Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Rhenish Tower, Lynmouth.

The tower today taken by Graham Young
One of the most iconic (and most photographed/painted/tapestried – we tried to get as many images in as possible here!) buildings in Lynmouth is the Rhenish Tower on the Esplanade. A curious shape, it certainly got our attention when we first moved here to St Vincent’s.

The tower pre-flood

Research told us that the Rhenish Tower was built by General Rawdon to store salt water to be pumped to the Bath Hotel / his own house, the reasons vary, for indoor salt baths. It was later fitted with an electric light for use as a beacon for mariners and fisherman.

With build dates varying between 1831 and 1860, it apparently imitates the look-out towers on the Rhine in Germany, although there is also some discussion that General Rawdon was supposed to have taken the design from a picture of a tower on the coast of modern Lebanon. Take your pick.

The tower swept away in 1952

Listed in 1950 as a grade II building, the tower stood untouched until the flood of 1952 when it was completely destroyed. It was rebuilt two years later along with the infrastructure of the rest of Lynmouth.

Another local B&B has made a lovely short film on the history of the tower and you can see it here.

By Graham Young
The tower pre-flood

A certain Mr Tugwell said in 1863 that the Rhenish is '... on the whole, of no great use...', Maybe, but it is a beautiful and original landmark!


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What3words – really worth knowing! tortoises.sprouts.reinforce

While sitting in our local the Crown a couple of days ago and chatting to a coastguard rescue friend, we discovered what3words. One of us being a complete luddite technophobe (won’t tell you which one) nearly fell off his stool with the witchcraftery that is this new app. If you find yourself lost somewhere and don’t have co-ordinates info – you can use your 3 words to locate yourself and so you can be found, for example.

So, what it is it? Well, here goes – in their own words:

"Map pins aren’t accurate. Searching for the right entrance wastes time. Duplicate street names are confusing – there are 271 First Streets in California. Many places don’t have addresses – the start of a hiking trail, pop-ups and even homes. 3 word addresses are unique, more precise than postcodes and available in over 35 languages. To prevent mistakes, similar 3 word addresses are placed as far apart as possible. what3words is a really simple way to talk about location. We have assigned each 3m square in the world a unique 3 word address that will never change. For example ///filled.count.soap marks the exact entrance to what3words’ London headquarters. 3 word addresses are easy to say and share, and are as accurate as GPS coordinates. 51.520847, -0.19552100 ←→ /// filled.count.soap Our vision is to become a global standard for communicating location. People use what3words to find their tents at festivals, navigate to B&Bs, and to direct emergency services to the right place."

Needless to say, we have had hours of fun. Our guest lounge is twinkled.scrub.polices, the front door is elevated.entrusted.earlobes and the kitchen is kitchen tortoises.sprouts.reinforce. These all link to the google maps page too.

Get the app here!

The things you learn in a pub.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Blake Family in 1881 at St Vincent Villa and the Rise of Victorian Photography

The Victorian Family at St Vincent's

Since coming here and beginning research into our home, we have been delighted that three families
Sara Madeline Blake's birth certificate 1881
who have links with St Vincent’s have been in touch. One such relation, Mary, has got in contact with us from America. It was her maternal grandmother, Madeline Lynton Blake who was born here on 1 August 1881 and Mary kindly sent us some more information about Madeline Blake’s family and this rather beautiful photo of her siblings (below) before she was born in 1881.

At the time of the 1881 census, Madeline’s mother Elizabeth Blake was living in St Vincent Villa with her three children: Michal Adams Blake, William Reuben Blake (born in the Globe at the back of St Vincent’s where they lived before they moved here), and Elizabeth Mary Blake (who died in 1883). William Reuben is recorded in the 1881 census with his paternal grandparents, William Blake and Elizabeth Bulled in Morebath. Also living at St Vincent Villa was Elizabeth’s brother, William Hill. Elizabeth, Michal Adams, William Reuben and Madeline left England for the US in 1884 to join husband/father, William Bulled Blake, who arrived in New York in April 1881.

The Rise of Victorian Photography

Elizabeth with William Reuben 
and Elizabeth Mary
Seeing these beautiful photographs, especially the one of the three children by local photographer J D Vickery (above) in his studio in Barnstaple (and you can see many more of his images here) made us think about the rise of photography in the Victorian era. The invention of photography can be credited to Louis Daguerre, who first introduced the concept to the French Academy of Sciences in 1839. That same year, Robert Cornelius produced what is considered the first photographic self-portrait (who new selfies were such an old fashioned concept!). Portrait studios then started springing up the next year but at that time cameras were expensive and ordinary people couldn't afford to buy them. The relatively low cost of the Daguerreotype developed a few years later and the reduced sitting time for the subject, though still much longer than now, led to a general rise in the popularity of portrait photography over painted portraiture.

Taken from life: The Unsettling Art of Death Photography

It is the youngest child here who was no longer alive
As well as taking images of live people, the Victorians also took photos of loved ones after they had died. We came across this BBC article which explains “Photographs of loved ones taken after they died may seem morbid to modern sensibilities. But in Victorian England, they became a way of commemorating the dead and blunting the sharpness of grief”. You can read the full, slightly macabre, article here.