Saturday, 25 October 2014

Topsham church records

I've been doing some website work for the Devon and Cornwall Record Society, and in the process ran into some interesting Topsham-related material that could be of considerable use to researchers. Like many churchyards, that of St Margarets, Topsham, has suffered over the years: headstones have been variously moved or destroyed, or have fallen flat; and of those remaining, the majority are nearly illegible through weathering.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Colossal landscapes

The simulacrum 'Cliff' I mentioned in a previous post - see Devon cliff faces - reminded me of a section in the first volume (1863) of The Picture Magazine, an easy-read compilation of syndicated images. Pursuit of the source leads to a venerable genre of anthropomorphic landscapes.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Terror of Topsham ... no

Sorry (at least to hopeful Topsham enthusiasts). The recently-discovered sunken wreck from the Franklin expedition - see The Terror of Topsham ... perhaps - has turned out to be ... its sister ship the Erebus.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Devon cliff faces

I quite like Goodrington Sands, Torbay (see Coast: Brixham to Paignton - part 2). While it's a popular beach, it's not as full-on commercial as Paignton itself, and the northern end - Goodrington & Youngs Park - has areas of definite quaintness, even gentility. In connection, I found a pleasant postcard in Topsham's antiques emporium highlighting a radical development around 1930.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Secret of the Desert: across Arabia by chariot-boat-tank

I wrote previously about the author Edward Douglas Fawcett, after seeing Kevin Dixon's Torquay’s Other History post The Science Fiction of Edward Douglas Fawcett, and linked to his 1893 novel Hartmann the Anarchist; or The Doom of the Great City. As an update, I just found among the growing collection of digitised works at the British Library another of his SF works, the 1895 The Secret of the Desert, or How We Crossed Arabia in the “Antelope“.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Salisbury tower explained

I've been meaning to check out the prominent Italianate tower that you can see from the Salisbury-Exeter train a few minutes out of Salisbury - I'd been speculating a Catholic priory or abbey - but it turns out to be the village of Wilton's extravagantly-designed Church of England parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Devonshire magazine Oct/Nov 2014: Goat Island

I've briefly mentioned East Devon Coast & Country magazine before; a few issues back it was rebadged as the Exeter, East & Mid Devon issue of the Devonshire magazine, part of the larger Prestige Media stable. It always impresses me as one of the very few of the glossy advertorial magazines with good-quality editorial content, usually on topographical/historical topics, and this month's was no exception.

Friday, 3 October 2014

The Lion's Mane and other seaside fun

“Here is a book,” I said, taking up the little volume, “which first brought light into what might have been forever dark. It is Out of Doors, by the famous observer, J. G. Wood. Wood himself very nearly perished from contact with this vile creature, so he wrote with a very full knowledge. Cyanea capillata is the miscreant’s full name, and he can be as dangerous to life as, and far more painful than, the bite of the cobra. Let me briefly give this extract.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Iapetus

Just a piece of stream-of-consciousness that led to some literature I'd quite forgotten... I saw an old Daily Mail article about the very cute cat Venus, who is a chimera - an organism composed of genetically distinct patches. It's not unusual in animals, but unusual to have such a distinct facial division: blue-eyed ginger tabby on the left, green-eyed black cat on the right. She even has a Facebook page.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

False books at Killerton

Saturday's Telegraph review section featured Charles Dickens's well-known "List of imitation book-backs" that he ordered in 1851 from the bookbinder Thomas Robert Eeles to fill some shelves at Tavistock House. This reminded me to transcribe the titles of a similar set of spoof book spines I saw last year, concealing a cupboard in the library at Killerton House. They're not quite as creative as Dickens's, but still fun.