs you feel different. There is an ambiance and feeling to this length of corridor.

It works and it is a testament to the brilliance of the architects for really getting the feel of the medieval period.

Want to see more of the cloisters? I have pictures on my website right here: The Cloisters

While browsing around an old bookstore in New Orleans

I am on a journey around America. I am visiting all 48 states and seeing a whole lot of sights. And while in New Orleans I found an old bookstore. It was a great little place with a lot of old books. And I discovered this set of three books:

 

 

 

 

 

I almost didn’t pull them down off a high shelf. There is no telling how long they were sitting there. And the spines were damaged so the title of the books is missing. It was simply a look to see. I figured nobody would bother to look at them. The title pages are missing on the inside so it’s almost impossible to know the titles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And much to my surprise they were wonderful books! Just my kind of thing. And one of the books has a yellow post it note inside:

 

So, I am guessing that the name of the book is Decorative Antiquities to illustrate a variety of design details.  And in three volumes.

 

And the books are full of illustrations. Simply that, lots of illustrations.

 

There are towers, cartouches, cariatides, columns, caissons and much more… wood carvings, candelabras, stairways, human figures, statues and much much more. It is a wonderful set of reference books. And perfect for me considering the fact that I am building a castle!

One of the wonderful things about traveling is that you run into unexpected little surprises of every type, food, entertainment, interesting people, new scenery and even mysterious little book stores. Yup, good to see America still has mysterious little book stores.