Thursday 26 December 2013

A stroll through mid-nineteenth century Bristol

Today I found a book on-line called A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol. I read it and before too long I’d found a recommended walk in it’s opening pages. Since I knew about Bristol’s Know Your Place site, and its wealth of maps and pictures, I decided to complete this walk, virtually.

We begin (or began) on the junction of Corn-street, Broad-street, Wine-street and High-street, where we can admire the Dutch House (destroyed in the Second World War).

Strolling down the High-street, the guide draws our attention to various booksellers and printers and to the entrance to St Nicholas Market on the right. We continue towards Bristol Bridge,

And, once across, we look back to take in the view of St Nicholas Church,

Before taking a right down Redcliffe-street. To my delight, the guide actually points out a building that I can find a picture for that isn't a church: The Red Lion Inn.

After continuing along this road, after we arrive at St Mary’s Church, the guide suggests a brief diversion around Redcliffe-Parade and Guinea-street before returning to the church via Redcliffe-Hill before heading right along Pile-street (now called Redcliffe Way).

There the guide draws our attention to the school house and the birthplace of Thomas Chatterton. This house is still standing, although it now looks a bit forlorn: like a building that the Council forgot to demolish when developing the rest of the area. According to one site, some well-meaning English Literature students squatted in the building and renovated it a few years ago, but since they were evicted, I have no idea about its current state.

We continue on our walk, past the site of Temple-Gate, one of the gates to the old city walls, that was demolished in 1808. Then we continue up Pipe-lane, which bears to the left and from there the guide advises that we turn down Rose-street and then up Church-lane to Temple-Church, Bristol’s very own leaning tower almost to rival Pisa’s.

That’s a modern photo, of course. But anyway, once past there, it’s onto Temple-street for a short spell before turning left down Long Row which will take us to St Thomas-street. Here we can briefly take in the sight of St Thomas Church.

After this, the guide takes us back to where we began, making sure we appreciate All Saints Church.

A very pleasant walk, and it's not the only suggested route in the book. And remember, all of these images, as well as many others, are available on Bristol City Council's Know Your Place page.


Evans, J., (1824) “A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, and the Stranger's Guide Through Its Streets and Neighbourhood”,_Bristol.jpg

Saturday 21 December 2013

Indecision at life drawing

I found this sketch from an old life drawing session, and I was amused by my notes down the side of the drawing, expressing my dismay, acceptance and finally pleasure at how the drawing went.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Horse hair becomes animated in water

An old folk-tale tells that if horse hair is place in water then it becomes animated, as this passage from a book from 1825 describes:

“When a boy, I firmly believed that the hair of a horse’s mane became eels if placed in water; and often have I put whole handfuls of it into a marle-hole, in the hope that one day I should find each hair an eel.”

This author admits he found nothing but hair, even if he left it for months, but this particular myth had been explained almost 200 years previously. In the Philosophical Transactions published on the 1st January 1672, Mr Lister describes his own findings on the subject.

“It hath been credibly reported, that Horse hairs thrown into water will be animated; and yet I shall show you by an unquestionable observation, that such things as are vulgarly thought animated Hairs are very Insects, nourished within the bodies of other Insects”

It seems that a particular type of worm that could be found in damp habitats like watering trough was the cause for reports of horse hairs coming to life in water. But even though the origins of the myth had been explained, the phenomena continued to fascinate. This section of an 1887 newspaper article tells us:

“Coleridge informs us that it was a common experiment with boys in Cumberland and Westmoreland to lay a horse-hair in water, which, when removed after a time, would turn round the finger and sensibly compress it, having become the supporter of an immense number of small, slimy water-lice.”


“Curious Fish Legends,” Supplement to the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Saturday, 13 August, 1887, page 9
“An Extract of a Letter of the Same Mr. Lister, Written from York April 12. 1672. Concerning Animated Horse-Hairs; Rectifying a Vulgar Error,” Philosophical Transactions, 1672 7, doi: 10.1098/rstl.1672.0021, published 1 January 1672
“Captain Rock in London; or, the Chieftan’s Gazette. For the year 1825,” p295

Friday 29 November 2013

News of Christ from the Afterlife

Although I’m not superstitious and an atheist, I am, of course, sometimes affected by certain cultural themes. And so, when I was reading a book about Spiritualism, I couldn’t help but be unsettled by the following passage that describes part of a seance.

Now, to put this in some context, one of the people at this seance was the Reverend Dibdin, who was determined to show the other people present that Spiritualism was the work of the Devil, so it’s likely that there was a certain amount of pushing and pulling on his part. Nevertheless, if I’d been there, I’m sure that I would have been as appalled as the witnesses. The description of the seance continued...

“As the last letter was indicated, the girl drew her hands quickly off the table, much as a person would do who was drawing them off a hot iron. Her brother-in-law turned vary pale, and took his hands off the table also.

“Now,” I [ie, Rev Dibdin] said, “I hope you are satisfied.” “Yes,” he said, “I am.” I said, “You must notice this: the table has told you things you did not know before, and, in connexion with them, tells you that Christ in not God, and at last tells you that he is in hell. Now, I entreat you to have nothing more to do with Table-Moving.”

According to the lecture, it had the desired effect, although the man involved later rationalised table-turning as being somehow related to electricity.

By the way, the “things you did not know before” which the spirits told everyone earlier in the seance were disappointingly mundane: the age of the Princess Royal and what the time was. That’s not really the kind of unknowable knowledge that I expect from a departed spirit.


Dibdin, R. W., (1853) “Table Turning: A Lecture”

Thursday 21 November 2013

Skeptical of mathematics

Almost every new endeavour, in fields such as science, art, or music, has gone through a period of mistrust from more established experts. It may seem strange to us now, but even mathematics went through a similar phase.

Roger Bacon, circa 1267, complained of writers who put maths as one of the seven Black Arts, due to it’s links with astrology. Despite the release in 1542 of the first comprehensive practical arithmetic in English (“The Grounde of Artes” by Dr Robert Recorde), mathematics remained linked to prognostics.

In 1624, William Monson wrote

“It is a question whether a man shall attain to better knowledge by experience or by learning? And many times you have controversies arise between a scholar and a mariner upon that point. The scholar accounts the other no better than a brute beast, that has no learning but have experience to maintain the art he proposes. The mariner accounts the scholar but verbal, and that he is more able to speak than act.”

In 1666 John Wallis wrote

“Mathematicks at the time, with us, were scarce looked upon as Academical Studies, but rather Mechanical; as the business of Traders, Merchants, Seaman, Carpenters, Surveyors of Lands, or the like, and perhaps some Almanack Makers in London... For the Study of Mathematicks was at that time more cultivated in London than in the Universities.”

And in 1701, as the tide had already turned in favour of studying mathematics, J Arbuthnot summarised those arguments against:

“The great objection that is made against the Necessity of Mathematics in the great affairs of Navigation, the Military Arts, etc., is that we see those affairs carry'd on and managed by those who are not great mathematicians: as Seamen, Engineers, Surveyors, Gaugers, Clock-makers, Glass-grinders etc., and that Mathematicians are commonly speculative, Retir'd, Studious Men, that are not for an active Life and Business but content themselves to sit in their Studies and pore over a Scheme or Calculation.”


Arbuthnot, J., (1701) “An essay of the usefulness of mathematical learning in a letter from a gentleman”
Taylor, E.G.R., (1954) “The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England,” Cambridge University Press
Monson, W., (1624) “Naval Tracts”

Thursday 31 October 2013

When the British started driving on the left

I’ve heard it said that the law about driving on the left in the UK began at London Bridge. Because it was so congested a thoroughfare, the Lord Mayor decreed that coaches should travel on their left. It was nice to find a book online that, although is not contemporary, it is close enough to the event that the author is still unaware of how important a decision it really was.


London and its Environs Described (1761), vol 4, p134-135

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Coming soon...

Coming soon on ebook:

America's Imaginary Hostage Crisis

“All right, #8.5, the time is now 1400 hours. Your mission for today is to find John Graves. I want you to focus on John Graves. I want you to identify his location, any other hostages at this location, and describe the physical security. I want you now to relax. Focus your attention on John Graves.”

On the 4th of November 1979, a group of Iranian students invaded and occupied the US Embassy in Tehran.

Six thousand miles away, a newly-trained team of military psychics was given the task of remotely viewing the Embassy grounds.

They gave vivid descriptions of the lives of the hostages: the fear, the depression, the illnesses of those kept captive.

But how accurate were they? For the first time ever, these declassified reports are looked at in detail and compared to the real events.

This is the story of two hostage crises, played out on opposite sides of the world.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Life Drawing 21/10/2013

My first life drawing session in about two months! I've been working hard on a new project, that I will hopefully reveal quite soon...

Friday 20 September 2013

Finding Japanese streets, after seventy years

Recently I had a small but satisfying episode in which I discovered the location of an old film clip from Japan that I’d been trying to track down for ages.

I first saw the clip about a year ago. It’s a collection of slow tracking shots along various Japanese streets, film sometime in the 40s, after the war. It's quite interesting, especially the bit where a woman says goodbye to her husband and then, after walking a few paces, meets another friend by chance. I decided I would try and find out where it was. I translated a few of the signs, and got as far as working out it was probably in Tokyo, before giving up.

Last week, I found it again, and had another attempt at tracking down the location. I had no luck, so I decided to show it to a Japanese friend. She was able to translate a few more of the signs, including one I had got wrong. She pointed out Hibiya Byouin (Hibiya Hospital) and Tamura Machi (Tamura Town). I took some notes and later that day sat down to try again.

This time I got it down to an area. I found Hibiya Park, but no hospital, and then, by taking some screen shots and zooming in, which meant I found a road sign in English pointing to Shimbashi Station. This, coupled with the fact that a train could be seen passing over a bridge, narrowed the choices down to three or four.

(Shimbashi Station sign top right)

Then I realised that the second clip was actually the same street as the first clip, only with the camera pointing in the other direction. And this time, there was a tram passing by. Suddenly, this became a big clue, but with the tram lines long since removed from streets and no street/tram map from this era online, I was missing the final piece of the jigsaw.

But the other day, just by chance, I was looking through some old maps online. To my surprise I found this site which did have that magical mix of street maps with tram lines. And when I looked at my suspected area, I found a tram line with a station called Tamura Machi right on one of my potential roads. This was the clincher! I'd found it! It was Sotobori Dori, in the Nishishinbashi area, just south of the Imperial Palace.

Of course, nothing is the same, except the width of the road. Everything else has changed since then. Shops, pavements, signs. Even the trees are new. I searched in vain for one thing that survived but I could not.

Sunday 1 September 2013

More about Signals from Space

A sort-of-sequel to my post about the signals from Mars.

It’s not often that something happens on an internet forum that is worth remarking about to other people, but just today my attention was brought to something that I thought I’d like to share.

Someone posted a link to an article from the National Security Agency Technical Journal which describe how to decipher a number of extra terrestrial messages discussed in a previous issue.

The person from the forum wanted to know if it was true. Well, the site was certainly real, and the article definitely seemed to be talking about messages from outer space. It was hard to believe, but it seemed to be genuine.

I took a look through the list of declassified articles on the site, and soon found the answer. The "extra-terrestrial messages" began in an article where a writer, Lambros D. Callimahos, discussed what a message to an extraterrestrial intelligence might look like: what universal codes could be used.

Following this, the Callimahos offered a few examples as puzzles and then in the next issue Howard H. Champaigne added some more. The article above, that had caused all the confusion about the NSA decoding extraterrestrial messages, was in fact the key to solve the puzzles.

It was interesting to see how a solution page to a puzzle could be so confusing: it was written in a dry style with no indication of its less-than-serious subject and also some joker in the NSA had slipped the word “UFO” into the url. It had me fooled for a while.


Callimahos, L.D. “Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence”
Champaigne, H.H. “Extraterrestrial Intelligence”
Champaigne, H.H. “Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages”

Friday 30 August 2013

The Forgetful Lawyer

The idea of a lawyer who starts arguing against his own case may sound like a character from a bad sitcom, but it occurred at least once in real life. The biography for Lord Eldon relates that when he was young, and simply known as John Scott, he was working as a junior to Mr Dunning (“who was the most eminent of the counsel prectising in the Court of King’s Bench”).

The anecdote, as told by Lord Eldon, goes:

“He began the argument, and appeared to me to be reasoning very powerfully against our client. Waiting till I was quite convinced that he had mistaken for what party he was retained, I then touched his arm, and, upon his turning his head towards me, I whispered to him that he must have misunderstood for whom he was employed, as he was reasoning against our client. He gave me a very rough and rude reprimand for not having sooner set him right,”

Yet Mr Dunning managed to get out of this situation with a very elegant solution...

“[He] then proceeded to state, that what he had addressed to the court was all that could be stated against his client, and that he had put the case as unfavourably as possible against him, in order that the court might see how very satisfactorily the case against him could be answered; and, accordingly, very powerfully answered what he had before stated.”

Twiss, H. (1844) “The Public and Private Life of Lord Chancellor Eldon” Vol 1, p63

Monday 26 August 2013

Life drawing 26/08/2013

Although I’m not late, I am usually one of the last to arrive for life drawing, so I’m obliged to take a space at the side. This is fine by me, since the lighting is usually more interesting and, besides, profiles tend to be easier to draw.

Today, since it was a bank holiday, there were fewer people and when I arrived there was one seat at the front, centre stage. Well, I chose it immediately.

I sort of regretted that. Because the model needs to give everyone in the room a decent angle to work from, a lot of the poses were facing forward. In other words, straight at me. I struggled at first with this. I kept telling myself it shouldn’t make a difference, but the lighting and the pose seemed a lot flatter than usual.

The best of a very bad bunch
Finally, in the long fifty minute pose, I was faced with someone doing a sort of lotus pose. I was depressed at first: after a load of drawings with no sense of movement, you couldn’t ask for a more sedate model. But this time, I decided to focus on the symmetry rather than ignore it, and I think it turned out okay.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Late sun rises and missing satellites

A short-lived but entertaining rumour occurred in October 1736. In the Ipswich Journal for October 15-22, they stated that the “News-letters” for October the 19th reported that the Royal Observatory in Paris had discovered two strange phenomena. One, that the sunrises and sunsets for the past ten days had been quarter of an hour later than expected, and also that one of Jupiter’s satellites had disappeared.

Quite what the implications would have been had this rumour spread is never discovered. After just a week, retractions were being published in those newspapers that carried the initial story.

Where this story came from, a misunderstanding or deliberate misinformation, is never made clear. Pity. It would have been interesting to see the effect if it had been given more time.

Ipswich Journal, 15-22 October 1736
Derby Mercury, 28 October 1736

Sunday 11 August 2013

The Rood of Boxley

Boxley Abbey, which once stood in Boxley in Kent, once hosted a religious icon called the Rood of Grace (“Rood” being an old word for crucifix) which was a wooden sculpture of Jesus on the cross, which could move. This became a popular icon for pilgrimages and brought in some money for the Abbey. When this first appeared is not know, but by 1412, the Abbey was referred to as “the Abbey of the Rood of Grace”.

In 1538, as part of a country-wide act to take possession of Catholic buildings, the Abbey was taken by the government and the secret of the Rood was uncovered. Geoffrey Chamber wrote to the Lord Privy Seal about the episode (I’ve modernised the English)...

“I found in the Image of the Rood, called the Rood of Grace, [...] certain engines and old wires, with old rotten sticks in the back of the same, that did cause the eyes of the same to move and stare in the head thereof, like unto a living thing.”

This discovery was used as anti-Papist propaganda, and was decried in public speaking as an example of how Romanist churches were lying to their congregations. John Cromer wrote to Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex on the 7 February 1538, saying...

“Considering that the people of Kent had in time past a great devotion to the image and used continued pilgrimages there, I conveyed it to Maidstone this present Thursday being market day and shewed it to the people; who had the matter in wondrous detestation and hatred”

However, recently historians have been questioning the idea that the Rood was an act of deception. Rather, the congregation were fully aware of the mechanical nature of the icon, treating it as one more attraction to the already opulent surroundings of a Catholic abbey. Since many people were illiterate in those days, churches relied on visual means (stained glass, statues) to help communicate the word of God.

Whether the protestant reformers knew this, or chose to ignore it, is not clear. Chamber wrote that the monks at the Abbey pleaded ignorance when asked about the mechanisms which only adds to the air of deception, but I’m inclined to believe that most of the visiting pilgrims (who’d only arrive because they were on their way to Canterbury) were not so gullible and knew of, or were quickly aware of, it’s less than miraculous powers.

Cave-Brown, J. (1892) “The History of Boxley Parish”
Ellis, H. (1846) “Original Letters, Illustrative of English History”
The History of the County of Kent, vol 2, p74
Groeneveld, L. (2007) “A Theatrical Miracle: The Boxley Rood of Grace as Puppet”

Monday 29 July 2013

Monday 22 July 2013

The Secret Life of Uri Geller: a review

This documentary, shown on BBC2 21 July 2013, described how the psychic and entertainer Uri Geller, had had connections to various secret services since the 1970s.

A lot of the programme is confusing. It appears to be a number of interviews with people describing events that they cannot prove, or they make references to events that they're not allowed to talk about. A documentary about a subject that no one's willing to talk about is a frustrating one.

And the reason I call it confusing is because I can't tell if the maker is a supporter of psi, but is just generally ill-informed, or is a debunker of psi and has placed little mistakes throughout the programme as clue. Or, indeed, was unconcerned if it was true or not, and was just presenting a story.

For example, the soundtrack mostly works to undermine the narrative. Music from shows like The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Dr Who (and even Monty Python!) plays in the background as people describe their experiences. Similarly, some of the captions are a little strange: Dr Kit Green is shown talking from “an undisclosed location” as if to breathlessly emphasise how secret this all is.

Some of these examples of secrecy are peculiar, for example Russell Targ's refusal to show the programme-makers the report they submitted to the CIA about Uri Geller. This report was declassified a long time ago.

The claims made for the research into remote viewing are not challenged. Targ describes Pat Price's success rate as “seven matches out of nine” for an experiment, but the original report shows six.

And these early experiments were beset by methodological issues. For example, the judges went (separately) to each location in turn to judge the session notes, and they were told to stand at a specified place at each location. Who chose this place is never made clear, and there's the risk that if it was chosen by someone who knew the targets and the contents of Price's session notes, they could have chosen the places based on that.

Another error is amongst some quick cuts meant to give an impression of the kind of successes the remote viewing project had. One of the sketches is matched with a round brick building. Except that this wasn't the target at all: it should've been the Louisiana Superdome, and that should be obvious from the written report. The meaning behind this juxtaposition of genuine RV session notes and fictional target makes no sense to me. Was this the documentary-maker's post-modern way of saying the truth isn't important: we write our own stories that we can believe?

The problem trying to find documented evidence of the kinds of claims in this documentary is that often the claim is of a nature that wouldn't be documented in the first place, such as the CIA's suspicions that Geller was just a magician sent by Mossad to fool the CIA into thinking that psychic powers existed.

Geller was never told that the SRI work was being financed by the CIA (although if he was genuinely psychic, I'm sure he would've known about it anyway) and on 22 June 1974 an internal memo stated that the parapsychology work at SRI would only continue if certain conditions were met. One of those conditions was that Uri Geller should not be involved.

I don't doubt that there are people in the military – as in all walks of life – who believe in psychic powers and want to use them to their advantage. And I wouldn't at all be surprised if, in the days after 9-11, someone tried to contact those remote viewers again. But did psychics really have a long history of successes during the government program? You won't find out by watching this show.

Monday 15 July 2013

Mirage at sea, 1793

With the UK in the grip of a little heatwave, my eye was caught by a story in the Gentleman’s Magazine for July 1793. The Rev. Samuel Dickinson, while on a boat off the coast of Brittany (near Conquet) on 10 Aug 1759 at nine o’clock in the morning. saw a mirage in the heat haze that he described in some detail.

“The rock (A) assumed the figured of a double pyramid, the uppermost inverted (B). This in a short time seemed to separate, and float away in the air, as expressed in figures 1, 2, 3, forming an image so vivid as mocked the powers of the organ of sight, unaided by the rational faculty, to distinguish the delusion from reality.”

He goes on to describe other mirages, effecting the cliffs and another rock which adopted “a variety of most curious and striking forms, representing magnificent buildings in ruins” Apparently the spectacle lasted two hours.

Monday 8 July 2013

Famous buildings in the dirt

Today I was walking through Bristol, behind the Council House, when I looked up and saw a stain running down a bit of the wall that looked exactly like the building La Mole Antonelliana in Torino. I took a photo and later compared the two (got the other photo from Wiki). The similarities are remarkable. But, considering Bristol's fondness for graffiti, I can't be sure it's not a work of art. I am scratching my head over this. Either way, it's very pretty.

Monday 1 July 2013

Life Drawing 01/07/2013

This was my first life drawing session for a few weeks and, up until my brief break I’d been growing uneasy about my drawing style. On the one hand, it usually produced things which I found pleasing to look at. On the other, it was becoming a little too easy.

The style in question was to use rougher, more haphazard lines that I previously had, and no shading at all. This was a reaction against my previous style of drawing, in which I tried to use as few lines as possible, relying on shading to bring out the shapes and forms. But this meant I ended up with vague, ill defined, washed out drawings. Hence the change to a bolder stlye.

Now, after some months of drawing predominantly with lines and no shading, I decided it was becoming too familiar. Also, I noticed that if I tried to shade in a drawing I done, it would often reveal that the proportions were wrong. I’d stopped looking at the model properly in favour relying on a style that I knew would produce something nice.

So, today I forced myself to shade in my drawings (assuming there was time). I’m quite pleased how well they came out.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

BASIC Conversion Chart 1984

Once upon a time, this A2 poster used to hang on my wall as a gleaming example of the white heat of technology. I couldn't really program much, not even in BASIC, so it was more a symbol than a practical aid to coding. Recently I found it again, and thought it was really quite pretty. Despite only having an A4 scanner, I did my best to digitise it, and here it is.

and a close up...

or two...

Life drawing 21/05/13

Only one good drawing this week.

Sunday 12 May 2013

The Syderstone Ghost

The issue of Bury and Norwich Post for 8 May 1833 carried a story about a series of daily hauntings in Sydertsone Parish, Norfolk, England.

"The following circumstance has been creating great alarm in the neighbourhood of Fakenham for the last six weeks. In Syderstone Parsonage lives the Rev. Mr. Steward, Curate, and Rector of Thwaighte. The house has a modern appearance, and not at all calculated for concealment. About six weeks since an unaccountable knocking was heard in it in the middle of the night. The family became alarmed, not being able to discover the cause. Since then it has gradually been becoming more violent until it has now arrived at such a frightful pitch that one of the servants has left through absolute terror, and the family, we understand, intend removing as early as possible."

A modern reader not familiar with the area may take the name "Fakenham" as a clue that the story isn't to be trusted, but such a town does exist and I suppose ghosts are as likely to appear there as anywhere else. Similarly, the same article gives the supposed name of the man haunting it as "Reverend Mental", which would also cause some eyebrows to be raised.

However, leaving these suggestive (but misleading) aspects aside, in the weeks that followed, two newspapers carried articles describing the phenomenon at Syderstone Parsonage and the debate surrounding them. Three weeks after the first article, on 29 May 1833, the same paper carried a story describing how a number of investigators (all named in the article) had gone to witness the phenomenon for themselves.

"The first commencement was in the bed-chamber of Miss Stewart, and seemed like the clawing of a voracious animal after its prey. Mrs. Spurgeon was at the moment leaning against the bed post, and the effect on all present was like a shock of electricity. The bed was on all sides clear from the wall; — but nothing was visible. Three powerful knocks were then given to the sideboard, whilst the hand of Mr. Goggs was upon it. The disturber was conjured to speak, but answered only by a low hollow moaning; but on being requested to give three knocks, it gave three most tremendous blows apparently in the wall. The noises, some of which were as loud as those of a hammer on the anvil, lasted from between 11 and 12 o'clock until near two hours after sunrise."

Having described a number of events and the baffled reaction of the visiting gentlemen, the article ends by calling the haunting an "unaccountable mystery".

On 12 June, a letter from one of those present, Reverend Samuel Titlow, was published drawing attention to a few inaccuracies, as he saw it, of the previous letter.

"The noises were not loud; they commenced in the bed room of Miss Steward and the female servants, and the time of the commencement was, as we had been prepared to expect, exactly at half past one o'clock a.m. It is true that knocks seemed to be given, or were actually given, on the side-board of a bed in an adjoining room, where two little boys were sleeping, whilst Mr. Goggs' hands were upon it, but they were not " powerful knocks."

[ ... ]

If the writer of the paragraph had been present with us, he would not have said that we were terrified, as if we had experienced " a shock of electricity;" but rather, that though there was no want of proper decorum, we were all in good humour"

He seemed convinced that there was nothing supernatural behind the events, also adding that he couldn't believe that a ghost would appear "for trifling purposes, or accompanied with trifling effects."

On 22 June, the Norfolk Chronicle carried a number of witness statements regarding the hauntings going back many years. These statements had been submitted to the magistrates as Affidavits, but since it was not clear if the magistrate could legally accept Affidavits on a subject of this nature, they were published in the local paper. The earliest event described was from 1785, when Rev Mantle (the source of the name "Mental", it appears) moved in to the parish. He immediately boarded up two rooms, and there was one occasion when his sister saw something "which had greatly terrified her".

How much faith can be placed in so vague a report after so many years is unsure but, as Rev Mr Titlow mentioned in a later letter, it had at least removed the blame of the haunting from the former occupant.

Rev Mr Titlow's letters prompted a lengthy reply from Reverend John Spurgin (who had also been present at the investigation in May) which is peppered with italics as repeatedly emphasises his indignation. He begins by stating that he had "furnished the public with the best information in my power, as to the facts connected with the knockings" and he dismisses Mr Titlow's arguments as "conjecture", "mere conjecture" and "ridicule and insinuation!"

The spat between the two reverends was short lived, since Rev Mr Titlow wrote in the Norfolk Chronicle, 27 July 1833, that he stood by his doubts and that "Time, Sir, and facts duly authenticated, authenticated on the testimony of me, unbiassed, unreserved, intelligible in their representations, and of sound judgment and discretion, may hereafter prove what or who is the evil spirit at Syderstone."

Bury and Norwich Post, 8 May 1833
Bury and Norwich Post, 29 May 1833
Bury and Norwich Post, 12 June 1833
Norfolk Chronicle, 22 June 1833
Norfolk Chronicle, 29 June 1833
Norfolk Chronicle, 13 July 1833
Norfolk Chronicle, 20 July 1833
Norfolk Chronicle, 27 July 1833

Monday 6 May 2013

Life Drawing 6/5/13

It's been a few weeks since I went to life drawing, and I'm quite relieved that some came out as good as they did.