Saturday, 11 May 2013

Going West


Re-writing this post from Guildford I am really aware of just how much travelling I've done of late. I wrote the draft in the Black Forest, editing from Guildford and the content relates to Bristol and Oxford. Such is the life of the nomad I suppose.

My many recent trips have highlighted several heritage-y thoughts.

Arnos Vale Cemetery: A Place to Remember
One morning myself and some friends visited an Art exhibition, the Bristol Blue Glass Shop (where we hoped to witness some glass blowing but alas twas not to be) and a cemetery. But not just any cemetery, this was the Arnos Vale Cemetery, 'a place to remember'. At Arnos Vale they have decided to let nature reclaim a disused Victorian churchyard, an intriguing take on remembering. One of the other ways they 'remember' is to host themed events such as a halloween gig on site. Seeing as people have been buried in the cememtery into the 90's such events might seem a tad incongruous to the living memories of the not-long-gone deceased. The stones that remain are a veritable catalogue of Bristolian personalities from the famous to the unknown. Their stones, nationalities, and works of note all point towards Victorian Bristol's industrial past - one stone even had a watermill represented on it! There were several references to Bristol's connections with the open sea, with Indians buried in Bristol and memorials to Bristolians buried in India. Funny how somewhere so regional (think accents) can have such an international impact...

Memorial Reclaimed

Watermill Grave

St Mary's Tower: A Higher Perspective on Heritage
The next day I ventured to Oxford and was indulged with both Byron burgers and an old church tower. You all know how I love to climb things (this might jog your memory) and St Mary's Tower was no different. Standing at more than 120 steps tall (noone wants to tell me its actual height but it felt less than Canterbury's 100ft) its worth the climb - on a clear day the reward is an impressive 360 degree panorama. The views chart much of Oxford's history from rolling countryside through Medieval, Tudor, Victorian and of course 1960's architecture. Whilst considering the sheer range I was reminded of the limitations of preserving whole living, breathing cities. What would the impact of preservation have been on Oxford if organisations had prevented development along the way. Some 2400 miles away in Mali the whole town of Djenne is UNESCO protected. Part of the legislation dictates that any buildings must be built in the traditional style (faced with mud, occasional tiling) and that's a tad problematic if regular rainfall washes all the mud away. I wonder what Oxford would look like if the same rules had been applied to that historic city?

Preservation in Djenne, force for good?

Next time: Freiburg & Guildford - twinned cities.