09 September 2019

East Sussex : Harebeating Mill


This is really the story of a mill that isn’t. Like many former windmills these days, Harebeating Mill, in Hailsham, is no longer a functioning mill; in fact, it’s not even a mill but a private house, with only the round brick base still remaining. The wooden upper storeys, while echoing in their style the original lines of the mill, are a thoroughly modern addition.


And even that brick roundhouse is not in its original location. The publication Hailsham in old picture postcards (M. Alder, European Library, Netherlands, 1984) includes an old photo of the windmill with the following caption:

This post mill, known as Kenwards or Upper Mill, was in a field at the rear of the Methodist Church. In August 1869 it was bought by Robert Thomas Martin and four months later the miller, John Grove Kenward, became enmeshed in the machinery and was killed. Mr. Martin was extremely distressed by the accident and he more or less gave away the windmill on the understanding it was taken down and removed. So it passed into the ownership of George Weller who dismantled and re-erected it on top of a two-storey roundhouse at Harebeating Lane, renaming it Harebeating Mill. The four shuttered sweeps had a span of over seventy feet. The sweeps were removed in 1918 and in 1934 the smock tower collapsed. The brick roundhouse, however, still survives.

Copyright prevents me from including any old images here but, for the curious amongst you, there are several online on the Mills Archive website. There’s a particularly good image taken around 1918 here, and a photo here from the 1940s-50s, by which time the mill was in a very dilapidated state.  


As you might expect, when I recently walked down Harebeating Lane to see this former mill, I also wondered about the name ‘Harebeating’. The residents obviously believe it relates to the mammal and have taken it to heart: one of the farms is named after it, there were sculptures of hares sitting on cottage windowsills, and two of the houses sported images of hares on weathervanes on their rooftops.


Online research wasn’t producing any answers so I asked on Twitter if anyone knew the origin of ‘harebeating’. One local birder tagged a few other birders in the local area and they all wondered, as I had, if the term referred in some way to hare coursing, the now-illegal blood sport where dogs were used to hunt down hares.


Fortunately, one of the birders also referred me to Richard Goldsmith, of the Hailsham Historical & Natural History Society, and Richard has been extremely helpful. Even more fortunately, Richard doesn’t believe the name harebeating has anything to do with hare coursing or, indeed, anything to do with hares. He was able to tell me that ‘The map of 1812 drawn to record the “Wastelands of Michelham Park Gate” shows its name as “Herring Green”’, though he warns that may have been the map maker’s interpretation of what he was told in very broad Sussex!

Richard went on to provide me with this explanation of the name from Judith Glover’s book Sussex Place Names (Countryside Books, Newbury, 1997):

Sussex has some unusual looking names, and Harebeating is surely one of the more curious. Its history is a little odd too, because it actually began as the name of a place some ten miles away at Piddinghoe, recorded during the sixteenth century as Harpetinge – alias “Harpingdene at Piddinghoo”. The place is now lost, but it was originally the tribal territory of a Saxon group called the Herebeorhtingas – Herebeorht’s people. The Domesday book lists it in 1086 as Herbertinges, and in 1211 it’s Herebertingas. By the time it became extinct, the name had become Harpingden, and the original tribal Harebeating form already transferred to what had been part of its manor lands since the Norman Conquest.

As Richard said in his email, this ‘is probably the nearest we are going to get to the original meaning of the name Harebeating.’ My sincere thanks to Richard for his assistance in trying to discover the source of this fascinating name, and to the local tweeters who offered suggestions and pointed me in Richard’s direction.



29 August 2019

Bandstands : Penarth


Penarth is privileged to have two bandstands though one of them isn’t really a bandstand, more of a shelter from the rain or a covered place to sit. Let’s start with that one, which is in Penarth’s Alexandra Park.


This structure was installed in 1994 and actually replaced a wooden shelter that had previously stood in the same position but had been removed sometime in the 1950s.


The new construction is certainly elegant – I like the fine lines of its supporting posts but, unfortunately, it is no substitute for the original bandstand that once stood slightly further down the sloping site. You can see an old postcard of the original bandstand and wooden shelter on the Penarth Dock website here and a couple more old images on the same website here – note the amazing view at that time: it has since been obscured by growing trees and tall beach-side apartment buildings.   



The only real bandstand remaining in Penarth is the Victorian structure, shown above, in Windsor Gardens. Amazingly, it is the original bandstand, which probably explains why it is looking rather shabby these days.


The Penarth Parks website provides little information about this structure, except to quote an extract from the 1903 publication Mate’s Illustrated Penarth (W. Mate & Sons, Bournemouth):

There is a fine band stand, or shelter, and occasionally al fresco concerts are given, and sometimes of an evening the Gardens are gaily illuminated.

So, I looked back through the old Welsh newspapers to try to find more information. I found a reference to a Penarth Local Board meeting, held on 3 April 1894, at which a request for a band stand to be erected on the Promenade, made by the Cardiff Military Band, was considered and rejected. But, obviously, some people thought the idea had merit because I then came across the advertisement (shown at right), in the Barry Docks News of 20 July 1894, just 3½ months later.

The Windsor Gardens bandstand was duly opened on 25 July 1894. Here’s the following day’s rather brief report from the South Wales Daily News:

ILLUMINATION OF THE WINDSOR GARDENS, PENARTH.
GRAND MILITARY CONCERT.
Through the courtesy of Col. H. 0. Fisher, the band of the 2nd Glamorgan Artillery Volunteers, under the able oonductorship of Mr Paul Draper, gave a first-class military concert Wednesday night, in the Penarth Gardens. The occasion was the opening of new band stand, which is octagonal in shape, 20ft. in diameter, copper roofed, and recently erected by Lord Windsor, at a cost of £200. There were quite 1,500 to 1,600 present to witness the fairy-like appearance of the grounds, which were magnificently illuminated by Richardson and Company, Cardiff, with thousands of coloured lamps and Japanese lanterns. It is intended to continue a weekly (Wednesday) series of promenade concerts.

It almost sounds like the illuminations were more newsworthy than the band music, and, indeed, the trend for romantic illuminations continued. This is from the Penarth Chronicle and District Advertiser of 10 August 1895:

A RARE MUSICAL ATTRACTION.
It has been left to private enterprise, in which however, the Estate has made important concessions, to give a fillip to the town's attractions by the series of nightly concerts now taking place in these charmingly situated grounds. To get Penarth to take an interest in herself is almost a Gargantuan undertaking, and it is therefore but a verification of this fact that these concerts have hitherto been but sparsely attended. There is nevertheless a rare musical treat nightly provided, and one has only to go once, to wish to go again. The artistes are of undeniable distinction in the musical world, the proof whereof it is easy and withal pleasant to verify by going to hear them.
On Bank Holiday, the weather unfortunately precluded a large attendance, but on Wednesday the numbers were more gratifying. The Orchestra gave magnificent renditions ... interspersed by solo singing by Miss Kate Hullett, G.S.M., whose classic and soulful rendering of "Kathleen Marvour neen” (amongst others), evoked pleasing applause. This soprano, although unused to al fresco singing, is heard quite 150 yards away and has a beautifully timbred, resonant, rich and mellow voice. The instrumental executants, par excellence, are Master Wm. H. Holden, and Master Chas. Holden, whose unique performances on the violin and cornet, respectively, are worth going a long way to hear.
To heighten the attraction, portions of the gardens are illuminated with fairy lamps, and guaranteed propitious atmospherical conditions, promenaders cannot fail to be charmed by the sense of sound and sight. The former almost goes without saying, and the latter is assured by the marine panorama below of gliding lights and shimmering waters. Such was it on Wednesday at any rate ...
If, then, any sentimental lad or lassie wish to test the veracity of this picture, let them hie themselves thither; and if the staid paterfamilias and his spouse desire to conjure up the courting days of yore let them also thither go – but, remember, Luna must be shining. Failing this fickle luminary one will then be repaid by the stars in the bandstand. Knowing the exclusiveness, the cliqueism and the setism of Penarth, the promoters of these Concerts have wisely determined not to impinge upon these idiosyncrasies and so have charged threepence for admission.


These days the bandstand is rarely used for its original purpose – in fact, such events are so rare as to be newsworthy: here’s a link to an article in the Penarth News of 12 July 2014, reporting on a concert being held ‘after a gap of many years’. It seems such a shame to me that this wonderful old bandstand isn’t better maintained and used – I rather fancy the idea of promenading through gardens illuminated by fairy lamps while listening to magnificent musical renditions.

23 August 2019

East Sussex : Rottingdean Windmill


On Wednesday 15 August my friend Jill and I set off on a walk to Rottingdean Windmill – its silhouette can just be seen on the hill in the top left of my photo. We could actually have parked much closer but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we parked near Brighton Marina and walked along the undercliff path to the charming little town of Rottingdean.


After recharging our batteries with tea and cake, we enjoyed a stroll around the town (taking a turn in Rudyard Kipling’s walled garden, marvelling at the Burne-Jones stained glass windows in St Margaret’s Church). From the village green, we could see the windmill on the horizon – time to climb that hill!


We huffed and puffed up a very steep Rottingdean street, turned a corner and there across the meadow of the Beacon Hill Nature Reserve was the mill.


Built on Beacon Hill in 1802, this smock mill ground corn into flour until sometime in the 1880s but, as you can tell from the fact that its sweeps are now empty, it no longer functions. The sweeps are turned from time to time though, as part of the regular maintenance of the building. The old photo of the mill is taken from the signboard at the site - I like how the figure of the man in the doorway gives an idea of the mill's size.


Although this sign on the side of the mill says that William Nicholson’s drawing of this windmill became the colophon for the Heinemann publishing company, that may not necessarily be true. The Rottingdean Preservation Society now looks after this structure and on their website (which provides a detailed history of the mill), it states that the Heinemann logo actually shows a post mill, whereas this is a smock mill - the silhouette is different


A couple of closer shots of the mill structure. The mill is made of wood that has been covered with tar to protect it against the weather.



We continued our walk along the trails that run through the nature reserve. Looking back towards the mill, you can see how close to the sea it is, and how exposed the site is to wild winds and stormy weather. It’s a testament to the Preservation Society that ‘well over 100 years since it last ground corn for the village, this mill still remains a landmark for all to see and enjoy.’



15 August 2019

Bandstands : Cardiff


While researching this piece about Cardiff’s two remaining bandstands, I was amused to uncover this newspaper article, from the Cardiff Times 13 August 1904, in which local councillors were reported to be arguing over where the bands should play:

“Wardism."
The Parks Committee's recommendations that for the next week bands should play only at the Roath Park, Victoria Park, and the Llandaff Fields was vigorously contested. Councillor Roberts urged the claims of Splott, and moved that one of the bands play there instead of at Llandaff Fields; whereas Councillor Kidd declared that if any were made Loudoun-square must be considered. Councillor Chappell said the bands were placed at points on the tramway line which had proved most profitable to the tramways. The sum available for bands was now wasted – exhausted rather, because they had been putting bands where they couldn't get audiences. Councillor Beavan thought that other parts of the town would pay the tramways equally well if they were equally treated. Alderman Mildon, having accused previous speakers of “wardism," proceeded to complain that Grangetown was not catered for in any way. He would not ask for a band for Grange, although they had a bandstand there rotting for want of use. Councillor Courtis: Or want of paint. (Laughter.) Alderman Carey proceeded to champion the claims of the people of Tyndall-street. (Renewed laughter.) Councillor Roberts’s amendment was rejected, and the committee’s recommendation adopted.

Sadly, only two of the locations mentioned in this report still have bandstands, Victoria Park and Grange Park, and, perhaps even more sadly, the Grange Park one is still/again ‘rotting for want of use’ and/or ‘want of paint’. So, let’s start with it ...


According to the Cardiff Parks website, the Grange Park bandstand was Cardiff’s first:

In February 1895 the Council accepted a tender of £100 from the Lion Foundry Co. of Glasgow, for construction of a bandstand. This, the first bandstand to be provided in any of Cardiff's parks, was completed by [the] beginning of June.


The park, then called Grange Gardens, was formally opened on 19 June 1895 and the bandstand hosted its first musical performance that evening. The South Wales Daily News of 20 June 1895 has the story:

The latest addition to the open spaces of Cardiff—that of Grangetown—was formally declared free and open to the public on Wednesday evening, the ceremony being performed by the Deputy-chairman of the Parks Committee of the Cardiff Corporation (Councillor Joseph Ramsdale, J.P.). The members of the committee with their friends assembled at the Town Hall, from whence they were conveyed in carriages to Grangetown ... The borough engineer presented Councillor Ramsdale with a key, with which he unlocked the gates. The party afterwards proceeded to the band stand, where congratulatory speeches were delivered. The Mayor proposed a vote of thanks to Lord Windsor and Lord Bute for the gift of the ground, and Alderman Jacobs having seconded, and support coming from Councillor Jenkins and Councillor Johnson, the vote was carried amidst much cheering ... [more speeches and cheering] and the party then returned to the Town Hall, leaving Mr D. A. Burn's Brass Band to render a popular programme of music.


Though you could be forgiven for thinking that the bandstand we see today is the original, it is, in fact, an exact replica (the original plans were uncovered in a library in Glasgow) that was installed in 2000. The Cardiff Parks website reports that

The original bandstand is thought to have been removed during the Second World War, though the Parks Committee received a report in 1937 on the condition of the Grange Gardens bandstand and the question of repair or demolition was left to the Chairman and the Chief Officer. Aerial photographs from 1942 appear to show an empty space where the bandstand stood.
From the summer of 1943 music for open air dancing was provided using gramophone records and loud speakers. Also in 1943 the Parks Committee decided that the Roath Park bandstand, which had fallen into disuse, should be removed and re-erected in Grange Gardens. There is no evidence that this was carried out.

Let’s hail a carriage and move on to Victoria Park's bandstand ...


It took Cardiff Council several years first to agree to and then to achieve the transformation of ‘the swampy ground known as Ely Common’ (Weekly Mail, 19 June 1897) to the 45-acre park initially referred to as Canton Park but later christened Victoria in honour of the queen’s jubilee. It was officially opened on 16 June 1897, with its magnificent bandstand already in place. The construction of a bandstand had been already been agreed by the Parks Committee, as reported by the Evening Express, 14 April 1897:

CANTON PARK. A BAND-STAND TO BE ERECTED AT ONCE. The Parks Committee showed on Wednesday [14 April] that they are not devoting their whole attention to the magnificent park at Roath. The claims of Canton, which have been persistently advocated by Messrs. Gerhold, Ward, and Illtyd Thomas, have been recognised, and the parks committee on Wednesday decided to erect a band-stand at Canton Park at a cost of £212.


Here’s an extract from the Weekly Mail’s report, of 19 June 1897, about the new park’s opening:

DESCRIPTION OF THE PARK.
The Victoria Park ... is irregular in shape, and for this reason perhaps lends itself to a lay-out which is both ingenious and attractive. The main paths are 30ft. wide, and from these branch out others, of smaller width, to the band stand, the lake, and other portions of the park. Entering from Cowbridge-road, one becomes at once interested in a very fine series of flower beds, with paths intersecting in the form of a wheel. A little further on is an ornamental lake of about an acre in extent, which is supplied with water from the corporation mains by two very handsome fountains and is approached from about a dozen different directions. Further north is a band stand, surrounded by a gravel footpath 30 ft wide, from which other paths radiate and communicate with the main roads. There are also a couple of ornamental shelters and a drinking fountain. A large number of shrubs and flowers have been planted, and already give proof that they like their new situation. About two acres are set apart at the northern end of the park as a playground .... It is satisfactory to find that the work (except the iron railings and band-stand) has been carried out by corporation employees, under the borough engineer (Mr. W. Harpur) and Mr. Pettigrew (superintendent gardener).


The wonderful Cardiff Parks website says that

As in other Cardiff parks, there were regular band performances in Victoria Park on summer evenings. These were organised and paid for by the Council Parks Committee, which allocated £500 for musical entertainments in the City's parks. In January 1913 Pettigrew reported that the season for band performances was from May to August and the majority took place in Roath Park, with performances in other parks only during June and July, and on specific days of the week. In Victoria Park this was every Thursday evening. Pettigrew also stated that "at Roath Park only the very best class of (local) bands are engaged; whereas at Splott and Victoria Parks a few second rate bands are sandwiched in between those of a better class."


As time passed and fashions changed, the Victoria Park bandstand was less used and less well maintained, and it was eventually dismantled and removed some time in the 1950s. Fortunately, for the park’s centenary in 1997, the replica we see today was commissioned and installed. Let’s hope the city’s future councillors will value and treasure these wonderful nods to a bygone age of leisure and entertainment - both structures could certainly do with a little timely maintenance!

08 August 2019

Cardiff : Cambrian Buildings


I often forget that it always pays to look up!

I was meandering around the streets of Cardiff one day last week, gathering images for future blogs, and had almost reached Cardiff Bay station to catch the train home, when I felt the need to look skywards – and this is what I saw. 


This was only one of thirteen, each unique, that adorn a building of two names, the Cambrian Buildings which face on to Mount Stuart Square and, around the corner, the Cymric Buildings on West Bute Street. Built between 1907 and 1911 to the design of local architect Henry Budgen, this is a large imposing Grade II-listed structure of four main storeys, with a basement beneath and an attic level above. If you want to read a precise description of the architectural design, you can do so on the British Listed Buildings website, but for me it was all about the sculptural embellishments.



Running along the top of the fourth floor, they are a spectacular mix of the marine, with walruses, dolphin-type creatures, sea monsters and, rather incongruously, what looks like a lion, all underscored with nautical paraphernalia, like anchors, ropes, compasses, and chains. I’ve not uncovered any details of the sculptor, or sculptors, whose superb craftsmanship this is but they were obviously masters of their craft. The Cambrian Buildings have five of these Ionic-style capitals (shown above in order from the left of the building to the right, where it turns the corner into West Bute Street), and the Cymric Buildings have eight (shown below, again in order from left to right).





As well as these lavish sculptures at the top of the three-storey-high pilasters, there is a series of individual sea monsters on each side of the bases of the pilasters, between the windows of the first floor. These are described as dolphins in the official building description, though they’re not like any dolphins I’ve ever seen – perhaps the sculptors had only their imaginations to go on when carving these designs. The ‘dolphin’ closest to the neighbouring building has been rather squeezed into his position, but the others are more elegantly arranged. These are my particular favourites because of the amazing expressions on their faces.


On the ground floor, each of the two facades of these buildings has a central grand entrance, with the buildings’ names above.


And on each side of these entrances are more pilasters, these topped with sculptures of sailing ships and more nautical-themed details.


This area of Cardiff was immediately adjacent to the port, an extremely busy place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and most of the commercial buildings in this area were built to house the major shipping and mining magnates, and the importing and exporting companies. The Cambrian Buildings were built to house the offices of the Cambrian Coal Combine, the most powerful mining group in south Wales’s Rhondda coal-mining valleys.

Now that I’ve realised what treasures there are amongst the historic buildings in the older parts of Cardiff, I’ll be looking up (and down and around) much more often.

03 August 2019

Cardiff : Billy the seal


Once upon a time (1912, to be more precise) there was a seal named Billy, who was accidentally caught in trawler nets off the Irish coast (though there is some doubt about that location) and brought to Cardiff to join the menagerie of a small zoo in Victoria Park (why they couldn’t just have let Billy go, I don’t know).


Billy had his own small lake and, because of his amusing antics, was a great favourite with all the children who visited the park. Stories are told of the many times Billy escaped the confines of the park: the River Ely used to flood, which in turn flooded Victoria Park and adjacent Cowbridge Road, and Billy took advantage of these artificial waterways to visit the Fish Market (of course!), to say hello to the Mayor in City Hall, to check out the waters of Roath Park Lake and the fountain in nearby Thompson’s Park. But, each time Billy made a break for freedom, he was found and captured and returned to the confines of Victoria Park.


Billy even survived being put on short rations for a time in 1917 (by a council trying to save money – nothing’s changed then) – it seems his many admirers came to his rescue by supplementing his rations with succulent titbits.


Billy finally died in 1939, not a bad innings for a grey seal. His body was sent to the National Museum of Wales (just a few miles down the road from Victoria Park) where a post-mortem showed that Billy was not a male at all. All those times she escaped, she might well have been looking for a mate. And Billy’s skeleton was put on display in the museum from time to time, to help educate the next generation of young kids.


And, because she had been so loved by the local Cardiffians, when the centenary of Victoria Park was being celebrated in 1997, Billy was also immortalised in stone (well, actually, painted galvanised steel). Almost sixty years after she had died, Billy the sculpture was created by Cardiff artist David Petersen and placed next to the paddling pond in Victoria Park, where she had lived all those years before. And, despite occasional plans to get rid of her sculpture (like during a recent redesign of the play area, when a splash pad was added to the park), Billy’s supporters and fans have spoken up for their beloved seal and stopped the council from trashing her.


And the physical Billy (or, at least, her skeleton) now lives in the Clore Discovery Gallery of the National Museum but, very occasionally (okay, just the once), Bill gets to see outside the thick walls of the museum. As you can read in Billy’s blog on the museum website, in 2012, one hundred years after being hauled in by that trawler, Billy was taken to the seaside. And, not only that, Billy got to star in the television programme Coast alongside presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff.


Sadly, Billy is now back at the museum, doomed (probably) to remain behind those thick walls for the rest of eternity. But perhaps (just perhaps) Billy knows about her statue in Victoria Park. And perhaps (okay, a bit fanciful) Billy can look through that statue’s eyes and see the fun the kids are having playing about in the water fountains of the park’s splash pad. And maybe (just maybe) Billy remembers the fun she used to have playing in the water there as well.

30 July 2019

Bandstands


I’ve only twice seen live bands actually playing in bandstands but both times have been memorable experiences and I find the structures themselves quite fascinating.

Whole books have been written about the history of bandstands (and you can read a brief extract from one of those on the author’s website here) so I won’t go into too much detail. Suffice to say that the first British bandstands were constructed in the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in London’s South Kensington in 1861. In the essay 'Garden of the Royal Horticultural Society', in Survey of London: Volume 38, South Kensington Museums Area, (ed. F H W Sheppard, London, 1975, which can be accessed at British History Online), the author reports that

[engineer and architect Francis] Fowke also designed the two 'band houses' of iron and zinc-covered wood which The Builder thought 'light and tasteful' ... The ironwork was by J. Potter and Company. One bandstand survives on Clapham Common where it was re-erected in 1890.

However, it seems that last statement about the bandstand having been moved to Clapham Common is incorrect, as Hazel Conway has since discovered that the two original bandstands went to other locations (and have since been demolished) and the Clapham Common bandstand is, in fact, an 1890 replica. 

As urban living conditions deteriorated during the industrial revolution and the music of brass bands became more popular, town councils began building bandstands, and other leisure facilities, in the public parks that were then being developed, so that over-worked, stressed factory workers had somewhere to escape their grim, over-crowded living conditions and enjoy a little rest and relaxation while listening to sometimes soothing, occasionally stirring brass band music.


I don’t have any photos of the earlier bandstands but this one in Victoria Park, Widnes, though actually a modern replica of the original, is typical of many that were constructed in the late Victorian era. It was one of the park’s major features when it opened in 1900, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Bandstands were also popular in New Zealand, my home country, though for some unknown reason we call them band rotundas. According to the Digital NZ website, ‘popular enthusiasm for brass band music led to over 100 rotundas being built from the 1890s to the 1930s’, and the website has wonderful old photos of some of them.


One that’s featured is the band rotunda in The Domain, a huge park in central Auckland. It was built in 1912 and still hosts occasional concerts during the summer months. (My photos were taken in September and December 2013, when I had returned to live in Auckland for a time.)


Even the humble little town of Ngaruawahia, my home town in New Zealand, has a band rotunda. It sits in a dramatic position, at the confluence of the Waipa and Waikato Rivers, in a park which, in my childhood, was used for fairs and circuses and an annual gathering we called ‘The Regatta’, when the green was filled with carnival attractions, there were Maori canoe races on the adjacent river, and brass bands played stirring tunes from the rotunda (though I don’t remember the bands as much as the sideshows and merry-go-rounds!).

Getting back to what I wrote at the beginning of this post about my memorable experiences of hearing live bandstand performances, the first was on a visit to Chester in July 2014. My friend Sarah and I had tickets to see a performance of Macbeth at the open-air circular theatre in Grosvenor Park (it was fantastic!) so we were spending the day in Chester, walking the Roman walls, exploring the historic city. As the time for the play approached, we decided to walk to the venue along the riverside paths and almost immediately heard the music. Luckily, we had time to grab an icecream from a nearby vendor and sit and enjoy the music, before going on to see the play.


That bandstand was first built, in its lovely riverside setting, in 1913, it’s now a Grade II-listed structure, and it underwent a full restoration in early 2018. It is used extensively throughout the summer months for free concerts by brass and jazz bands, as well as performers of other musical genres.


My second memorable bandstand experience was in the seaside town of Eastbourne, on England’s south coast, while visiting my friend Jill in August 2014. Eastbourne Bandstand, which bills itself as ‘The Busiest Bandstand on Planet Earth (unless you know better)’, is a unique structure and very different to the other bandstands described here. Built in 1935, its three levels can seat up to 1400 people, and it hosts a huge number and range of musical performances which, like the one we attended, often end literally with a bang – we went to one of their ‘1812 Fireworks and Proms’ concerts, which concluded with an orchestral performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and a spectacular fireworks display. It was truly a night to remember! 

Here in Wales, there are a number of bandstands in the towns and cities near where I live, so I’ll be featuring those in some of my future blogs.

27 July 2019

Penarth : Church of the Holy Nativity


Another day, another anniversary, this time of the laying of the foundation stone for one of the local places of Christian worship, the Church of the Holy Nativity. It sounds like the event was quite a do – the local Lord and Lady did the honours, there was a procession, complete with brass band, and in the evening a social gathering was held. Here’s part of the report, and some sketches, from the Barry Dock News, 4 August 1893:


THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY NATIVITY, COGAN.
LAYING THE MEMORIAL STONE BY LORD AND LADY WINDSOR.
SERVICE CONDUCTED BY THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE.
  
The little township of Cogan, near Penarth, was considerably enlivened on Thursday afternoon, the 27th instant, with bunting and other decorations in honour of the visit of Lord and Lady Windsor to lay the memorial stone of the new Church of Holy Nativity, which is in course of erection (on a suitable site between Cogan and Penarth) to meet the spiritual requirements of the churchpeople of the parishes of Llandough, Leckwith, and Cogan. The weather being favourable, there was a large gathering of the public, amongst those in attendance during the proceedings being the Right Hon. Lord Windsor (the lord lieutenant) and Lady Windsor, the Lord Bishop of Llandaff, Rev Canon Edwards. M. A. (St. Andrew's Rectory, who acted as the Bishop's chaplain) and Miss Edwards, Rev Canon Allen, M.A., rector of Barry ...

The new building has been attractively designed in what is known as the perpendicular style of architecture. It will accommodate over 300 worshipers, and the structure will consist of nave, transepts, chancel, south porch, heating chamber, vestries, and organ chamber. The material used is local limestone, lined with Cattybrook brick in bands. At the west-end there will be a bell-cote to hold two bells of pretty design, carried on an arch spring off buttresses. The total cost of the church will be about £2,500, including the boundary walls. Lord Windsor, the Lord Lieutenant of the county, has generously given the site, and his Lordship, together with Lady Windsor, graciously consented to perform the ceremony of laying the memorial stone. The silver trowel and mallet, with which this interesting work was performed, were of a handsome description, designed by Mr Fowler and supplied by Mr Tainsh, of High-street, Cardiff. The trowel bore the following inscription:--
“Cogan Mission Church of the Holy Nativity. The memorial stone was set by the Right Hon. Lord Windsor, 27th July, 1893."


The church sits in a prominent position on the approach road to Penarth and, although the article refers to the church being in Cogan, the boundaries between Penarth and Cogan have almost disappeared over the years and the church is now officially part of the parish of Penarth and Llandough.

The parish website reports that the church’s nave was ‘burnt out by incendiary bombs on 4 March 1941. The Chancel arch was filled in with bricks and the congregation worshipped in the Chancel until the restoration. The building was re-consecrated on 25 February 1952.’

Like many churches these days, this one is locked much of the time so I haven't seen the interior. I also couldn't locate the foundation stone so I presume it is inside the church.

Above, one of the side windows and the entrance porch. Below, the bell tower.