Tag Archives: History

A Truck with a Past

In the 19th century, granite was quarried at Haytor on Dartmoor and was taken along a tramway  to the Stover Canal. From there it went by barge to Teignmouth, then by sea around Great Britain and further.  The tramway was opened on 1820, by George Templar of Stover, a long distance footpath , the Templar Way is named after him.

Granite from Haytor was used in the building of London Bridge, the British Museum and the National Gallery.

Trains of up to twelve trucks descended from Haytor, with a horse behind to slow them down.  Remains of the tramway can still be seen on Haytor Down. The ‘Relic’ of a truck below is similar to the ones used on the tramway. This post is for the Weekly Photo Challenge of Relic.


Visit http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/relic/

to join in.

WW Reveal

My Wordless Wednesday this week was an odd looking machine – but all machines are odd to me! For those wondering what it was, here’s the answer!

Hogarth press

The ‘Vita’, was Vita Sackville-West, an English writer, poet and gardener, best known for her affair with Virginia Wolfe and the wonderful garden she created at Sissinghurst, Kent.

Here is the opening section of the poem ‘Sissinghurst’ as in the photo above.

A tired swimmer in the waves of time

I throw my hands up: let the surface close:

Sink down through centuries to another clime,

And buried find the castle and the rose.

Buried in time and sleep,

So drowsy, overgrown.

That here the moss is green upon the stone.

And lichen stains the keep.

I’ve sunk into an image, water-drowned,

Where stirs no wind and penetrates no sound,

Illusive, fragile to a touch, remote,

Foundered within the well of years as deep

As in the waters of a stagnant moat.

Vita Sackville-West 1931


Agatha Christie, an American Connection

The volunteers at National Trust properties are a mine of information and very friendly. When I went into the library at Greenway I was immediately struck by a frieze/mural high on the walls, so I listened and joined in with another visitor asking the volunteer about it. Apparently the house was requisitioned by the army in WW2 and the painting was done by an American soldier.


The mirror also has a tale behind it. There was a painting on the wall where it now hangs, of Churchill and Roosevelt together. When the war was over and the family were able to reclaim their home, they found the continuous gaze of the pair somewhat oppressive and painted over it!


I’m sure the mural has been restored over the years, but I’d love to know who the soldier was and if he’s still around. Any ideas from my lovely American readers about how to find out?


Cotehele, in the details

Anyone who has been following my blog for while will know that I love to look at the small details of a place or subject, especially when I visit a historic house. Last weekend at Cotehele was a real feast for my eye, so I thought I would share with you. I hope you enjoy this little gallery, click for a larger view and let me know which is your favourite!

The Great Hall at Cotehele

Cotehele is a Tudor manor house built between 1485 and 1539, high above the banks of the river Tamar in Cornwall. It was owned by the same family- the Edgcumbes,for six hundred years and is one of the best preserved Medieval manors in the country. They rebuilt the original 13th century property, before creating an even grander home a few miles away at Mount Edgcumbe, so Cotehele was little used and hardly changed over the centuries. The house became National Trust property in 1947 in lieu of death duty.
Today I’m showing you some of the armoury to be fond in the Great Hall.

And some other items I liked.

I’ll be back in a few days with some more photos of the house and garden.


Looking Through the Squint

I’ve had a really lovely weekend, full of creativity and sunshine. Yesterday I went to a National Trust property just over the border in Kernow – Cornwall. They say that Cotehele probably originated around 1300 but most of the building took place in the late 15th century. I’ll post some more photos later but meanwhile here’s a little squint. A squint is a small peephole built into a wall, so that that owner could look down on other rooms to check what people were up to, they were often added in mediaeval times. At Cotehele this on looks down on the Great Hall.



A la Ronde

Just a few miles south east of Exeter is the National Trust property, A la Ronde. The house was built in the 1790’s by  Jane and Mary Parminter. The two ladies , cousins, had a real sprit of adventure, and I’m sure if they were alive today they would be trekking the Sahara or leading expeditions to the polar regions.

They lived at A la Ronde for fifty years, filling it with things they had collected on their Grand Tour.

Although the name implies that the house is round , it actually has sixteen sides, it’s unique design takes advantage of natural light as the sun moves around through the day. The lower level that you see above is used as the restaurant by the National Trust,  the diamond shaped windows are the ground floor. At the centre of the house is an area that rises to the top floor gallery with doors all around it.


It’s really difficult to take photos inside, flash is not allowed, and I’m too lazy to use a tripod. The answer is a very wide angle lens, patience with many other visitors and a steady hand. But here are a few interior shots.

The ladies had several passions that filled their days, embroidery, shells and feathers to name just a few. The drawing room has been hand decorated by them with a feather frieze all around the room.


The feathers come from chickens, game birds and even parrots and have been applied with isinglass. alar14

When I last went to A la Ronde thirty years ago, it was a private group visit and I didn’t really appreciate it. I did get to see the highlight of the house, the famous shell gallery. It’s closed now to preserve it for the future. With the help of  well placed mirrors, you can get a tiny peep at it from the floor below, and this is my shot from the central room on the ground floor. gallery

I asked one of the volunteers if she had been allowed up there and even they aren’t. So the photos below are of photos on display so that visitors can get an idea what it’s like. What is it like? beautiful, bizarre, indescribable. To think that these women spent probably years creating this.

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So that’s A la Ronde, maybe one day you’ll visit if you’re in Devon, I promise you it’s like nowhere else anywhere!

My earlier post of the outside of the house, http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/red-bricks-and-funky-windows-the-charm-of-a-la-ronde/