Sunday, 30 September 2012

Favourite Poetry - Any Woman

Any Woman

I am the pillars of the house;
The keystone of the arch am I.
Take me away, and roof and wall
Would fall to ruin me utterly.

I am the fire upon the hearth,

I am the light of the good sun,
I am the heat that warms the earth,
Which else were colder than a stone.

At me the children warm their hands;

I am their light of love alive.
Without me cold the hearthstone stands,
Nor could the precious children thrive.

I am the twist that holds together

The children in its sacred ring,
Their knot of love, from whose close tether
No lost child goes a-wandering.

I am the house from floor to roof,

I deck the walls, the board I spread;
I spin the curtains, warp and woof,
And shake the down to be their bed.

I am their wall against all danger,

Their door against the wind and snow,
Thou Whom a woman laid in a manger,
Take me not till the children grow! 
Katharine Tynan

Monday, 24 September 2012

Autumn - A View by Stubbs?

The Itchen at Winchester
The light and scents of autumn are unmistakeable, even before the leaves have started to turn. The Chinese say that autumn begins on 8th August. A melancholy thought, though we mustn't forget what Beaudelaire and Coleridge taught us about the seasons. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Old Swan House History

Old Swan House and King's Head House
'Until 1869 Old Swan House and King's Head House together formed the Swan Inn. Then the building was sold in two halves. The name King's Head House might suggest that it was once the King's Head Inn, but this name is relatively recent. It may refer to the fact that in 1688 King James II dined at the Swan Inn on his way to encounter the newly landed William of Orange*.

The Swan Inn was a coaching inn, providing accommodation, refreshments and fresh horses to travellers. The difference in appearance in the two ends of what was once a single building is the result of a major alteration during the Victorian period when the eastern end was modified to fit the current fashions. The bricks were faced with stucco to simulate stone pillars and stone window lintels while the windows were reduced in size.'

From A Portrait of Stockbridge by Hugh Saxton, published in 2000

It's not certain when The Swan was built, but it was apparently owned by Winchester College in the reign of Henry VI, so it's at least 550 years old.

In April 1688, James re-issued the Declaration of Indulgence, subsequently ordering Anglican clergymen to read it in their churches. When seven Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, submitted a petition requesting the reconsideration of the King's religious policies, they were arrested and tried for seditious libel. Public alarm increased when Queen Mary gave birth to a Roman Catholic son and heir, James Francis Edward on 10 June of that year. When James's only possible successors were his two Protestant daughters, Anglicans could see his pro-Catholic policies as a temporary phenomenon, but when the Prince's birth opened the possibility of a permanent Catholic dynasty, such men had to reconsider their position. Threatened by a Catholic dynasty, several influential Protestants claimed the child was "supposititious" and had been smuggled into the Queen's bedchamber in a warming pan. They had already entered into negotiations with William, Prince of Orange, when it became known the Queen was pregnant, and the birth of James's son reinforced their convictions.

On 30 June 1688, a group of seven Protestant nobles invited the Prince of Orange to come to England with an army. By September, it had become clear that William sought to invade. Believing that his own army would be adequate, James refused the assistance of Louis XIV, fearing that the English would oppose French intervention. When William arrived on 5 November 1688, many Protestant officers, including Churchill,  defected and joined William, as did James's own daughter, Princess Anne. James lost his nerve and declined to attack the invading army, despite his army's numerical superiority. On 11 December, James tried to flee to France, allegedly first throwing the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames. He was captured in Kent; later, he was released and placed under Dutch protective guard. Having no desire to make James a martyr, the Prince of Orange let him escape on 23 December. James was received by his cousin and ally, Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a pension. Wikipedia

It's interesting to note that the house was built at the same time as this famous painting but Piero Della Francesca - the Baptism of Christ 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Drapers' Academy

``'We are here tonight to celebrate the Academy’s magnificent new buildings, but before turning to them I think it is right to celebrate what the Academy team working extremely hard and with great imagination, under the leadership of the headmaster, Matthew Slater, has achieved.  I shall be followed by Lady Victoria Leatham, Master Draper, Sir Nick Montagu, Chair of Queen Mary Council, Michael White, Leader of Havering Council, Angela Watkinson MP and finally Matthew Slater.

As you all know GCSE results showed a massive improvement this year.  We are well above national average pass rates on key subjects such as English, Maths, History and especially Science.  No longer will a school on the Hill seen to be the bottom of the heap.  There is a lot more to do but we are already bringing much greater opportunities than have ever been available.

Our sixth form opens this term and promises to be a further real path of opportunity and at the same time a celebration of learning.

Over the past year pupil attendance has been better than the national average.  Learning support is exemplary and we continue with a policy of helping all, which means no exclusions.

But a key part of our vision has been to make best use of this magnificent site given to us by London Borough of Havering less than four years ago.  But I hope you can agree that Kier and their partners, especially the architects Feilden, Clegg, Bradley have built a magnificent school set in superb grounds.  It has also been built on time and to specification with the very considerable support of LB Havering. 

2012 has been a remarkable year for London with the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics and the Paralympics but in a small corner of London on its eastern rim something equally remarkable has happened.  We have started out to create a remarkable school that will be for the benefit of all those who live on Harold Hill.'

Maj-Gen Adrian Lyons CBE, Chairman of the Board of Governors and Past Master, The Drapers Livery Company