Eliza Meteyard’s “A Pottery Holiday”

Another important local text found. Eliza Meteyard’s account, with lots of local Stoke dialect, of “A Pottery Holiday” circa 1876.


Possibly she was not quite as deaf as some academics have claimed, given her ear for dialect. Either that, or she was an awesomely good lip-reader and could do so ‘in dialect’.

Given this text, and her novel Dora and her Papa, one suspects there’s more Stoke/Moorlands material in her body of work (other than the Wedgwood books). Apparently she knew William Woodall of Burslem, as well as Thomas Bateman.

The Great Frost Fair at Shrewsbury

As the heatwave continues… “Shrewsbury During the Great Frost of 1739”. A new paper on a Shropshire ‘Frost Fair’ during the Little Ice Age.

“Town of Shrewsbury Taken as it appear’d in the Great Frost 1739”

The colour cast hasn’t been adjusted on the above document, so it looks like summer. Here’s my quick icy recolour…

Unused pictures from the Gawain book

Unused pictures from the Gawain book:

1260, Lomoges, France.

Burne-Jones, Gawain, 1893.

Hart Badge of Richard II.

Hans Burgkmair, boar hunter, 1517.

Pony track, Edale, the Peak district. Not on route, but indicative of the better upland tracks of the time. In the 1370s there probably wasn’t quite as much sheep-driven devastation of the upland vegetation, especially in the hunting areas.

New Book – Strange Country: Sir Gawain in the moorlands of North Staffordshire

New and available now, the book Strange Country: Sir Gawain in the moorlands of North Staffordshire.

Buy now in 6 x 9″ paperback. $35 U.S., with 40% introductory discount for a limited time

Preview PDF: Cover, table of contents, first page, and main index. In the purchased book there is also another index, for all the new discoveries.

Blurb: This book makes a clear case that one of the most famous works of English literature, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, belongs to North Staffordshire. Obvious new candidates for both the Gawain-poet’s patron and Bertilak’s castle are suggested, and these are found to fit naturally and almost exactly when compared with the expected dates of the poem, the features of the castle, the known dialect locations, and the patron’s likely social status and life-story. A wealth of surrounding detail is also explored, such as: the history and role of the King’s Champion at the royal coronation; English contacts with full-blooded paganism during the Prussian crusades; the two lavish medieval courts at Tutbury; and the rich history and poetry of the Manifold Valley and the Peak. This 220-page book is well illustrated and copiously referenced with footnotes. There is a bibliography and index. 60,000 words.

Bram Stoker Awards: new ‘Short Non-Fiction’ award

I’m not one to take notice of sci-fi / fantasy / horror “Awards” these days, as most seem to have been taken over by the far-left as political platforms. But I’ve heard nothing untoward yet about the Bram Stoker Awards, so it’s good to see that the Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the addition of a new “Short Non-Fiction” category to its Bram Stoker Awards…

“Works qualifying for the new award category include magazine articles, short essays, and academic papers, all of which must be at least 2,000 words but less than 40,000 words. The works must be published in a book (print or e-format), a magazine (print or online), or an academic monograph.”

Rather sniffily, they also say…

Under no circumstances will consideration be given to personal websites, newsletters, or blogs.

So if (like me) you’re in the habit of doing rough ‘thought-doodles’ for your forthcoming book, and posting them as blog posts, then presumably you’re not going to be eligible if those early posts stay online after the book is published?

Dora and her Papa

Another local tale, found, via a note in Notes and Queries, 10th February 1900…

“Eliza Meteyard, a short story titled “Dora and her Papa [: A Story for Children]” … “The story is written in Miss Meteyard’s most fascinating style, and brings before the young readers many antiquarian and historical subjects in such a way that they are easily understood and appreciated … some of the principal characters in the story are drawn largely from actual life from persons whom Miss Meteyard knew. Mr. Flaxdale (Dora’s ‘papa’) was taken from the late Mr. Thomas Bateman, of Lomberdale House, Derbyshire the well-known antiquary [and barrow-opener]; and the original Hornblower was Mr. Samuel Carrington, the village schoolmaster of Wetton, Staffordshire, a frequent contributor to the early numbers of the Reliquary, a self-taught, but learned geologist, who supplied more than one museum with rare geological specimens. The vivid description of the opening of a barrow [ancient tumulus] is a faithful account of one actually opened by Mr. Bateman, and I may add that a portion, probably a good portion, of the book was written during a visit of the authoress to Lomberdale House [near Bakewell, seat of Thomas Bateman].”

Perhaps it was once a “short story”, but the Routledge book version apparently had 392 pages. The author of the Note appears to be confused himself, as he also refers to it as a “book”. Sadly it’s one of those baffling Victorian books by a noted author that are, for unknown reasons, available nowhere online. There’s not even a copy at Project Gutenberg Australia.

So this Victorian “Dora the Explorer” is unavailable. According to one short review the first chapters are local (perhaps the original short story?), but thereafter Dora and her antiquarian father see the great antiquarian sites of England (Uriconium, Hadrian’s Wall, Saxon Kent, etc). Possibly the most valuable bits today would be the descriptions of Thomas Bateman’s collection rooms, and the “vivid” account of the local barrow opening, and pen-portraits of Carrington and and Bateman.

“Samuel Carrington was Bateman’s lieutenant in Staffordshire. A village schoolmaster at Wetton, he was described by Roache Smith [in Retrospections, Vol. 1, 1883] as ‘a very intelligent man; a good geologist; and an enthusiastic excavator of tumuli’. Smith noted penetratingly: ‘Seldom are such men appreciated and I fear he was not an exception to the fate of the worthy unselfish poor.” “Carrington appears to have begun working with Bateman in the spring of 1845.” […] “Carrington appears to have been a most conscientious and worthy servant. He had a deep interest in archaeology and proved a scrupulous and enthusiastic antiquary.” […] “Judging from later articles in The Reliquary, and notes in Jewitt’s diary, Carrington continued to interest himself in archaeology for some years after Bateman’s death.” (Barry M. Marsden, The Early Barrow-Diggers, Noyes, 1974, pages 43-45).

Update: got it. Some ping-pong between Canada and a VPN proxy in Singapore unlocked what may be spurious copyright-blocks (on a book from the 1860s), and magicked up the PDF download. Sadly the text on several pages is “clipped off” down one side. One page is slightly slurred down half of one edge. But it’s otherwise quite readable.