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 ~

Friday, 29 August 2014

Up & Over

St Peter's Church, Reymerston (28.08.12): It is the strangest thing! The ledger slab in the nave centre aisle is bowed; bowed up in the middle. Walking over it is a strangely disconcerting experience. We have never seen the like, and try as we might, we were quite unable to capture what we were seeing photographically... quite unable, but here you are anyway. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Transience of All Earthly Things


I Dream of Dorking

I have a dream that one day I will go Ragged Rambling in Dorking. I have a picture of Dorking in my mind that no amount of cynicism can erode. It is a wonderful place full of friendly people and single decker green buses with leather seats. How do I know this? Well, when I was a little boy, growing up in the east of London, I had a tiny toy bus and on the front of it was written, 'Dorking'. Playing with the bus in a sun-streaked dusty corner I knew then that Dorking was a special place - a place of dreams. One day soon I hope to visit there and savour the wonder therein. Until then I find myself moved to write this poem...

Up on Box Hill
clouds suspended
whilst time reclines,
standing still

To the south,
 the Mole Valley wending a way
and soon I'll be walking 
through the streets of Dorking

Those sun splashed streets
where once upon a day dreaming
I was a boy lost in play
with a green toy bus, 
labelled destination, 'Dorking'

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Rambles for Londoners

There are a smattering of Londoners amongst the members of the Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers. This book is specifically for their enjoyment only. No one else may use it, or even look within its pages. A shame for those of you who aren't from London, as it is a delightful read and features the wonderous town of Dorking. I trust that I have clarified matters for you!

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~


"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 ~