Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Antiquarian travels beyond the borders of Norfolk

Ragged Ramblers rarely pass up an opportunity to venture outside the safety of home and the weekend just departed was one such moment.
With a call to visit a county rich in heritage and history, Thadeus Basil-Snapper (the third) donned tweed, stout boots and cap and ventured forth.
Travelling on a well appointed bicycle, he arrived in York to be fed on architecture and culture.

Navigating through the winding medieval "Shambles" streets, stopping to sample many touted wares in the various markets, from out of the misty gloom rose the twin towers of the Minster.

Glorious stone with intricate carvings, gargoyles, grotesques and features.
Delicate details in every niche, nook and cranny.

Entering the building through slightly less than grand modern glass doors and crossing the desk guardians' palms with  silver and paper, beautiful structures appeared.

Gaze upon this ceiling decoration for a few moments and enjoy its kaleidoscopic textures.

Figures of majesty under gilded canopies from the 15th century made up the choir screen separating the nave.

And turning, looking, seeing, eyes falling upon splendours of stained glass and tracery.

What struck Thadeus, was the number of 'little gems' hidden around corners and up in dark secluded corners.
A face of incredible detail and child-like impudence peeping from the stonework - gorgeous!

And so, having satiated his hunger for history and architecture, the Rambler, wended his way back through the "Shambles" and headed back to his temporary abode.

But before reaching the destination, one more delight appeared.
"The magic ball man" - a conjurer of contact juggling with skills not seen for many a year, entertained onlookers with feats of "oohs" and "ahhs" - most marvellous.

All in all, a trip to be savoured and recalled in darkened parlours with port, pipe and friends.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Jonny's Dancing Sparks

Jonny likes fire. Jonny's burning bright. Jonny glows chimney-red as the flames dance. Glow Jonny, glow!


Monday, 6 October 2014

A Message to the Future

Please click on image in order to enlarge

We never know what surprises await us during our explorations. Thus, when we walked into the rather lovely interior of Beeston-Next-Mileham Church in Suffolk, Mr. Many Coats and I had no idea that the 'star' find of a splendid day's Ragged Rambling would be a humble roof tile. However, this isn't any old roof tile, for etched into it is a message from the year 1924. The tile itself - currently tucked away in an annex room - begins thus:

"June 11th YEAR OF
OUR LORD 1924: IN 


The author then continues to list the dates and locations of his jobs restoring churches over the preceding six years (enlarge image and have a read for yourself).

We assume that the author of this testament was a plumber, L. Mobley, who also left the lead 'plaque' pictured above. 

For us, a time capsule like this, speaking from the roof of this church on a sunny June day ninety years ago, is an absolute treasure. Were it in our power we would definitely have these pieces on public display within the church, as they provide one of those rare connections between a 'grand' building and those, often all-too anonymous, tradesman who work to preserve it. Mr. Many Coats and I feel that parishioners and general visitors would be fascinated to learn by this. Hopefully, this will happen presently. In the meantime, we bring you a 'virtual' version. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Antiquarian Food Revelations!

Some more fascinating revelations about the Ragged Ramblers' antiquarian dietary preferences...

A Taste for Spunk!

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Bad Bout of Etc, Etc

Egad, Mr. Many Coats is experiencing another bad bout of Etc, Etc! It is at times such as this that we of The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers are indebted to our Society apothecary, Dr. Puck Willet, purveyor of unlimited cures, balms and elixiers. On this occasion Dr Puck reaches for a tin of Dr. Rumney's pure tobacco mentholyptus-infused snuff.

"A failsafe curative for a bout of Etc, Etc Many Coats - even says so on the tin. What!"

A few moments later poor Mr. Many Coats is possessed by a fit of convulsive sneezes that sends filaments of ink-black ssecretions in all directions - including onto the snuff tin itself. 

To this day one can see evidence of this unfortunate display when one examines said tin. As for this curious artefact, where is one to find it? Why, within the growing collections of The Museum of Old Tat of course! 


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

An Antiquarian Dust Donation

It was with some considerable curiosity that I collected an anonymous parcel from the Post Office sorting office. Hitherto, the Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers have not publicised their ambition to amass the largest collection of antiquarian dust in the county of Norfolk, so who could have known about our Curator of Palynology? 

Anyway, I tore open the parcel and revealed a charming little Emergency First Aid tin. 
We have recently received a spate of parcel bombs from disenchanted former RSAR members, so, for a fleeting moment, I thought this may have been an explosive device. However, allowing curiosity to overcome caution, I decided to open the lid, and here is what was revealed... 

Three beautifully packaged and labelled phials of dust. Being a stickler for palynology protocol I carefully placed a fifteenth century 'beehive' thimble upon my finger and began to examine one of the phials. These have a note of the museum professional about them and it is clear to us that these have come from a museum context and will now be accessioned - after voluminous paperwork - to the Ragged Ramblers' antiquarian palynology collection. Marvellous! Isn't it...


~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Lost Notebooks of Dawson Bulwer-Rant - Jay Feather

Bit by bit The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers continue to release material from the sensational archive of our Society founder, the legendary Dawson Bulwer-Rant. Here is another page from his field diary. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

(Not Quite So) Synchronised Chair Turning


Chair Turners of the world unite, you only have your dignity to lose!

As Our Reader will already be aware, members of The Ragged Society of Antiquarian... why did we choose such a long title!... Ramblers are very interested in movement. In particular, creative forms of movement in and around churches. For instance, members continue to experiment with Church Parkour, the antient art of Tea Chi, wild wading/swimming, and turning corners together. In this piece, filmed under the flashlight bulbs of the assembled antiquarian paparazzi, members work on perfecting the complex art of synchronised chair turning. 


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Stained Glass - Sarah's Babies

Arriving late morning on Sunday last, I had the pleasure of spending time with stained glass artist, Sarah Bristow. Now, as my friendlies already now, Sarah is the person from whom my long-term carer kindly commissioned the following piece as a gift for my 98th birthday earlier this year. 

Sarah is a highly regarded artist with a well-earned reputation. For instance, see her windows at Reedham Church, that, quite rightfully, earn ample praise from the discerning Simon Knott of Norfolk Churches fame (see HERE).

Here is Sarah's workshop, located in her garden somewhere in England. Upon arrival we sat down and drank strong tea and ate fig rolls as we discussed her work. All the while, her dog, the redoubtable Stanley, dropped a ball at our feet and then bounded off in pursuit every time we threw it. I admired Stanley's focus. His is a ball-centred universe, and he never tires of the pursuit. Anyway, we munched and we sipped tea and we talked stained glass. Then it was time to take a look inside the workshop. 

This is the view that Sarah has as she works. Dotted here and there are examples of her work, including that lovely long dog running full stretch against a cobalt blue background. It caught my eye - as did the blue gable shape of the glass, echoed in the roof-lines in the distance. 

I have a bit of a 'thing' about the light cast by stained glass (see the second photo down in this post for instance - 'Curiosity - and Chickens'), and I stood mesmerised as the colours shimmered on her work bench. And on that bench lay some of her work, included a large commissioned piece that has taken two years to near completion. As Sarah says, "these pieces are my babies." Fascinating, then, to think that so many of her offspring will no doubt survive her and be appreciated for hundreds of years to come (that is, unless there is a catastrophic breakdown of society, as predicted by our very own Aunty Gary, and the spiders take over...).

I smiled as I examined this large and brightly coloured fish, swimming through ribbons of reeds as a string of bubbles emits from its downcast mouth. 

Here you can see a couple of examples of Sarah's smaller work that I photographed against a background of a lightbox. I think they're wonderful!

She also showed me this piece of glass that was a 'first draft' of my 'Daisywheel' piece, pictured above. Alas, such shattering moments go with the territory of the stained glass artist. However, in this instance, all is not lost. Sarah has very kindly offered to teach me how to adapt and 'rescue' this piece at some future date. Having long admired glass-work I relish this opportunity to have a go myself. Will I have the talent to crack it I wonder (!)?

Here is a technically poor photograph of that long-dog of Sarah's I had admired during my visit. Having noted my appreciation, Sarah insisted on me taking it as a gift - a typically generous gesture from an immensely talented woman! 

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~