Tuesday 12 May 2009

Love - a Chapel and an Opera House (two stories)

Dear Mr Postman .. thank you for delivering this letter - sorry we weren't here yesterday .. lets hope that my mother will be able to go back to Kestrel Nursing Centre today .. and I know she will be so interested in these love stories .. buildings built by husbands for their wives ...

I found this short story in The Week, 25 April 2009, which I know will really cheer my mother .. and found the pictures on the BBC Hereford and Worcester site - and credit both sites for their articles.

The Week's article summarises this wonderful story: Jon Richards, 63, embarked on his "labour of love" after his wife Muriel began to find their local Anglican church too crowded for serious contemplation. Although they remain active members of that congregation, they now also hold services in their 12 foot x 8 foot chapel. Built from brick, it has Gothic windows, salvaged from a scrap yard, and is furnished with original church pews and a tapestry of the Last Supper.

The BBC Hereford and Worcester article notes that Mr Richards came up with the idea as Easter services have been held on a nearby hill and they liked to think that 'this is a spiritual hill, and for many years we've had crosses erected on the hill at Easter time, and we have an Easter service' ...

Glyndebourne, on the other hand, is a 700 year old country house and opera house near where we live in Sussex and my brother has taken my mother and I a few times to the opera .. it is an amazing place .. the interior has just a glow about it .. and the acoustics are fantastic.

John Christie, the owner, came into full legal possession of the estate from his grandfather in 1920. Mr Christie's fondness for music led him to hold regular amateur opera evenings in the newly built magnificent organ room (80 feet long), which he commissioned and which almost doubled the south facade of the house.

It was at one of these opera evenings that he met his future wife, the Sussex-born Canadian soprano Audrey Mildmay. During their honeymoon attending the Salzburg and Bayreuth festivals, the Christies developed the idea of bringing professional opera to Glyndebourne with the focus being on smaller-scale productions of opera by Mozart which would be well suited to the intimate scale of the planned theatre.
As an annex to the organ room, the Christies built a fully-equipped and up-to-date theatre with a 300-seat auditorium and an orchestra pit capable of holding a symphony orchestra. The theatre has constantly been enlarged and improved .. in 1936 it had 433 seats, in 1952 it held nearly 600, and finally in 1977 it held 850.
By the late 1980s the theatre's expansion, which had proceeded in a somewhat piecemeal fashion, included an agglomeration of outbuildings which housed restaurants, dressing rooms storage and other facilities.

In 1992 this amazing new 1200 seat theatre was built with the inaugural performance given 60 years to the day (24 May 1994) after the old theatre's first performance, and was once again Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro: The Marriage of Figaro.

Glyndebourne was a labour of love back in 1931, realised in 1934 ... which continues to this day - the south Sussex Downland is an unlikely setting for an internationally renowned Opera House which continues to impress, attract and offer the most wonderful productions, with opera lovers coming from far wide ... to picnic in the warm summer sunshine on the lawns in front of the grand house before the performances ... champagne, strawberries abounding .. a real English setting.

Thank you Mr Postman .. my mother will definitely love these stories .. as she lived during the Glyndebourne period and she is very religious .. we will have so much to talk about ... do you know of any other labours of love?

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Liara Covert said...

Hilary, you are a wonderful documentarist. I wonder if you have ever considered that as a serious hobby? One thinks of BBC programs with hosts and hostesses that take viewers on spectacular journeys. You have a knack for drawing attention to enchanting places. Maybe you will choose to be a guest on or run your own radio program? Talk radio enables more people to learn about enchanting and timeless places. You can always dream your way into a new reality.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. I'm honoured .. at the moment I'm just trying to get my feet .. and keep my mother in a happy state, with love and laughter in her eyes and peace in her heart.

I am blown away with everyone's appreciation of my starter blog-attempt .. which seems to have hit the sweet spot .. so I'm lucky .. my idea arising out of my letters to the family and friends and incorporating them with Giovanna's help and advice .. seems to be going in the right direction.

Yes - I have loads of ideas!! LOADS .. just time and patience .. while it all builds and I must see my mother and my uncle through their last days ..

Life is interesting to say the least .. I will dream .. don't have much own space at the moment .. it will happen I know it will ..

Thanks again .. sooooo much ...!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

The opera house is certainly a beautiful theatre. Thank you for bring up all the places that we should get to visit when in England!

The English have such gifted entertainers!

Take Care

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hilary, that was so lovely. thank you for sharing. Hope your mother is better today. With hugs from us,her fans. Have a great day.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Daphne @ Joyful Days said...

Hi Hilary,

I agree with Liara that there may be a long-term path here if you are so inclined.

Your picture of the little chapel brought back memories. I once stayed in Cornwall and there was a little chapel just like that about twenty steps down the road. I thought it was so cool, even though it was empty all the time!

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hilary, thank you for this great post. The chapel and the opera house are something special.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. thanks for enjoying the opera house and chapel .. the stories are great I think ..
Thanks for your thoughts re my Ma ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Daphne .. many thanks for your added endorsement .. I am slowly building the model and am so appreciative of everyone's positive thoughts - I love writing my stories and linking things together.

For my mother .. the little stories are good - as she relates and we can discuss each part and laugh and be happy .. that's so important for her - gives her a 'life' ... and we can discuss the links too .... each bit inter-relates to other parts and leads to other discussions and other triggers from both of us ..

Great that the little chapel brought back memories .. there are so many of these tiny local churches for each settlement in England and for each religion .. & they evoke memories of days gone by, of different eras and those times ..

Yes - churches and chapels are empty a lot of the time, but now greater use is being made of them .. it's probably the balancing act of a building that is for religious purposes and how it can benefit the local community -

that's given me another idea for a post .. restoration of a chapel in Newlyn and its present day usage ...

I appreciate your thoughts and am so pleased you can remember your little chapel down the lane from where you were staying in Cornwall ..

Cool .. yes!! Thanks!
Hilary Melton-Butcher

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. yes Glyndebourne is pretty special ..as our the South Downs .. and the surrounding Sussex countryside -

so too is Worcestershire where the Chapel is .. the Malvern hills and on into Wales ..

so many stories to tell ..

So pleased to hear you like the English entertainers ..

Thank you - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters