Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn Staircase

I missed this set of stairs recently, when I started visiting the Glasgow University Memorial Chapel for organ recitals.

It doesn’t lead to the chapel, but to the adjoining building, to the right of the chapel, which is the chaplaincy.

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn Staircase

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn Staircase

A nearby plaque gives more detail.

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn plaque

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn plaque

The staircase originally formed part of the University’s Old College site on High Street, situated in the Outer Court and leading to the Principal’s Residence and the Fore Hall. In 1690, the University instructed William Riddel, a mason, to place stone bannisters on the staircase with figures of a lion and a unicorn on the first turn.

When the University moved to its new site in Gilmorehill in 1870, the staircase was transported and incorporated into the new building, together with parts of the High Street gatehouse, which were rebuilt as Pearce Lodge.

When first installed in Gilmorehill, the staircase turned right at its middle landing, but was later altered to turn left, as seen here.

There isn’t really any sort of higher viewpoint to get a better look at the pair, so without doing something silly, this is about as good as the view gets.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn

Glasgow University Lion and Unicorn

The pair has a historic significance.

The Lion and the Unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom. They are, properly speaking, heraldic supporters appearing in the full royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion stands for England and the unicorn for Scotland. The combination therefore dates back to the 1603 accession of James I of England who was already James VI of Scotland.

08/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Chapel webcam back at last

After more than a week of absence, this one has come back to life.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel webcam

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Interior

Memorial Chapel Interior

30/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

Seems I caused the ‘Commentator Effect’ on the Chapel webcam

I mentioned discovering the webcam in the Glasgow University Memorial Chapel recently, which provides an interesting view.

About a week later I found a wedding underway when I look.

Sad to say, it looks as my posting about some things has the same effect on them as Murray Walker’s “Commentator’s Curse” – when he said someone was a lap away from winning a Grand Prix they had let for 50-odd laps, their engine would explode, their tyres burst spontaneously, or they’d just drive off the track and crash for no apparent reason.

After mentioning the webcam again, after seeing that wedding really to happen in the Chapel – the feed went black… and has stayed that way for a week so far.

Sorry ūüė¶

I went for a walk to the Chapel, to see if there were any signs or new notices about the webcam, but there was nothing, and nobody around at the time either.

I’d also taken the walk in case the super bright metal halide lights I mentioned in the first post were not lit – something I’d seen via the webcam on some days.

Unfortunately, these lights were lit, destroying any chance of seeing past them through their blinding glare.

I’d like a decent pic of the organ loft, but as you can see below, even having the lights out of frame still has too much light spill, and the dark loft area is still mostly obscured.

Ah well, maybe next time, a little higher still.

Meanwhile, a lot of fiddling with levels etc recovered this.

Memorial Chapel organ loft

Memorial Chapel organ loft

There are descriptive plaques identifying the various parts of the interior, near the doors, but I can barely read them (the light doesn’t reach), so grabbed a pic of the organ section.

Memorial Chapel descriptive plaque

Memorial Chapel descriptive plaque

I was curious about where the webcams were located, so had a look at the likely spots as estimated from the views I’d seen earlier.

There’s one above the altar, to the side of the central carved figure (sorry, I did look, but the name has slipped my mind, and I’m not going to assume or guess). However, I am assuming the webcam to be the pan/tilt module to the right of the figure. The more obvious white unit to the left appears to be a motion/presence detector.

You get the bonus view of some of the stunning stained-glass which can be seen in the Chapel.

Memorial Chapel altar webcam

Memorial Chapel altar webcam

A similar unit was found mounted around the right place in the window above the aisle.

While a similar detector is more obvious, the camera is almost lost in the darkness – it can be seen in the bottom left corner, where I’ve boosted the brightness to pick it out.

Oh, and some more stained-glass ūüôā

Memorial Chapel aisle webcam

Memorial Chapel aisle webcam

I hope someone remembers they turned the feed off, or fixes it if there’s been a failure,

28/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel DOES host weddings AND has more than one webcam

When I mentioned the webcam I came across after visiting Glasgow University Memorial Chapel, I didn’t go into detail.

However, after almost dropping in there this afternoon, a plan aborted as the weather was so nice, I later discovered I wouldn’t have been able to get in anyway.

The chapel does host weddings, provided the participating parting have some connection with the university, and there was one there this afternoon – actually coming to an end as I type this post and watch the proceedings.

Chapel webcam

What was interesting to note was the evidence of more than one webcam (which I’d already noted when I was there), and that there is one looking directly onto the altar and surrounding area, complete sound, AND under live control of an operator, who was clearly using it shoot a ‘Wedding Video’.

I’ve only seen one view online, so far, and wonder if they change the view around?

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Interior

Memorial Chapel Interior


20/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , | 2 Comments

Memorial Chapel organ edits

After looking at the shots I took (quickly) of the organ loft of the Memorial Chapel organ mentioned earlier, I decided to play with them, mainly because I hadn’t even been able to see the loft thanks to the blinding glare from the high intensity lights fitted around the aisle.

Since I was carrying the compact, the shots suffered more from this than the dSLR, which is generally less susceptible to flare and glare (provided I remember to fit the short zoom).

This first shot is actually a better view than seen with the naked eye which, for me at least, was almost blinded by the direct glare and light from the white discharge light. I should add that there is a second identical light only a few metres to the left, obscured by the ceiling light hanging in front of it.

These lights may provide loads of illumination for the aisle (see the webcam), but are useless otherwise, blinding any attempts to look at the ceiling or organ, and wasting energy in these environmentally aware days.

Interestingly rebuilt in 2005, while it retained a number of the original 1927 parts, sufficient changes mean that it is described online as ‘virtually a new organ’.

It even has a tremolo, which can be clearly heard during some recitals.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Original

Organ Loft Original

I wouldn’t normally edit such a poor shot, but in this case, since I have nothing else (and couldn’t even see the loft by eye), I decided to apply some corrections. While the settings can be raised to recover detail, the problem is that areas which don’t need correction get the same treatment, and the result looks terrible as completely unnatural looking features are created.

However, in this case I think it was justified, as it revealed that the loft features the actual organ pipes, open to the aisle, and not hidden behind a decorative fa√ßade of ‘false’ pipes.

This also becomes obvious during recitals, where individual voices can be heard particularly clearly. Something not found if they are behind any sort f decoration.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Edit

Organ Loft Edit

While waiting for things to get underway, I thought I’d try an alternative view, from my raised position in the stalls.

Sadly, while this (almost) raised my viewpoint above the offending bright discharge lights – it brought new lighting problems.

The chapel’s original lighting, suspended from the ceiling, just happened to land in the ‘wrong’ place. Oh well.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Original 2

Organ Loft Original 2

Since I’d sold my soul and edited one image I normally wouldn’t have, I thought I might as well try another.

Same problem, with an unnatural end result.

On the other had, it does bring a little more detail.

Glasgow Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Edit 2

Organ Loft Edit 2

Now that I know the problems, and the dates of more recitals due in the coming weeks, I might make this one of the ‘mission’, and try to beat the glare effects of all those nasty lights, and get a better shot one day.

Not all failure

Having given the ‘bad news’, I can give some ‘good news’.

As I noted in the first post, this chapel interior is a feast for anyone who likes to take detail images, and has many features.

I noted one tourist arrive, and after staring at all the goodies on show for a while, started taking pics of them, and might still be there!

On this occasion I just stopped for one extra shot, taken as the Sun shone in through one of the windows, and landed on one of the carvings.

A few minutes either side of this moment, and it wouldn’t have happened.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Angel

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Angel

For anyone who may suggest I’ve ignored the Memorial Chapel itself, and its history, I’m afraid that’s not the case.

There are accounts online, and as I learnt more about this building I decided I couldn’t really do any better.

And there is quite a lot to cover.

I was surprised once I’d gone through it all.

I’m also surprised there isn’t more signage directing visitors to it either – there really is nothing dedicated to the chapel, not even at its entrance or the stairs leading to the doors – just the name as it appears on the general signs directing people around the grounds.

Finally, I tried a shot of one the Chapel’s suspended lighting fixtures.

This is OK, but the extreme variation in illumination means it would have to be more carefully exposed.

In reality, the central, internally illuminated, lightbox appears relatively darker than the suspended lights surrounding it. It also has the appearance of a colder (or bluer) light than the others, which appear to be warm white.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel lighting

Memorial Chapel lighting

Just one more thing (didn’t even try to take a pic)…

The stained glass in this building is stunning, and I have to say it is fortunate it is safe within a controlled perimeter, as opposed some Glasgow back street where it would have to be protected behind wire mesh guards, screens, and grilles.

It must be some of the largest, most complex, and intricate work I’ve ever seen, and should not be missed.

You can’t get close to it, which I found a little odd, being more used to visiting smaller venues featuring such work, and being able to get much closer to the detail.

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Found a new webcam – University Memorial Chapel

Found an intriguing webcam at Glasgow University, installed in the University Memorial Chapel.

It seems to be live 24/7, although there nothing to see when it’s dark and the lights are off (no IR or low light).

Visitors are also alerted to its presence and constant operation (which includes audio too) by signs, which offer them the option to contact the admin and have these turned off during their visit.

Chapel webcam

Although I’ve wandered around most of the university’s grounds, around the building, and even into a few of them, I hadn’t realised this was the chapel building, or that it was open for wanderers to wander into – there are no public signs outside.

I only discovered this when attending one of the occasional lunchtime organ concerts, which are usually free.

I grabbed a few quick pics as this was the first time I’d seen the place.

The interior is frustrating to view, as there are a number of VERY high intensity lights around the aisle (they look like outdoor discharge lamps), located not far above head height, producing a lot of glare and making it almost impossible to see the ceiling or organ loft. I almost went to try to find someone and ask if they could be switched off, which would be more useful than having the webcam turned off.

This view avoids them (they are off to either side) and looks towards the webcam.

There’s a lot of interesting detail to see there, and it needs a visit to show it.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Interior

Memorial Chapel Interior

The rear of the building is easy, as seen from the quadrangle.

Memorial Chapel Rear West Quadrangle

Memorial Chapel Rear West Quadrangle

The facade and entrance, not so easy due to their size and limited space (and the odd tree branch).

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Entrance

Memorial Chapel Entrance

I tried a quick stitch to get more in shot, but forgot some basic rule for this, so the result was not good on this occasion, and will need another try one day, without all the mistakes. This hardly added anything, and introduced a lot of ‘nasties’ – but taught me a little more, so was not all bad.

Memorial Chapel stitch

Memorial Chapel stitch

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment


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