Arts Abroad – London, 4/26/2012 blog
Here in London on “Day Five” we have taken one of the most productive ventures we could have possibly taken. Meaning, the entire day seemed to teem with such a vast wealth of knowledge that I could scarcely take it all in. We met up with the tour guide, Barry, and started with a bus tour early in the morning. As the day progressed we took a tour of Oxford and several sites in the surrounding area. The architecture of Christ Church Cathedral was absolutely beautiful. The ornamentation and detail in the carvings, walls, and sculptures was rather unbelievable. I tend to favor gothic architecture more than some of the other movements like Baroque or Rococo. Perhaps it may just be so for the fact that it is more recognizable. I never have to guess at Gothic architecture as I do Federalist architecture. The architecture seems to vary dramatically within a very short amount of space. It’s amazing how just a look across the urban landscape from a high point of view, you could easily see all periods along the horizon line.
We then travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of the late, great Shakespeare. We visited his home (a replica, of course) and gathered some great information on him. I didn’t realize how valuable a profession glove-making was at that time. I suppose today’s ready availability of such articles of clothing has nearly made them superfluous. That, and there is the fact that the work of that day was much more strenuous on one’s hands than most of the work of today. We visited Shakespeare’s garden where we were treated to a few performances of Shakespeare’s works. Afterward, they asked me to recite one of my Dogberry monologues from Much Ado about Nothing. This was fun to bring back such a memorable character, but I had forgotten most of the lines unfortunately. The countryside was breathtaking and a nice break from the urban streets of London. The rolling fields with the traditional Shakespearean households made of oak and other local materials were truly a sight to behold. Afterward, we visited Warwick Castle. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the whole thing. The castle almost seemed to lose some of its majesty from being changed into more of an amusement park attraction – At first I wasn’t even sure if it was a real castle. I can understand they are targeting a younger juvenile audience, but the respect of the castle seems to be detracted from this renovation. The view from the towers of the castle was very broad and really gave a sense of what archers would have to face in battle. The cross-shaped windows seemed to provide the perfect limited opening for such battles. The narrow spiral staircases were encroaching and would certainly not bode well for those in bulky armor trying to get up in a hurry. The roaming peacock was an interesting attraction for us all.
It was a great experience that I will not forget about anytime soon. It was certainly one of the most visually stimulating days of the trip.