Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 19 August 2016

Dedicated to Love

Honour, riches, marriage, blessing,
Long continuance and increasing,
Hourly joys be still upon you.
Juno sings her blessings on you.
(Shakespeare, The Tempest)

 Sorting through my photos I came upon some from a visit we made a few years ago with old friends, to Croome, a National Trust property in Worcestershire. I was struck by the fact that, out of a handful of snaps, I found three which demonstrate dedication and celebrate marriage, commitment and devotion, (apart from we two long-time married couples of course).

My husband and our friends sit in the Island Pavilion for some welcome shade and a rest. The scene in the panel above our friends is dedicated to love and marriage; based on the Aldonbrandini Wedding, you can see it in more detail here and compare it with the painting on which it is based below.* The allegorical work depicts: Aphrodite, goddess of love, tending to the bride who is seated; Hymen, deity of marriage at the foot of the bed, Muses on the right, with wedding attendants to the left.

We visited the church of St Mary Magdalene within the park, and found several wonderful monuments, including this one, which I found very moving, of Mary Craven, wife of Thomas, 2nd Baron Coventry.

Mary died on 18th October 1634 in her 29th year; her infant son also did not survive. There are two small figures kneeling at the foot of her bed, possibly her two sons George and Thomas, who would have been aged five and six when they lost their mother. She was also mother to two daughters, who died young. The monument would have been erected by her sorrowing husband, as a dedication to his lost love. The Latin inscription is translated:

In Memory of that most illustrious Lady Maria, devoted wife of Thomas Coventry, eldest son of Thomas Baron Coventry of Allesborough, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England. A truly most admirable woman, upon whom God lavished beauty, and what is rarer in her sex, virtue, her loveliness surpassing any woman’s, her generosity surpassing any man’s, of unblemished reputation and purity of life, with a lively mind, strong judgment, an easy eloquence and pleasant speech, calmly in control of her feelings, and finally not just a wise but a calm mistress of all these gifts. A fertile mother of four children, she arrived at the last fatal confinement, bringing forth a son, against nature, rather to death than to life, so that even while trying to share out her life, she lost it, and herself yielded to fate, a short time after her child, amid general lamentation.**
As we left the church and made our way home, we encountered this wonderful symbol of dedication from loving parents, united in their love and care of their offspring. Canada Geese are monogamous and mate for life, with both parents sharing the care of the young. Now that’s dedication.

Join us at Sepia Saturday, where all this month we are celebrating love and marriage.

*By Pietro Santi Bartoli (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
** With thanks to goodgentlewoman.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/coventry-v-st-john/


  1. Oh that inscription—to think he honored his wife's lively mind and strong judgement and her virtue "rarer in her sex". I guess there wasn't much virtue around in the early 1600's in England.I enjoyed reading about Aldonbrandini wedding. I love the way you combined a bit of travel, art education and the wonderful geese all in an entertaining package.

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    1. The bride in the painting looks rather downcast. Croome sounds like another place to visit next time we are over that way, and we have an aunt in Worcester. Our Aus National Trust memberships give us free admission to NT properties worldwide and England is the country where we use them the most.

  3. You often give us, Nell, an unusual "take" on the theme, and this was no exception. A fascinating read and the final photograph of the geese and goslings said it all.

  4. I'm no relationship expert, but I recognise a good thing when I see it.

  5. This whole entry is touching. Nice to see all that contented commitment - and I found the memorial inscription both heartfelt and elegant, though very sad.

  6. The piece written by Mary's husband is fascinating. "...what is rarer in her sex" has me wondering what he thought of most women. She obviously had his heart.

  7. In regard to the Canadian geese - both the mother and father will attack you if you get too close to their young ones! I like to walk around a lovely pond in the middle of the Columbia Community College campus, but you really have to watch where you're going during gosling season!

  8. I love the lonely cry of Canada geese flying south in the fall and winter.


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