Monday, November 22, 2010

The Anglophilian vice

I've added new links under the sidebar header "Anglophilia" here that reflect for the most part an obsession with ancient buildings. That's not an easy obsession to deal with in Iowa because we have no ancient buildings. Euroamericans have been around this high up between the Mississippi and the Missouri since only the late 1830s. And we've been careless with what our forbears built, preferring to tear them down or let them fall down.

"Anglophilia" is a little misleading, since it implies a fondness for all things English. I couldn't care less about the royal family, don't especilly like tea and while devoted to the Book of Common Prayer am not at all devoted to what's called the Anglican Communion. "Anglobuildingophilia" would be more accurate, but bulky.

I especially like English Churches, even better when the person photographing and writing about them is obsessed. And that's certainly the case with Simon Knott's "Churches of East Anglia" --- accounts of visits to approximately 1,500 churches, mostly Anglican with inevitable Roman Catholic roots, in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Great Chalfield (above), in Wiltshire, is perhaps my favorite English house (wonderful gardens, too). Although owned by the National Trust it is lived in and managed for the British public by grandchildren of the couple who so sensitively restored it. "Ming at Great Chalfield" is a blog written by members of that family pretending to be their dog Ming. I know that seems a little odd, but then so do the Christmas letters from cousins of mine pretending to be one of their dogs or horses.

Owlpen Manor, in the Cotswolds, owned and occupied by members of the Manders family, is another small but extremely interesting building. The Web site they've developed for it is one of the best and most comprehensive around.

Craig Thomber has posted thousands of photos of villages, towns, churches and houses in Cheshire and Staffordshire as well as elsewhere in England on his various sites. Expecially good if you're interested in the settings and surroundings of interesting buildings.

And finally, Treasure Hunt, a blog written by National Trust staffers who track down, evaluate and write abound artifacts separated at some point from the hundreds of properties the trust owns and administers.


Features related to our native forbears are about as ancient as anything human-related gets here in Iowa, so I was interested this morning to see a blogger, Lance Foster, linked as "The Sleeping Giant" under "Stuff I Read" quoted in a Des Moines Register story related to National Park Service shenanigans at Effigy Mounds National Monument way up in the northeast part of the state.

Lance, who lives in Montana but who was an Iowan while attending university, is a registered member of the Ioway tribe, our namesake, and author of the excellent "The Indians of Iowa" published recently by University of Iowa Press.

What happened at Effigy Mounds was fairly simple --- its National Park Service staff in the interests of public accessibility authorized and in part constructed a series of boardwalks without following Park Service procedure to ensure that the site modifications didn't damage site integrity. That cost in excess of $1 million.

Here's a link to The Des Moines Register, but you're on your own so far as finding the story is concerned. The Register moves stories around and eventually pops them into a for-a-price archive --- so links to specific stories don't last long. Look for the story headlined, "Outrage lingers among those who love Effigy Mounds."

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