Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Frost In Fulham
or rather West Kensington, as the Victorian estate developers called it to try and create a 'cachet'. 'Western wastes', as Henry James called it, might be more appropriate, but we do have a wonderful resource on our doorstep, Old Brompton Cemetery, maintained under the aegis of the Royal Parks as a public amenity and a superb natural habitat for wildlife - don't ask about the gay orgies the tabloids used to report on, I've seen no evidence, though it's clearly a cruising ground as well as a thoroughfare for everyone else.
I prepared to do what for me at the moment, with the stent still limiting exercise, was a big walk to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and back last Wednesday, and it was a remarkable day for it. Snow didn't settle here, but frost following a night of rain and wind had created astonishing patterns on the roofs and bonnets of cars just outside the flat, like the one above in the shade and this on the sunny side of the street, which could be mistaken for an aerial view of the Alps from a plane window.
J accompanied me as far as the north gate of the cemetery, where there's now a rather chic little cafe with vistas down the alleys southwards. I've managed to conceal the extensions either side here; the cafe is behind the trunk of a big plane tree.
Vegetation on those graves still in the shade was attractively frosted
but in the full sun, the snowdrops were thriving.
Intriguing mosses and lichen on stone. They thrive in graveyards because of the absence of pesticides/herbicides.
The avenue fringed by London planes, leading to mini-homages to Bernini's piazza and St Peter's itself, told me why I think of late January to mid February as a golden-brown sort of time; the incipient leaves are that colour.
The path I'm photographing contains two interesting monuments off to the right, including the above to Valentine Prinsep, which turns out to be a copy of a 13th century Sienese original - I included it in a much more galanthocentric post some time back -
and, undoubtedly the cemetery's finest artwork, Edward Burne-Jones's design for the resting place of art patron Frederick Leyland. This, too, I blogged about as far back as 2009, but the sharp winter light helps define the patterning.
The path to the south, looking towards the west colonnade,
and a nearby broken column. I understand from paintings that it symbolises the decline of the classical with the coming of Christ - or so I'd thought, though J says that in this context it can stand for a life cut short - but here the comparison is with towering new construction taking place all around this protected ground.
So towards the oval 'piazza' - looking north
and past what I take to be Faith, Hope and Charity.
The angel whose hand 'holding' a bunch of daffodils I featured at the end of the blog post on Stephen Johnson's new work holds it still.
Colonnade from the south end
and exit notice,
before I pressed on to the hospital (good news, by the way: I heard on Friday that the operation is set for Tuesday 12 February. Only six more days of this restricted lifestyle to go.
passing more promise from the copper beech which is always so beautiful in the summer,
I took a route through the eastern quarter, which gives different perspectives on 'St Peter's' and with its pine trees against a blue sky suggests more Mediterranean climes, especially by the lion memorial.
There are some smaller-scale monuments here.
The vegetation on this side, all ferny, will grow lush in a few months' time. Meanwhile, nearing home, the magnolia stellata is in bud. Hope the frost doesn't get it.