Painswick House has a delightful garden called the “Rococo Gardens”. Apart from the architecture (late Baroque), it is famous for its drifts of early snowdrops.
Benjamin Hyett designed it as a “fanciful pleasure garden” in the 1740s. This red summer house looks like it is only two-thirds finished, with the right wing yet to be built. The stained glass windows are inscribed with Latin verses from the Bible. The garden is surrounded by beautiful, rolling Cotswold hills.
The National Trust is a wonderful institution. Without it, stately homes would decay and be lost for future generations. It costs about a pound a week to be a member, allowing free entry to the gardens, grounds and buildings. This would not be possible without thousands of volunteers, working as guides or in the guest shops.
Lan-Hydrock means locality around the church of St Hydrock, who was a mysterious 5th Century Irish ascetic who emigrated to central Cornwall. The hall was first built in 1620, but in the late 19th Century, Lord Robartes renovated it to its present state. In 1953, the property was transferred to the National Trust. Since then, it has been the site of the film version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night – or what you will” starring Helena Bonham Carter as Olivia.
Enough of the background, here are some of the doors. First what looks like a door to a secret garden
The gates in the garden (wonderful camellias, see my Instagram account – drprunesquallor) have an ingenious mechanism to allow the gate to open both ways. There is a hinge at the top and a U shaped yoke hinge at the bottom.
The church tower was built in the 15th Century, housing nine bells.
Around the courtyard, there are some interesting doors with decorative carving.
The Old Vicarage, Cirencester. The door is covered with black plastic, reminiscent of the plastic-sheeted doors of the refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. But last week was the centenary of the Representation of the People Bill when 8 million women gained the right to vote. Grace Hadow, suffragette and the ViceChair of the Women’s Institute, lived in this house until 1917.
Dyrham is pronounced “deer-ham”. Not surprisingly, it is an ancient deer park. It was the country seat of Mr William Blathwayt, constructed at the end of the 17th Century. It looks rather ethereal in the murky gloom and drizzling rain of early February.
In 1668, Blathwayt entered the diplomatic service and was sent to the English embassy in The Hague, where he learned Dutch. When King James II was succeeded by William of Orange (King William III), Blathwayt was one of the few civil servants who could speak Dutch and communicate with the new King. His career took off when he was appointed Secretary At War. He played a great part in administering the fledgling North American colonies, became wealthy and built Dyrham. This is the view of the front of the house, with St Peter’s Church on the left. Different architects designed the front and the back of the mansion.
There is a wonderful trompe l’oeil painting through an internal door which leads the eye through several more doors. I particularly like the cat and dog. Samuel Pepys remarks on this painting in his famous diaries. The real wooden flooring changes to black and white tiles in the painting.
In modern-day footballer mansions, or in Mar-a-Lago, an Orangery would actually be a tanning salon, but here its purpose is to grow citrus fruit in a temperate climate.
The original St Peter’s church was built in the 13th Century, but it was renovated during the construction of Dyrham.
The door to the Church Tower, with notices pointing out the cost of heating the place.
“The Queen of the Cotswold Hills”, Painswick is a medieval village in Gloucestershire, England. The houses are all built of local honey-coloured stone. Painswick’s heyday was in the 13th century when it was famous for woollen cloth. In 1253, the village received a charter permitting a weekly market, in what is now called Friday Street. The main road in the village is called New Street, built in 1428. An ancient hill fort on Painswick Beacon shows that the site has been occupied since the Iron Age.
I arrived late in the afternoon but there was just enough light to grab some grainy, high ISO photographs of some doors.
This is Church House, where the composer Charles Orr lived for the latter half of his life. The church is St Mary’s, founded in Anglo-Saxon times and extended in the 15th Century in the English Perpendicular style. The fine steeple was added in the 17th Century. It is one of the most beautiful churchyards in England.
There is a door at the base of the tower, reached by a flight of stone steps. The churchyard is famous for its tabletop tombs (Richard Doone died aged 79 in 1798) and its magnificent collection of manicured yew trees. Tradition states that there are ninety-nine – the hundredth would be pulled out by the devil. The church tower is pockmarked by a couple of cannon balls from a civil war skirmish in 1643. The clock was accurate.
Above is the door to the village public bath-house (until 1977). It used to be a malting house for Stroud Breweries. Below there are two interesting doors. The white door has an advert for “Diamond Dogs” – a snooty dog-care business, specialising in extra-smelly walks to delight canine nostrils.
At the top of Gloucester Street is Butt House. It has been beautifully restored. Look at the lit main bedroom window and the ironwork around the door.
This is where I am staying tonight. French window doors leading out to the garden.
The local Bangladeshi community doesn’t see many white expatriates, in the flesh, out of doors, on the street. They see us flash past in minibuses and four-wheel drive SUVs, plastered with the logos of aid organisations, with little steel pennants on the front wing for a flag.
Occasionally they catch a glimpse of MSF expats walking from our team house to the office or buying ice cream from a local shop. Otherwise, they only see expats when they are ill and need to visit our clinics in the camp.
MSF has a strict security policy, restricting where and when we can roam. I often take a morning constitutional around the paddy fields and market area, as this has been designated a safe area.
I like interacting with the locals. Despite speaking only a handful of Bangladeshi (or “Chittagongi” in this area) words, I can get by with pidgin English and lots of sign language. I hadn’t had a proper haircut since July (done by a Pakistani barber in Green Lane Road, Leicester), so when I finished clinic early last week, I went into Ukhiya to look for a barbershop. Unlike Delhi, there aren’t any barbers plying their trade on the pavement. Well, Ukhiya doesn’t actually have any roadside pavement yet. I was given some general directions by a friend so I managed to find the shop easily.
I am quite used to being the object of people’s curiosity. They don’t glance surreptitiously at me; it is a full-on, open-mouthed stare. I engage with the starers, greeting them and they are obliged to interact: “Salaam Alaykum.” “Alaykum Salaam.”
When I walked into the hairdressers, all the clipping stopped for a moment as the barbers noticed a foreigner in their midst. Even the customers were eyeing up my reflection in the mirrors. But the boss ushered me into a seat and within a few seconds, everything went on as before.
There was an old television fixed up high in the corner of the room showing a Banglawood movie. After some sharp words from the boss, a minion came over, picked up the remote and started stabbing at it. He had been told to look for a foreign station. The only one was a sports channel, showing grainy video of a football match. How about that for hospitality?
One of the barbers came over and established I wanted a haircut. He tied a tissue around my neck and draped me with a plastic cape. Now the difficult bit. What kind of cut do I want? Most Bangladeshis have a short back and sides, some with quite elaborate styling on top. My barber, Mr Sharma, had a good style. I pointed at his hair, then at my hair and smiled. No joy.
How much did I want off? I said, “Chota,” which means “a little bit”. “Speak Hindi?” he asked and rattled off a few phrases which I didn’t understand. Then I played my trump card. I knew the Chittagongi/Rohingya word “alpo”, which also means small. “Trim, small, alpo, understand?”
He nodded and set to work with comb and scissors on one side of my head. After five minutes, I came to the conclusion that alpo meant leave a little, rather than cut off a little. We had crossed the Rubicon now, so I let him continue.
Every now and then, the television commentator got excited and instinctively I turned my head towards the TV screen to see who had scored. The barber grabbed my head and repositioned it as he wanted. I suppose the TV is for the benefit of those waiting, rather than those being scalped.
Mr Sharma kept clipping. I now knew his first name, Liton (or maybe Lytton). He could see I was sweating in the sultry heat, so he turned a fan onto me. This made my hair fly up so he sprayed it with water to keep it in place.
I was reassured when he used a new razor blade to shave the edges and clean up my neck down to the shoulder blades. He soothed the razor burn on my neck using a machine like a large shaving brush, which vibrated and showered me with talcum powder.
My rampant eyebrows were trimmed and he dealt with my nostrils and ears. I probably paid extra for the obligatory head, neck and shoulder massage – the full Monty. There was some discussion over the price. Locals pay about 50 taka, 75 if the salon is air-conditioned, and 100 -150 taka in the big city, Cox’s Bazar. I gave Liton 100 and he was happy (about 90p).
The haircut took about 45 minutes, and it was getting dark as I left the shop. Outside, a group of children sitting on a handcart started giggling as I walked past. They had been watching the performance. I didn’t have time to chat, so I walked briskly back to the house, wondering how hilarious my new haircut was. It looked fine in the salon…
Yesterday, I was waiting at the roadside for an ambulance coming from the clinic with a seriously ill patient. It was 7:30am and I attracted a crowd before a man shoo-ed people away. We chatted. He understood why I was there and was able to explain to all the curious bystanders. They were satisfied. He had 100kg of green chillies in four burlap sacks. In the mouth of each sack was stuffed some fresh grass. A goat joined us and kept nibbling on the grass. I wanted to see what would happen if it ate a chilli, but the man waved it away. A little boy dressed in his Friday-best white outfit came over to practise his English. A grizzled old rickshaw driver was also curious. He cycled past a few times, then came over to make my acquaintance. I tried asking him how old he was. He understood my age but didn’t know his own. The frame of his cycle rickshaw said “A Long Life”.
A succession of barrel wallahs passed me. The low sunlight made photography difficult and I should have used video to capture their bouncing gait, in synch with the oscillations of the bamboo pole across their shoulders. The trick is for them to keep moving.
The ambulance arrived and I accompanied the patient to Cox’s Bazar.
PS This piece was written a month ago when I was still working in Bangladesh.
This is my last blog post displaying doors from Bangladesh. These are all from the village of Ukhiya, in Cox’s Bazar District, just to the north of the largest refugee camp in the world at Kutupalong-Balukhali. Outside the team house, relaxed security allowed us to walk through the rice fields and into the market area. Here is a wonderful modern house painted in pastel colours by the paddy. Sadly, the door is just a concertina metal fence.
Another colourful house in the village, again painted in pastels. Note the door is set high, with a barrier to prevent flood water from entering the compound.
I walked past this door which has a large gap below the gate. Above, there are some circular, decorative spoke-like patterns.
Some craftsmen make wooden doors, too. When I arrived at this shop, the small boy was sanding down the intricate design. His father told him to stop. I thought that the father might be conscious of Western disapproval of child labour. The boy seemed to be enjoying it, as judged by his big smile. Another man came over to do some sanding instead.
Not all businesses are doing well. The weeds on the concrete overhang look to be flourishing more than the shop.
Some doors from Bangladesh. The first picture comes from Kutupalong Refugee Camp. About 650,000 Muslim Rohingya fled from NW Myanmar to escape persecution over the past few months. This camp is currently the biggest in the world. Conditions are squalid. The Rohingya construct their shelters with plastic sheeting and bamboo. This is where I have been working for the past two months.
Outside the camp, in Ukhiya, the doors are made from metal for security.
This is a door shop in the bazar. The design is reminiscent of Mughal Art in the 17th Century in India.
A testament to corrugated tin sheeting.
This is intriguing. What does the sign say? Does anyone read Chittagongi? Or it might be Bangla?
Three doors from the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. The photos were taken on a cell phone. I was so excited about picking up my visa to go to Bangladesh that they are a bit blurred from my shaking. Forgive me. But they are worth a look, no?
Thirteenth century doors from France. Over the centuries, wood tends to rot and iron corrodes. The iron is decorative and protective. The marks from the keyhole and handle show that the door was used upside down in the past.
This door is from the early 16th Century. The halfmoon “lunette” panel above the door shows an illustration from the labours of Hercules. The door is from Orleans, France.
This is door from Ipswich in England. It dates back to the early 16th Century. The thick oak planks have stood the test of time well.