Local Heart, Global Soul

January 25, 2020

This Ceiling Is Not All That It Seems…

The chimneybreast of yesterdays post almost appears to flow down from the ornate decorative ceiling I’m featuring in todays post. There is a large panel in the centre of the ceiling with an oil painting of cherubs and swans. An ornate carved frame separates it from the other painted panels that surround it. The majority of the surrounding panels features stylised acanthus leaves and flowing foliage. However the eye is instantly drawn to the four “medallions” in the corners. The contrast not only in colour but also in style, and are pure illusion. Although they might first appear to be plaster scenes in the classical style of ancient Greece, they are in fact skilful paintings made to appear three dimensional.  The Freemason’s House in the Hague is proving to be an unexpected joy when it comes to architectural detail, so I’m a huge fan of the Netherland’s annual  ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites) for making visits to places like this possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Corner “medallions” on ceiling…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Corner “medallions” on ceiling

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Ceiling view with two of the corner “medallions” in view.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Third corner “medallions” …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) Forth ceiling medallion… faux plaster.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) This shows how the ceiling ties in so nicely with the fireplace and chimneybreast…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 23, 2020

Widest Door Sir? …Coming Up!

I’m visiting Freemason’s House in the Hague during the 2019  ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites) when I see something that makes me do a double take. This set of doors has to literally be seen to be appreciated. They are probably the widest doors I have ever seen outside of a castle… and one thing is for sure , this is no “off the shelf” item, this was very much custom made.  What’s especially strange about this one, is all the other doors out of this room and around the entrance hall  are of normal proportions. I wonder if the order raised an eyebrow when the measurements came into the carpenter / joiners workshop?

Hmmm… “One set of massively wide, decoratively curved double doors, wide enough for four people to easily fit through at once please“. Or did they just take the money and wonder about rich people’s strange ways of living and eccentric requests? Both doors have amazing cut-out work at the top that fit neatly into the cut-out frame at the top of the door. Stunning workmanship. One thing is for sure, there was no need to tilt a table on it’s side when shifting it into this room.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 21, 2020

Logging Our Errors…

Visiting the Freemasons House on  the 2019 ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites) ‘Freemason’s House’ I find one beautiful object after another. Being that this is the “display” section of the Freemasons building and the only section open to the public it stands to reason that their library is featured here. Some books,  probably all log books, ledgers and visitors books were written out by hand. Handwriting /penmanship was taught to a meticulous standard to boys and girls from a young age so little wonder that these books (maybe diaries??) are so beautifully written.  But… just to prove that in a medium where mistakes could not be erased, we also see that (maybe someone’s long sleeve?) smudged some of this beautiful work. No matter the amount of training, we are only human after all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 18, 2020

Stone Sentinels Close To The Fire…

Following on from yesterday’s post I took the opportunity to visit the Freemasons House in the Hague during the 2019 ‘Nationale Monumentendag’. This is an Open day for National Historic Places sites, or private establishments who open their doors to the public on this weekend. Yesterday I was looking at a stunning fireplace that had beautiful carved wooden faces in it’s upper section, now, closer to the heat source, carved figures continue, but this time in stone.

Today I am looking at the male and female head and torso figures standing in matching (modest) poses, below them, cheribs and close to the floor, very small busts of a woman. All of these figures are idealised and show far less detail and character than the wooden figures above them. Who knows, maybe they are even “catalogue” pieces, bought off the rack and fitted below the personalised section? The cherubs and ladies at the bottom are pretty much identical so I only photographed one of each. These stone sentinels can definitely take the heat.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 17, 2020

Capturing Individuality Without Appearing Wooden…

There is a beautiful fireplace in one of the rooms of Freemason’s House in the Hague. I got to see this masterpiece in stone, tile, carved wood during an event called ‘Nationale Monumentendag’. This is a day / weekend where once a year these National Historic Places sites are open to the public. I had arrived here one hour too early by mistake, but they were kind and let me inside anyway, so for a brief time I could take uninterrupted photographs without having to wait for other people to move aside etc. (Yes, I told them about my blog and asked permission first). These carved wooden faces adorn the top area of the fireplace, the light was not optimal but it’s clear to see that these were probably carved with definite individuals in mind, and not just a “generic” Greek/historic figure as was sometimes the fashion. Each face has it’s own character and I can only attempt to capture their individuality as carefully as possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 16, 2020

Lions And Their Place Near The Fire…

One of the things I found whilst visiting the Freemason’s House in the Hague on ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (National Historic Places Day) sites) was a stunning fireplace in one of the rooms. It included carved woodwork, Delfts Blauwe tile work and these stone lions that are placed either side of the fireplace. They are imposing, beautiful, tactile and even in the low light, photogenic.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 15, 2020

Freemasons Around The World…

‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites), and my visit to  ‘Freemason’s House’ in the Hague is quite an eye-opener. There is a sort of museum which documents history of the masons around the world, far too much to translate for here, but definitely interesting to see in person. I’m also amazed to see that the freemason movement was already very well established in the mid 1700’s, a surprise because I sort of assumed that it only started a decade or so before 1900. Proof that assumptions can be very, very wrong indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Text from some of the many information boards read:

“India and Ceylon”

“Within the small number of Europeans in the 18th century India and Ceylon, masons form a large group. In lodge archives you can find the names of hundreds of members. The majority come from Europe, 50% from the Netherlands, whilst 20% were born in Southeast  Asia. In addition to the merchants, civil servants and soldiers, there is a small but very influential percentage 10% governors and directors of trade posts. Between 1757 and 1796, freemasons are active in Bengal, Negapatnam, Suratte, Palliacatte, Galle and Colombo. Their growth is hampered by the transit of members to other destinations,  difficult communication with the head lodge from overseas and the relocation of trading offices because of international conflicts. Dutch travellers therefore used the English lodges in the region.”

“Proof of membership document of Louis Garel Von Ranzow (1787-1868) issued by English. Lodge Star in the East No.70 in Calcutta in 1814. It’s shown in the four Lodges at Java, drawn as seen from the rear side.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 14, 2020

Digging Around Freemason’s House…

During my Freemason¨s House visit during the `Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open days for National Historic Places sites) I found a room that was clearly about the history of the Freemasons around the world. There are many display cases, filled with objects I don’t recognise, such as this “shawl”(?) which had a tiny little trowel on one end. It’s obvious that it will only have special ceremonial duties, and there is intricacy too in the handwork it is attached to.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Below) The text boards tells me: “Sjerp from the Knight of the East Holmberg de Beckfeldt, in South East Asia circa 1775-1825 in painted silk. The bridge is the bridge of the Starburzanai river,  lent from the bile story about the return of the Jewish people and the construction of the temple of Solomon.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 13, 2020

This Dumb Waiter Spills No Secrets…

Stepping into one of the first rooms of the Freemason’s House in the Hague during my ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ tour, I noticed some beautiful patterns worked into the flooring. I also noticed that the walls between these two rooms were unusually thick. Then I noticed what looks like a sliding door hatch: this is a ‘dumb-waiter’. The gentleman I asked didn’t know if it was still in use and didn’t want to open it (I asked, explained about my blog and said it was no problem at all if they didn’t want to).

For me the really interesting part was to see how much wall space this little lift/elevator took up, it’s far greater space than I had in my head after watching movies where the dumb-waiter was always in a back wall, where the good-guys hid in action movies, or from which delicious trays of food were dispensed in luxury settings.

I can’t believe that there would have never been occasions where the servants of the time did not sneak in a ride in one of these, where illicit goods like alcohol were hidden or even possibly people during the war. Sadly Dumb-waiters are dumb and giving away no secrets.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 11, 2020

Freemasons In The Light…

Visitng the Freemasons House during the ‘Nationale Monumentendag’ (Open Days for National Historic Places sites), I look up in the waiting room/entrance area to see a beautiful skylight several stories above me. The glass is gorgeous and actually more detailed than it looks like at first glance. I zoom in for a closer look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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