I couldn’t resist picking up this 2000 copy of the Meerbuscher Geschichtsheft with this historic picture of the chapel at Schloss Pesch, prior to its renovation. This is how I remember the chapel, with bushes growing out of its brickwork and windows missing and others bricked or boarded up. Particularly at night it seemed like the obvious setting for a ghost story.
I was particularly pleased to find a plan of the interior drawn by the architect who was planning the renovation. The body of the chapel back then was one single circular room. At the time there was no remnant of an altar, but it would likely have been on the right hand side of this drawing (which is to the east) as the door was then on the left (west) side.
One of the stories which inspired part of The Devil’s Missal, I found in an old book of Rhine legends. It tells of a young woman, Wilgefortis, who is pursued by a group of men, determined to catch and rape her. She comes to a place where there is a huge wayside cross. Wilgefortis stands under the cross and holds her arms outstretched. As the pursuers arrive the virgin Mary causes a beard to sprout on Wilgefortis’ face. The rapists run on past, thinking she is a statue of Christ crucified and she is spared.
One of the questions readers frequently ask is where do I write. Physically that is. Which seat is my backside attached to? What can I see from if I look up from the screen?
The answer is usually wherever I happen to be at the time. But if the weather allows it, outdoors. Here are three images of some of my favourite writing locations. The first is at Schloß Pesch in Meerbusch Ossum. The other two are in Meerbusch Büderich.
The Jewish cemetery in Lank-Latum was opened in 1878. It lies between the Uerdinger Strasse and the Latumer See, behind the Herrenbusch and Schloß Pesch. Prior to its existence Jews from Meerbusch were laid to rest in Linn or Kaiserswerth on the opposite side of the Rhine. When Linn stopped accepting corpses from other areas, and because Kaiserswerth was difficult to reach when the Rhine flooded every spring, in 1876 the Jewish community applied for permission to build their own cemetery in Lank.
As it turned out, only 14 gravestones were ever erected in the cemetery – nearly all predating the Nazi era. In 1941, the majority of the Jews from Meerbusch were transported to concentration camps in Riga and other eastern regions where they were murdered. Only three members of the community survived the holocaust.
The Meerbusch initiative to plant 50,000 square metres of wild flowers around the perimeter of local fields and woods to nurture a wide variety of insects has been a great success this year. Not only are our fields buzzing, but we are seeing a steady increase in the number and variety of birds.
Yet another beautiful old house on the Necklenbroicher Strasse in Meerbusch is about to be torn down to make space for modern semi-detached houses. The building is estimated by the local history society to be 150-200 years old. Until recently it was lived in and well maintained by an elderly couple. Inside it still has the old beams.
Over the past decade it seems as though nearly every old building in the area has been converted into a modern steel and glass whitewashed cube.