Friday, 8 November 2013

Glimpses Of The Past

Just a few weird or wondrous things encountered during the last year or so:

Four Marys

Representations of Mary and Jesus from different churches that I've visited recently. All of them are relatively modern additions as places of worship continue to evolve.

A Military Man

Rather rusty but still instantly recognisable from his resolute profile - The Duke Of Wellington. These cast iron plaques date from the nineteenth century, patriotic times when admiration of military heroes was perhaps more fashionable than today. I think these plaques would have originally been painted. Quite how the noble Duke has come to be nailed up beside a selection of old horseshoes I can not imagine.


This symbol, known as a daisy-wheel, is said to protect against ghosts and witchcraft. They are often found on mantelpieces to discourage evil spirits from entering down the chimney, for whereas doors and windows could be locked at night the fireplace remained open. This one dates from the seventeenth century.

How Long Is A Pound Of Butter?

Believe it or not it was formerly possible to buy butter in Cambridge by the yard! In fact it was the only way to buy it (though shorter measures were also available). Butter sellers carried butter made into yard-long rolls in baskets like the one above and would cut you off whatever length you wanted. This carried on into the middle of the last century when butter rationing made this method of sale both impractical and illegal.

On The Fiddle

This fine fellow was exhibited at an country show to publicise Burwell Museum. We've already visited and you can read all about it here. What the model holds beneath his arm is a seed-fiddle, an early piece of agricultural mechanisation. The handle was drawn back and forth like the bow of a fiddle to turn a wheel which distributed the seed; a great improvement on broadcasting by hand apparently.

Hell's Angels?

This piece of design, which would not look out of place on the back of a leather jacket or the cover of a heavy metal album, is actually a detail from an old tomb. Not the most subtle imagery but I think it makes its point!

And Finally....
A couple of bits of motoring memorabilia. The first an old tax disc (for a "mechanically propelled vehicle") from a vintage car seen at a show.....

And the second an old petrol pump that still stands in the village of Melbourn, just a mile or so from my house... one time nearly every village had its own garage where you could top up your tank.

Take care


  1. Washing sheep prior to shearing seems ridiculous as no shearer worth his salt would dream of shearing one, let alone a flock. Apart from that, by the time they got dry again, they'd be dirtier than before!
    It does seem odd to see the Iron Duke nailed to a board although he is not at all out of place between the horse-shoes, after all, he spent a great deal of time astride Copenhagen.

    1. What you say seems to make good sense to me so I've decided to delete the part of the post about sheep washing at least until I'm sure of what I'm talking about. Thanks for pointing out the error. Take care, John.

  2. A pity you deleted the whole part of the post John. I did not mean to criticise, it may well have been a 'sheep dip' for treating lice or preventing maggot infestation although it seems a little unlikely for sheep for sheep to jump into a rectangular pit. We've been running sheep for over twenty years, my grandson-in law is a shearer and my mathematician granddaughter has changed tack and is a wool classer. The National Bureau of Statistics was fighting to get her to work in our Nations Capital but although it is possible to take the girl from the land, it proved much harder to take the land out of the girl.

    Thanks for your comment on my post and do come again.

  3. Your artifacts are all so interesting especially to someone like me from the U.S. I seek out unique artifacts too but find them hard to find in many areas as the earth is plowed and folk structures razed than settled with new ticky tacky buildings. -- barbara

  4. You've an eye for interesting oddments. I am most fascinated by the butter basket!

  5. That was some perspective on both human life and human history, nit to mention culture and religion. Much food for contemplation.

  6. Your Mary-and-Jesus collection is interesting to see. I like the idea of showing different interpretations of the same subject.

  7. Oh my! A yard of butter sure seems like a lot to purchase all at one time!

  8. thanks for visiting my blog and I am happy to see your blog again! I love all the historic photos. time to browse through your blog now...cheers.


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