Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hand on the Tiller

In a May of uncertain weather this rainbow tiller brightens up the canal-side perhaps waiting for its trip along the water when the helmsman manoeuvres it to provide leverage in the form of torque to turn the rudder. Staying with the nautical theme I'll take you to London's Trafalgar Square
where Nelson's Column has a new companion, yes its Shaun the Sheep turned out with a tricorne hat just like the one Admiral Nelson is wearing. Are you ready for your close up Shaun?
Here is Nelson Shaun with his decorations and, as we are in Trafalgar Square, there is a pigeon included. I'd forgotten hearing there was a temporary Shaun the Sheep Art Trail in London otherwise I'd have downloaded the app and driven my companion to distraction by tracking some of  them down. As it was I found another two by accident  but there are 50 across the city.  They have been created by artists, designers and celebrities and will be there until the end of May when the show moves on to the home of Aardman Animations, Bristol, where a further flock of 70 will appear.  Eventually they will be auctioned off to raise money for two children's charities. See more Shaun in the City here   (and that app).

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at T here

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Roman Bath House

Roman Baths
In the northernmost reaches of the Roman Empire here stood  a Roman Bath House and its walls still survive standing up to 12 ft 9 ins (3.9 metres).  There is more to it than this photograph shows but you can see the remains of the arched doorway.  Its buttresses suggest that it had a substantial roof.  It owes its preservation in part to the fact it was at one time incorporated into a medieval building.  The Bath House is just a third of a mile away from the settlement of Ravenglass on whose tidal estuary beached ships would be unloaded directly onto the shore and taken to the Roman Fort of Glannoventa of which this was its Bath House.  It was not actually located inside the fort but outside and it is thought for that reason its purpose was to be shared by both civilian and military personnel who "enjoyed hot saunas and cold baths". Although enjoy and cold baths are not two words that would go together for me.  There is evidence that the soldiers stationed here served in Hadrian's fleet for Ravenglass was a supply point for much of the North West of England.

Nothing remains of the four acre fort which was occupied from the AD130 to late 4th century, its west half destroyed by the estuary of the Esk and by the railway of 1850 however there is an enigmatic sandstone marker in a field nearby
Glannoventa Roman Fort Marker
I will have to have another attempt at this photograph for my intention was to show the marker with the Bath House in the distance to one side, however the clear blue sky and the sunlight dazzle on my camera screen means that, as I realised when I downloaded the picture, I have managed to place the marker directly over the distant Bath House.  Doh.

There is a nice tour of the Bath House on You Tube here and as you will see there are always visitors pottering around. It may not be as impressive or well preserved as others in the world but this southernmost point of Hadrian's Wall Country was in Roman times a frontier. Members of the Cohors Primae Aelia Classica (First Cohort of the Aelian Fleet) garrisoned here and bathed within the walls, the fort's name of Glannaventa meaning 'market of the shore' means that merchants and travellers would have enjoyed the underfloor heating in the cold of winter.  After the Romans left there was a great Viking settlement.  I wonder if they took advantage of the baths.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


St Andrew's Church, Quatt
For any history lover St Andrew's Church in Quatt has a fascinating interior full of plaques, tombs, coats of arms and memorials but on top of that it is very pretty with its pink and grey marble and sandstone features. The great and the good are memorialised with the local Wolryche family featuring large (the tomb above is of Margaret and and Francis)
Memorial to George Wolryche, younger brother of the 1st baronet
They even had a reforming politician in their number,  William Wolryche-Whitmore (1787-1858), who campaigned against the Corn Laws and slavery and is buried in the churchyard but memorialised in some length in the church.
One would never guess from such a plain exterior there was so much crammed inside.
Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson VC
Outside by the path I came across this Canadian flag and thought it must be someone on a quest for their ancestry but this was not the story. Lieutenant Wilkinson had emigrated with his family to Canada from Lodge Farm near Quatt. He enrolled with the Canadian army on outbreak of World War 1 but when he was not sent overseas made his own way to England and joined the North Lancashire regiment. The posthumous owner of the Victoria Cross his body was never recovered and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme who have no known graves. This plaque was placed in Quatt churchyard after unsuccessful attempts to trace any relatives by the Shropshire War Memorials Association. (Source: Wikipedia)
As one walks down the path on the way out opposite St Andrew's church at Quatt is a large house.   Originally built as the Dower House in the 18th Century I learnt from the 'Workhouses' site it was, as the result of the Poor Law Amendment Act,  turned into a school for pauper children. In 1851 it housed 170 girls and boys, its 4 acres of land provided income, the boys cultivating the land and looking after cows and pigs and the girls working in the house and dairy.  A gazetteer of this date extolled the "habits of industry, knowledge of gardening combined with honest principles and religious knowledge are blessings of incalculable amount" which the inhabitants obtained. At its peak it would educate 220 pupils but was closed by the 1900s probably because by that time there was state funded free schooling for all up to the age of 12.  It would later become an independent primary school which went into liquidation in 2010, today I believe it has been turned into seven residential apartments.

What a lot of history within a few steps in a village of a couple of hundred people but the settlement is very old. The curious name derives from the Celtic word for wood - Coed and the Saxon word for farm - Tun.  That is Coed-tun - "The village in the wood".  By the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 it was listed as Quatone which has through the centuries morphed into the name of Quatt.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet,  this week sojourning at the letter Q here