Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Village of Mystery


I think there's another world going on locally that I know nothing about. It started with my friend Philip (he of the English Buildings blog) spotting the 'Road Closed' sign in my neighbouring village of Hallaton on his recent visit. It's been positioned at the top of a very green footpath that descends from a narrow alleyway between houses to the Easter Monday Bottle-Kicking stream (which perhaps explains its presence). Funnily enough, the footpath also connects my cottage with my nearest pub. And then I drove through the same village yesterday and saw this yellow sign in a farmyard. What's going on? Cosi fan hutte? It reminded me of other delightful AA signs giving directions to unlikely venues- 'Wuthering Heights' by a dense wood in a particularly flat part of East Suffolk, 'The Host of Angels' propped up against a signpost pointing to Apethorpe in Northamptonshire. The opera sign is opposite a yard where a man used to maintain mobile banks, the sort trundled out at agricultural shows, so I've been used to seeing the Lloyd's black horse peering over the wall. It's all so apparently casual and accidental, and of course very English. Happy St.George's Day.



20 comments:

Jon Dudley said...

Oh lor!... not so much the sign mystery but the Hallaton reference. Memories..my gran was a Hallatonian and her brothers remained in the village after she came South to work as a cook. Damned if I can lay my hands on it at the moment but Uncle Fred (Hawke) (her bro. and a bit of an amateur photographer, printer and general engineer) produced a booklet about the Bottle Kicking before the Great War. Illustrated with his own photographs, it showed one of his brothers clutching the 'bottle' whilst clinging for dear life to the market cross. The family were always mumbling on about it - sorry, an indulgence of nostalgia on my part.

Thud said...

Happy St.George's day to all.

Diplomat said...

mmmmm - these signs, bit like fridge magnet verbage, I think you ought to try and accumulate a sufficiently comprehensive collection to right some interesting message. "Angels Flood Opera Dog Show Incident Diversion"
"Village Fete Flower Show Men Working Overhead" sort of thing...

A F-A said...

You may have stumbled across one of Alan Johnson's new Plague Villages. Apparently, it is felt much cheaper to now lock people away in secluded areas than to actually spend their NI contributions on treating them.

It worked in the 1300s.....

Philip Wilkinson said...

I like Diplo's idea of a collection making a sort of portmanteau sign. One that appears around here every year says something like 'Civil Service Motoring Association Promenade Concert and Spitfire flypast', which is almost a portmanteau sign in its own right. But my favourite for weirdness is 'Yellow Hat Tribe' on the A424 between Stow on the Wold and Burford. Don't ask.

Peter Ashley said...

Why do you think I'm here Alois?

warmpommybeer said...

Yes Pete

Dowdy here ...don't you recognise me from the pic?

Chuck us a hoy at warmpommybeer@live.com and we'll take it from there

Weve got a ripper opera house here in Sydney ...but it was'nt finished properly so inside it sounds awful ....looks alright though ...wouldnt you agree?
Apparently it was modeled on an orange. I suppose its just what Mr Utsun, the architect, had for lunch ... we should be thankful he didnt have a banana that day
I'll be changing my profile to something like the truth over the weekend ...it's ANZAC day tomorrow so I'll have a bit of time between two-up games that is

Does this last bit make any sense to you cheeky pommy chappys?

Toby Savage said...

Yeah WPB. My Grandad was at Galipolli too. He got off in one piece. His autobiog (Not Blog!!) is here: http://www.tobysavage.co.uk/showarticle.asp?id=9

Peter Ashley said...

WPB I love your profile as it is. Particularly your portrait. Now, ANZAC. Between Brighton and Newhaven after the First World War they built a huge rash of bungalows on the clifftop and thoughtfully called it Peacehaven. But it was so very nearly Anzac-on-Sea, as readers of Unmitigated England will of course know.

Jon Dudley said...

Indeed, for a short while it WAS New Anzac on Sea. As a result of a competition organised by Charles Neville the 'promoter' of the town the winning name of Peacehaven was adopted. Mr Neville's liberal ideas on rural development made for something like a wild west town. In the between-the-wars years it attracted retired colonials (and colonels) who found something akin to the life they'd been used to in adopting the sun-baked South facing Downland. No made-up roads, cess pits and second hand water mains no longer fit for service in London, but homely dwellings built of corrugated iron and asbestos. Amongst them, several converted railway carriages and trams. Lots of space too and a remarkable esprit de corps from the pioneers. No pubs (Neville's company owned the only licensed premises), but a plethora of Members Clubs such as The Kenya with its chained monkeys on the balcony and ruby-nosed ex India hands supping Pink Gins to the muffled click of snooker balls and an air thick with the smoke of Capstan and Sweet Afton. John Seymour wrote that he saw little wrong with a community thrown haphazardly together in order that some of the veterans of the Great War could spend their pathetic little gratuities on a home of their own in a place they called Arcadia. Sadly it all went a bit pear-shaped after that. But the Kenya Club is still there and not so different inside...no ruby-nosed ex officers and not the same name, but still in the hands of the same family that originally arrived by motorbike and sidecar in 1929.

Peter Ashley said...

Cor, thanks for that Jon. The only thing I can add to that exhaustive comment is that I went through Peacehaven eighteen months ago and photographed the white-painted pillars by the side of the A259 that sport Peacehaven's emblem in bright colours. On that particularly depressing stretch they shone out like heavenly beacons.

Jon Dudley said...

Peter, you missed the Meridian line! There's a marker on the cliff top with distances to far-flung outposts of the Empire. Set in concrete is a brass channel indicating the precise position and angle of said line (and there's one that runs across the pavement in Lewes outside the Shepherd Neame pub the name of which escapes me). In Peacehaven's Central Club (clue) you can play snooker in the Western Hemisphere and Darts in the Eastern. There, much more than you needed to know...come to think of it, you probably already did.

Peter Ashley said...

Don't get me going on the Meridian. I'd forgotten about the Peacehaven connection, thankyou, but I do remember that it cleaves a house in two in Greenwich where, on being sold, an estate agent put a couple of grand on the asking price because the front room was in the west and the dining room in the east. I've also got an odd story about the line as it crosses the Fens, but I need to make lunch.

A F-A said...

What a brilliant thread! I spent much time as a young man near Peacehaven. There was a Wimpey bar just past the 'city limits', and before the drop into Newhaven. I usually had to stop there to let my moped cool down after its exertions over the Downs from Brighton....which road passed Roedean. One always lived in hope of bumping into one of The Gels..... one never did!

Jonathan said...

They put on opera at Nevill Holt sometimes. Perhaps the queues stretch as far as Hallaton?

Jon Dudley said...

The Wimpey bar is still there! Still serving its strange confections with the banana longboat floating supreme. Roedean with its manly overseas students still dominates the cliffs between Brighton and Rottingdean. And those blanched sentinels that look like they might have been designed by a cake-icer still introduce the unknowing to the ex- plotland development that is Peacehaven. You were right to photograph them Peter, as sure as eggs they'll vanish soon. Did you spot the teapot on the gable end of The Coaster (aka The Sussex Coaster, aka The Highlander, aka The Gay Highlander and originally The Premier Club) pub? Why's it there? because it's Peacehaven.

A F-A said...

Hell Jon! Them Roedean gals weren't MANLY in my day...it must be the effects of Globule Warming, hahahah!

Peter Ashley said...

Mr.Dudley. I haven't spotted the teapot, but I have photographed a childhood memory that I'm extremely grateful to find is still there. And that's the life-size pirate on the prow of his boat up the wall of a Shoreham pub.
And talking of odd things in the landscape, does anyone know how to gain access to the WW1 Sound Mirrors between Lydd Airport and Greatstone on the Dungeness Peninsular?

Jon Dudley said...

Sorry a-f-a...should have used spill chock. Although I could claim that the 'gals' ain't quite as pretty as they used to be...they're certainly not manly!

Yes Peter, the Pirate's still there in Shoreham High Street, carved (for it is solid wood) in 1931. New owners thought of removing it but after consultation with the locals, he remains. And from my granddaughter "Why are pirates called pirates?"
"Because they arrrrrrrrrr". Sorry. (Enough pathetic jokes.Ed)

There was a telly documentary about those concrete sound mirrors not so long ago - jolly good it was too. They don't form part of the ranges at Dungeness/Dymchurch do they? If they don't I'd play the innocent and have a butchers. If they do I'd ask the MOD to kindly hold their fire whilst you take a snap.

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