Methodist preacher John Wesley wrote of his first open air sermon.
"I could scarce reconcile myself to this strange way of preaching in the fields, having been all my life till very lately so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church."
John Wesley would go on to preach outdoors many times, one particularity impressive location that was perfect for this was in the village of Gwennap in Cornwall, a Cornish village situated in the heart of the counties tin mining region.
A depression, known as Gwennap Pit, that was created by mining subsidence, is situated on the edge of the village, the woodland that once surrounded it have long since disappeared, a direct result of the demand for charcoal that was used in the smelting of the tin. By the time Wesley visited Gwennap the pit had weathered and was completely covered with grass, Wesley described it as a round, green hollow, gently shelving down. John Wesley would preach in the open at Gwennap Pit eighteen times after first visiting on the 5th September 1762. Of this visit Wesley stated
“The wind was so high at five that I could not stand in the usual place at Gwennap. But at a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many thousand people. I stood on one side of the amphitheatre toward the top, with people beneath and on all sides, and enlarged on those words from the Gospel for the day ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see’...... and hear the things which ye hear’.
John Wesley's Methodism was popular in Cornwall, it's simple teachings of comfort and hope and ultimate salvation appealed to miners and fisherman who faced danger every day of their lives, people would flock to Gwennap where they could be reassured by Wesley's words.
My great grandparents were the second couple to be married in the their local Wesleyan Church when it was completed in 1904, my parents would be married there two generations later.
Sometimes I wonder how people manage to achieve so much in their lives, and what drives them in their pursuit of knowledge. People such as astronomer John Herschel, whose daily life must have been taken up with constant study, writing and experimentation. To achieve what Herschel did, he must have been up at the crack of dawn, and at the end of the day he was climbing into bed when others had been asleep for hours.
Sir John Frederick William Herschel, English astronomer, mathematician and chemist was born on the 7th March in 1792 to a to a father who was equally industrious - composer and astronomer William Herschel. William Herschel is credited with the discovery the planet Uranus, and John would become equally influential in the field of astronomy as well as chemistry, botany and photography. Herschel continued the work of his father in the study of planets, he discovered the four moons of Uranus and the seven moons of Saturn.
Herschel's work in the field of botany influenced Charles Darwin. The opening lines of Darwin's The Origin of Species refers to Herschel, where he (Darwin) writes his intention is
"to throw some light on the origin of species that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers"
John Herschel was also influential in the new medium of photography, he helped to refine the process of fixing photographs, that is making images permanent and it was Herschel who advised William Henry Fox Talbot in his attempts to create the first photograph. It has been suggested that John Herschel was the first to use the word ‘photography’ and also coining the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative.’ Not only did he play an important part in the chemistry behind the invention of the photograph, he also encouraged others to use this medium, especially Margaret Cameron, whose work in the subject was influential in the world of art.
John Herschel and his father were not the only members of the family to study astronomy, John's aunt Caroline was famous in this field too. Caroline discovered a number of comets and in 1828 she received a gold medal award from the Royal Astronomical Society, she was the first woman to receive this prize.
9th January 1799: William Pitt introduces Income Tax.
Towards the end of the 18th century, the war against Napoleon was not going very well, the French army was much better organised and to make matters worse Britain’s finances were in a bit of a mess.
"With the War of the Second Coalition in full swing and France the better organized country, Britain's national debt was on the rise. William Pitt the Younger, functioning as both Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, saw an income tax as the much needed source of funds for the war. Obviously, when it was first instituted the income tax was a 'temporary' tax, but it remained in place almost continually until 1816 when the Napoleonic Wars concluded."
The satirical cartoon below was circulated in 1806, and as you can see it is a representation of the unpopularity of this tax and its impact on the population of the country.
Dydh da, fatla genes?
Dolly Pentreath is said to be the last native Cornish speaker, she died on the 26th December in 1777.
By the nineteenth century, Cornish had died as a spoken community language, although records state that it was being spoken particularly at sea by Newlyn fishermen.
During this century there has been a revival of interest in Celtic culture which meant that Cornish attracted some academic attention. Plays of the middle Cornish period have been studied, and academics such as Edwin Norris and Whitley Stokes published them with commentaries and translations. It was not until early in the twentieth century that an attempt was made to revive the language.
My Cornish great great grandmother was Jane Pentreath, born in Paul, not too far from Newlyn, Dolly Pentreath was Jane's great aunt and, as already mentioned, the last person to speak fluent Cornish. However, the only sentence my grandfather could say was "Can you pass me that bag of nails" which was no use whatsoever unless you were in a hardware shop!
On the 17th December 1778, one of Cornwall's famous sons, Sir Humphry Davy was born in Penzance.
Davy was educated in Cornwall's county town of Truro, and this was followed by an apprenticeship to a
Penzance surgeon. In 1797, Davy took up chemistry, and was taken on as an assistant at the Medical Pneumatic Institution
in Bristol. It was here he experimented with various new gases by inhaling them which nearly cost him his life on more than
one occasion, eventually though, this experimentation led to the discovery of the anesthetic effect that we know as
In 1815, George Stephenson from Newcastle, claimed he was the inventor of a safety lamp for the use in coal mines but
it is Davy who is credited with the invention. This lamp allowed coal to be mined from deep coal seams reducing the dangers
of explosions from methane gas. The lamp, consisted of a wick with the flame enclosed inside a mesh screen, Davy
discovered that if the mesh was fine enough, it would not ignite the methane.
Sir Humphry Davy died in Geneva, Switzerland, on 29 May 1829
Being a beautiful, clever and articulate woman was what made Sarah Churchill the woman she was, however these
attributes in conjunction with her friendship with Queen Anne, lead to a massive quarrel and ultimately her dismissal
at the beginning of 1711.
Sarah was not afraid to speak her mind, but she was also unable to control her feelings when she did not get what she wanted.
Sarah was the wife of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, her quarrel with the queen resulted in the loss of her place in
court, her dismissal from her position as Mistress of the Robes among others, and the replacement in the queens affections
by Abigail Masham. Her husband's demand for the position of captain generalship for life was the straw that broke the
camel's back and he felt the toe of the royal boot twelve months following Sarah's ejection.
The Duke of Malborough, for Queen Anne at least, represented all that was wrong with the country at that time. The fall out from the Spanish succession crisis had hit England hard. The people of England had become very sick of the fighting and
they had also become sick of paying for it.
Sarah and John Churchill were shrewd, capable and wealthy and classic examples of those who got too big for their boots.
The Duke of Malborough died in the June of 1722 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Sarah died on the 18th October 1744 at Marlborough House. Following her burial at her beloved Blenheim, John Churchill's body was taken from
his resting place and re interred alongside her.
As a child, I can remember being told that I would have the "the riot act" read to me for misbehaving, can you?
I took it to mean that I'd would be told off for causing trouble. I realised what that term meant even when I didn't exactly understand its origins.
After the 1st August 1715, if you and eleven of your mates were hanging around making a nuisance of yourselves, being
rather loud and throwing cabbages at a statue of a local dignitary, those in authority would deem that you were 'unlawfully assembled." You could be asked nicely to go home, but if didn't you would be dragged off to the local lock up and eventually find yourself standing in front of the local magistrate.
The Riot Act of 1715 went by the rather long title of "An Act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the
more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters." It was introduced a year earlier when the country was troubled by a
number of serious disturbances with the intention of "many rebellious riots and tumults that have been taking place of
late in divers parts of this kingdom" and gave the warning
"Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse
themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act
made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King."
If you chose to ignore this new act you could find yourself imprisoned for a couple of years with just a hammer
and large rocks to keep you occupied."
The act was read in 1819 at Peterloo in Manchester to a number of people who were peaceful campaigning for
parliamentary reform by magistrates who were panicked at the sight of the crowd. A year later in 1919 in Glasgow
the city's sheriff had the 'act' ripped from his hands as he was reading it to a crowd of over ninety-thousand people.
The Riot Act soon fell into disuse, however the last time it was read was in 1929 following a bonfire in Chiddingford
in Surrey, to one small boy and the attending police officers.
John Wesley was born in the last two weeks of May 1703 in the village Epworth in Lincolnshire.
Lincoln Collage Oxford writes:
"After completing his BA, Wesley followed the traditions of his family by taking Holy Orders and was made a deacon in Christ Church Cathedral in September 1725. Three years later he was ordained.
In 1726 a vacancy became available for a Fellowship at Lincoln College, which at that time was open only to those born in the diocese of Lincoln. Wesley's father had connections with Dr Morley, Rector of Lincoln College, and after being examined in Homer and Horace he was duly elected to a fellowship on March 25th. Samuel Wesley was very content that his son was to become one of the twelve fellows and wrote:
"What will be my own fate before the summer is over, God knows, sed passi graviora, wherever I am, my Jack
is a fellow of Lincoln."
You can read the whole of this article by clicking on the link below:
You can read more about John Wesley on another of my blogs here
On the 28th April 1789, Captain William Bligh and eighteen crew members had been cast adrift from the HMS Bounty that had been sailing from Tahiti to the West Indies. It was on the 14th of June that they finally reached the island of Timor after travelling nearly 4,000 miles in a small boat.
Captain Bligh eventually returned to England arriving on the 14th of March the following year to find the the country was already talking of the mutiny. He was at first proclaimed a hero, but later court martialled for the loss of his ship. This resulted in his acquittal.
The crew of the HMS Bounty, led by Fletcher Christian, mutinied just off the Friendly Islands. Following setting their captain adrift, they headed for the Pitcairn Islands
Who was the goody and baddie in this sad tale? Was it Bligh, the supposed cruel and brutal Captain? Was Fletcher Christian a hero for not being afraid to standing up to a bully or was Bligh doing what he was supposed to do, that is captain his ship and keep control his men. Was Christian a rebel who mutinied when he was denied what he wanted.
What was the truth I wonder?
William Hogarth, artist and satirist, was born in 1697 in London, his paintings gives us a glimpse of eighteenth
century England at a time when few had much and many had little and this comes across in many of his images.
Three of his most famous works are A Rakes Progress, Gin Lane and the one pictured here Marriage a la Mode
In Marriage a la Mode, Hogarth warns of the pit falls of marriage for financial gain.
It is one of six painting depicting the progress of a betrothed couple ending in the death of both of them. Symbolism is
abound here, from the paintings on the walls depicting doom to the reason this marriage is taking place......money!
The poor bride and groom have no interest in each other, the bride's bored with the situation and the bridegroom is more concerned with himself and his appearance. The soon to be father in law rests his bandaged foot on a stool and points to a family tree, he might as well shout
'Look at what you get for your money!'
Not one of my favorite artists, but none the less Hogarth was a talented artist and an intelligent and wise man.
Hogarth died on the 26th October 1764 and this was said of him.
Farewell great Painter of Mankind
Who reach'd the noblest point of Art
Whose pictur'd Morals charm the Mind
And through the Eye correct the Heart.
If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay,
If Nature touch thee, drop a Tear:
If neither move thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honour'd dust lies here.
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.
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