Much garden digging finds an ancient coin

Here’s one of my untold stories. As a family, and when I was a teenager, we’d moved to a new home in Albrighton in southern Shropshire.

The unmade rear garden needed digging. My brother and I were to share the work. One day, when it had been my turn, and I’d been at the task for a while, I uncovered a small dull coin. Washing off the dirt, I soon realised it was an old silver coin, the vintage I couldn’t guess at.

The rest of the family weren’t around with whom to share my discovery. I imagine you know what happens next. Yes, I carried on digging over the ground, hoping to find more. Unfortunately none were found.

When the family returned, they were surprised at how much digging of the garden I’d accomplished. I said to my pater that I thought he’d planted the coin in the ground to encourage our efforts. It was a good story told be me at the local pub, where the coin was duly inspected by one and all.

Decades later, and I mean decades, the coin was passed to me. Only this time I determined to find out what it was. No better place to go than Spink & Son in London to unravel the coin’s heritage.

Shocked, I tell you, shocked. It’s a Henry VI silver Groat, issued at the Calais mint between 1422 – 1430. So, almost 600 years old. A groat was worth fourpence. It’s Spink catalogue no.1836, if you’d like to know more about it, with some photos HERE. The coin says on the front face, Henry, King of England and France. Oh, how we might that still wish to be the case.

Here are the photos of my coin, obverse and reverse.
Here’s the meaning of the lettering on the coin.

Obverse: Crowned facing portrait of Henry VI, annulets at neck, legend around
Lettering: hEnRIC DI GRA REX AnGL Z FRANC
Translation: Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France

Reverse: Long cross with pellets in angles, annulets linking pellets in two opposing angles, legend around in two circles
Lettering: POSVI DEVM ADIVTORE MEUM
VILLA CALISIE
Translation: I have made God my helper Town of Calais

If you’re really, really, keen to know more about hammered groats, the THIS AUCTION CATALOGUE should be your source.

Spotted by a retired policeman: What’s wrong in the photo?

We had a long conversation to the person standing next to us at the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth. He happened to be a retired policeman. We were facing him, while he also could look over our shoulders. Here’s what he saw. What’s wrong in this photo?

We’re pooped, and that’s not in a nautical sense

All the early starts for milestone cleaning, and even earlier for witnessing a big ship enter harbour, has us pooped, an adjective for very tired. Not the nautical pooped, which means to be overwhelmed by a wave from behind, where the stern of the ship is also referred to as the poop.

So, blogging will be light.

The Navy put on a show for HMS Queen Elizabeth

The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth to its home port of Portsmouth attracted thousands of spectators. I don’t know, is there another nation that celebrates in such numbers the arrival of a ship into port? Maybe it’s because we’re an island nation and naval power is important to our survival.

We stood by the Square Tower, on the historic fortifications, close by the Sally port where Nelson left to fight the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Royal Navy put on a show for today’s arrival. Sailors of HMS Queen Elizabeth lined the decks, and as the huge ship, majestically, arrived at Portsmouth it was accompanied by numerous helicopters, and also a couple of fighter jets. The throng of spectators were kept informed through a helpful public address system.

Spotting a business opportunity, a flag seller was doing good business with Union Jacks, as were Royal Navy staff. Being there, and witnessing the large ship ever built for the Royal Navy, gave a sense of pride, wonder, and not a little emotion. With the public address, helicopters and cheering crowds, it was a noisy event. I’ll write more about the day later. We’re now off to a reception. and will be completely at the end of this evening.

Police visit us while we’re cleaning milestones

Yesterday morning was the second morning this week that Reg Davis and I have been cleaning milestones in Surrey Heath.

We cleaned three, and we thought we’d done well. While brushing of the dirt and lichen of the milestone just prior to the traffic lights by the BP petrol station, a police car stopped by us. The policeman put on his hi-viz jacket and cap and came over to us. He said,

Gentlemen, we’ve had reports of people attempting to steal a milestone.

Oh, how we chuckled, and me then wittering about the history of the milestones and the Bedfont to Bagshot Turnpike Trust. Many thanks to the Surrey Policeman for joining the photo with Reg Davis.

My report and video of HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving at Portsmouth will be posted here later today

We’ll be at Southsea, or wherever we can get a good position, to see HMS Queen Elizabeth arrive at Portsmouth at 0710 am. Should be quite a sight, as I image all the sailors on board will line the ship, if not I’ll be mega-disappointed.

When we get back home, I’ll work on my report and a video of the arrival, and post it here. It’s sure to be in the TV News.

Fully kitted out in Hi-Viz wear for milestone cleaning

I think I may have mentioned, in the past, that I’m a member of the Milestone Society – dedicated to researching and preserving milestones.

At the instigation of Reg Davis, a friend of Surrey Heath Museum, he and I have committed to clean all of the milestones in Surrey Heath. After our vigorous cleaning with a brush and soap and water, we’ll apply a coat of paint, pick out the letters in black paint, and surrounding the base of the milestone with a small amount of gravel/white stones.

When finished, they’ll look splendid. Amazingly, none of the milestones in Surrey Heath are listed, and look what happened to the one by Camberley Glass on the A30. So, think I’ll ask a question at the next Surrey Heath Council meeting to seek their commitment to acquire it for them. Neighbouring County Councils have listed the majority of their milestones.

Reg and I cleaned two milestones yesterday, this morning we’ll be out again, hoping to clean two more. Here’s the before and after photos of our work yesterday.