Wednesday, 27 August 2014


"I know!" exclaimed Munro one morning over hot tea and scrambled eggs.
"Let us perambulate this coming week and fuse our very beings with laughter, cake, friendship and frivolity of a rambly kind"

And so it was conceived. A much needed excursion to some far flung area of Norfolk.

We shall report forthwith of the findings and wonder.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone device

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Salle Church: Peeling Back The Onion

I was delighted to share a few of my more significant medieval graffiti finds with fellow travellers to the mighty Salle Church, in North Norfolk. Firstly, we gathered to look at an example of medieval writing inscribed into the external buttress of the chancel. 

Although, not legible in the too generous light of an August afternoon, the letter forms are clearly fifteenth century. It is very unusual to find such an old graffito on the outside of a church. Although there may have been many such examples in the past, the effects of the weather mean that they tend to be eroded or replaced during renovations. Mr. Basil-Snapper (the third) was beside himself with joy at the sight of this. In the interest of academic rigour, I was careful to add that we have yet to definitively establish whether or not it was carved 'in situ' or not. However, that didn't stop him jumping gleefully from leg-to-leg, exclaiming,

"It's a big one - a belter Sir!" 

"Well, come with me and we'll have a look at a seriously large 'tourist' graffito made in the mid-eighteenth century," said I. And so off we hobbled...

Among the assembled throng of antiquarians there were sharp intakes of breath at the sight of this splendid piece. Indeed, a couple of the more excitable types were overtaken by a swooning and were led to rest against conveniently placed gravestones as they recovered their faculties. 

Young Pipkin Crumble - a member of our 'youth wing', the 'Ragged Greenhorns & Antiquarian Striplings' - began to read it slowly and deliberately...

"James A. Dun-nett & John Dun-net 1754"

"They stood here - on this actual spot!" exclaimed Mr. Basil-Snapper, before turning like a spinning top and toppling to the ground. Another swooning.

Once the Members had sufficiently re-oxygenated themselves, I was able to take them into the magnificent church, past the rood screen, before gathering them around a wooden bench-end in the chancel. 

I began to explain how, during the early days of our survey work, although the pioneering work of Mr. Dart-Onion had already revealed graffiti archaeology on the reverse of wooden rood screens, we hadn't realised how much survives on the bench-ends. 

"This very piece is the first time I noticed such work on a bench-end" I explained. "What we have here is most likely a carpenter's/mason's drawing board. They would have utilised flat surfaces such as this to sketch out their ideas. Using a thin skim of plaster they could use such boards repeatedly, re-skimming them to create a fresh surface. That explains the often jumbled collection of 'scribble' you see on these." 

"It's everywhere!" cried out Mrs Truckington-Shay. Before I could say, "Huzzah to that!", off she scampered and in no time at all had discovered a piece that I have to confess I had missed, despite many previous visits to this site.

For there, etched into the pane of glass, was the following inscription: 

"Rember poor Joseph that painted the church May 12th 1802". 

"Well I never" I spluttered, "isn't that quite the thing my fellow Ramblers!"

The splendid endeavours of Mrs Truckington-Shay are a reminder that the more people who explore a site, the more chance there is that we shall reveal their mysteries. How wonderful it is to 'connect' with poor Joseph the painter after all these years. 

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Moissac Abbey Cloisters

Members of our Society ramble raggedly far and wide. On this occasion, one of our number had the good fortune to explore the remarkable cloister at Moissac Abbey in the South of France, with its seventy six decorated capitals. Feast your eyes!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Galilee Ceiling

There are many good reasons to stand and stare when visiting Dedham Church in the Stour Valley, Essex. One of these is this fantastic decorated ceiling in the Galilee archway passage that runs through the gargantuan church tower...


St Mary's Church, East Ruston

Earlier today I had the good fortune to spend solitary time at St Mary's Church, East Ruston, near the North Norfolk coast. Just me, my camera, and the sunshine beating down on my back. I have yet to find a photograph that takes my breath away quite like the sight of the actual church - still I took the obligatory scene setting shot of the whole church. This is what I affectionately call my 'Simon Knott shot'.  

To the faint sound of small flies buzzing busily I crossed the potentially treacherous road and walked up to the parched looking wooden gate. The gate timber looked like the most arid substance on earth, despite the downpour we had experienced the day before. It made me thirst for tea just to look at it, so I hurried through into the churchyard, with vague thoughts of hot beverages and cake whirling around my all-too distractible mind.  

Into the church, through the small door in the chancel, and, turning to my left, I looked towards the font at the nave's end, with the sparse, but lovely, framework of a - no doubt! - once resplendent rood screen framing the view beautifully. Pausing, I breathed in that lovely familiar beetly, damp smell of an old church, and experienced a Betjeman-esque reverie as I imagined the scurrying spiders lurking in the corners, wondering when this ridiculous giant beast would leave them to get on with their web-working in peace. 

My 'eye' (I currently have two!) was immediately drawn to the pair of carved wooden lions standing sentinel-like either side of the interior rood doorway arch. Admiringly, I walked around them. Haughty little beasts they are! Obedient to an absent master and ready to spring to action at any moment, their stillness seems miraculous. I like these little critters. 

Shifting my focus for a minute, my gaze fell upon the lectern and the leaning arches of the aisle, brightly lit with splashes of sunshine dazzling on the tiles of the floor. The stencilled decoration on the rood screen frame pleased me greatly. I like the faded medieval pallet, become shabby if not chic. Standing here, I enjoy this absence of straight lines and the play of light and shadow. 

Now, monochrome is all very atmospheric and all that, but it doesn't lend itself to an appreciation of saints on rood screens in my opinion. Therefore, like the shock of a Red Admiral butterfly's wing in the midst of drab nettles, I will revert to colour photography here. I don't know the collective noun for saints so I will invent one... this parade of saints are nicely painted and, mercifully, not over-restored either. 

Being a medieval graffiti hunter, I was, naturally, on the look-out for any interesting inscriptions. Within the interior of the church, I was to be disappointed in this quest I'm afraid. However, I was pleased to note this rather accomplished little graffito carefully carved into the lid of the church chest. 

I then walked over nonchalantly to examine what appeared to be an East Anglian style font. I could be wrong, but looking at the precise and regular tooling marks and the lack of medieval 'movement' in the carving, I came to the conclusion that this one is Victorian pastiche. 

However, this in no way distracted from my appreciation of the view as I turned to look along the church towards the chancel. Once again, the frame of the rood, together with the lean of the aisle arches captivated me. 

And, finally, as I step outside with you, let's have some colour here. 

Adieu & a resounding 'Huzzah!' to you all

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Fossilised Toe

Back in the day, there were long periods when the earth's mean temperature fell dramatically, causing an event we now call The Bone Age. In them days caveman and cavewoman would be wandering in search of... well, caves one assumes. Trekking across the frozen tundra could be hazardous in the extreme, what with all them old bones strewn everywhere and no tea or cake to relax them. It must have been simply awful in the olden days before history, with all of them trip hazards and cakelessness. No risk assessments back then - lol! It is clear then, that, from time to time, caveperson would experience a catastrophic toe-stub. Indeed, at its very worst, this could result in them losing a toe (they were much more brittle back then, as cake makes one supple). 

Members of the Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers have recently discovered one such example of a fossilised toe. We have established that this once belonging to a man searching for a cave (and, subsequently, a toe). It must have snapped off and fallen into a river bed and, over time, transformed into that which you see pictured above. It was discovered in the tiny village of Provenance, in unmapped rural Norfolk. 

Plans are afoot to donate the toe to a museum. Indeed, we are currently in negotiation with the curator of the recently founded Museum of Old Tat, currently located in a shed in suburban Norwich. The curator has already stipulated that this artefact will only be handled by gloves with hands in them. Apparently, one has to be very careful with such objects as they are not fragile at all and can, therefore, lead to complacent handling which, as you will already know, is just a short step from pulverisation via hammers. Not only has the curator already demonstrated an ability to write tiny letters and numbers on objects, their hair is also slightly wild and they can't find their shoes at present. In addition, the curator impressed us with an ability to spell words with 'aeo' in them (eg 'haeostory') - a combination of talents and qualities which, cumulatively, led to an outbreak of approving nodding among the committee membaeors.  


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