Saturday, March 23, 2019

Rose Window

Yesterday a math teacher came to my desk between classes and said she needed a librarian's research skills. (I'm not a trained librarian but I am an ex-journalist, which seems like it ought to count.) Apparently she was planning a class activity that required her to know the dimensions of the rose window at Westminster Abbey -- only she couldn't find its size mentioned anywhere. Would I help?

Given how famous Westminster Abbey is, you'd think this would be easily Googled, right? I thought I'd have the answer in ten minutes, max. Well, let me tell you, it took me about an hour of scanning web pages and reading library books before I found any reliable mention of the window's size. I tried architecture books. I tried travel guides. Everyone talks about when it was built and rebuilt and by whom, blah blah blah, but nowhere -- even on the Abbey's web site -- could I find any mention of how big it is.

Finally, online, I found the scanned back of an old postcard in an archive in San Diego (!) that said it was "100 feet round," which I took to mean circumference. And then I found an object for sale in Westminster Abbey's online gift shop based on the window, and the description said the real thing was 32 feet across. The math works out, so I went with those measurements.

Good grief.

If you take to Google yourself and find the answer faster than me, don't tell me.

In other news, I'm beginning to think nearly all my seeds are a bust. It's been two weeks since I planted them, and I still only have four seedlings -- one dahlia, one burdock and two hollyhocks. I knew the wild seeds I gathered were a shot in the dark, and that zinnia I saved was dicey, but I expected all the packaged dahlias to come up. Weird! I hope to get the cosmos planted this morning. Maybe I'll have better luck with those.

(Photo: A sculpture in Golders Hill Park. Look at those magnolias!)


  1. Stick with the seeds Steve. I know when we had the allotment I often thought the seeds were duff but they sometimes just needed the right temperature. I would give them a bit more time before throwing them.

  2. And I was going to say- nope- if those seeds haven't sprouted in two weeks they're not going to sprout. But perhaps Crafty Cat is correct.
    How weird about the measurements of the rose window not being immediately available.
    That picture's a stunner.

  3. what a magnificent tree. I wonder how old it is.

  4. I had to google "rose window westminster abbey" to see what you were trying to find. Ah, interesting bit of sleuthing. About those seeds, it just might not be time for them to sprout yet.

  5. Mike is the researcher around here. - I'm tempted to put him on the case to see how long it takes him, but I don't think I want to hear the cursing today :)

  6. Well, it's the search that counts. How many other things did you learn while looking for the window size?

  7. One of these days I'm going to have to visit London at this time of year so I can see those gorgeous magnolia trees. I've seen so many photos of them and they appear to be everywhere in the city.
    I have a reader of my blog who never comments but, he does comment via email quite often. Whenever I can't find the name of an artist or architect or I don't know the age of something, he always finds it. Sometimes it simply amazes me what he's able to find. I swear he must have worked for the CIA at one time. Most likely, he's just more patient than I am. Good for you for finding that answer.

  8. I entered into the Google search window: "How big is the Rose Window in Westminster Abbey?" I had the same results as you. In other words, nada.

  9. The internet is usually so generous with information that it is almost an affront when it won't spit out the answer to a question right away. That's how I feel, anyway :)

    That tree is glorious!

  10. In your shoes, I'd have contacted your nearest reference librarian. It would have been faster because they are trained to search and the use of search terms and in using a range of reference materials beyond Google.