Archive for May, 2017

London Stone (on display in the Museum of London) May 2017

The London Stone is a city landmark which traditionally stood in a grilled alcove in a wall at 111  Cannon Street. It is the remains of ageing much larger limestone object, which seems to have stood on the site, or nearby, for many centuries.

A map of 1550  shows the stone located opposite St Swithern’s church in Candlewick Street (now known as Cannon Street). The first documented reference is in 1598, when the London historian John Stow, records ” a great stone called London Stone”. He claims it was listed in a bible from the reign of King Aethelstan (924-39) in a list of properties of Christchurch Canterbury ( a.k.a. Canterbury Cathedral) ”  being near to London Stone”. A further reference is found in documents of 1098 and 1108 of a man called “Eadwaker aet lundene stane” (Eadwacker at London Stone), who gives a property, or properties, to the Cathedral. It seems this use in names became fairly common as there are a number of mediaeval references, where people add the term ” of London’s stone”  to their names. Most notable of these is Ailwen of London Stone,  father of Henry Fitz-Alwen, Mayor of London from 1193 to 1212. It is known that the Fitz-Alwen house was located in Candlewick Street.

In 1540, the rebel Jack Cade made his way to the city stopping at the stone.  He struck the stone with his sword claiming to be the Lord of the city. It is unclear whether this is something he had made up or whether there was some ritual regarding city Lordship which he was imitating.

Jade Cade at London Stone. By editor: Howard Staunton; artist Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897) – Works of William Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1881) vol 8, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25663723

By Elizabethan times, the stone had become associated with King Lud, the legendary founder of the city of London. It is listed in Samuel Rowland’s ‘Sights of London‘ published in 1608. In 1671, members of the spectacle makers company confiscated a batch of spectacles from a shop in Cannon Street. These were taken to the Guildhall, where they were condemned as being of inferior quality and ordered to be smashed on the remains of the London Stone.

By 1742 the stone had become an obstruction to the passage of traffic and the remains were moved to the wall of  St Swithern’s church opposite.

St Swithern’s Church 1831.By artist: T. H. Shepherd; engraver: J. Tingle – original engraving, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25706799

 

The London Stone (1887). By Image extracted from page 559 of volume 1 of Old and New London, Illustrated, by Walter Thornbury. Original held and digitised by the British Library. , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32463347

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The church was destroyed by bombing in 1940, but the section of wall containing the stone remained standing. The remains of the church were actually not demolished until 1962 and were then replaced by an office building.

London Stone niche in the remaining walls of St Swithern’s Church Cannon St (1962). By David Wright, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13733522

The stone was relocated in a grilled niche in the wall of this building, the ground floor of which was used as a stationer and newsagents. This was not a very satisfying relocation as being at ground level it rather looked like a ventilation grill. I wonder how many people walked past it each day and didn’t even know it was there?

The rather unassuming location of the London Stone in the wall of WH Smiths in Cannon St. By John O’London – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25664002

This building, in turn, was scheduled for the demolition in 2016 and the stone was moved to the Museum of London,  where it is currently on display until it can be relocated when the new office building on the site is completed. It is hoped that the new location will show the stone off so it can once again become a tourist attraction – the heart of the City.

So what was this stone?

Over the years there have been many suggestions: a Roman milestone; a sacred city stone (as with the golden milestone in the forum at Rome); a talismanic stone (as in the Palladium in Troy); a prehistoric or a druidic sacred stone; a stone from the remains of the Roman praetorium or governors Palace,which is believed to lie under Cannon Street station; a mark stone of ley-lines or in a recent book, the stone from which King Arthur pulled Excalibur. No one knows, but it has clearly played a part in the history and conscience of the city of London for many centuries.

The original parish church of the port of Dartmouth in Devon was St Clements situated on the hill above the Estuary. When King Edward I visited the town in 1286 to review the fleet, he granted permission for the residents of the port area and the lower town to build their own church. However, the Bishop of Exeter and the Abbot of Torre, who between them controlled appointments to St Clement’s objected that they had not been consulted in the decision and the church was not consecrated until 1372. It was originally dedicated to ‘The Holy Trinity’ but for reasons not known by 1430 had become known as St Saviour’s.

 

One interesting person buried in the Church is John Hawley (1340 or 1350 -1408). Hawley was 14 times mayor of Dartmouth and 4 times a member of parliament. He was also a wealthy ship owner and privateer (state-licensed pirate) operating in the English Channel. He also was briefly the Deputy Admiral of the English Fleet.

 

 

Twickenham Stadium on a lovely day

Dance Competition

Fancy dress has always been part of the occasion

Here come the Girls!

No opportunity for merchandising is missed – the ball carrier

A French player signs autographs for fans

 

So 2 days of Rugby had led to 3 awesome final matches: a ‘southern hemisphere final ‘ between Australia and South Africa (for 5 & 6th place in the tournament); a ‘north American final’ between Canada and the USA (for 3rd & 4th place) and the final between ‘the auld enemies’ England and Scotland for the tournament trophy.

South Africa secure the line-out ball against Australia

Australia kick for goal against South Africa

Canada head for the try line against the USA.

Canada out jump the USA to gain possession of the ball from a line-out

England warm up for the final

England line up before the final for the national anthems

Scotland head for the try line against England

Scotland keep the ball moving against England

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eventual London tournament result was 1st Scotland; 2nd England; 3rd Canada; 4th The USA; 5th South Africa; 6th Australia. The winners of the World series for the best team over all the competitions this season was South Africa with England as runners-up and Fiji in third.

The USA recycle the ball in Quarter Final versus Australia which they went on to win.

My friend Ted and I spent a wonderful day on Sunday at the HSBC International Rugby Sevens at Twickenham in SW London. Rugby Sevens, a variant on the full 15 a side game has grown in stature especially since it was admitted to the Olympics in 2012 and now more countries are taking up the game. 21 nations took part in this year’s World series which is a league table based on performance at a number of tournaments all over the world culminating in the London tournament.

South Africa take the line-out ball in quarter-final against England

England put into the scrum in quarter-final against South Africa which they went on to win.

The ‘Antipodes final’ as New Zealand lost to Australia in a classification match (5th-8th place)

Australian put-in versus New Zealand, which Australia went on to win.

South Africa offload from the tackle against Argentina in a classification match (5th-8th place). South Africa won.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scotland kick for goal in Semi-final against the USA

Scotland celebrates winning in the semi-final against the USA.

England tries to hold the ball up in the Semi-final against Canada, which they went on to win.

 

 

 

A bright sunny day and a chance to do the weekly butterfly and dragonfly survey on my home patch. It has been a somewhat slow start to the year with sporadic butterflies and just two records so far of Large Red Damselfly (two weeks ago – which was an early date for this site) and nothing since. As I made my way down to the Tarn I found a female Brimstone and then by the pool a Holly Blue.

Holly Blue

 

Approx 6-8 Large Red Damselflies were on the pool and 2 pairs were busily laying eggs. A single Azure damselfly was also present.

Large Red Damselfly

Azure damselfly

 

 

 

 

 

This was to be the highlight as the remainder of the walk only yielded a single Green-veined White and a second Brimstone.

Green-veined White (1st brood Female)

The nesting season for birds is well underway and today there were young Coots, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mallard around the Tarn.

Coot and young

Greylag Geese and young

Canada Goose and young

Mallard and young

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

 

 

 

Japanese Garden, Dartmouth

Dartmouth, situated at the mouth of the river Dart in Devon is a town which has long-standing naval links. It was recorded in 1147 and 1190 as a departure port for the crusades and was twice raided and sacked during the Hundred Years War. This led to the practice of closing the estuary each night by stretching a chain across from Dartmouth to Kingswear on the other side.

Dartmouth Railway Station. Built in preparation for a railway connection to the South Devon line. Unfortunately, the Railway never reached the Town.

Naval references are found everywhere in the town.

Lots of little lanes ascend the hillside.

The town has many buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and Tudor periods.

The cherub public house, probably the oldest building in Dartmouth. Dating back to c 1380 it was originally the house of a townsman or merchant.

Inside The Cherub

It is home to the Royal Brittania Naval College, founded in 1863 and housed in an impressive hillside building overlooking the town, completed in 1905.

Britannia Royal Naval Academy

Our journey on the Emirates Cable car was certainly a unique experience.

O2 Arena

Tall Ships seen from cable Car

 

Have you ever imagined what Rome looked like? How did all those ruins link together?

Here is a tour of Rome in the year 320AD looking at the major sites as they looked then.

https://www.vox.com/2016/2/28/11129238/rome-reborn-video.

If you enjoy this tour you can go off and explore for yourself using an interactive map.

For details see: http://rome320ad.com/

Happy sightseeing!

 

 

Weeting Heath

A day on the Suffolk / Norfolk border with one of my local RSPB groups saw a bright and early start at the Weeting Heath reserve just over the Norfolk border. The highlight of this reserve is breeding Stone Curlews, a rare bird in the UK limited to just 2 areas (here in Breckland and on Salisbury Plain).

Stone Curlew. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Our arrival is greeted by some bad news. There are no nests in the area in front of the observation hides – in fact, there are very few nests on the reserve at all! A later talk with the warden revealed that this is true for many of the usual Breckland breeding sites and that some have no breeding birds at all. This is possibly due to a decrease in the number of adult birds who have made it to the UK this year (We are right on the northern edge of the breeding range), an increase in predators and a decrease in Rabbits (who keep the grass short, which the Stone Curlews like). The warden kindly offered to take us to a viewpoint where he can show us some birds and eventually we all got to see them through a telescope. They are very good at camouflage and can be very hard to see even when you know where they are.

Stone Curlews – can you see them?. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

With that successfully achieved, there is time to walk through the reserve’s woodland and Spotted Flycatcher and Coal Tit were good sightings.

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Then it’s onto the nearby RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen.

The view from the Washland Viewpoint, RSPB Lakenheath

On arrival, most of us head off to the Washland viewpoint to see the Glossy Ibis, which has been here for a few weeks. This eastern European bird is being more frequently seen in the UK and birds seem content to stay once they arrived at a suitable habitat.

Glossy Ibis. Photo by Duncan McCaskill (https://www.flickr.com/photos/148286771@N02/)

This achieved I head off to New Fen to look for Butterflies and Dragonflies and their accompanying predator, the Eurasian Hobby.  In all, I recorded 6 species of Butterfly and 4 species of Dragonfly including my first even definite sighting of Variable Damselfly.

Fenland reedbeds

Variable Damselfly. Photo by AJC1 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/)

Eurasian Hobby. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Two hobbies hunt over the reedbed and give great views and an excellent display of aerobatic flying. A male Western Marsh Harrier drifts lazily across the Fen and a male Bearded tit does a quick fly-past as it travels from one area of reeds to another. A male Yellowhammer is another good sighting.

An excellent day for wildlife although few good photographic opportunities – still you can’t have everything!

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Stone-curlew [sp] (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)