Filed under design

Curiosities at Gloucester Folk Museum

Curiosities at Gloucester Folk Museum

Sometimes I find references to items which I really need to see to understand. Fortunately some museums have handling exhibitions which help. This was a Tudor exhibit at the recent doors open day. This is a trencher, a precursor of plates. It’s only a few inches across as they did not have all the food … Continue reading

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

This is one of the most important, but least known historical and archaeological sites in Britain. Gunpowder has played a huge role in modernisation; without it we would not have city states, mining, wars, hunting, and spectacular fireworks. This is from historian Brenda Buchannan: Gunpowder and the explosives and propellants which followed it provided a … Continue reading

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City BBC4

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City BBC4

This documentary featured the pioneering journalism and activism of Jane Jacobs who led the battle to stop the wholesale replacement of cities and their vibrant communities with freeways and tower blocksin New York City. Her main opponent was Robert Moses who became a local hero for promoting open spaces and building public parks, but after … Continue reading

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

I love obscure bits of history, and parish boundary markers are great because you really have to poke around with your eyes open to spot them. They were used to mark the parish boundaries of mediaeval cities, to establish who had to pay church rates, who attended churches, and as legal documents in property sales. … Continue reading

Suffering Tradesmen

Suffering Tradesmen

Ornate cabinets were popular in Europe Post Reformation, especially North of the alps. Many skilled tradespeople were involved, but we generally know nothing about them. This cabinet was built for Gallus Jacob, financier of the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg about 1716. Inside the completed cabinet was this cry of pain: I don’t understand this. Should be … Continue reading

Masterpieces

For many centuries tradesmen learned their craft via apprenticeships. In Britain they were generally contracted outside the family to widen the skills taught and if a master died, the newly qualified journeyman might marry his master’s widow to continue the business and prevent the family becoming bankrupt. This meant it was rare for people in … Continue reading

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

What happened to objects when Henry VIII closed the monasteries? This is an area of history that is often ignored or the subject of guesswork, especially in England where there was so much destruction of religious artefacts at the long drawn-out Reformation. But here’s some thoughts. Every church that conducted masses had to have a … Continue reading

A True Romance

A True Romance

Here’s some rather wonderful images from Winchester Cathedral. Many old churches have lovely carved tombs to dead crusaders, but this one, remembering the Earl of Arundel and his second wife Eleanor, from about 1307 is rather special. Despite their wealth they left instructions to be buried together without pomp. She has her legs crossed, like … Continue reading

Newton’s Great Promoter

Newton’s Great Promoter

Most people have heard of Sir Isaac Newton, though most are vague on the details of his theories on gravity etc. But his work was written in Latin and they were incredibly complex and hard to comprehend, even by his fellow scientists. But they were understood by French born vicar John Theophilus Desaguliers who devised … Continue reading