Saturday, 25 May 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Very tricky this week, much to research and therefore lots of fun. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Bridgwater

Q2. The Alfred Jewel

N.B. for question 2, this item is sometimes known as 'Alfred's Jewel'

The initial clues place us in the county of Somerset, specifically the town of Bridgwater, where a cleaning product which sounds like a city a ways to the north ie the Bath Brick, was manufactured. According to some sources, this was made from clay and was patented c1823 by William Champion and John Browne. Some of the references claim that 24 million of these were produced there. A tea merchant and museum founder, who was born in Bridgwater c1835,  is most likely  Frederick John Horniman. The firm W.H & F.J. Horniman was said by one source in 1891 'to be the largest tea firm in the world'.

Around four miles (ish) south east of Bridgwater lies a hamlet called Burrowbridge and it is here that a hill with a ruined church on it (St Michael's) lies, which is known variously as 'Burrow Mump', 'St Michael's Mump' or 'Michelborowe'. I found some references which claim that the mump is around 24 meters or 78  feet high. There are some references which say it may have been a fort of King Alfred c 9th century and a treasure which was found, five miles or so to the north north west in Newton Park, North Petherton c1693, is most likely to be 'The Alfred Jewel', which is believed to have been some kind of ornate pointing device used in ancient powerpoint presentations.

Four miles or so west of North Petherton, lies the 'lost garden' of Fyne Court. It is described as 'lost' because they have done something amazingly sensible and let it return to nature. The Manor house at Fyne Court is said to have burned down in 1894 and was the home of a polymath and poet called Andrew Crosse. The references I checked say that he was known locally as 'The Thunder and Lightning Man', because of his experiments involving electrical discharges from Leyden jars and Voltaic piles. Crosse does seem to have strung copper wires all over his estate in a bid to measure the polarity of the atmosphere during different weather conditions . His poetry was believed to have been inspired by an area of outstanding natural beauty called 'The Quantock Hills'. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is said to have had a cottage at Nether Stowey, which lies around five miles north north west-ish from Fyne Court.

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Puzzle

Not much sport in it this week. The most likely answers, near as I can figure it, seem to me to be;

Q1. Bury St Edmunds

Q2. Mary Tudor

N.B for question 2, Mary Tudor was also known as Mary Rose (Henry the Eighth's sister) and Queen of France.

The initial clues place us in the town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and a literary character who visited and called it a 'handsome little town' was most likely Samuel Pickwick, in Charles Dicken's novel 'The Pickwick Papers'. Both Pickwick and Dickens are said to have stayed at 'The Angel' hotel in Bury St Edmunds (Dickens for real and Pickwick in prose). According to the English Heritage site, the Abbey in the settlement was built c1020, by some good ol' Normans. St Edmundsbury cathedral, which according to some references was awarded that status c 1914, stands very close to the Angel hotel, within the grounds of the ruined abbey (Henry the eighth's work, no doubt).

King Edmund, who the town is partially named after, was martyred there by some rowdy heathen Danish tourists c903 (some heathens can be a bit more dangerous than pagans, because they are known to put curses on people) on the orders of one Ivar 'The Boneless' and his brother Ubbe Ragnarsson, who had him shot full of arrows and then decapitated,with his head being thrown into the forest. Some sources claim that his supporters later found the head, because a wolf was standing beside it howling, hence his symbols being the arrow or the wolf.

It is believed that king John held a meeting with his barons in Bury St Edmunds, to discuss his tyrannical behaviour, with them making him an offer he could not understand (possibly the charter of liberties), which resulted in the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede c 1215. Scene I in Shakespeare's 'Henry VI', features a meeting of the parliament in the abbey at Bury St Edmunds and the quote 'Smooth runs the water, where the brook is deep' is thought to originate from this play.

St Mary's church in Bury, which appears to lie to the south south east of the hotel (not to the east), is said by some references, to be the burial site of Mary Tudor (aka Mary Rose and  the Queen of France) b c 1496. The Theatre Royal in Bury was designed by an architect called William Wilkins b c 1778. Wilkins is known to have designed several colleges, among them University College in London. The pub which claims to be the smallest in Britain, is 'The Nutshell', it's dimensions are said to be 15ft x 7ft.

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Marvellously entertaining this week , much nacht und nebel, red herrings and misdirection to contend with but the Eastender shall Sigurd like, durch rauch und waberlohe, endeavour to persevere to find the most likely answers....which near as I can figure it this week, seem to me to be :

Q1. Gavin Maxwell

Q2. Whithorn

The initial clues place us in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland, more specifically at a hamlet called Elrig, which was according to some sources, once home to an eccentric writer who kept pet otters, one Gavin Maxwell (b July 15 1914). Things become a bit tricky here as there are more castles and hill forts in this part of the world than you can shake a stick at, the puzzle writer could mean Myrton castle, which lies to the southeast of Elrig and although described as a 16th century L shaped tower house, the references say it was actually built on a 12th century motte. From the distances given, a more likely fit is Druchtag Motte, near Mochrum. This is also thought to be circa 12th century and from the photographs I looked at seems to me to be extraordinarily beautiful, puts me in mind of the mysterious mound at Silbury hill.

Travelling around three miles south as der drachen fliegt, from Druchtag motte brings us to the Barsalloch iron age hill fort, perched on top of a cliff. This is believed by some to have been a defended farmstead. Roughly six miles east of the fort lies the town of Whithorn and it is here that some sources claim a journalist called John Ramsay McCulloch was born c 1789. McCulloch was big time into economics and was an amazingly prolific writer on the subject, there are references which claim he wrote a book called 'The Literature of Political Economy' c 1845 and it is also claimed that he became editor of 'The Scotsman' newspaper c 1817.

Southeast of the town lies the cave of St.Ninian, a fifth century shaman (feast day 26th August or 16th September, depending on which sect you belong to) who was a bit like Terrence McKenna and used to smoke DMT in order to commune with self dribbling basketball creatures and therianthropes in the nether worlds, which are believed to have imparted words of great wisdom to him, that he then relayed back to the rest of the tribe from the pulpit in church on Sundays. The ordnance survey map shows a St Ninian's chapel around four miles or so, due east of the cave's location.

There appears to be a priory in Whithorn and the references say this was founded c12th century and was associated with saint Ninian. A stone, called the Latinus stone, dating back to 450 ad was found in this building, thought to be one of the oldest Christian monuments in Scotland, the inscription on it reads "We praise you the lord! Latinus descendent of Barravados, aged 35 and his daughter, aged 4, made a sign here".

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sunay Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Leeds

Q2. Cuthbert Brodrick

The initial clues point to the puzzle author's location being in the locale of the city of Leeds. The city's coat of arms has three owls on it and it also has an 'Owl Trail' where owls are located at various points of interest. Some sources say that the Middleton railway on the southern edge of Leeds, was the first railway to be granted powers by act of parliament c 1758. A canal in Leeds which the references claim had 91 locks, is likely to be the Leeds and Liverpool canal completed c 1816.

Ernie Wise is said to have been born in the Bramley district of Leeds c 1925 and appeared with his father in an act called 'Carson and Kid', before he joined forces with Eric Morecambe. Wellington station was built by the Leeds and Bradford railway c 1846 and Leeds town hall was, according to some references, designed by an architect called Cuthbert Brodrick (b c 1821) and completed c 1858. It is said that an international piano competition is sometimes held there.

A large stained glass roof is said to cover the Victiorian Quarter in Leeds, which is a shopping district that lies south east of the town hall. This area was designed by an architect called Frank Matcham (b c 1854) who was famous for designing theatres.

Link to the competition:
Where Was I?