Another collection of ageing and engaging snippets to entertain and delight the passer-by, impeding their progress through this busy world.
At Last....A Staddle Stone
Many posts ago, possibly before many of you had encountered this blog, I mentioned "staddle stones". These mushroom shaped stones, standing about two feet (0.6m) high, were used to support the floor-timbers of small granaries which stood in every farmyard. Their purpose was simply to prevent mice and rats entering the grain store. I said that you often see them these days standing on the roadside and I would photograph one for you "soon". I found an old granary at Barley but the individual stones proved to be as elusive as any inanimate lump of rock could possibly be. But eventually I cornered one at Ashdon and I present this hard-won trophy above!
Watergate....The True Story!
Between the green common of Coe Fen and Peterhouse College is a wall which includes this ancient structure, a low, blocked gate, dating from the fifteenth century, which seems to have no purpose. Above it is the coat of arms of the Bishop Of Ely. The clue to its existence is in the name of the common, Coe Fen, for that is exactly what it was, a fen or marsh, till it was drained for public health reasons in the early twentieth century. A branch of the river formerly flowed close to the wall and a small "canal" allowed boats to enter the college grounds by way of the water-gate.
From the old and seemingly indestructible to the fleeting and ephemeral. Over the Christmas period an iconic Cambridge landmark was lit up as never before. The light show, entitled "Foster's Mill Firmament" was the work of artist David Ward. Although temporary in nature it was based on things more ancient and eternal, namely the fan-vaulting of the ceiling of King's College Chapel and the night sky.
Well I Never....
At the edge of a piece of common land in the Cambridgeshire village of Haslingfield stands this odd little building; one old brick wall and three more modern wooden ones. An old illustration shows the brick wall was once more elaborate, sporting a Dutch gable. The wall dates from the seventeenth century, the time when Sir Thomas Wendy, physician to Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, was extending the nearby hall. The building is a well-house and it seems likely that the brick wall was designed to give this humble building a grand aspect when seen from the approach to the hall. The wooden walls are a recent replacement for older timbers.
An Odd Bridge
If you've been to Cambridge you've probably seen this queer-looking bridge. It's the kind of structure that seems to inspire stories. The college authorities refer to it as "The Wooden Bridge" but everyone else calls it the "Mathematical Bridge". Some say it was designed by Isaac Newton but in fact it was the work of an undergraduate named W. Etheridge in 1749. Disappointing but true. Then you may hear that it was originally held together without the need for nails or bolts. That may be true but wooden dowels were probably used instead. The last tale, and the one I really wish was true, is that the iron bolts were put in because inebriated students returning after a night in the local alehouses could not resist the temptation to dismantle the bridge. Then of course, in the cold light of day, they found it was much harder to put back together again. But sadly there's no evidence for that story either.
At this time of year I can rarely pass by these beauties without stopping for a closer look.