Friday, 9 September 2016

Mary Arden

I hate it when the damned keyboard reverses two letters.  It can result in you urining your post.

Whilst taking a local walk yesterday evening around Wilmcote I came upon one of those brown tourist signs pointing to Mary Arden’s house.  I recognised the name.  For the benefit of my Aussie readers Mary Arden is famous for creating a popular line of cosmetics.  Actually I may not be right with that.  Part of me thinks she was one of the Spice Girls and another part thinks she was Rod Stewart’s second wife.  Oh well, Google solved it!   Mary Arden was the mother of William Shakespeare.  She was one of eight children born to a local farmer who was rather affluent.  Mary must have been both intelligent and determined because she was made executor in her father’s will and he also left her 60 acres of prime farmland.  She married John Shakespeare, the son of one of her father’s tenant farmers and they moved into Stratford Upon Avon where William was born.

The National Trust bought Mary Arden’s Farm in 1930.  It was still in good condition and had been in continuous use as a working farm since she lived there as child.  The farm was refurbished by the National Trust as a replica Tudor Farm.  In 2000 it was discovered that Mary Arden’s farmhouse actually belonged to a neighbour, Adam Palmer.  The NT were quite fortunate in that they had also purchased the ‘real’ farm in 1968 without realising it’s true history. 

We paid our entrance fee and went for a walk around the farm buildings.  It’s quite apparent that many of the buildings are dated after Mary’s time.  There is a notice in the farmhouse stating there wouldn’t have been an upper floor in Mary’s time and the kitchen would also have been a subsequent addition. 


The farmhouse


I doubt this is Mary’s bed.  But it is narrow for two!


It appears most people slept on the floor


Access points had to fit in around the building frame

Homes of the less wealthy during this period were still constructed around the principle of the great hall.  The basic frame was built around ‘A’ frames.  The photo below shows an ‘A’ frame.


The wall panelling between the frames were filled in by weaving wattle branches and then overfilling with daub.  Daub is a mixture of wet earth, clay, straw and animal dung.  A thin layer of whitewash is applied as a water resistant plaster to either side.  Panels filled with bricks were a subsequent technique.


An exposed wattle panel

I thought the NT had a good business model selling small packets of animal food to families so their children could then feed the pigs, ducks, rabbits, etc.  Get the customer pay for the food your livestock need! Smile

A demonstration of geese herding was in progress.


The lady giving the commentary about herding geese explained that whilst they would be demonstrating this technique with approximately 12 geese. When it came to taking the geese to Stratford during the Tudor period there would be 300 to 500.

The dovecote was constructed to provide a large number of roosting spots. 


The doves provided eggs, feathers and they also supplemented the diet.  Droppings made good fertilizer.

On our way back to the mooring we noticed the following sign.

IMG_0605I hadn’t realised the Stratford Upon Avon Canal was the first canal to be rescued.  The involvement of the National Trust explains the concrete plaque I noticed inside one of the locks.


In the afternoon we completed the Wilmcote Flight (11 locks) mooring just short of the busy A46.


Looking back


Hoits said...

There's an interesting story about the abandonment of the canal not being allowed, because just before they applied to abandon it, a ticket had been issued for someone to canoe the length of the canal, so the restores could prove it was still in use.

Adam said...

There's a good story about the boat trip the Queen Mother was taken on at the re-opening of the Stratford Canal. She was on a boat being taken down a lock, when one of those jets of water out of the lock wall hit her. "What's that?" She asked. The dignitary she was with hesitated and then said "It's a pisser, ma'am". "I know that", she said, "but what's it called?"

Tom and Jan said...

Well I hadn't heard or read the canoe story but a boater had told me about the pisser, although I didn't know it had occurred on this canal.