Happy Birthday, University of Bonn!

Happy Birthday, University of Bonn!

Bonn University

Today, I would like to celebrate a birthday that is special to me:  my alma mater, the University of Bonn, is 200 years old.  Compared with some other European universities that may not seem like much, but it is still a memorable feast. Continue reading

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Roman News

The Latest Headlines from

the Roman Rhineland

In late July, the Roman Rhineland made the headlines, not just once, but twice.  First the discovery of a Roman library in Cologne was made public. And a few days later a Roman sarcophagus found in Zülpich (approx. 50 km south west of Cologne) was presented to the media. Continue reading

God’s House: Part IV

William and Alice de la Pole’s God’s House at Ewelme[i] – Domestic Buildings & School

This fourth and last part of the series about God’s House in Ewelme will look at the domestic buildings and the school.

The domestic quarters

At the western end of St Mary’s church is an impressive wooden door.  This leads down some steps to a covered passage connecting the church and the almshouse quadrangle.   In each of the external walls of the passage there is an archway, opposite of each other.  Originally, they probably had wooden doors, which could be opened on feast days to allow processions to walk around the church.  Normally they would be kept closed to allow the almsmen to get to church without getting wet and being blown away by the wind.  The passage is built in brick with stone details and can be linked architecturally to the later building period of the church.

God’s House: Part IV

Passage to the alsmhouse from the church

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God’s House: Part III

William and Alice de la Pole’s Foundation at Ewelme[i] – St Mary’s Church

Parts III and IV of this series about William and Alice de la Pole’s foundation at Ewelme will deal with the buildings of God’s House.  Most of these still stand and provide a glimpse into a long gone-by time.  This post deals with St Mary’s Church, which still serves as Ewelme’s parish church. Continue reading

God’s House: Part I

William and Alice de la Pole’s Foundation at Ewelme[i] – Family Background and Ewelme Manor

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Ewelme and its St Mary’s Church with the adjacent almshouse and school.  This was an experience which has resonated with me since that day.  It was an opportunity to come close to “normal” medieval people, not just the high-status people.

Ewelme is a village approx. 25 km south east of Oxford.  Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “æwelme”, meaning a fresh spring, which refers to the stream which still runs through the village.

580 years ago, on 3 July 1437, William and Alice de la Pole, the Earl and Countess of Suffolk. received a royal licence to found an almshouse supporting a community of two priests and thirteen poor men, which was to be called God’s House.  The priests and poor men were to pray for the King, and the Earl and Countess during their lives and later for their souls, as well as the parents and friends and benefactors of the Earl and Countess. Continue reading

Abbot John of Wheathampstead visits Cologne

As we have seen in my last post, John of Wheathampstead, abbot of St Albans, travelled in 1423/24 to Italy to attend the Council of Pavia/Siena and to visit the Pope.  Both on his way to Italy and back, he visited Cologne.  This part of his trip was of particular interest to me, as I grew up in the Cologne/Bonn area of Germany.

Abbot John of Wheathampstead visits Cologne

Cologne in 1531. The unfinished cathedral is on the right.

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Digging deeper at St Albans

Digging deeper at St Albans

John Whetehamstede found at
St Albans Abbey

Most mornings, still half asleep, I have a look at Facebook on my phone to see whether anything monumental has happened overnight.  Most mornings I am disappointed, but the other morning I was suddenly wide awake:  Another cleric had been found, but not just any old cleric!  This one is John Whetehamstede, well-known to anyone interested in the late medieval period and the Wars of the Roses as an eye witness to the two battles of St Albans.

Digging deeper at St Albans

St Albans Cathedral seen from the east

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The Sewing Machine

Book Review:  The Sewing Machine

Valerie Fergie, The Sewing Machine.  Unbound Digital, London, 2017, ISBN13 9781911586043 (I read the Kindle version)

The Sewing Machine

Singer sewing machine

I just finished reading The Sewing Machine, a delightful debut by Valerie Fergie.  The central “character” is a Singer sewing machine which connects four generations of two families over a period of more than 100 years.  The earliest is Jean, who works at the Singer factory in Clydebank in 1911.  The last is Fred, who inherits the machine in 2016.  Initially, he wants to get rid of it, but then starts growing attached to it. Continue reading