A Place in History — The Bri­tish Plaque Trust

This England - - Contents -

TheChair­man of the Bri­tish Plaque Trust, broad­caster and writer Mike Read, re­cently brought us up-to-date on the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s re­cent events.

“In the last two years the Bri­tish Plaque Trust has un­veiled four Blue Plaques to re­cip­i­ents deemed wor­thy by the Trustees. Blue Plaques have been com­mem­o­rat­ing our peo­ple and our history since they were first pro­posed in the House of Com­mons in 1863. For 160 years we have had to make do with some 20 words or so to tell us about the per­son and their his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance, but we now in­clude a QR tag which car­ries the history of the re­cip­i­ent which can be im­ported to a mo­bile phone or other de­vice.

“Our plaque to the Found­ing Fathers of Football was un­veiled at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium by for­mer Eng­land player, Sir Trevor Brook­ing, in Oc­to­ber 2013. This com­mem­o­rated the birth of the Football As­so­ci­a­tion, with the FA fly­ing-in de­scen­dants of the found­ing fathers from around the world.

“In the spring of 2014 the Trust un­veiled a plaque on the Gi­a­conda café in Lon­don’s Den­mark Street to celebrate the amaz­ing history of what was known as Tin Pan Al­ley, the home of Bri­tish mu­sic pub­lish­ing since 1911. This was the hub of the in­dus­try, with a history that in­cludes the Bea­tles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, El­ton John, Paul Si­mon and even Char­lie Chap­lin. The plaque was un­veiled by Dono­van who be­gan his record­ing and song­writ­ing ca­reer in the street. He even wrote and per­formed a spe­cial song for the oc­ca­sion, ser­e­nad­ing many fel­low song­writ­ers who at­tended in­clud­ing Don Black. Vera Lynn, who owed much to the songs from Tin Pan Al­ley, recorded a per­sonal mes­sage which was re­layed at the un­veil­ing.

“Oc­to­ber 2014 saw a plaque erected to Nip­per the iconic HMV dog. Nip­per, who led a peri­patetic life, hav­ing been born in Bristol, although of un­cer­tain parent­age, be­fore mov­ing to Liver­pool and end­ing his days in Kingston-on-thames. He is buried be­hind Lloyd’s bank where there is al­ready a small brass plaque close to Nip­per Al­ley. There is also a plaque in Bristol and sev­eral stat­ues in the USA, but the Blue Plaque that now graces the wall of the Cav­alry & Guards Club com­mem­o­rates the build­ing where Nip­per’s owner, Fran­cis Bar­raud, com­pleted his paint­ing of the dog which be­came one of the most recog­nised and iconic global im­ages.

“On 25th April 2015, the Bri­tish Plaque Trust un­veiled a Blue Plaque at The Or­chard, Grantch­ester, to de­clare that this, and The Old Vicarage next door, was where the poet Ru­pert Brooke lived and wrote be­tween 1909 and 1912. The date was the 100th an­niver­sary of Gal­lipoli and two days af­ter the 100th an­niver­sary of Brooke’s death who just missed the be­gin­ning of the cam­paign. The Brooke Mu­seum at The Or­chard will even­tu­ally be si­t­u­ated in the main house.

“The Trust, un­der their pa­tron Lord Grade, is cur­rently look­ing at fur­ther plaques for 2015 and 2016.”

To find out more about the Trust visit http:// british­pla­que­ .

Plans for Brook­lands Mu­seum Race Ahead


race track wit­nessed many firsts and thrilling fin­ishes in its hey­day and, thanks to a Lottery grant of £4.7 mil­lion, the fi­nal stretch of this his­toric track is cur­rently be­ing re­stored as part of an ex­cit­ing pro­ject at the Brook­lands Mu­seum in Weybridge, Sur­rey.

Brook­lands opened in 1907 and be­came the back­drop for many sig­nif­i­cant events in mo­tor­ing and avi­a­tion history. The first public demon­stra­tion of pow­ered flight in the UK took place there in 1909 and, four years later, it was the place where Percy Lam­bert be­came the first per­son to travel over 100 miles in an hour. In 1926 Brook­lands hosted the first Bri­tish Grand Prix.

At the out­break of the Sec­ond World War rac­ing stopped at Brook­lands and the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, which had al­ready been in early op­er­a­tion at the site, rapidly ex­panded. The fac­to­ries of Vick­ers-arm­strongs and Hawker used the site for con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment. Vick­ers as­sem­bled Welling­ton Bombers in a hangar, which has formed a cen­tral part of the mu­seum.

The restora­tion pro­ject will in­volve the re­lo­ca­tion of this Grade-ii listed hangar from its cur­rent po­si­tion on top of the track. The fin­ish­ing straight of the track will then be re­stored to its 1939 ap­pear­ance and mo­tor­ing and avi­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties will take place there.

The re­lo­cated hangar will be­come The Brook­lands Air­craft Fac­tory where visi­tors can trace the story of the de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and build­ing of air­craft from bi­planes to Con­corde. Other plans are for a new an­nexe, the Flight Shed, where more of the mu­seum’s air­craft col­lec­tion will be housed in­clud­ing a Sop­with Camel and a Hur­ri­cane.

In ad­di­tion to the Lottery grant, the mu­seum has raised more than £1.2 mil­lion and still needs to raise a fur­ther £775,000. It aims to com­plete the pro­ject by next sum­mer.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion go to www.brook­landsmu­ .

An ar­ti­cle about Brook­lands ap­pears in This Eng­land’s 2016 An­nual, pub­lished in Oc­to­ber (see page 23).

Poldark’s Fam­ily Home in Glouces­ter­shire

TheBBC’S re­make of Poldark set hearts aflut­ter thanks to its epony­mous hero, played by Ai­dan Turner, when it was screened ear­lier this year. The ro­man­tic saga, set in 18th-cen­tury Cornwall, and based on the nov­els of Win­ston Graham, proved to be such a suc­cess that a sec­ond se­ries is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion.

Apart from the su­perb per­for­mances, scenery and coast­line, many his­toric lo­ca­tions played their part in the pro­duc­tion. Although not in Poldark’s home county, Chave­nage House in Tet­bury, Glouces­ter­shire, starred as the Poldark fam­ily’s Cor­nish home, Tren­with, where Fran­cis, El­iz­a­beth and Ver­ity lived.

It is thought that a house has stood on the site of Chave­nage since the 14th cen­tury, and parts of the cur­rent res­i­dence date from the me­dieval pe­riod. In 1564 Ed­ward Stephens of East­ing­ton pur­chased the house and started a ma­jor re­con­struc­tion. In 1576 he gut­ted the me­dieval build­ing, added two wings and the porch to cre­ate a manor house of the clas­sic El­iz­a­bethan style, as we see to­day. The house has nu­mer­ous Civil War con­nec­tions in­clud­ing ta­pes­try-lined rooms stayed in by Cromwell and his sec­ond-in-com­mand, Gen­eral Ire­ton, in 1648.

To­day, Chave­nage is a lived-in fam­ily home and is one of the 1,600 prop­er­ties rep­re­sented by the His­toric Houses As­so­ci­a­tion. Dur­ing its history only two fam­i­lies have owned Chave­nage and its cur­rent oc­cu­pants the Lowsley-wil­liams fam­ily have been there since 1891.

This is some­thing which was im­por­tant to the Poldark pro­duc­tion team, as a spokesper­son ex­plained: “We chose to film at Chave­nage be­cause we wanted the Poldark fam­ily house to have a won­der­ful lived-in feel, which it most cer­tainly does.”

Caro­line Lowsley-wil­liams com­mented: “We were thrilled they de­cided to choose Chave­nage as one of the main lo­ca­tions for Poldark. We can re­ally imag­ine what it would have been like for the fam­ily liv­ing here in the 18th cen­tury and now the view­ers will be able to as well. It’s im­por­tant to us that other peo­ple are able to ex­pe­ri­ence the house and all of its charm. Now if peo­ple are un­able to visit they can at least gain a glimpse be­hind the doors.”

Nick Way, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the His­toric Houses As­so­ci­a­tion, stated, “Film­ing, along with open­ing to the public and host­ing events, helps to sup­port the up­keep of many His­toric Houses As­so­ci­a­tion prop­er­ties. The houses that the HHA rep­re­sents are of great cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance and it is al­ways won­der­ful to see them be­ing used on screen.”

Chave­nage House is no stranger to star­ring roles, it has re­cently been used for film­ing for the BBC’S Wolf Hall, in ad­di­tion to ear­lier pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing Lark Rise to Can­dle­ford and Tess of the D’ur­bervilles.

The house is open on Thurs­day and Sun­day af­ter­noons from May to Septem­ber, plus Easter Sun­day and Mon­day. Group vis­its can be ar­ranged on any day through­out the year. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion go to www.chave­ or tele­phone 01666 502329. De­tails of the His­toric Houses As­so­ci­a­tion can be found at .

Get Set for Her­itage Open Days


big­gest fes­ti­val of history — Her­itage Open Days — takes place from 10th to 13th Septem­ber. This year’s event is set to build on the suc­cesses of 2014 with new fund­ing, orig­i­nal events and a host of won­der­ful prop­er­ties right across the coun­try par­tic­i­pat­ing for the first time.

Her­itage Open Days is now wholly sup­ported by the Na­tional Trust, with fund­ing from play­ers of the Peo­ple’s Post­code Lottery, en­abling the four-day fes­ti­val to con­tinue to grow and de­velop.

The 2015 fes­ti­val prom­ises to be the most di­verse yet, with a greater va­ri­ety of places tak­ing part and reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pants in­vited to cre­ate orig­i­nal and in­no­va­tive events for all ages. Join guided walks, visit se­cret ar­chives, dis­cover hid­den works of art — or sim­ply soak up the sun­shine in a gar­den of your choice.

To find out what’s go­ing on in your area and fur­ther afield visit the web­site www.her­ita­geopen­ and check lo­cal press for fur­ther de­tails.

Hall Place House — Bex­ley’s Tu­dor Gem


Place House in Bex­ley, Kent, dates back to 1540, and was once the home of wealthy mer­chant Sir John Champ­neys. There were al­ter­ations made in 1560 and a sec­ond wing added by the sec­ond owner Sir Robert Austen who was the Sher­iff of Kent in 1724 and MP for New Rom­ney from 1728 to 1734.

The main 16th-cen­tury build­ing is built from re­cy­cled stone taken from nearby Lesnes Abbey (a monastery de­mol­ished by Henry VIII), while the rest is built from 17th-cen­tury red brick.

The house re­mained in the Austen fam­ily un­til 1772 when Sir Fran­cis Dash­wood pur­chased it and his fam­ily con­tin­ued as its own­ers un­til 1926 even though it was used as a board­ing

school for much of the 19th cen­tury and later leased to var­i­ous ten­ants. Among them, from 1917, was the Countess of Lim­er­ick whose so­cial gath­er­ings at Hall Place, in­cluded Ge­orge VI.

Bex­ley Coun­cil took over the house and gar­dens in 1935 com­plete with Lady Lim­er­ick as sit­ting ten­ant un­til she died in 1943. In 1944 the build­ing was used by the Amer­i­can Army as an in­ter­cept­ing wing of Bletch­ley Park and af­ter the war it be­came an an­nexe for a lo­cal girls’ school.

The house was later re­stored by Bex­ley Coun­cil and used by them be­tween 1968 and 1995, although the gar­dens were open to the public. Now, with the house and gar­dens fully re­stored from a £2 mil­lion Lottery grant in 2005, both are open. Visi­tors to Bex­ley are able to see hot­house gar­dens, a but­ter­fly gar­den and an owl house as well as a gallery, plant shop, won­der­ful gar­dens that sit ei­ther side of the River Cray and a river­side café. There are of­ten ex­hi­bi­tions on in the main house.

This is one of Bex­ley’s his­toric and pic­turesque jewels and is well worth a visit. For more in­for­ma­tion go to: www. bex­ley­her­ .


Dorset’s Me­mo­rial to Ger­man Pris­on­ers


in the church­yard of St. Ge­orge’s Church, Ford­ing­ton, in Dorch­ester, Dorset, com­mem­o­rates Ger­man pris­on­ers who died in the town — some of them dur­ing the flu epi­demic of 1918. It shows a kneel­ing soldier mourn­ing his lost com­rades, and the trans­lated in­scrip­tion reads: “Here rest Ger­man sol­diers, in for­eign soil but not for­got­ten”. The me­mo­rial was carved by one of the pris­on­ers.

Dur­ing the First World War there were only a few pris­oner of war camps in the UK, one of these be­ing at Dorch­ester. Con­di­tions in the camp were good, with ad­e­quate food, the means to take reg­u­lar baths and suf­fi­cient cloth­ing for the pris­on­ers. Some worked on sur­round­ing farms, and all were given plenty of ex­er­cise, be­ing al­lowed to play games and be­ing taken on long walks.

In spite of this some pris­on­ers tried to es­cape. Among them was a young man called Otto Koehn, who tried a very dar­ing and dan­ger­ous method. Some el­derly Ger­man civil­ians were be­ing repa­tri­ated, and in­cluded in their lug­gage was a wooden box which mea­sured 3ft x 2ft x 2ft. This was trans­ported with other boxes and treated quite roughly, even be­ing sent down a chute and later rolled over and over. Sud­denly, the lid gave way, and in­side was found a very bruised and shaken-up Otto!

Two other es­capees, this time from a camp at Bish­ops Ly­deard, in Som­er­set, were caught and im­pris­oned at Dorch­ester. They were two of­fi­cers, who were spot­ted tramp­ing through the rain by a Dorset po­lice­man. Although they spoke good English, they were given away be­cause they had over­looked a clue — one of them was car­ry­ing a large Ger­man sausage!


The Old Sea Dog and the An­cient Mariner

Youwill find them on the quay­side of the old Som­er­set port of Watchet, two men of the sea just a few yards apart. One is Jack Short a con­tented old man clad in a sailor’s cap and jersey com­fort­ably seated on a cap­stan with a view to the boats in the har­bour.

The sec­ond stands tall with his back to the sea pre­sent­ing a trou­bled im­age. We do not know the sec­ond man’s name but his ap­pear­ance de­mands at­ten­tion. Cap­less, his hair is long and en­crusted with salt, be­hind him he grasps a cross­bow — as if wish­ing to hide it yet fear­ful to let go of it. The veins stand out on his arms, a stress that is re­flected in his en­tire ap­pear­ance. Around his neck a loose-fit­ting noose, with the rope trail­ing over his bare chest, ends at the life­less body of a cease­less wanderer of the ocean skies — an al­ba­tross. Cap­tor and cap­tive, but which is which — pris­on­ers each of the other?

Both have sto­ries of the sea to tell. The first sailed from here and came home to an ac­tive happy re­tire­ment with many an ac­count of his ad­ven­tures and to sing again the shanties of his days un­der sail at­tract­ing the in­ter­est of folk mu­sic col­lec­tors in­clud­ing the founder of the English Folk Dance So­ci­ety Ce­cil Sharp.

For the story of this old sea dog the visi­tor can turn to his framed bi­og­ra­phy at the har­bour. He is “Yan­kee Jack” or to give him his birth name John Short. Short by name but long in life. Born in 1839 he spent 40 years at sea when sail was king. Dur­ing the

Amer­i­can Civil War he ran the block­ade where he ac­quired his nick­name.

As the Vic­to­rian era ended, aged 63, he took on the job of town crier where the voice that once com­peted with the waves was heard loud and clear in the town. Another ap­point­ment came his way as he went on to take charge of the lo­cal fire brigade. Did the lines of one of the old shanties come to his mind — “Fire in the gal­ley, fire down be­low, fetch a bucket of wa­ter boys, fire down be­low”?

John’s death, aged 94, in 1933, was recorded in the obit­u­ary col­umns of The Times and to­day the sculp­ture by Alan Her­riot adds to his place in the history of the town. But what of the other fig­ure who tow­ers over the quay­side? This mod­ern sculp­ture, also by Alan Her­riot, pays trib­ute not to a sailor but to the poet Sa­muel Tay­lor Co­leridge. It was while vis­it­ing Watchet, near the end of the 18th cen­tury, that he is said to have mused on what was to be­come his most fa­mous poem, the sailor’s leg­end that he who harms an al­ba­tross would be vis­ited with great mis­for­tune.

For a retelling of the story you must turn to Co­leridge’s “The Rime of the An­cient Mariner”, but for now who does not re­call at least a line or two from the story of the be­calmed sailor?: As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean... Wa­ter Wa­ter ev­ery where, Nor any drop to drink.


Bri­tish Mu­seum is a Top-10 Des­ti­na­tion


tourist des­ti­na­tions and places of in­ter­est were re­cently high­lighted by the UK’S As­so­ci­a­tion of Lead­ing Visi­tor At­trac­tions on their list of top 10 places — based on visi­tor num­bers. Oc­cu­py­ing the num­ber one spot was the Bri­tish Mu­seum, with the Na­tional Gallery in sec­ond and the South­bank Cen­tre in third.

The top 10 in­cludes only one at­trac­tion out­side Lon­don, the new Li­brary of Birm­ing­ham, which was ranked the tenth most pop­u­lar. Other Lon­don sites were Tate Mod­ern, the Nat­u­ral History Mu­seum, the Science Mu­seum, the V&A, the Tower of Lon­don and Som­er­set House.

Cheshire At­trac­tion that’s Worth its Salt!

TheLion Salt Works near North­wich in Cheshire, have been trans­formed into one of the finest in­dus­trial her­itage at­trac­tions in the coun­try.

A £10 mil­lion pro­ject by Cheshire West and Ch­ester Coun­cil to re­store the crum­bling 19th-cen­tury build­ings has taken four years to com­plete. The site is one of the last four his­toric open-pan salt-mak­ing sites in the world and it rep­re­sents the sur­vival of salt prac­tices dat­ing back to Ro­man times.

The mu­seum gives a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into a pe­riod of history when Cheshire pro­duced 86 per cent of the na­tion’s salt. It also ex­plains the na­tional sig­nif­i­cance of the in­dus­try and how it shaped life for the lo­cal peo­ple, the econ­omy and land­scape. The sig­nif­i­cance of the Lion Salt Works’ in­dus­trial her­itage is recog­nised by its sta­tus as a Sched­uled An­cient Mon­u­ment and as a hub for the Euro­pean Route of In­dus­trial Her­itage (ERIH), a net­work of the most im­por­tant in­dus­trial her­itage sites in Europe.

Visi­tors will dis­cover fun, in­ter­ac­tive and imag­i­na­tive ex­hibits, in­clud­ing a walk-in “sub­sid­ing house”. The­atri­cal light­ing, sound and film also evoke the gi­ant clouds of steam once pro­duced by the site’s huge salt­boil­ing pans.

The ex­ten­sive mu­seum fea­tures two re­stored pan houses and three re­stored stove houses. The Red Lion Pub at the en­trance to the site (from where it gets its name) has also been in­cor­po­rated as an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre. For open­ing times and ad­mis­sion see: westcheshire­mu­se­ .

Chateau that Pumped Brom­ley’s Wa­ter

The­old north-west Kent mar­ket town of Brom­ley, and its neigh­bour­ing vil­lage, Short­lands, are now al­most com­pletely ab­sorbed into Lon­don. (Brom­ley is now of­fi­cially “The Lon­don Bor­ough of Brom­ley”.) And yet, if you walk away from the built-up town cen­tre, to­wards Short­lands vil­lage — and this com­mu­nity still man­ages to pre­serve a true vil­lage feel, de­spite the cars, vans and red Lon­don buses that flow through it each day — you will find green gar­dens, sub­ur­ban av­enues lined with blos­som trees, many hand­some 1930s El­iz­a­bethan and Tu­dorstyle houses and what looks like a French chateau.

In Val­ley Road, which runs along­side the rail­way line and the still-vis­i­ble River Ravens­bourne, now “cru­elly con­fined to a con­crete chan­nel” (the words of the Brom­ley Civic So­ci­ety), there stands a wa­ter pump­ing sta­tion — a splen­did folly made of lo­cal Ken­tish rag­stone for the then North Kent Wa­ter Com­pany. Now a treat­ment works for Thames Wa­ter, the 19th-cen­tury build­ings — listed — stand above deep wells, with part of the struc­ture con­verted into pri­vate flats. In a 1959 re­port on the Bor­ough, the Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer for Health noted:

“…The rest of Beck­en­ham, in­clud­ing Short­lands and Elmers End is supplied from the Wells in a chalk strata through a Pump­ing Sta­tion in Val­ley Road, Short­lands. These Wells are 250 feet deep.”(the Short­lands Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion puts the depth at 180 feet — no doubt there is some fierce lo­cal de­bate!)

The build­ings, which were opened in 1867, also at­tracted the at­ten­tion of the ed­i­tors of the Pevs­ner ar­chi­tec­tural guide­books, who noted the lo­cal in­ter­est and at­ten­tion to de­tail which the pump­ing house dis­played. Steam en­gines were used in the pump­ing process, and one such en­gine — pre­vi­ously of the Whitewebbs Pump­ing Sta­tion in Enfield, Mid­dle­sex — was in­stalled at Short­lands in 1910.

As Sir John Bet­je­man told us, there is much over­looked history and cu­rios­ity in our sub­urbs. A trip to Short­lands — just 20 min­utes by train from Vic­to­ria — will con­firm that. Just turn left out of the sta­tion and keep walk­ing along Val­ley Road, to the rag­stone tower and chateau which pumped Brom­ley’s wa­ter!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.