Tuesday, 31 May 2011

This week's mystery object...

Every now and then we Ragged Ramblers leave the country lanes and ancient crumbling ruins and stumble into the odd museum. We particularly like the old fashioned cabinet of curiosity approach with rooms stuffed to the gunnels with all sorts of interesting and unusual artefacts. And so it was with great joy that I found myself in Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Originally a Tudor hall it grew and developed as fashions changed and it is now a museum and gallery full of twists and turns, nooks and crannies, step ups and step downs and creaking floor boards. Lots of creaking floorboards! Even the sink in the toilet had an period feel...


A pleasure to wash one's hands in such a generous sink...

It is packed full of fantastic furniture stained with the dark hues of everyday use and touch. There are little rooms here and there, austere Tudor and Stuart portraits; their occupants sitting in judgement on all the meaner sort like many of us Ragged Ramblers who pass by. There are all sorts and sizes of room, from rich men's closets to the scullery and kitchen where the meaner sort like many of us Ragged Ramblers would have once turned spits and fetched water. It's a labyrinth, because as fashions and tastes changed the house grew and in later times furniture and even whole building from elsewhere in Ipswich were absorbed into the structure. There is too much there to describe, from Georgian costume to Tudor whipping posts and cucking stools and so I have decided to focus on two objects that caught my eye....

The joy of courtship...
Click on image to make larger

The first is small jug made in the late 18th century in the ceramics collection and it's subject reflects a major theme of times past and perhaps even times present. In truth I'm not really into ceramics, but this jug had a certain appeal because of its theme, namely the struggles between man and woman, husband and wife, which has been a constant cause of both concern and jocularity in the long and not so long ago. Many a medieval illuminated manuscipt and Tudor and Stuart woodcut are littered with images of arguing couples and so too this 18th century jug, for as it says...

When two fond fools together meet
Each look gives joy, each kiss as sweet
But Wed, how cold and cross they be
Turn upside down and then you'll see...

And then when you turn it upside down the message is complete!

The realities of Matrimony!


This is not an attack on men nor women, but simply a joke that makes people laugh and so hopefully lessens tension between men and women, husband and wife. Surely we all need a laugh every now and then!

The other object that interested me was this wooden contraption that I found upstairs in a Tudor bedroom packed full of court cupboards, chests, wooden cribs and ancient wall paintings...


This Week's Mystery Object

But in the spirit of honorary Ramblers of times past like the late great Jack Hargreaves and the East Anglian antiquarian and tweed fancier, Dick Joyce of Bygones, I am not going to tell you what it is. Just as Jack and Dick would have done in their TV studio sheds long ago, I am presenting it to you as a mystery object - A competition to guess what it was and what it did? Answers can be sent directly to the Contributions Sec., or left in the comments section of this post.

The winning entry will receive a years supply of self satisfaction in the knowledge that they are nearly as clever as the Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers.

Huzzah!

+Many Coats R.S.A.R+

24 comments:

  1. What you have here is a Tudor era condom humidor. A sheep gut is slathered and submerged in unguents in the first vessel, the secondary kettle full of the popular aphrodisiac mares milk and nettles provided the necessary vapors keeping the lambs intestine usable for months of pleasure as well as infecting the room with tension. The graceful shape of the contraption facilitated it's ease of storage beneath the bed.

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  2. An interesting and imaginative suggestion Yellow Fringe, but not correct. Although your assertion that the device is associated with the bed on which it sits is a correct one!

    +Many Coats+

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  3. It's a device to slide under Russian lorries with a candle in it, to warm up the engines in cold weather?

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  4. Hmmmm. Getting warmer Tom!

    +Many Coats+

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  5. Matheus Grumblefelt1 June 2011 at 12:36

    Tis an old fashioned bed warmer sir!

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  6. Thadeus Basil Snapper1 June 2011 at 12:40

    That's a fine example of the British bob sleigh team's latest olympic one man sledge. When they sit on it, they light a candle in the pan and it fairly keeps their nether regions warm whilst skidooing down the piste.
    Well done Mr Many Coats for spotting it!

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  7. You are all fools. Tis clearly a 16th century suppository. The curved wooden struts allowed for ease of insertion. And prior to insertion aromatic spices and herbs were lit in the metal bowl in the hope that their sweet smells would expell evil humours from the guts. I used something very similar myself back in the day.

    Israel Gedge - Puritan and Proud

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  8. Israel. Although you are correct that both good and bad smells were once held close by our orifices in order to influence our humoral balance, you are clearly in need of help. I suggest a closed room with little light to ease your distraction.

    +Many Coats+

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  9. Thank you all for your imaginative and mad suggestions (just what I would have expected from the Learned Society) alas it is neither a sledge nor a device for birth control or lorry heater.

    The correct answer was give by Matheus Grumblefelt who said it was a bed warmer! Well done Matheus. Hot coals or embers from he fire were placed into the metal bowl and the device slipped beneath the sheets. The only problem being that it made the fleas active and sometimes set fire to the bed!

    Well done Matheus. I hope you enjoy your smug self satisfaction.

    +Many Coats R.S.A.R+

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  10. BaZ the Darkling1 June 2011 at 15:19

    Oh Mathusa Grumbles man, you spoilt it, man! You knew it wuzza bed-thing and you just hadda spill it. We wuz luvviin all them otha dudes' wacko-jacko, man! You shoulda let 'em run, that Gedge, he is a card, all that like pride 'n stuff and the Fringe he is out there like no one, get it?
    Huzzz a'like!

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  11. My Dear Baz
    You is like well righteous man, yeah!
    Yours,
    +Many Coats R.S.A.R+

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  12. I am finding this 'street' patois most disorientating. I have consulted my niece, Tristram, for some advice and he advises me to 'chill Beez'. One finds oneself in a condition of the most pitiable funk!

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  13. I really dig what you're saying Beezer!

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  14. For heavens sake Elias the Shovel - I get it!

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  15. Dear Beezer,

    Please don't take this in the wrong way; I think you should make more effort to keep up with contemporary trends... don't be a dinosaur - get yourself an iPhone 4...

    Just levelling with you

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  16. Dear Beezer

    You could even get an iPhone with a bed warmer app!

    +Mant Coats+

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  17. The sadness of two stranded sledges
    conjoined
    Arthur Negus
    It all ends in dust
    ... isn't it

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  18. I just Googled 'Jurgen Gavin' out of curiosity and his work is... different

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  19. It may interest you to know that had a similar device to this when I was a lad. Except that it was constructed out of metal with a plastic coating and had a light bulb where once embers would have been. Sometimes I kept it plugged in when I got into bed. The heat overwhelmed me with it's hotness.

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  20. Given the item's position and the fact that similar devices are still used in some health care facilities, I was going to call it a bed cradle. The difference is that we use the devices to alleviate pressure on toes and feet. The bed warmer aspect was what really threw me.

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  21. My dear Ornery.
    I have a vauge feeling that I've heard early bed warmers like the one above being refered to as 'bed cradles' and I thank you for bringing this to the RSAR's attention.
    Best wishes,
    +Many Coats+

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