Good To Hear From You

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Thanks to Alan Clarke’s occasional spotlight on Austin Underwood, we have started to get to know Austin on this site. This is a lovely comment from ……

Sylvia Yarlett AUSTIN UNDERWOOD’S PHOTOS OF THE TUNNEL AT OLD SARUM tracked down by Volunteer Alan Clarke

“Born in Amesbury in 1953 I vividly recall the diggers ‘upsetting ‘ the Stones , also believe some workers threw odd coins from their pockets into the concrete..saying “That’ll bu—r ’em up in a few more years!”
I was fascinated by Austin. Again, can’t remember my age when I asked about the yellow sign outside his house and asked what
does Liberal mean ?? He suggested I should ask at home !! Many years later I still followed, through newspaper cuttings his determined efforts toward the preservation and respect of The Stones, Amesbury and surrounding areas. A BRAVE PIONEER so wish I had known him more .”

And from ……

Stuart hollburn-Thorburn TOYS from Volunteer Alan Clarke

Fantastic array of toys, great photos”

Stuart hollburn-Thorburn LAKE DOWN HISTORY HIKE by Volunteer Alan Crooks

Amazing the history that surrounds us in this part of the country.”

And welcome back to Peter Read, who has a question….

LAKE DOWN HISTORY HIKE by Volunteer Alan Crooks

“Another fascinating story from Alan. About 22 years ago English Heritage asked me to take a photograph of Lake House. Sting would not allow me to do so. Thus, there is no image on the Images Of England website. But there is the full listing [grade 2] and a good map showing some remarkably circular fields nearby.

Have you any clue what caused these?”

Over to you dear readers!

LAKE DOWN HISTORY HIKE by Volunteer Alan Crooks

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Earlier in October, I attended the Lake Down History Hike, organised by TimeZone Tours, and led by Matt Pike. Originally conceived as part of Salisbury History Festival, held throughout August, the first hike was oversubscribed, and this second event was able to be organised.

The organisers wished to acknowledge permission from the Bailey Family and Springbottom Farm for permission to visit parts of the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape not normally accessible to the public, for example, Normanton Down Barrows.

Despite my scientific background, and longstanding interest in matters aeronautical, I still learned new things concerning these spheres.

Starting off at Lake Club we headed due south, leaving Lake House behind us, and headed along a track towards a barrow alongside the Salisbury-Woodford-Amesbury minor road. Matt Pike informed us that this barrow, a ditched bowl barrow designated Wilsford 87, had been enhanced by Edward Duke, an earlier incumbent of Lake House, in order to provide a vantage point from which to admire his house and its landscape.

Fig 1. Wilsford 87 barrow with Lake House just visible in the background

Looking back towards Lake House (Fig. 2), Matt explained that the present incumbent is the rock musician, ‘Sting’1. However, previous owners had been, successively, the Dukes, the Lovibonds and the Bailey’s.

Dating back to Elizabethan times, Matt explained that Lake House had been built in 1578 for George Duke, a wealthy clothier, shortly after he acquired the manor of Lake. As is the Cathedral, Lake House is built from Chilmark stone, a creamy-white limestone, and also has flint chequer-work. Chilmark stone is considered to be one of Britain’s finest building and masonry stones.

Fig 2. A view back to Lake House

The ninth and final member of the Duke family to live in Lake House was the afore-mentioned Rev. Edward Duke2 (1779-1852), an archaeologist and colleague of Richard Colt Hoare, whose widow sold the house In 1897 to Mr Joseph Lovibond, a brewer, of Lovibond Tintometer fame (Fig. 3). Thus, during the 1870s Joseph Williams Lovibond (1833-1918) began to look for a way to measure the quality and consistency of the beer produced in his family’s breweries. He went on to produce a colour classification system to grade the colour of the beer, and an optical instrument, the Tintometer (Fig 3a), with which to measure the colour. Colour was measured in ‘Degrees Lovibond (Fig 3b). It is said that Lovibond was inspired to use stained glass as the basis of his colorimeter following a visit to Salisbury Cathedral in 1880, and his instrument was introduced in 1885.

Fig 3(a) Lovibond Tintometer (Salisbury Museum)
Fig 3(b) Degrees Lovibond scale

After Lovibond’s death in 1918 the estate was purchased by Lord Glenconner, who never lived in the house, but leased it to tenants. Following the death of Lord Glenconner’s widow, Lady Grey, the house was sold to Lt. Col. F. G. G. Bailey. It is by kind permission of the Bailey family, who still own much of the surrounding land, that we were able to organise this hike,

From Lake House we walked to a disc barrow (Fig 4) near the former Lake Down Aerodrome, where Matt and a colleague described the various types of barrow (Bowl, Bell, Disc and Long).

Fig. 4. Disc barrow near the former Lake Down Aerodrome

Matt Pike explained that there had been a military light railway that ran from Bulford with a spur going to the RFC airfield at Stonehenge and terminating at Lake Down aerodrome just north of Druids Lodge. This light railway saw exercises involving a version of a rail-borne gun called the ‘Bosche-Buster’. This version was fired twice during the inter-war years, once from Druid’s Lodge, and once from Bulford Sidings.

Fig. 5. HMG Bosche-Buster at Bourne Park Tunnel

All that can now be seen of the former Lake Down aerodrome are the water tower and other small buildings to the East of the A360 at Druids Lodge (Fig. 6)

Fig. 6. Water tower and engine workshop at Druid’s Lodge.

Walking on further, we caught a distant view of the famous Bush Barrow (Fig 7), part of the Normanton Down group.

Fig. 7. Distant view of Bush Barrow

Matt explained that Bush Barrow was excavated in 1808 by William Cunnington, a wool merchant who worked with a small team. Cunnington reported to Sir Richard Colt Hoare. In September 1808 Cunnington reported – “I have now the pleasure to inform you that our discoveries are truly important. We found the skeleton of a stout and tall man. On approaching the breast of the skeleton we found immediately on the breast bone a fine plate of gold. This article in form of a lozenge was fixed to a thin piece of wood, over the edges of which the gold was wrapped, it is simply ornamented by lines forming lozenges, from which and its high preservation it has a grand appearance.”

Bush Barrow is Britain’s richest Bronze Age burial. 

Fig 8. Reconstruction of the Bush Barrow chieftain burial (Wiltshire Museum, Devizes)
Fig 9. Normanton Down barrows

Pressing on, we arrived at the normally inaccessible Normanton Down barrows (Fig. 9) from which we obtained unusual views of Stonehenge (Fig.10).

Fig 10. Unusual view of Stonehenge from the top of one of Normanton Barrows
Fig. 11. Fine view of Lake House
  1. In preparing this I was amused to read on a website that “Lake House is presently owned by a former policeman by the name of Sumner”.
  2. I have special interest in Rev. Edward Duke as it was he who recorded the finding of five crucibles concealed within a room above the north porch of St Thomas Church, Salisbury, which he speculated belonged to an alchemist and which he exhibited at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries in 1837.

Related reading

Beer tasting | The Salisbury Museum Volunteer Blog (wordpress.com)

Thank you Alan for a great account of your walk and the super photographs.

Cutting It Fine? They Made It!

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It’s finally here!

Associated events:

In Print Condition – Discovery Day family art workshop

Charlie James

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 – 10:00 to 16:00

Booking: No booking required.
Cost: Normal admission charges apply.

Join us at our next Discovery Day and take part in poly board printing inspired by the British Wood Engravers exhibition and the landscapes of Wiltshire wood engraver, Howard Phipps. This accessible printing method is the perfect way to demystify the world of print making at any age, and create your own eye catching art work to take home.

Wood engraving demonstration by Howard Phipps

Boxwood Engraving by Howard Phipps (copyright Howard Phipps)

Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 14:00 to 16:00

Booking: No booking required.
Cost: Normal admission charges apply.

Local wood engraver Howard Phipps RWA, ARE will be demonstrating his craft in the Cutting It Fine exhibition space. Howard’s work is deeply rooted in the beautiful downland landscape of Wiltshire and Dorset and features in the Cutting it Fine exhibition.

Salisbury Museum Volunteers Lead Local Excavation

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A number of the museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme Volunteers were involved in archaeological excavation in Wiltshire this week, led by Volunteer Alyson Tanner. Supported by Wilshire Archaeological Field Group and members of the local community, including the generous hosts, the owners of the land, it was a busy week. It is late in the year for such things but it has, of course, been something of an ‘Indian Summer’ and there were hopes that the weather would hold.

It did hold – sort of. The first day was very wet indeed and gale force winds (we were on top of a hill!) continued until mid-week but at least that helped dry things out. The sun finally showed itself in the last couple of days and revealed spectacular views.

There were plenty of visitors, including our own Finds Liaison Officer, Sophie Hawke, who did the right thing – brought cakes!

Beautiful Wiltshire countryside – full of history.

TOYS from Volunteer Alan Clarke

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I found a B&W photograph of toys which were part of an exhibition when the museum was in St Ann Street.

I was going to try and identify all the toys and give some description of how one played with them.

My first attempts are:

            Doll ringing bell

            Pull along where wheels turn a crank that beats a stick rounding up pig

            Musical Rag doll

            Noah’s ark with lots of animal pairs

            Spinning top?

            Light spin movement, spins around and the horse gallops.  

            Smoothing Iron

            Picture book with cats and designs

            Carriage pulled by horses

            Diving board toy which I am not familiar with.

I then discovered, when a further group of photos emerged, that there was a toy exhibition in the museum when it moved to the Kings House in The Close.

A gentleman, David, photographed the displays with his own camera using a colour slide film.  The slides he took are now in the museum image archive.  

Apparently, lots of the toys for this exhibition were lent to the museum by the museum Volunteers.  Rocking horses to ride, Lego to build with, Meccano for the dads to construct with, dolls’ houses to furnish, Ladybird books to read, draughts to play, clockwork trains to run round and more.  

Note the archaeological case which included, amongst other items, the museum’s famous knight chess piece.

Alan – thank you. This has to be the most nostalgic blog item in a long time. What wonderful photos, wonderful memories and what a wonderful collection! Note to Director – when do we do this again?!

The Museum of East Dorset

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Formerly The Priest’s House museum, Wimborne, the Museum of East Dorset re-opened its doors some time ago, between lockdowns, after a complete refurbishment.

In the centre of town, it was, as its name suggests, a house, or house and shop, for most of its long life. Therefore it has always been difficult to display very much in what are quite small rooms. A recent visit proves they have now done a wonderful job. The rooms have been opened up wherever possible, with display cases placed centrally to allow easy movement, and the rooms themselves have become a feature, with ancient stone, brick and wattle and daub on display, as well as artefacts.

It seems a decision was made to display items around themes, with a different theme in each room, thus making sense as the visitor wanders from one to another. The audio-visual elements are very satisfying – concentrating on the voices of real people and descriptions of or comment about items displayed. A TV screen shows video which sets Wimborne in its context – Cranborne Chase.

The museum has a lovely garden, a good shop and tea room, and Wimborne has some good shops and eateries.

Booking is required at the moment (online or at the museum), Monday to Saturday 10am – 4.30pm (4pm after 1 November).

There is a garden tour with refreshments this Saturday. Be quick, only six places available as I write.

Date: Saturday 16th October

Time: 2.45pm

Price: £6.50

Categories: Tour

Discover the history of our beautiful, wildlife friendly walled garden in the company of Simon, our Lead Gardener. The walls mark what would have originally been a medieval plot of land. Simon explores how the garden has developed and gives an insight into what it takes to look after the garden today. Ticket price includes a hot drink and slice of cake following the 30 minute tour.

Sometimes We Think Nothing Changes….

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Tavern in the 1660s Adriaen van Ostade

A blog from July 2020 included fascinating primary evidence from the early 17th century, telling us about tradesmen and their activities in Wiltshire at that time. All courtesy of NJ WILLIAMS in a WANHS Records Branch volume XV 1959 (Wiltshire Records Society). The transcribed documents from the Wiltshire Records Society are a joy if you are interested. Have a look via your search engine!

The Volunteer Research programme for the new galleries has brought us back to the same publication. Here are some more extracts….

“Under the law (the 1600s) the inn was primarily a hostelry for travellers, though it invariably sold beer, and usually wine, to local inhabitants. The tavern was essentially a wine shop, but it often sold food and drink for consumption on the premises. The alehouse sold only ale and beer; the tippling-house was a low-class alehouse. Inns and alehouses were licensed, as today, by the justices of the Peace at special sessions; but taverns were licensed by the wine commissioners with their headquarters in London.

It was commonly remarked that the English had become far too intemperate since the introduction of beer brewed from hops in the 1520’s, which was much headier than the old English ale. Despite the survival of the name ‘alehouse’ far more beer was being drunk than ale. It was the Elizabethan
Dean of St. Paul’s, Alexander Nowell, who invented bottled beer. Among the host of statutes and proclamations of James I’s reign for checking drunkenness were those limiting licensing-hours and the strength of ale and beer, while fines were to be imposed not only on drunkards but on anybody found
tippling for more than an hour at a time.

We should have a very narrow view of Jacobean hostelries if we had only the evidence of the statutes of the realm and of the justices’ orders for the suppression of disorderly houses. The English inns were reputed to be the best in the world. That inveterate traveller Fynes Moryson who in these
years visited nearly all the countries of Europe found nothing abroad to be compared with the best inns at home. ‘ The world affoords not such lnnes as England hath, either for good and cheape entertainment, after the Guests owne pleasure, or for humble attendance upon passengers; yea even in very
poore villages.”

The largest inns at Salisbury and Devizes were the hubs of commercial life, while in the small villages often the alehouse rivalled the church as a community centre. In these recognisances are many widows keeping alehouses; it was a common practice for justices to license a widow to sell ale and beer in her house to prevent her becoming a burden to the parish.”

A survey of beds and stabling by the Secretary at War in 1686 (in case troops had to be billeted nation-wide) revealed these numbers in the larger Wiltshire towns:
Amesbury 76 beds; 225 stable spaces
Bradford on Avon 102; 54
Calne 57; 69
Chippenham 163; 208
Corsham 52; 64
Cricklade 56; 72
Devizes 97; 525
Fisherton Anger 82; 123
Hindon 47; 88
Malmesbury 59; 68
Marlborough 143; 363
Mere 49; 58
Salisbury 548; 865
Trowbridge 61; 66
Warminster 116; 328
Wilton 51; 174

Fisherton Anger (now a suburb, of course, of Salisbury) and the city together returned figures of over 600 beds and stabling for nearly 1 000. More than four times as many as any other Wiltshire town.

Meanwhile, by 1614 we are told ” there is not so base a groom that coming into an alehouse to call
for his pot, but he must have his pipe of tobacco”.

“Tobacco had been introduced to England by Sir John Hawkins in 1565 and until the turn of the century the taking of it remained very much a luxury. During the early seventeenth century, however, the
habit of smoking grew by leaps and bounds, despite King James’s attempt to tax it out of existence. The fortunes of the English Colonies in Virginia and Bermuda were inseparably linked with the now popular habit. (By) 1615, England’s tobacco imports amounted to 60,831 lb. (96% of it Spanish
produce); but by 1628 they reached 672,692 lb. (70% of it Virginian and Bermudian).

(By the 1630s) in Wiltshire 72 tradesmen paid a total of £302 for the privilege of being the official tobacconists in their towns and villages. The tobacconists doubtless passed on the cost of their
licences to their customers. For many years, however, there was a lively underhand sale of cut-price tobacco by unlicensed dealers, notably in alehouses where it was sold in ready-filled clay pipes.”

Here are the licensed tobacco sellers in Salisbury in 1637:

Salisbury: William Gareley, ]ohn Barrowe, Arthur Saunders, George Shergold, Richard White, Thomas Lawes, Rawleigh Allen and William Coles

Old George Inn, Salisbury

‘Plate 6: Old Views, The George Inn’, in Ancient and Historical Monuments in the City of Salisbury (London, 1977), p. 6. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/salisbury/plate-6 [accessed 12 October 2021].

Beeches Remembered Fondly

Colin Blundell has written….

“I was writing something about a book I read in 1957 (or thereabouts) only to find it rather a disappointment (‘never go back’ – advice I always ignore!). I wrote: ‘I’ve just finished re-reading The Outsider for what is, I think, the first time in 60 years. It’s been akin to revisiting a beloved bookshop (Beeches in Salisbury, for example) only to find that it has become a mobile phone shop…’ I think that’s what it was in 2006 or was it 7…

I rather idly looked on the Internet to see if I could find a photo of the shop as it was when I first went inside in 1955 feeling sure that I’d find Richard Jefferies’ books and I came across your site.

I’ve reblogged your article to my own WordPress site. Thanks so much.”

We are into a debate, now, as to whether it was Beech, Beach or Beeches! I remember the shop, but the spelling? Over to you…..

We have also had several messages in our Comments box about the recent good news on funding… Here is one from Pompi Parry:

Museum’s Past Forward Funding Success

“congratulations! Pompi”