Eight of us met on 18th February round the fire in my lounge which was a lot warmer than the church has been of late. It was lovely that Maureen was able to join us after having been so unwell.
It was Maureen who started us off with information about Sir Richard Grenville, grandson of the famous seaman. He was certainly an interesting character who bounced back from one personal disaster after another. He was imprisoned more than once. He was a Royalist in the time of Cromwell and was known as “The King’s General in the West.”
Janet chose to share information about every pandemic the world has endured from 165AD to the present day, eleven of them, the most recent one (so far) being Swine Flu in 2009. Lots of interesting statistics, which I hope, put the Coronavirus into perspective.
Alan provided some fascinating facts about the Tavistock Canal which was started at Morwellham Quay in 1803, and completed as far as Tavistock in 1816. The most outstanding engineering feat of its construction was the completion of a long tunnel dug out without machinery. Iron narrow boats (the canal was only 16 feet wide and 3 feet deep) transported various commodities from the quay at Morwellham to Tavistock.
Pat chose to talk about Owls, and a few other birds of prey, and their historical association with mankind.
Documentation regarding owls was recorded as far back as 1678, but buzzards are said to have been around for one and a half million years. Other facts that we learnt along the way were that the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest living thing, and that tawny owls mate for life.
Sarah told us about the history of “patches” which were used as face adornments, or facial decorations in the 17th and 18th centuries. As well as being considered attractive by all classes, mainly ladies, wearing too many of them often signalled that the “lady” in question was a prostitute. We looked at some pictures of patches.
Ros chose to talk about the history of Boringdon Hall; there is evidence of a building on the site as far back as 956BC. In 1549, there was a Manor House there and it was sold to the father of Lady Jane Gray. There was a link to the Parkers at Saltram through marriage. (The Parkers owned Boringdon, and then bought Saltram.) The village of Colebrook was built to house the estate workers from Boringdon. Boringdon Hall opened as a hotel in 2011
Another group of varied topics, some contributions are difficult to describe…”you had to be there!!”
Pat talked about the Victoria Cross, with a lot of information that was new to us…fascinating
Jenny told us about Victoria Woodhull, a spiritualist, activist, politician and author who was the first woman to run for the presidency of the United States in 1872. She moved to England in 1877, having been paid to leave the US, and wrote more activist works. Jenny shared many interesting stories about her life both in the US and the UK.
Alan began his presentation with the words “It’s history Janet, but not as we know it” and it involve stories of time travel and the punch line was epitomized in the much published drawing: Like I said “You had to be there!
Ian gave us a brief glimpse of the Plymouth-born actress, Adrienne Hill (1937 – 1997) who trained in acting at the Bristol Old Vic, and is best known for playing the part of Susan, one of Doctor Who’s first assistants.
Finally Janet shared some more little known facts concerning Henry VIII including speculation as to why his wives were not able to produce healthy SECOND and consequent children, and also information regarding where Henry is buried…somewhat ignominiously in the vault of St George’s Chapel at Windsor, in complete contrast to Henry’s plans for a magnificent and costly tomb.
IN A VAULT BENEATH THIS MARBLE SLAB ARE DEPOSITED THE REMAINS OF JANE SEYMOUR QUEEN OF KING HENRY VIII 1537 KING HENRY VIII 1547 KING CHARLES I 1648 AND AN INFANT CHILD OF QUEEN ANNE. THIS MEMORIAL WAS PLACED HERE BY COMMAND OF KING WILLIAM IV. 1837.
We had time for 4 historical snippets at our November meeting
· “How Northwick started the world’s downfall.” Or “the history of plastic”
· The history of Type-face printing Part 2.
· The history of Black Friday, including the origin of the name.
· Things you didn’t know about Henry VIII .
Our topics in August included
· Devonport Borough prison at Pennycomequick
· Silly wars, such as the “war of Jenkins’ ear,” “the war of the golden stool,” and a war between Spain and S America about bird poo.
· Johannes Glensfleish and the Goutenburg Bible. A blacksmith, goldsmith, silversmith and publisher who invented moveable type.
· Victoria Falls; Victoria Line
· A history of poverty in Britain
And, of course, all the discussions that arose out of these topics.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.