Sunday, 20 July 2014

Characters - Snowy Farr

A part of the subtle ethos of Ragged Rambling is daring to be different. Amongst our number we have a few 'characters' and we celebrate that. Here is a short piece made by Dave Allen in the early 1970s about a gentleman called Snowy Farr, a familiar sight to the people of Cambridge for many years (he died in 2007)...

Like old Snowy, our very own Mr Many Coats has a menagerie of creatures living in his hat (and beard!). Good old Snowy - gone, but not forgotten!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Plumped Up Magpie!

Ragged Ramblers collect things and are proud to do so. Thus, when one of our members excels in gathering all manner of curiosities, we like to fete them and celebrate their achievement. As you can see from these photographs the member deemed to have garnered the most impressive collection is exceedingly proud, like a plumped up magpie. 

Huzzah to this winner! Huzzah!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ragged Ramblers Explore Baconsthorpe Castle

Although we members of The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers like to engage our brains during our perambulations, we also delight in soaking up the atmosphere of a site. Here are some images taken during our recent exploration of the ruins of the fifteenth century moated and fortified manor house at Baconsthorpe, North Norfolk.

If you would like to visit this wonderful site yourself, please click HERE for directions

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A Magnificent Victorian Gasometer!

Great Yarmouth is great! If you approach the town with curiosity and an open mind there are so many facets to discover. So it was that Mr. Basil-Snapper (the third) and Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq. marvelled at the wonderful shapes and textures of the Victorian Southtown Gas Works. 

According to one of the town's nineteenth century historians, William Finch-Crisp, a gas works was erected on this site in 1852. Subsequently, in March 1876, a new gasometer (no. 3), capable of holding 63,000 cubic feet of gas, was added (source: 'Chronological Retrospect of the History of Yarmouth and Neighbourhood from A.D. 46 to 1884'). This, presumably, is the marvellous structure you can see pictured here. 

As we stood, mouths agape, looking up at this incredible structure, we discussed the quality of the detailing and the way it would have been an expression of cutting-edge modernity and civic pride. Standing there in 1877, brand new and gleaming, it must have cut an incredible and impressive sight. Now, all these years later, it is still magnificent and compelling with its ribs exposed and crackle-glaze paint and rusty rivets. Mr. Tweeder-Harris Esq. expressed his empathic connection with this grand old structure...

"I have always loved rivets. My paternal grand-dad was a riveter on the South Shields shipyards. As an old man his face was covered with a thousand tiny scars from hammering the still-soft metal. My maternal great grand-dad helped to build the Beckton Gas Works in East London. Apparently, the way he spoke about it you'd have thought he did it single-handedly."

What is the future for the Southtown Gas Works? Will it be preserved and valued, or will it be allowed to rot away and crumble into commercial land value? We strongly urge that it be valued as an amazing example of industrial archaeology. We really want to get closer up to it and will be making enquiries in order to do that in the future. In the meantime we gladly share these images with you here. 

~ Article and images, compliments of Mssrs. Basil-Snapper (the third) & Tweeder-Harris Esq. ~

Please note: if you wish to visit the gasometer, it lies on the corner of Admiralty Road and Barrack Road and can be found marked HERE on the Ragged Ramblers' Google Map.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Victorian Graffiti at Christ Church, Norwich

Whilst walking along Denmark Road in the North of Norwich, I noticed some Victorian graffiti etched into all of the ashlar stone dressings in the church's graveyard wall. In particular, this finely carved name - 'H. Cooke 1857' - caught my eye. 

This stone, with the etched lines containing the writing, looked almost like the work of a Victorian school child. Intrigued, I resolved to return later and take a proper look at the church. I'm glad I did!

Returning, I approached the Victorian gothic west face of the church and then made my way over to look at the ashlar on the interior of the graveyard wall. 

Straight away I saw this lovely little graffito carved by a 14 year old in 1875. Strange to think of him standing on this very spot, carving away. I must confess, I didn't hold out much hope of finding anything of interest graffiti-wise on the exterior of the church itself. However, I was to be very pleasantly surprised...

Among the plethora of names carved on the brick dressings of the buttresses was this intriguing concentration of extremely high-quality graffiti. The level of technical accomplishment, together with the date (1841), immediately made me wonder if these names were carved by the original builders of the church. Researching this, I was delighted to find that the church was completed in 1842, thus tying in beautifully with my thesis. These are, then, most probably a form of 'foundation stone' left by the builders themselves. Indeed, the records probably survive that could corroborate this. 

I find it pleasing to see the 'hand' and names of those who built the structure memorialised in this way. Strange, also, to think that when they were building this church it would have stood in open land. Nowadays, it is part of an inner-city suburb, bounded by busy roads. 

Finally, among the many names carved into the bricks, I noticed this single 'J'. Why was this never completed I wonder? Was 'J...' caught in the act of carving this and deterred from continuing his (it was probably a 'he') endeavour? Fascinating!

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Charm & Harm at Thornham Parva

During my travels today, I took the opportunity to pause and explore as I visited one of my favourite churches, St Mary at Thornham Parva in Suffolk. As you can see it has a lovely truncated Norman tower and is all flint and thatch textures in the bright light of a glorious late June day. 

It would be truly remiss of me not to highlight the wonderful medieval retable (altar piece), that is probably a survivor, originally displayed in the pre-Reformation abbey at Thetford in South Norfolk. 

As with all the best churches, the old sits naturally beside the new. Here is a delicately inscribed modern window that I found quite captivating. 

I paused a good while inside the church admiring the medieval wall paintings, the old wooden coffer in the chancel, the dinky little font and the quaint 'barn build' eighteenth century gallery at the west end of the nave. I paused and I took time to breathe in the beetly age of the church. Strings of sun-lit dust beamed through the windows. It was silent and still and I was glad to have decided to divert a little to return here once again.

After some time, I decided to step outside into the sunshine and look at the final resting place of Basil Spence, the artist and architect who designed Coventry Cathedral, following the destruction of the original through German raids in World War Two. He is buried alongside his wife Joan in the tranquil surroundings of a rural Suffolk churchyard. It is a shame he only lived in this area for around a year before his death in 1976. 

Next, I located the Evil Pond located on the fringe of the burial yard. Being obviously evil, it was, to my reckoning, almost certainly bottomless. I was also fascinating by the intensely evil blue light playing upon its surface. The surface scum was endlessly shifting, kaleidoscopically - I found myself having evil thoughts and knew that it was time to move on...

As an antidote to this intoxicating experience of pure liquid evil I decided to take some time to stand in the sunshine and look upon the beauty that surrounded me. Here are just some of the things that caught my eye...

I urge you to go and visit this delightful church for yourself, but do please be extremely wary of that Evil Pond.

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~ 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Huzzah for Heydon!

Members of The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers gathered at Heydon village on Sunday last for the open gardens event. As Our Reader will appreciate, we Ragged Ramblers seek to be inspired by our environment - and indeed we were. Here, then, are some of the things that we noticed as we explored the wonderful gardens...

And, of course, at the end of our perambulation we had an overwhelming urge to take tea. It just so happens that the wonderful Heydon Village Tea Shop was on hand to cater for our antiquarian appetites. Suffice it to say, much tea and delicious cake ensued*. Huzzah!

* A most curious thing occurred during our refreshments. I noticed a man with what appeared to be a welding mask peeping through the Tea Shop window. I have no idea what he was up to, and did not mention it to my colleagues for fear of perturbing them.