My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Edinburgh City Part 7: Edinburgh Castle (Interior)

In yesterday's post I covered the castle's architecture and exterior with a series of black-and-white photographs. Today I'm going to show a few photographs of the interior. In colour, to show the rich warm tones of the decor - I guess an antidote to how grey and bleak the weather can be high on the castle crag. 

Royal Palace

A big warm fire! Just not with much actual fire in it.

Apparently the room above is part of a suite of rooms which are still, to this day, used as state function rooms. I wonder if dinners are served here, or if antique furniture is brought out for people to sit around some grand table. One thing I observed was that, apart from the paneling and built-in furniture, there rooms were quite bare of tables, chairs, cabinets, etc. and I wonder how much more homely and also how much grander the rooms would have been when they had chairs on corners, tables, beautiful items on display, etc. Some of the rooms have portraits and paintings on display, but most do not. I wonder if this is because for a long time the castle was used as a military fortress rather than as a royal residence. 

Gilt panelling with fluted

I'm sure all the polished wood and gilt, as well as the polished brass plates behind the 'candles' (now replaced with electric lights designed to look a bit like candles of you squint sort of side-ways...), are all part of a carefully thought-out attempt to give the rooms a sense of brightness and warmth. My interior photography, especially with a point-and-click camera and inadequate lighting, does not do the richness of the wood justice; I presume it's all oak, and the grain has been polished (or oiled?) to perfection. 

Great Hall
The great hall was the heart of most castles, and even Edinburgh Castle, so modified for changing times over the centuries, still has its. Most of the hall is decorated with the contents of an antique armoury; swords, halberds, armour and suchlike cover every wall, some in mountings that almost seem like they're part of an actual armoury if it wasn't for the elegance of the wood-work, and some arranged in fanciful patterns on the walls. Somehow it made me think of Raven, and his collection of knives and swords (I have my own collection, too, but his is more expansive!) but this collection of matched weapons was clearly meant for a lot of guards rather than one man! There were some miniature cannons, too - I'm not sure if they were actual weapons, or symbolic decorations. The armour below is part of this display of militaria (and there's one of the mini-canons!). 

I apologise for the blur and camera shake!

Of course, the hall was not built as a military museum or an opportunity to show off a vast number of swords. People would have met here, feasted and banqueted, got tangled in the complex webs of high society and politics (very much the same thing in the times of monarchy and feudalism) and suchlike. Even dressed in my Gothic Lolita frills, I felt under-dressed for the venue (despite all the other tourists in their casual, ordinary clothes...) and sort of wished I was wearing something a bit grander - in retrospect quite a silly thing to think!

I want to sit by this window with a warm cloak and good book!

I like this window. I like the geometric pattern for the leadlights that is not just rhombuses of glass, and I like the stained glass heraldry inset, as it is colour, but not overwhelming colour that will reduce some of the light coming in (as can happen in churches, and partly why later Gothic architecture had such an emphasis on huge windows; it maximises the light AND allows for glass that does not have the clarity of modern glass, and also for stained glass). Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was reading the accounts of past resident royalty who thought the castle a cold and drear place, but I was acutely aware of how light worked in the building that day.  I quite like this nook, too; the way there's private seats in the window bay. 

I wish I had captured a few more photographs of the great hall, especially the amazing roof beams and the screens and ornately carved panelling. It is a really splendid room and I wish I had more to show my readers!

I find interiors like this and that of the National Portrait Gallery very inspiring, but it's hard to channel that inspiration when I don't live in a grand house with high ceilings and I do not have seemingly inexhaustible wealth to fund such grand things. Maybe one day, with enough time and enough patience and enough skills learnt, I could learn enough crafts and spend enough time decorating to have something splendid, but it is really nothing but a dream. 

4 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures ... thanks for sharing! Good point to make stained glass windows with lots of clear glass and only a bit of colour, too.

    I've always admired the windows in old castles, which is probably what inspired me to take a stained glass course this summer. Because unless I make it myself, I can't afford most of the grand Gothic pieces I'd like to own either! :)

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    1. Buying stained glass is expensive, but the craftsmanship involved is pretty impressive. I've recently commissioned a reasonably small stained glass version of me as a witch from a craftsperson who goes by 'The Glass Wizard' (they don't have a website to link to right now) that I met at the Thunder In The Glens biker (Harley!) festival in Aviemore. Another stained-glazier I like is Cariad Glass in Wales: https://www.facebook.com/CariadGlass - they made a small stained glass window for a friend's house, and I've been following their work ever since.

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  2. In spite of this being a castle, the polished wood gives the interior of the structure a very homey feel. I can relate to your desire for sitting by that window in a cloak and a good book. Surely small fires such as the one you feature here cannot keep the castle warm. I wonder how they do it on dreary winter days.

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    1. With glazed windows, curtains and shutters to keep the heat in, and a big fire in that fireplace and the numerous other ones, and every room lit with burning candles, as well as wood and tapestry acting as insulation, and all the layers of period clothes, people were probably actually quite warm for most of the year, and thick stone walls, if warmed up properly, retain heat well. I was wondering around in all the layers of Gothic Lolita, but no coat (see the earlier pictures of me outside St. Giles) on a rather awful autumn day, and I was not in the least bit cold. I'm sure on a much colder day (It would have probably got down to well below freezing in winters past; the winter temperatures have been going up since the industrial revolution, and it's on an exposed crag) it might not have been so nice, and soldiers and servants would not have had as nice accommodation. I know that some of the resident royalty didn't like it for it being a cold, damp place, as I was reading about it in the more museum-like areas.

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