When taking a holiday in Britain, there are a few things that I consider need to be done in order for the holiday to be classed as an official holiday. The first is to laugh incredulously at the astronomically high prices at motorway service stations for food, drink and fuel, and then stare in wonderment at the crowds of people willingly parting with their cash for such items.
The second is to slowly crawl along a winding B road behind someone towing a caravan or driving a motorhome and then get a bit scared when an exasperated driver thirty cars behind decides to overtake everyone on a blind bend.
The third involves food, and my list of de facto items that have to be eaten on a British holiday is this: a pasty; a cone of chips; a cream tea; an ice cream/ice lolly. If all of these are not consumed during the holiday, then it is not a correct holiday. Continue reading →
When was the last time you smacked your funny bone? That’s an unfair question really, as I can’t remember when I last did it. Maybe you did it last week though. Or yesterday. There might even be someone reading these words right now and they are just about to reach out for a cup of tea and – wallop – the sharp edge of a table or chair goes right into their elbow joint.
I could write anything now, as they won’t be reading this at all. They will be grabbing their elbow instead, which will be fizzing with pain. The pain will slowly grow and steadily move up their forearm and into their fingertips. It will feel as though their entire arm has been attacked by twenty crazed cheese graters. Their face will be screwed up in agony and they will be attempting to recite all of the known swear words in the English language. Plus a few unknown ones too, for good effect.
There is one thing that is certain though: funny bones are anything but funny. Funny bones don’t tell hilarious anecdotes. Funny bones don’t play the make-yourself-dizzy game and then fall headfirst into a hedge. That is funny. So why are they called funny bones? Surely they should be called agony bones or arrrggghhh bones.
A very peculiar unsolved missing persons case took place between 1660 and 1662 in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. On 16 August 1660, a 70 year old man, William Harrison disappeared! He was steward to the Lady of the Manor and left his home to walk two miles to Charingworth. His manservant John Perry was sent to look for him, neither returned by the next day. So his son Edward Harrison was then sent to look for the pair, and on his way, of course, he meets John Perry, who had not been able to find his master; so they head for Ebrington and heard that Harrison had been there the previous night (he was going to see a tenant). During their return to Chipping Campden they heard that some of William Harrison’s items had been found on the road locally; including a hat slashed by a sharp implement, a bloodied shirt and neckband.
In my post yesterday I promised you two treasures from the Hicks Beach family archive. Ellice’s Victorian Christmas cards were the first, but for the second I want to take you nearly a century further back in time to the 1820s, where we meet Ellice’s great-aunt Jane Martha Hicks Beach and her book of riddles.
Jane Martha was the youngest sister of Ellice’s grandfather William, and after William’s wife (also called Jane) died, she helped him bring up his children. Jane was the family’s maiden aunt until she was 47 when she married a man called Edward St John, and she was known as “Aunt Jane” to at least two generations of the family. Ellice will have known her, as she didn’t die until he was seven years old.
Jane was a talented artist and was interested in botany and photography; the collection also includes some of her sketchbooks and photographs. She also seems to have had a fairly keen sense of humour, as the riddles in her book will show you. Many of them don’t make sense to modern eyes, some of them rely on early 19th century cultural knowledge, and some of them are a bit of a stretch, to say the least, but some of them still make sense (and are groan-inducingly funny) today. We have been posting some of them on our social media this last week, with their answers, but to entertain you over Christmas week, I thought I’d put together a few without their answers for you to puzzle over. Answers will follow in the New Year! Continue reading →
One of my favourite collections of all those I’ve catalogued over the years is the archive of the Hicks Beach family of Williamstrip in Coln St Aldwyn, Netheravon in Wiltshire, and Oakley in Hampshire. It is full of all sorts … Continue reading →
As part of our work on the County Council’s archive, my colleague Helen and I have spent the last couple of years cataloguing social care and education records relating to the safeguarding of children. We are delighted to report that our work has been featured in the National Archives’ latest annual review – here is what it says: Continue reading →
Image from the Journal showing church towers from left to right: St. Mary de Lode, Cathedral, St. John’s, St. Nicholas, St. Michael, St. Mary de Grace and St. Mary de Crypt, 13 April 1724, page 631
I came across an interesting fact whilst reading 1,339 facts to make your jaw drop, published in 2013: ‘In the 1720s, the Gloucester Journal apologised for ‘present scarcity of news’ and offered its readers a selection of poems instead.’ Continue reading →