Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Inn Signs - The Drunken Duck

I took this photo in the early 1960s - 
it is scanned in from a 50+ year old transparency.

The Drunken Duck is the inn which probably started me off being interested in inn signs.  In 1960 when I was about 11 years old my (honorary) Uncle Phil told me the story of the naming of this pub between Ambleside and Hawkshead in the Lake District in Cumbria.  It is one of the best-known incident-type pub names.

Drunken Duck Inn - picture from their website

The name dates back to Victorian times when the landlord's wife found one (or more) of her ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded that it was (or they were) dead.  Thriftily she began to pluck and prepare it for dinner. The duck, however, was not dead.  Down in the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had gradually drained from the floor into the grain in the ducks' customary feeding ditch. Thereupon the duck made good use of its unexpected opportunity, with the result that when it came to it not only had a hangover but found itself plucked and halfway to the oven.

Hawkshead supplied raw flax and linen yarn to Kendal for its linsey-woollen trade and according to local legend, the landlady, full of remorse for the rough treatment, provided the de-feathered bird with a knitted waistcoat of Hawkshead yarn until its feathers grew back again.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Not quite politically correct !

A couple of notices on a wall in Llangollen:-

I always wondered who put the bubbles in lemonade.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Katarzyna Oleska - Artist Extraordinaire!

One of my favourite blogs is Reading and Art which I have mentioned before during my ramblings.  Recently it brought to my notice a remarkable artist / architect -  Katarzyna Oleska.  Her artistic works include sketches, paintings, and caricatures and she is self-taught.

Cover illustration for "Ksiezniczka" (The Princess) by A. Pilipiuk
This is one of my favourite pictures of all time.  

Katarzyna was born in 1981 in Poland and took a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design at Warsaw Technical University, graduating in 2006, before working as an architectural assistant / junior architect with a Warsaw firm of architects.  Subsequently she moved to the UK and since 2013 has concentrated on illustrating books and magazines for publishers and working for private clients as an illustrator.   She lives in Ramsgate, Kent.

She works in a variety of media having started out making pencil sketches of  people at the age of nine.  She is fascinated by human faces, expressions and anatomy and that fascination comes across in her work.

"Man in India" by Katarzyna Oleska

As well as her sketches and digital work Katarzyna also works in oils and acrylics.  Her caricatures are remarkable and if you visit her website or blog you can see a short video on making caricatures or you can buy a full length video from  She also has other tutorial videos available.

Among her recent works are 14 book cover illustrations for the Piper Verlag series of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, published in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Great art and Terry Pratchett - what more could I want?

Cover illustration for "The Science of Discworld 2"

Privately she describes herself as a very optimistic person with a good sense of humour.  I am most grateful to Katarzyna for permission to reproduce the three illustrations in this post.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Chester Town Crier

A town crier is a person employed to make public announcements in the streets or marketplace of a town.   Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold coat, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat.

In May 2014 I showed some photos I had taken at a town criers' parade in Tiverton, Devon.

Town criers usually carry a handbell to attract people's attention, as they shout the words "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!" before making their announcements. The word "Oyez" means "hear ye," which is a call for silence and attention. Oyez derives from the Anglo-Norman word for listen (modern French, oyez, infinitive, ouïr, but largely replaced by the verb écouter). The proclamations book in Chester from the early 19th century records this as" O Yes, O Yes!"

The Goddess Wiki tells us that in Medieval England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the townspeople, since many were illiterate in a period before moveable type was invented. Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, even selling loaves of sugar were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier throughout the centuries—at Christmas 1798, the Chester Canal Co. sold some sugar damaged in their packet boat and this was to be advertised by the bellman.

The crier also escorted the destitute to the workhouse, installed minor criminals in the stocks and administered floggings. During public hangings he read out why the person was being hanged, and helped to cut him or her down.  In addition to their official duties town criers would be paid by local tradesmen to advertise their wares. Chester records of 1540 show fees due to the bellman.

In 1620, there was a fight at the Chester cross between the butchers and the bakers where the 'Cryer brake his Mace in peeces Amonge them'. In 1607, one public notice read by George Tunnall, the bellman, forbade tipping rubbish in the river. In 1715, a local man recorded that the 'Belman at the Cross ... Reads publicly a proclamation in the Mayor's name, commanding all persons in the City to be of peaceable and civil behaviour, not to walk around the Streets or Rows at unreasonable hours of night'. Chester once had a crier, a day bellman and a night bellman but in 1734, John Posnitt took over as 'Day and Night Bellman'.

A 1701 will of the vicar at Waverton stated that notice was to be given 'by the Belman to the People of Chester, of the time when, and the place where my Corpse is to be buried'.

Salmon fishing season was also closed by the bellman.

The term "Posting A Notice" comes from the act of the town crier, who having read his message to the townspeople, would attach it to the door post of the local inn. Some newspapers took the name "The Post" for this reason.  Liverpool still has a Daily Post newspaper.

Town criers were protected by law, as they sometimes brought bad news such as tax increases. Anything done by the town crier was done in the name of the ruling monarch and harming a town crier was considered to be treason.

Chester Cathedral Cloisters

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