Archive for May, 2016

Portland Landscape (3)

Posted: May 30, 2016 in Dorset, Landscape, UK
Tags:

I love the rugged terrain and coastline of Portland but also the fact that wherever you go you cannot get away from evidence of the extraction of Portland Stone.

DSCN1212a

DSCN1213a

DSCN1219a

DSCN1220a

DSCN1212a

DSCN1222a

Coins minted at Tower mint

Coins minted at Tower mint

In 1279, William de Turemine was appointed Master Moneyer and the mint was moved from the city to more secure premises within the Tower of London. The minting of coins continued at the Tower until 1804 when a decision was taken to build a new purpose built mint on Tower Hill, just outside the walls of the Tower. This was completed and opened in 1810 and production was moved from the mint buildings inside the Tower to the new site.

A Coin press

A Coin press

The history of the mint in the Tower is fairly unremarkable. But there was one attempt at robbery which nearly succeeded. On 20th December 1798, James Turnball, an ex-soldier working in the mint, locked a supervisor in a cupboard and made off with 2,000 newly minted guinea coins (a guinea was 1/4 oz of gold). He was able to make his escape from the Tower and went into hiding. No news of his whereabouts was known until on 5th January 1799 he was recognised, from a wanted poster,  trying to purchase a berth on a boat from Dover to France. He was arrested, tried and was executed on 15th May 1799.

Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle

Sandsfoot castle was built in Wyke Regis on the north side of Portland Harbour by order of Henry VIII, fearful of attacks by Spanish and French forces. It was built at the same time as Portland Castle on the southern point of the bay and was completed in 1539. It is said that much of the stone for the castle came from the dissolved abbey at Blandon near Wool.

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle

Looking from Sandsfoot castle towards Portland castle

DSCN1295a

During the English civil war it was held by the Royalists until 1644, when following a siege it was captured by the Parliamentarians, who used it as a storehouse. It continued in this role until around 1691, when coastal erosion was threatening to undermine the cliff on which the castle stands. This was addressed by the building of the Portland breakwater in 1849, but by this time the castle was in a dangerous state and had been abandoned.

DSCN1299a

 

It was purchased by Weymouth Council in 1902 for the sum of £150 and Tudor gardens were laid out on the adjoining land and a public park created. It was not until 2009-2010 that in a joint project with a local community trust that funds became available to carry out the works needed to allow public access to the castle buildings.

DSCN1301a

Sparrowhawk

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Birds, Dorset, Natural History, UK
Tags: ,

 

DSCN1214a

The Sparrowhawk is probably now the commonest bird of prey in the UK replacing the Kestrel which seems to have declined significantly over the past decade. Even so it is most often seen in flight, often soaring to a great height. so, it was really pleasing on the recent trip to Dorset to get a chance to photograph a bird perched on  a deserted building on Portland.

DSCN1218a

 

DSCN1217a

 

DSCN1216a

Threadneedle St facade (Soane)

Threadneedle St facade

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street has become known as a nickname for the Bank of England, but what is the origin of it.

In 1811 Phillip Whitehead, who worked at the bank, was found guilty of forgery and executed. His sister, Sarah, suffered a breakdown as a result and every day for the next 25 years she would make her way to the entrance of the bank and ask to see her brother. She became known as the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. When she died she was buried in a nearby churchyard and it is said that you can still see her ghost making its way along the street towards the bank.

Soane's new banking hall

Soane’s banking hall

Sarah Whitehead’s tragic story has been forgotten but her nickname  transferred to the institution she used to visit daily.

Some more photos of the wonderful landscape of Portland in Dorset

DSCN1191a

DSCN1192a

Looking south towards the Bill with the Old and New lighthouses

Looking south towards the Bill with the Old and New lighthouses

DSCN1195a

DSCN1204a

DSCN1211a

From 1692 one of the public attractions at the Tower was the Line of Kings, a display in chronological order of the armour of the Kings of England.

Artists impression of Line of Kings

Artists impression of Line of Kings

A modern version is currently on display in the White Tower featuring some of the armour used in the original display.

Armour of Henry VIII

Armour of Henry VIII

 

Originally displayed from 1690 as armour of Edward VI, son of Henry VIII. Now believed to be Prince Henry, son of James I

Originally displayed from 1690 as armour of Edward VI, son of Henry VIII. Now believed to be Prince Henry, son of James I

Armour of young Charles I

Armour of young Charles I

Portland in Dorset is not an island but an isthmus, as it remains connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land. It is 4.5 miles long and 1.7 miles wide and rises to 400 ft above sea level at the northern end.

Chesil beach which connects Portland to the mainland

Chesil Beach which connects Portland to the mainland

It is a large piece of limestone  of exceptional quality and is much in demand as building stone. Portland stone was used By Sir Christopher Wren for the rebuilding of London, including St Paul’s Cathedral and around 50 other churches, following the Great Fire in 1666. It was also used for the Cenotaph in Whitehall; War grave headstones in France and Belgium and the UN building in New York.

Portland coast

Portland coast

 

Loading Station - Portland stone loaded directly into barges below for transportation

Loading Station – Portland stone loaded directly into barges below for transportation

It has a strong military connection dating from 1539 when Henry VIII built a castle on Portland (together with Sandersfoot castle at Wyke Regis on the opposite side of Portland bay) to defend the bay from the French and Spanish. In 1872 the newly enclosed Portland harbour became a naval base, which it remained until recent years when facilities were transferred to other ports.

Portland castle (from Sandersfoot Castle)

Portland castle (from Sandersfoot Castle)

 

Prrtland Harbour

Portland Harbour

 

More recently the bay has been developed as watersports venue and was the location of the 2012 Olympics sailing competitions.

Olympic Rings on Portland heights commemorating the 2012 Olympics venue

Olympic Rings on Portland heights commemorating the 2012 Olympics venue

Dorset Skies

Posted: May 18, 2016 in Dorset, Landscape, UK
Tags:

During our recent trip to Dorset Keith and I witnessed some wonderful skies. Here are some of my photos.

DSCN1263a

DSCN1228a

DSCN1257a

DSCN1203b

DSCN1261a

DSCN1196a

DSCN1247a

The first notes were receipts for deposits made in the bank and were made out to the amount deposited.

DSCN7496a

 

DSCN7497a

In 1725 the bank began issuing pre-printed notes in set denominations ranging from £5 to £1000. In 1725 the value of issued notes was £3  million, but by 1795 this had risen to £13 million.

DSCN7502a

The fabled million pound bank note did actually exist, but was never issued to the public and was only used for internal accounting purposes.

DSCN7510a

The Bank of England was not the only bank in England issuing notes at this time. As they were promissory notes issued in return for deposits, many banks had their own bank notes.

DSCN7515a

 

DSCN7516a

 

DSCN7517a