THE SPECTRAL MYSTERY OF MINSTER LOVELL HALL BY ALLI TEMPLETON

A few weeks ago, after what seemed like eternity, I finally got to visit a medieval ruin again. Not a castle, but a rare example of a courtyard manor house built in the fifteenth century by one of of the wealthiest men in England. And for a sleepy ruin in a quiet Oxfordshire backwater it has a lot to offer. For a start, it’s tucked away in an idyllic location beside the River Windrush amid beautiful, rolling countryside. It also has connections with the Scottish medieval history module I’ve just completed, and it has links with two of my favourite medieval kings, one of which came to stay at the manor. Perhaps even more intriguingly, some say that its most notable owner never left, that he still lingers around the ruins of his former home.

The approach to the 15th Century hall with the porch on the left

The village of Minster Lovell was originally simply called Minster, denoting a settlement of secular clergy serving a church. The church was, and still is, dedicated to the young martyr prince Kenelm, the son of Kenwulf, King of Mercia, who is believed to have been murdered in 819AD, and the minster would have been an important centre for what was once a large ecclesiastical district. Then, around 1124 Henry I granted considerable lands, including Minster, to one of his barons, William, whose nickname was Lupellus, meaning ‘Little Wolf’, probably reflecting his military prowess. Over time the name morphed into Lupel, then Luvel, eventually settling on Lovel, and the bucolic setting of Minster Lovell became the centre of the family estate from the thirteenth century until the Lovell line ended in the 1480s.

The hall sits in a tranquil setting beside the River Windrush

The west wing and the northwest tower with the medieval St Kenelm’s Church behind

The manor was inherited by successive generations of Lovells, mostly – and confusingly – called John, with the odd William thrown in for good measure. One of the many Johns served King Edward I during the first Welsh war of 1277 (covered last year on my Castle Quest), and in 1296 when Edward turned his formidable gaze north, John was the marshal of the king’s army in Scotland, earning him the title Lord Lovell. He served Edward in Scotland in 1303 and 1304, and it was to him that the keys of Stirling Castle were surrendered following a three-month siege by the English king. The same good fortune, however, evaded his son, another John, who was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. But to meet the man who rebuilt the family seat into the grand courtyard home that we see today we must fast forward to the next century, to another Lord Lovell.

SEE THE REST OF THE POST: The Spectral Mystery of Minster Lovell Hall

NEWSISH — Marilyn Armstrong

In an unexpected bow to America’s need for clean air and including a desperate attempt to make people stop watching the impeachment hearings, President Trump announced he is banning automobiles and going back to the full-scale manufacturing buggies.

And buggy whips.

“All the out-of-work wheelwrights, carpenters, horse breeders, and horseshoe makers,” he announced, “will be back on the job! We will also need millions of guys to clean up the horseshit.”

As a note for non-horse owners, a horse produces about eight piles of manure a day totaling 50 pounds, more or less.

Every day. All year. In all seasons. I please that without horseshit cleaner-uppers, the entire world would be completely covered with horse do-do in just a few years. I’m not sure how many, but someone once made that calculation I’ve just forgotten who and when. Or where.

That means for each horse in the U.S., it will create about nine tons of manure every year. This can be used as fertilizer,  to make bricks, and especially as fuel with a higher heating value than seasoned hardwood. Plus, the resultant ash is an excellent soil additive.

Auto manufacturers ignored the announcement as General Motors kept rolling out the hybrids. Simultaneously, forty of Trump’s favorite Republican cronies cheered, promising this proposal would produce a massive job surge as well as a perfect, renewable source for heating homes.


Whoever is speaking for the White House these days — Trump himself maybe? — assured reporters that this administration has always been about horseshit, something about which many commentators could finally agree.

THE GOOD AND BAD OF HELP AT HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

The good news? About half a ton of dust and dirt left the house today. Though I know it will return, it is nice to know that at least the living room is clean.

The bad news?

“Please,” I said, “Don’t disconnect anything. I don’t know how it was put together because I didn’t put it together.”

Crash. Wires everywhere. Television is on, the sound system is on. There’s no sound. Worse, my back is so bad today I can barely move. I’ve been doing too much lifting and hauling. The spine doesn’t like it. But Garry needs sound. Okay, I need sound too, but this is not a good day for me to be hauling, twisting, and lifting.

Although I did not connect the sound system, I’m pragmatic about putting things together. First, I found the plug that attaches the soundbar to the TV and also, incidentally, the electricity.

I plug it in, and the three little dots that mean “It’s ON!” light up. Sadly, there is still no sound. I find one plug hanging off the back of the TV and the second end is lit up in red. The one on the TV says “TV/Audio Out.” It lives in a square hole and it’s the only plug on the TV that shape. The rest are standard cable connections. Sometimes you have to count them. One hanging plug goes into the one the looks like as if it is the right size. I find the plug for the bass speaker and I realize that all the plugs are loose, so I stick them firmly in their holes. I find two connectors — cable connectors — and I’m pretty sure that at least one of them should be connected to the DVD player. Probably both of them: one for visual to the TV and the other to the electricity so it will play.

Do we need the DVD player right this moment? I figure we can get through the day without a DVD. Garry is holding the flashlight and is beginning to look a bit bored. I’m sincerely considering beating him with the DVD cables, but cables are expensive. If you damage them, you have to find the right cables which, since the DVD player isn’t new, can be difficult. Sometimes, impossible.

My back is killing me. So instead of standing up on my own — it took me ten minutes the last time — I have Garry hand me the soundbar. Since I have determined that there is no plug on the TV where that audio plug can fit, it has to fit in the soundbar.

Yay! I found where it goes. Now I have to figure out which way it fits. It looks square, but actually, two sides have little flanges and they need to fit into their slots.

Where things go and what lies behind

“Is the television on?” I ask Garry. He tells me the TV is on, but not the Roku. I point out that I need something on with sound or I won’t know if I’ve fixed it. He turns on the Major League TV channel. I plug the little square plug with the red light into the hole with the flanges and suddenly — there is SOUND!

I then walk around the room picking up fallen items (Robbie the Robot was down), plucked the dogs’ balls from everywhere and throw them into the crate where they will eventually find them. Remarkably, I manage to get up and I’m still clean.

That’s the good part. The back corner behind the TV is usually a huge mass of dust, old oak leaves, dog toys, and all the pens you’ve been missing.

The DVD is going to wait at least until Owen shows up and I just hand him the cables and let him figure it out.

I can’t let her anywhere near my computer because everything is connected in this area and if she knocks those cable around, my chair won’t lift, my external hard drive won’t work and probably both Garry and my computers will be down. It will be clean, but life will not commence until I make it all work.

I can make it all work (I set most of it up myself), but all that bending and twisting and lifting will make me crabby. I think I need to get some crime scene tape to keep her out of the electrical corners!

INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong

This has the Chinese government antique (official) insignia. Probably 1700s, but could be 100 years earlier. Possibly from Tibet, but claimed by the Chinese (who are also claiming Tibet)

RDP-Sunday–INFURIATE

Ever since Garry said he was sure I was going to have a stroke if I didn’t calm down, I have calmed down. Mostly by having all of these rage-filled battles online rather than on the phone. I didn’t really think I’d have a stroke, but who knows? Nothing good was going to come out of it, regardless.

Giant ginger jar (missing lid)

It was ALWAYS something to do with customers non-relations. missing items for which I’d paid and expected to actually receive, getting defrauded (again), failure of a company to honor an expensive service plan (and usually one I should have known better than to purchase in the first place).

When I bought my Mac, I didn’t buy the service plan. There’s nearest service area was more than 50 miles away and for the amount they charged for less than a year’s “service,” what was the point? It would work that long I was sure. Computers work perfectly from when you get them (or never start working in the first place) in which case your 90-day warranty does the job just fine.

After I stopped paying for service plans. life got better. The people who supposedly provided the service rarely knew more than I did anyway.

Hand-carved Burmese Buddha – 20th-Century

At least I knew a reboot usually helped.

I stopped working with undependable companies and stayed with places that honored their warrantees: LL Beane, Land’s End, Amazon, Audible. and I never call my electric or internet company unless everything stopped working (which usually meant an area outage so there wasn’t much point in it).  Even then, I knew if I just waited, by morning it would get fixed.

I think Tibetan

I haven’t worked full time for so long I don’t actually remember many boss-slave relationships. I remember good ones, the wonderful ones — and have mostly forgotten the terrible ones. I remember the completely IRRATIONAL ones, though- the people who told you to do things that were physically impossible and I remember the great ones who were more like pals than bosses. I hold in deep fondness the mentors who taught me what I needed to know to make my way in a strange world.

Chinese Astrological figures etc

But right now, I’m not even angry. I’m just confused, scared, baffled. What to do about my house? How to get my insurance company to pay for legitimate weather damage that has — simply by driving around an looking at all the battered houses in the area — taken a terrible toll in the Valley.

I don’t know where to begin and on who to do it. In ALL the years I’ve owned houses, no insurance company has given me anything, no matter what had happened. I’ve gotten used to assuming there’s no point bothering to ask and it was always something I could somehow manage to take care of. Somehow.

This time, I can’t do it alone. I don’t have the skills or money. The adjuster came and went — and I have yet to see a report or a summary or ANYTHING indicating that the company got the pictures and proof of water damage. You’d think after 47 years between Garry and I with this same company that would count for something, right? It would seem I was deluded. Again.

I’m not even mad, just lost.

Simultaneously, I’m trying to sell as many of my antiques and paintings as I can. I don’t think they are worth all that much, pretty as they are, but other people don’t agree — so on the theory that other people’s ideas are often better than mine, why not at least try?

Sui musicians, restored

In the interim, it means carefully, oh SO carefully, dusting them. You can’t wash them — they are too old and the glazes are gone after a few hundred to thousands of years in caves or craters or underneath the ocean. It turns out, the ocean crashes did the LEAST damage … who’d have guessed it?

I’ve (nervously) assigned this task to Garry with the warning if he can’t reach it, don’t even try. The stuff is fragile.

When Owen, the tall one, is here, I will get him to help — and even HE is afraid of them, too. They are SO old.

Rage? More like complete confusion.

I’m probably enraged by what I (humorously) call my insurance company who doesn’t actually insure anything unless it affects the value of the house to the mortgage company (though you’d think a wall about to collapse from water damage would affect its overall value). They take our money, more every year — and it is a LOT of money — and never give anything back.

Miscellaneous and old!

I’m not angry. Just shocked, saddened, and dismayed that the situation could be this bad and MAPFRE will somehow manage to get away with it. Even more shocked at my own lack of understanding of the process. Boy oh boy, could I use a lawyer!

If I manage to figure out how to emerge from this mess, I’ll let you know.

I wonder — if I do nothing — how long it will take for the house to fall down? Do you think the insurance would pay for that? The mortgage company might get downright pissy about a pile of junk where a house used to be. I wouldn’t care for it much, either.

EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong

In the course of time, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Much of the stuff is old Asian art — mostly  Chinese and some Japanese porcelain from Han to Qing dynasties.

I have no idea what it’s worth.

I think Tibetan – Hard to know dates on bronze pieces

Buddha, Tibet, probably 18th or 19th century

I didn’t buy it from major art houses and much of it has no provenance, so I have no way to prove where I got it … with a few exceptions that I got through the Chinese government agency and it has a number and a label. But these are small pieces and not worth huge amounts of money, or at least I don’t think they are.

Lots of pieces, many Chinese, some modern artist

Crica 1965 Wedgewood

But it has been years since I got them and prices have changed dramatically. I also have some nice original paintings – watercolors and oils. These, except for one which was a wedding gift, were bought from galleries. Again, all were bought at least 20 (or more) years ago, so I have no idea what they are worth or if they are worth anything. I didn’t buy them for their art value. I just liked them.

Cast iron Scotties (1880ish?)

1800s cast iron elephant

I guess what I need is an art evaluator to come to this house and look at all the pieces and give me an estimate of their worth. I know that places like Sotheby’s do this, but they tend to be low-ball estimators because they are looking for pieces that can resell and the less they pay you, the better for them. On the plus side, if you can reach an agreement, they take the stuff away and you aren’t left with figuring out what to do with some really fragile, delicate artwork.

Japanese pre-WWII tea set — I think

Even my son pointed out that I have some pretty nice art hanging on the walls and I said I didn’t think it was worth much since with a few exceptions, none of the artists was or is famous.

Qing dynasty rice bowl, typically used by field workers. The blue chicken is a cultural thing. The bowl is almost 200 years old — and it isn’t even close to my oldest pieces of pottery.

I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. I could also be absolutely right and what I’ve got are some pretty pieces that aren’t worth much. I have no idea.

I don’t even know enough to take a good guess. A lot of my Chinese stuff I can’t find out about because all the books about it are in Chinese. Asian art only became valuable recently.

Han pot (I had two, but I gave one away)

For years, it was considered junk by the Chinese who were convinced that anything old was worthless. Eventually, over the past 20 years, they have re-evaluated that opinion for which I was grateful because they were using crushed ancient Han pots to build roads.

Sui dynasty musicians. These are very old but have been restored. Restored pieces are much less valuable than originals

So here’s a question: do any of you know any art evaluators who I could enlist to help me figure out what I’ve got? Please, if anyone knows somebody who knows somebody who might be able to help me make some kind of estimate of what this stuff is worth, please be in touch.

Two Acoma seed pots

I’ve always been under the assumption that it isn’t worth much, but so many people have told me I’m wrong, I have to assume maybe they know something I don’t know.

IF WE KNEW THE FUTURE – Marilyn Armstrong

I can see the future.

Everyone can. Take a look at the present. Extrapolate what’s likely to happen. It’s not magic, it’s logic. Intentions made real. Probabilities aligned.

Chinese (Sui) porcelain musicians. They come from the past. We all come from the past. In case you failed to notice.

Chinese (Sui) porcelain musicians. They come from the past as do we all

We see ahead as accurately as we need to. Seeing more would gain us nothing but misery. The future would be a fearsome place. We could waste our entire lives trying to change it. No one would enjoy the present. What a pointless exercise!

Which brings me into a discussion of reading Tarot and why I don’t do it now.

I knew there is a strong spiritual element to reading and I also knew I was good at it … which was the problem. I knew too many people who wanted horoscopes for themselves, their children, or some family member I’d never met or wanted to meet.

For example, no matter how many times I said I would not read for children (much less newborn babies), no one listened. It was like a TV cop show where they are forever telling someone to “stay in the car.” No one stays in the car.

Fool

I understood knowledge is important, but they didn’t want spiritual understanding. They just wanted to know what was would happen next and with whom. I didn’t feel I should tell them because what I said might make it happen. The problem is, when you “see” something, interpreting what that means is not always what you think it is.

But right now, I will make a prophecy. I can guarantee you it’s true.

We will all die. Of something. Eventually. Until then, let’s live a little!

THE QUEST BEGINS – EPISODE TWO – Alli Templeton (Reblog)

Not only do I love the quest, but I’m in love with the matching deep blue sunglasses. Questing is wonderful, but so it matching!


 

Lighter me at chester.jpgHere we go! Leaving Chester Castle

We ride at dawn! Well, not quite. But my Welsh Castle Quest got off to a great start today, and knowing that I left Chester Castle at exactly the same time, and walked in the same direction as Edward 1st and his army did in 1277 made it all the more special.

We departed the castle and, just as Edward did (as you’ll see tomorrow) advanced out of the city towards the Dee estuary. Our walk took us along the tidal River Dee on the charming Wales Coastal Path, and as we left Chester behind and progressed towards Wales the cries of seagulls and the salty air became stronger with the rising call of the sea.

Dee startLooking along the River Dee to those foreboding Welsh hills beyond

Soon we reached the Welsh/English border, marked by two tall stones straddling the path, and so we…

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THE AUTRY MUSEUM, PART 1 – BY ELLIN CURLEY

When I was out in LA, our friends took us to an amazing museum – The Autry Museum of the West.

It included artifacts of the real west of America’s past, as well as the movie and TV versions of that same history. In fact, the museum is named after the famous “Singing Cowboy” of the early television days, Gene Autry, also the former owner of the Los Angeles/California/ Anaheim Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.

Outside of the beautiful structure that houses the museum

Sculpture outside the museum of Gene Autry with his guitar and his horse, Champion.

I took so many photos, I’m going to divide them up into three separate posts. This one will be devoted to clothing – a fascinating aspect of history.

Woman’s two-piece outfit from around 1885

Indian woman’s outfit

What real cowboys wore.

Bodice and skirt from 1865-1885 worn by Elizabeth Bacon Custer, wife of George Armstrong Custer of Custer’s last stand fame

Stagecoach driver’s gloves

Annie Oakley movie costume based on a painting of Annie Oakley

Beautiful dress in a soda ad

What Science Has Taught Us About Stonehenge – SCIENCE REBLOG

I’ve been fascinated by all kinds of archaeology since I was in high school. As a senior, I took a course called “The History of Science.” It was science for the unscientific, those of us who couldn’t deal with physics — though oddly enough, the course was taught by a PhD in Physics. I guess he was really interested in the subject, so we all got a whole year studying Stonehenge. And yet I still don’t know nearly enough.

ScienceSwitch

The origin of Stonehenge is surrounded by quite a lot of narratives, including lost technologies, outright magic, and — of course — aliens. Here’s what we actually know about this prehistoric mystery.

Via – SciShow

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AN ANCIENT WORLD IN YOUR HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I collect very old Chinese porcelain. I used to have a lot more of it, but in the name of de-cluttering, I divided my collection and gave the other half to my best friend who I knew would appreciate it.

Han Dynasty 206 BC - 220 AD

Han Dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD

The Chinese government has not always been diligent in managing their national treasures. Sometimes, it was a political decision. Many times, foreigners have stolen the best and most beautiful, which is why you will see so much Chinese art in English and American museums. They didn’t give it to us; we didn’t buy it. We stole it. What a shock they aren’t as in love with us as we think they ought to be.

Very fragile — and broken. All I have left is this single photograph.

In recent decades, the issues have been pragmatic — lack of money. There is so much that needs preservation. The U.S. has difficulty preserving our 250 years of history. Imagine how hard — and expensive — if your nation’s history goes back thousands of years. And your country is huge and densely populated.

Suddenly, preservation becomes more than slightly daunting.

Counter point - Modern Limoge ca 1965 alongside Song dynasty vase (China Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD). I use the vase for single roses. Perfect size.

Counter point – Modern Limoges ca 1965 alongside Song dynasty vase (China Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD). I use the vase for single roses. Perfect size.

Private collectors — like me — who have become custodians of some of these very old things have an obligation to care for them. We have to make sure they will be inherited by others who will treasure them. That’s not as easy as you might think. Not everyone “gets it.” And many people have no room; they have their own stuff and can’t help with yours.

I could have sold my pots but I didn’t want them to go to the highest bidder. I wanted them to be where they would be loved. If that sounds weird, you have never collected antiquities.

Antique Famille Rose Porcelain plate

When you hold one of these pieces, you in the most literal sense hold history in your hand. Imagine how many people have held this vase, this statue, this oil lamp. How many lives this pot has touched. Imagine!

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS, TRY ART – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

We have tons of art in the house. I like to think we also have a fair bit of truth, but if no one seems able to define truth, how in the world do you define “art?”

Is that the stuff which is just pretty but serves no “useful” purpose … or is it anything that has a certain eye-appeal, no matter what you might want to call it.

Monochrome with red dress

I collected dolls for years and antique Chinese porcelain … and for a long time, teapots and other oddities. Some people find the dolls creepy. I love them. We have paintings and photographic prints and small items that really are pretty, but currently (in this world) useless.

Is anything that makes you feel better about life not serving a useful purpose? If it makes you feel good, isn’t that enough?

I don’t know how people manage to live in houses without any art or pictures or prints. Don’t they need the color and the motion? Something to tickle their fancy?

BRONZE ORIENTAL FIGURINES – Marilyn Armstrong

I decided to try to see if I could get some better photographs of two of my old bronze figurines. I’ve pretty much pinned down the provenance on Vishnu riding Garuda as being most likely 17th or 18th century Chinese — or possibly from Tibet.

He has his original medallion from Chinese authorities indicating his status as an antique. It’s a small piece, as most of these items are. It has been certified by the Chinese government as an official authorized antique.

Bhoddivista buddha – a perfected soul returning to help others achieve perfection. The stuff that looks like gold on the figure is actually gold. Probably 1700s, but possibly 1800s.

Bhoddivista -(Corrected colors) If anyone recognizes this fellow, I’d appreciate the help!

The other item has been harder to pin down. I have no provenance on him. he is a buddha — what is called a “Bhoddivista” — a perfected soul that has returned to be a help to others seeking perfection.

When I talk about provenance, that is the issue. Identical items may come with “official” a government or museum insignia. Even though they are identical to items which do not have the same insignia, their value is significantly lower because without it, proving provenance — where the piece came from and its likely age — is difficult.

This does have the Chinese government insignia. Probably 1700s, but could be 100 years earlier. Possibly from Tibet, but claimed by the Chinese (who are also claiming Tibet)

Vishnu riding Garuda the power of whose wings were said to allow Vishnu to circle the planet in a mere two beats of his wings.

It’s easier when you are dealing with porcelain because porcelain was fired in kilns that often leave specific markings on the base of pieces fired within.  Most of my pieces came without provenance because getting them certified would have cost me at least three more money.

Identical piece, but the seller didn’t want to battle with the Chinese government for their insignia. And who could blame them?

That little metal tag is the Chinese government’s seal of authenticity. This piece is old. How old? I don’t know. 1500s? 1700s? Somewhere in between? Hard to tell with anything made of bronze.

BLACK & WHITE OLD AIRPLANES – Marilyn Armstrong

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: TRACES OF THE PAST Y4-04

From Paula:

This is the only Black & White Sunday this month, and I decided that it should be Traces of the Past (the recurrent photo challenge on this blog). Here is one of the most beautiful landmarks of Northumberland – the famous Bamburgh Castle. The day I took this photo it glistened nicely in late, golden sunlight, but for this opportunity I decided to show it in silvery tones i.e. in black and white.


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PICTURES INCLUDING A “Q” – SQUIRRELS AND ANTIQUES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter Q – Simply needs to have the letter Q


What would I do without squirrels and antiques? In this case, I would be lost! The moment I realized I had pictures of squirrels — in my case, stuffed dog toy squirrels — and a lot of antique whatevers, I knew I was “home free,” so to speak. Welcome to my Q world!

An antique airplane

Gibbs with squirrel – soon to be a non-squirrel

Bonnie protecting the squirrel from other marauders — but she is the worst of them!

Friend’s don’t let friends bat ninth! Garry wearing Evil Squirrel’s best Tee Shirt!

And finally, antiques, from an airplane to a cookie jar and an iron doorstop. Old, older, oldest!