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Carshalton, United Kingdom
July 1, 2006
From journal Bruges - The Epitome of Charm
, West Virginia
December 14, 2002
On the first floor stairway, we paid a pittance for admission and went upstairs to the
astoundingly beautiful Alderman’s Hall where neo-Gothic frescoes rehabilitated in the
19th Century recount episodes in the history of the city. These were so impressive, I
pulled out my notebook and took a seat with my audio guide to my ear. One of the
largest frescoes is of the yearly fair of Bruges. The one to the right of the fireplace
depicts the depositing of the Holy Blood. Other paintings represent the laying of the
foundation stone, the granting of the charter, the Father of the Flemish party, and
Most of the scenes were painted from episodes dating 1190-1446 and appear in bright
greens, reds, and golds, very festive Medieval colors which are repeated in woodwork
and buttresses. Above them, biblical subjects are displayed and then vegetation motifs,
including representations of the twelve months of the year with scenes of rural life. All
together, an anthropological perspective of human history spans the ages and celebrates
the advent of the city in gorgeous bright colors.
Another room off to the side was worth a
look, and then the entrance hall downstairs and another to the side displayed artwork of
note. The wood ceiling in the Gothic Hall on the first floor is recognized as a fine example.
This celebration of the coming of the city is of supreme importance, because as Will Durant notes in The Story of Civilization, it was only in the civitas that men learned to be "civilized." The Aldermen needed a dignified hall, but they shared it with the townspeople, as the frescoes of local celebrations record, a sign that the population could be trusted to behave themselves and to take part in local government.
From journal Bruges: Artistry Frozen in Time