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Wednesday 28 May 2014

The fourth of Bristol's historic woodcarving treasures: the oak rooms of the Red Lodge.

To my mind, Bristol has four particular historic woodcarving treasures, that anyone who loves carving should try and see if they visit the city. These are:

  • The oak rooms of the Red Lodge from the late sixteenth century 

So far, the only one of these that I haven't shared with you is the Red Lodge, so it seems time to put that right!

The Red Lodge was built around 1580 by Sir John Younge and was actually a smaller estate building behind the Great House, which has since been demolished. If the Lodge had this kind of woodcarving in it, what must the carving in the main house have looked like?

Only three of the rooms from Elizabethan times have survived, with the others being remodelled and altered around 1730. The largest of these, known as the 'Great Oak Room' is the only 16th century panelled room to survive in Bristol and is one of the finest in the West Country, with not only the original oak panelling but also ornate plasterwork on the ceiling and a large carved Bath stone fireplace.

Most of the designs carved into the oak would have come from pattern books. There are bands of different carving ornamentation covering the lower areas of the oak panelling.

Some of the finest carving is around the two doors leading into the room from the main landing.

Some of the motifs carved above the doors obviously refer to the lands to the West recently discovered by Europeans; America.

The door towards the adjoining anteroom and chamber has this curious grotesque face over it, the only one of this design in the room:

The fireplace also has faces carved around it.

The plasterwork on the ceiling is also covered in stunning designs, with points hanging down.

The furniture around the room isn't from the original house, but dates to the mid-seventeenth century: about the same time that the room was in its original use. All the pieces belong to Bristol Museum. Some were definitely by or for Bristolians, judging by the inscriptions:

There is also a bed in the adjoining oak-panelled bedroom, which dates to about 1600 and has still traces of the original painted decoration.

My favourite piece is probably this one;  a high backed chair, the backrest of which folds down to become a gaming table with a handy drawer.

The opening times for the Red Lodge can be found by following this link to the Bristol council page. I hope that you have enjoyed this glimpse of it.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Boiling Wells in St Werburghs, Bristol: Images from 2001 and 2014 - Spot the difference!

In the late summer of 2001, some photos were taken while work was being done at Boiling Wells. St Werburghs City Farm had just taken the site over on a lease from Bristol City Council and had started work on turning the derelict wasteland into a space for teaching and activities with young people.

Lots and lots of people from Bristol and further afield have visited this place and have a lot of affection for it, so here's some snapshots of that time for you to enjoy. Thanks to whoever took the original ones from 2001 and also to Jon Attwood, who gave them to the Farm.

I've taken photos a couple of weeks ago to show what I think is as close to the same view as possible,  although Boiling Wells has changed so much that it's guesswork for a couple of them! The images from 2001 are on the left, followed by those from 2014 after each on the right.


Monday 5 May 2014

A new carved oak sign

This sign was carved from oak for someone who has worked for a long time with a scout group in, I believe, Chipping Sodbury. The lettering was cut using a Dremel hand drill but the scout emblem (shown below) was carved by hand using traditional tools.

Sunday 4 May 2014

Demonstrating carving a Green Man from wood at 'Mayfest' on the Gloucester Road in Bristol

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday and I spent it sitting on the pavement on the Gloucester Road in Bristol, carving a green man out of oak and chatting to passers-by.

A lot of younger spectators in particular were very keen to see how the carvings were done and there was a very jolly atmosphere, with the local shops putting out tables on the side of the road. In the afternoon, a morris group (see the comments below) came past with a huge 'Jack-in-the-Green', a foliage-covered effigy used since ancient times to celebrate the return of summer.

The green man plaque also turned out well and a finishing coat of furniture wax brought out the beauty of the oak grain pattern nicely. It will now go on show at Room 212 gallery on the Gloucester Road. 

After writing this, I reworked the Green Man carving a bit and you can see how it currently looks by visiting this post, which has some images of other Green Man carvings as well.