I attended a meeting in Haggerston, Hackney, London recently and spotted this rather fine old Park Keeper’s lodge at Albion Square Gardens.
Old School Gardener
And this year, for the first time ever, an NHS hospital – The Royal Bournemouth NHS Foundation Trust – has achieved the Green Flag Award standard, joining recipients Blue Water Shopping Centre in Kent and Peak Forest Canal in Whaley Bridge.
“These winning bids all have a strong community focus at the core of their plans and their designers have thought up highly creative ideas to turn unloved urban spaces into the green lungs of their communities that will be enjoyed for years to come”
“We’re delighted the government is supporting communities and councils to do more. For many local groups, improving the park at the end of their street is the first step in getting much more involved in how their neighbourhood is run.”
‘Everything was sternly ordered with avenues of bonsai. Cosmos was planted in strict rows, Gertrude Jekyll eat your heart out!’
‘The word béguinage is a French term that refers to a semi-monastic community of women called Beguines, religious women who sought to serve God without retiring from the world, as well as to the architectural complex that housed such a community. The word has been absorbed into English, where it is typically written without an accent. There are two types of beguinages: small, informal, and often poor communities that emerged across Europe from the twelfth century on, and the Court Beguinages (begijnhof (Dutch)), a much larger and more stable type of community that emerged only in the region of the Low Countries in the first decades of the thirteenth century.
While a small beguinage usually constituted just one house where women lived together, a Low Countries Court Beguinage typically comprised one or more courtyards surrounded by houses, and also included a church, an infirmary complex, and a number of communal houses or ‘convents’. From the twelfth century through the eighteenth, every city and large town in the Low Countries had at least one Court Beguinage (they shut down, one by one, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). They were encircled by walls and separated from the town proper by several gates which were closed at night. During the day the Beguines could come and go as they pleased. Beguines came from a wide range of social classes, though truly poor women were only admitted if they had a wealthy benefactor who pledged to provide for their needs.
Our understanding of women’s motivations for joining the Beguinages has changed dramatically in recent decades. The development of these communities is clearly linked to a preponderance of women in urban centers in the Middle Ages, but while earlier scholars like the Belgian historian Henri Pirenne believed that this “surplus” of women was caused by men dying in war, that theory has been debunked. Since the groundbreaking work of John Hajnal, who demonstrated that, for much of Europe, marriage occurred later in life and at a lower frequency than had previously been believed, historians have established that single women moved to the newly developed cities because those cities offered them work opportunities. Walter Simons has shown how the smaller beguinages as well as the Court Beguinages answered those women’s social and economic needs, in addition to offering them a religious life coupled with personal independence, which was a difficult thing to have for a woman.’
I visited the Vigeland Park last summer. It is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions.
The unique sculpture park is Gustav Vigeland’s lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. Vigeland was also in charge of the design and architectural layout of the park. The Vigeland Park was mainly completed between 1939 and 1949.
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