Author: Kit Ward

Waylands Smithy

Let no rude hand

I’ve visited a few Neolithic sites in Britain but I don’t think I’ve ever been to one as serene and captivating as Wayland’s Smithy. These ancient places are always awe-inspiring, but the atmosphere of pagan ceremony can often be discomforting in its distant inscrutability, not to say occasionally terrifying in its imagined strangeness.

Cardiff knight mural

The knight unmounted and mounted

It seems a curious subject to choose for a public work of art, this mural near the centre of Cardiff. And, as with any state-funded art commission, there must have a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump before final approval was granted. When the artist made his pitch, did anyone on the committee laugh or splutter or quibble, or did they nod sagely, as befits men and women of the cultural establishment?

John Michell book cover

The enchantments of the new Merlin

I always have mixed feelings before re-reading a book that had a profound effect in my youth (and isn’t that really the age when the most profound effects of books occur?) There is the hope that the original, thrilling magic might still be there, waiting to be unleashed once more. And there is the trepidation that the experience will be a disappointment, or a bore, or even an indictment of one’s youthful naiveté.

Addington cows

Bovine epistemology

‘On behalf on the Bovine Philosophical Society, Addington branch, we wish you to know that the finest minds of the countless generations of our clan have examined and debated an apparently simple question, year upon year, decade upon decade, century upon century, without conclusion or resolution.

Victorian terraces

The quantity theory of history

Every city, every town, has them. And if the planners and developers get their way, every village will too one day. Once you venture outside the ‘historic’ centre, meaning the bit that’s more than, say, a hundred and fifty years old, there are streets and stretches of Victorian terraces or Thirties semis or modern housing estates.

Hoover building - exterior

Splendour on the Western Avenue

There is a social history of Britain in the last one hundred years to be written using land and building conversions as its guiding idea. Arable land has become housing estates, churches have become apartment buildings, pubs have become coffee shops, and, as in the case of the Hoover Building in Perivale, factories have become supermarkets.