Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Wakefield's Labyrinth

The labyrinth in Wakefield Cathedral


A symbol potent with multiple layers of mythology and meaning, the roots of the labyrinth and maze can be traced back at least 4000 years: and occur in many different cultures throughout the world, in various different forms. In all, the labyrinth appears to symbolise the path to follow in our daily life, with its seasons and cycles, its twists and turns. As such, this powerful motif can be a useful guide: a spiritual tool for further understanding, self-knowledge and transformation.

 
Rocky Valley Labyrinth, Tintagel, Cornwall
Rocky Valley Labyrinth, Tintagel, Cornwall

 

Wakefield Cathedral and Labyrinth


I love labyrinths. I love the designs that seem to speak to me on some other level, and I also love the deceptive, yet powerful simplicity of the spiritual concept of walking them. I love how these designs, to me, seem to transcend any particular religion, as labyrinths and mazes have a history that can be traced back over 4000 years, yet they have continued to exist in a bewildering array of places and are still created today.

I have walked many turf labyrinths, but never one inside a building. I read many years ago of the enigmatic labyrinth in Chatres Cathedral, and promised myself that one day I would visit....



Wakefield Cathedral
Wakefield Cathedral

We recently came to Wakefield to visit some of the sites such as Sandal Castle, the Hepworth Gallery, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the amazing Medieval Bridge Chapel. As part of the trip we also popped into Wakefield Cathedral. Last time I came here, many, many years ago, it was quite dour and crowded with Victorian pews. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a beautiful, transformed interior, "transported back in time into a wonderful medieval space," and.....


Wakefield Cathedral interior
The beautiful spacious interior of Wakefield Cathedral

....containing a wonderful labyrinth, beckoning me to walk it.....


Wakefield Cathedral labyrinth
Wakefield Cathedral labyrinth


"Walking the labyrinth can still our minds, ground our bodies, reduce stress and open our hearts. When we walk the labyrinth, we use the same path to walk to the centre, and to return transformed to our daily lives. The path is clear and will aid as a metaphor for our own lives or to focus on a particular issue of situation." Cathedral Guide

Wakefield Cathedral guide to the labyrinth
A guide to walking the labyrinth

The Cathedral is built on the site of a Saxon church, and has a history of over 1000 years of worship on the site. There are many other fascinating things to discover within and without its walls, including fine medieval carvings, beautiful stained glass, the tallest spire in Yorkshire; but, for me, the labyrinth eclipses everything....and I was lucky enough to have a nearly empty building to experience walking it. Thank you Wakefield Cathedral.

 

Interior Wakefield Cathedral


Well worth a visit, if you're in the area. As ever, please consider a donation.


A Little About Wakefield

"a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers...so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A Right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal...There by plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield."  John Leland 1538

Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel by Philip Reinagle 1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons
Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel by Philip Reinagle 1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed the 'Merrie City' in the Middle Ages, Wakefield is an ancient City, with finds dating back to prehistory, the name Wakefield could either derive from the Old English Wacu (a watch or wake) Feld (an open field in which a wake or festival was held, or 'Waca's field' (open land belonging to 'Waca.') 

Site of a major battle during the Wars of the Roses and a stronghold for the Royalists during the English Civil War, Wakefield became an important market town and centre for wool, exploiting its position on the River Calder to become an inland port.

Thanks for reading!

Toni
 Justbod Team


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You might also be interested in:

The Chantry Chapel Wakefield: one of the last surviving bridge Chapels in England

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Celtic Lovers Wall Plaque in bronze & oak
'Lovers' in bronze & oak

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Chantry Chapel: one of the last surviving Bridge Chapels in England

Wakefield Chantry Chapel and medieval Bridge

Once a common site, the bridge Chapel on the beautiful nine-arched medieval chantry bridge in Wakefield is one of the last remaining bridge Chapels in England.


A Little About Wakefield


"a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers...so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A Right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal...There by plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield." John Leland 1538
Dubbed the 'Merrie City' in the Middle Ages, Wakefield is an ancient City, with finds dating back to prehistory, the name Wakefield could either derive from the Old English Wacu (a watch or wake) Feld (an open field in which a wake or festival was held, or 'Waca's field' (open land belonging to 'Waca.') 

Wakefield_Bridge_and_Chantry_Chapel_by_Philip_Reinagle_1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons
Chantry Chapel by Philip Reinagl 1793 Public Domian Wikimedia Commons

Site of a major battle during the Wars of the Roses and a stronghold for the Royalists during the English Civil War, Wakefield became an important market town and centre for wool, exploiting its position on the River Calder to become an inland port.

The Chantry Chapel of St Mary the Virgin


One of only four surviving bridge chapels in England, it was built in the mid 14th century and was orginally one of four medieval chapels situated on the roads into Wakefield.

Wakefield Chantry Chapel from the Bridge
Wakefield Chantry Chapel from the Bridge

During the middle ages, chapels on bridges were fairly common and were used by travellers, who often had dangerous and difficult journeys, to offer prayers of thanks before entering a city, or prayers for safety before leaving. Of the four remaining in England, Wakefield is the oldest and most elaborate (the others are at: Bradford-on-Avon, St Ives (Cambridgeshire) and Rotherham. There are also bridge chapels at Derby and Rochester, but these are located on the riverbanks, and are not a structural part of the bridge.

The medieval bridge that the chapel forms part of was built between 1342 and 1356 and replaced an earlier, wooden one over the River Calder.

According to some accounts, seventeen year old Edmund, Earl of Rutland and son of Richard Plantangenet, 3rd Duke of York, was infamously killed on or near the bridge by Lord Clifford during the Battle of Wakefield, in the Wars of the Roses.

Chapel adjoining Wakefield Bridge by William Henry Toms 1743 Wikimedia Commons
Chapel by William Henry Toms 1743 Wikimedia Commons

All of the other chapels of Wakefield were closed in the mid 16th century during the Reformation and Abolition of Chantries Acts, but this one survived as it was a structural part of the bridge. Since then it has been used as a warehouse, a library, an office and a cheese shop.

Wakefield Chantry Chapel
Wakefield Chantry Chapel - the ornate tower

It has been looked after by the Friends of Wakefield Chantry Chapel since 1990 and services are held at 4.30pm on the first and third Sundays of each month.

Wakefield Chantry Chapel Blue Plaque


There are also open days on public holiday weekends and group visits can be arranged by appointment at other times.

Wakefield Chantry Chapel and medieval Bridge
Wakefield Chantry Chapel and medieval Bridge

Unfortunately the Chapel was not open when we visited, so we were unable to get any internal shots, but we hope to return and remedy this, as the inside looks beautiful. More information and useful links may be found at the bottom of this article.

The Chapel is easy to find but it can be tricky to negotiate the traffic system of the 'newer' A638 bridge over the river, and find parking nearby. Just over the new bridge, and on the other side of the river, is the modern Hepworth Gallery, which is also well worth a visit.


Thanks for reading!

Toni

 Justbod Team

Visit our main site

Artwork, Carvings & Sculptures
~inspired by history & nature~ 


www.justbod.co.uk
www.justbod.co.uk

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  You might also be interested in:

 

  Wakefield's Labyrinth

 

The Beautiful Medieval Wall Paintings of Pickering Parish Church

   
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Tree of Life Wall Plaque
Tree Of Life


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Saturday, 20 June 2015

An ancient Carved Cross, Robin Hood's Yew & a hidden Holy Well



St Peter's Church and Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Most people who have ever heard of Hartshead may well associate the memory with the Hartshead Moor Service Station on the M62, purveyors of refreshment and recuperation on-the-go. However, drive a short distance from that busy highway, leave the car and, in the space a 20 minute walk, you can visit 'the most richly carved outdoor stone cross in West Yorkshire,' a knobbly old dead Yew tree with Robin Hood legends attached, a fascinating church connected to the Brontes, and an almst forgotten Holy Well!



Walton Cross

Located in a commanding position on a hillside above Calderdale, to the west, and the Spen Valley to the east, stands the base of Walton Cross - the most richly carved outdoor stone cross in West Yorkshire. Still an impressive height at just below 5 feet, it is thought to have once supported a large cross which was recorded as being 15-16 feet high in the 18th century. As the shaft was also decorated and brightly painted, it would have been visible for miles around. I haven't been able to find any mention of the subsequent fate of the shaft and cross, however. (If you have any info, please do get in touch.)

Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Other early documentation also referred to it as a 'wagestan' - a way stone or way marker. It has also been suggested that it may have been a preaching cross, but the nearest church is some way away.

Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Although at one time it was thought to date from the 8th century, West Yorkshire Archaelogical Service has dated the style of decoration to the 10th or 11th century. This decoration is very impressive with Saxon and Viking elements of interlacing and knotwork. There is also a circle with rosette knot that the West Yorkshire Archaelogical Service has adopted as its logo.

Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
The 'notch' that previously housed the cross shaft.

The notch on the top surface is always full of water, and is used by some of the locals to drop coins in and make a wish.
Very easy to visit, as it stands at the side of a footpath, very close to the aptly named Windy Bank Lane.
Worth visiting, but take a warm hat!



Robin Hood's Yew Tree, St Peter's Church, Hartshead

 

St Peter's Church and Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
St Peter's Church and Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead

This old, dead and gnarled yew tree standing in the churchyard at St Peters was here in medieval times, and local legend has it that this was the tree that Robin Hood either cut wood to fashion one of his bows, or cut wood for his final arrow that he let fly to mark the place where he should be buried!

Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Robin Hood Yew, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
The wonderfully knobbly and knarled surface of the old Yew

There are more local connections to Robin Hood with Kirklees Priory, and his reputed grave nearby....but that is another story.... (you can read about it in this BBC article.)

St Peter's Church is also very interesting, but was sadly locked when we visited. Patrick Bronte served here between 1810 and 1815, and also met his wife Maria here. It was during this time that the local area was gripped with the Luddite uprisings (another story!)


St Peter's Church, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
St Peter's Church, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Charlotte Bronte based her book 'Shirley' on the area and 'Nunnerley' in the book was based on St Peter's Church.
Worth a visit in conjunction with the other two sites - I'll keep my fingers crossed that the church is open when you go....

 

The Lady Well, Hartshead

 

The Ladywell, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
The Ladywell, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

A hundred metres, or so, North of St Peter's Church in Hartshead, at the end of Lady Well Lane, and completely hidden now under a hawthorn tree, lies the Lady Well.

It is likely that the name originates from 'Our Lady,' referring to the Virgin Mary, and an indication that the well was important to Christian worshippers, and used for baptisms in early Christian England, although it is fairly certain that its status as a sacred site far predates this.


The Ladywell, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Local historian Marion Pobjoy believes that it is possible that the 7th century missionary and first Archbishop of York, Paulinus, may have performed baptisms here.

A perfect example of a slightly forlorn and mostly forgotten sacred site that has held great importance for many years, but now lies sadly neglected. (A total contrast to St Helen's Well at Goodmanham, which we visited earlier in the year.)

Beware, if you do visit, it is easy to walk straight past the well. A previous visitor asked several locals, who had no idea where it was. You could always print the picture off below, which may help when you go. 


The Ladywell, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
Looking up Lady Well Lane towards Church. Well is just under the hawthorn on the left
The Ladywell, Hartshead, West Yorkshire
The well is under this tree, on the field side.

So all in all, an excellent place to visit, if you enjoy seeing lesser known places of interest. All three can be seen easily in an hour, with a link to a wee walk encompassing all three here.


Thanks for reading!

Anne & Toni

 Justbod Team



Visit our main website:

www.justbod.co.uk 

Artwork, carvings & sculptures 
~inspired by a love of history & nature~

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Sources and further information: 

Hartshead:
Walton Cross:
St Peter's Church and Robin Hood's Yew:
Lady Well:

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Saturday, 6 June 2015

Chasing Perfection - The Devil Is In The Detail

The Devil is in the detail

‘The Devil Is in the Detail’ – how do we chase him out?

I read a quote recently from the jeweller Alison Jones where she said ‘Every piece is uniquely hand forged with love for the craft of silversmithing. I am a perfectionist, but my jewellery is hand crafted and by its very nature not perfect.’

I felt this brilliantly captured both the aspiration that I have of wanting to create a professionally well-made piece that exudes quality, whilst also presenting a piece that is obviously, well, handmade.

Our modern society with its machines and perfectly straight lines has created a great deal of ‘perfection’ in many of the products we use today, in terms of ‘pleasing’ symmetry, perfect smoothness, crisp edges etc. that can lead me in a desperate and doomed chase sometimes to emulate this ‘perfection.’ Does this mean that I am ultimately trying to create objects that look like they are ‘machine made?’

As our machines get better and better at created faux ‘handmade’ items, is there, indeed, still a place for the ‘individually created’ product?

This can work the other way too; most of us are so used to this level of precision that we associate it with quality, and cheapness, whereas all too often the perfection and beauty is only skin deep –manufactured items created with ‘planned obsolescence’ in mind, or our desire to follow the latest fashions leading us to devalue and bin objects after a relatively short period of time.

It maybe takes a slight change in perception to once again appreciate ‘handmade’ items, and the time, patience, love and soul that has gone into their inception and creation. Even the term ‘handmade’ has become devalued and slightly pejorative.

I have heard that the monks who created the Illuminated Manuscripts deliberately made a mistake on every piece of work because ‘only God is perfect.’ This leads me to believe (and I can see) that their work was already of such a high standard that they had to ‘fake’ mistakes.

I digress…..the theme of this post was supposed to be my own personal quest for perfection, an exploration of its pros and cons.

There is a story where an apprentice wheelwright asks his master why he takes so much time smoothing the base of the carts, when no one would know whether or not the underneath was smooth or not.
‘…but I know’ replies the master.

Is this diligence and conscientiousness or a waste of time and effort?

As with all things, there is a balance, a line, which I’m sure is different for everyone.

On the way to a finished piece of mine, there is a trail of ‘failures:’ wood that split, metal that creased, designs that went wrong, grain that ran in the ‘wrong’ direction, hangers that were ‘ugly.’
However, as one of Justbod’s Inspirational Plaques has it: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit” and I am hopefully developing the habit whilst guarding against obsession!

The line I have, my marker, is how I would want the piece to be if I owned it myself.

My best example is the journey towards the ‘perfect hanger’ for my wall plaques:

A pet hate of mine, is pictures, wall art, wall plaques etc. hanging at an angle towards the floor because the hanging device on the back pushes the top of the picture/plaque out from the wall.
I worked for ages on this, experimenting with a lot of different hangers, and creating lots of ‘firewood.’

After a while I created something that achieved the above, and used it on my first plaques. However, it looked ugly and, although it wouldn’t be seen by anyone viewing the plaque on the wall, like the master wheelwright, it still wasn’t good enough for me. Those initial plaques are now in a ‘don’t know what to do with these’ box as I consider them flawed, even though the quality of the facing sides is as good as any that I have made!

I now have a ‘perfect’ (for now) system with a ‘saw-tooth’ hanger inset in the back of the plaque enabling it to hang flush to the wall. It also looks beautiful (to my eye!) Is this obsessive? I don’t feel so.

For some the matter might not matter. For me it does. It is a matter of pride in my work, regardless of others views, of attending to those tiny details that I feel make the difference, attending to the practical as well as the aesthetic.

The Devil is always in the detail. It’s the details that if left unattended, unnoticed, unthought-about can undo anything we are involved in.

This approach is equally applicable to every area of life. To attend to the details, to focus on them and give them adequate thought and attention, is offering respect to whatever we are focusing on, be it our current job, a relationship, a DIY job, a walk in the park, the words of the person talking to us; in short, everything we do.

Offering respect really means offering love. Loving the details, and attending to them, may just be enough to keep the Devil out.....

Thanks for reading!

bod
Justbod Team


Visit our main website:

www.justbod.co.uk

Artwork, carvings & sculptures
~ inspired by history & nature ~

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Original article on 'bod's blog' published January 31st 2014