Thursday, 29 May 2014

Harriet Parr in Shanklin

I've just been reading about another now-unsung Victorian female novelist, Harriet Parr (1828-1900), who wrote under the pseudonym Holme Lee. Although Yorkshire-born, she spent the latter half of her life in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, which appears in some of her works.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bayan time (22)

A pleasant early afternoon today: I just played at the Topsham Music Festival (ongoing until 10pm) outside the Lighter Inn at Topsham Quay, in aid of the Macmillan cancer charity. It originally was to be a Blues Festival, but they widened the brief. Nevertheless, I stuck with the original plan and worked on some blues - a new venture for me - and went with Careless Love, a blues-y instrumental of Gershwin's aria Summertime, and the St James Infirmary Blues.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


The Sacrifice of Enid. (1909, October 16). Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931). Retrieved May 23, 2015 from National Library of Australia Trove digitised newspaper database.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Chines They Are a-Changin'

Another spinoff from the recent posts on 18th century Isle of Wight travelogues: the clues you can follow about landscape changes over two centuries, particularly in the chines of the 'Back of the Wight'.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Devil's Bridge, Steephill

Further to the previous post about Charles Tomkins' 1796 A Tour to the Isle of Wight: a handful of topographic accounts mention an interesting landform at Steephill, Isle of Wight, called the Devil's Bridge.

Monday, 19 May 2014

A Tour to the Isle Wight, 1796

The second of the two 18th century Isle of Wight travelogues I mentioned recently: Charles Tomkins' 1796 A Tour to the Isle of Wight.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Tour of the Isle of Wight, 1790

There are any number of "me too" 19th century travelogues of the Isle of Wight, but I just ran into two late 18th century ones that give a slightly different perspective: John Hassell's 1790 Tour of the Isle of Wight, and Charles Tomkins' 1796 A Tour to the Isle of Wight.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Weston Plats revisited: part 2

Further to Weston Plats revisited: part 1, some photos of the remaining section of Wednesday's walk, from Weston Plats to Sidmouth, taking in the odd landscape of 'Dunscombe Humps'.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Weston Plats revisited: part 1

I briefly visited Weston Plats - a pleasant coastal 'undercliff' near Sidmouth - on a walk a year ago (see Dunscombe: Spring is in the air). But I took myself out yesterday for a better look: a half-day excursion taking in some of the nicer woodland and coastal scenery of East Devon.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Devon: its Moorlands, Streams & Coasts

An out-take from The Dread Wrecker Featherstone: Lady Rosalind Northcote's 1908 Devon: its Moorlands, Streams & Coasts, an illustrated account of the landscape and history of Devon. It has extremely pleasant colour plates, from watercolours by Frederick John Widgery, who specialised in coastal art of Devon and Cornwall. The scenes range over the whole of Devon, but here I've selected a local sample from East Devon round to Torbay.

Billie Millin / Dawlish Museum

I can't remember the precise date on this, but I visited Dawlish Museum some time mid-summer 2014, and a very good town museum it is.
      With 11 rooms over 3 floors, the museum is most famous for its display of Piper Bill Millins D-Day bagpipes. The displays in Dawlish Museum are regularly updated and depict life past and present in the town and notably tell the story of the February storm of 2014 which severely damaged the railway line. A vast archive of 100's of rare historical photographs can be seen in both album form or on the new library P.C.
      Children as well as adults are well catered for and there are many fun activities just for them such as the dressing up outfits and the Black Swan Trail. The Museum is entirely run by volunteers, is self funding and recently proudly gained official accreditation.
As may be well-known by now, the celebrated bagpiper and soldier William "Bill" Millin - the personal piper to Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, commander of 1 Special Service Brigade at D-Day - retired to Dawlish in 1988, and his bagpipes and an associated display form a central part of Dawlish Museum.
      Dawlish Museum's collections of topographic material, such as old photographs and postcards, are excellent. Although the Museum has a no-photo policy, I had a very useful discussion with Andrew Wright, one of the Museum volunteers, about the use of a virtually uncredited postcard image of the "Clerk" a.k.a. Shag Rock for a debunking pamphlet. (I'm now confident that the "Parson and Clerk" legend has no precursor or basis in folklore, but comes entirely from a very literary anonymous short story in the 1848 anthology Legends of Devon - one of a series of which a Notes & Queries correspondent described as: "each and all original whims of the moment, and not reproductions of popular legends").

- Ray

Monday, 12 May 2014

Alma Lee found

A fascinating development arising from the Isle of Wight County Press feature on A Wren-like Note: a correspondent has sent me a clear identification of the original for the wronged coachman's daughter Alma Lee, a central character in Maxwell Gray's 1886 The Silence of Dean Maitland.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

DWWW: part 3

Further to largely forgotten DWWWs (Dead White Women Writers) - late-Victorian writers whose portraits appeared in The Picture Magazine, Vol 3, 1894.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Dread Wrecker Featherstone

Further to Ropes of sand: a Teignmouth penance, Angela Williams of Literary Places kindly sent me another local-ish example of someone condemned to posthumous torment weaving sand ropes on the beach, this time commemorated through a poem.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ropes of sand: a Teignmouth penance

One of those historical snippets that will probably never be elucidated. I just found this Notes & Queries snippet about Sir Warwick Hele Tonkin, a Teignmouth worthy who, for some unknown reason, acquired a ghostly penance in the late 1800s.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bayan time (21)

I haven't mentioned the progress on the bayan for a while. It's not through lack of interest, but because it's quietly become a fixture of my life.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Lanoe Falconer photo found

This is a really nice photo of the writer Lanoe Falconer (Mary Elizabeth Hawker), who I mentioned in DWWW1: part 1.