The cat collector or Kat-a-log part 17

Hello all the cats lovers!

Welcome to a very special edition of Kat-a-log. There are two reasons why this particular entry is super special to us. The first reason is that this is one of our planned Holiday Specials we wanted to do for a long period of time. Second reason is named Milena. Please scroll down to learn more about the humble beginnings of our project that go back in time to the early 1970’s!

Each week, the list of our editions is getting longer. You are currently reading the 17th issue of Kat-a-log and we are pleased to announce that during the recent visit to Poland, Rita and Olympia photographed at least 30 figurines from the collections. Now we have enough materials for the blog until the next year!. If you’d like to add something to the descriptions, you know the name of a model or a maker – please contact us straight away. Send your fan mail and kitty treats to: rdabrowicz@yahoo.com
Thanks in advance.

Please click on the links below to read the previous entries:

Kat-a-log Part 1: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-1/
Kat-a-log Part 2: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-2/
Kat-a-log Part 3: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-3/
Kat-a-log Part 4: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-4/
Kat-a-log Part 5: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-5/
Kat-a-log Part 6: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-6/
Kat-a-log Part 7: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-7/
Kat-a-log Part 8: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-8/
Kat-a-log Part 9: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-9/
Kat-a-log Part 10: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-10/
Kat-a-log Part 11: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-11/
Kat-a-log Part 12: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-12/
Kat-a-log Part 13: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-13/
Kat-a-log Part 14: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-14/
Kat-a-log Part 15: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-15/
Kat-a-log Part 16: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-16/

Kat-a-log Feline no. 63
Three sides of a cat: Miyabi, I think I’m turning Japanese (I really think so!) and Big in Japan

Country of origin: 
Poland, Krakow bought as a present in 2010

Life works in truly wonderful ways sometimes. This small kitten, made from hardened clay, has been purchased in Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow in October 2010. Rita and Matt have been visiting the city for just one day, but they stopped at the museum’s famous tearoom for some herbal treatment and fortune cookies. Strangely enough, an art exhibition was organized in the museum on the day of their visit and the artist was selling cat figurines! Thinking about the photo-shoot for the cat, Rita wanted to find a place that has some sort of connection with Japan, especially if the cat has been made according to the rules of Japanese aesthetic. Perfect opportunity presented itself, when Rita came to Tarnowskie Gory in May 2013. Tarnowskie Gory is home to Polish – Japanese Cultural Circle, a NGO dedicated to popularizing Japanese tradition and culture in Poland. The society is led by Mr Miroslaw Blaszczak, former Polish cultural attaché in Japan. Rita and Mal know him for many years as they co-operated with him on numerous projects in the past. It was good to see him working on another event! Rita took several pictures of the cat sitting at the traditional matt, known as tatami, and near beautiful kimono.

Please look at the first picture below. It is entitled “Miyabi”. If you’d like to know more, find the entry on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyabi

Pictures from the event can be found at the official website that belongs to the museum in Tarnowskie Gory: https://www.facebook.com/tgbunka?ref=profile#!/media/set/set=a.179983185497499.1073741828.123722401123578&type=1

Miyabi

Miyabi

I think I'm turning Japanese (I really think so!)

I think I’m turning Japanese (I really think so!)

Big in Japan

Big in Japan

Kat-a-log Feline no. 64
Three sides of a cat: Birthday present?, Cat in a bag and Looking out for love

Country of origin: 
Leominster, UK, given as a present in 2010

This ginger “cat-in-a-bag” resin figurine was given to Olympia as a present in January 2010. It has been purchased in a small town of Leominster, at Brightwells Auction House at one of their popular sales shows known from Cash in the Attic or Antiques Roadshow TV series. Sadly the kitten has been damaged by previous owner but it is still a very much sought-after piece of The Leonardo Collection made by Lesser & Pavey. Its official name is “The Mischief maker” and the figurine has been produced in 2001 and now is considered vintage. The kitten comes with a real leather collar and a bell. All pictures you see below were taken in Poland, in May 2013 at the biggest city fountain in Bytom 🙂

You can visit Lesser & Pavey website at: http://www.leonardo.co.uk/about_lesser_and_pavey

Birthday present?

Birthday present?

Cat in a bag

Cat in a bag

Looking out for love

Looking out for love

Kat-a-log Feline no. 65
Three sides of a cat: Neighbourhood watch,  Going green and Pretty as a flower

Country of origin: 
unknown,  received as a gift in the 1970’s
Unofficial name: Milena

Wow! It’s a very special moment for everyone behind the Kat-a-log project has finally arrived. Ladies and gents, this is Milena – the first ever cat figurine in Olympia’s collection. Milena is a brown porcelain cat with lustrous glow, produced somewhere in 1960’s. It was a present given to Olympia when she was young adult in 1970’s and spent nearly a decade standing on a shelf among other porcelain figurines. Mal and Rita used to play with Milena when they were small and it’s a real miracle that the cat survived so long without the tiniest scratch! Milena played the parts of huge monsters and evil creatures in Dungeons and Dragons inspired board games, served as a wall in hamsters/guinea pigs obstacle courses and was employed as a valuable antique statue in Barbie’s dream home. When the Kat-a-log started in 1999, Milena stopped being regarded as a figurine that’s been gathering dust for ages. She became the most valued and finally appreciated piece of family’s history. Today, Milena is proudly displayed in a prime spot surrounded by the most expensive and rarest collectible figurines. Her market price might be very small, but her sentimental value cannot be counted. There is no money in this world that could buy her. Olympia has many cats but Milena is only one.

Neighbourhood watch

Neighbourhood watch

Going green

Going green

Pretty as a flower

Pretty as a flower

Kat-a-log Feline no. 66
Three sides of a cat: Dressed for success, Very fashionable, Look me in the eyes

Country of origin: 
unknown, given as a Christmas gift in 2010 in Poland

Feline number 66 has a lot in common with two other kittens: Kat-a-log Feline no. 58 (from 15th edition) and
Kat-a-log Feline no. 60 (from the 16th edition). If you do not remember cat with magnetic tail named Goldie and a big heavy fella with large whiskers made of straw, please click on the previous entries to see them. Those three cats have been given to Olympia as presents by her husband and were bought in the same store. Feline number 66 has an elaborate outfit, two pairs of cute golden boots and eyes to die for. It was a Christmas gift and the cat was very expensive – it comes from a limited collection of designer felines. Unfortunately, a card the cat came with was lost and we no longer remember its name or the designer. Can you help us in any way? If you know who made the cat, drop us a line. We would be forever grateful!

Dressed for success

Dressed for success

Very fashionable

Very fashionable

Look me in the eyes

Look me in the eyes

Oh well, time to say good bye again! Please return swiftly, as we have a beautiful beach issue coming shortly!
Do you know that you are able to make your own Kat-a-log kittens everywhere you go?
If you are sceptical, we will prove you wrong – that’s what we love to do after all!

Have a lovely sunny day and we shall see you in the next edition!
XXX
Rita, Malicia and Olympia Dabrowicz

 

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Worcester International Festival For Young Singers

Hello!

The world is a wonderful place, let us tell you that. You think you know your hometown very well and then you discover something that’s been there for a long period of time but you haven’t noticed it at all. We are sure that each one of us had some similar experience in the past. We miss all those obvious signs and when something happens, we are utterly and completely surprised.

Rita was utterly and completely surprised yesterday when she arrived to Worcester for a lazy Saturday day out. She immediately knew that there was something going on as huge groups of people were exchanging leaflets and hurried to the city center.  And there was the music. The whole town was filled with different songs and sounds: there was a 11 year old boy playing an electric guitar in front of city hall, an young opera singer was giving a street performance in front of Subway store to rave reviews from the people eating their lunch (she got free sandwich and a cola!) and a group of dancing mimes were entertaining the kids in the front of the cathedral. When we asked other visitors why there was so many performances out of the sudden, we were told a music festival was just starting. It wasn’t till the midday when we came across Paul Cook, one of the volunteers, who explained what the festival was all about.

The logo of the Festival

The logo of the Festival

Sing UK logo -

Sing UK logo

Ladies and Gentleman – it is our biggest pleasure to announce that Worcester is now home to a very special, new international event. It is called WIFYS for short and the full name is Worcester International Festival for Young Singers. The festival brings 7 days filled with hundreds of concerts, street performances and plays to the very heart of Worcester, 10 professional and amateur choirs from 10 countries, 400 singers, 4 internationally known conductors and one passion for music. 19 -27 of July – those days are now creating history! Most events are free but seating at the venues are limited. If you’d like to take part in the festival, please send your email to info@singuk.org or contact the Gala Concert at Worcester Live Box Office, Crowngate tel. 01905 611 427.

WIFYS Festival leaflet given to Rita by one of the volunteers

WIFYS Festival leaflet given to Rita by one of the volunteers

WIFYS Festival leaflet  page 2

WIFYS Festival leaflet page 2

None of the choirs performing during the festival has ever visited United Kingdom before. They have been all over the world,  were awarded numerous titles and have excellent reputation, but this festival is a new experiences for all of them. The participants are aged 9- 25 and arrived  from Hong Kong, Russia, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Germany, Belgium and Lithuania. The hosts are is represented by local choir from Worcestershire named Wyre Forest Young Voices. WIFYS  is organized to unite the singers from different countries, religions and backgrounds under the banner of unity through music. Sing UK, the organizing committee, wants to create more opportunities for talented youths to train with the best choir directors and conductors in the world, meet new friends and strengthen the international links. The whole event will culminate in a gala concert at Worcester Cathedral on July 26th where all 400 singers will perform the world premiere of a new work by Bob Chilcott, Five Days that Changed the World.

You can visit SING UK official website here:  http://www.singuk.org
Or add them on Facebook by clicking here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sing-UK/106152329427443

More information about concerts can also be found on official events page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/485948384755155/

WIFYS has now an official Flickr page where pictures from the events and rehearsals are updated daily:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/wifys2013/


WIFYS festival booklet cover

WIFYS festival booklet cover

Choirs performing in the Worcester Cathedral - picture kindly provided by the organizers and published in the WIFYS booklet

Choirs performing in the Worcester Cathedral – picture kindly provided by the organizers and published in the WIFYS booklet

As we have mentioned, there are 10 festival venues and ten choirs participating. The organizers have prepared a little map for the visitors and we will post it below so you can download it and print it with you. We have added the link to official website of every church. If you’d like to contact the parish offices to ask for a tour or the events, please click on the links to find addresses and telephone numbers.

The venues include:
– All Saint’s Church in Evesham  – http://www.eveshamparish.com
– Great Malvern Priory – http://www.greatmalvenpriory.org.uk
– Great Witley Church  – http://www.greatwitleychurch.org.uk/
– Guesten Hall in Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove  – http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/
– Pershore Abbey – http://www.pershoreabbey.org.uk/
– St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Upton upon Severn – http://www.upton.uk.net/townmatters/stpandpchurch/stpeters.html
– Huntington Hall in Worcester – http://www.worcesterlive.co.uk/
– St. George’s Church in Barbourne –  http://www.stgeorgesbarbourne.org.uk/first_6.html
– St. John-in-Bedwardine Church in  Worcester – http://www.stjohninbedwardine.co.uk/
– St. Martin’s Church in Worcester – http://www.stmartinsworcester.org.uk/

WIFYS map with all concert venues

WIFYS map with all concert venues

Living and working in Hereford (about 30 miles away from Worcester), it will be impossible for us to visit the festival performances during the week. However, we have been very lucky to meet one of the choirs in person and hear them sing. The girls from April Girls Choir from Russian are extremely talented and quickly captivated the hearts of Worcesterites (especially the males). The girls performed in the same city center on Saturday 20th of July and their program consisted of  Russian folk and English songs. Their  concert has been conducted by Elena Smirnova. April Girls Choir has been awarded many times and performed in Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and in many other places. Rita has taken 3 pictures and would like to thank the WIFYS volunteers for their permission to document the event.

April Girls Choir  during the performances on the street

April Girls Choir during the performances on the street

The girls had matching silver dresses  - they looked absolutely beautiful

The girls had matching silver dresses – they looked absolutely beautiful

Elena Smirnova conducted the performance

Elena Smirnova conducted the performance

Choir bio from the festival booklet

Choir bio from the festival booklet

Other choirs expected to perform include:

Artemis Girls Choir from Belgium (Meisjeskoor Artemis Maaseik) – Artemis  was formed in 2007 and have 25 members between the age of 10 and 20. All members are students at The Academy of Music in Maaseik. Conductors Jeroen and Guido Beckers. The choir has been awarded first prize at European Music Festival for  Young People in Belgium and is member of the prestigious European Choral Association  – Europa Cantat.
Contact: jeroen.beckers@belgacom.net
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meisjeskoor-Artemis-Maaseik/622848431062534
Europa Cantat: http://www.europeanchoralassociation.org/members/choirs-in-countries-a-d/

Comunidad de Madrid Youth Choir from Spain (El Coro de Jóvenes de la Comunidad de Madrid) – the choir has been a project of Spain’s Ministry of Education as part of helping the children from the Community of Madrid to find their purpose in life and teach them new skills.  It has 50 members of both sexes between the age of 14 and 21 years. the choir is conducted by Juan Pablo do Juan Martin. They performed in many places around the globe and received Educational Excellence Award.
Official page: http://www.corojovenesmadrid.com

DO-RE-MI Children’s Choir from Austria – founded in 1999 by conductor and music teacher Irina Golubkowa, DO-RE-MI Children’s Choir is part of singing studio of the same name and a music school. Education starts at the age of 4 and  continues until the students are 15 years old. The kids learn not only how to sing, but are also tutored in stage presence, dance, rhythm and musicals. The group tours almost all the time and the students are used to very busy concert routine.
Official page: http://www.kindergesangsstudio-doremi.com/
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/kindergesangstudio

Domino Children’s Choir from Czech Republic –  founded in 1993 in the city of Opava by choirmaster Ivana Kleinová, the mixed choir has 80 members  between the age of 10 and 15. They are one of the most titled choirs at the festival with numerous  grand and first prizes to its name. They performed in Canada, Israel and in many European countries. Each year the choir gives more than 30 performances in Czech Republic and abroad. In 2003, they sang at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Czech Republic as a member of The Council of Europe.
Official website: http://www.domino-opava.wz.cz/onas.html (only in Czech)

Ozarenie Chamber Choir from Russia – this entirely female choir from Moscow has been founded in 1995 by artistic director and conductor Olga Burova.  They are winners of 1st degree of the International Festival of Academic Choirs “IFAS” (Czech Republic, 2012) and have been awarded the special prize for “The Best Interpretation of the Competition Obligatory Work” and the Gold medal winner of the International competition of choral music “Rimini International Choral Competition” (Italy, 2011) among many other titles. They have been touring UK since the beginning of July 2013.
Official website: http://ozarenie-choir.com/
Contact: yapontseva_el@mail.ru

Sacred Heart Canossian College Choir from Hong Kong – exclusively female choir is part of the prestigious Sacred Heart Canossian College, one of the oldest and the best established Catholic schools in Hong Kong. The College has been founded in 1860’s and has a long tradition in sport and music. The school’s choir is very  famous across China and its performances are gathering large crowds. It has 122 members and each year the group is touring Asia, Europe and both Americas.  The current conductor is Renie Sinn.
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Heart_Canossian_College
Official school website: http://www.shcc.edu.hk/

Skowronki Girls Choir fro Poland – the only Polish choir at the festival comes from Poznan and its name can be translated as Skylarks. This all female band is exactly 60 years old and is based at ZAMEK Cultural Center. The Choir tours a lot each year and is often acting as the ambassador for Polish music and culture abroad. Its artistic director and conductor is Alicja Szeluga has been with the choir for many years and is responsible for the excellent reviews the  group is receiving. Their recent successes include prizes from classical music festivals in Macedonia, Spain, Belgium and Poland.
Official website: http://www.chor-skowronki.pl/
Official Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/chorskowronki

Südpfalzlerchen Children and Youth Choir from Germany –  this mixed choir founded in 1994 has established itself as one of the most popular children choirs in Germany. In nearly 20 years of existence, the group have won nearly all European music titles and prizes and toured USA, Europe and South America numerous times. The group is conducted by Dr Klaus Eichenlaub. The choir is not limiting themselves only to classical music, but stage popular musical, music plays, pantomime and theatrical plays for young and adults.
Official website: http://www.suedpfalzlerchen.de/

Versmė Children’s Choir from Lithuania – Versmė was established in 1987 in Vilanus, the capitol of Lithuania. It is actually a theatrical group as they are trained in acting, singing, choreography and stage presence. The group performs in musicals, stage productions and plays, but also travels around the world as 25-30 all girls choir. The members are aged 12-18 and are the only Lithuanian group that managed to win the popular  TV festival “Dainų dainelė” 5 times. The choir has been performing in Europe, Japan, USA and Canada.  Their conductor is the famous Alina Valentinavičienė.
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mergin%C5%B3-choras-Versm%C4%97-/132070753473027
More information: http://www.lvjc.lt/index.php?page=bureliai2&hl=lt_LT&paslauga=2297

Wyre Forest Young Voices  –  last but not least, the choir representing United Kingdom is based in Kidderminster and is part of Kidderminster Choral Society. It has 60 members, both boys and girls, aged between 11 and 18 years old. WFYV as it is commonly known, has been recently voted Choir of the Day in the Midlands area in Sainsbury Choir of the Year competition. The choir is conducted by Geoff Weaver and  performed  in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Cyprus and The Netherlands. They are the Worcester’s pride and joy and we think many people will come to cheer on the local singers 🙂
Official Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyre-Forest-Young-Voices/118114918344095
Official website: http://www.kidderminsterchoralsociety.co.uk/

The choirs will have a chance to learn and work with 4 international stars of classical music:  Margrét Bóasdóttir from Iceland (famous soprano, conductor and artistic director of Choral Festival at Lake Myvatn), Bob Chilcott from UK (the most famous contemporary British choral composer, conductor and singer based in Oxford, England), Carlo Pavese from Italy (artistic director of Festival Europa Cantat and vice president of ECA-AC) and Sanna Valvanne from Finland/USA (conductor, teacher and multidisciplinary workshop trainer).

Hope to see you there! And keep your eyes  and ears open – there is so much happening in Worcester this summer!
Let’s not get surprised again 🙂
XXXX
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

One castle a day – Visit to Goodrich Castle part 2

Hello again!

Please  excuse us a bit of a delay with posting the second part of our visit to Goodrich Castle. We have been working really hard on preparing the holiday special edition of  the Kat-a-log project and we had to find some good locations! We traveled to beautiful lakes near Rita’s home town and took at least 150 pictures. Please keep your eyes open, the next edition of  Kat-a-log will be just purrfect.

Today’s blog will be dedicated (yet again) to Goodrich Castle. Rita and Mal have chosen the 30 best pictures of the castle and the surrounding grounds, and we would like to share them with you. If you have missed the part one published several days, please  click on the link below. The castle has a fantastic history (George R. R. Martin could write a new fantasy saga based on it!)  so you won’t feel disappointed. The entry has been divided into small parts, making it a bit more  understandable for the readers.  Please enjoy!

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/one-castle-at-a-time-visit-to-goodrich-castle-part-1/

The castle:

To quote Wikipedia, Goodrich Castle is: “now ruinous Norman medieval castle situated to the north of the village of Goodrich in Herefordshire, England, controlling a key location between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye. It was praised by  William Wordsworth as the ‘noblest ruin in Herefordshire and is considered by historian Adrian Pettifer to be the ‘most splendid in the county, and one of the best examples of English military architecture’. The castle has been built in the 12th and 13th century and was inhabited until the English Civil War in 17th century. It has been an tourist attraction since the times of Queen Victoria, drawing thousands of visitors per year.

Goodrich Castle  - picture from the  outside promenade leading to the ruins

Goodrich Castle – picture from the outside promenade leading to the ruins

A view of the main walls surrounding the ruins

A view of the main walls surrounding the ruins

Corner tower and the  back  walls

Corner tower and the back walls

Outside walls with a secret entrance, now an open gate for the tourists

Outside walls with a secret entrance, now an open gate for the tourists

2. Roaring Meg and the Civil War

Goodrich led rather peaceful existence until 1646 when the Parliamentarian forces attacked the castle during the campaign to conquer the Welsh boarder. Several hundreds cannon balls have been fired during the siege  at the south west corner of the castle causing little damage to the thick castle walls strengthened by the hill and limestone on which the building has been constructed. To conqueror the castle, colonel John Birch ordered the casting of a powerful mortar at the local village. The mortar could fire nearly 200 pounds of gunpowder-filled shell into the air.  The gunpowder exploded right after the firing and the walls were bombarded by thousands small firebombs. The mortal nicknamed “Roaring Meg” easily tore through the northern walls and melted one of the towers. On 31st of July 1646, Royalist forces led by  Sir Henry Lingen surrendered, were arrested and sent to Hereford for a trial.  Roaring Meg was welcomed by the citizens of Hereford as a savior and was granted a special place on the  Castle Green in the city center. It was returned to Goodrich in 2003.

Cannon balls found inside the castle during renovation works in 1920's

Cannon balls found inside the castle during renovation works in 1920’s

Roaring Meg on display at the castle  courtyard

Roaring Meg on display at the castle courtyard

Picture showing walls melted by the Roaring Meg fire

Picture showing walls melted by the Roaring Meg fire

Closer look at the walls and one of the damaged towers

Closer look at the walls and one of the damaged towers

3. Architecture

In its prime, the castle was a high-tech and modern building with many innovative solutions that were absolute novelties in the middle ages. It had an irrigation system for the castle garden and stables, fully functional drainage system with private and public toilets, baths and drinking fountains, mechanical gates and traps making it almost impossible to break inside the fortress.  The buildings were very luxurious, with long sunny galleries called solar blocks, huge fireplaces and even heated windows seats.  The castle had its own chapel, forge and utility buildings making it a self-reliant entity.

Small decorative stone from the Castle's chapel probably portraying one of the owners or kings

Small decorative stone from the Castle’s chapel probably portraying one of the owners or kings

One of the drinking wells or drinking fountains located throughout the castle. This particular fountain is placed  near the courtyard and was used by the servants to quench their thirst and to wash their hands after work

One of the drinking wells or drinking fountains located throughout the castle. This particular fountain is placed near the courtyard and was used by the servants to quench their thirst and to wash their hands after work

The castle had three public latrine towers for guests and servants and private ones for the owners. The latrine towers were covered by wooden doors to prevent the smell from escaping and were cleaned  regularly by children or small adults - thin enough to climb down the long chimney.

The castle had three public latrine towers for guests and servants and private ones for the owners. The latrine towers were covered by wooden doors to prevent the smell from escaping and were cleaned regularly by children or small adults – thin enough to climb down the long chimney

Each room in the castle had at least 2-3 windows with specially designed window seats. Guests could sit by the windows admiring the beautiful views of the River Wye and the estate forest.

Each room in the castle had at least 2-3 windows with specially designed window seats. Guests could sit by the windows admiring the beautiful views of the River Wye and the estate forest.

4. The Great Hall

We wish, we could see the Great Hall as it once was. It was a huge room, hidden under the pointy wooden roof, with large, highly decorated beams. Today, it’s just an open room without the roof and windows. In the 13th and 14th century, the Great Hall was the heart of the castle. Many lavish parties, feasts and weddings ceremonies took place there. The lord and lady of the castle were usually sitting in the middle of the long table surrounded by their family, members of the clergy, noble guests and their friends. The dishes would arrive straight from the kitchen and the smell while the dinner was cooking would fill the Hall, keeping the quests hungry.

Entrance to the kitchen from the Great Hall

Entrance to the kitchen from the Great Hall

Kitchen block  with a huge fireplace. The Kitchen tower had four floors and the biggest fire pit in the entire castle

Kitchen block with a huge fireplace. The Kitchen tower had four floors and the biggest fire pit in the entire castle

One of the giant windows  of the Great Hall

One of the giant windows of the Great Hall

5. The Keep

The Keep is the oldest part of Goodrich Castle. It replaced the first wooden watch tower raised in the 11th century by Godric of Mapplestone. The stone keep was probably constructed some 100 years later for Richard De Clare known under the name of  Richard Strongbow and the whole fortress was built around it. You can climb to the the top of the Keep for some spectacular views of the castle and the local villages. Large dungeon (probably a wine cellar) and a prison were located in the Keep’s basement.

The Keep is the oldest part of the castle

The Keep is the oldest part of the castle

Picture of the castle from the viewing platform at the top of the Keep

Picture of the Great Hall and the kitchen from the viewing platform at the top of the Keep

View of the castle's courtyard from the  top of the Keep

View of the castle’s courtyard from the top of the Keep

Panoramic view of the neighboring villages from the viewing platform

Panoramic view of the neighboring villages from the viewing platform

6. Solar Block

Solar Block was the most private and the most important part of the castle. This is where the lady and the lord of the castle lived. The name “solar” comes from a large chamber that was the heart of the block. The Solar chamber has been lit by large windows and maybe even by a skylight (roof window), becoming one of the sunniest and warmest places in the castle, even during the dark, winter months.  The tower behind the block is known as the lady’s tower, as it belonged to the Mistress of the castle and her daughters. A specially designated person responsible for managing the private  quarters was known as a chamberlain. His or her main responsibility was taking care of the bed-chambers belonging to the lord and the lady and providing them with every possible luxury. Lower parts were inhabited by servants and the cooks.

The remains of the Solar Block

The remains of the Solar Block

Footbridge built for the tourist has once been the main corridor of the Solar Block

Footbridge built for the tourist has once been the main corridor of the Solar Block

A view from the footpath in the Solar Block

A view from the footpath in the Solar Block

7.  Portcullis chamber and the Barbican

In the Middle Ages, the main gates were always the weakest point in the castle’s defense. The Barbican built around the main entrance, offered not only additional protection but also  served as a warning to the potential enemies. Large barbicans were built to impress the visitors and show how powerful and impregnable the fortress was. The Barbican at the Goodrich Castle is D-shaped and was built by the same builders as the Tower of London. Goodrich Castle owner, William De Valence was the nephew of  Edward I and the King wished that the Goodrich Castle resembled his own domain. The visitors had to dismount their horses before the guards and had to wait to be admitted to the castle. A stone bench and a latrine were available for them, as well as food and water for the animals. Once a permission to enter the castle was granted, the visitor had to cross long wooden bridge and pass through the main gatehouse.  Portcullis chamber built at the top of the gatehouse housed the mechanism responsible for raising and lowering the portcullises in the passage below. The Portcullis chamber at Goodrich is still in perfect condition, the mechanism is now gone but a new one could be installed at any moment 🙂

View of the Barbican from the top of the guardhouse

View of the Barbican from the top of the guardhouse

The Flag at the Barbican seen from the inside of the castle

The Flag at the Barbican seen from the inside of the castle

Tourists at the Barbican entering the castle

Tourists at the Barbican entering the castle

A place where the mechanism raising and lowering the gate portcullises were located

A place where the mechanism raising and lowering the gate portcullises were located

8.  The romantic views and shopping

Goodrich Castle is not only a place to visit on Sunday afternoon or to learn the medieval British history. As Rita was told, many couples became engaged while visiting the ruins and many have been married at the castle and in the local churches.  We have seen several artists and painters during out trip as well, making sketches or writing poetry. The dramatic setting of the castle is a perfect scenery for an open-air theaters and screened performances.

Whatever is your reason to see the castle, you will never forget the sights! And at the end of the journey, you can make some purchases at the souvenir store. We bought a small fridge magnet in full armor and toffee chocolates called “Rabbit droppings”  😀 They were hard as stones (but very nice!)

Rita's favorite part of the ruins

Rita’s favorite part of the ruins

Another look at the castle, from a different angle

Another look at the castle, from a different angle

Castle's skyline

Castle’s skyline

Helmets for the kids at the souvenir store

Helmets for the kids at the souvenir store

It was a long and tiring journey but we are glad you managed to stay with us to the very end.
If you are visiting Hereford this Saturday, 13th of July and you’d love to meet,  real knights, battles and historical fugures, please stop at the Castle Green and take part in Historical Hereford Day organized by the Herefordshire council and historical societies.  Last year Rita was running around the High Town wearing a costume of an inn landlady from 18th century 😀

All important information are available on Historical Hereford official Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/historical.hereford

Have a great day,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

One castle a day – Visit to Goodrich Castle part 1

Hello again time travelers!

After months and months of rain and cold weather in the lovely United Kingdom, the summer has officially started. Glastonbury Festival is ending and the Roskilde Festival is about to start so it means that July is here! We are opening the new month with returning to the past. Yes, you have guessed it correctly – this blog will be dedicated to another castle. Discovering the local history has become some kind of an obsession for Rita. Herefordshire has more than two dozens castles, keeps, mansions and other fortified buildings that are worth seeing. It is almost like collecting Pokemons – once you start visiting them, you cannot stop before you had seen them all.

After paying a visit to the Chilli Festival and Eastnor Castle in May, we decided to go a little bit further to one of the oldest and the best preserved castles built along the Welsh border.

If you’d like to read about the previous historical trips, please click on the links below:

Eastnor Castle trip: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/visit-to-eastnor-castle/
Chilli Festival Review: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/cinco-de-mayo-chilli-festival-in-eastnor-castle/

Picture taken from official English Heritage Facebook page

Picture taken from official English Heritage Facebook page

Official picture from English Heritage Guidebook to Goodrich Castle

Official picture from English Heritage Guidebook to Goodrich Castle

As we have already written, all castle-admiring journeys should start at Eastnor Castle near Ledbury. Eastnor is a prime example of fully operational and inhabited castle that allows visitors to see how the life looked like several centuries ago in a monstrous building of that sort. Visiting Goodrich should be another step on the castle tour for beginners. Godrich is much older and bigger than Eastnor, it is also deserted. However, it offers the tourists an unique perspective at castle’s life-circle.  After seeing both buildings it is possible to imagine how such fortresses have been constructed, designed,  furnished and finally, what happens to them once they became abandoned.

This is how the Goodrich Castle looked like in its prime. Official water color painting by Terry Ball

This is how the Goodrich Castle looked like in its prime. Official water color painting by Terry Ball

Goodrich as a ruin by Terry Ball with red dots marking main castle's attractions

Goodrich as a ruin by Terry Ball with red dots marking main castle’s attractions

Nobody knows the exact date when the castle was built, but the Doomsday book mentions that Godric of Mappestone, an Anglo-Saxon thane and landowner became a permanent resident at Howel, modern day Goodrich village. Godric was a well trained warrior and strategist, probably a member of Saxon army protecting the Welsh border. According to the historians, he constructed a small fortified earth and timber castle on the highest hill on his property, close to the River Wye around 1080. The wooden building known then as ” Castellum Godrici” or “the castle of Godric” didn’t survive long, but the memory of it has been kept in local legends passed from generation to generation. The wooden castle became the mysterious “Godric’s Hollow” or “Godric’s Hill” and was said to be the most luxurious yet practical building of the day. Harry Potter fans will easily recognize the name as the birthplace of Harry and final hiding place of James and Lily Potter before their murder at the hands of Lord Voldemort. The legend of Godric’s castle was very well known to J K Rowling who spent many years living at the southern edge of the Forest of Dean in the village of Tutshill, some 15 miles away from Goodrich.

The cover of "Goodrich Castle" guidebook by Jeremy Ashbee  published by  English Heritage in 2005 and reprinted in 2011

The cover of “Goodrich Castle” guidebook by Jeremy Ashbee published by English Heritage in 2005 and reprinted in 2011

Goodrich castle map

Goodrich castle map

By the 12th century, the wooden castle was only a memory, but the hill where the original Godric’s castle once stood didn’t loose its strategic importance. The war between  English and Welsh tribes was hardening at that time and the border needed to be protected by something more solid than a single fortified building. Between 1120 and 1176, a new stone keep has been raised by the family of William Fitz Baderon, Godric’s descendent and his sons. The keep is the oldest part of the castle and still remains in excellent condition. The castle has been extended further during the war between Empress Matilda and Stephen of England, with both sides gaining control of the Keep and adding taller walls and barricades to prevent the rival side from winning. In 1330’s,  Robert Talbot, the next owner of the castle and his wife Elizabeth, built dungeon, large stables, prison and two galleries on East and North Ranges completing the inside of the castles. Four corner towers, large courtyard and Barbican have been added a century later, turning the single stone keep into the castle we can see today.

The Kitchen - painting by Terry Ball

The Kitchen – painting by Terry Ball

The Chapel - painting by Terry Ball

The Chapel – painting by Terry Ball

The Great Hall - painting by Terry Ball

The Great Hall – painting by Terry Ball

Robertrt Talbot and Elizabeth de Comyn are probably the most important owners the Goodrich castle ever had and it’s impossible to write about the fortress without mentioning more about them. Elizabeth was the the daughter of powerful Scottish nobleman John “Red” de Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Joan de Valence, daughter of  French knight William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke. In 1324, she became one of the wealthiest women of her era by inheriting enormous lands ( including Goodrich Castle and the manor of Painswick) and large sums of money. The sudden fortune soon became a curse for the young heiress.  Elizabeth’s wealth has attracted the attention of Marcher lords: Hugh le Despenser the older and his son Hugh Despenser the younger, the royal favourites of King Edward II. The Despensers were known for their ruthlessness,  arrogance and greed and a single woman without family protection, was regarded an easy target. Elizabeth was kidnapped by Hugh the younger and brought to capitol where she was kept in the Tower of London and tortured. She was forced not only to give all inheritance away but also had to sign a debt notice of £10,000 that she was required to pay off for the rest of her life. Released without anything, Elizabeth was expected to either turn for help to her sister Joan or choose a life  at the nunnery. Now, if  you are looking for strong female characters  from the past, kindly take notice. Elizabeth was not your typical damsel in distress but took the matters into her own hands. She used her parents’ connection to find a partner who would help her regain what has been stolen from her. She made a deal with English knight Richard Talbot, the 2nd Baron Talbot: she would marry him and share her wealth with him if he would lent her his armies and reclaim the castle for her. With a little unexpected  help from Queen Isabella of France (who invaded England almost at the same time), Richard sized the Goodrich Castle from The Despensers and returned it to Elizabeth. The couple were soon married at Goodrich and the castle became their family house for the next 4 centuries. The Despensers were brutally executed (hanged, beheaded and drowned) and everybody else lived happily ever after. Hooray for a happy ending Game of Thrones style.

Cross sections of the east range with galleries overlooking the courtyard

Cross sections of the east range with galleries overlooking the courtyard

North Range and the inside of the North Gallery  - painting by  Terry Ball

North Range and the inside of the North Gallery – painting by Terry Ball

Goodrich Castle has been destroyed in 1646 during one of the longest and most desperate castle sieges of the English Civil War between the Parliament forces and the soldiers of  King Charles I of England. The siege of the castle lasted nearly 8 months and the fortress have been attacked numerous times but survived every attempt. To finally break the Royalists hiding inside the castle, Colonel Birch built an enormous mortal called ” Roaring Meg”. The mortal was able to fire a gunpowder-filled shell 85–90 kilograms (190–200 lb) in weight. Roaring Meg melted thick walls, destroying one side of the castle and allowed the Parliament forces to enter inside. Having no other choice, The Royalists surrender and if you believe local legend, marched out of the garrison to the tune of “Sir Henry Lingen’s Fancy”.

The castle was in a poor state and the owner, Countess of Kent refused to rebuilt it. She was given 1000 pounds reward for  destroying her property and moved to a newly constructed mansion. The castle has been left abandoned since then.  By 19th century, the ruins were a popular tourist attractions, described by William Wordsworth as the “noblest ruin in Herefordshire”. Every year, thousands of people from around the word travel to Goodrich village to admire the castle and to learn about its history. The fortress is also an inspiration for painters, writers and other artists. We have found several examples  of art showing the castle. Please take a look below:

Thomas Barker (of Bath) (1769-1847) Painting title:Goodrich Castle Medium:Sepia wash on paper Location;UK, London, Government Art Collection GAC number:	8003 http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/

Thomas Barker (of Bath) (1769-1847)
Painting title: Goodrich Castle
Medium: Sepia wash on paper
Location; UK, London, Government Art Collection
GAC number: 8003
http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/

Title: The South East View of Goodrich Castle in the County of Hereford Medium:Copper Artist:Buck S & N Engraver:Buck S & N Date: 1731 Published in: "Buck's Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above four hundred Castles, Monastries, Palaces, etc. etc., in England and Wales. With near one hundred views of Cities and Chief Towns" Picture can be found here: http://www.rareoldprints.com/gallery/Buck%27s%20Antiquities

Title: The South East View of Goodrich Castle in the County of Hereford
Medium:Copper
Artist:Buck S & N
Engraver:Buck S & N
Date: 1731
Published in: “Buck’s Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above four hundred Castles, Monastries, Palaces, etc. etc., in England and Wales. With near one hundred views of Cities and Chief Towns”
Picture can be found here: http://www.rareoldprints.com/gallery/Buck%27s%20Antiquities

Title: GOODRICH CASTLE,  Author: Alan Sorrell, 1959.   Type: Reconstruction drawing - The castle from the south as it may have appeared when newly completed at the end of the 13th century.

Title: GOODRICH CASTLE,
Author: Alan Sorrell, 1959.
Type: Reconstruction drawing – The castle from the south as it may have appeared when newly completed at the end of the 13th century.

 Title: Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire  Author: Hugh William Williams known as Hugh "Grecian"Williams (1773-1829) Signed and dated 'Williams/1801' (lower centre, on a rock) and inscribed 'Goodrich Castle/S Wales' (lower left) pencil and watercolour with gum arabic  The painting can be see here: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/drawings-watercolors/hugh-william-grecian-williams-goodrich-castle-herefordshire-5520431-details.aspx

Title: Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire
Author: Hugh William Williams known as Hugh “Grecian”Williams (1773-1829)
Signed and dated ‘Williams/1801’ (lower centre, on a rock) and inscribed ‘Goodrich Castle/S Wales’ (lower left)
pencil and watercolour with gum arabic
The painting can be see here: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/drawings-watercolors/hugh-william-grecian-williams-goodrich-castle-herefordshire-5520431-details.aspx

We hope that you have enjoyed this short history essay about the Goodrich Castle. Please return here tomorrow, as we will show you our pictures taken during the trip. We have taken more than 200 shots but only the most superb ones will be featured in part two of our blog. Plus, we are going to give you even more information about each room – be prepared for the best virtual tour on the Internet!

Sounds like fun, so do not dare to miss it!

Goodnight for now,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz