We were watching Inside The Factory on BBC iPlayer (watching Gregg Wallace amble around a production line is a guilty pleasure). They were explaining the popularity of oysters in Britain in the nineteenth century and their subsequent decline. The event that really sparked that decline was a banquet at Winchester in 1902, where guests became ill with typhoid and four people died, including the Dean of Winchester Cathedral. What really caught my attention was the source of the oysters – Emsworth in Hampshire.
Emsworth is a pretty little town just five minutes up the road from where I work. It’s quite pretty, with a nice harbour and some good walking routes into the nearby countryside. There are also some particularly good pubs and restaurants. This dark past suddenly made sense. One of those pubs, the Blue Bell Inn, teamed up with a Portsmouth brewery, Staggeringly Good, to make an Oyster Stout called Bishop Slayer.
Some of the proceeds from the beer go to project called the Solent Oyster Restoration Project, which is slowly reintroducing oysters to the Solent (as you might guess from the name). Before the early twentieth century oyster scare and more recent pollution, the Solent was europe’s biggest oyster growing region and the aim is to make it so again – with a goal of five million oyster in five years. Whatever your thoughts are on the subject of fish and beer, that has to be a good outcome.
This is a bit of a shorter and less thought out post than usual but I was in Havant near Portsmouth recently for work and, on my way back to the train station, noticed one of those blue plaques you see about the place – the ones that mark places of historical significance. That’s interesting, I thought, I didn’t think Havant would have an exciting past. It seemed like a fairly run of the mill satellite town to a provincial city. The plaque was outside an old church, and not a bad looking one at that (although not quite as atmospherically lit as the photo here, it was a slightly overcast afternoon) but there’s nothing too remarkable in it (England really is spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful old buildings).
Continue reading Havant Heritage Trail
The Mary Rose Museum
Just a quick post here. I was down at the historic dockyard in Portsmouth at the weekend. They have some great tourist attractions there: HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, The Mary Rose, harbour tours and about half a dozen museums – I got a season ticket and will certainly be back in the future. I just thought I’d post this photo from the Mary Rose Museum.
Continue reading “Robert and John Owyn … made thys bastard”
I was walking through Headington in the north east of Oxford the other day, passing some time before the time came for my reservation at the Black Boy gastropub (that makes me sound terribly posh), and came across an old church – St Andrews. The graveyard in front was a bit of a mix of stones, some newer ones from the early twentieth or late nineteenth century at the end and older, lichen covered, barely legible ones closer to the church. One of the gravestones stood out as being a clean, clear carving. Looking at the epitaph, it had the riddle-like one below.
Here lyeth John
Who to ye king did belong
He lived to be old
And yet dyed young
Continue reading John Young, who lived to be old but died young