A day out in Bristol

Up to Bristol today to meet my daughter, and no doubt we will wander around from here to there, maybe we will gt a water taxi right into the city, maybe we will just use shanks’s pony… Shanks’s pony… the phrase did not come from a Mr Shanks, it didn’t come from the company now called Armitage Shanks, in fact it just came from the word for a bit of a leg, the shank, he bit between knee and ankle. We still call it a shank in an animal, but not so much i think for people. It’s a Scottish word apparently, but it’s origin was Old English from the German, so I guess it just lingered on in Scotland after it became less used in England… and of course there was a king who was called Longshanks, Edward I …

Back to Bristol… this is what I wrote a little while ago:

Bristol has been an important city and port for centuries but in earlier times there had been a problem with tides, that ships would be stuck waiting for the tide to be at the right height in the deep natural harbour… however in 1809 a floating harbour was created – for a while I stupidly misunderstood her term; of course it means a harbour in which ships could float. 80 acres of tidal river was used to create the harbour which enabled ships to remain afloat all the time.
This led to an absolute boom in shipping, trade and commerce for the city; once the Great Western Railway was established thanks to the giant of nineteenth century industrial architecture and engineering, Brunel the city expanded beyond any expectation. This was reflected in the buildings from the time which had a certain style, with Byzantine, Moorish and Venetian style of architectural design of many commercial buildings such as warehouses and factories. The style is very distinctive, described as “robust and simple” and using bricks with bold distinct colours, particularly red, yellow,  black and white brick. Sometimes the style included archways and upper floors which had a particular of horizontal or vertical arrangement windows.
Architects and influences of this style included Richard Shackleton Pope,  William Venn Gough, Archibald Ponton, and John Addington Symonds .  Sir John Summerson may have been the person who named this distinctive Bristolian building style, and it perfectly describes the elegant and handsome buildings s you can still see today.

A Cavern That Overlooks the River Avon

When I was growing up in Cambridge, we had local giants, Gog and Magog, or maybe it was a single giant Gogmagog after whom some low chalky hills were named… or so I always believed and so we learnt in our local history lessons when I was at junior school.  However there is also a Biblical connection, but Gog was the giant and Magog was his land…

Now we live near Bristol, it seems there were giants here too, Goram and Ghyston, or Vincent, who lived in a cave in the Avon Gorge… you can still see the cave today, but here is a poem by Robert Southey, who lived from 1774 to 1843; he was born in Bristol and obviously knew the legends:

For a Cavern that Overlooks the River Avon

Enter this cavern, Stranger! Here, awhile
Respiring from the long and steep ascent,
Thou mayst be glad of rest, and haply too
Of shade, if from the summer’s westering sun
Sheltered beneath this beetling vault of rock.
Round the rude portal clasping its rough arms,
The antique ivy spreads a canopy,
From whose gray blossoms the wild bees collect
In autumn their last store. The Muses love
This spot; believe a Poet who hath felt
Their visitation here. The tide below,
Rising or refluent, scarcely sends its sound
Of waters up ; and from the heights beyond,
Where the high-hanging forest waves and sways,
Varying before the wind its verdant hues,
The voice is music here. Here thou mayst feel
How good, how lovely. Nature! And when, hence
Returning to the city’s crowded streets,
Thy sickening eye at every step revolts
From scenes of vice and wretchedness, reflect
That Man creates the evil he endures.

Robert Southey

Her is what the cave looks like:


How did I get here? How did they get there?

One thing leads to another, but not always the other I expect! I get fascinated by a little something and before I know it I’m thousands of miles away on a different continent. Names interest me, and I side-track into finding out about the person with the unusual name… So it was with the name ‘Edwin Clogg’. There is a grave in a local churchyard to an Edwin Clogg who gave his life trying to save a young boy from drowning. Interested in the name I pursed it and found here were many Edwin Cloggs, mostly coming from Cornwall… but one who cropped up in a newspaper report from Australia.

It seems that one of the Cornish Cloggs went to Australia with his young family, including an Edwin, and later this Edwin became the licensee of a hotel called the Camberwell Hotel. I couldn’t be sure when I found that snippet that the Edwin I had found was actually connected to the Cornish Edwins. I looked into the history of the Camberwell Hotel and deviated from Cloggs to George Eastaway, the man he bought the land and built the hotel – the Camberwell Inn when it started.

Here are some of my notes:

The Camberwell Hotel, formerly the Camberwell Inn was opened in 1857 by George Eastaway. George, in many articles about the inn/hotel, is said to have come from Camberwell in London after which childhood home he named his hotel. In actual fact George came from Bristol with his family and it was to Bristol he returned when he gave up the Hotel. George was born in Bristol in 1805 and became a boot maker/master, a skilled man, and employing six men; this was a works, not a little cobblers shop. He was married to Martha and had several children,  including Elizabeth, George, Susanna and Catherine in Denmark Street, in a house called The Bunch of Grapes. George junior was  a bonded warehouse clerk before the family left for their new life and new adventure in Australia. Elizabeth, however, had married a Frederick Cooper and stayed at home.

The family arrived at  Port Phillip, on 21st January, 1853, aboard the Barque Velore, George, his wife, Martha, his daughter Catherine and son George. However, eight years later, Martha died on 12th May 1861; George lasted another six years until his health broke down and in June of 1867, he retired and returned to England, to Bristol with Catherine. They lived with Elizabeth, now a draper’s assistant, and his granddaughter also called Elizabeth.

The area in which George purchased land in the early 1850’s was known as Camberwell because it actually did have a similarity to the original London area as a junction for different routes and roads. Gradually a little settlement grew up, but it was the area gave the name to the inn, not George, it already had that name when he arrived. Like many settlers at the time, George, had different occupations as well as the hotel; he had bought the land and while everything was being started out, including the building of the place, he did other work in the area including a time at Red Gum Flat, Baroondara where he may have been a gardener. He was licensee from 1857-61 of the Camberwell, and then a man named James Bulley took the hotel. George returned in 1863 and remained there until he departed for England on the good ship Norfolk in 1867; he was held in great esteem by his friends and neighbours, who wished him God speed when he left. George was the first landlord/owner, and he was obviously well-remembered, but others held the license until Edwin Clogg took it over in 1887, twenty years later.

So the Hotel had quite a history before Edwin and his wife Ellen bought it; the other landlords must each have a story to tell, but not here, not now.

So you see, from a grave in our neighbouring village, to Cornwall (via conscientious objectors in WW1, confectioners and importers of Japanese goods in Derby, fruit farms in Somerset, cobblers in Bristol, land purchase in Australia) I end up at a hotel in Camberwell, Melbourne… and there is a whole other story to tell about the Australian Edwin’s son, Edwin John… who had some very strange and distressing experiences… but that’s a story for another time.

I have checked my research, but I may well have made errors, even major ones – so if you see a mistake I have made, an incorrect assumption I have drawn, please do let me know!

My featured image, bu the way is in Bristol, a five minute walk from where the Eastaways lived.

Meanwhile, if you want to read about other places I have mentally wandered off to, then you can read my totally fictitious and totally imaginary books:


Autumn comes to the Baltic Wharf

We went back to our favourite place again, the Underfall yard; we went with friends, parked up and wandered around, then strolled along Baltic Wharf towards Wapping Wharf.

As usual with me, I got to wondering about the word ‘wapping’ as there is also a Wapping in London. I can’t find what it means, but the London Wapping’s name was first recorded c.1220 and it may have come from something meaning ‘the settlement of Wæppa’s people’… Ii guess ther might have been another chief in this area also called Wæppa, or maybe it was just named after it’s London counterpart.

It was a pleasant day, but grey and slightly chilly; we remarked that it wasn’t just the slight breeze, nor the lowering skies, the quality of the air had changed… It’s definitely autumn now!

underfall-bristol-07-10-9 underfall-bristol-07-10-11 underfall-bristol-07-10-13

The Rivals

I have read, studied and seen the comedy, the Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan several times, so when our reading group decided to go and see the latest performance at Bristol Old Vic I was quite excited. When we were studying it at school we actually performed the play, or parts of it, and i seem to remember that I was Lily or Julia… but it’s a long time ago! It’s ages since I’d been to the theatre to see anything at all, and yet when I was young I loved going, so the combination of going to see a play I liked with friends I liked was just perfect.

… and I have to say I was disappointed… My friends really enjoyed it, so maybe it was just me… the audience were laughing and applauding, so maybe it was just me…

I thought the set was great, and original, I thought the costumes were good too, but somehow the performances just failed to make me laugh, and in fact I might even have uttered some groans. In my opinion (not that of my friends or the rest of the audience) there was too much running around, reminiscent to me of the old Whitehall farces. There was too much female screaming, Lydia Languish and Mrs Malaprop  shrieked and laughed hysterically, pulled faces, fell on the floor, spoke in strange exaggerated accents… It seemed more like a pantomime – there was little subtly and it just became tedious – for me. The male characters shouted and stamped and gurned at the audience, and yet seemed pale in comparison to the over the top Miss Languish and Mrs Malaprop. To enjoy the predicament the characters find themselves in, there has to be some empathy, some liking for them… and I just didn’t have much. When characters are ridiculous, they have to be played straight in order to be funny; a whole cast of caricatures becomes tedious. There were the same visual jokes in this performance, the same  gags repeated over and over – as I mentioned, the falling on the floor… it didn’t seem funny the first time, and even less funny when it was repeated.

In the interval there was a fire alarm and we all trooped outside, and there were the actors, standing waiting to return to the stage. Luckily it was a false alarm and we all trooped back in for the second half. Whether the actors had got a little chilly outside, or whether this half is always like this, but it seemed cooler and calmer, and I did begin to engage with what was going on. One actress stood out for me and that was Jessica Hardwick as Julia and I’ll be interested to see her performing in the future.

I seem in a minority in my opinions, however, and the revues have nearly all been good, so well done the cast, and I’m sorry I was left cold!