Art of Place

In my travels around this country, many of the roads which I have driven pass places which have changed over time. For better or worse, some places have fallen into non-existence into ruin and yet others have grown into huge cities I give you three engravings which show things as they used to be. Was it a better time or just a time – no better no worse. I know the city of Chester has changed extensively since this view was engraved in 1749.

South Prospect of the City of Chester
by J Boydell 1749

Yet the following place, which is close to my heart, has not really changed for hundreds of years. It is a house of prayer and will continue to raise the prayers of the saints as sweet incense for hundreds more. It stands high and regal – the ship of the fens- holding forth its’ reason for being. You cannot tell from this etching that Ely Cathedral stands on a bit of raised ground once surrounded by many miles of fenland or swamp. A mire for all to fall into unless you knew the way to enter.

Ely Cathedral ‘The Ship of the Fens’
possibly by Johannes Kip/J Harris

We also have in this country, houses and estates which have been taken over by either English Heritage or The National Trust. Westbury Court was offered to the National Trust in 1967 and they used the etchings by Johannes Kip (like the following etching) to re-instate the gardens and grounds to their original form. Westbury Court was the home of Maynard Colchester who was the co-founder of ‘The Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge’ (better known as the SPCK).  Maynard Colchester’s original planting  records still exist. The oldest holm oak tree in England is said to stand in the garden at Westbury Court. It was planted around 1600.

‘Westbury Court Seat of Maynard Colchester Esq’
engraving by Johannes Kip 1712

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