Monthly Archives: June 2017

27th June, 2017. Public Parks.

Public Parks and their history is a particular interest currently. Current research on the parks of Hull and recent publication (see Publications) on the Evolution of Baysgarth Park, Barton on Humber link to this interest. As with other studies of elements in the landscape, the objective is not just to discover facts on one example but also to set a template (or at least themes) by which comparisons can be made with other examples.

Parks have not always been public, far from it. Medieval parks were hunting parks, large areas of open wooded land reserved for the hunting exploits of the baronial landowner and/or his high status guests. For example immediately north of Beverley (or at least Molescroft) was once the hunting park of the Earls of Northumberland riding-out from their moated castle site at Leconfield  mostly to hunt deer but also ‘lesser game’. Henry VIII stayed and hunted here while on his Northern Progress of 1541 (reference my power-point presentation ‘Henry VIII’s Northern Progress, 1541, with reference to East Yorks. and north Lincs.). South of Beverley was the hunting park of the priors of Beverley Minster, this merging to ‘Cottingham Parks’, the hunting park of the lords of the manor of Cottingham. The above picture shows Beverley Minster, just visible centre left, viewed across the once area of Beverley Parks, this spanning the dip slope of this section of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Dr. Susan Neave researched and wrote a book on the Medieval Hunting Parks of East Yorkshire.

By the 17th century such areas were being given over to agricultural purposes within the parish.

In the 18th century ‘parkland’, that is the manipulation of the landscape around a private stately home in order to create an ideal landscape, visible from the house, which complied with the principles of landscape architects of the day, remained private to all but the landowner and their guests.

To be continued.

25TH June, 2017. Seeing the stars.

The telescope invented and constructed by Galileo (1564-1642) achieved a 30x magnification (about the same as a modern, medium-priced pair of binoculars), this enabling him to make ground-breaking discoveries about our solar system. Galileo had the advantages of a Mediterranean climate, little atmospheric pollution and minimal light pollution, compared to the 21st century.

Both Copernicus and Galileo retained their Catholic faith in the face of mounting opposition from the Church. However, as I was reminded by a brilliant recent tv programme, the Catholic Church has been responsible for a rich history of astronomical research with their modern powerful telescope sited at the Poe’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo in the Apennine foothills east of Rome.

Since 1990 the World’s knowledge of the Universe has been immeasurably increased by the images taken by the Hubble telescope, orbiting Earth every hour-and-a-half 300 miles above our planet’s surface. So what we cannot see it can – and much more.

The above picture is, according to Professor Brian Cox, Wonders of the Universe (1996, 55), ‘one of the most important pictures taken by Hubble Space Telescope … and shows some of the most distant galaxies’ (as pin-pricks of light).

23rd June, 2017. Seeing the Stars.

Have a new phone, a Sony android one, no idea about most of its capabilities but do know it has a good camera, 10+ megapixels I believe. However unlike my basic digital camera it doesn’t seem to have a zoom-lens capability. Zoom lens, to me, is like a simple optical telescope.

For thousands of years humans studied the ‘heavens’ without the aid of optical magnification. All sorts of evidence that early civilisations were very observant of the day and night skies, studying them perhaps more intently than the surface of the planet which just provided for their basic needs.

The only constellation (these being man-made constructs formed by arrangements of random stars when viewed from Earth) I ever learned to identify in the night sky was the ‘Plough’ (maybe reflecting agricultural origins (see Family History ‘Publication’). So how could early civilisations have been so informed about celestial things? One answer is that most human habitation in the 21st century is subject to a high degree of artificial light pollution (seen as a yardstick of technological progress) while another is that some climates result in more frequent cloud cover than others. Thinking people in the past then had an advantage.

The Polish canon of the Roman Catholic Church, diplomat and polymath (1473-1543) observed the ‘heavens’ without the aid of an optical telescope (invented later) but by careful observation and recording was able to come up with a heliocentric (Sun centre) concept of the Solar System as against the geocentric concept as promoted by Aristotle and in the Book of Genesis.

Galileo, also, like Copernicus, a devout Catholic also challenged a literal acceptance of Biblical text. Picture shows the telescope he made.

To be continued.

21st June, 2017. ‘Sammy’ squirrel and Felix Mendelssohn.

Currently walking dog along section of ‘Middlegate’ before breakfast, the section immediately west of the chalk quarry has overhanging trees on both sides. Like most dogs Molly chases squirrels when on the ground, but not only can they ‘gallop’ surprisingly fast they can also climb vertically up the tree-trunk and into the canopy, and, in the case of this section cross over to trees on the other side. Although an ‘invasive species’ and often known as a ‘tree rat’ evolution has been good to them in their abilities to escape those who would do them harm. Like the rest of us however they easily fall-prey to guns.

With today being the Summer Solstice (i.e. Sun overhead the Tropic of Cancer) it was nevertheless a coincidence that the cd I put on this morning was Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s comedy about fairies and elves. This he composed initially at the age of 17 (1826) and includes some delightful harmonies between orchestra, choir and soloist. Mendelssohn is classed as an early ‘Romantic’ composer and is particularly well known for orchestral works inspired by landscapes he witnessed.

19th June, 2017. Various.

With reference to blog of 15th June John Scotney has written about Joseph Hirst, Hull’s first City Architect, in the latest of Hull Civic Society’s Newsletters.

Went to Hornsea yesterday, both sea-front and Mere. Motor boat trip round the Mere to be recommended. Average depth of the Mere about five feet, water level maintained by natural stream flowing to the coast, this stream centuries ago almost certainly flowing into another mere which was later breached by the retreating coastline.

The landscaping of Wassand Hall as created in the early 19th century incorporates the south-west projection of Hornsea Mere. Wassand Hall, created for the Constable family, holds various open days and public events – see their website.

19th June, 2017. ‘Look up’, pt. 2.

‘Look up’ and see the cloudscape in the sky, take-in the changing vista, let your eyes and spirit rise up, almost certainly the exact sky-scape you see now will never be exactly replicated and may not have been witnessed by anyone else. Can make a science of it – Google ‘cloud’ and see photos of all the different types and/or join the Cloud Appreciation Soc. Personalise the sky-scape, ‘my favourite is …’ (cumulus mediocris, as it happens – see picture), ‘the one I hate is … (ten tenths stratus as it happens – genuinely depressing).

‘Look up’ at buildings and in the street-scape – variety of roof-lines, roofing materials, chimney stacks and pots and media-reception gadgetry.

‘Look up’ into the canopy of mature trees and begin to see the community living-out there each day.

‘Look up’ and (where possible) take-in the landscape, its shape, its colours and features therein such as houses and settlements, farms, fields and field boundaries, industries, coastlines, quarries, woodlands, transport routes and sources of power (eg high-tension power lines, wind turbines or solar panels). Identify/describe and then start to analyse.

‘Look up’ to those that respect you and not to those that don’t.

‘Look up’ to find out about stuff – the internet is a resource that would have seemed futuristic fiction 50 years ago, this while keeping an independent mind re the reliability of the evidence.

‘Look up’ – face-up – looking back I wish I had.