Well, I was going to post up some photos from my trip to the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, but I’ve had a day trip to London this week, to visit my Younger Daughter, and one of the places we saw was this fantastic ‘Paleys Upon Pilers’, so I couldn’t resist showing it on Saturday Snapshot. This was created as part of the celebrations for the Olympics in 2012, and you can find it at Aldgate, where the oldest gate into the city once stood – it’s thought the original entrance dates all the way back to Roman times.
|A Chaucerian fantasy: The 'Paleys Upon |
Pilars' at Aldgate, London.
There were various buildings here over the centuries, and between 1374 and 1386 the poet Geoffrey Chaucer (who was working as a customs official at that time) lived in a room above the gate. The Parliament of Fowls and The House of Fame, two of his early works, were written there, and it is these poems that inspired the ‘Paleys Upon Pilers’, or Palace upon Pillars as we would call it on the 21st Century. Both poems describe strange buildings raised high over the surrounding landscape, and when you read them it’s easy to imagine that Chaucer must have been influenced by his bird’s eye view of the city, and the noise, and the hustle and bustle around him.
|Up on the roof... Or through the roof to be precise!|
The wooden structure is open to the elements.
|One of the pillars, decorated in red blue|
and gold, which doesn't shine out in the
photo like it did in real life.
It’s surrounded by people and traffic, just as the old gate would have been, with travellers bringing news and new ideas to the city. And the ideas contained in Chaucer’s poems engage us just us much today as they did then. Our modern society is obsessed with celebrity culture, and in The House of Fame reflects on the nature of fame, while in the The Parliament of Fowls birds choose their mates and discuss the meaning of love.
Apparently the structure, commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, and designed by the architectural firm Studio Weave, was intended to stand for three months, but it’s still there, and I hope it remains, as a tribute to the past and present.
By the way, if you’ve not come across these particular works of Chaucer (I’ve read the Parliament of Fowls before, but The house of Fame was new to me) you can find modern English prose translations of both poems here and poetic versions (which I prefer) here.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda, at West Metro Mummy - click to follow the links to other participants).
|We thought this information plaque, set into the ground,|
was easily overlooked - but the structure didn't seem to
be well advertised.