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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

45.764043, 4.835659

Wed. 19. [19 September 1894] Up early and breakfasted with Papa
at 8. The Clarks were there - she talked a lot. Then in came Sir
Robert Wright whom we were glad to see - I had quite forgotten him it
was so long since we had met, not since years ago when I was little at
Rounton. Then out. The Cathedral is quite lovely. Some of the
carvings are exquisite - praying figures rising out of great loops and
curves of carving; rows and rows of great saints angels and
emperors, most of them stiff and archaic but some with an almost
Greek grace - especially two women by the big door and a Minos
under the Last Judgement of the north door. And then the wild rise of
imagination in living finials and crockets - men and beasts crawling
and stretching up into the air all full of life instant with meaning. The
Last Judgement door seemed very fine as far as I had time to see,
and above it two of the statues were Adam and a lovely Eve, which
made one long to find out the imagery of it all. Inside a great
impression of length produced by there being no piers, I think, from
top to bottom. We went all over and climbed in and out by the
clerestory and among the bells. On the west front among all that
elaborate tracery was growing an exquisite little tuft of green grass.
We also saw the Archbishop's palace with a fine room where Joan of
Arc lodged and a suite behind where all the kings lived when they
came for their sacre and where William of Germany put up when he
came through conquering. Then to St Remy, interesting
Romanesque with a fine faÁade - curious fluted columns on it.
Lunched with Sir Robert and Lady Wright - she seems a nice woman,
but I thought very stupid - she curled up when Mother mentioned
Esther Waters, said she had to throw all the novels she brought out of
window and is apparently reduced to a little old history of France
which she thought was the very latest! Left Reims at 1.30 and reached
Laon at 3 through flat hot country out of which rise curious little abrupt
hills. On one of these stands Laon in a situation vaguely reminding
one of Siena, with its Cathedral dominating all. Hotel de la Hure. The
Cathedral misses by being unfinished, but the towers are fine, what
there is of them, and the great .... sticking out from the top have a good
effect. Lovely inside, Romanesque and very high, with long shafts
from top to bottom and a clerestory with a deep gallery behind giving
a great air of lightness to it all a ..... grace. Some charming cloister
buildings outside with an outbulging wall and a deep cornice and a
lovely south door and window a little green and mossy with age. But
alas, they are busy scraping and restoring it all! Tea at a cake shop.
Then found the town looking down upon plain and valley over which
the sun set and the mist rose. Charming walls, old gates. Saw too a
round church of the Templars, like a little Norman building all
dogtoothed; and another interesting church St Martin, all
Romanesque except the west front, with lovely Romanesque towers
on the east end. Dined at table d'hote where an officer was much
struck with Molly and said he had a little daughter her age. Elsa and I
wrote our diaries in my room. There was a flea on the dining table,
which augurs ill for the night!

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