Sunday, 23 August 2015

Barons and Charters and Literary Fun

I don't live far from Wincanton, but for some reason I have never visited, or been to the Discworld Emporium , which lives there.

I almost didn't get there today. I decided to go. Which turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. 

The road,you see, was closed. The diversion signs were .. unhelpful. For which read 'one sign sending you down a  tiny lane with grass growing up the middle, and then No More Signs.

And each time I tried to find Wincanton, I got back to another road block. I would have given up, but I am stubborn, and I had a full tank of petrol and nothing else I needed to do (unless you count housework, of course) so I decided that I would get to Wincanton, even if I had to go round it and sneak up on it from the wrong side.and having made that choice, I did then manage to get there.

The Discworld Emporium is easy enough to find once you get into the town, and it is, as might be expected, full of lovely things and interesting people.  (and yes, of course I bought things. How not?)

After leaving Wincanton, I headed to Salisbury, which, as part of the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, (Salisbury  Cathedral holds one of the 4 remaining original charters) currently has a 'Barons' Charter' trail, with 25 Barons, each decorated by a different artist.
Discworld Knight
With a link to my first port of call, one of the Barons is the Discworld Knight, decorated by Paul Kidby, and featureing a sword covered in Feegles, and a back covered in a wide range of Discworld characters, from Granny Weatherwax, to Susan Sto Helit, the Librarian (Oook), Lord Vetinari and Tiffany Aching. And more Feegles, of course. 

Discworld Knight (Back)
I didn't seek out all 25 Barons, but I did find a fair few - one celebrating the 800th anniversary, and standing just outside the cathedral (the Charter itself is kept in the Chapter House)
Another I liked was the 'Astro Baron' in full NASA gear, and 

'Looking forward Looking Back', which has a trompe l'oeil painting of the interior of the cathedral on it. 

 As well as the Barons, I visited the cathedral, which I have not been to for years. It has a lovely, modern font, in which one can see the reflections of the roof and stained glass windows.                                                                                                                           There is a beautiful, perfectly proportioned chapter house, (in which Salisbury's copy of Magna Carta is displayed in a glass case in a modern and not very beautiful tent, presumably to protect it from excessive light) 

In the cloisters, I had a brief and unexpected encounter with a small bat. It had, it appeared, fallen, and was in danger of getting squished. Several people had tried to pick it up using leaflets, which were of course rather shiny and hard to grip, so it occurred to me that if I emptied out my cotton, Neil Gaiman quoting tote bag, I could use that to give it something to grip, so it could be moved somewhere safer.
Which was what happened.   The bat was moved gently to the hedge bordering the cloisters, where it clambered from the bag onto the hedge, and a little later a verger appeared to keep an eye on it and to ensure that it was not disturbed or injured. I suspect that it was a young one and had perhaps mis-judged a landing, and then had trouble getting off the ground to take off again. And there was no sign of it when I went back through the cloisters half an hour later, after visiting Magna Carta, which I think is a good sign!

After leaving the cathedral, I noticed that one of the houses in the Close was owned by the National Trust, so I decided to visit. It is Mompesson House, and is fairly small for a National Trust property.   It is an 18thC house (just, having been completed in 1701)                                                                                                                                  It is a nice house, and also has a claim to fame as having been used as a location for the 1995 film version of 'Sense and Sensibility' (Emma Thompson et. al.) in which it  appeared as Mrs Jennings' townhouse.  The house has, as well as it's  collection of glassware, and some nice plasterwork, has a number of props and costumes from the file (in the picture, the headless gentleman is in fact Alan Rickman / Colonel Brandon's suit) 

There were some bonnets, too (although they were not, I think, Alan Rickman's).

All in all, it was an interesting day out, and it did not start to rain until I was nearly home.

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