My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The circus comes to town - Alton, Hampshire in 1899.

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt inspires any number of ideas, but I've decided to go with the large and small theme and share this image of a jumbo sized elephant and a very tiny (in comparison) camel. According to Wikipedia, a full-grown adult camel stands 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) at the shoulder and 2.15m (7ft 1 in) at the hump. Elephants, on the other hand, can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft). If you add the seat plus the ladies and their hats, the combined height must be something like 5. 1816m (17 ft) no wonder the camel looks so small.

The circus comes to town (from A countrycamera by Gordon Winter)

The photograph was taken at Crown Close, Alton, Hampshire in 1899. The building in the background is now the Curtis Museum which holds (according to the museum’s website) one of the finest local history collections in Hampshire, exploring 100 million years of history with prehistoric tools, Roman pottery, Saxon burials, the Battle of Alton 1643, the notorious tale of Sweet Fanny Adams and Hop picking and brewing.

[The Battle of Alton was a skirmish in the English Civil War. The local parish church of St Lawrence still bears the scars of where the Royalists mounted their last stand.    The phrase 'Sweet Fanny Adams' originated from an infamous Victorian murder in Alton. A young girl, Fanny Adams, was murdered by Frederick Baker, a local solicitor’s clerk.]

Another view of Crown Close with the Curtis Museum (originally the Mechanics Institute and Museum) on the left.  

The land on which the museum stands was given to the town in 1877 by local brewer Henry Hall as a site for a drinking fountain, a new cottage hospital, reading room, Institute and Baths. Today Crown Close looks much the same as it always did expect a war memorial has taken the place of the drinking fountain. If you are interested in finding out more The Curtis Museum website is an excellent place to start. 


War memorial, Crown Close, Alton.

I'm rather ashamed to admit I've never visited the museum even though I've been to Alton many times and my sister now lives there.  Coincidentally, my niece (my sister’s daughter) gave me a Discover Alton 2015 calendar for Christmas, which includes a photograph of Miss Bell’s Drinking Fountain situated in Butts Road. It turns out Miss Eliza Bell a local philanthropist donated two drinking fountains to the town, one in Butts Road and the other at Crown Close, which was replaced by the war memorial and re-erected in the public gardens.

Miss Bell's Fountain (one of two), Butts Road, Alton. (Photograph - Discover Alton 2015 - Stephen Lewis Design)

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday 267; Large and Small / Radios / Broadcasting

That's me done so why not march on over to SEPIA SATURDAY for more jumbo sized tales.






 

32 comments:

  1. Hi Barbara,
    Another one of your delightful posts and very interesting thank you.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it John.
      I’m looking forward to finding out more about Major (rtd), Bramwell Henry Withers!

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  2. Good start for SS...I've been stumped so far, and I think you've given me the idea I'll go with.

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    1. That’s exciting; I can’t wait to find out what your idea is. Thanks for your visit, Barbara.

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  3. We are having a re-enactment of the battle of Alton this summer. The brewery is closing and no doubt will be replaced with yet more houses!
    Did not know the circus came to town, they still come to the Butts in the autumn, but do not parade through the town - shame. Lovely post xxx

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    1. Hello Sister, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I was thinking of you as I was putting it together. Do you really think they will build more houses? Who on earth is going to live in them all? I signed the petition re the bridge. I hope it does some good, but I have my doubts.

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  4. We are just outside the South Downs National Park, so yes I am sure it will be more houses. There are a lot of greedy people out to make money and they will spoil our lovely small market town.

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    1. Such a shame, maybe sense will prevail.

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  5. Well I thoroughly enjoyed that post and then had a monstrous giggle at the end when I went on to read more about Fanny Adams. I seem to have always known that Sweet Fanny Adams meant "nothing" but hadn't been aware of how that meaning came about. Very illuminating.

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    1. Don’t you just love the way one thing leads on to another? I’ve used the saying Sweet Fanny Adams my entire life without once wondering why. Thanks for your visit.

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  6. All signs make it clear: get to that museum!

    That must have been some big elephant to make the camel look so small.

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    1. You are so right Wendy. I'm going to visit the very next time I go to see my sister.

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  7. Moglie must have been a real giant to tower above that elephant. Enjoyed the first photo of the huge elephant and smaller camel.

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    1. Now you mention it Mowgli has got very long legs! How funny it had never occurred to me before. Thanks for visiting.

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  8. Loved your take on the theme picture --- also enjoyed the photos and history of Crown Close. Especially liked the black and white picture of Crown Close -- the one that looks like a pen and ink drawing. Nice post.

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    1. Thank you Joan. I agree the picture does look like a pen & ink drawing, but it’s actually a postcard, so I assume it must be a photograph?

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  9. Having lived in salisbury for many years we visited ALlon on a number of occasions, but I am woefully ignorant of the historical facts; thank you for putting that right!

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    1. Terry and I would like to live in Salisbury. We are just a bit too far away from family and friends now that we are in Somerset. We moved down to Dorset about 20 years ago and then up a bit to Somerset, but we were younger then! Thanks for your visit, Barbara.

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  10. That must be an extra-large elephant or an extra-small camel.

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  11. A really interesting post. Thank you.

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    1. Glad you think so. Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

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  13. The comparison of sizes in that first picture with the elephant & the camel is spectacular! Good choice. And yes, you should probably give that museum a visit!

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    1. You are quite right I really must. I don’t know why I’ve not done it before

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  14. I wouldn't have thought of a camel as a small animal on its wn, but of course it's all relative! My daughter's in-laws live in or very close to Alton and we have visited there, but I think we skirted around and missed the town centre. I'll have to ask if they know about Sweet Fanny Adams.

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    1. Hello Jo, it would be interesting to see what they say. Next time I visit my sister, I’m going to make sure I take a proper look at the town. I’ve walked through the streets numerous times, but I’ve never stopped to read any of the plaques or visited the museum – that is going to change!

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  15. I have a fear of heights so you would never get me on that elephant! But surely there is trick photography as the difference in size appears too great?

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    1. Hello Sharon, I did wonder that myself, but I think perhaps it’s the way the photo was taken. I also think the ladies are sitting very high up, and that adds to the strange look of the photo.

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  16. Like boundforoz I went a-googling. SS never fails to inform me.

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    1. Hello Lorraine, so did I! In hindsight, I probably should have put more of an explanation in the post, but I’m always mindful of making them too long.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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