Monthly Archives: October 2016

On Dancing Ledge

Back when we lived in Dorset, one of our favourite spots for dog walking was Dancing Ledge. It was quite a hike across fields and then down a very steep path and further down a very steep scramble onto the ledge itself. For this reason, you can often have the place to yourself and on this occasion, Phil took a trip there on his bike, just because.

Dancing Ledge is one of the many quarries in the region worked for the Purbeck limestone, which was used for building work here as well as much further afield. Some of the stone removed by the quarrying was transported by ship direct from Dancing Ledge, round the south coast to Kent in order to construct Ramsgate harbour in the 18th and 19th.


A swimming pool refreshed naturally by the tide was blasted into the rock for the use of local preparatory schools, sometime near the beginning of the twentieth century. The last surviving school (The Old Malthouse in Langton Matravers, which closed in 2007) and one of the schools for which the pool was originally created recently arranged for debris, including several large rocks, to be removed, making swimming possible once again. The sea itself is not suitable for swimming, as there is no shoreline, simply a rock shelf under which people have been pulled by the current to their deaths.


The stone in this part of the Dorset coast was laid down in layers, or beds, over the course of many millions of years. Kimmeridge Clay was the first layer to form, during the late Jurassic geological period and the Portland Sands were laid down on top of this, with the Portland Beds on top again.

Fossilised Ammonite on the ledge

After this, in the early Cretaceous period – approximately 155 million years ago – the Lower Purbeck Beds were deposited in shallow seas, brackish lagoons and freshwater. From fossils found in these rocks, geologists and palaeontologists have been able to work out that shellfish, shrimps and insects lived around the swampy marshlands at that time. Later, there were fish, amphibians and reptiles; and after them came the Purbeck Mammals. Over 100 different species of small vertebrates have been found in fossils in the Purbeck Beds, most of them the size of a shrew or a rat.


‘On Dancing Ledge’ Dorset. 2011   Raw silk, metal leaf, plaster and oil on oak panel. The oak had been taken to the ledge by someone to be used as kindling. They failed to light the fire. The swimming pool is on the left of the lower shelf being refreshed by an incoming tide.

This special place provided inspiration for others too….

HEARTS TOGETHER-  by John Betjeman

How emerald the chalky depths
Below the Dancing Ledge!

We pulled the jelly-fishes up

And threw them in the hedge

That with its stones and sea-pink tufts

Ran to the high cliff edge.
And lucky was the jelly-fish

That melted in the sun

And poured its vitals on the turf

In self-effacing fun,

Like us who in each other’s arms

Were seed and soul in one.
O rational the happy bathe

An hour before our tea,

When you were swimming breast-stroke, all

Along the rocking sea

And, in between the waves, explain’d

The Universe to me.
The Dorset sun stream’d on our limbs

And scorch’d our hinder parts:

We gazed into the pebble beach

And so discussed the arts,

O logical and happy we

Emancipated hearts.
(Poor little jelly-fish!)

Advertisements

Summing up!

I recently had the pleasure of working at ‘Our Lady and St Wilfrid’s Church’ Warwick bridge Carlisle.

It is the only church in Cumbria  designed by Augustus Pugin. The building was completed in 1841 with a construction cost of £2,586. The church is currently undergoing major renovations with the aid of a National Lottery grant in the order of £240.000.

During a brief delay in the re-Installation of two stained glass panels (the stonemason making some sizing adjustment to the new sandstone cill), I took the opportunity to take a couple of snaps of the interior with my phone.

The Palace of Westminster was designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. Building work began in 1840 originally estimated to take six years and cost £700.000 it was formally opened in 1852. The building work wasn’t  finished until 1870 when the clock tower housing the bell ‘Big Ben’ was finally completed. The construction cost was closer to £2000,000.

Recent proposals for much needed renovation work to The Palace of Westminster have suggested a 32 year rolling program of work with an estimate of £5.7 bn. If the work was to run over 40 years the cost would rise to £7.1 bn.