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Tony Grist

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Artificial Sunlight [Oct. 17th, 2019|11:26 am]
Tony Grist
I look out the window and think I'm seeing sunshine but I'm not; what's happened is that a whole bunch of leaves on the maple have turned yellow overnight.
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Thaxted 3 [Oct. 17th, 2019|10:55 am]
Tony Grist
St John, Thaxted was assembled between 1340 and 1445- with the tower and spire a late 15th century addition. Thaxted was a wealthy town in the later middle ages- and it shows. One of the porches was the gift of Edward IV and the other was the gift of the Duke of Clarence.







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Thaxted 2 [Oct. 16th, 2019|09:22 am]
Tony Grist
… The actual story goes like this...

"In 1914 (Noel) had the flags of the allies in church and along with it the red flag of the International and on it the words "He hath made of one blood all nations." It was during the miners strike of 1921 that someone objected to the red flag and removed it. Conrad replaced it. It was pulled down again by students from Cambridge. He put up another higher in the church and had it guarded night and day. But later a Church Consistory Court ordered its removal. He then said defiantly from the pulpit 'That flag has been removed but the preaching will go on.'"

I'm quoting from a radio talk by Jack Putterill, Noel's curate, son-in-law and successor as vicar of Thaxted. Putterill carried on the good work and hit the headlines in 1963 for instructing his parishioners to pray for the soul of Joseph Stalin...

The Thaxted tradition was (probably still is) big on processions- with robes and banners and swinging thuribles- and the lay out of the church- with its broad side aisles- is ideal for the purpose. The windows are blessedly free of Victorian stained glass- and I can't think of another English church that is quite so full of natural light...





Portrait bust of Conrad Noel by Gertrude Hermes

To be continued...
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Thaxted 1 [Oct. 15th, 2019|09:42 am]
Tony Grist


Thaxted is in Essex, up close to the Suffolk border. It's one of the loveliest villages in England, and has one of the loveliest churches. But we'll come to that in due course...

Thaxted is also the name of a tune...

It's one of the great tunes- the radiant, open-hearted, slow melody of the second half of Holst's "Jupiter"- from the Planets Suite.

The tune was too good and singable not to have words set to it- so along came the lyricists- headed by imperial sentimentalist Cecil Spring Rice whose "I Vow To Thee My Country"- became a staple of school assemblies and girl guide jamborees and featured in the wedding of the century between Charles Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. It acquired the name Thaxted when Holst's friend Ralph Vaughan Williams included it in a collection of hymn tunes that came out in 1926. Hymn tunes need names; I don't know why. I guess it's easier for the vicar to tell the organist to "give us Thaxted", than to "give us the one that goes Pom pom-pom ti pom pom…"

Why Thaxted? Because Holst was living there at the time- and working alongside the vicar- Conrad Noel- who was doing all he could to turn the village into a maypole- dancing, William Morrisy, rural people's paradise. Legend says he flew the red flag from the steeple. If only that were true...

To be continued....
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Norwich Cathedral [Oct. 14th, 2019|11:37 am]
Tony Grist
Norwich is my favourite cathedral. The carcass is Romanesque (my preferred architectural style) but with Gothic add-ons- like the superb stone vault- replacing a wooden roof that went up in flames- that look like they were always meant to be there. Other cathedrals meld the two styles (in fact most of them do to some extent) but nowhere is the marriage happier than here.

I took so many photographs. Here are a few...



A section of the nave- the Normans and the late medievals working together as if the three centuries that separate them were of no account.



A section of the ambulatory behind the high altar



The presbytery and high altar



A view down the south aisle, with coloured light flooding in through 20th century glass.
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Yesterday Evening... [Oct. 13th, 2019|11:37 am]
Tony Grist
I went upstairs to wish my mother good night, fill her hot water bottle, all that sort of thing and she fixed me with an accusatory stare and asked me why she hadn't had her breakfast yet.
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Unusual Dog [Oct. 13th, 2019|08:57 am]
Tony Grist
Last night's dream sequence featured a dog with a human head. The head was from the 1930s with brillantined hair and a neat moustache. I was explaining to whoever else was there that I quite liked the dog. Otherwise I was thinking of joining a comedy troupe.
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Dead Wood [Oct. 12th, 2019|10:40 am]
Tony Grist
I used to be mad keen on bonfires; these days I think of all the carbon I'd be releasing into the atmosphere and hold my hand.

I started building a great pile of fallen wood in the top field earlier this year. Will I eventually set fire to it? Never say never...but...another way of looking at it is as a habitat.

The great log that Matthew rolled into a corner of the bottom field a few years back- which I've used as a seat when it wasn't sopping wet (it commands a great view of the Weald and North Downs) is sprouting some wonderful fungii. Bright orange it is/ they are; Is it one entity or many? Both, of course....
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Abstract [Oct. 11th, 2019|12:57 pm]
Tony Grist
I can sort of remember the dream I emerged from this morning- but then again I can't because it was abstract- and didn't make a great deal of sense on this plane of existence though on another one it might...

It concerned patterns being reconfigured to make them youthful. It was a happy dream.
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Wind, Rain, Wasps [Oct. 11th, 2019|11:01 am]
Tony Grist
I shut the bathroom windows last night to keep the wind from making the door creak but the wasps got in anyway. There were four or five of them fussing at the glass this morning. My mother's carer called me in to help her deal with them. She trod on one and I opened a window and eased the others out. I don't like killing them if I can help it; not that it matters much at this time of the year when they're on their last legs anyway...

It was a stormy night and this morning it's raining.
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