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.

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.

Photo of the week No.26: In Silvertown, 1964 by John Claridge

As a boy growing up in the docklands in the East End of London, John Claridge used his camera to capture the soul of the docks. His story is eloquently told in Along the Thames with John Claridge in the Spitalfields Life blog article of May 2, 2012.

Hatip: Spitalfields Life for photo

The excitement of holding a Victoria Cross

I’m sure I may have mentioned that my dear wife volunteers at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Deepcut. While volunteering there yesterday she called me to say that a Victoria Cross was being loaned out, and would I like to see it. I duly nipped up there before it disappeared off site.

To handle the medal I had to wear latex gloves. Knowing how the Victoria Cross is revered for the exceptional bravery of those to whom it’s awarded transmits the moment you hold it. It’s the stories of sacrifice, courage under fire, and human selflessness that flood your mind, as also the desire to learn more about the recipient and his act of courage.

Here’s my photo of the obverse and reverse of the VC awarded to John Buckley, Deputy Assistant Commissary of Ordnance – Bengal Establishment, at the time of his act of heroism on 11th May 1857. [Click on images to expand]

To read about John Buckley VC, see Victoria Cross online, and brief summary below the medal photos

Four years later, in 1857, Buckley and his second wife and three surviving children moved to Delhi where he was appointed Assistant Commissary of Ordnance. He was employed at the Delhi Magazine, a storehouse of guns and ammunition. Later that year, the Indian Mutiny broke out against British rule and the mutineers soon reached Delhi.

On 11th May 1857, Buckley and eight fellow soldiers found themselves defending the magazine against overwhelming numbers. Rather than let the ammunition to fall into enemy hands, they decided to blow up the building and themselves. Miraculously four of the men survived the explosion, though sadly George Willoughby was killed in action two days later. The other men, including Buckley would be later awarded the Victoria Cross. At the time, the Royal Warrant for the VC did not permit posthumous awards so only three VCs could be awarded.

Declarations of Independence, once lost are now found

We’ve all done it, that is filed something away, perhaps incorrectly, and then lost track of it. Well, in the past month two lost Declarations have been found.

Perhaps the more important of the two, certainly for the Lithuanian centenary celebration in 2018, is one of the three missing original copies of the Declaration of Independence of Lithuania in February 1918. The Guardian reports that the document was lost during the turmoil at the end of World War 1. It was found in the German Foreign Ministry archives in Berlin by a Lithuanian professor. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

The other lost document is a parchment copy of the American Declaration of Independence dated around 1780. The document was found in the West Sussex County Archives by two researchers from Harvard University. Again The Guardian has a report on the finding. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

As I said at the start, things are easily lost, yet take years to find them again.

Where to See Five of the Planet’s Most Mysterious Geoglyphs

A geoglyph in the UK features in this article on April 20th 2017 Where to See Five of the Planet’s Most Mysterious Geoglyphs in the Smithsonian Magazine.

The Oxford dictionary defines geoglyph as – A large-scale image or design produced in the natural landscape by techniques such as aligning rocks or gravel or removing soil or sod, the complete form of which is visible only aerially or at a distance.

It’s surprising and pleasing that the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire is regarded as one of the five most mysterious geoglyphs. Research into the age of the Uffington White Horse considers it to have been created between 1200 BC and 800 BC, making it over 3,000 years old. There’s more about the White Horse at Wiltshire White Horses, and the National Trust. Below is a NASA satellite image of the Uffington White Horse.