Thursday, 30 August 2018

My love of churchyards

Over the last two years I have been mostly preoccupied with studying for a post graduate diploma in parish church studies with the University of York. As to why I came to take this path is a mixture of interest in the history of England of which the church played such an important factor and my involvement in a medieval group that took me on trails of stories in stone and gargoyles, of relics in cases and architecture that tells of the relationship between the people and their beliefs.

 My main focus has been on churchyards, drifting through swathes of grass to read lichen encrusted gravestones, poring over lettering cut centuries ago and learning of the tales that accompany them. As a child I  was perhaps a little spooky and enjoyed walking through the local graveyard and did not find it weird or strange, although I did buy myself a book called the Fireside Book of Death which I’m sure my mother raised her eyebrows at. However, it’s been a long standing relationship, the departed and I, so applying academic study to it has been exciting.

When I talk to people about my interest both in real life and online, I receive a mixed response- some people are fascinated, some consider me ghoulish and gothic…..perhaps a little part of me is. But really churchyards are places of such beauty and art that tells the story of our ancestors. Dark tourism is increasingly popular with tours of cemeteries such as the local one I did that I wrote about the intriguing showman character I had learnt about and of course the  immense London cemeteries offer tours as well as holding small classical concerts and other cultural events in these highly atmospheric spaces. Also the death positive movement is gathering momentum, lets not view death as taboo, sweep it under the carpet, lets enable the discussion to be more positive, think of the celebrations of the Mexican Day of the Dead and how that link to the dead remains.

Autumn graveyard

 As I walk around churchyards and see the new graves and the fresh wreaths, read the notes and see the modern tokens left, small cherubs and trinkets, I do feel sad. It must be hard to know what to do and who to ask about many of the practicalities around the loss of a family member of friend. This useful guide by SunLife provides help around what to do when somebody dies, answering key questions to assist in what to do. I always pause as I’m wandering about the graveyard but more often than not I’m looking amongst the older part of the area seeking the stones set into the ground hundreds of years ago.
autumn church

My main interest are 18th century graves with their memento mori messages and symbolism of death with almost comical looking skulls and angels such as the ones in the Nottinghamshire area, known as the Belvoir angels with their swirly eyes and curly locks. The simplicity of rustic graves intrigue me the most with sometimes crudely cut lettering and mistakes or oddly spaced letters. It becomes a moment of anticipation as I walk through churchyard gates, what will I find. Sometimes the graveyard has been reordered over time and the stones are moved to the edges or stacked by the church. Regardless, each ones tells of so many things. It may tell of the occupation of the deceased, of their social standing in a time gone by and the tragedy of families lives lost so young is there to see. Many times I have used this information to find out more in the local history archives, it’s a satisfying exercise to learn of the life from the stone.
sunset in the churchyard

Churchyards are also places where I like to take many photographs. There is something very beautiful about rows and rows of tombstones and memorials, angels reaching up high and cherubs scattering flowers, the grand Victorian grave flamboyancy that reflects their views around death at the time. Then to the uniformity and sombreness of  war graves, peaceful white and silently stood. Wherever I go, I pop into the churchyard and gain something; sometimes a chat with a churchwarden or a brush with nature as some are managed for conservation…..a great place to spot butterflies. Sometimes a place for a quiet moment and a flask of tea on a sunny day or a winter’s walk through the frost. If you’ve never considered a graveyard as a place to go on this side of the mortal plain, well do give it a go and let me know what you find, whether it’s a beautiful place of sanctuary buzzing with wildlife or an austere setting of catacombs and Victorian eccentricities. 
bluebell churchyard

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Embracing new colour schemes in my home

Since moving in with my man, I have been getting used to a new interior style and going with the  existing look of the home, which is amazing and suits the unusual property and its layout. I have been adding my own bits and pieces that complement the look. OH used to paint in a particular style in rich earthy colours, primitive naive art style cows and sheep, oils and textures, a time gone by, it's what he loves. I've come along with my interest in autumn, Halloween, folklore, the macabre, churches and graveyards and so there is now a merging of two lives. I've embraced the rural scenes and added my corn dollies, vintage doll and wooden rabbit. I guess lots of our interests cross over and we are endeavouring to create a real eclectic mix of found items. We've added mini skeletons and things we have recently bought in odd bits and bobs boxes at the local auction...more on this another time. 
eclectic shelfie

pineapple jug

OH is extremely creative and also used to be an antiques dealer so has the gift of being able to sift out unusual things and create all kinds of things, such as the dioramas of the bakery and the butchers in the images. I think the colours blend really well together and all have a traditional feel, deep blues, greys, browns and hunter greens, an autumnal ochre vibe and shots of mustard. The shade below was a recent eBay find and I love its slightly sinister feel. OH bought me the soft lime coloured pineapple jug from the local florist that I've popped some seed heads into once I've collected the seed for next year and some faux berries. Also some bargain green pressed glass bottles for 50p each from the florist, a religious icon from a random auction box for some kitsch style, some silver plated ware with owl fairy lights trailed across a toast rack and a funny faced mint sauce pot.
unusual table lampshade
The main colour used within the home is probably green, at least I seem to be drawn to this the most at the moment, forest greens, sages, mossy shades, with ferns and trailing houseplants, jade and emerald bottles for using as single flower stem vases,
What does the colour we tend to use within our homes tend to say about us? Well..... produced a guide to what your home colours say abut your personality and according to that I am a very patient an collecting person as it is a calming colour. Also it says I don't stick to trends and I probably have a house full of knick-knacks and mismatching true!!!

In contrast, at my old house I was definitely more pink - approachable and making the home accordingly so apparently. Pink also indicates somebody reserved and shy which is true of me.
eclectic shelf
There is much less pink going on in this house, the colours instead are earthy and spicy, exposed brickwork with vintage gilt frames and wooden shelves. However, my blogging room has pink in it but I am becoming more natural, antique loving and rustic, with a bit of Victoriana and distressed furniture, so I can foresee it changing pretty soon. The colours fit well with my love of weird and I feel like I have a lot of scope for creating new areas within the house.
palmistry sign
* collaborative post

Friday, 10 August 2018

Star Map for my blogging room

Customised star poster
I have a fondness for the stars, for staring up at the inky night sky and the constellations, trying to name a few, spotting Orion's Belt, Cassiopeia, finding the signs of the Zodiac and wondering about those that used them to navigate. There's a mysterious feel to the stars, how they've been viewed before and what symbolism was made of them. 

I have a few stargazing related items around the house, they add a vintage scientific feel and I'm always on the look out for anything with a celestial style. However, it is hard to come by so I was really pleased to hear of Custom Star Maps by Modern Map Art who produce posters of the night sky on a special date to you, so perhaps an anniversary or your birthday, which is what I decided upon. You can have the place name added and choose a title and in addition can select between black or white, navy or grey posters in a variety of sizes. Such a cute way to commemorate something and a lovely gift.

Starry Night poster
I have put my poster up in my new blogging room, hopefully it will be the start of more starry home pieces to create a bit of twinkle. Totally loving how it looks against the white walls, the poster is good quality and has a gorgeous matt finish to it. I have a few ideas gathered on a starry Pinterest board of vintage space posters and rocket cushions to add to the room. 
Blogging room
*I received a Star Map for the purpose of the review, thoughts and opinions my own.