Wednesday 28 February 2018

Back in Time for Breakfast by Lynne Benton

The so-called “Full English Breakfast”, ie bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, toast etc. etc., is a relatively modern term. 

 What did our distant ancestors eat when their fresh meat ran out, before they worked out a way of curing meat to make it last longer?  When did they discover that curing it made it taste different? When did they realise that the eggs of chickens, ducks, turtles etc. could be cooked and eaten by humans? 

Inspired by the current television series called “Back in Time for Tea”, as well as by a fascinating book called “A Million Years in a Day” by Greg Jenner, I decided to investigate breakfasts through the ages – which has proved remarkably interesting.

Bacon:  Pigs were first reared as domestic animals in the Middle East some 9,000 years ago, and became a staple food, even for poorer people, throughout Europe.  Their popularity was principally because pigs would eat anything, gain weight easily and produce large litters. 

Furthermore, as has long been established, every bit of the creature (except the squeak!) could be used.  The ancient Egyptians had worked out how to cure pig meat so it could be eaten all year round (possibly because they were used to preserving bodies for the afterlife!), and we know that bacon and sausages featured on Roman menus, though it sounds as though the sausages the Romans ate bore little relation to those we eat today.  Some cultures and religions banned the eating of pig meat altogether, possibly since pigs were dirty (unclean) and eating it could cause diseases.  Christians didn’t go quite that far: they banned the eating of it on Fridays, holy days and the whole of Lent.  (In mediaeval times this led to a grand fry-up the day before Lent began, when people would use up all their leftover bacon and eggs - Greg Jenner suggests this was a forerunner of the Full English Breakfast!)

Eggs:  It seems the ancient Egyptians were keen on eggs, and on keeping hens specifically for the purpose of using their eggs, though the Chinese and Indians had already discovered the benefits of domesticating fowl.  

They learned to cook the eggs in several different ways, most of which are the same as we use today: boiled, fried, poached or turned into soufflés or custards.  Omelettes were also a popular food for the Romans.

Baked beans:  As with so much food, the problem for people through the ages was how to keep it fresh, or at least edible.  During the Napoleonic wars armies on both sides became used to having to eat food riddled with maggots by the end of their campaign.  In 1810 a Frenchman partly solved this problem by sealing food inside a glass jar and then boiling it.  Unfortunately glass is fragile, so it wasn’t ideal, and four years later in 1814 another Frenchman invented the tin can.  This proved to be a great success, except for one thing: getting into the tins to get at the contents.  Hammer and chisels must have been vital kitchen utensils at the time, because, astonishingly, the tin-opener wasn’t invented until 48 years later! 

However, once it was possible to store food in tin cans and open them later, people felt they could preserve anything.  Soon an old recipe dating back to the Aztecs for haricot beans baked in tomato sauce and flavoured with sugar, pepper and other spices, became popular as the now very familiar baked beans.

Cereal:  In the late 19th century in the USA, a doctor called John Kellogg had some strange ideas, but was fixated on the idea that a good diet (ideally, as far as he was concerned, a vegetarian one) would cure man of his baser instincts.  In the kitchen of his sanatorium he set his brother, Will, to boil wheat to use as an alternative to bread.  However, one day in 1894 Will became distracted and let the wheat boil over, until it formed a gloopy mess.  Unwilling to waste it, he put it through large rollers, which flattened it and squeezed out some of the liquid.  Much to his surprise, the resulting wheat flakes were not only edible but fairly pleasant.  The brothers fed these to their patients, who reported that they liked them, and after a little experimentation with different grains they invented cornflakes.  The Kellogg brothers then began marketing them to the health-conscious general public, suggesting these were Health Foods, and they became extremely popular. 

Bread: According to Greg Jenner, “bread is one of the most significant inventions in human history.”  Our ancestors were eating grains and cereal crops 30,000 years ago, but during the Neolithic period they began grinding wheat and barley together, using a stone quern, until they produced flour.  Then they mixed the flour with water and cooked the resulting “loaf” over a fire until it turned into a satisfying food which could sustain life when animals were in short supply.  In the Bronze Age farming became more intensive, so that fewer people were required to produce more food, and by the time of the Roman invasion bread was a staple part of the diet.  Originally all bread was brown, and it was only when “white” bread was invented, which involved throwing away half the ingredients (the husks of the bran etc.) that this became more expensive and thus more desirable among the rich.  This discrepancy in price sometimes led to the unscrupulous practice of adding white ingredients, such as chalk, or even plaster of Paris, to the mixture to make it white so the baker could charge more for his bread.  In this instance the poor were luckier, since they continued to eat the rough, brown bread and thus escaped the nastier side-effects of eating the adulterated white.  

But marmalade?  Where did that come from?
I read once (and this may be entirely fictitious) that it was invented in France when Mary, Queen of Scots was a little girl.  When she was feeling ill, the cook would boil up some oranges with sugar as a sort of jam to make her feel better, and called it “Marie est malade”, which in time became shortened to marmalade.  It may not be true, but it’s a nice story.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Diane Atkinson’s “Rise Up Women!” by Janie Hampton

 Only this month I realised that although I was not born until 1952, I am among the first generation of women born in Britain to have the right to vote: my mother was born before 1918. A few months after my 18th birthday, in 1970, I was also among the first Britons under 21 years to vote. I knew it was a big deal, but until I read Diane Atkinson’s excellent new book Rise Up women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes, I didn’t realise what extraordinary sacrifices so many women had made for British women. Apparently, my paternal grandmother chained herself to the railings of Buckingham Palace. Sadly, she died before I was born, so I can’t ask her about it. But this energetic and detailed history brings the fight to life, from the Chartists of the 1830s, to the start of women’s suffrage in 1918.
Suffragette chained to a railing, later copied by activists chaining
themselves to trees to demonstrate against road-building. 
A question often asked is ‘What is the difference between a suffragist and a suffragette?’ Suffragists hoped to achieve votes for women by gentle persuasion. Although there were fewer suffragettes, they were noisier, more militant, often violent, and so got noticed. They showed, as many activists have done since, that being polite and asking nicely may not get you as far as attacking property and blowing up  post boxes. 
`Deeds Not Words!' was the suffragette's slogan on bombed post-boxes, acts of arson and works of art.
From the start of Edward VII’s reign in 1901, the suffragettes’ actions were public and militant and as a result, they endured public derision, assault and imprisonment. In the Great Pilgrimage of 1913, courageous suffragettes marched from Newcastle, Cromer, Bangor and Land’s End, meeting in a rally of 50,000 people in Hyde Park. Women of all classes walked together, camped together and stayed in each other’s homes. They also endured being stoned, beaten up, having dead rats thrown at them and their speeches interrupted. But it gave them even more strength, solidarity and purpose; and they refused to be crushed.
Suffragette rally in Trafalgar Square.
Atkinson relates the tales of women from all classes who fought with flair, energy and imagination: mill workers and actors; teachers and doctors; seamstresses and scientists; clerks and boot-makers. The stars of the suffragette movement are well known: the Pankhurst family, Emmeline and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia; and Emily Wilding Davidson who became a martyr after running under the King’s race horse at Epson. There were also female students at Oxford University (a rare breed) who opened a hat- repair shop to raise funds; the Honorable Evelina Haverfield whose talent was to stand beside police horses during demonstrations and get them to lie down; and Mary Richardson who after slashing Velasquez’s Rokeby Venus in the National Gallery was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour. 
Suffragette Dora Thewlis is arrested in 1907.
Phyllis Keller broke the windows of anti-suffragist Lord Curzon and in her Holloway prison cell longed for Camp coffee and potted meat. The government refused to treat suffragettes as political prisoners, so they stopped eating and went on hunger strike. And the stronger the women, the crueler became their punishments. Kitty Marion, a comedian by profession, was force-fed lumpy soup through a tube 232 times during her three months sentence in Holloway Prison in 1914. It made little difference to her nutrition: she vomited for hours after each ‘meal’ and lost 36 lb. “I found blessed relief to my feelings in screaming, exercising my lungs and throat after the frightful sensation of being held in a vice, choking and suffocating,” she wrote later.
This poster of a suffragette being force-fed in prison haunted me as a child.
I could not understand how women and doctors could do this.
The infamous ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ (officially the “Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-health) Act, 1913”) allowed suffragettes early release if they had been on hunger strike, but once their health was restored, they were re-arrested, and the starvation and force-feeding began again. Atkinson relates the stories of many who endured horrific prison sentences, when they could easily have led comfortable lives as dutiful wives or daughters. While recovering from a hunger strike at home, Annie Kenney donned black clothes and escaped from the police by climbing down a rope ladder at night. After secretary Hilda Burkitt and bookkeeper Florence Tunks were arrested for a campaign of arson in Suffolk, Burkitt told the judge to put on his black cap “and pass sentence of death or not waste his breath”. You have to admire these gutsy women, and what they did for us, the next generations. 
'How women will answer Mr Asquith'
the new British Prime Minister in 1908.
At the outbreak of the war in August 1914, an amnesty was announced and all suffragette prisoners were released. They threw themselves into the war effort and in February 1918 were rewarded with the Representation of the People Act, which gave the vote to women over the age of 30 years, albeit only if they were married or owned property. It wasn’t everything but it was a start. 
History is about remembering the people who got us where we are, and Rise up Women! certainly does that. At over 600 pages,this is a definitive history of the suffragettes’ determination during the decade-long militant campaign they fought on our behalf. This book would make an apt present for anyone, female or male, on their 18th birthday. Then they will appreciate what was done to win half our population the right to a vote.
Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes by Diane Atkinson is published by Bloomsbury.

Monday 26 February 2018

The Bataclan, by Carol Drinkwater

In less that two weeks time, 8th March, it will be the publication date for the paperback of THE LOST GIRL. I have already written here on our lovely HG site about the inspiration for the modern half of the story, which is partially set over the weekend of Friday 13th November 2015 when a series of coordinated terrorist attacks hit Paris, killing over one hundred and injuring more than four hundred.

In THE LOST GIRL, an Englishwoman, Kurtiz, is still looking for, praying to find, her teenage daughter, Lizzie, who has been missing for four years. For reasons revealed within the novel, Kurtiz believes that Lizzie is attending a rock concert, an Eagles of Death Metal concert, which is performing that Friday evening at the Bataclan concert hall, 50 Boulevard Voltaire, not far from Bastille in Paris.

I thought this month I would pull up a few facts about the famous old theatre, the Bataclan, that witnessed such horrors on that fateful night. It is a very curious looking building, Chinese-style, and rather stops you in your tracks if you happen to walk by it without knowing of its existence.

Here is a photograph with its original pagoda:

And in 2008, without the pagoda:

As you can see from the photos, at some point during the twentieth-century the pagoda was removed. With or without its crown, it is an odd piece of architecture for central Paris. It was designed by the architect Charles Duval in 1864 and opened its doors for the first time in February 1865.
Duval, who was trained by his architect father, was also known for his design of another theatre in Coulommiers, east of Paris. He loved theatres and had originally dreamed of becoming an actor.

Why such a piece of chinoiserie? I have no precise answer except that France was taking an avaricious interest in China at this time, gaining in Indo-China. It originally entered Vietnam to give itself a southern foothold into China. France was determined to upstage the British and its holds within the Asian continent.
Between 1857 and 1860, France joined forces with their rivals, the British, to fight the Second Opium War. So, stories from the Far East would have been regularly reported in the newspapers.

The Bataclan theatre's original name was Le Grand Café Chinois. Opulent, capacious cafés were very à la mode in Paris during this period when the theatre and revue scenes were really flourishing. Some of the largest in the world such, as Le Grand Café Capucines, are still going strong. Capucines draws in a huge tourist trade as well as the audiences from the opera at the celebrated Palais Garnier, which is just across the street and was a new attraction to the city back then. An architectural masterpiece finally completed and opened in 1875.

The audience at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, the birthplace of Jacques Offenbach's operettas (1860)

When it first opened its doors, Le Grand Café Chinois was a lively dance and music theatre with its stage and bistro/bar on the ground floor and an immense dance floor up on the higher level.
During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, it was used as an ambulance base. Around this time, after the brief war, France's defeat and the fall of its Second Empire, although I cannot pinpoint the precise date, this appears to be when Le Grand Café Chinois was rechristened. It became Ba-ta-clan and then Bataclan. The nomenclature Ba-ta-clan is interesting because it refers to the title of an operetta,  a"chinoiserie musicale" by Offenbach first performed in 1855, but performed at the Bataclan only in 1885.

Ba-ta-clan is also French slang for 'all that jazz'.

The music hall changed management yet again in the 1890s when it was bought by a famous café-concert singer, Paulus, who towards the end of his career made a series of five short films with George Méliès entitled Paulus Chantant (1897). When showing the films, Méliès had Paulus sit behind the cinema screen and sing the song of the title, thus giving the illusion of cinema sound. Alas, these films appear to be lost now. I have searched all over to find them.

Amongst Bataclan performers at the turn of the century was Buffalo Bill Cody. By 1910, just after the death of Paulus, it offered almost exclusively revue-style shows. For its time, it was 'trendy', offering opportunities to young, up and coming artists such as Mistinguet, Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf. Rolling Stone magazine much later described it as, 'one of the funkiest music venues in the city.' Even back at the beginning of the twentieth century that description appears to have been appropriate.

                                                        Mistinguet, actress-dancer, 1900

In 1926, due to financial difficulties, the place changed ownership once more, but this time it was transformed into a cinema and remained a cinema until 1969 when after refurbishment, it was re-opened as a concert hall.

I cannot describe how thrilled I was when I discovered the period of the building's life as a cinema.

My second leading character in THE LOST GIRL is Marguerite, an eighty-something retired actress. She walks into the bar where Kurtiz, anxious and uncertain, has settled for the evening, to await the news of her daughter. The two women, seated alongside one another, begin to talk, sharing confidences; intimacies you might only divulge to a stranger.
All the while, although unbeknownst to both women at this stage, the terrorist attacks are beginning to unfold. The Bataclan was the last location of the evening to be targeted.

I was able to use the Bataclan in both the women's stories. When Marguerite was a teenager dreaming of the silver screen, she needed a humble part-time job to feed and keep herself in Paris while she was looking for, auditioning for her "big break". The idea of her selling tickets at a cinema was perfect, she would be quite naturally drawn to cinemas. The Bataclan then, a cinema in post-war Paris. There, quite by chance, she meets a young Englishman who falls in love with her and their stories become intertwined.

No spoilers.

One of the great joys of the research work for a novel or film is discovering threads that can be knitted together. I never know where my stitches, threads, will all lead when I begin to write, so when something pops up at you that you feel instinctively is a gift, the work becomes very exciting.
Film, photography, the stage, all of these are subjects that both women in the book are passionate about. These interests bond them. However, as their stories unfold, as the horrors of the coordinated attacks are revealed, we discover that there is another element, far less expected, that brings these two female strangers together. One that neither could have envisaged at the beginning of the evening when they were both strangers sitting alongside one another, ordering their drinks.

The Bataclan has an audience capacity of 1,500. It was packed to the gills on that fateful night in 2015. I discovered the horrors of what was taking place on that Friday 13th on television when I switched it on to watch the news.
I have written a short piece for the Penguin website,

about my inspirations for THE LOST GIRL.
The Bataclan and its history is certainly a rich part of my story.

On 11th March 1991, the Bataclan was listed amongst the Monuments Historiques of France.

                                                    Sting's concert 12th November 2016

After the attacks, the venue was closed for refurbishment and as a mark of respect for the lives lost. The city was in shock, grieving. The ghosts haunted the music hall, haunted the neighbourhood. It re-opened its doors one year later on Saturday 12th November 2016, the eve of the anniversary. Sting was the performer booked to bring the venue back to life, to make the first step towards exorcising the demons. The concert sold out in minutes even though the nation's reaction to staging a performance there, so soon if ever, was received with a mixed range of emotions.

A formidable security operation was put in place for the reopening. Streets were cordoned off and were patrolled by heavily armed police and CRS, riot squads. Extraordinarily, courageously, some of the audience who had been present at the Eagles of Death Metal concert, 364 days earlier, returned. Several explained to the media that it was really important for them to be there. To celebrate the music, to begin to live again. To help the healing process. That Saturday's edition of the daily newspaper, Libération, praised those who were going to be present; christening them, Génération Bataclan, for their opposition to intolerance and for their faith in France's future.

An organisation has been founded, Génération Bataclan. Its members are fighting to have a memorial, a statue or monument, erected across the street from the Bataclan, to commemorate those who lost their lives during those tragic attacks.

Here are two from the short list of ten proposed:

Regeneration, beginning again, is at the very heart, the core, of THE LOST GIRL.

13th November 2016

        President Hollande, on the first anniversary of the attacks, laying a wreath outside the concert hall. He and Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, visited each of the six sites where the massacres had taken place one year earlier, and read out the names of everyone who had been injured or murdered. France remembers.

'Rock on, Noble House,' as I have heard say in France of this revered establishment, the Bataclan.

One last link, if you have time and enjoy popular music. The late Jeff Buckley played the Bataclan to tremendous acclaim on 11th February 1995. His concert has become legendary in the world of rock greats. Here is his rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah It is available on his short album, Jeff Buckley Live From the Bataclan.

It seems a fitting tribute.

I sincerely hope you will enjoy THE LOST GIRL. The reviews have, so far, been amazing.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Homelessness by Miranda Miller

    I passionately wish this was ‘History.’ This is a photo of Marcos Amaral Gourgel, the 35-year-old Portuguese man who froze to death on the night of February 13th in a subway just by Westmister tube station, on Parliament’s doorstep.This morning, within ten minutes of leaving my flat in north London, I passed three homeless men sitting or lying on the pavement, just round the corner from a whole block of houses that has been empty and boarded up for years. How is it possible that a country that prides itself on giving everyone free health care allows people to die of hypothermia on the streets of its richest city? 

    In 1990 I published a book of interviews with homeless women and politicians called Bed and Breakfast: Women and Homelessness Today. I talked to a lot of women, most of whom had children, who were living in temporary accommodation in squalid hotels in Bayswater. At that time, Westminster Council was selling off 50% of its council housing. Theresa Gorman, who had been a Westminster Councillor and was then the Conservative MP for Billericay, said, ”The Government (Thatcher’s) sees putting money into council development as a way of just rebuilding or bolstering the Labour vote.’ At the bottom of her letters was a quotation from Frederick Bastiat:” The State is the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.”

   Now, of course, you would be lucky to be given somewhere to stay anywhere as central as Bayswater and many London councils are giving homeless people 24 hours to accept private rented homes in the West Midlands or Essex, far away from friends and family and schools where their kids are known. These Londoners are warned that if they refuse the council will consider them to have become “intentionally homeless” and withdraw support.

    In 2018 homelessness is far more visible all over the country and shames us all. No government has made any serious attempt to improve the situation. According to the Joseph Rowntree Trust, homelessness has risen by at least 32% since 2009/10. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis believes that the new Housing Act will help. Recently, Windsor Council proposed to fine beggars and rough sleepers £100, but backed down after a public uproar.

    The attitude that poor people are to blame for their poverty and should be punished for it is not new. The Poor Law Act of 1388 restricted the movement of labourers, when they became scarce after the Black Death, and led to the state, or parish, becoming responsible for the support of the poor. A distinction was made between "the genuinely unemployed and the idler" - the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor - and this attitude still dominates housing policy.

    Monasteries provided a great deal of charitable relief and employment. After the Reformation the Elizabethan Poor Laws provided support for ” the aged, sick, and infant poor,” and the workhouse was invented. Its function was to keep the ‘destitute’ off the streets and conditions in the workhouses ensured that people forced to accept their charity were worse off than the lowest paid worker: “If paupers are miserable, paupers will decline in multitude. It is a secret known by all ratcatchers.”

   In 1834 more workhouses were built and continued to exist until the NHS turned many of them into hospitals in the late 1940s. I can remember old people who had grown up in poverty telling me that, as children, they were threatened with ‘being sent to the workhouse.’ As a seven-year-old, Charlie Chaplin was sent to the Lambeth New Workhouse on Renfrew Road in Kennington, (now a cinema museum threatened with closure).

   In the early 20th century Sydney and Beatrice Webb advocated replacing the Poor Law with public services administered by local authorities. The first old age pension was introduced by the Government in 1908, paying five shillings a week to men (presumably, old women were considered dispensable). At a time when the average life expectancy was 47, the pension kicked in at 70. Ten years later, housing subsidies were introduced to make council rents more affordable.

    In 1948 the Poor Law of 1834 was finally repealed and replaced with the National Assistance Act. This stated that local authorities ( at that time, specifically social services), had to help homeless people who were ordinarily resident in their area. To quote from the Fabian Society website:” Beveridge was unable to resolve ‘the problem of rent’ and come up with a fair way of supporting people with housing costs under a contributory, universal system. The costs of housing were and are so variable that any flat-rate subsidy would either cause real hardship or give some money they had no need for.”

   History can explain why homeless people freeze to death on our pavements but cannot justify it. Over the last few decades a combination of local authorities starved of funding, outrageous property prices and greedy private landlords has destroyed the fragile safety net that once existed. I’m sure that in the future our callousness towards homeless people will seem as cruel as the indifference of our ancestors to slavery.

Saturday 24 February 2018

THE TEMPLE CHURCH - A glimpse through history By Elizabeth Chadwick

Temple Church exterior. Wikipedia
A building that has featured in several of my novels is the Temple Church in London, where the great William Marshal whose life story. I have told in The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, and the forthcoming Templar Silks is buried with two of his sons, William II and Gilbert. William Marshal and his family were associated with the Templar order throughout their lives and their burial in the Temple Church reflects their commitment to the order Knights.
The rectangular nave of the Temple Church, originally part of the 1240 improvements.
The Temple Church in London is a beautiful building of mellow golden stone set within the tranquil labyrinth of The Inns of Court, and it has its own very special almost ethereal atmosphere even though it could not in itself be called an ethereal building.
What you see now and experience now is the result of almost a thousand years of development and restoration. The church may retain the ground plan of the original, but there is not a great deal left of that first building. Most of what a visitor sees has either being restored or interpreted at some point or another in history.
Thought to be the tomb effigy of William Marshal. 
It is believed that the Templar order of warrior monks came to England in 1128 and around that time establish themselves in Holborn, on the site of what is now Southampton House. They build a church of Caen stone with a round at one end, emulating the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. However, within a few decades. They had outgrown their original premises and moved to the current location the 'New Temple' closer to the River Thames. The new church was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius, the visiting patriarch of Jerusalem who was in England to offer the throne of Jerusalem to Henry II (who declined). During the same visit he was to consecrate the Hospitaller's establishment in Clerkenwell.
Google Map View.  Click to enlarge. The Temple Church is centre picture just above the greenery.
The Templars' growing influence, logistical expertise, their power and the security of their establishments made them perfect for the role of 'bankers' to people who wished to deposit their treasure or make large-scale financial transactions and who wanted to know that their money would be safe. The Bishop of Ely ( a post that went with the office of royal treasurer), had a right of lodging at the Temple during the Angevin period.
in 1312, the Templar order was dissolved and their property was given into the keeping of the Hospitallers, although there were various legal disputes and the Hospitallers did not gain possession until 1338. Within 50 years of this date, the apprentices of the Law acquired the tenancy and have occupied the Temple grounds ever since.
The Round in 1792
The West door of the Round is the only part of the Temple Church to show its original surface to the world. Even prior to bomb damage in World War II, (after which major repair work had to be undertaken), the church had been restored in the 19th century to as near to the original as possible according to the vision and understanding of 19th-century historians, architects and antiquarians which in essence meant that a sledgehammer was taken to crack a nut.

The 13th century church had a rectangular choir of five bays and was completed in 1240 during the reign of Henry III, who, at one time, had intended to be buried here, but then embarked on his great Westminster project instead. But before Henry III's remodelling which at least gives us the current shape of the church, there had been a much smaller predecessor i.e. the church consecrated by patriarch Heraclius in 1185. There had also been an early 13th century chapel tacked onto the side of the Round with a crypt beneath it. The crypt is still there and also another underground chamber under the south side of the chancel, this time belonging to the late 12th century. This was excavated in the mid-20th century. It was built before the 1240 chancel, and was low and long with a stone bench running along the north and south walls and evidence suggesting that there was an altar in the East. One speculation is that this may have been the Templar strongroom because it was protected by thick walls and that the holiness of an altar incorporated an extra safety feature
The Round in the 18th century showing one of the shops attached to the church
With the lawyers ensconced in the Temple area, the Round was used as a sort of general waiting-room for people who had business with the lawyers. The West porch became a shop with Chambers above it and there were shops all along the south wall. The churchyard had a tailor's shop and there were other sundry shacks and hovels built in this area. Laundresses did their washing in the churchyard and hung up their clothes. Sometimes the House of Commons would use the church as a committee room.

In 1666 the Round was slightly damaged in The Great Fire of London and in 1682 Sir Christopher Wren suggested that $1,400 should be spent repairing it. The suggested repairs included raising the level of the floor, adding wainscotting up to window level in the Round and in the chancel, and whitewashing everything else. Also painting the effigies of the Templars. An organ was also to be made. The Middle Temple lawyers wished the organ to be made by Father Smith, but the Inner Temple had their own candidate in mind in Renatus Harris. Smith and Harris both made organs and they were set up in the Temple church and then tried out at services. But no one could reach an agreement. Finally in 1685 they decided to ask the Keeper of the Great Seal, Lord Guildford who was a great music lover to listen and decide. Unfortunately he died before he had made his decision known so the task was passed on to his successor Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys (the dreaded 'hanging' Judge Jeffreys) who decided that the Smith organ was the best and that Harris should be given a consolation sum of £200.
A 19th century restoration of one of the head corbels in the Round of the Temple Church
Wren's decor of wainscots and whitewash remained in situ until the 19th century, although at some point during the 18th century, buttresses and battlements were added to the church exterior. It had been decided in 1811 that no more burials were to take place within the church because the slabs kept getting broken. Restorations were carried out in 1828 by one Robert Smirke. The remains of St Anne's chapel were removed and portions of the West Door were recut.
The chapel of St Ann, the crypt and the belfrey in 1826
A crypt adjoining the south side of the Round Tower was in such a ruinous state that it was destroyed and the the legal records it had contained were removed elsewhere for safe keeping. The head corbels and arcading around the edge of the round were recut by masons and the original heads were thrown away. The pillars of the round and nave were replaced with 42 new pillars of Purbeck marble. The work continued over several decades and it was the quaintly named Sidney Smirke and Decimus Barton who made a full and thorough job of the restoration of the church when 'every ancient surface was repaired away or renewed' except for the vaulted ceiling of the choir.

Victorian Gentleman plaster cast of William Marshal
The effigies of the knights Templar within the church were re-restored as part of the of the mid 19th century 'upgrade.' In 1840, Mr Edward Richardson cleaned the effigies, removing the earlier coats of paint and recutting and restoring the figures to the best of his ability by joining the broken fragments and using artisitc license on the features where they were beyond recall. He then coated them with bronze paint and in so doing destroyed all traces of earlier colour. It is his inventive restoration from which the V&A plaster casts of the Temple Church knights have been taken, so if William Marshal the plaster cast effigy resembles a Victorian gentleman, then Richardson's imaginitive restoration is the reason why.

In 1941 the ceiling again survived, this time incendiary bomb damage during the Blitz but the Purbeck marble columns (themselves part of the 19th century restoration) split in the heat and had to be replaced. The effigies were in a poor condition 'smashed to smithereens' according to Elizabeth and Wayland Young in their book Old London Churches, but since then they have been yet again restored.

This is just a short blog post on some of the alterations and restorations that have altered the structure and appearance of the Temple Church throughout its long and eventful life and my brush strokes are broad with moments of detail here and there. It would take a whole book to write its story and indeed it was the authors of those books I consulted to write this article.

The Temple Church has weathered is alterations well, and while individual elements of its facelifts might horrify historians and interested parties (myself being one of them where the Templar effigies are concerned), nevertheless, there is no denying the beauty of this wonderful old building and the haunting ambience of the sum of its parts.

Books consulted in the writing of this article:

The Temple Church: A short history and Description with plan and illustrations by George Worley. Bell's Cathedral Series 1907

Old London Churches by Elizabeth and Wayland Young published by Faber and Faber 1956

Temple Church Monument being a report to the Two Honourable Societies of the Temple by Mrs. Arundell Esdaile, published by Geo. Barber & Son ltd. 1933
Elizabeth Chadwick's new novel Templar Silks which is about William Marshal's pilgrimage to Jerusalem and involves the Temple Church in London in a few scenes is published on the first of March 2018.

Friday 23 February 2018

RICH IN SALT, by Leslie Wilson

Last year I and my husband went on holiday to the Bavarian Alps, in the region around Salzburg; the name may conjure up an opera festival nowadays, but it means: Salt city. Other names in the area also conjure up salt; the river Salzach, for example, but it's not so obvious, even perhaps if you're a Welsh speaker, that Bad Reichenhall refers to salt. It is so, though. The Celtic name for salt is Hall, and there were once more Celts (I'm not going to get into the argument here about who the Celts actually were) in South Germany and northern Austria, than there ever were in the British Isles. The name element Hall pops up over and over again in this area. Three examples spring to my mind; Hallein, Hallgarten (salt garden), and Bad Reichenhall, the second element of which means 'Reich in Hall', or 'rich in salt.' Reichenhall became a spa (Bad)  because people thought the salt had healing qualities and you can buy a huge variety of bath salts (literally) of different kinds in the area and notably in the museum shop.
Simon Scharfenberger  (Own work) Wikimedia Commons

Bad Reichenhall has been an area of salt extraction probably since the Bronze Age, but the first documents referring to the salines there occur in the 7th century. By the seventeenth century, they were producing about seven and a half thousand kg of salt per annum.
Salt was, of course, a hugely valuable resource; it was essential for the preservation of food through the long winters, particularly meat. Otherwise, you'd have to live on sauerkraut, which is a good thing, but doesn't contain much protein. It was, essentially, white gold.

 However, if your idea of a salt mine is based on the mines in Cheshire, where rock salt is hacked out of caves for refinement, you have to change your ideas. The salt which was, and still is, extracted in Bad Reichenhall, is a saline suspension, which is pumped up from below. There are two salt works in Reichenhall, but we chose to visit the old one, the Alte Saline. Here you can see the early nineteenth century machinery, still functioning throughout the day, powered by water coming down from the nearby mountain, which ran over enormous wheels and fuelled the pumps.

You can go down into the bowels of the earth beneath the Alte Saline, walk along passages slimed green (and probably salty) and see them working. Below is a picture of the salt spring, welling up from below. It was a hazardous business to dig out these tunnels, among the reservoirs of saline. We entered one room which was once such a reservoir. When the workmen broke through into it, twenty-two of them were drowned.

Either the guide didn't tell us, or we didn't hear (the Saline is a noisy place), but I assume that the saline is actually the result of groundwater washing through rock salt, the remnant, as in Cheshire, of ancient seas. The picture below, from the museum at the Alte Saline, shows the salt workers getting precipitated salt from the drying pans; it was packed damp into barrels, and formed into cakes for transportation by road and river. It was a hot and undoubtedly uncomfortable job. The next photograph shows the same process in the early twentieth century, and then you can see the salt being packed up, also in the early twentieth century, but in the new salt works. The Alte Saline went out of production in 1834, after a fire destroyed the works. Nowadays it is a museum only, but one of the most beautiful industrial buildings I have ever seen.

Originally, the saline was processed at the extraction site, but drying it outrequired an enormous amount of fuel, and with time, the area immediately round Bad Reichenhall was deforested. In 1816, the Royal Salt Councillor of Bavaria, Georg von Reichenbach, was commissioned to lead an ambitious project, the 'saline pipeline' (Soleleitungsweg), which channelled liquid saline to forested areas, where new salt works were set up, such as Berchtesgaden. There was a series of pumping stations to deal with the inevitable differences in level of the pipeline. A remnant of this pipeline can be seen above the lovely village of Ramsau, where Joseph Mohr, of Silent Night fame, was once curate, and where we stayed in a house alongside the old salt road last summer.

Ramsau church,

We walked the Soleleitungsweg on a day of threatening thunderstorm. It's an idyllic track now, leading through fields of wonderful wildflowers, the haunt of butterflies, bees, and of course Alpine cows with clonking bells.

You need a sharp eye to see the old wooden boards on the track, and we missed several on the outward walk, but picked them up later on our return. You can see below, from the information boards on the path, what it once looked like, boarded over all the way. One thing that puzzled us was how they dealt with leaks, which must have occurred from the joints in the wooden pipes, which were simply hollowed-out tree trunks. I suppose they swelled with the liquid, and were preserved by the saline, but nevertheless, leaks there must have been. Perhaps they were just accepted as inevitable.

This is what it looks like nowadays.

and here is a stand of the old wooden pipes, preserved under a roof, the last remnant of what was an impressive and groundbreaking piece of engineering.

All photographs are mine, except for the one of the Alte Saline. Here is a link to their website