Mariánské Lázne

The larger colonnade in Mariánské Lázne © Ricky Yates

The larger colonnade in Mariánské Lázne © Ricky Yates

Mariánské Lázne is a spa town in West Bohemia, located not far from the German border. Better known by its German name of Marienbad, in the nineteenth century, it developed as one of the top European spas, popular with notable figures and rulers who often returned there on numerous occasions.

To meet the needs of these international visitors, a whole series of hotels, colonnades and other buildings were constructed. These included Churches of different denominations, all located in relatively close proximity to each other.

Kostel Svatého Vladimíra © Ricky Yates

Kostel Svatého Vladimíra © Ricky Yates

This is Kostel Svatého Vladimíra, the Russian Orthodox Church. It is still in use, though the number of Russian visitors has dropped considerably in recent times, because of the serious fall in value of the rouble.

Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie © Ricky Yates

Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie © Ricky Yates

Here is Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie, the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was constructed between 1844-1848 in the ‘new Byzantine style’, according to my research.

Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church © Ricky Yates

Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church © Ricky Yates

Squeezed between two taller and grander buildings, is the Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church. It was built to meet the needs of Protestant guests, in the years 1853-1857, from the public subscriptions of German Lutherans. In 1907, stained glass windows were added, donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It continues to be used for worship by the Ceskobratská Církev Evangelická, the main Czech Protestant Church.

The Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

The Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

And yes – there is also an Anglican Church. It is a classic example of a red brick Victorian Church building and was consecrated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1879. My understanding is that it fell into disuse, some time in the late 1920s–early 1930s, when a combination of the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the subsequent rise to power of Adolf Hitler, meant that British citizens no longer came to take the waters.

Former Anglican Church in Mariánské Lázne © Sybille Yates

Former Anglican Church in Mariánské Lázne © Sybille Yates

Sybille and I had twice previously visited Mariánské Lázne during the early part of our time in the Czech Republic, but on both occasions it was in winter and the Anglican Church building was snowbound and locked. So I was very pleased that when I was there again last Saturday, that it was open and I was able to go inside.

Noticeboard © Ricky Yates

Noticeboard © Ricky Yates

Since the early 1990s, the building has belonged to the Mariánské Lázne Town Council, who use it as an Exhibition and Concert Venue. But the reason I found it open was because it was being made ready for a wedding that was to take place there later that afternoon. No doubt this would have been a civil ceremony, conducted by the local registrar. The main reason that I was visiting Mariánské Lázne was to conduct a religious wedding, following the liturgy of the Church of England, but at a different venue. Somewhat ironic to say the least!

Plaque commemorating King Edward VII worshipping in the Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

Plaque commemorating King Edward VII worshipping in the Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

Of the original interior, the only remaining features are the pulpit and this marble memorial plaque from 1911, commemorating the frequent visits of King Edward VII, both as Prince of Wales and later, as King. I knew that this plaque existed and was very pleased to be finally able to see it, and get a photographic record.

The smaller colonnade being made ready for the wedding © Ricky Yates

The smaller colonnade being made ready for the wedding © Ricky Yates

Finally for this post, here is the smaller of the two colonnades in Mariánské Lázne, being made ready for the wedding I was there to conduct. The larger colonnade is featured in the first photograph of this post. The happy couple were Bismark and Hannah. Bismark comes from Ghana whilst Hannah was born in Norway, but of Ghanaian parents. They met whilst both studying medicine in Hradec Králové and are now working as doctors in Norway.

They originally asked if I would conduct a service of blessing for them, following a civil marriage. But once I explained that I could legally marry them, they gladly agreed. We did have a few problems, convincing the local registrar that I could conduct a legal marriage ceremony for them. However, we did eventually succeed. Below are the happy couple, following the marriage.

Bismark & Hannah following their wedding © Ricky Yates

Bismark & Hannah following their wedding © Ricky Yates

More about the wedding of Phillip and Lisa

My postcard. Photo © Ricky Yates

One of the delightful features of Phillip and Lisa’s wedding were the individual touches they created that made every guest feel welcome. One of these was a named envelope, marking the place where each person was to sit at the reception, which contained an illustrated postcard with a personal message on the back.

Apparently, during her childhood, Lisa spent numerous holidays in Skegness, a traditional British seaside resort on the Lincolnshire coast. Phillip recreated his own version of a famous 1908 poster by the illustrator John Hassall (1868-1948), produced for the Great Northern Railway, declaring that ‘Skegness is SO bracing’.

Here is mine, declaring that Coventry, the city of my birth and the first eighteen years of my life is, ‘SO bracing’ 🙂 Whilst the artwork is a fairly . . . → Read More: More about the wedding of Phillip and Lisa

The wedding of Phillip and Lisa

Welcome poster featuring Phillip’s artwork. Photo © Ricky Yates

On Saturday 30th July 2016, I had the privilege of officiating at the marriage of my son Phillip, to my new daughter-in-law, Lisa. The wedding took place at the Parish Church of St. Jude, Mapperley, Nottingham and was followed by a reception in the neighbouring Church Hall.

Phillip and Lisa announced their engagement in December last year, whilst on a short trip to Lisbon, Portugal. In early January 2016, Phillip wrote to me saying that they planned to be married in July this year and would like me to officiate, if I would be willing to do so. My response was that if that was what both of them wanted, then I would be more than happy to officiate and would regard doing so as a great privilege.

. . . → Read More: The wedding of Phillip and Lisa

I have a new passport!

New and old passports © Ricky Yates

Just over two weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled ‘Dealing with British bureaucracy‘, in which I described the hurdles I was seeking to overcome, in order to obtain a new British passport. At the end of that post I wrote, ‘Watch this space to see if in two weeks time, I have been successful in my quest’. So here is the promised update.

On the evening of Wednesday 27th July, I flew from Prague to Luton, where I picked up my pre-arranged hire car and drove to the outskirts of Peterborough, where I had booked to stay the night. The next morning, I drove into the city and followed signs to a multi-storey car park, just a short walk from the Passport Office.

My appointment was for 10.30 with the clear instruction to . . . → Read More: I have a new passport!

Living in a flat in the Czech Republic

The block of flats in which we live © Ricky Yates

Nearly eight years ago, Sybille and I moved from the North Oxfordshire countryside to Prague, and from a four-bedroomed detached Rectory with several downstairs rooms, to a three-bedroomed flat with a sitting room and a minute kitchen. Not only did this mean us undertaking a massive and therapeutic downsizing exercise, it also means we now have close neighbours – several of them!

Our flat is on the second floor at the end of the block. It is identifiable by the orange coloured bedspread which was drying on a clothes rack on our main balcony, when this photograph was taken. Because we are on the end of the block, we only physically abut one other flat, (to the right of our main balcony in the photo), with one shared wall and a frosted glass panel . . . → Read More: Living in a flat in the Czech Republic