Thursday, 25 February 2016


Just got back from a few days away. Drove up to the Norfolk Coast on Monday. Stayed at a farmhouse a few hundred yards from the North Sea, near Happisberg (pronounced Hazeburgh - this is in accordance with the one invariable rule of English pronunciation, which is, of course, to confuse foreigners !).  Just been looking through the photos taken, and really, instead of round towered churches in abundance, huge fields and early flowers, decided to concentrate on this one building. It is Burgh Castle, built a few miles inland from what is now Great Yarmouth. It was built by the Romans circa the year 300 A.D. and abandoned a century later, i.e. about fifty years before the Romans deserted us to the mercies of uncivilised Angles, Saxons and Norsemen. The side of this incredible building nearest to the broad river, which was the harbour of the 'castle' has long since fallen into the river, but the other three walls are still standing, much as the Romans left them.

They are around fifteen feet high, which is roughly the original height of them.

The place is known as Burgh Castle, but it is not so much a castle, as the town walls of a fairly large, well organised,  settlement.

There is a circular walk of around a mile to get from the car park to the 'Castle' then back to the Car Park, via the round towered Church. I warn you though, it is what used to be known as a 'Norfolk mile'. There were very few people about, and we had the place more or less to ourselves. Well worth the effort.  There are a good many Castles along the Suffolk coast, and I've always wanted to visit this one, which is easily the earliest of them. And we've finally done it.

I'm now going to have a look at Burgh Castle on Google, and will amend any details I've got wrong.

Friday, 19 February 2016


This morning we motored down into Essex (Halstead) to attend a meeting of the Highdale U3A Collector's Club. After an early lunch (a very light one- our own choice) at the end of the meeting with the Club, we motored home and decided to make a short detour to have another look at the Little Maplestead Round Church. There are four of these strange little buildings in England, and one in Scotland - which is in ruins.
     The Little Halstead one is a pretty little building, which has been (according to the guidebook in the Church) in its present form since around the year 1240.

The top photo is of the west end of the Church. The lower one is of  the South side of the Church. It's well worth a visit. It can be found by running North from Sudbury, and a few miles south of Halstead, turning right towards Little Maplestead, where the church may be found in a tangle of lanes.

     There is a WW1 memorial inside the Church on the North side wall - only three men of the village  died in that war (which is the least I've ever seen!!!!!). Later we talked to an elderly man, working in the churchyard  (he described himself as the general dogsbody of the church) and he said this was because the whole surrounding area is agricultural, and farm working was a protected (?) occupation, all of this was true enough; but I know of far too many country churches in similar circumstances which have twenty or so names on the WW1 memorial.  He also told us that most Sundays the congregation consists of between twelve and fifteen people, even now.

     Ann is calling me up to supper, so must close now.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


Our young siskin (probably a last year's bird) was back just after mid day today. It appears to be a hen bird - no trace yet of a dark cap or 'beard', but otherwise very nicely marked. Still very much on its own, too (which is a little worrying).  Will keep an eye out for further sightings, although they're usually around for a very few days,  a little later in the year than this.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


Been very busy today, working on an early Dutch flintlock pistol, which is in need of fairly major restoration. May show it on blog (if I make a good enough job of it).

Just before lunch decided I needed a break so took the camera, set it at fairly long range, and waited in the kitchen window for birds. The  wren in the lower picture turned up first. They're easy to spot, despite their small size,  in that when the eyes are adjusted for movement a wren moves like a mouse, and the movement shows up.

The bird in the top picture I took for a greenfinch, but when I'd developed the photo, and judging by his size, I'm fairly sure he's a young  siskin. They usually move in groups, though, and this chap was on his own. He'll probably be about for  a day or so,so will keep an eye out for him, and, hopefully, his relations.

Ann's just gone up to bed,  so must follow her good example: So

                                           Goodnight every one.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Thursday (2)

Two more pictures of this week's mystery object to try and give a better idea of the size of the item.


                                                   This Week's Mystery Object.

The object is three and a quarter inches high, and two and a half inches across the mouth.

I have had it for some years having bought it from a dealer in antiquities. He told me that it was dug up in South Suffolk in the 1970s. The main body of the item has a waisted (or concave) line to it, that doesn't seem to show in the photoes (well not much). It is made of  'sheet metal', sits very well in the hand, and is of an elegant simplicity.
This object is of a serious 'ask' in that I only know what I was told at the time of purchase, although I've learned quite a bit since then; but I'd appreciate any information you can give, or indeed any opinions you can give.
When do you think it was made, where was it made, and its purpose?

                                    Good guessing, and Good Night to you all.

Sunday, 7 February 2016


I don't know if anyone remembers, but a week or three ago your blogger was having a winge about the fact that there don't seem to be as many early clocks craving the attention of a keen antiquarian Horologist as there used to be. Well, since then the situation seems to have picked up a bit, and I've been hard at work on the work bench on them both. They are both simple Black Forest clocks, mainly built of wood.  Wooden plates, wheel arbours, etc., and both fairly unsophisticated artifacts. Both, too, are quite attractive in their simplicity.  Both are now ticking away again, but there's a good deal of work to be done still, mainly of a cosmetic nature.

I've also got what sounds like an early (circa 1660-70) flintlock pistol in the offing requiring fairly major restoration.  So I'm now potentially quite busy again - for the next few weeks anyway, which is the way I like things.


                                                     Good Night, everyone.

Monday, 1 February 2016


 All three photographs here are of the same item. It is an English version of a so called 'Nuremberg kitchen'. For those of you with good memories, yes, you have seen it before. I used it as a blog entry a few years ago (say three or four). I think it was probably 'estate made' i.e. by the estate carpenter of a village manor house, for the squire's daughter, NOT as a toy, but as a reference work, and  instructional tool to acquaint a young girl with her coming housewifely duties.  I bought it (the cabinet, I should say) some years prior to that on the Lincolnshire showground at Newark (at that time a massive antique fair). The cabinet was  empty, save for the tinned iron cooking range in the chimney piece, and a built in cupboard or so. Since then we've redecorated the kitchen, I've done a good many necessary repairs, and we've kept an eye out for well made miniature household items to furnish it. When we considered it complete, we were coming up to Ann's seventieth birthday (so it was six years ago) and I'd not found a birthday present for her, so asked her what she wanted. At the time I was considering an offer I'd had  for the above item, and it turned out that what Ann wanted was NOT to sell the kitchen with the maids' bedroom above it, but to keep it:  so I gave it to her as a birthday present. Before that time, I'd been treating it as potential stock; so then we carried on furnishing it.

Now, if you look at the top photo, there are two rooms; the lower one a complete kitchen, and the upper one a well fitted out bed chamber.

This is much the same photograph but with the doors open. Everything on the kitchen range is working, even the tap on the left of the fire bars in the  range can be turned so that water trickles out of the tank to the left of the range, and every one of the copper kettles and saucepans are tinned inside so that if used the young mistress would not suffer from copper-poisoning (in other words, if the young lady desired a dolls' tea party, it would be quite feasible, in theory).

Almost all of the metal items are of copper, brass, iron, or pewter. Most of them are of early nineteenth century date, although some of the pewter is rather earlier. Easily the earliest item is shown to the extreme right of the second photo on the upper floor. It is a guilt brass miniature casket, and dates from a few years either side of the year 1600. I purchased it at the Long Melford Antique Fair about three or four years ago.

The photo above shows a close up of the right hand side of the kitchen (the lower floor). A pretty good idea of scale can be got from this picture. The two candlesticks on the table top are both just under two inches high, and the clay pipe on the table top is just over an inch long. It could, of course, be smoked. In front of it is a brass candle snuffer dating from about the year 1790, and less than an inch long. As I've never been able to find a snuffer tray small enough for the snuffers, I eventually made one to complete the birthday present; Ann didn't seem to mind. It's the only piece of metal ware in the  'English Nuremberg kitchen' that I made. All the rest is original.

                                           Good Night All.