Famous composer Sir Edward Elgar was a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan

It’s frankly amazing what you can find on the Internet. I won’t bore you with the sequence of links to where I ended up, just to tell you that I happened on a new online literary science publication called Nautilus, whose first issue was April this year.

They say that, “Each month we choose a single topic and each Thursday we published a new chapter on that topic online.”

275px-Edward_ElgarThe current month’s topic is Secret Codes. Within this topic, in Chapter 3 published on October 17th, is an article on how ‘Composer Sir Edward Elgar still has cryptographers playing his tune.

“On July 14, 1897, following a visit the previous weekend to some family friends, the Reverend and Mrs. Alfred Penny, Elgar spun off what looked like a drawing or scribble and gave it to his wife, Alice, to attach to a thank-you note. It was intended for Dora Penny, a 23-year-old ardent admirer, who sang in a local choral group and liked to dance.

They’d known each for a year and a half; she was not a lover, rather an entertainment, a colorful Aquarian butterfly with which to go biking, kiting, and strolling through the bracken and harebells of Malvern; someone who could read music well enough to turn the pages at the piano bench, but with whom he could also could talk about maps, fashion, and the fortunes of the Wolverhampton Wanderers football team.”

Nautilus is a site I’ll be sure to visit again.

Hat tip: Wikipedia for image.

Pronouncing Scotch names, like Bruichladdich

Scotch whisky buffs will no doubt be able to pronounce the names of the many varieties of Scotch.

Me, I’d struggle. Now though, Hollywood film actor, and Scotsman, Brian Cox pronounces over forty names of Scotch. I’ve listened, enrapt, to Brian Cox pronounce the names. Me, I still struggle with names like Bruichladdich or Auchentoshan, and content myself that I can pronounce Jura, Oban, Springbank, Bowmore and Highland Park.


Friday Fact No 10: Chobham’s lost villages

The village of Chobham has both history and had extensive lands. Not something that can be said about Lightwater, which is very much a 20th century village. Both fine places, but different.

I was talking this week with someone with knowledge of the history of Surrey Heath and its villages. He said that West End was once known as the West End of Chobham. Yes, Ok that’s widely known.

But that Valley End, which is next to Windlesham, was similarly the Valley End of Chobham is perhaps less widely known. Now for the obscure bit, to me anyway.

There was once a North End of Chobham. Hmmmm, now where was that?

Well, surprise, surprise its Wentworth …… of golfing fame.

Friday Fact No 9: St Barbara’s Church

There’s an unusual church in Deepcut. It’s St Barbara’s, the garrison church of the Royal Logistic Corps. The Church was built in 1901 to serve the Deepcut and Blackdown army training camps, and was dedicated as St Michael and All Angels Garrison Church.  It was only in 1967 that the church was re-named St Barbara’s Garrison Church.

Built from wood and corrugated iron, it’s an interesting, and quirky church. As you would expect as a garrison church it contains flags, memorial plaques, and has some lovely stained glass windows.

The History of St Barbara’s Church, 1901-1994 by Mountford & Wilkinson is my major source of information on the church. It states that no details of the architect or builder is known, and the Army Land Agent record says,” a corrugated iron structure of dubious architectural antecedence and indeterminate age.”

Corrugated iron was invented in Britain in the 1820’s by Henry Palmer. Light and easily transportable, it was soon in regular use by the Army for huts. By the late 1800’s numerous commercial companies were providing the design and materials of ‘flat pack’ buildings. Being cheaper than brick and stone, it appealed to churches, having generally limited funds.

St Barbara’s Church developed over the years, acquiring, in 1967, the organ, stained glass windows and church property of St Barbara’s Church in Hilsea, the previous Corps church. Between 1991 and 1993 five new stained glass windows were added, including one to recognise the formation of the Royal Logistics Corps in 1993.

Some background on-line reading about the church and the type of building it repsents:

Friday Fact No.8: Victoria Monument

Chobham Commom MemorialIf you’ve driven between Sunningdale and Chobham on the B383 Chobham Road, you’re sure to have seen this monument high up on Chobham Common. Known as the Victoria Monument, because it commemorates Queen Victoria and her review of troops on Chobham Common.

The exact words on the monument are:

In memory of the noble life of Queen Victoria who reviewed 8129 of her troops on this common June 21st 1853.

After a reign of 63 years she rested from her labours January 22nd 1901

This cross is erected by 400 parishioners 1901

I like all our peculiar monuments dotted around the British countryside. It reminds me of the time when, as a boy, I-Spy books were a source of enjoyment.

Friday Fact No.7: John Betjeman and Camberley

John BetjemanWhen our MP, Michael Gove, spoke at the opening of the Heritage Gallery  in Camberley’s Mall shopping centre he said,

“We are uniquely fortunate that this part of Surrey is drenched in history.  … and the beautiful houses in the centre of Camberley which John Betjeman and other writers have celebrated.”

The mention of poet John Betjeman together with Camberley tickled a vague memory in my mind. A quick  ‘google’ brought it back. In Betjeman’s poem “A Subaltern’s Love-Song”, Camberley gets a mention, and in a pleasant way too.

You’re more than likely to have heard the poem, which describes a tennis match and going to a dance with Miss Joan Hunter-Dunn. The poem begins,

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament—you against me!

Here’s an amusing Friday diversion for you. Watch John Betjeman read his short poem, and catch the part of the poem where he says,

By roads ‘not adopted,’ by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.


Friday Fact No.6: Coldingley Prison

Coldingley PrisonThought you might like to know that we’ve a prison in our borough, and a little bit about it.

Coldingley Prison is in Bisley, at the end of of Shatfesbury Road. Here’s how it’s described by HM Prison Service .

I think that’s enough on the subject.