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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged history:

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

I dragged my parents to see these beauties today! The Rock Houses of Kinver Edge were the last troglodyte dwellings occupied in Britain. Set high in the rock face just above Kinver, Staffordshire, the Rock Houses are said to have first been inhabited from at least the 18th century, as reported by Joseph Heely who wrote of taking refuge with a ‘clean and decent family’ in an ‘exceedingly curious rock’.

In its hey day around 40 people lived in the little community, on three levels rising up the heath. Carved out of sandstone, the houses were easy to adapt to ones needs. If a room needed to be slightly larger or a new doorway was required, the inhabitants could just chisel away. The Rock Houses were lived in until the 1960s and are now owned by the National Trust. 

Margate Shell Grotto

Margate Shell Grotto is located beneath the unlikeliest of housing estates imaginable! Legend has it that in the early 1800s a workman doing construction on a cottage in Margate dropped his spade down a narrow shaft. A young boy was sent down the hole to retrieve it and returned to the surface with stories of marvellous tunnels lined with thousands upon thousands of shells arranged in bizarre and intricate patterns. The true origins of the 140ft subterranean tunnel remains a mystery but you can read more theories here.

[Sources: Photos: Mine | Margate Shell Grotto]

St. Leonard’s Church Crypt

Below St. Leonard’s Church in Hythe, Kent, is a crypt containing the remains of 4000 men, women, and children. Exactly when and why the remains were interred is unknown. One vague theory suggests that they were victims of a battle in either AD456 or AD843 which were possibly moved into the crypt around the 13th-15th century to make more room in the graveyard.

[Sources: Photos: Mine | St. Leonard’s Crypt]

Madron Clootie Well

A clootie well is a well or spring, usually with a tree growing beside it, with supposed magical healing powers. Back in the day sick or injured people would make pilgrimages to the site and bathe naked in the waters then circumnavigate the well three times before resting on a nearby hill. A strip of cloth would then be torn from their clothes and tied to a nearby tree, the belief being that as the cloth deteriorated so would the ailment.

[Sources: Photos: Mine | Clootie Well | Madron Well]

Puzzlewood

Said to have inspired the likes J R R Tolkien and J K Rowling, Puzzlewood is an ancient woodland in The Forest of Dean, Gloucester. In the 19th century a mile of winding pathways leading over wooden bridges, and through deep and narrow gaps in the rocks, were laid and have remained mostly unchanged ever since. There is evidence of cast iron ore mining dating back to Roman times and in 1848 two workers discovered, in a hole in a rock, three earthenware jars filled with 3000 Roman coins.

[Sources: Photos: Mine | Puzzlewood Wikipedia | Puzzlewood]

Mice of Philpot Lane
No one is quite certain why this carving of two mice nibbling a block of cheese adorns a mid-19th century building in London. However, one theory that is most widely propagated is that it is a memorial to two construction workers who fought over some lunch, each believing it to be theirs. Victorian health and safety being somewhat lacking this resulted in one man falling to his death, only for it to be later discovered that mice had likely eaten the missing food. 
I think that’s a lesson in the importance of sharing if ever there was one.
[Source: Location | Image (and other theories)]

Mice of Philpot Lane

No one is quite certain why this carving of two mice nibbling a block of cheese adorns a mid-19th century building in London. However, one theory that is most widely propagated is that it is a memorial to two construction workers who fought over some lunch, each believing it to be theirs. Victorian health and safety being somewhat lacking this resulted in one man falling to his death, only for it to be later discovered that mice had likely eaten the missing food.

I think that’s a lesson in the importance of sharing if ever there was one.

[Source: Location | Image (and other theories)]

Abdication Blotting Paper
A piece of blotting paper used to dry the ink of the signatures of Edward VIII and his three brothers on the Instrument of Abdication in 1936. Seven such documents were signed but only one piece of blotting paper survives having been kept by Edward as a momento. 

Abdication Blotting Paper

A piece of blotting paper used to dry the ink of the signatures of Edward VIII and his three brothers on the Instrument of Abdication in 1936. Seven such documents were signed but only one piece of blotting paper survives having been kept by Edward as a momento. 

Anne Brontë’s Grave
I saw Anne Brontë’s grave at St. Mary’s church in Scarborough today. She died in a nearby hotel in 1849. Her lasts words were to her sister, Charlotte, who she told to ‘take courage’ when she saw her crying. 

Anne Brontë’s Grave

I saw Anne Brontë’s grave at St. Mary’s church in Scarborough today. She died in a nearby hotel in 1849. Her lasts words were to her sister, Charlotte, who she told to ‘take courage’ when she saw her crying. 

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]

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