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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

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Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree
My friend and I travelled to Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire today, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, and the likely setting of the famous ‘apple incident’. We saw the room where he was born, and the bedroom where he conducted experiments with light, but by far the most interesting thing was the apple tree in the grounds just outside.
The story of an apple dropping from a tree having inspired Newton’s theory of gravity is confirmed in the writings of some of Newton’s closest friends. William Stukeley, Newton’s biographer, for example, wrote in 1726 how Newton told him, as the strolled below apple trees in Kensington, how:

… he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to himself; occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a contemplative mood. “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths center? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. 

[Sources: Photograph: Mine | Woolsthorpe Manor | Isaac Newton] 

Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree

My friend and I travelled to Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire today, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, and the likely setting of the famous ‘apple incident’. We saw the room where he was born, and the bedroom where he conducted experiments with light, but by far the most interesting thing was the apple tree in the grounds just outside.

The story of an apple dropping from a tree having inspired Newton’s theory of gravity is confirmed in the writings of some of Newton’s closest friends. William Stukeley, Newton’s biographer, for example, wrote in 1726 how Newton told him, as the strolled below apple trees in Kensington, how:

… he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to himself; occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a contemplative mood. “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths center? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. 

[Sources: Photograph: Mine | Woolsthorpe Manor | Isaac Newton

Instructions on How to be King
A previously unseen letter written in 1749 from Frederick, Prince of Wales to his son, the future George III giving advice on how to be a good king has been revealed by The Royal Collection. Frederick was the estranged son of George II but takes inspiration from his grandfather, George I, for his ideas.
He encourages his son: 

The sooner you have an opportunity to lower the interest, for God’s sake, do it… if you can be without war, let not your ambition draw you into it… Flatterers, Courtiers or Ministers, are easy to be got, but a true Friend is difficult to be found… Let your steadiness retrieve the glory of the throne.

Furthermore, he urges George to reduce the country’s debt, ease the tax burden and to behave as ‘an Englishman born and bred’. 
Sounds like he would have been a good king himself, but he died prematurely and never took the throne. Eerily, he writes in the letter how '[He] shall have no regret never to have wore the Crown, if [George] do but fill it worthily'.
[Sources: Royal Collection]

Instructions on How to be King

A previously unseen letter written in 1749 from Frederick, Prince of Wales to his son, the future George III giving advice on how to be a good king has been revealed by The Royal Collection. Frederick was the estranged son of George II but takes inspiration from his grandfather, George I, for his ideas.

He encourages his son: 

The sooner you have an opportunity to lower the interest, for God’s sake, do it… if you can be without war, let not your ambition draw you into it… Flatterers, Courtiers or Ministers, are easy to be got, but a true Friend is difficult to be found… Let your steadiness retrieve the glory of the throne.

Furthermore, he urges George to reduce the country’s debt, ease the tax burden and to behave as ‘an Englishman born and bred’. 

Sounds like he would have been a good king himself, but he died prematurely and never took the throne. Eerily, he writes in the letter how '[He] shall have no regret never to have wore the Crown, if [George] do but fill it worthily'.

[Sources: Royal Collection]

The Real Tintin
In 1928 the Danish newspaper Politiken held a competition in honour of Jules Verne, the prize being, rather fittingly, an around the world trip. The competition was open only to teenaged boys who would be assisted to circumnavigate the globe in 46 days unaccompanied and by using any means of transportation with the exception of aviation.
Fifteen year old Palle Huld from Hellerup, Denmark, was chosen as the winner from hundreds of applications. On 1st March 1928 he left Denmark and travelled through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, Korea, China (Manchuria), The Soviet Union, Poland and Germany before returning to Copenhagen to the cheers of a gathered crowd twenty-thousand people strong. Shortly after this trip he took another through Sweden, back to England, and to France, where he ay flowers at the grave of Jules Verne. He later became an actor.
[More Information]

The Real Tintin

In 1928 the Danish newspaper Politiken held a competition in honour of Jules Verne, the prize being, rather fittingly, an around the world trip. The competition was open only to teenaged boys who would be assisted to circumnavigate the globe in 46 days unaccompanied and by using any means of transportation with the exception of aviation.

Fifteen year old Palle Huld from Hellerup, Denmark, was chosen as the winner from hundreds of applications. On 1st March 1928 he left Denmark and travelled through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, Korea, China (Manchuria), The Soviet Union, Poland and Germany before returning to Copenhagen to the cheers of a gathered crowd twenty-thousand people strong. Shortly after this trip he took another through Sweden, back to England, and to France, where he ay flowers at the grave of Jules Verne. He later became an actor.

[More Information]

A wee fact I was made aware of recently, and really quite fascinated by, was that the two people above once met in a London bookshop in 1932.

The old lady is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and the young man is Peter Llewelyn Davies, the boy on whom J M Barrie based Peter Pan!

I’m not quite sure why I find this so intriguing, I just think I’d like to know what two people with such a unique bond talked about.*

* A fictional play called Peter and Alice based on this encounter was written by John Logan and starred Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw.

Dr. James Barry
James Barry was a surgeon in the British Army during the early 19th century. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh Medical School and worked in military hospitals throughout the British Empire, rising to the rank of Inspector General. After his death in 1865 it became apparent that Barry had in fact been born and raised as a woman, called Margaret Ann Bulkley. Confused that Barry had been identified as ‘male’ on his death certificate, when anatomical evidence suggested otherwise, the Register Office wrote to his doctor and enquired whether ‘after his death [Barry was] found to be female’, to which the doctor replied:

I never had any suspicion that Dr Barry was a woman… there was the woman who performed the last offices [and] she said that Dr Barry was a female and that I was a pretty doctor not to know this… I thought that he might be neither, viz. an imperfectly developed man. She then said that she had examined the body, and was a perfect female and farther that there were marks of him having had a child when very young. [It is] my own impression was that Dr Barry was a Hermaphrodite. But whether Dr Barry was a male, female, or hermaphrodite I do not know.

After this revelation some claimed to have known all along, though the army sealed their records for 100 years. It is believed that Barry disguised herself solely so that she could become a doctor and as such she became the first British woman to qualify. She was dedicated to improving the sanitary conditions and diets for her patients everywhere she went although she was often argumentative, as documented by Florence Nightingale after the pair had a dispute during the Crimean War: ‘I never had such a blackguard rating in all my life… than from this Barry sitting on his horse… he behaved like a brute … After he was dead, I was told that (he) was a woman… I should say that (she) was the most hardened creature I ever met.’

Dr. James Barry

James Barry was a surgeon in the British Army during the early 19th century. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh Medical School and worked in military hospitals throughout the British Empire, rising to the rank of Inspector General. After his death in 1865 it became apparent that Barry had in fact been born and raised as a woman, called Margaret Ann Bulkley. Confused that Barry had been identified as ‘male’ on his death certificate, when anatomical evidence suggested otherwise, the Register Office wrote to his doctor and enquired whether ‘after his death [Barry was] found to be female’, to which the doctor replied:

I never had any suspicion that Dr Barry was a woman… there was the woman who performed the last offices [and] she said that Dr Barry was a female and that I was a pretty doctor not to know this… I thought that he might be neither, viz. an imperfectly developed man. She then said that she had examined the body, and was a perfect female and farther that there were marks of him having had a child when very young. [It is] my own impression was that Dr Barry was a Hermaphrodite. But whether Dr Barry was a male, female, or hermaphrodite I do not know.

After this revelation some claimed to have known all along, though the army sealed their records for 100 years. It is believed that Barry disguised herself solely so that she could become a doctor and as such she became the first British woman to qualify. She was dedicated to improving the sanitary conditions and diets for her patients everywhere she went although she was often argumentative, as documented by Florence Nightingale after the pair had a dispute during the Crimean War: ‘I never had such a blackguard rating in all my life… than from this Barry sitting on his horse… he behaved like a brute … After he was dead, I was told that (he) was a woman… I should say that (she) was the most hardened creature I ever met.’

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Dog who Escaped the Bolsheviks
Joy, a brown and white spaniel, was a constant companion to Tsarevich Alexei, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II, before the Imperial family were murdered by the Bolsheviks at Ipatiev House in 1918. As the Communist revolutionaries desired to leave no trace of the royal family they were also believed to have killed three of their beloved pets.
However, it has now been revealed how the execution squad took pity on one dog, Joy, and allowed him to survive. When they returned to the house eight days later they found him running around in a rather malnourished state and scarred but gun fire, but very much alive.
Joy lost his sight, would barely eat, and would seem constantly to be searching for his master. A former lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra was invited to examine Joy and confirm that he had indeed belonged the Alexei. She wrote: 'I went to see Joy, and he, evidently connecting me in his dog's brain with his masters, imagined that my coming announced theirs' and 'What had little Joy seen on that terrible night?… His brain had evidently kept the memory of a great shock, and his heart was broken’.
 
Joy was eventually re-homed with Pavel Rodzianko, a soldier in the British Army, who brought him back to England when the British were expelled from Russia. Rodzianko wrote in his book: ‘With heavy hearts we sailed away from Vladivostok. Joy, the little ill-named spaniel who had seen his master murdered, that fateful night, travelled with me. I have never seen Russia again’.
Joy was given a home at Sefton Lawn in Windsor where he lived out his life in comfort. His grave reads: ‘Here lies Joy’ and tells nothing of his extraordinary journey from Russia.
[Sources: The Siberian Times]

The Dog who Escaped the Bolsheviks

Joy, a brown and white spaniel, was a constant companion to Tsarevich Alexei, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II, before the Imperial family were murdered by the Bolsheviks at Ipatiev House in 1918. As the Communist revolutionaries desired to leave no trace of the royal family they were also believed to have killed three of their beloved pets.

However, it has now been revealed how the execution squad took pity on one dog, Joy, and allowed him to survive. When they returned to the house eight days later they found him running around in a rather malnourished state and scarred but gun fire, but very much alive.

Joy lost his sight, would barely eat, and would seem constantly to be searching for his master. A former lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra was invited to examine Joy and confirm that he had indeed belonged the Alexei. She wrote: 'I went to see Joy, and he, evidently connecting me in his dog's brain with his masters, imagined that my coming announced theirs' and 'What had little Joy seen on that terrible night?… His brain had evidently kept the memory of a great shock, and his heart was broken’.

Joy was eventually re-homed with Pavel Rodzianko, a soldier in the British Army, who brought him back to England when the British were expelled from Russia. Rodzianko wrote in his book: ‘With heavy hearts we sailed away from Vladivostok. Joy, the little ill-named spaniel who had seen his master murdered, that fateful night, travelled with me. I have never seen Russia again’.

Joy was given a home at Sefton Lawn in Windsor where he lived out his life in comfort. His grave reads: ‘Here lies Joy’ and tells nothing of his extraordinary journey from Russia.

[Sources: The Siberian Times]

Batyr the Talking Elephant
Batyr was an Asian elephant captive at Karaganga Zoo in Soviet Kazakhstan who could, by using his trunk to manipulate his tongue, utter a number of human phrases. He would ask zoo keepers for water, would chant “one, two, three” whilst hopping and dancing, and would sometimes use rude Russian slang. In total Batyr had a vocabulary of around 20 phrases. In 1980 a recording was made of Batyr saying “Batyr is good” amongst other words. [Source]

Batyr the Talking Elephant

Batyr was an Asian elephant captive at Karaganga Zoo in Soviet Kazakhstan who could, by using his trunk to manipulate his tongue, utter a number of human phrases. He would ask zoo keepers for water, would chant “one, two, three” whilst hopping and dancing, and would sometimes use rude Russian slang. In total Batyr had a vocabulary of around 20 phrases. In 1980 a recording was made of Batyr saying “Batyr is good” amongst other words. [Source]

Priest Holes

In England, during the reign of Elizabeth I, laws were passed forbidding Catholics to celebrate their faith. Any found disobeying these laws were put to death for treason. This led to many old Catholic families in the country constructing concealed chapels within their large homes where Mass might be conducted in complete privacy. Adjacent to the chapel there would be a ‘priest hole’. This would appear as storage cupboard, a pillar, floorboard, or wall panel, but in fact provided a place where the officiating priest could run and hide should the priest-hunters arrive.

Priest-hunters would carry out thorough checks of the premises, which included the taking of measurements, sound checks, and the pulling down of suspicious parts of the house. A search could last weeks whilst the object of the priest-hunters’ desire lay silently within their hole. It was not unheard of for priests to die of starvation or lack of oxygen in these circumstances. The priest-holes were also used by cavaliers during the English Civil War.

Images 1 and 2 show a cupboard-come-priest-hole at Salford Prior Hall. 3 shows a priest-hall at Ufton Hall. 4, a stairway at Boscabel in Trent reveals the entrance to a handy hiding place, and 5, this wall panel in a summer house in Salisbury was discovered accidentally when: 

one of the panels was found to open, revealing what appeared to be an ordinary cupboard with shelves. Further investigations, however, proved its real object. By sliding one of the shelves out of the grooves into which it is fixed, a very narrow, disguised door… can be opened. This again reveals a narrow passage, or staircase, leading up to the joists above the ceiling, and thence to a recess… In this there is a narrow chink or peep-hole. [Source]

[Sources: Images from Secret Chambers and Hiding Places by Alan Fea | Priest-holes]

The Asylum Artwork of Adelaide V Hall
Whilst working at Washington DC’s National Museum of Health and Medicine, art historian and author John M Macgregor came across this curious lacework depicting images from the fantasies of Adelaide V Hall, an inmate at St Elizabeth’s insane asylum in 1917. 
Hall had been a dressmaker before two incarcerations at St Elizabeths in 1901 and 1911. According to the reports of her psychiatrist, Dr Arrah B Evarts, Hall was “depressed and retarded, timid, apprehensive, and anxious … excited, profane in language, [and] untidy.” She was also prone to bouts of rage.
Her fragile psychological state rendered Hall unfit to do the work some inmates were put to and she was left to continue her sewing, and it was under these circumstances that she created the above piece. She told Evarts that she did not remember where it was she learned to sew, that it was ‘as if she aways knew how.’ 
The artwork measured just ‘9-and-one-half-by-11-and-one-half-inch’ and shows several figures amidst snakes, insects, and birds, as well as various other symbolic images. Hall explained to Evarts how the work told the story of a woman who longed to be simultaneously a virgin and yet a mother, told with a cast of characters each symbolising some type of sexual relationship: some have anatomically incorrect male genitalia, there is a skeleton, the Virgin Mary, and various couples. Then there is the protagonist, the One Woman, who apparently symbolised Hall herself.
As Hall’s therapy progressed the true meaning of the lacework became increasingly apparent to Evarts: it was associated with the complex relationship Hall had with her father who had molested her as a child. As Macgregor suggests, “In the end [Hall’s] the one caught in the webbing of that lace.” Hall died at St Elizabeths shortly after WW2.
[Sources: Lunatic Fringe (see also for a more in-depth analysis) | See Also: Agnes Richter’s Straight Jacket Embroidery] 

The Asylum Artwork of Adelaide V Hall

Whilst working at Washington DC’s National Museum of Health and Medicine, art historian and author John M Macgregor came across this curious lacework depicting images from the fantasies of Adelaide V Hall, an inmate at St Elizabeth’s insane asylum in 1917. 

Hall had been a dressmaker before two incarcerations at St Elizabeths in 1901 and 1911. According to the reports of her psychiatrist, Dr Arrah B Evarts, Hall was “depressed and retarded, timid, apprehensive, and anxious … excited, profane in language, [and] untidy.” She was also prone to bouts of rage.

Her fragile psychological state rendered Hall unfit to do the work some inmates were put to and she was left to continue her sewing, and it was under these circumstances that she created the above piece. She told Evarts that she did not remember where it was she learned to sew, that it was ‘as if she aways knew how.’ 

The artwork measured just ‘9-and-one-half-by-11-and-one-half-inch’ and shows several figures amidst snakes, insects, and birds, as well as various other symbolic images. Hall explained to Evarts how the work told the story of a woman who longed to be simultaneously a virgin and yet a mother, told with a cast of characters each symbolising some type of sexual relationship: some have anatomically incorrect male genitalia, there is a skeleton, the Virgin Mary, and various couples. Then there is the protagonist, the One Woman, who apparently symbolised Hall herself.

As Hall’s therapy progressed the true meaning of the lacework became increasingly apparent to Evarts: it was associated with the complex relationship Hall had with her father who had molested her as a child. As Macgregor suggests, “In the end [Hall’s] the one caught in the webbing of that lace.” Hall died at St Elizabeths shortly after WW2.

[Sources: Lunatic Fringe (see also for a more in-depth analysis) | See Also: Agnes Richter’s Straight Jacket Embroidery

Lovers in Auschwitz

When an initial attempt to escape Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with a friend fell through, Edek Galiński quickly revised the plan to include a woman with whom he was in love, Mala Zimetbaum. Due to her proficiency in languages Zimetbaum held a relatively privileged position in the camp, working as an interpreter and a courier, however, she used this position to help other inmates, ensuring those less able were given less physical work and sneaking family photographs to people.

Galiński planned to dress in an SS guard’s uniform he had acquired and have Zimetbaum wear a dress under male overalls and carry a washbasin. Under the pretence that he was escorting the prisoner outside the perimeter fence to fit the basin, the two would escape the camp. Zimetbaum would carry the basin in such a way that her long hair was covered, and a forged pass ought reassure any suspicious guards. When the pair were clear of the camp, Zimetbaum would remove her overalls and the pair would appear like a SS officer and his girlfriend taking a walk.

The plan was put into action in June 1944 and the pair got as far as a nearby town. Zimetbaum intended to inform the allies of what was going on inside camps like Auschwitz, thus saving lives, with some sources suggesting she was the head of a resistance group. In the town, however, she was arrested whilst Galiński tried to buy something from a local shop. Galiński handed himself in soon after as the pair had promised to stay together whatever happened.

They were taken back to Auschwitz and imprisoned in separate cells in ‘the Bunker’ - the punishment block - where they would pass notes and whistle to one another. Galiński etched their names into his cell wall [image one]. They were taken outside to be executed at the same time, though in their respective gender’s designated area. Galiński shouted ‘long live Poland’ as he was hanged, whilst Zimetbaum took a razor from her hair and slit the veins in her arms. She shouted at the watching crowds to revolt, telling them it was worth their lives, and she fought with the guards. Allegedly an order arrived from Berlin that she should be burnt in the crematorium and so she was thrown in a cart and taken there. The prisoners forced to burn the corpses cried and prayed as they carried out their orders.

[Sources: Mala Zimetbaum | Google Cultural Institute | Images: 1 : 2 : 3

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