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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 12/23/2006: "Inns"
    rural highways and byways supported a sprinkling of taverns and alehouses Both were merely drinking establishments and did not offer accommodation In medieval times some inns appeared on pilgrims routes established either by the lord of the manor or the church and a charge was made for staying there This was often beyond the reach of poor pilgrims who found themselves sleeping on the rush covered floor along with many others but as the great monasteries flourished so they began to include inns within their boundaries And as the roads became more widely used terrible though they were so more inns were established often by the monasteries and the churches in our villages and so began the tradition of the rustic inn Inns were also established near busy places such as ferry terminals main thoroughfares or on crossroads town centres markets pilgrimage routes and places of business Unfortunately they attracted low life customers described as robbers quacks mountebanks and undesirables of every kind In the fourteenth century the situation had become so bad that the king imposed closing hours on inns because such offenders as aforesaid going about by night do commonly resort and have their meetings and hold their evil talk in taverns more than elsewhere and there do seek to do mischief That sounds very familiar today It was around the fifteenth century that inns began to improve with high class establishments being constructed for travellers and merchants These were not part of monasteries or the church but were built by private enterprise in all our major towns and cities with smaller inns blossoming in villages It was perhaps the famous Golden Era of Coaching which led to the creation of some splendid inns along our glamorous coaching routes and many of these remain today Not only did those coaching inns provide food and accommodation they also catered for the teams of horses which were needed to haul the stage coaches Many coaches changed horses at these inns and so the coaching years brought immense wealth and prestige to many of our coaching inns and indeed to many village inns along their routes With the festive season well under way our inns and hotels remain a focal point for a range of activities including parties by office workers businessmen villagers families and others In many cases the inns will have no spare accommodation just like that first Christmas when there was no room at the inn for the family whose Child has given us more than 2 000 years of constant celebration One of the older traditions at Christmas is the use of candles In our modern times of course they are not an essential part of the domestic scene as they were in some rural areas even within living memory They were necessary to provide light both indoors and in outbuildings but now they have become popular as decorative items I am sure there are now more varieties of candles than ever before and they make excellent

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000050.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 11/29/2006: "Peculiar Courts"
    another important aspect and offences included fornication adultery incest prohibited or clandestine marriage the birth of illegitimate children malicious defaming of neighbours and a host of other minor wrongs The penalties for those found guilty were often little more than a penance of some kind and this might include the public reading of a confession in church before the Sunday congregation whilst being bare head bare foot and bare legged having a white sheet wrapped about him from the shoulders to the feet and a white wand in his hand Another later function of the Peculiar was to try those who committed offences against the newly created Church of England This included not attending the Sunday service and not receiving the sacrament failing to pay church assessments and working or playing on a Sunday eg by ploughing playing bowls delivering goods drinking at the tavern and other similar minor offences The Peculiar also dealt with those who professed a different religion such as Catholics Quakers and other dissenters who refused to attend Church of England services Much of our present legal system originated in the early church courts One example is probate In the middle ages the administration of wills was a function of the ecclesiastical courts If a man failed to decide the fate of his property the church would do it for him Even when a will was made the bishop s court would make sure it was proven before the trustees executed the wishes of the dead person If a person died intestate the bishop s court would oversee disposal of his goods In spite of their status ecclesiastical courts steadily lost their powers after the sixteenth century Prior to 1533 the laws of the church in England consisted of common law and the laws of the Roman Catholic church known as canons The Reformation with the subsequent creation of the Church of England altered much of that law with civil legislation increasingly dealing with non ecclesiastical matters Nonetheless legislation produced by the Church of England which was and perhaps still is binding upon everyone irrespective of their faith has the effect of a statute and although the church has its own courts to administer its laws the state courts supersede them to prevent them abusing their ancient powers After the Reformation the jurisdiction of the Peculiar Court of Masham was inherited by Trinity College Cambridge It was not until the mid nineteenth century that many of those ancient church courts were finally abolished including the Peculiar of Masham On the topic of the Reformation a correspondent from Marton near Middlesbrough sent me a copy of some monastic suppression notes These concern Jervaulx Abbey Coverham Abbey and Bridlington Priory with most of the letters being written in 1537 One is from the Duke of Norfolk to Henry VIII dated May 10 1537 in which the Duke writes concerning Bridlington and Jervaulx I think most convenient that I should be at the suppressing because the countries about them

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000049.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 11/10/2006: "Kingfisher"
    mythology and the legend of Halcyone sometimes known as Alcyone She was the wife of Ceyx King of Trachis Ceyx was drowned at sea when his ship was wrecked and Halcyone was distraught Overcome with grief she plunged into the sea in an effort to find his body She died and the gods were so impressed that they turned both her and Ceyx into kingfishers This was done so the couple could live peacefully on the water and be faithful to one another for life The gods also granted Halcyone and all her descendants the further privilege that when she laid her eggs on her floating sea borne nest the waves would remain calm so that the nest and young birds would never be troubled by storms This later led to the belief that the kingfisher had the power to calm the waves This calming of the sea in late autumn is still known as the Halcyon Days In truth of course kingfishers do not nest on a water borne nest They drill long tunnels into the sides of river banks or cliffs where they lay their brilliant white eggs on a nest of fish bones Both birds help in incubating the eggs and become filthy through their constant movements in and out of the earthen tunnel which can be up to a meter in length The nest is in a small hollow at the very end The birds also smell dreadful due to their nest of fish bones and it s not surprising they frequently plunge into the water in an effort to cleanse themselves In this country the kingfisher is present throughout the year although if the weather is severe in winter it might move to the coast where the sea does not freeze and where food is

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000048.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 10/13/2006: "Superstitions"
    or the supernatural The two definitions are remarkably similar albeit with a strong suggestion that it is superstition which is irrational I found no definition that suggests religion is irrational What seems to be true is that even in this twenty first century age of the computer superstition remains a powerful force within our society Many of us continue to believe in the irrational perhaps because a host of superstitious beliefs have been passed down to us by our ancestors But if religion has also been passed down to us in this way why have so many of us abandoned religion whilst continuing with superstitious practices One interesting aspect of this close association is that the major events in our lives are surrounded both by superstition and religion Think of birth marriage and death In these matters superstitious belief and religion exist side by side The act of baptism is one example our pagan ancestors used purifying water and various rituals as they named a child whilst giving it the full protection required to grow into an adult The Christian faith does likewise There are lots of superstitious beliefs about the time of birth with some believing our destiny is governed by the stars Others believe the time of day is important a birth in the morning ensuring a long life ahead An old saying said The later the hour the shorter the life and it was also thought that an early morning birth guaranteed intelligence and success in the person concerned I had an aunt who always put a silver coin into the hand of a newborn baby to ensure good fortune for the child People who live on the coast used to believe that one s birth should always be as the tide is coming in That is

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000047.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 09/02/2006: "Bonhomme Richard Wreck"
    prize A fleet of English merchantmen was moving along the coast protected by two men o war the Seraphis and Countess of Scarborough and they were trying to reach Scarborough harbour for protection by cannons positioned in Scarborough Castle They didn t make it In spite of Jones superior strength and firepower the two English ships fought bravely and indeed the Seraphis was more manoeuvrable than Jones Bonhomme Richard Crowds stood on Filey cliffs to watch this most remarkable of sea battles with Bonhomme Richard ramming the Seraphis until the two were locked in what was described as a deadly embrace The crews then engaged in hand to hand fighting and close cannon fire Although the Countess of Scarborough was beaten the gallant Seraphis continued to inflict severe damage on the Bonhomme Richard so much so that the ship s master gunner hauled down her flag But Jones fought on until fire from the other American vessels followed by a cruel explosion on Seraphis caused her master Captain Pearson to surrender Jones then abandoned the Bonhomme Richard with many injured crewmen still on board and commandeered the Seraphis to claim victory For more than 36 hours Jones tried to save his stricken ship but badly holed and damaged by fire she sank on September 25 with her pennant still fluttering Paul Jones watched her sink thus making this the only known occasion when a maritime commander won a battle and then left the scene in a beaten ship Some reports say Jones left his injured crew members to go down with her Since that time attempts have been made to find and recover the wreck of Bonhomme Richard One problem was that there were no legal controls over divers recovering valuables from wrecks but in 1973 the Protection of Wrecks

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000046.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 07/28/2006: "Austria"
    tour of Lech am Arlberg promised to be most enjoyable even the weather was excellent with sunshine and clear skies Our first venture was a ski lift to Schlegelkopf just below the summit of Kriegerhorn 2173m As the chair slowly ascended with our feet dangling in space we began to appreciate the sheer beauty around us Our ascent took us up what is in winter a ski slope but in summer an Alpine meadow I have never seen such a massive variety of wild flowers in one place spread across the entire mountainside even at high altitude there were flowers galore many being rare in our country while others grace our domestic gardens Where we have heather in Britain the Alps have flowers and a walk which should take an hour took us three hours simply because we stopped to admire photograph and hopefully identify the different species brilliant blue gentians edelweiss primulas buttercups galore several species of wonderful orchids Alpine clematis woolly thistles vetches and saxifrage various poppies and geraniums anemones louseworts lupins asters hyacinths and pasque flowers cotton sedge butterwort and many many more some of which are found only in Alpine regions All the footpaths are clearly marked and well maintained Discreet signposts point the way to distant summits valleys villages and refuges but do not give the distance Instead they give a reasonable time that is required to reach the destination thus a signpost will say Zug 40 mins On our climb to the final summit of Kriegerhorn we paused to photograph cows grazing near a pond and when we saw the ski hut nearby advertising glasses of fresh milk we just had to try it As we sat drinking the cold creamy milk listening to the tinkle of cowbells we reminisced that this was how fresh farm milk tasted when we were children On our second day we took a cable car to the summit of Rufikopf 2382m where there is a café and a platform from where we could look across to other summits even London Paris Rome and New York were recorded along with their distances From there we decided to walk down to Zurs a village below The walking time was given as two and a half hours and it took us via a small lake called Monzabonsee with snow upon the paths and in the hollows slowly melting As we descended from the summit we heard a piercing whistle sound In some ways it sounded like the call of a buzzard but even with my binoculars I failed to see it And then as I scanned the rockier regions of the mountain I spotted the culprit It was about the size of a domestic cat with greyish brown fur clearly a rodent judging by its strong front teeth It was on a prominent rock sitting upright on its haunches with its front paws clutched before its chest as it produced its curious call A passing walker identified it for me it

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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 06/27/2006: "Trolls & Hobs"
    tasks being completed before morning It appears that tidiness was vital to a nisse and some would even visit churches to prepare them for morning Mass If someone was unnecessarily untidy or careless or cruel and thoughtless to others then the nisse would grow angry and punish the wrongdoers I am not sure how such punishment was inflicted but it seems that on occasions a nisse could make himself very unwelcome by being too fastidious There are stories of nisses becoming so unbearable that the resident farmer and his family would leave the premises One Norwegian story tells how a farmer and his family anxious to be rid of the nisse packed all their belongings onto several carts with the intention of leaving the farm As they were giving one last lingering look at their former home the nisse popped out of a tub on the tail end cart and said So we re moving today eh Folk stories from several European countries tell of similar creatures in almost identical situations The Germans for example have a kobold the Swedes have their tomtgubbe or tomte which means old man of the house the Dutch have redcaps while the Scots have their brownies and Northumbrians their dunnies The Cauld Lad of Hilton in County Durham is sometimes depicted as a ghost but occasionally as an elf like mischief maker and in North Yorkshire the moorland people have their hobs If the tale of the nisse leaving home with the resident family sounds familiar then an identical yarn is told about the Farndale hob The Farndale hob worked cheerfully for farmer Jonathan Gray helping with tasks such as leading hay shearing sheep tidying the premises and generally performing a range of routine but important jobs often with a display of amazing strength

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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 06/05/2006: "Visit to Ireland"
    BC the Danes arrived in the eighth century and in the twelfth the Normans made their presence felt Napoleon attempted an invasion but failed due to the weather whilst the English have also had an impact not always favourable but today the town is very cosmopolitan with residents drawn from many nations One reminder of its past stands majestically on the outskirts this is Malahide Castle set in 250 acres of parkland When the Normans arrived they installed Sir Richard Talbot as the Lord of Malahide Estate in 1174 and the family continued to occupy the castle until 1973 eight centuries When the Lord Milo Talbot died in that year his only surviving relative his sister did not want the problems of maintaining the castle and estate and hand it over to Dublin County Council who now run it as a very successful visitor attraction With its classic fairy tale appearance due to its rounded towers it contains some wonderful furniture and art works along with a huge thirty seater table in its Great Hall The Talbots were supporters of the Catholic James II of England who had been deposed and on 1 July 1690 fourteen members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast at this huge table before going off to battle But none of them returned for dinner that evening all were dead To regain his throne James had sought help from the Irish Catholics and challenged William of Orange his son in law and husband of James Protestant daughter Mary James poorly trained army of 25 000 French and Irish Catholics met William s seasoned army of 36 000 highly trained French Huguenots Dutch English and Scots Protestants The Protestants won this battle forever known as the Battle of the Boyne and it signalled three centuries

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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-21