Monday, 26 January 2015

Petty and Barker on stately homes

Further to the previous revisit to the outcast Black Country writer John Petty, I found a good example of his Angry Old Working-Class Man style: his extremely hostile review of the Duke of Bedford's 1959 autobiography The Sound of Brass, published four years after Duke's opening of Woburn Abbey to the public.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Stiffening fingers (more on John Petty)

If you want to read the literary profile equivalent of listening to Leonard Cohen songs, I just found another article on the depressing life of the Black Country writer John Petty (1919-1973). This one comes from a 1967 Books & Bookmen, written after the publication of his 1966 dystopian SF novel The Last Refuge, and before his 1972 autobiography The Face.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Branscombe: "curious rather than beautiful" petrifactions

The South Devon Coast by Charles G Harper mentions an interesting phenomenon I'd not heard of previously: the formation of petrified moss in the outflow of cliff springs near Branscombe. This led to an associated local vogue for petrifying things deliberately.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The South Devon Coast: #1 of 3

Expanding on a source from the previous post: The South Devon Coast (Charles G Harper, London: Chapman & Hall, 1907) is a pleasant travelogue illustrated with around 70 line drawings by the author, a prolific travel writer and illustrator who was active between 1892 and 1933 (see bibliography).

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Labrador Bay and its Tea Gardens

Major General Chermside's reference to "Big luscious strawberries and cream ... sold at Labradore [sic]" reminded me to pick up a loose thread from a walk in August 2013 (see Ice cold in Shaldon) and check out the background to the strangely-named Labrador Bay, south of Shaldon.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Major General Chermside's misadventures in Shaldon

Some time in the 1870s, Major General Henry Lowther Chermside, CB, retired to Shaldon, the Devon estuary-side village opposite Teignmouth; he didn't enjoy the experience. The result was these two pieces of polemical doggerel, which appear in his privately-circulated 1880 Some "Trial Shots" at Rhyme, 1859-1879. As the note to the second verse mentions, their "-ore" rhyming scheme is based on that of Thackeray's Song of Shannon Shore, or The Battle of Limerick.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Shell Cove - development?

I don't normally gripe about planning issues, but this one has historical / topographical interest. The January 9th Exeter Express & Echo carried the story Storm-hit Dawlish line 'threatened' by new cliff-top homes plan, which carried a picture of the collapsed cliffs above the Riviera Line between Hole Head and Teignmouth following the February 2014 storm damage, and the story of planned development of retirement homes on the cliff above the railway. On the face of it, this looks a ridiculous proposal - but as is often the case with planning schemes, the story proves more complicated.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Besley's Views in Devonshire #2

Further to Besley's Views in Devonshire #1, here's the second batch of topographic images from Henry Besley's print album Views in Devonshire (c. 1861). These start in Plymouth, then head north to the North Devon coast, before heading back south via Tiverton to conclude with East Devon.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Besley's Views in Devonshire #1

I just ran into another nice collection of topographical prints: Henry Besley's Exeter-published Views in Devonshire (c. 1861). This came about through seeing an interesting print in an antique shop - one I'd not seen before of the Valley of Rocks at Watcombe. It's now heavily-wooded, but in the 19th century it was open pasture displaying spectacular rock formations.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Ordnance Survey Maps - Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952

Cross-posted, with a bit of editing, from the Devon History Society: this extremely good resource is worth checking out if you're interested in historical / geographical research for the UK: the Ordnance Survey Maps - Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952 website run by the National Library of Scotland.