October 20 – Another Day Out in Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Library and Liverpool World Museum

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today we decided to make a return visit to Liverpool as we were on a particular quest to see the Kingston Brooch from the Anglo Saxon collection. So the plan is to visit the Liverpool Library, the Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum. Then we found out that the Terracotta Warriors were also on display at the World Museum too.

When we arrived at the museum after taking the train to Lime St station. There was a queue for entry so we dutifully lined up but when we reached the front of the line where bags were being checked we found that all the tickets for the Terracotta Warriors were sold out. Understanding that this was the door for that exhibition only we left and walked up the road to the Central Library.

The William Brown Library is a beautifully remodelled building on at least four levels. In the centre of the Liverpool central library is a fantastic stairwell leading up to a glass domed ceiling which allows in lots of light. The new part of the library which opened in 2013 has Wi-Fi access as well as 150 free computers and Ipads, a games area for Xbox gaming and a children’s area. It is a lovely area and had a large area of microfiche for genealogy research. Unfortunately, I am not aware of either of our families having connections with Liverpool so it was not helpful for us. After we had walked through the newer areas we visited the Picton reading room, the Hornby library and the Oak room which are old library areas with fantastic library shelves full of 15,000 rare books. We are as fascinated by bookshelves nearly as much as books! The Picton Reading room was the first electrically lit library in the UK. In a case in the Oak room was the biggest book we have ever seen called the Birds of America by John James Audubon. A copy of this book sold at Sotheby’s for £7,321,250 in 2010, which makes it even more amazing. The view from the rooftop out over Liverpool is breathtaking. But the most fascinating part of the library is “The Literary Pavement” leading to the front door. It is a 22-metre long and 4.5-metre wide granite walkway listing the names of books from all eras and for all ages. The public was asked to nominate their favourites from the literary, cinematic and musical titles held within the library. Also along the pavement are a few letters coloured differently which spelt another title.

Next, we went to the Walker Art Gallery. On the outside of the gallery are two bas-relief friezes. One depicts King John granting the first Charter to the burgesses of Liverpool in 1207 and the other depicts the visit of Queen Victoria in 1851. Both we made by John Warrington Wood in 1877 and are quite wonderful. The gallery was full of wonderful displays of statues, busts, pottery and earthenware, clothing from the late 18th century, tapestry and furniture. The Pietre dure, a 16th-century Italian marble, walnut and lime table was absolutely exquisite. The artworks were all grouped in their school of artists and time periods but our favourite was the triptych showing the scenes from Christ’s passion. The two paintings at the sides are on the back so that when the doors of the triptych are closed they are still visible. It is oil and gold leaf on oak from 1492 -95 and was quite stunning. We have developed quite a passion for book covers too and we saw some wonderful enamel on gilt copper alloy from Limoges from 1200-25. We really enjoyed our visit to the art gallery and it is one of the best we have been too.

Over the road from these three buildings was a park with some wonderful statues and we had printed out some earthcaches to do while we had our lunch there. The first earthcache was about the bollards which surrounded the statue and fountain. These bollards are made from limestone, a sedimentary rock with some amazing fossils showing. The second earthcache was to do with recognising the difference between weathering and erosion which are very similar effects. The limestone, sandstone, mudstone and gritstone make up a great many of the building materials for the buildings in the UK and depending on their age and their position some are worn much more than others. These rocks were used because of their abundant availability but also due to their abilities to be carved. Some of the balustradings outside the art gallery are so badly worn that it had had to be replaced. Sometimes water had got into the rock, this has then frozen and when the thaw comes the rock eventually breaks off in sheets. The third cache we did to mark our visit today was a multi called “Groovy George”. we collected the numbers from the monument and the final was close by at the steps into the park. I walked up and down those steps several times trying to pinpoint the coordinates and to see where the cache might be. There are muggles about so I could not search easily until I had a fair idea of where it might be and inspiration eluded me for a while. Then I saw a gap in the mortar between bricks but surely it could not be there! I slipped my pen in and out came a plastic envelope with two DVD in it. Between the two DVDs was a piece of paper for a log. Well, after 6658 caches we have never seen one like that before. It was very clever and deserved a favourite point. I will have to put some caches like that in when we return home to New Zealand.

After lunch, we returned to the same entrance that we had gone to earlier in the day and went to visit the World Museum. It was full of wonderful exhibits from dinosaurs to bugs and butterflies, rocks and meteorites, timepieces, Egyptian mummies and so much more. There was a planetarium and a section on the space station which was very interesting. We had been walking around for ages and I decided it was time to go as we were both getting very weary when Mike exclaimed that we still had not seen the Kingston Brooch. I had completely forgotten about it. So we asked a lady and returned to a room on the third floor which we had already seen.

The Kingston Brooch was part of an Anglo-Saxon hoard found by Reverend Bryan Faussett in the 18th-century in one of the early Saxon graves he excavated on the Downs above the village of Kingston in Kent. It was found in a grave datable to circa A.D.630, during the time of the greatest of Kent’s kings, Aethelberht, who was instrumental in the conversion of Kent, and eventually all of England, to Christianity following the mission of St Augustine. The brooch is the largest known Anglo-Saxon composite brooch ever discovered and it is 8 cm in diameter, made of gold, with garnet, blue glass and shell settings. We visited the village on 8/10/2018 and saw the brooch featured on the village sign so we were excited now to see this treasure in real life.

We returned home on the train weary but excited about our fantastic day.