We went to Beningborough Hall yesterday - a National Trust property near York. It contains a lot of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. I can't tell you much about it, as I enjoy such visits most when I just look around without reading a lot - I can never remember what I've read anyway. There were a lot of 18th century portraits - you could tell what they were because the people in them were wearing wigs. It's a period I find quite interesting. The only trouble is, history went in one ear and out the other at school and still does. I know it kind of began with Handel and ended with Haydn, that it was the era of Voltaire, Thomas Paine and of Dr Johnson (I think my interest was triggered by visiting his birthplace in Lichfield and reading his book Rasselas not so long ago). The fashions were cool, I think. People wore buckles on their shoes, men wore wigs and (when not bewigged) floppy silk hats and banyans. Then there were the coffee houses, where people discussed ideas and politics. And it wasn't all thinking, talking and writing: the century ended with the French Revolution. As I write this I'm suprised I know even this much (assuming I've got it right): perhaps it just goes to prove the best way to learn anything is just to let it soak in.
A photo of Notre Dame on The Solitary Walker's blog reminded me of this. Cathedrals always do. The composer, Messiaen, was the organist just up the road at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité. For me, it's music with a phwoar! factor...
6 months ago