Archive for March, 2016

The tragedy of Smalls Lighthouse

Posted: March 31, 2016 in History

A tragic but fascinating tale

Stephen Liddell

There have been lighthouses around the coasts and islands of Great Britain almost as far back there have been people travelling by ship.  A fine Roman lighthouse of nearly 2,000 years is still standing tall within the walls of Dover Castle.  The history of lighthouse keepers are as fascinating and treacherous as the often rough seas that have seen countless ships and their crews lost forever on rocky islets and hidden sandbanks.

It obviously took a special sort of person to be a lighthouse keeper for what was a lonely and dangerous profession.  Many, many people have lost their lives or been driven to the point of insanity by the loneliness and poor conditions.  For centuries lighthouses were operated by private business organisations and lighthouse keepers never really had any guarantee that they hadn’t been forgotten about or would ever be relieved of duty.  If the business had collapsed then…

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St Andrew’s Church dates back to the 12th Century. In the 13th century it was associated with Baynards Castle, a nearby Royal residence and its rather unusual name dates from this period when King Edward III moved his robe store from the Tower of London to a nearby building. This storage house was known as ‘The Great Wardrobe’ and hence the church became known as St Andrew by the wardrobe.

The great wardrobe and the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the church was not rebuilt until 1695. In fact, it was the last city church rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. It was destroyed again during the second world war and was rebuilt, opening again in 1961.

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The church has an association with a number of livery companies including the Mercers, Apothocaries, Parish Clerks and Blacksmiths.

 

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Nebuchadrezzar was not just a mighty warrior, he was also a patron of cities and a spectacular builder. He rebuilt all of Babylonia’s major cities on a lavish scale. The city of Babylon during his reign covered more than three square miles, surrounded by moats and ringed by a double circuit of walls. The Euphrates flowed through the centre of the city, spanned by a beautiful stone bridge. At the centre of the city rose the giant ziggurat called Etemenanki, “House of the Frontier Between Heaven and Earth,” next to the Temple of Marduk. He is also credited with building the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon. According to one legend, he built the Gardens for his Median wife, Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. He also built a grand palace that came to be known as ‘The Marvel of the Mankind’.

"Die schwebenden Gärten von Babylon 1726" by Unknown - http://www.bassenge.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_schwebenden_G%C3%A4rten_von_Babylon_1726.jpg#/media/File:Die_schwebenden_G%C3%A4rten_von_Babylon_1726.jpg

“Die schwebenden Gärten von Babylon 1726” by Unknown – http://www.bassenge.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

In 601 BC, Nebuchadrezzar was involved in a major, but inconclusive battle, against the Egyptians, probably somewhere in the southern Levant. In 599 BC, he invaded Arabia and routed the Arabs at Qedar. In 597 BC, he invaded Judah and captured Jerusalem and deposed its king Jehoiachin. Egypt and Babylon continued to vie with each other for control of the southern Levant throughout much of Nebuchadrezzar’s reign. Egypt’s policy was usually to do this by proxy, by encouraging the Levantine states to rebel and promising them aid. It is not always clear from the accounts whether these promises were actually fulfilled. It was probably these promises, and a civil war in Babylon, which encouraged king Zedekiah of Judah to revolt. It took the Babylonians two years to sort out their problems at home but in 586 the might of the Babylonian army descended into Judah culminating in the siege of Jerusalem. This time the Egyptians did mobilise an army to support the Judaean revolt, but Nebuchadrezzar merely broke off the siege , gave battle, defeated the Egyptian army and then returned to the besieging Jerusalem. After an 18-month siege, Jerusalem was captured, and thousands of Jews were deported to Babylon, and the city, including Solomon’s Temple and Palace was razed to the ground.
By 572 Nebuchadrezzar was in full control of Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia, Judah, Israel, Philistia, northern Arabia, and parts of Asia Minor. In 568 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis, he invaded Egypt. A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, states: “In the 37th year of Nebuchaddrezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to wage war. Amasis, king of Mitzraim, collected his army, and marched and spread abroad.” Unfortunately there appears to be no record of the aims or outcome of this campaign, but it does not seem as though the Babylonians were able to establish any territory in Egypt.

Bust of Admiral David Beatty - Trafalgar Square

Bust of Admiral David Beatty – Trafalgar Square

David Beatty was born in 1871 into a family with a strong Army tradition. Despite this at the age of 13 he was sent to Dartmouth Naval College and after 2 years was posted to the China Seas. His mother however was not keen on this and used her influence to get his posting changed to the flagship of the Meditteranean fleet, which was commanded by Prince Albert, second son of Queen Victoria.

In 1890 he returned to his studies in the UK first in Greenwich and then at Portsmouth before bring promoted to Lieutenant.He was appointed second in command of a flotilla of gunships which saw action in the Sudan. During one action his commander was wounded and Beatty took command, The results of that action led to him being awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was made a commander in 1898 and posted to China a year later, seeing action in the Boxer Rebellion, the result of which he was promoted Captain at the age of 29.

"AdmiralSirDavidBeatty--nsillustratedwar03londuoft" by London Illustrated London News and Sketch - http://www.archive.org/details/nsillustratedwar03londuoft. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AdmiralSirDavidBeatty--nsillustratedwar03londuoft.jpg#/media/File:AdmiralSirDavidBeatty--nsillustratedwar03londuoft.jpg

“AdmiralSirDavidBeatty–nsillustratedwar03londuoft” by London Illustrated London News and Sketch – http://www.archive.org/details/nsillustratedwar03londuoft. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

He returned to the Meditteranean, first as captain of HMS Juno and then HMS Suffolk and, after a spell at the Admiralty, as captain of the Battleship HMS Queen. In 1910 he was made a Rear-Admiral – only Nelson had reached this rank at a younger age and then only by a couple of months. However a serious disagreement with his superiors soon found Beatty without a job, His rescue came from his appointment as Naval secretary by Winston Churchill, himself newly appointed as First Sea Lord. After 2 years he was appointed to the command of the Cruiser squadron and shortly afterwards as commander of the battle-cruiser squadron. In this role he saw action at the battles of Heligoland Bight; Dogger Bank and Jutland, In November of 1916 he was appointed as commander of the Grand fleet following Admiral Jellicoe’s appointment as First Sea Lord. In this role he was responsible for overseeing the surrender of the German fleet at the end of the First World War.

King George V and his son the Prince of Wales visiting the Grand Fleet in 1918. From left to right: Admiral David Beatty, RN Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, USN King George V Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII) Vice Admiral William S. Sims, USN."Beatty Rodman KingGeorgeV KingEdwardVIII Sims" by Underwood & Underwood[1] - http://www.firstworldwar.com/photos/sea3.htm (specifically here); this image, a crop of Underwood & Underwood's original, was first published in: March, Francis Andrew; Beamish, Richard Joseph (1919) History of the World War, Philadelphia, United States: John C. Winston Company, pp. p. 674 Retrieved on 17 August 2009.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beatty_Rodman_KingGeorgeV_KingEdwardVIII_Sims.jpg#/media/File:Beatty_Rodman_KingGeorgeV_KingEdwardVIII_Sims.jpg

King George V and his son the Prince of Wales visiting the Grand Fleet in 1918. From left to right: Admiral David Beatty, RN Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, USN King George V Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII) Vice Admiral William S. Sims, USN. by Underwood & Underwood[1] – original, was first published in: March, Francis Andrew; Beamish, Richard Joseph (1919) History of the World War, Philadelphia, United States: John C. Winston Company, pp. p. 674  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Following the war he was promoted Admiral (the youngest ever) and 8 months later replaced Jellicoe as First Sea Lord, a post he was to hold for 8 years until his retirement. Beatty died at his home in 1936.

His bust stands in Trafalgar Square alongside that of Admiral Jellicoe. For more details of Admiral Jellicoe’s life  see https://petesfavouritethings.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/statues-and-monuments-earl-john-jellicoe/.

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Traitors’  Gate was built by King Edward I in around 1275. It may surprise many visitors to the Tower that this now infamous gate leading to the river was originally built as the main entrance to the Tower. In medieval times it was far healthier and safer for the members of the King’s court to travel between royal castles and palaces by boat rather than through the crowded and dirty streets of the city. It was part of St Thomas’ tower and was probably known as St Thomas’ Gate.The first record of it being called Traitors’ Gate is on a map of 1544.

The walkway between the two southern walls. The top of the steps leading to Traitor's Gate is just out of shot to the right

The walkway between the two southern walls. The top of the steps leading to Traitors’ Gate is just out of shot to the right

The Gate was connected to the river by a short canal which passed through the river wall, under the outer wall of the tower and into a small pool between the two walls on the southern side.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river. Named the Traitors gate because prisoners were often brought to the Tower by boat.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river.

 

The inner entrance to Traitors Gate. the steps leading up to the tower can be seen in the bottom left corner

The inner entrance to Traitors’ Gate. The steps leading up to the tower can be seen in the bottom left corner

Here steps led to the walkway between the internal and external walls and to the towers along this way which were used for housing prisoners such as the Bloody Tower. Its most famous prisoners were probably in Tudor times, when such prisoners as Edward, Duke of Buckingham, Queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex all entered the Tower by the fearsome Traitors’ Gate.

"Traitor's Gate - geograph.org.uk - 455483" by Stephen Henley. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Traitor%27s_Gate_-_geograph.org.uk_-_455483.jpg#/media/File:Traitor%27s_Gate_-_geograph.org.uk_-_455483.jpg

Traitors’ Gate as it would have looed when Gate was in use.[“Traitor’s Gate – geograph.org.uk – 455483” by Stephen Henley. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]-

Wallcreeping treecreeper

Posted: March 24, 2016 in Birds, Natural History
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Right place, right time – the essential of wildlife photography. What an unusual place to find a Treecreeper

Radnor Bird Blog

So what`s in a name ? This little fellow has forgotten it`s a TREE creeper and has spent last 10 minutes foraging all over our stone built garden wall (after having tried the garden bench earlier) Looks like it`s hanging on for grim death but obviously found plenty to forage on  🙂

Wall is also home to breeding pairs of blue tit, house sparrow and pied wagtails, full of hole sand nook and crevices

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Locksands Life

As a kid I lived in the south east of England. Of course, back then our railways were nationalised but the stock we saw reflected history. I was accustomed to seeing locos built by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway which had ceased to exist some 25 years before I was born. I lived on what had been that company’s network so no wonder it was always my favourite old company – the one I deemed built the best locos and had the class coaches.

But the London and South Western Railway ran it a close second. That company had much longer main lines and needed big, powerful locos. These had not survived on the old Brighton network for the main lines had all been electrified.

Given a free choice of railway memorabilia to own, I’d always pick a Brighton item. But sometimes things just come your way and…

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Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Once the capital Nineveh had fallen the Assyrians began to withdraw west and moved their capital west to Harran. When Harran was captured by the Babylonians in 610 BC the capital was once again moved, this time to Carchemish, on the Euphrates river. Egypt had by this time realised that the rising Neo-Babylonian empire was ever expanding in their direction and therefore at sometime around 610 they entered into an alliance with the Assyrian king Ashur-uballit II, and in 609 BC sent an army north to aid the Assyrians against the Babylonians. It is interesting to consider how late they left this decision. Carchemish was the Assyrians last stand, their last hope of survival and even if they had won there was little left of the Assyrian empire. To my mind the most likely scenario would be that by this time the end was inevitable even if they escaped it in 609.
The Egyptian army of Pharaoh Necho II marching north to aid the Assyrians was delayed at Megiddo by the forces of King Josiah of Judah. During the battle Josiah was killed and his army was defeated. But why did Josiah attack the much larger army of the Egyptians? Did he think that if the Assyrians were defeated then Judah would be freed from subjugation? Was this attack a deliberate delaying tactic to slow the Egyptian reinforcements down?
If so it partially worked as by the time the Egyptians arrived the Babylonians had forced the Assyrian army to withdraw across the Euphrates. The Egyptians and Assyrians came together on the west side of the river, crossed it and laid siege to Harran, which they failed to retake. They then retreated back towards Carchemish and the river Euphrates.
The Egyptian / Assyrian army met the might of the Babylonian army led by Nebuchadrezzar II, the son of Neblopolassor, near Carchemish where the combined Egyptian and Assyrian forces were soundly defeated. Assyria ceased to exist as an independent power, and Egypt retreated and would never again be a significant force in the Fertile Crescent.

Carved walls from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Carved walls from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The Nebuchadrezzar Chronicle, now housed in the British Museum, claims that Nebuchadrezzar “crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Karchemiš. They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him. He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man escaped to his own country. At that time Nebuchadrezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath.”

Carved panels from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public

Carved panels from the Palace of Carchemish (c1910) [Public

Statues and Monuments: Temple Bar

Posted: March 21, 2016 in History, London, UK
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Temple Bar in Fleet St c 1845

Temple Bar in Fleet St c 1845

The history of Temple Bar dates back to around 1290 when the City of London sought to regulate trade into the city area. It established a number of entrance points around the periphery of the city and erected barriers to control access. One of these was at the junction of modern day Fleet St and Strand at the boundary between the City of London and the City of Westminster. It is likely that in its earliest form this just consisted of posts and a chain. By 1350 this had been replaced by a wooden archway which also housed a prison above the arch.

This gateway escaped the Great Fire of London but was redesigned and rebuilt by Christopher Wren as part of his post-fire redevelopment in 1689-72.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

It was the last of the city gateways to survive as by 1800 the other 6 had all been demolished as the increasing levels of traffic on London’s streets were finding them an obstruction. In 1874 structural problems were found in the arch and it had to be shored up with timber. In 1878 the decision was taken to remove the arch, but the city council were reluctant to destroy this piece of London history, so it was carefully dismantled and put into storage. In 1880 it was sold to Henry Meux and re-erected as the gatehouse to his mansion at Theobalds Park. The Meux family trust sold the estate in 1938, but retained ownership of the gatehouse until 1984 when they sold it to the Temple Bar Trust, whose aim was to re-locate it back into the city. The opportunity for this came with the redevelopment of Paternoster Sq, adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Temple Bar was once again dismantled and re-erected at the entrance to the square adjacent to the Cathedral, another of Wren’s creations.

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Once through the entrance towers, you find yourself within a passageway between two sets of walls.

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Immediately as you enter you pass the Bell Tower at the corner of the inner set of walls. Built during the 12th century, on the orders of Richard I, to add to the defenses of the inner bailey it is the second oldest part of the tower.

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The name comes from the turret atop the tower which contains the ‘curfew bell’. Originally it was used to summon back prisoners given liberty to leave the tower during the day. In more recent times it is used to tell visitors that it is time to leave as the Tower is closing.

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Residents of the bell Tower have included Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher (both of whom went from here to be executed) and the Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I),