Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dec. 20 - 21: Warwick

We arrived in Warwick, England by train this past Wednesday night.

Martin's brother and his wife collected us at the station at 9:08pm. We greeted the English Spaniels, Poppy and Rosie, had dinner, chatted a bit and went to bed. Our nephew arrived the next evening, and we all attended a Christmas party a few steps down the street.

I had some interesting conversations with people who travel quite a bit: some spoke about invitations to Warwick Castle, just a few meters down hill to the right, when the castle plans special events as part of their 'good neighbor policy'. A second conversation was with a man about his upcoming fishing excursion in BC. He was a jolly sort with rosy cheeks and a resonant voice who has traveled quite a bit in America and other parts of the world.

Next Martin and I engaged in a long and fascinating conversation with John, a Warden of St. Mary's Collegiate Church, which is situated just left of the front door and up the hill a few meters. John gave us a great behind the scenes look at major restorations that have, and are, taking place either due to age, or previous repairs completed during the Victorian era before they understood the devastating effects that the materials used would cause over time.

Two stone angel carvings fell off the west wall of the interior near the gift shop, luckily when no one was around. The building inspectors were called in and discovered that the blocks of stone were melting away due to repairs completed over 100 years before, which trapped water in the stones instead of allowing it to run off.

New sandstone blocks were cut from the same quarry as the existing ones. Stone masons had to be found, and those with the knowledge to complete a job of this nature are few and far between. One of the two masons carved a replica of a Madonna and Child sculpture that had all but eroded away. The mason was able to work from the original drawings completed for that sculpture. 

Then one day they walked into The Beauchamp Chapel, where Robert Dudley is buried, and water covered the floor. Further investigation uncovered a leaking roof and rotting beams so deteriorated that in another six months the roof would have collapsed.

When they went up onto the roof, they discovered boot prints in the lead.
Who knew that well over 100 years ago, the men laying in this roof were required to place their boot print in the molten lead and sign and date it! John was amazed to see how small the size of the boot prints were. I would love to see those shoe prints.

Weather here is much warmer than Paris. I don't mind that, but I do miss hearing and speaking my bad French.

I attach photos of the church and one of  the double French school desk that I sat at in a small bar our last night in Paris. I felt very happy there writing cards and chatting in French with the young barman about a bust of a famous French chess player.

Goodnight, from our English bed in a beautifully restored 300 year old, 17 room restored home of elegance. 

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