Victorian Celebrity: Edward Cardwell, 1st Viscount Cardwell, Secretary of State for War

200px-1stViscountCardwell Edward Cardwell, 1st Viscount Cardwell PC, PC (Ire), FRS (24 July 1813 – 15 February 1886) was a prominent British politician in the Peelite and Liberal parties during the middle of the 19th century. He is best remembered for his tenure as Secretary of State for War between 1868 and 1874 and the introduction of the Cardwell Reforms.

Background and Education
Cardwell was the son of John Henry Cardwell, of Liverpool, a merchant, and Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Birley. He was educated at Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford, from where he took a degree in 1835. He was called to the bar, Inner Temple, in 1838.

Political Career
Cardwell was employed in the Colonial Office in the late 1830s, and directly involved in drafting written instructions (sent to Sydney) to Capt Hobson RN, as to how to ‘treat with the natives’ (Maori) of New Zealand; thus he was indirectly involved in what would become the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi, signed February 6, 1840.

Cardwell was elected Member of Parliament for Clitheroe in Lancashire in 1842. He became a follower and confidante of Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, and held his first office under him as Financial Secretary to the Treasury between 1845 and 1846. When Peel split the Conservative Party in 1846 over the issue of repealing the Corn Laws, Cardwell followed Peel, and became a member of the Peelite faction. When the Peelites came to power in 1852, Cardwell was sworn of the Privy Council and made President of the Board of Trade by Lord Aberdeen, a position he held until 1855. In 1854 he passed the Cardwell Railway Act which stopped the cut-throat competition between Railway Companies which was acting to their and the railusers’ disadvantage.

During these years, Cardwell moved from seat to seat in Parliament. In 1847, he was elected as MP for Liverpool. In 1852, he lost elections for Liverpool and for Ayrshire, but won a seat at Oxford. In 1858, he was defeated for the Oxford seat, but a second election for the seat was held shortly after, which he won (beating William Makepeace Thackeray).

The Peelite faction disintegrated in the late 1850s, and Cardwell officially became a Liberal in 1859,[citation needed] joining Lord Palmerston’s cabinet as Chief Secretary for Ireland. Unhappy in that position, he moved two years later to another cabinet post, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. A second move within the cabinet came in 1864, when Cardwell became the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a position he kept until the Liberals were turned out of office in 1866.

When the Liberals returned to power under William Ewart Gladstone in the 1868 election, Cardwell reached the peak of his career, as Gladstone’s Secretary of State for War. During his six years in the post, in what became known as “Cardwell reforms,” Cardwell reorganized the British army, introduced professional standards for officers (including advancement by merit rather than purchase), and formed a home reserve force. After Gladstone’s defeat in the 1874 election, Cardwell was raised to the peerage as Viscount Cardwell, of Ellerbeck in the County Palatine of Lancaster. His ennoblement ended his active political career.

Army Reform
Liberal Prime Minister William E. Gladstone paid little attention to military affairs, but he was keen on efficiency. In 1870, he pushed through Parliament major changes in Army organization. Germany’s stunning triumph over France proved that the Prussian system of professional soldiers with up-to-date weapons was far superior to the traditional system of gentlemen-soldiers that Britain used. The reforms were not radical—they had been brewing for years, and Gladstone seized the moment to enact them. The goal was to centralize the power of the War Office, abolish purchase of officers’ commissions, and to create reserve forces stationed in Britain by establishing short terms of service for enlisted men.

Cardwell as Secretary of State for War (1868–1874) designed the reforms Gladstone supported in the name of efficiency and democracy. In 1868 he abolished flogging, raising the private soldier status to more like an honorable career. In 1870, Cardwell abolished “bounty money” for recruits, discharged known bad characters from the ranks. He pulled 20,000 soldiers out of self-governing colonies, like Canada, which learned they had to help defend themselves.

The most radical change, and one that required Gladstone’s political muscle, was to abolish the system of officers obtaining commissions and promotions by purchase, rather than by merit. The system meant the rich landholding families controlled all the middle and senior ranks in the army. Promotion depended on the family’s wealth, not the officer’s talents, and the middle class was shut out almost completely. British officers were expected to be gentlemen and sportsmen; there was no problem if they were entirely wanting in military knowledge or leadership skills.

From the Tory perspective it was essential to keep the officer corps the domain of gentlemen, and not a trade for professional experts. They warned the latter might menace the oligarchy and threaten a military coup; they preferred an inefficient army to an authoritarian state. The rise of Bismarck’s new Germany made this reactionary policy too dangerous for a great empire to risk. The bill, which would have compensated current owners for their cash investments, passed Commons in 1871, but was blocked by the House of Lords.

Gladstone then moved to drop the system without any reimbursements, forcing the Lords to backtrack and approve the original bill. Liberals rallied to Gladstone’s anti-elitism, pointing to the case of Lord Cardigan (1797–1868), who spent £40,000 for his commission and proved utterly incompetent in the Crimean war, where he ordered the disastrous “Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1854.

Cardwell was not powerful enough to install a general staff system; that change had to await the 20th century. He did rearrange the war department. He made the office of Secretary of State for War superior to the Army’s commander in Chief; the commander was His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, the Queen’s first cousin, and an opponent of the reforms.

The surveyor-general of the ordnance, and the financial secretary became key department heads reporting to the Secretary. The militia was reformed as well and integrated into the Army. The term of enlistment was reduced to 6 years, so there was more turnover and a larger pool of trained reservists. The territorial system of recruiting for regiments was standardized and adjusted to the current population. Cardwell reduced the Army budget, yet increased its strength of the army by 25 battalions, 156 field guns, and abundant stores, while the reserves available for foreign service had been raised tenfold from 3,500 to 36,000 men.

Personal Life
Lord Cardwell married Annie, daughter of Charles Stuart Parker, in 1838. They had two children, Margaret and Paul. He died in Torquay, Devon, in February 1886, aged 72. Lady Cardwell only survived him by a year and died in February 1887. The town of Cardwell in Queensland, Australia, was named after Lord Cardwell, and the current branch of the Cardwells married into an Carinthian Austrian family.

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The Halifax Slasher

Victoria Theatre, Halifax, West Yorkshire 2nd August 2005. Photograph by SpaceMonkey

Victoria Theatre, Halifax, West Yorkshire 2nd August 2005. Photograph by SpaceMonkey

The Halifax Slasher was the supposed attacker in an incident of mass hysteria that occurred in the town of Halifax, England, in November 1938 following a series of reported attacks on local people, mostly women.

The Incident
The week-long scare began after Mary Gledhill and Gertrude Watts claimed to have been attacked by a mysterious man with a mallet and “bright buckles” on his shoes. Five days later, Mary Sutcliffe reported an attack on herself. Reports of attacks by a ‘mysterious man’ with a knife or a razor continued, and the nickname “the Halifax Slasher” stuck. The situation became so serious the Scotland Yard was called in to assist the Halifax police.Vigilante groups were set up on the streets, and several people, mistakenly assumed to have been the attacker, were beaten up; business in the town was all but shut down. Rewards for the capture of the attacker were promised; reports came of more attacks in nearby cities.

In the evening of November 29, Percy Waddington, who had reported an attack, admitted that he had inflicted the damage upon himself. Others soon made similar admissions, and the Scotland Yard investigation concluded there were no “Slasher” attacks. Five local people were subsequently charged with public mischief offences and four were sent to prison.

On 2 December, the Halifax Courier ran this story:

Carry on Halifax! The Slasher scare is over… The theory that a half-crazed, wild-eyed man has been wandering around, attacking helpless women in dark streets, is exploded… There never was, nor is there likely to be, any real danger to the general public. There is no doubt that following certain happenings public feeling has grown, and that many small incidents have been magnified in the public mind until a real state of alarm was caused. This assurance that there is no real cause for alarm, in short, no properly authenticated wholesale attacks by such a person as the bogy man known as the ‘Slasher’, should allay the public fear…

Timeline of purported attacks

16 November – Mary Gledhill and Gertrude Watts claimed to be attacked by a man with a mallet.

21 November – Mary Sutcliffe claimed to have been attacked.

24 November – Clayton Aspinall reported an attack

25 November – Elland Lane, Elland, and Percy Waddington were ‘attacked’

25 November – Hilda Lodge ‘attacked’, also Clifford Edwards attacked by a vigilante mob.

27 November – Beatrice Sorrel reported attack

27 November – Fred Baldwin attacked by a group of drunken vigilantes.

29 November – Margaret Kenny claimed an attack by a ‘well-built man with a broad face, wearing very lightweight shoes and what felt like a dirty macintosh’. Mary Sutcliffe reported a second attack, and Winifred McCall claimed to be attacked. Attacks in Manchester and Bradford were also reported. Percy Waddington, who claimed to have been attacked, admitted he inflicted the damage to himself, effectively ending the scare.

30 November, 1 and 2 December – Claims of attacks in other cities including London were dismissed.

Posted in British history, buildings and structures, gothic and paranormal, Great Britain, Living in the UK, mystery | Tagged , | Leave a comment

UK “Real” Estate: The Strand

Strand, often called the Strand, is a major thoroughfare in the City of

The Strand, Looking Eastwards from Exeter Exchange (1822). The church in the distance is St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes behind.

The Strand, Looking Eastwards from Exeter Exchange (1822). The church in the distance is St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes behind.

Westminster in central London that forms part of the A4 road. It is just over three-quarters of a mile in length from its western origin at Trafalgar Square to its eastern end at Temple Bar, where it continues into Fleet Street, marking Westminster’s boundary with the City of London. Its historical length has, however, been longer than this.

At the east end of the street are two historic churches: St Mary le Strand and St Clement Danes, which are both now situated on islands in the middle of the road, owing to widening of the Strand over the years. The length of road from St Mary’s eastwards up to St Clement’s was widened in 1900 and subsumes the former Holywell Street which forked from the Strand and ran parallel with it to the north. Traffic travelling eastbound past the churches follows a short crescent called Aldwych, connected at both ends to the Strand. The Strand marks the southern boundary of the Covent Garden district.

The name was first recorded in 1002 as strondway, later in 1185 as Stronde and in 1220 as la Stranda. It is formed from the Old English word ‘strand,’ meaning shore. Initially it referred to the shallow bank of the once much wider River Thames, before the construction of the Victoria Embankment. The name was later applied to the road itself. Part of its length was known in the 13th century as ‘Densemanestret’ or ‘street of the Danes,’ referring to the community of Danes in the area.

The route of the Strand was used during the Roman period as part of a route to Silchester, known as “Iter VIII” on the Antonine Itinerary, and which later became known by the name Akeman Street. It was briefly part of a trading town called Lundenwic that developed around 600 AD, and stretched from Trafalgar Square to Aldwych. Alfred the Great gradually moved the settlement into the old Roman town of Londinium from around 886 AD onwards, leaving no mark of the old town, and the area returned to fields.

In the Middle Ages it became the principal route between the separate settlements of the City of London (the civil and commercial centre) and the royal Palace of Westminster (the national political centre). In the archaeological record, there is considerable evidence of occupation to the north of Aldwych, but much along the former foreshore has been covered by rubble from the demolition of the Tudor Somerset Place, a former royal residence, to create a large platform for the building of the first Somerset House, in the 17th century.

The western part of the Strand was located in the parish of St Martin in the Fields and in the east it extended into the parishes of St Clement Danes and St Mary le Strand. Most of its length was in the Liberty of Westminster, although part of the eastern section in St Clement Danes was in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. The precinct of the Savoy, located approximately where the approach to Waterloo Bridge is now, had the Strand as its northern boundary. All of these parishes and places became part of the Strand District in 1855, except St Martin in the Fields which was governed by a vestry. The Strand District Board of Works was based at No. 22, Tavistock Street. Strand District was abolished in 1900 and became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster. The area had parliamentary representation through the Strand constituency from 1885 to 1918.

From the 12th century onwards, large mansions lined the Strand including several palaces and townhouses inhabited by bishops and royal courtiers, mainly located on the south side, with their own ‘river gates’ and landings directly on the Thames.

Those on the south side of the street were, from east to west:
**Essex House, built around 1575 for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and originally called Leicester House. It was renamed Essex House after being inherited by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, in 1588. It was demolished some time between 1674 and 1679 and Essex Street, leading up to the Strand, was built on the location by property speculator Nicholas Barbon.
**Arundel House, originally the town house of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, later in the possession of the Earls of Arundel. It was demolished in 1678 and Arundel Street, adjoining the Strand, was built on the site. The supposed Roman baths at Strand Lane are in the former grounds of the house and are probably associated with it.
**Somerset House built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, regent of England from 1547 to 1549, and rebuilt in the 18th century.
**Savoy Palace, the London residence of John of Gaunt, King Richard II’s uncle and the nation’s power broker. In the 14th century the Savoy was the most magnificent nobleman’s mansion in England. However, during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, rebels, led by Wat Tyler, inflamed by opposition to the poll tax promoted by John of Gaunt, systematically demolished the Savoy and everything in it. In 1512 it was rebuilt as the Savoy Hospital for the poor. However it gradually fell into dereliction and was divided into multiple tenancies, eventually being demolished in the 19th century. The Savoy Hotel now occupies the site.
**Worcester House, formerly the Inn, or residence, of the Bishop of Carlisle.
**Salisbury House, the site of which is now occupied by Shell Mex House.
**Durham House, the historic London residence of the Bishop of Durham, built circa 1345 and demolished in the mid-17th century, it was once the home of Anne Boleyn. Durham Street and the Adelphi Buildings were built on its site.
**York House, built as the London residence for the Bishop of Norwich not later than 1237. At the time of the Reformation it was acquired by King Henry VIII and came to be known as York House when he granted it to the Archbishop of York in 1556. In the 1620s it was acquired by the royal favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and after an interlude during the English Civil War it was returned to George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who sold it to developers in 1672. It was then demolished and new streets and buildings built on the site, including Villiers Street.
**Hungerford House, which was demolished and replaced, in turn, by Hungerford Market and Charing Cross station.
**Northumberland House, a large Jacobean mansion, the historic London residence of the Dukes of Northumberland; built in 1605 and demolished in 1874. Northumberland Avenue now occupies the site.

On the north side of the Strand were…

**Cecil House, also called Exeter House or Burghley House, built in the 16th century by Lord Burghley as an expansion of an existing Tudor house. Exeter House was demolished in 1676 and Exeter Exchange built on the site. It was most famous for the menagerie that occupied its upper floors for over 50 years, from 1773 until 1829, when Exeter Exchange was demolished. It was replaced by Exeter Hall, noted for its Evangelical meetings. This was demolished in 1907 and the site is now occupied by the Strand Palace Hotel.
**Bedford House.
**Wimbledon House.

Apart from the rebuilt Somerset House, all of these grand buildings are now gone, and are overlaid by later streets lined by humbler tenements. These were built by property developers on the sites of the old mansions, from the 17th century onwards. A New Exchange was built on part of the gardens of Durham House, in 1608-9, facing the Strand. This high-class shopping centre enjoyed considerable popularity but was eventually destroyed in 1737.

After the demolition of most of the grand mansions and departure of their aristocratic residents for the West End the area acquired a dissolute but lively reputation and became notable for its coffee houses, low taverns and cheap women. The Dog and Duck tavern on Strand was famed as a venue for the conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot. In the time of the English Civil War, the Nag’s Head tavern was the venue of a meeting between Henry Ireton and some of the Levellers which resulted in the production of a document called the Remonstrance of the Army which demanded the abolition of the monarchy and the trial of King Charles I. In the 19th century the Coal Hole tavern, under the management of Renton Nicholson, was notable for song-and-supper evenings, tableaux vivants of scantily clad women in poses plastiques, and a ribald “Judge and Jury” show.

The church of St Clement Danes is believed to date from the 9th century, but the present building is a restoration of a 17th-century work by Christopher Wren that was gutted in the Blitz. Harold Harefoot (reigned 1035–40, one of England’s lesser known kings) is buried here. Since 1958 it has served as the central church of the Royal Air Force.

St Mary-le-Strand was designed by James Gibbs and completed in 1717, to replace a previous church demolished by Protector Somerset for building material for his adjacent Somerset House. Essex Street Chapel, the birthplace of British Unitarianism (1774), abuts onto the Strand; the post-Blitz building serves as the denominational headquarters.

The Strand was the hub of Victorian theatre and nightlife. However, redevelopment of the East Strand and the construction of the Aldwych and Kingsway roads in the 1890s and early years of the 20th century led to the loss of the Opera Comique, the Globe, the Royal Strand Theatre and the nearby Olympic Theatre. Other lost theatres include the Gaiety (closed 1939, demolished 1957), Terry’s (converted into a cinema 1910, demolished 1923), and the Tivoli (closed 1914 and later demolished; in 1923 the Tivoli Cinema opened on the site but was closed and demolished in 1957 to make way for Peter Robinson’s store).

Surviving theatres include the Adelphi, the Savoy and Vaudeville, and closely adjacent in Wellington Street the Lyceum.

Literary Connections
In the 19th century much of the Strand was rebuilt and the houses to the south no longer backed onto the Thames, separated from the river by the Victoria Embankment constructed in 1865–70. This moved the river some 50 metres (160 ft) further away. The Strand became a newly fashionable address and many avant-garde writers and thinkers gathered here, among them Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and the scientist Thomas Henry Huxley. No. 142 was the home of radical publisher and physician John Chapman, who not only published many of his contemporaries from this house during the 1850s, but also edited the Westminster Review for 42 years. The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a house guest. A lower grade of publishing was promoted at the east end of the Strand where Holywell Street was the hub of the Victorian pornography trade, until the street was physically eliminated by widening of the Strand in 1900. Virginia Woolf also writes about Strand in several of her essays, including “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” and her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. T.S. Eliot alludes to the Strand in his 1905 poem “At Graduation” and in his 1922 poem “The Waste Land” (part III, The Fire Sermon, v. 258: “and along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street”). John Masefield also refers to a “jostling in the Strand” in his well-known poem “On Growing Old.”

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The 19th Century Educational System (or Lack Thereof)

The 19th Century Educational System (or Lack Thereof)
“Public” schools were founded through generous donations for the male children of the towns of Eton and Harrow, and they were originally open to all. The concept of the “grammar” school came from the fact that Latin and Greek grammar was the basis of the program. Eventually, these public schools began to operate as private schools for the children of rich patrons.

These “public” schools were a social experiment in an era when education was patchwork at best. No national school system existed at the beginning of the 19th Century. The rich hired a governess to teach their female children and a tutor to educate their sons until the boys could go off to Eton, Harrow, Oxford, and Cambridge. Children of the poor were sent off to work the fields, or if fortunate, to an apprenticeship.

From Eton and Harrow of England, we learn,

“Eton College and Harrow School are both all-boy boarding schools. When the boys enter, they are 13 years old, and they spend five years before they graduate when they become 18 years old. Eton was established by King Henry VIII (1491-1541). Harrow started as an exclusive school for boys in 1243, but moved to the present location during the period of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603).

Until recently, most of the prime ministers came from Eton or Harrow. These schools used to teach their boys how to run the British empire. These days, they are interested in teaching them how to run international corporations. This does not appear to be an easy transition.”

Women were not taught Latin or Greek. From Making Home Life Attractive, we learn, “Gentlemen should not make use of classical quotations in the presence of ladies, without apologizing for or translating them. Even then, it should only be done when no other phrase can so aptly express their meaning. Much display of learning is pedantic and out of place in a drawing room. All topics especially interesting to gentlemen, such as the turf, the exchange, or the farm, should be excluded from general conversation. Men should also remember that all ladies are not interested in politics, and dwell, of preference, upon such subjects as they are sure to be acquainted with. Never talk upon subjects of which you know nothing, unless it be for the purpose of acquiring information. Many young ladies and gentlemen imagine that, because they play a little, sing a little, draw a little, frequent exhibitions and operas, and so forth, they are qualified judges of art. No mistake is more egregious or universal. The young should never be critical. A young person of either sex can but appear ridiculous when satirizing books, people, or things: opinion, to be worth the consideration of others, should have the advantage of maturity.”

The idea of children not able to read their Bibles spearheaded the movement toward true public education. In 1811, the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church was formed. By 1839, Parliament took up the cause of these “national” schools. In that year, Parliament granted 30,000 pounds to the running of these open schools.

The “national” schools ran on what was known as a monitorial system, meaning teachers taught monitors (selected students), who then taught the enrolled children. This system evolved into “training colleges,” another term for a teacher’s college.

In 1862, standards were implemented to set a “standardized” program for all children. These standards included the 3R’s.

Posted in British history, customs and tradiitons, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

From Where Does That Phrase Come? A Bit of Slang

images-1 Slang, consists of a lexicon of non-standard words and phrases in a given language. Use of these words and phrases is typically associated with the subversion of a standard variety (such as Standard English) and is likely to be interpreted by listeners as implying particular attitudes on the part of the speaker. In some contexts a speaker’s selection of slang words or phrases may convey prestige, indicating group membership or distinguishing group members from those who are not a part of the group.

A bad egg
This bit of “slang” did not develop until the mid 1800s. Today, the phrase refers to someone or something that disappoints or does not meet expectations. Shakespeare had used the word “egg” to refer to a young person, as in Macbeth when the murderers seeking Macduff meet up with his young son and kill the boy. “What you egg! Young fry of treachery!” The earliest use of the word to connote “disappointment” comes from the Milwaukee Daily American (September 1856). “Mayor Woods is moving heaven and earth to procure his renomination. One of his dodges is, to get up letters in the newspaper, pretending to emanate from ‘distinguished citizens,’ including merchants, mechanics and working men, soliciting him in the most pathetic terms to present himself to the dear people. There are also on the list a number of notorious blacklegs whom Woods keeps in pay. He is a bad egg.”

To fly the coop
This is another bit of slang, which likely dates back to the nineteenth century. It has come to mean to run off, to escape, or to depart abruptly. “Coop” is criminal cant for prison or jail. The phrase has come to mean an unceremonious departure. “Coop” finds its roots in Middle English coupe for “basket” or Norwegian kaup for “wooden can.”

Iron Curtain
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, coined this phrase following WWII. On 5 March 1946, he expressed his misgivings regarding European politics at Fulton, Missouri, where he was receiving an honorary degree from Westminster College. He said, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” The Iron Curtain symbolizes the ideological conflict and physical boundary diving Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Etymology: Possibly a corruption of cage, from Old French; as a noun cadge it finds meaning in falconry to refer to a circular frame on which cadgers carry hawks for sale. As a verb, it can be used (US, UK, slang) to mean to obtain something by wit or guile; to convince someone to do something they might not normally do or in (UK, Scotland, dialect) meaning too carry, as a burden; To hawk or peddle, as fish, poultry, etc., or To intrude or live on another meanly; to beg.

To Lie in One’s Teeth
This phrase means to lie grossly or maliciously: If she told you exactly the opposite of what she told me, she must be lying in her teeth. Also, lie through one’s teeth. The origin comes to us before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English lyge; cognate with German Lüge, Old Norse lygi; akin to Gothic liugn; (v.) Middle English lien, Old English lēogan (intransitive); cognate with German lügen, Old Norse ljūga, Gothic liugan. The phrase is thought to have made its way into the language in the early 1300s, as in The Romances of Sir Guy of Warwick: and Remburn His Son. “Thou liest amidward and therefore have thou maugreth (shown ill will).”

On tenterhooks
This phrase means to be in a state of anxious suspense. A “tenter” is a frame or endless track with hooks or clips along two sides that is used for drying and stretching cloth. It comes to us from Middle English teyntur, probably from Medieval Latin tentura, from tenta tent frame or tent. Its first known use was in the 14th century. Because of the tenter’s similarity to the rack in its construction, the term “tenterhooks” became to be known for its suspended tension.

Rope of sand
This phrase means something of no cohesion or stability: a feeble union or tie. It is used ironically to describe a treaty or a contract, meaning a paper with no binding power over the two parties involved. Sir Francis Bacon used the phrase as such, “to knit a rope of sand.” Samuel Butler (in 1712) wrote “I leave to my said children a great chest full of broken promises and cracked oaths; likewise a vast cargo of ropes made of sand.” The Urban Dictionary calls it a running joke used in academic writing. The phrase, purposefully meaningless and ambivalent, is used after a colon to “spice up” a title.
The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire: A Rope of Sand
Organ Transplant Rejection: A Rope of Sand
My Summer Vacation: A Rope of Sand

Unknown Too big for one’s breeches
This one likely dates back to the mid 1100s. It means to assert oneself beyond his authority or ability. It comes from our pride in trying to impress another. The first print version of the phrase comes to us from H. G. Wells in 1905, but it was in wide use in the spoken language long before that time. Other versions of the phrase include “too big for one’s boots,” “he of the swelled buttocks,” and “swellhead.”

To go berserk
This phrase means to behave in a frenzied and violent manner. This term has something in common with ‘run amok’. The two phrases, as well as sounding rather similar, mean virtually the same thing. Their sources though could hardly be further apart. ‘Run amok’ derives from the Far East, whereas ‘go berserk’ is of Viking (Norse) origin. In that tradition a ‘Berserker’ was a warrior of great strength and courage, who fought with wild ferocity. The word is believed to be derived from ‘bear sark’, that is, bear coat. That berserker fighting tradition, in which the warriors took on the spirit (or even in their belief, the shape) of bears whilst foaming at the mouth and gnawing the edges of their shields, is the source of the Vikings’ fierce reputation. It dates back to the first millennium but had died out by the 1100s and thereafter the word berserker didn’t feature widely in the English language until the 19th century. There is a rival, but less widely accepted, version of the derivation. In this the Vikings were supposed to show their bravery by going into battle with their sark jackets open, that is, ‘bare-sark’.
Who better to bring the word to our notice than that inveterate reviver of historical stories, Sir Walter Scott? In his 1822 book ‘Pirate’, he wrote:
“The berserkars were so called from fighting without armour.”
It was quite some time before the word began to be used in the figurative sense, that is, for it to be applied to people who ‘went berserk’ without an allusion to Viking warriors. Rudyard Kipling’s book Diversity of Creatures, 1908 has:
“You went Berserk. I’ve read all about it in Hypatia … you’ll probably be liable to fits of it all your life.”
The first reference to the actual use of the term ‘go berserk’ is in the obscure US newspaper the La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, 1919:
“With hungry Russians crowding in from the east, a hungry Germany may shortly toss its new conventions after the old and go berserk in the teeth of the cannon.” (The Phrase Finderimages-1)

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UK “Real” Estate: All Hallows-by-the-Tower

250px-AllHallowsByTheTowerChurchAll Hallows-by-the-Tower, also previously dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin and sometimes known as All Hallows Barking, is an ancient Anglican church on Byward Street in the City of London, overlooking the Tower of London. The church and Tower Hill play a role in the climax of my current Work in Progress (WIP), a cozy mystery.

Founded in 675, it is one of the oldest churches in London and contains, inside, a 7th-century Saxon arch with recycled Roman tiles, the oldest surviving piece of church fabric in the city. (St. Pancras Parish Church in King’s Cross has been a place of Christian worship since the sixth century.)

All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established in 675 by the Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church was built on the site of a former Roman building, traces of which have been discovered in the crypt. It was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th and 15th centuries. Its proximity to the Tower of London meant that it acquired royal connections, with Edward IV making one of its chapels a royal chantry and the beheaded victims of Tower executions being sent for temporary burial at All Hallows.

The church was badly damaged by an explosion in 1650 caused when some barrels of gunpowder being stored in the churchyard exploded; its west tower and some 50 nearby houses were destroyed, and there were many fatalities. The tower was rebuilt in 1658, the only example of work carried out on a church during the Commonwealth era of 1649-1660. It only narrowly survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and owes its survival to Admiral William Penn, father of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame, who had his men from a nearby naval yard demolish the surrounding buildings to create firebreaks. During the Great Fire, Samuel Pepys climbed the church’s spire to watch the progress of the blaze and what he described as “the saddest sight of desolation.”

Restored in the late 19th century, All Hallows was gutted by German bombers during the Blitz in World War II and required extensive reconstruction, only being rededicated in 1957.

Many portions of the old church survived the War and have been sympathetically restored. Its outer walls are 15th-century, with a 7th-century Saxon arch doorway surviving from the original church, which is the oldest piece of church material in London. Many brasses remain in the interior (where one of London’s brass rubbing centres is now located). Three outstanding wooden statues of saints dating from the 15th and 16th centuries can also be found in the church, as can an exquisite Baptismal font cover which was carved in 1682 by Grinling Gibbons for ₤12, and which is regarded as one of the finest pieces of carving in London. In 1999, the AOC Archaeology Group excavated the cemetery and made many significant discoveries.

The church has a museum called the Undercroft Museum, containing portions of a Roman pavement which together with many artefacts was discovered many feet below the church in 1926. The exhibits focus on the history of the church and the City of London, and include Saxon and religious artefacts. Also on display are the church’s registers dating back to the 16th century, and notable entries include the baptism of William Penn, the marriage of John Quincy Adams, and the burial of Archbishop William Laud. Laud remained buried in a vault in the chapel for over 20 years; it was moved during the Restoration to St. John’s College, Oxford.

The altar in the crypt is of plain stone from the castle of Richard I at Athlit in The Holy Land.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower has been the Guild church of Toc H since 1922. The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

Notable People Associated with the Church
**John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States: married 1797
**Judge Jeffreys, notorious “hanging judge”: married 1667
**William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury: beheaded at the Tower, buried 1645
**Thomas More, beheaded at the Tower for refusing to sign Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy: buried 1535
**John Fisher, beheaded at the Tower: buried
**Lancelot Andrewes: baptised 1555
**William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania: baptised 1644
**Albert Schweitzer, made organ recordings at All Hallows
**Philip Clayton, also known as ‘Tubby’, former vicar and founder of Toc H
**Cecil Thomas, a sculptor who provided several funerary figures between the Wars

1269 John de S Magnus
1292 William de Gattewicke
1312 Gilbert de Wygeton
1317 Walter Grapynell
1333 Maurice de Jenninge
1351 John Foucher
1352 Nicholas Janing
1365 Thomas de Broke
1376 Thomas de Dalby
1379 Laurence de Kagrer
1387 William Colles
1387 Robert Caton
1390 Nicholas Bremesgrove
– Jo Clerke
1419 John Harlyston
1427 W. Northwold
1431 John Iford
1434 Thomas Virley
1454 John Machen
1454 John Wyne
14- John Walker
1468 Thomas Laas
1475 Robert Segrym
1478 Richard Baldry
1483 William Talbot
1492 Edmund Chaderton
1493 Rad Derlove
1504 William Gedding
1512 William Pattenson
1525 Robert Carter
1530 John Naylor
1542 William Dawes
1565 William Tyewhit
1584 Richard Wood
1591 Thomas Ravis
1598 Robert Tyghe
1616 Edward Abbott
1654 Edward Layfield
1680 George Hickes
1686 John Gaskarth
1732 William Geeke
1767 George Stinton
1783 Samuel Johnes Knight
1852 John Thomas
1884 Arthur James Mason
1895 A.W. Robinson
1917 C.E. Lambert
1922 Philip Byard Clayton
1963 Colin Cuttell
1977 Peter Delaney
2005 Bertrand Olivier

The Organ
170px-All_Hallows-by-the-Tower_Organ,_London,_UK_-_Diliff The earliest records of an organ in All Hallows is one by Anthony Duddyngton dating from 1521. This was presumably lost during the English Civil War.

An organ was installed in 1675 by Thomas and Renatus Harris. In 1720 a new case was built by Gerard Smith. The organ was restored and improved by George Pike England in 1813, Bunting in 1872 and 1878, and Gray and Davison in 1902. There was further work by Harrison and Harrison in 1909 and 1928. After destruction in 1940, a new organ by Harrison and Harrison was installed in 1957.

Albertus Bryne II (or Bryan) 1675-1713
Charles Young 1713-1758
Charles John Frederick Lampe 1758-1767
Samuel Bowyer 1767-1770
Charles Knyvett and William Smethergell 1770-1783
William Smethergell 1783-1823
Mary Morrice 1823-1840
Lisetta Rist 1840-1880
Arthur Poyser
Gordon Phillips 1956-1991
Jonathan Melling

Posted in British history, buildings and structures, Great Britain, Living in the UK, real life tales, religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The London Monster” and Piquerism

1 May 1790, artist's depiction of the London Monster attacking a woman. The likeness was created from various reports from alleged victims and before the arrest of Rhynwick Williams.

1 May 1790, artist’s depiction of the London Monster attacking a woman. The likeness was created from various reports from alleged victims and before the arrest of Rhynwick Williams.

The London Monster was the name given to an alleged attacker of women in London between 1788 and 1790. The attacker had a signature behavior of piquerism, the pricking or stabbing of victims with a knife, pin or needle.

First reports of the Monster appeared in 1788. According to the victims (most of them from wealthier families), a large man had followed them, shouted obscenities and stabbed them in the buttocks. Some reports claimed an attacker had knives fastened to his knees. Other accounts reported that he would invite prospective victims to smell a fake nosegay and then stab them in the face with the spike hiding within the flowers.

In all cases the alleged assailant would escape before help arrived. Some women were found with their clothes, cut and others had substantial wounds. In two years the number of reported victims amounted to more than 50.

The press soon named the maniac The Monster. However, descriptions of the attacker varied greatly. When people realized the Monster attacked mainly beautiful women, some women began to claim that they had been attacked to gain attention and sympathy. Some of them even faked wounds. Some men, in turn, were afraid to approach a lady in the dark lest they scare her. Some of the reports of the would-be-attacks were likely to be fabrications or results of a lady being afraid of an innocent man who had somehow attracted suspicion. Some men even founded a No Monster Club and began to wear club pins on their lapels to show that they were not the Monster.

Londoners were outraged when the Bow Street Runners, the London police force, failed to capture the man. Philanthropist John Julius Angerstein promised a reward of £100 for capture of the perpetrator. Armed vigilantes began to patrol in the city. Fashionable ladies began to wear copper pans over their petticoats. There were false accusations and attacks against suspicious people. Local pickpockets and other criminals used the panic to their advantage; they picked someone’s valuables, pointed at him, shouted “Monster!”, and escaped during the resulting mayhem.

In 1790 an unemployed 23-year-old man, Rhynwick Williams, was arrested on suspicion of being the Monster. After two trials, he was sentenced to six years in prison, but historians question whether the conviction was sound.

Arrest of Rhynwick Williams
On 13 June 1790, Anne Porter claimed she had spotted her attacker in St. James’s Park. Her admirer, John Coleman, began a slow pursuit of the man, who realised he was being followed. When Rhynwick Williams, an unemployed 23-year-old, reached his house, Coleman confronted him, accusing him of insulting a lady, and challenged him to a duel. He eventually took Williams to meet Porter, who fainted when she saw him.

Williams protested his innocence but, given the climate of panic, it was futile. He admitted that he had once approached Porter but had an alibi for another of the attacks. Magistrates charged Williams with defacing clothing — a crime that in the Bloody Code carried harsher penalty than assault or attempted murder. During the trial, spectators cheered the witnesses for the prosecution and insulted those for the defence. One of the claimed victims confessed that she had not been attacked at all.

Realizing the absurdity of the situation, Williams was granted a retrial. In the new trial Williams’ defence lawyer was Irish poet Theophilus Swift, whose tactic was to accuse Porter of a scheme to collect the reward, Porter having married Coleman, who had received the reward money. Despite the fact a number of alleged victims gave contradictory stories and coworkers testified he had an alibi for the most famous attack, Williams was convicted on three counts and sentenced to two years each, for a total of six years in prison.

Historians have speculated whether Williams was the culprit and have even questioned whether the London Monster existed at all beyond the hysteria. Reports of Monster-like attacks continued to be reported for many years, although they lessened somewhat while Williams was imprisoned.

Posted in British history, Georgian Era, gothic and paranormal, Great Britain, legends and myths, Living in the UK, mystery, real life tales | Tagged , | 2 Comments