My second wander through Topsham’s hidden past and present, visiting a few pubs, some secret gardens, and exploring the notorious history of White Street. New insights too into the transportation of female convicts who were shipped from Topsham to Tasmania.
Topsham loves to celebrate – from Charter Day to Christmas Carols at the oldest pub in town. My exploration of our local festivities includes the scandal of a clergyman involved in illegal Tar Barrel Rolling, and a newly revived Wassail ceremony, complete with a robin and a shotgun. There’s also a favourite Topsham recipe that you won’t find anywhere else!
Come with me upriver from Topsham, finding our way along the narrowest path in the town, and discover stories of the River Exe and other tales too of rats, recreation, lime kilns, a tumble into the mud and the mysterious Ting Tong. Not forgetting the elegant Retreat House which marks the end of my walk before the tide cuts me off!
This is the third exploration of Hidden Topsham, which covers two saints, several cats, a house of disrepute, a link between guano and a Topsham terrace, and a lost pier on the river. I can promise you an interesting amble through the town, with a few surprises along the way.!
This is part one a look at ‘Hidden Topsham’, and it’s a series of invitations for you to explore certain nooks and crannies of the town. One of the delights I’ve experienced from living in Topsham is the continual discovery of features and stories which are hidden from normal view. Follow me around the town to meet up with an old fishing trawler, the shade of Thomas Hardy, a listed telegraph pole, and the strange story of a secret sect. Topsham is a town of unexpected twists and turns, as I’ll reveal!
‘…There’s whisky in the jar!’ – A tuneful roar of voices giving out the last line of the chorus…a moment’s hush…a thunder of clapping – laughter – chairs scraping on the floor – feet rushing, coming my way, downstairs. I make my way up, cradling my guitar carefully, against the flow. Smell of cigarette smoke, faint wash of stale beer, touch of rough jackets, knobbly jumpers as I push my way up and through into the warm fug of the club room…This is the story of my love affair with folk music in the 1960s, beginning in the back room of Birmingham pubs and ending with a visit to Cecilia Costello, an old lady renowned for her compelling version of ‘The Grey Cock’, also known as ‘The Lover’s Ghost’. Along the way there was a showdown with my headmistress, a friendship with Radio Ballads producer Charles Parker, and many meetings with delightful Irish singers. I hope you’ll find it entertaining! And there are a few musical recordings to enjoy as well.
Happy New Year! Here’s a round-up of Cherry’s Cache since it started up last spring. With updates on old favourites like Cosmo the ‘six-dinner-Sid’ cat of Topsham, and a tribute to Spitalfields Life and the blogging course that started me off here. I’ll also reveal how my Twelfth Night Cake (or is it a loaf?) turned out!
Over a thousand years ago, an Irish monk sat in his cell in the depths of the night, watching his cat hunt for mice as he tried to write a philosophical text. However, what he composed that night was in fact a poem, a touching tribute to Pangur Ban, the white cat who kept him company. Enchanted by the poem, I looked a little further into the role of cats in old Ireland and medieval society, and have illustrated it with portraits of cats from the period.
We’re about to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. Or are we? The calendar at this time of year is a complex tangle of Old Christmas, New Year, Ephiphany, Twelfth Night Old and New, which is surprisingly hard to navigate! Here I uncover the fundamental tradition, of the twelve days which are ‘time out’, both for humans and as part of a strange astronomical phenomenon. With examples from Russia, Spain and the UK.
Happy New Year, dear readers! This is the 42nd post I’ve written for Cherry’s Cache. The site was launched in April, with three posts already in place, and they’ve gone up at weekly intervals since. So, I’ve been kept busy through lockdown and through a very mixed year – a year of challenges for all …