What a Knit ! The 1947 Home Industries Exhibition

Charing cross underground Cripps homemade 001From the wonderful El Mundo archive here is a press photo of the post-war Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, with Lady Reading, chairwoman of the Women’s Voluntary Service, among products featured in the 1947 Home Industries Exhibition sponsored by the WVS, which was held, rather bizarrely, in the entrance hall of Charing Cross Underground Station (now renamed Embankment) in London.

Apparently, far from resembling the rather naff home produced textiles that can still be found in countless craft fairs and garden fetes round the kingdom, these products were rated good enough to be part of a post-war export drive. The exhibits shown in the photo attest to the quality of the textiles.
Indeed, the seat covers on show were probably amongst the six examples which Queen Mary herself created for the exhibition and which were later sold for $10,000 in the United States! The Queen also wove panels which were later sewn together by other craftswomen to form a carpet that was presented to the National Gallery of Canada. Later, the Queen Mother got in on the act by contributing one or more of the seventy-two tapestry kneelers commissioned by the Washington National Cathedral.

The example shown by members of the Royal Family was doubtless a fillip to Women’s Home Industries, as the enterprise became known, with the result that before too long the flood of high quality textiles being supplied by home craftswomen from all over the UK became so enormous that a shop in West Halkin Street, around the corner from Harrods, was opened

By 1964 there were 3,000 home knitters supplying products to the London store and by the end of the decade some of the best known figures in textile design had become associated with the enterprise, which survived into the early seventies. [R.M.Healey]

Exiled King Theebaw and his exotic cheroots

Konbang-ThibawThibaw Min (sometimes Theebaw) (1859 – 1916) was the last king of Burma. His reign ended when Burma was defeated by the forces of the British Empire in the Third Anglo-Burmese War, on 29 November 1885. King Thebaw was put in a bullock-cart with his queen by the British and in the presence of a great crowd of weeping subjects, they were conveyed to a steamer on the Irawadi and thence into exile. Without much of the wealth and jewels he had formerly possessed, while in exile he recorded this testimonial for Esoof Cheroots (a brand of Indian cigarettes). This appeared in The Times in 1890.

My late father, the Royal Mindon Min, the golden-footed lord of the white elephant, master of a thousand gold umbrellas, owner of the Royal peacocks, lord of the sea and of the world, whose face was like the sun, always smoked the Esoof cheroot while meditating on his treatment of the bull-faced, earth-swallowing English. Had I done the same I should never have lost my throne, but I used the opium-drugged cheroots from Manila and the trash which was sent to me from San Francisco, and I fell.

Umbrellas are used ceremonially in Burma – when his wife Queen Supayalat died in 1925 she was described as lying in state, ‘shielded under eight white royal umbrellas…’, attended by 90 Buddhist monks and the British Governor Sir Harcourt Butler with a guard of honour of the Mounted Police complete with a 30 gun salute. She lies buried at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Kandawmin Gardens between the tombs of Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother Khin Kyi and the former UN Secretary General U Thant. King Theebaw was buried at Ratnagiri, India (where he had received a state pension of 100,000 Rupees a year) in a small walled plot adjacent to a Christian cemetery, along with one of his consorts.

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Sea Glass Beachcombers

New Brighton Beach, Capitola

Having returned to Northern California recently I noticed a new phenomenon on a beach that I regularly walk on when here - people looking intently at the stones and digging about in the sand. I asked one guy what it was all about and he said they were looking for sea glass, and that he had heard about this beach online. People make jewellery with this glass and also sell it online or just wear it. It is attractive stuff especially the more unusual colours (red, blue and the very rare black). So popular is it that people fake it - this type of glass is known as ‘tumbled.’ Some of the glass is not that old - a type of frosted white glass is said to come from Skyy vodka bottles. The best beach is at Fort Bragg (Glass Beach) in Northern California. The photo below is probably from before the recent craze, although remoter parts of the beach still have good yields. The amount found there is something to do with passing passenger ships and tides etc., The best time to look is after a storm. Some sea glass jewellery, especially in fancy settings, sells for $500 plus. See this high end  seller in Santa Cruz.

There are a few shops selling nothing but sea glass rings and bracelets and a few colourful books...

Many thanks Find Sea Glass
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The Secret Places XXI & XXII

The last two chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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The Secret Places XIX & XX

The penultimate two chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in
The Tablet.

XIX

OLD CRACKPOT

All day we had laboured southwards into the Kentish Weald, our clothing plastered in front with the sleet that drove upon us and our boots squelching at every step. In many miles we had not spoken. Longshanks sucked dismally at an inverted pipe which had long since grown cold.
In the end of such journeyings is a deeper content than of those made in fair weather. When the light failed over the eastward hills and the shifting wind brought a greater cold, we came upon a barn, and entered it as men who come to their last rest. As we heaved the door into place the day died over Sussex.
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The Secret Places XVII & XVIII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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Secret Places XV & XVI

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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The Secret Places XIII & XIV

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

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The Secret Places XI & XII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

XI

THE FRIARY IN THE HILLS

It chanced that I had to go over into Surrey hm Sussex to pay a visit to the Franciscan Friary whence we had started on our wanderings. Leaving Longshanks, therefore, in an inn at Chidding in the fold country, whither we had gone in search of a man who claimed to be a direct descendant of Earl Godwin–though what he was doing here in the south I do not know–I went through the gap in the hills to Guildford and, being weary, took a ‘bus thence to Chilworth.
  Because I was stupid with sleep I left that ‘bus at the wrong place, and, being unfamiliar with the country west of the Friary, I sought direction from a butcher and a queer man who carried a lighted lantern, though it was yet mid-afternoon. Thereafter I walked two miles, as I had been told, I came at last to a large crucifix by the roadside and entered the Friary grounds.
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The Secret Places IX & X

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' idly rambling in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

IX

MY LADY OF THE MIST

To tell of the incidents of every day of our wanderings would be monotonous and wearisome, and so I make no effort to do so. Moreover, what is of interest, or gives happiness, to Longshanks and myself is not necessarily entertaining to anyone else. And because we had no aim but aimlessness–which is good for men sometimes–we wandered from county to county as the spirit moved us, having no regard for even a daily itinerary or for a settled account when our adventures should be written down.
  It was at Small Dole–which is in Sussex–that we discussed, the relative merits of hot and cold shoeing with the big blacksmith, and when we had worked him to a passion of rage at our obstinacy, so that he stuck out his big fan of a beard at us and cursed us with a strange oath, we were minded to continue our journey to the Downs. It was not long after dawn, and October rime still lay where the sun had not yet thawed it.
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The Secret Places VII & VIII

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book, including a contemporary review in The Tablet.

THE WOOD OF MYSTERY

Leatherhead used to be famous for its "nappy" ale, as King Henry the Eighth's laureate knew, for he wrote a song about the mistress of the Running Horse Inn and praised the brew, as a man should. And the Mole, which chatters its way half round the town, was famous for its trout. Alas! in these days the ale there is no better than it should be, and of trout there are none–at least Longshanks and I were not served with any.
  But Leatherhead has its distinction even now, and you shall mark it whether you proceed thither by train, by car, or on foot. For at Leatherhead the rather threadbare rusticity of the country south of London ends, and when you have climbed the steep hill beyond the bridge on the Guildford road you are in a new land. In the little rectangle of which one side is the main road between Leatherhead and Dorking, and the opposite side an imaginary line running through Little Bookham and Effingham and ending roughly five miles due ; west of Dorking, you may get lost an hundred times.
  I scruple to say how this may be done, for when a horde of people get lost together there is no mystery nor any fear; only paper bags and bottles left on the eternal hills and in the secret places of the woodland. And so I shall be vague.
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The Secret Places V & VI

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book.

Continue reading

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The Secret Places III & IV

Two more chapters of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See our posting of the first chapters for more on Foster and this book..

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The Secret Places

Ashdown Forest* 

These are the first two chapter of The Secret Places (Elkin Mathews & Marrot London 1929) - a chronicle of the 'pilgrimages' of the author, Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975), and his friend 'Longshanks' in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. One of those magical walking/ rambling books that appeared in the 1920s and 1930s while, to quote Waugh, 'the going was good' despite ribbon development and the ubiquitous motor car. It was probably aimed at urban and suburban dwellers who got away to the country at weekends or when they could. Foster  was a jobbing journalist who also wrote books on the countryside and how-to-write  books. Most of this book had appeared in the Evening News in the late 1920s. He also wrote detective fiction. Between 1924 and 1936, according to Hubin, he produced 11 mysteries, some featuring a detective called Anthony Ravenhill (The Dark Night, The Missing Gates, The Moat House Murder etc.,) This contemporary review of The Secret Places in The Tablet gives a flavour of the work. There follows the first two chapters…(more to come)

We like The Secret Places. Mr. R. Francis Foster knows where treasure lies hid, and would gladly share his secret with those worthy of the trust. But he fears the barbarian motorist, "with soul so dead" that he is to be stirred only by speed records until the love of country cannot touch him. Therefore he compromises by describing byways where the demon speed cannot go : quiet, ancient ways to be trodden only by the feet of the humble pilgrim in quest of peace and beauty. The author himself trod these paths with a fitting companion, setting out in the autumn along the Pilgrims' Way and wandering through the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent until Spring, bringing alas, a plague of cars in her train, drove the travellers from the roads ! Then they ended their journey at Chilworth Friary, where it had begun, convinced that cars are a curse of the devil, and that "the limit in permissible inventions should be the bicycle, foot propelled." This little volume, although perhaps rather self-conscious in the writing, will please lovers of the English countryside and leave them with many delightful things 'pleasant to think on.' We should like to know more of Zebedee, the Zebra, a strange gift-horse to the pilgrims whose fate, after his total disappearance by night, they never seem to have found out.

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Camp Out This Year!

A great camping book from about 1911, positively evangelical in its emphasis on the joys of life under canvas. The author is not to be confused with the US writer Henry William Gibson whose Camping for Boys came out in the same year. That Gibson is said to be responsible for the American Summer Camp movement which did not take off in Britain. J.Gibson's cookery books for scouts are highly prized..


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