Sunday 19 June 2016

Build Your Own Chapel

Those of you who read these ramblings regularly will know that I am particularly fascinated by old churches, not through any deep religious conviction but because they are resistant to the constant changes which afflict many of our buildings. Also they reflect the quality of craftsmanship which our ancestors were capable of when they put their minds to it.

The Museum Of East Anglian Life have not managed to import a village church to their site - not so far anyway - but there is this simple non-conformist chapel, so typical of the many which sprang up across East Anglia during the nineteenth century. The museum calls it "the tin tabernacle" as the walls and roof are made of corrugated iron sheets. They rescued the building from the village of Great Moulton where it had stood since 1890.

The chapel was originally supplied as pre-fabricated, flat-pack units by Boulton And Paul, the Norwich firm who had started out as an ironmonger's shop. This must have been one of their first forays into the pre-fabricated buildings market, a field in which they made their mark during WWI, when the military had an insatiable appetite for such constructions. They also manufactured aircraft bodies, notably the Sopwith Camel.

Inside the walls and ceilings were clad with wooden boards and there was also a wooden floor. The reason that the architecture is lacking any structural features (pointed windows or doors, for example) which you might expect in even a rudimentary church building, is that these units were designed so that they could also be used as village halls or small schools.

As well as services for the adult community there would of course have been a Sunday School for the children, as these little chairs, gathered around the harmonium, testify.

The village where I grew up was too small to even support a Sunday school and the old chapel had long stood unused and neglected. However I still have in my possession a Bible which was presented to my father, "aged 9 yrs", in 1933. I asked him about it once and all he could remember was that the preacher used to shout a lot. He couldn't recall what he learned there or indeed how he'd managed to win a prize, "I don't s'pose it did us any harm though", he added. 

Take care.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Letters From The Past

Sometimes a series of photos sneaks up on you unexpectedly. While walking around the Museum Of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket - and there's a lot of walking to be done as it's a 75 acre (30 hectare) site - I found that I was taking pictures of lots of nameplates on old pieces of equipment. Some were battered and rusty like the one above, while others were almost pristine.

Whatever their condition they seemed to speak of entirely different age. Nowadays W. J. Woods would be known as  malttech  or something similar. 

Just look at the ornate lettering on the humble cart above, very much in the style which is still popular with fairground showmen. And how about that phone number, simply 116. Ah, those were the days.

The shot above is of the front of one of Charles Burrell & Sons' mighty steam traction engines, made quite locally in Thetford.

A rather ornate wheel from the Orwell Works of Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries in Ipswich, another local firm, but nearly every small town would have a factory making agricultural equipment.

In one of the old shops I spotted this old advertisement for Reckitt's Blue which, if you don't know, was a little blue bag which was added to the final rinse, when you did your washing, to make slightly yellowing items appear white and bright. I thought it had disappeared years ago but apparently you can still buy it. You can still buy metal signs just like the one above too, so I've no idea whether the one in the museum was genuine or not. (The punting technique however is extremely suspect!)

A lovely old hot water bottle, just like Granny used to have.

Back to the agricultural equipment, though I thought the iron work above had a rather sculptural quality.

And as a contrast here, in all its glorious rustiness, is Innes, Sons & King Ltd's Silver Medal "Safety" Patent Self-Feeding Chaff Cutter. It seems to have a royal crest which presumably means that if the King or Queen of England ever had need of a Silver Medal "Safety" Patent Self-Feeding Chaff Cutter, then Innes, Sons & King Ltd. was where they obtained one.

Quite possibly the last thing you would see if you were run over by one of Charles Burrell's steam rollers. So for goodness sake......

......take care!

Sunday 12 June 2016

A Museum

A museum with.....

......domestic interiors like this.....

.....a fine windmill like this.....

....Romany caravans like this.....

......and a walled garden like this.

A museum with.....

.....workbenches like this....

....a watermill like this.....

....mighty machines like this.....

....and old shops like this.

A museum with.....

.....a grand house like this....

......rare breeds like this....

....old machinery like this.....

....and nature walks like this.

A museum with....

 .....a blacksmith's forge like this....

 .....a rustic chapel like this...

 .....landscaping like this.....

.....and even works of art like this.

The Museum Of East Anglian Life

worth a day
of anybody's time.

Take care.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Favourite Folks

I suppose that my favourite folks are those with enthusiasms, often rather eccentric enthusiasms. So here are some of the same.....

The basket weaver.....

                      ....the Border Morris dancer.....

                              ...the village cricketer.....

                                            .....the artist.....

                                                        .....the spinner......

                                                                 .....the mechanics......

                                                                                         .....the rose fancier.....

                                                        .......the wildlife warden......
(in dry weather she pushes  the wheelbarrow along
a path to feed the swans, in times of flood 
something more heroic is called for)

.......the vintage motor-car enthusiasts.....

                                       ......the boy band......

                                                           .......the young at heart......

                                                                      .....the maker of traditional bee skeps....

                                                                                                                  .....the guitarist......


Take care (of each other).

Friday 3 June 2016

Favourite Buildings

Continuing with some of my favourite pictures from the past five years of blogging. I hope that normal service will be resumed soon, until then here are some of the buildings we've visited.


St John's College, Cambridge


Church of Our Lady And The English Martyrs, Cambridge

Restored dovecote at Foxton

Half-timbered houses:
Lavenham, Suffolk


Castle Rising, Norfolk

Old pubs:

The Green Dragon at Wymondham

Ely Cathedral

Medieval Barns

The Great Tithe Barn at Widdington, Essex

Stately Homes:
Hatfield House


Hinxton Mill, Cambridgeshire

Artists' Studios:
Tess Recordon's studio, Grantchester


 Wisbech museum

Thatched cottages:

Cottages in Grantchester

and for something completely different:

Cambridge University's more modern side.

Take care.