Category Archives: Wildlife and Nature

“Hilarity with Heraldry” (3)

Last time I was looking at old football club badges from the late 1950s. Many clubs back then were using the heraldic coats of arms of their town or city. A fair proprtion of the rest, though, were using animals. Bolton Wanderers and Dumbarton in Scotland are presumably slow and ponderous yet very powerful in their play:

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Derby County have a ram because of a folk song called “The Derby Ram”:

I was going to insert a link here to let you all hear the song that we sang in our junior school classes near Derby all those tears ago, but I decided not to. If you go to YouTube and search for “Derby Ram folk song” you’ll soon see my problem.

Leicestershire County Cricket team have a fox because the county was full of very keen foxhunting men and women and, indeed, children:Preston North End make use of the Paschal Lamb. “PP” stands for “Proud Preston”, who, in the 1880s, managed by the now long forgotten William Sudell, were the greatest team in the land:

Stoke City have a strange badge which, to me, features a humpless camel. Intrigued, I looked it up and it is indeed a camel. The Stoke City camel comes from an original camel featured on the badge of the nearby town of Hanley. The Hanley camel comes from the coat of arms of John Ridgway, the first Mayor of Hanley. Ridgway had his very own camel on his shield because Stoke is the home of a huge pottery industry. Indeed, Stoke City’s nickname is “The Potters”.  Anyway, John Ridgway included the camel in honour of the land of origin of the pottery industry, Egypt. You couldn’t make it up.

A few clubs have badges with birds on them. The first is West Bromwich Albion who were nicknamed “The Throstles” years ago:

A “throstle” is a dialect word in the English Midlands for a song thrush, turdus philomelos.

Albion play in blue and white stripes so that isn’t the reason for the bird. I will quote Tony Matthews, the club’s official historian:

“The club was formed in 1878 as ‘The Albion’. In 22 years the team was based at five different grounds before settling at ‘The Hawthorns’ in 1900. The new ground brought with it a new nickname ‘The Throstles’, as the song thrush was a commonly seen bird in the hawthorn bushes from which the area took its name.”

This is the effigy of a ‘throstle’ at the current WBA ground in West Bromwich. It has been rescued after renovations and is about five or six feet high.

Sheffield Wednesday came from a district of the city called “Owlerton” and played when it was half day closing on Wednesdays, rather like the Welsh team, Abergavenny Thursday. Norwich, nicknamed “The Canaries”, play in green and yellow, the latter colour always strongly denied as merely representative of the city’s main employer, Colman’s Mustard. An image search might persuade you otherwise, though:

Other teams have particular birds on their shields because of the colour of their shirts. Cardiff City are the Bluebirds, Swansea City are the Swans, Bristol City are the Robins, and both Notts County and Newcastle United, in black and white are the Magpies:

And here’s one of Notts County’s many different badges, In this case, it’s the Ladies’ Team:

Flowers are often used as badges but hardly ever in football. In rugby this is the emblem of the Blackheath Club. It shows a piece of black heather, as a kind of pun:

In Heraldry such rib ticklers are called “canting arms”. Here are the shields of families called Shelley, Wellwood and Keyes:

This is a Spanish effort representing ‘Castile and Léon’ or ‘Castle and Lion’.

The arms of the city of Oxford seems to have been heavily influenced by student drug use in the 1960s:

London Irish uses the Irish national plant and the two cricket clubs, Glamorgan and Lancashire, use the daffodil and the red rose respectively:

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Next time, badges with a story behind them.

 

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Filed under Derby County, Football, History, Humour, Personal, Wildlife and Nature

“Hilarity with Heraldry” (2)

Last time, I was talking about “The Tiger Album of Football Club Badges” and I made the point that, back in 1961, lots of football clubs turned straight to the local town’s arms for their own badge. Here’s Aldershot, their nickname is “The Shots”. They’re not that bad, though:

Here’s Barnsley and Birmingham City which both refer back to their industrial heritage:

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There are lots of animals used. Glamorgan Rugby play like dragons and Leicester Rugby Club are actually called “Leicester Tigers”.

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In football, Newcastle United  are close to the sea which is probably full of seahorses at that point and Rotherham United must have had lots of deer in the area at one time:

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Lions are always popular as ‘supporters’, in heraldic terms really, rather than sitting behind the goal, roaring on their team. Here’s Halifax Town and Plymouth Albion rugby club. Funny how both pairs of lions have learned to dance:

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Some don’t fit into any category. Perhaps Fulham have the waters of the nearby River Thames on the shield:

Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters obviously have their cross to bear:

Other badges are derived from their local town’s coat of arms but in a less elaborate way. Luton Town, Pontypridd Rugby Club, Torquay by the sea and Tranmere Rovers:

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Grimsby is by the sea and the team are nicknamed “the Mariners” and Falkirk supporters look very fierce indeed:

Most interesting are the old Manchester City and Manchester United badges:

Despite their century or more of rivalry, both clubs wanted clearly to reflect their city. Here is the city’s coat of arms:

And what about those Bristols, I hear you shout. Bristol City, the Robins with a bright red breast and Bristol Rovers, “the Black Arabs”. I looked that up, and apparently when they were first founded, Rovers played in all black because they very much admired the Arabs rugby team who also played in all black. Here are the old badges of the two clubs:

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And here is the badge of the City of Bristol:

The idea even seems to have influenced Gloucester Rugby Club:
Next time, football and a bunch of animals.

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Prices slashed on “History of the High School” !!!

Those of you who follow my blog will be familiar with the many stories I have told over the years about Nottingham High School…its Founders, its coat of arms, its war heroes, its caretakers, its heroes and its one or two villains. These stories all appeared in “Nottingham High School, the Anecdotal History of a British Public School” which was published some time ago now:

The reason I am reminding you now of this book is that the price on Amazon has now gone down to £23.48 with Free Postage if you are a member of Amazon Prime. This is fantastic value for money.

Most non-fiction books cost roughly £10 for every hundred pages, so £23.48 for a book of this length is an excellent price. The book has 394 pages (and my computer says around 130,000 words, which is roughly the length of either “The Two Towers” or “Return of the King”).

Above all, this is a hardback book with a nice dust jacket and to be honest, it surprised me with its quality in terms of its looks. It looks really professional for a book written by an amateur author.

The book is written in diary form and runs from Thursday, June 30th 1289 to Thursday, July 12th 2012. I have divided it into forty chapters whose titles range from “Lost in the Mists of Time”, “A Personal Friend of Guy Fawkes”, “The School is Closed Today because of Plague”,  “Old Boy Cuts Off King’s Head”, :

In the more modern era, the chapters run from “The DH Lawrence Years”, “Major General Mahin : A Yank at the High School”, “Albert Ball and the High School go to War” to “The Golden Age of Teachers”:

I have tried to keep the tone of the work an interesting and light one, but at the same time, as you know from my blog posts, I can show my more serious side when occasion demands. A very large number of former pupils from the High School died in the two World Wars and their sacrifice is reflected in my book:

What a price !

£23.48

And more than that, what a price for 394 pages of new, original and interesting ideas!

Incidentally, please don’t think that I’m being greedy and I’m trying to make loads-a-money from this. I am merely pointing out the existence of this new, lower price, because previously the two companies publishing the book have both asked for a higher price. In one case, a much higher price.

 

 

 

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Filed under Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, Politics, The High School, Wildlife and Nature, Writing

The Nightingale and Bomber Command

This is a very famous recording of a nightingale singing its little heart out, only to be interrupted by the enormous noise of a large number of Bomber Command aircraft approaching and then flying over. Undaunted, the nightingale carries on with its beautiful song as the bombers leave and the roar of their engines gradually fades away. The recording lasts quite a long time but it is well worth listening to in its entirety, particularly if you have never heard it before. It comes from spud4x:

The recording was made from a garden in Surrey, England during the evening of May 19th 1942 as 197 aircraft flew over on their way to bomb Mannheim. There were 105 Wellingtons, 31 Stirlings, 29 Halifaxes, 15 Hampdens, 13 Lancasters and 4 Manchesters:

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47 men would be killed and 23 would finish up as prisoners of war. Eleven days later would come the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne. And in the woods of England, and indeed Germany, the war would count for very little. The bluebells would be lingering on and the nightingales would be starting to sing.

The nightingale has a very powerful, very famous, but not necessarily hyper distinctive song. On birdwatching trips, I have often seen people listen to a hidden blackcap or garden warbler and walk away happy that they have heard a nightingale. John Keats too, may have been misled. Some critics have mentioned that the bird’s behaviour as Keats describes it, is on occasion not dreadfully nightingaley. But the poetic thoughts are dreadfully, well, poetic:

“Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown”
Perhaps John Clare, of whom I wrote long. long ago, had a better idea:
“See there! she’s sitting on the old oak bough,
Mute in her fears ; our presence doth retard
Her joys, and doubt turns every rapture chill.
Sing on, sweet bird! may no worse hap befall
Thy visions, than the fear that now deceives.”

Anyway, there’s only one nightingale and here it is…

And here’s another version of that BBC recording:

If you’re interested, this is also to be found on Youtube. It is a recording made of a Bomber Command crew on a bombing mission over Germany:

As a fully paid up very sad person, I have two CDs  of this type of thing, bought many years ago from Amazon and I have listened to them many times.

This is the first one and this is the second one. They are particularly good for driving through rush hour traffic on your way to work. Goggles optional.

 

 

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Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, Humour, Personal, Wildlife and Nature

The World of the Mysterious (8)

During my researches about the Wodewose and the Green Man, one thing which has struck me is that to some extent there is a split between the two in terms of location. Indeed, it would be interesting to carry out a little research and to try and  establish the validity of this theory. More interesting still would be to try and see if there is a reason for it:

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From what I have found on the Internet, therefore, I would posit that the Wodewose is linked more frequently to churches in areas with abundant water, areas where there are lots of rivers to follow. The places I have mentioned in my previous post are Boston in Lincolnshire and the counties of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. All three of these regions in medieval times were full of marshes, and were areas subject to continual flooding. Indeed, much of the land area, in Lincolnshire and especially in Cambridgeshire, was permanently covered by shallow water and would be subject to extensive drainage schemes in later centuries.

Here are the marshes of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. They were called “fens” and on this old map, virtually all of the land inside the dotted, or perhaps dashed, line, would have been a good place to take your wellingtons. Indeed, after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Saxon freedom fighter, Hereward the Wake, held out in the fens against the overwhelming forces of the Norman invaders from at least 1067-1071. He is known to have used all of the areas enclosed on this map, particularly the Cambridgeshire section around Ely :

Here are the rivers of Suffolk in the only map I could find. There is perhaps not as much marshland but the county is riven by estuaries which seem to penetrate deep into the dry land. The blue lines of the rivers are only those of reasonable size. The streams and brooks are not featured:

Given the modern Bigfoot’s predilection for rivers, lakes and swamps, I think the Wodewose would have enjoyed living here. Because of the landscape, he may actually have been seen more frequently as he paddled through shallow marshes, perhaps in pursuit of his prey. For this reason the locals considered him to be a living, breathing creature somewhat like themselves but different. He was not seen as supernatural or godlike:

The Green Man, however, is mainly linked to churches in areas which were drier and more heavily forested. In places such as these, the Wodewose would have been seen even less frequently than in the marshes. For this reason, his once-in-a-green-moon appearances began to take on something of the supernatural. He became the godlike “guardian of the forest”.

And at the time, this was a rôle which needed to be filled because it was around this period that people were beginning to clear the forest much more extensively for agriculture and for fuel. Between 1066 and 1230, around a third of the woodland in England had been cleared for growing crops and the grazing of domestic animals. And once you’ve cut down a thousand year old oak tree, you have a good wait on your hands for it to be replaced. Here’s Nottinghamshire’s “Major Oak” which “missed the cut”, literally:

With marshes, no special guardian was needed to look after them. England was not short of rain! Indeed, it would take the people of the Fens area until 1630 to get started on draining the land and making it more suitable for agriculture. Even then, it took a Dutchman, the famous Cornelius Vermuyden, to do it:

For that simple reason, the Wodewose would remain a physical entity, rather than a supernatural one. He was little different from the beavers, the ospreys, the cranes and the Large Copper butterflies that were soon forgotten only twenty years after they had disappeared.

 

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The World of the Mysterious (7)

Last time we looked at the Wodewose. Here he is:For me, the strange figure of the Wodewose is based on a Bigfoot type creature that may still have been alive and well in the vast forests of Western Europe in the early Middle Ages. At this time, the forests in England, for example, were enormous and covered between a third and a half of the country. And even when the Wodewose was gone for ever, then there were still people who had heard their grandfather’s tales about him and who could recreate him in their own world.

He was certainly famous enough to feature in documents written on old parchment . This one dates from 1325. He is on all fours because he has to fit in between the text in Latin and the bottom of the page:

A similar ‘margin picture’ dates from the 1300s. Notice the mother and her child with another young woman (bottom left) and what is either a fight or a very keenly contested game of golf (bottom right):

In this old drawing, the Wodewose looks as if he has lost his club and is struggling to find it (not a golf club, or a country club, but the other kind):

These two individuals are from a series which show the Wodewose’s well known desire for women, yet another feature he has in common with Bigfoot. Picture 1 shows his gentle method of courtship:

The second shows his next step which could well be summarised as “RUN!!!!” If you read about Bigfoot a lot, you will be familiar with his ability to pick up hogs and other farm animals and run off with them. But beautiful ladies are even more impressive:

This Italian lady, though, is well versed in the tricks of both Italian men and Italian Wodewoses. Forewarned is forearmed:

Is the Wodewose carrying a golf club in that last picture?

Bigfoots and Wodewoses hate dogs too:

It is my belief that the Wodewose may well be the direct ancestor of the now much more famous “Green Man” which is a very familiar figure to anybody who visits medieval Western European churches. The Green Man is believed to be the deity who brings back the greenery every year in spring, hence the leaves pouring out of his body. This one is in Norwich Cathedral:

This one comes from Lincoln Cathedral:

The Green Man does also have an aspect as a kind of guardian of the forest, and the trees and the plants therein. And that, of course, is a rôle ascribed to Bigfoot by many different Native American peoples. This Green Man is taken from Poitiers Cathedral in west-central France:

The Green Man very often seems to occur in areas which have originally been heavily forested. The best Green Men I have ever seen occur in the Chapter House in Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire. At the time it was built, it would have been in Sherwood Forest:

Next time, the explanation.

One final point is that in these blog posts about Bigfoot, I have tried very hard to use only images which are available to be used. With some images that is not the case because otherwise there was nothing else available. I am 100% willing to take them down if this causes a problem for anybody, although I suppose there is the flattering aspect that they were the best I could find!

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The World of the Mysterious (6)

England has its own figure which may well look back to the days when ordinary people were all aware that there was something big and hairy in the woods. After all, centuries ago, woodland was far more plentiful and farmers’ fields would often be next to the forest. So too, there were many more hunters then and they would all have known what you might encounter as you moved silently around among the trees.
In England he was called the “Wodewose” and he is usually depicted as a human like creature, somewhat bigger than a man, often carrying a club, and almost completely covered in thick hair:

Over the years, in heraldry, he was depicted in increasingly human form, still carrying a club, but with leaves wrapped around his haunches. I think that that is probably because people saw the Wodewose a lot less frequently as the human population increased and the Wodewoses became less numerous. Even so, judging by the heraldry of the medieval period and later, there may well have been wild men in, as a minimum, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden:

The name ‘wodewose’ comes from two old English words, “wudu” meaning ‘wood’ and “wāsa” which itself comes from the verb “wesan” or “wosan” meaning ‘to be alive’ or simply ‘to exist’ or ‘to be’. So he’s somebody who is in the woods. He is also seen a lot in medieval churches, but as a statue or a carving. This one doesn’t have a club:

But this one does:

The Wodewose might be kneeling on the roof outside the church:

Or he might be on the roof inside. This Wodewose apparently has a touch of greenish mould, but then again, so do some Bigfoots:

This one has a bit more of a tan:

Here’s a German one from Cologne:And another from Suffolk:

This one has had to adopt a strange position just to get all of him in:

For me, the Wodewose can trace his lineage back to a Bigfoot type creature that may well have still been alive and well in the vast forests of Western Europe as late as the early Middle Ages. At this time, up to half of England was covered in forest. People used to say that you could travel from the Humber to the Thames without touching the ground because there were so many trees. And when the Wodewose had disappeared for ever, there were  still plenty of people who had heard all the tales about him and who could recreate him in their own world.

Next time……..the Wodewose’s brother.

One final point is that in these blog posts about Bigfoot, I have tried very hard to use only images which are available and there to be used. With some images that is not the case, but the problem was that there was nothing else available. I am 100% willing to take any images down if this causes a problem for anybody, although I suppose there is the flattering aspect that they were the best I could find on the whole Internet!

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Filed under Cryptozoology, History, Literature, Personal, Science, Wildlife and Nature, Writing