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  • Footfalls Echo in the Memory: Taunton September 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern

    taunton

    ‘I’ve… seen things… you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate… All those… moments… will be lost, in time, like… tears… in… rain.’ Famous lines from Bladerunner. But what if instead of an exotic replicant at his death, we found a group of men and women who had grown up in the little south-western English town of Taunton and in the countryside roundabouts in the nineteenth-century. In 1930 now in advanced age they are asked what they remember from their childhoods. Here are their impressions. Remember that what matters about all these points is that they were incredible by 1930. Beach was simultaneously bored and moved: a bit like life when the replicants aren’t shooting at you.

    Taunton being lit by electricity for the first time

    Christmas decorations being simpler: just one piece of holly on the pew in the Church.

    Struggling to see executions at Taunton Gaol: by 1930 executions continued but took place behind prison walls.

    Watching the last oxen teams and ploughs. [early 20 cent?]

    When school began it was necessary to pay in coppers every day as the register was read.

    The poor receiving parish charity in an alley.

    Squire had his own square pew with a fireplace in church, the congregation would bow to him as he came in and he would bow back.

    Adultery was paid out in small rural communities by setting up nocturnal rackets with pots and pans outside windows.

    A telegram arrived in church for the priest: the congregation feared that it was to announce the Prince of Wales’ death (he had been ill); instead it was just to ask to pray for him.

    Fast day in Taunton in solidarity and prayer with the starving in the Irish potato famine.

    Villagers had gleaning rights and would follow the scythes to collect what they could.

    Clocks made by hand by local clockmakers.

    Some old women were believed to have the power of overlooking: i.e. cursing.

    One man remembered seeing David Livingstone when he visited Somerset.

    There was still the apprentice system.

    The judge was escorted by men with javelins, a real medieval echo.

    A bread riot saw a baker’s windows broken by starving men and women.

    A man came back to Somerset after fighting in the Zulu war.

    Cunning men gave advice on poorly animals.

    All the parish married each other, cousin and cousin, and had the same names: you could guess surnames from looks.

    Then there are some memories of what the parents of these elderly folk had seen.

    A mother had told about the first time a train came to Taunton.

    One man had been told by his grandfather about nine men being hung for sheep-stealing in the nearby countryside off the back of a cart.

    A man’s mother remembered seeing someone put in the stocks.

    A mother had told how people never went further than they could walk in a day: coaches etc were too expensive.

    And for Beach the most affecting.

    A woman’s mother had gone to see a royal child ‘who might one day rule us’ as she rode through a nearby town: it was the baby Victoria.

    22 and 29 Oct Taun Adv, 1930.

    Other memory streams: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    Daily History Picture: Spitfire Pilot September 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Spitfire Pilot

      A. G. Lewis DFC, July 1940 in the middle of the Battle of Britain. Dominion pilot (South Africa) who came, fought and survived the war.  

    History Roundup 479 including A Million Free Images from BL September 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 479 including A Million Free Images from BL

    Today’s links follow. 1) Sea Monster Figurehead: Baltic 2) Ancient Warrior Princess: Central Asia 3) A  Million Free Historic Images: British Library 4) Northern Cannibalism? Canada 5) Winged Monsters Disqualified: Utah 6) Scholar to Archive Thief: France and from the archives 7) Laddering: Punishment for Adultery Other links: the writer’s space, ten lists to change […]

    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse September 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse

    Beach is not sure why he finds this meal so appealing, but it is probably something to do with the disregard for frontier law and the ability of Texans to improvise entertainment out of a goose, a shack and some eggs. Sherman is and was the capital of Grayson County in Texas. In 1858 a […]

    Daily History Picture: US Anger September 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: US Anger

    1976, a US flag becomes an unlikely weapon in a demonstration.  

    History Roundup 478 including A Martyr for Archaeology September 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 478 including A Martyr for Archaeology

    Today’s links follow. 1) A Martyr for Archaeology: Syria [compulsory reading] 2) Teen Takes Down Professor: US 3) Fake Diaries and Power: the study, the library 4) Irish American Fairies and Witchcraft: New England 5) Australian VC: Vietnam 6) Hippy Commune Photographs: US and from the archives 7) Eaten by Rats Other links: right-wing enemies […]

    The Chester Cat Hoax of 1815 September 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Chester Cat Hoax of 1815

    This is a short story published some 90 years after the event it supposedly described: Chester is a city on the northern Welsh borders. This story is frequently retold in miscellany of the bizarre, local histories and Francis Wheen includes it in his marvelous The Chatto Book of Cats, 1993. There are three interesting points: […]

    Daily History Picture: Winston and Kaiser September 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Winston and Kaiser

    The Kaiser meets the most presumptuous Briton of his generation: love Churchill’s boyish face.

    History Roundup 477 including Buying a Time Machine September 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 477 including Buying a Time Machine

    Today’s links follow. 1) Amazing Flight Boots: The West (read to the end) 2) Mystery Sword: British Library 3) Were the Romans White?!: The Med 4) Time Machines You Can Buy: the marketplace 5) Talking Through the Ether: the paranormal 6) A History of the Corporation: the world and from the archives 7) The Golden […]

    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood September 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood

    In a recent post Beach looked at the extraordinary survival of the Waldensians, a courageous proto-Protestant sect, which  managed to weather the full rage of the Church in the Alps between France and Italy. The history of the Waldensians is a long catalogue of courage and atrocity: the courage of the Waldensians and the violence of the […]

    Beachcombed 63 September 1, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 63

    Summer is over, sigh: first class tomorrow. I’ve put the very best 10,000 words below for posts from this month. Happy September! Beach American Wild Men: Bruce T. on banging stones, and Luke on a Texas wild man… Anticipating the Telephone: Sam has come across a supposed ancient telephone… Baby Loving Snakes: David M brings up […]

    The Index Biography #21, Prize a Good Book August 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Index Biography #21, Prize a Good Book

    The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the indivdual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph […]

    In Search of the Most Beautiful Pictures Ever Seen August 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    In Search of the Most Beautiful Pictures Ever Seen

    One of the nice things about running a blog is that you can ask people things and as Beach is now at a point of nervous desperation on this issue he is going to open this obsession to a wider public. In 1993, 1994 or possibly 1995 Beach was walking down a street in a […]

    Butter Tricks and Witches August 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Butter Tricks and Witches

    Here is a silly story from nineteenth-century Wales followed up with a serious point: or as serious as this blog ever gets. Mrs. Braithwaite [of Caergwrle, Flintshire] supplied a Mrs. Williams with milk, but a short time ago refused to serve her, and the cause was as follows: Mrs. Braithwaite had to that time been […]

    Sentries and Ghosts August 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sentries and Ghosts

    While recently writing on the Tower of London ghosts Beach learnt something. Sentries see ghosts: there was the case from 1817 and the second case from the 1850s. The following list is limited to the British newspapers from 1875-1900 and represent a very quick survey: 1877 Aldershot: a ghost was repeatedly seen by sentries at […]

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