Friday, April 17, 2015

Leland in Hidden East Yorkshire

  I have, in previous postings, described my attempts to resuscitate some ideas, and the photographs that go with them, that I used in various multimedia projects in the days when digital images had 256 colours and nobody believed in vertical scrolling. One of the projects involved looking at certain medieval towns, and how the history of the towns shaped their modern forms, as well as finding the material clues to their past. Another project involved looking at towns, villages and landscape through the eyes of John Leland, traveller of the early 16th century.
  Medievalists and early modernists will fight to the death defining the end of the middle ages, but in Britain one event (no, not the battle of Bosworth) changed the face of towns and the landscape forever. That was the dissolution of the monasteries at the Reformation. Whatever you might think of horrible Henry, by the 16th century the buildings of the church dominated the layout and organisation of towns and the views of the villages and countryside and a great deal of wealth in town and country. The owners of the handsome secular buildings also put their mark in the churches with their endowed chapels and elaborate funerary monuments. Then the whole infrastructure was kicked down. 
  Populations shifted, towns shrank and grew. The renewal of urban infrastructure and new organisations and technologies in the 19th century often appeared in the spaces left partly deserted and tatty on old church lands. If you are looking for the site of a town friary, pretty good chance it might be under the railway station.
  I have tried a couple of little experiments in meshing these two projects together with teensy weensy little examples done using Flickr. There is a historic tour of Beverley.

  And one of Boston.

A little look at two fascinating medieval edifices in Pickering.

  A slightly alarming tour of Leicester if fossicking for medievalia amid rampaging traffic bothers you.

  An exploration of a church chocablock with medieval alabaster tombs within the deserted landscape of a country estate at Harewood

 And a multifacetted little treasure at Higham Ferrers

  There is architecture and landscape and bits of  art and archaeology and lots of tombs, but it is all bits and pieces all over the place. Time to try to start to begin to think about developing it into some kind of structure and theme. So back to my favourite forgotten landscape in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Having looked at Beverley, the next segment explores Hull, Hedon and surrounds.

  The picture shows Holy Trinity church, Hull reflected in the windows of the Midland Bank which stands more or less where the Augustinian friary used to be, which kind of encapsulates the whole thing really. Leland provides his 16th century commentary, while Daniel Defoe and Celia Fiennes give us occasional updates from the 17th and early 18th century. Various antiquarians of the 19th century have contributed words and images from their perspective. Of course, the whole enterprise would flounder without the trusty Pevsner, not to mention the old creased and battered Ordnance Survey maps. The Internet Archive provides wondrous old tomes long forgotten and Google Maps satellite images can put some things in a whole new perspective.
  Because Leland is basically an incoherent series of notes in somewhat chaotic order, unfinished in many places, it works quite well to use him for something which is assembled from fragments around the country. He was supposed to have gone crazy and died as a result of his overly ambitious efforts. History may repeat itself.
  Using Flickr as a basic vehicle is providing some challenges. Because it is essentially a database, it is possible to pull out sets and themes on different topics, re-using certain images and captions; truly hypertext. This could be fascinating as a concept, or result in utter chaos. Because it is continually restructurable, I can keep building and elaborating on existing presentations, for better or worse. Because I am working directly on the open web, everybody can see my work in progress and comment on it if they so wish. I have been flagging the material fit to be seen here and on Twitter, but anybody can have a ramble through the as yet unorganised and unfinished sections if they so please. A bit scarey, but strangely liberating.
  All the material utilising Leland is gathered together on Flickr in a Leland collection, so you can access all the tours from there. We will see what becomes of it, but I'm having fun.

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