Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Lost Notebooks of Dawson Bulwer-Rant

The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers (RSAR) are very pleased to announce that a fascinating collection of Antiquarian notebooks have been recently bequested to us. These originally belonged to that legendary Ragged Rambler, Dawson Bulwer-Rant. 

Over the next several years we anticipate being able to share excerpts from this voluminous archive with you here. 

Here is a profile of Dawson...

Dawson Bulwer-Rant was born into a family without any obvious antiquarian predilections. As a small child he was already showing his future leanings by his insistence on wearing an all-in-one tweed romper suit. During summer holidays, with sketchbook in hand, he would cycle into the countryside in search of ancient monuments and natural curiosities. His few friends later noted that, although of a generally gentle disposition, the young Dawson would, on occasion, erupt into a froth of indignation, randomly berating, for instance, the shallow pitch of Knapton church roof ("... inappropriate! Inappropriate I say!"). His contemporaries testify that the thing most likely to set him into a state of incandescence was the tendency in modern times to pour one's tea through the slots of the flask lid, rather than by the proper, civilised means passed from generation to generation, time out of mind (namely, by removing the lid and pouring).

After a long career dedicated to the study of the old, the quirky and the curious, Dawson is reputed to have had a dream in which the idea for the original 'Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers' came to him ("... an epiphany Munro!"). Following this, he began to talk excitedly of churches and cake and laughter and learning (and flasks without slotted lids!)... and, indeed, such was the persistence of this mania, that he was, for a period, detained by the authorities... 

However, he had a dream, and that dream would not die. His was a spirit drawn to discover the whispers of the ages; the mesmerising wonder of reeds swaying in a gentle breeze - the wonderful weave of Harris tweed! And so it was that, with cake in hand, he founded this - 'The Ragged Society of Ragged Ramblers'... 

Huzzah! for Dawson Bulwer-Rant

Postscript: many of Bulwer-Rant's field sketches are unlabelled. Therefore, if anyone is able to assist us in identifying the location of the sites depicted, then your assistance in this matter will be most appreciated.  


  1. I remember Dawson of old. Already a legend when I first joined the Learned Society, he subjected me to one of his now infamous rants about the correct configuration of 'warp and weft' to be found in a standard issue RSAR picnic blanket. I rather foolishly suggested that we should allow blankets made with a 'twill' weeve as well as the more traditional 'plain' weeve and Dawson nearly had an apoplexy. We never spoke again.

    That said his journals are a delight to both the eye and academia and the church pictured above is reminiscent of many i've seen in my home county of Kent.

  2. A fine fellow. Liked to take his shoes off after a summer storm and jump in puddles if I remember correctly.

  3. It has been a long wait Munro, but well worth it. Even Cornelius Hump and Dan Tangle would be jealous of the standard of Dawson's work.

  4. I should have said that we never spoke again until the following week that is. Dawson was never one to hold a grudge, for it got in the way of laughter and cake. Although the standard issue RSAR picnic blanket is still only made using the 'plain weave' method.