Monday, August 10, 2020

Pea Soup Andersen’s

Pea Soup Andersen's is a restaurant chain in California.  It was founded in 1924 by Anton Andersen and his wife Juliette.  Born in Denmark, Anton Andersen had trained as a chef in Europe and New York, also helping with the opening of the Biltmore Hotel.  He and his wife purchased a property in the small town of Buellton, California in Santa Barbara County, neighbouring Solvang, a Danish community of recent immigrants.  

The land in Buellton had previously been part of a Mexican Land Grant owned by Jose Maria Corarrubias and Joaquin Carillo of Santa Barbara.  The land was purchased by the Buell Brothers in 1865.  R.T Buell turned the land into a prosperous horse and cattle ranch and a dairy farm called Ranch San Carlos de Jonata.  Buell married Miss Emily Budd in 1892 and they had five children.  When Buell died in 1905 he was buried in the family plot which would later become the car park for Pea Soup Andersen's.  His body was later moved to Oak Hill Cemetery in Ballard.

The area of Buellton, located in the Santa Ynez Valley, changed rapidly and by 1911 Danish immigrants, attracted to the area, were settling there opening businesses and farms.  When the highway was diverted through Buellton and electricity was bought to the valley the Andersen's saw an opportunity.  They opened a small restaurant called Andersen's Electrical Cafe.  The name was in honour of their prized new electric stove.   

With a menu of simple foods including hotcakes, ice-creams, sodas and coffee, the café was created cater to the people that travelled the highway.  Initially the customers were mostly people that were travelling between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The café also happened to be on the road to Hearst Castle at San Simeon. This was the heyday of the Hearst Media empire and writers and journalists such as Arthur Brisbane, one of the best known newspaper editors of the 20th Century and O.O McIntyre, a newspaper columnist of the 20s and 30s, stopped to eat at Andersen's. In this way praise for the establishment and the food it served was sent all across the country.

What would become the famous pea soup, a family recipe belonging to Juliette, Anton Andersen's French wife, was first added to the restaurant's menu three months after it was opened. Juliette was a fabulous cook and was responsible for preparing many of the popular recipes on the menu. As the establishment became more popular in 1928 the Andersen's built a hotel and dining room as well as sinking a well.  the Andersen's called the new establishment The Bueltmore, a play on the name of the Biltmore Hotel.  As Anton had worked in many well known restaurants, many famous chefs stopped by the Bueltmore.

In the 1930s Robert, Anton and Juliette's son, returned from Stanford University.  Robert became instrumental in the marketing aspect of the restaurant.   He discovered a cartoonist called Forbell who created a cartoon entitled "Little Known Occupations" for a magazine called Judge.  The illustration depicted two chefs creating split pea soup using a chisel to split the peas.  Andersen obtained the rights to the image.  Robert famously used billboards as part of his marketing strategy.

Robert Andersen married Rosemary Mohan who opened a gift shop attached to the restaurant.  the couple had a son called Robert in 1942.

During WWII the restaurant was closed to the public and  instead served as a place that military personnel and their family were served meals.  When the war was over Pea Soup Andersen's reopened.  Robert commissioned a Disney trained artist to draw the two mascots for the restaurant Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee, whose names were chosen through a competition.

In 1947 the new coast road was rerouted through the centre of Buellton.  That year the name of the restaurant became Pea Soup Andersen's. In 1965 Vince Evans, a successful business man and leader in the Santa Ynez Valley, purchased the restaurant.  He was said to have bought Pea Soup Andersen's on a whim because he enjoyed the soup. He promoted the restaurant like it was a Hollywood film putting huge billboards up and hiring new chefs.   Thriving under Evans management, the restaurant was said to be producing three quarters of a million bowls of soup a year.  Evans added a small wild animal park and aviary filled with parrots as well as a miniature train to further attract customers.  By the 1970s this was all demolished to make way for a Danish themed hotel.  In 1967 a second location was established in Santa Nella, California in Merced County.  The property had a restaurant, hotel, gas station and a gift shop as well as a working windmill.

Two short-lived restaurants were opened in Carlsbad and Mammoth Lakes.  Following the death of the Evans family in 1980 the restaurants passed through several owners.  Buellton and Santa Nella are now owned by Milt Guggia, a central coast restauranteur.

The Buellton Pea Soup Andersen's is said to be haunted by former owner Juliette Andersen.  Strange sounds, unexplained music and doors opening and closing have all been reported.  Furniture is also said to move on its own accord.

I have been to Pea Soup Andersen's several times on various trips to California and I always find it charming.  The soup is very delicious and the gift shop always has unique and interesting wares. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Fort George

Fort George is an historic military structure at Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario in Canada.  The fort was built by the British Army between 1796 and 1799 following the Jay Treaty.  Designed by Alexander Hamilton and supported by President George Washington the Jay Treaty was negotiated by American statesman and Diplomat, John Jay.  Brokered between the United States and Great Britain, the Jay Treaty was created to avoid war and resolve issues that remained following the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which ended the American Revolutionary War.  As part of the Jay Treaty the British Troops withdrew from Fort Niagara which stands opposite in New York and is visible from the Fort George ramparts.  The newly constructed Fort George became the western most of British fortified posts and served as the regional headquarters for both the British Army and the Canadian Militia.  

Fort George was built using earthworks and palisades or stakewalls, a wall made of wooden or iron stakes.  The fort internal structures including an Officer’s quarters and a stone powder magazine where ammunition and other explosives could be stored.  Also within the fort a blockhouse was constructed to house the ranks and also accomodate their families.  

During the War of 1812 to 1815, a conflict between the United States and the British Army plus their respective allies, several battles were fought in the area of Fort George.  In 1813, just after dawn on May 27th clearing fog revealed an American vessel off the shore.  Military Commander, Scott Winfield was tasked with leading the first landing party for the American assault.  Starting west of the mouth of the Niagara River Scott landed on the British territory while American Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry and his men directed a schooner to silence nearby squadrons that were supporting Fort George.  The American landing parties were charged by bayonet wielding men from the Glengarry Light Infantry as they waded ashore.  The Glengarry men were outnumbered and after loosing half their men retreated.  The schooners in Lake Niagara, using grapeshot, a non-solid projectile made up of an arrangement of round shot  packed into a canvas bag, attacked a company of The Royal Newfoundland resulting in them sustaining heavy casualties.  

After landing, Military Commander Scott advanced up the beach only to meet with British Troops.  Between Scott’s landing party and further fire from Commander Perry’s schooner the British Army sustained heavy losses.  The commanding officer of the Niagara Peninsula in Upper Canada, General John Vincent, realised that his troops were out-numbered and ordered an immediate retreat to Queenston.  Before their retreat General Vincent ordered the Fort guns of Fort George to be spiked and the magazines blown up.  Despite this Commander Scott was able to secure Fort George with little damage.  After inflicting heavy casualties on the British Army the Americans were able to secure several heavily fortified positions, including Fort George.  

The Americans remained in a small military enclave around and within Fort George.  In June 1813 an American column marched from Fort George to attempt to surprise a British outpost at Beaver Dams.  The American troops stopped in the town of Queenston overnight.  A resident of Queenston, Laura Secord walked 32kms (20 miles) through American occupied territory to warn the British Troops that the Americans were coming.  When the Americans resumed their march they were ambushed by Native warriors and surrendered.  About 500 Americans including their commander were taken prisoner.  The Americans abandoned Fort George following this defeat as it was on the British side of the river.  Fort George was then left to fall into ruin.  In the 1930s the site was reconstructed.  

During the First and Second World War Fort George was used as a military training base under the name of Camp Niagara.  In 1966 the military left the fort.   Fort George was then staffed by costumed characters and maintained by Parks Canada as a living museum with re-enactments.  It has hosted such events as the 1955 World Scout Jamboree.  

Fort George is considered one of the most haunted places in Niagara.  One commonly sighted apparition is refered to as the “Woman in the Mirror”.  She is a young curly haired woman that haunts the officer’s quarters and is dressed in a white dress.  Two men dressed in red uniforms are also seen in the officers quarters.  On occasion soldiers dressed in white are seen laying in the bunks in the officers quarters.  Staff have also reported an apparition in an area of the fort closed to the public.  The ghost is fondly referred to as Irving and he haunts the upper level of the barracks.  

One area of the fort that is considered extremely haunted was only actually built in the 1960s.  A tunnel built of stone and wood stretches seventy feet from inside the walls of the fort to the blockhouse.  Despite it being built well after the battles Fort George endured, both during the day and night, the tunnel been the scene of paranormal phenomena both visual and auditory.  

One of the most well known ghosts in Fort George is a seven year old girl known as Sarah Ann. She is believed to have been the daughter of one of the soldiers and to have died of a disease. The apparition has been seen and heard by staff and visitors to the fort.  The apparition of Sarah Ann has been known to tap people on the shoulder.  

Like all haunting there is much controversy about the phenomena at Fort George.  While staying in Niagara-On-The-Lake I would often walk to the fort. Fort George has a somber feel especially in the snow.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mahogany Creek Inn

Mahogany Creek is a suburb of Perth, Western Australia and is located on the steepest section of Great Eastern Highway.  It is part of the Shire of Mundaring,  The name Mahogany Creek was first recorded by surveyor George Smythe when he was establishing the York Road in 1835.  He noted that there was a small valley of what he thought were English Mahogany Trees, though they were in fact Jarrah.  The creek from which the locality was named flows into Jane Brook which then flows through the John Forrest National Park into the Swan River. 

 The Mahogany Inn sits on the south side of Great Eastern Highway. The first building established at the site of the Mahogany Inn was a granite military barracks with a seperate kitchen and store.  Built around 1839 of local stone, the barracks were constructed to house patrols that could ensure the safety of travellers on the Guildford to York Road.  These military stations were built in the early formative years of the colony.    The site was also close to the road that branched off to the settlement of Northam. 

The Mahogany Inn is Victorian Colonial Georgian style, single storey with an attic, with a low red corrugated iron hipped roof and white washed rendered walls with vertical windows.   By September 1841 the Barracks had been abandoned by the military and by November 1842 the site had been sold to two Perth Merchants, William and Robert Habgood.  The Habgoods purchased 320 acres of land surrounding the former barracks and set up a ‘Road-Side Hotel’.  In October 1843 the brothers advertised to let the property which they described as 

“The well known Road-side House at Mahogany Creek, situated on the York Road, Inn miles from Guildford.  The house is surrounded by very superior timber and will be let on moderate terms.”

The advertisements ran until November 1843 when it was apparently taken up by Edward Byfield.  Edward John Harold Byfield arrived as part of thirty one passengers aboard the Westmoreland in 1840.  He married Jane Eliza Coates the following year.  Jane and her brother had been sent to the colony by The Society for the Encouragement of Juvenile Immigration.  Jane had been placed in the care of James Stirling, first Govener and Commander-In-Chief of Western Australia. She worked as a nursemaid to the Stirling children before marrying Edward.  Edward was the first publican/owner of Mahogany Creek Inn. He applied for a Publicans License at a sitting of the Guildford Magistrates Board.  By the 1850s the Byfields had established what they called a homey wayside inn for weary travellers to rest and dine and called it The Prince Of Wales Hotel.  By 1859 the business was so prosperous Edward Byfield was able to purchase the property from Robert Habgood for 200 pounds.  

Edward and Jane had nine children.  He died in 1863 leaving his property in equal shares with his children, his wife Jane and his brother in law William Coates.  Jane was unable to obtain a publicans license and as this was her families livelihood she married James Gregory not long after the death of her husband Edward.  In 1864 James Gregory was able to get a publicans licence for the Prince Of Wales Hotel. After having two more children with James Gregory, Jane died in August 1871.  Her sons evicted James Gregory from the hotel and their uncle William Coates took over the publicans licence.  He held the licence for the Prince of Wales Hotel until 1875.  

In June 1875 Benjamin Kenworthy took over the publican license for The Prince of Wales and held it until 1877 when former police constable Hennry Coppin took the license over until 1880.  In 1877 William, James and Thomas Byfield, Edward and Janes children, sold their eight shares in the Inn to Northam merchant George Throssell.  During the 1880s the the Byfield sons and Throssell advertised the Inn for sale, calling it ‘Mahogany Creek Inn’.  

Due to the prospect of the construction of a railway though the hills to York there was not much interest in purchasing the Inn.  February 1881 John Symonds announced that he intended to establish a Wayside House operating under the name The Oxford Inn. Symonds held the license until 1883 when he transferred the name and the license to a building in Chidlow.  

The York Road became a toll road administered by local lawman, Constable Henry Coppin.  In 1850 a convict depot was established beside the Prince of Wales Hotel.  Prisoners enroute to Perth were often detained in the cellar of the Mahogany Inn.  In fat the cellar under the Inn where prisoners were detained still has the original table where the prisoners ate their meals and the window still has bars on it.  

Several notorious Western Australian bushrangers were known to visit the Mahogany Inn regularly, including Moondyne Joe.  Joseph Bolitho Johns, known as Moondyne Joe was an English convict and Western Australia’s  most famous bush ranger.  On one particular occasion Moondyne Joe was hiding from the police in the attic of the Inn and he carved a dog chasing a kangaroo on the floor.  The carving still remains.  It was believed that Moondyne Joe liked one of the waitresses that worked at the Inn.  Moondyne Joe was apprehended by the police jumping from the roof of Mahogany Inn

The Inn had several subsequent high profile owners including politician and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Sir Stephen Parker.  
In the 1960s additions were made to the Inn, with several other add on and renovations to follow over the years.  The Mahogany Creek Inn now boasts rooms with all the modern comforts

It is believed that Mahogany Creek Inn is haunted by Moondyne Joe, despite the fact that he actually died of senile dementia in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and is buried in Fremantle Cemetary with the welsh word “rhyddid”, meaning “freedom” on his gravestone.  Both staff and visitors to the Inn have reported hearing ghostly noises and experiences.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Baker Street

Situated in the Marylebone District, Baker Street is in the City of Westminster, London.  In 1755 Henry William Berkeley Portman began developing the London Portman Estates.  He began to issue the first building leases, one of which was granted to William Baker.

William Baker of Audrey was an architect, surveyor and builder who worked in Shropshire and the adjacent counties in the mid 18th century.  William Baker laid out what became known as Baker Street on the leased land in 1794.

Lying in the postcode of the areas NW1/W1 and forming part of the A41 there, Baker Street is a busy thoroughfare.  The Portman Estate dates back to the sixteenth century.  Sir William Portman, who served as Lord Justice to King Henry VIII, leased 270 acres of the Manor of Lileston (Lisson).  He acquired the freehold in 1554 however most of the land remained as farmland until the building boom, following the Seven Year War involving the Great Powers of Europe at the time in 1763.

Madame Tussaud opened her first wax work museum in 1835, a permanent exhibition on the upper story of the Baker Street Bazaar in 1835.  Prior to this Madame Tussaud had toured Great Britain with her works for thirty three years.

The Baker Street Bazaar exhibited a huge range of items for sale, including such goods as horses, carriages, stoves, furnishing and ironmongery.  The Bazaar was opened by Samuel Godley, who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars.  Though Bazaars were common, the Baker Street Bazaar had some unique elements. Firstly it had Madame Tussaud’s waxworks including her popular Chamber of Horrors.  The Baker Street Bazaar was also the home of London’s first artificial ice rink, the Glaciarium.  The artificial rink was built in 1844 and the ice was made up of churned hogs lard, sulphurs and sulphate of copper.  The Glaciarium was 3000ft wide. Later the same year that it was built, due to the terrible smell it was emitting, it was closed down. 

In 1940 the Baker Street Bazaar, by then known as Druce’s, named after Thomas Charles Druce, burnt down.  The co-owner of an upholstery business Thomas Charles Druce had been embroiled in a legal case that ran from 1897 - 1908.  An allegation was made by a widow named Anna Maria Druce, that her father-in- law, who had died,  was living a double life and was infact the 5th Duke of Portland.  The widow went onto claim that the Duke had faked the death of his alter ego in 1864 to return to just living his aristocratic life.  Anna Maria Druce petitioned to get Thomas Charles Druce’s grave  in Highgate Cemetery opened, claiming it was full of cement blocks.  During the court case, Anna Maria was put in an asylum and the case was taken over by George Hollamby Druce.  Eventually it was agreed that the grave should be opened.  Druce’s body was indeed in the coffin.

In 1835  James Fillan, a Scottish sculptor, artist and poet came to live on Baker Street.  Formally trained in Paris, Fillan had a short but influential career and finally settled in London at 82 Baker Street.  At the Regent Street end of Baker Street stands an illustrious mansion block known as Chiltern Court which was home to famed novelists Arnold Bennett and H.G Wells. 

221B Baker Street is the London address for the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Originally a physician, Doyle published the first of the Sherlock Holmes and Watson detective novels in 1887.  At the time that the books were published Baker Street didn’t go as high as 221.  When street numbers were reallocated in the 1930s, the block of odd numbers from 215 - 229 were assigned to an art decor building known as Abbey House.  The building was constructed for the Abbey Road Building Society in 1932 and they occupied the building until 2002.  As soon as the building was opened they began to receive correspondence from Sherlock Holmes fans from all over the world.  The company was forced to hire a full-time secretary to deal with the huge volume of mail.  In 1990 a blue plaque was erected at the Sherlock Holmes Museum which was located between 237 and 241 Baker Street.  In 1999 Abbey National sponsored the creation of a bronze station of Sherlock Holmes that stands at the entrance to Baker Street Tube Station.  A fifteen year dispute then ensued between the Abbey National and the Holmes Museum for the right to receive mail addressed to 221B Baker Street.  Following the closure of Abbey House in 2005 the dispute over ownership was dropped.  

In 1940 the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive moved to offices at 64 Baker Street and they were colloquially known as the Baker Street Irregulars after Sherlock Holme’s gang of street urchins.  In 1941 two unexploded missiles were removed from the burnt wreckage of Druce’s.  by 1957 the site was redeveloped as Michael House, the UK headquarters of Marks and Spencers.  It was at this location until 2005.  The site now serves as part of the 55 Baker Street office complex.  

From 1967 - 68 the Beatles Apple Boutique was situated at 94 Baker Street.  In 1971 a significant bank robbery occurred at a branch of LLoyd’s Bank on Baker Street.  A plaque was placed at 120 Baker Street to mark the place that Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger lived from 1803-4. Welsh born,  eighteenth century English actress Sarah Siddons lived on Baker Street  In the 1960’s entertainer Dusty Springfield lived on Baker Street.  Singer Gerry Rafferty wrote a song titled Baker Street in 1978 and Jethro Tull wrote the song Baker Street Muse.  

With such a long and interesting history it is not in the least surprising that there have been allegations of paranormal phenomena in various places along  famous Baker Street. The ghost of the actress Sarah Siddons has apparently been seen passing through the walls on the first floor of an electrical sub-station that stands where her former home once was. Also along Baker Street is the old Kenwood House Hotel that allegedly has several ghosts.  A piece of furniture in the pub is said to have drawers that open and shut by themselves and a mirror researchers believe houses a poltergeist.  The hotel is also said to have a ghost that is a former cavalier and appears from time to time.  The Volunteer Pub on Baker Street is said to be haunted by a ghostly figure that lurks in the dark corners of the establishment.  The ghost is said to be that of Rupert Neville.  The pub was built where the Neville Mansion once stood.  The mansion burnt to the ground in 1654 but the original cellars remain under the pub.

 I would recommend a walk along Baker Street and a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum.  It’s a fascinating street with an amazing and interesting history.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

St Michael’s Mount

One of forty three tidal islands that are accessible on foot from Britain’s mainland, St Michael’s Mount stands in Mounts Bay, Cornwall.  Originally known as "Karrek Loos yn koos" meaning 'hoar rock in woodland', St Michaels Mount was situated in a large woodland area.  The woodlands were flooded in around 1700BC. When the tide is low evidence of the old forest is visible. 

As early as the eighth or ninth century the site was a Monastery.  Edward the Confessor, one of the last Anglo Saxon Kings of England, gave the island to the Norman Abbey of Mont Saint Michel.  The island became a counterpart of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey in Normandy.  Encouraged by an indulgence granted by Pope Gregory, in the eleventh century, the island was a destination for pilgrims.  The Mount was captured in 1193 by Sir Henry de la Pomeroy on behalf on Prince John, the King of England from 1199 until his death in 1216.  The monastic buildings were built during the twelfth century.  

The original priory was destroyed by an earthquake before being rebuilt in the late fourteenth century.   St Michael’s Mount remained a priory of that abbey until the dissolution of alien houses.  This occurred due to the war with France led by Henry V, the second English monarch of the House of Lancaster.  After Henry V's death in 1422 the island was given to the Abbess and convent of Syon.  It was a Bridgettine Order, an order of the Augustinian Nuns, religious sisters and monks founded by Saint Bridget of Sweden in 1424.  

The 13th Earl of Oxford, John de Vere, a principal Lancastrian commander during the War of the Roses, seized the Mount in 1473.  He held the Mount for twenty three weeks against the troops of Edward IV loosing his stronghold in 1474.  In 1497 St Michael’s Mount was occupied by Perkin Warbeck.  This pretender to the throne claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, the second son of Edward IV, one of the princes supposedly killed in the tower.  
By 1549 the Governor of St Michael’s Mount was Sir Humphrey Arundell.  He was known for leading the Prayer Book Rebellion, a revolt against the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, which presented the theology of the English Reformation.  

Queen Elizabeth I gave St Michael’s Mount to the Earl of Salisbury, Robert Cecil.  An English statesman, Cecil was known for directing the government during the transition from the Tudors to the Stuarts. Robert Cecil’s son sold the Mount to Sir Francis Bassett, a Sheriff and Vice Admiral of Cornwall.  During the English civil war, Bassett’s brother Arthur, held the Mount against the parliament until July 1646. 

In 1659 the Mount was sold to Colonel John St Aubyn, a colonel to the parliamentary army during the English Civil War.  His relatives remain seated at the Mount. Consisting of a a few small fisherman’s cottage and the monastic dwellings by the 18th century, improvements were made to the harbour in 1727.  These improvements resulted in St Michael’s Mount’s harbour flourishing.  

A large earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 resulted in a Tsunami striking the Cornwall coast.  There was great loss of lives and property.  
By 1811 the houses on the Mount numbered fifty five with four streets.  There was a Wesleyan Chapel, three public houses and three schools on the Mount.  The pier was extended in 1821 and the population reached 221 people.  With improvements being made in the harbour at nearby Penzance the population on the Mount declined.  This resulted in many of the existing houses being demolished.  During the Victorian era an underground funicular narrow gauge railway was constructed to take luggage to the island.  

In the late 19th Century the remains of an anchorite, a hermit that retires to isolation for religious reasons, were found in the domestic chapel on the Mount. 

A descendant  of John St Aubyn,  Francis Cecil St Aubyn, 3rd Baron St Levan, gave most of St Michael’s Mount to the National Trust in 1954.  The St Aubyn family have a 999 year contract to inhabit the castle and a licence to manage the public viewing of historical rooms.  The chapel at St Michael’s Mount still serves the Order of St John. Chapel Rock on the beach of the Mount is the site of a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 

On the hillside of St Michael’s Mount several houses have been built.  A spring provides water to the island. A set of eight terrace houses built in 1855, called Elizabeth Terrace also remain on the Mount.  The cemetary on St Michael’s Mount is the final resting place for residents and drowned sailors.  The Mount also has a stewards house, a barge house, two inns, changing rooms for bathers and a bowling green.  

The harbour has been renovated and is marked by small brass inlay footsteps of Queen Victoria whose Royal barge disembarked from the Mount.  King Edward VII’s footstep are commemorated on the bowling green and in 1967 the Royal Yacht Britannia visited the harbour.  The Mount has been featured in many films including Dracula, Johnny English and the Bond movie Never Say Never Again.  

Considering the long and at times tempestuous history of St Michael’s Mount it is little surprise that there has been recorded paranormal phenomena since as early as the 5th Century.  It is claimed that in the 5th Century the archangel Michael appeared to local fishermen.  A tale is also told about the island on which St Michael’s Mount sits being the home of a giant called Cormoran, who lived in a cave with the ill-gotten treasures he had taken from the locals he terrorised.  A young farmer’s son called Jack killed the giant by trapping him in a pit.  This story is tied to the legend of Jack the Giant Killer.  

The Mount is said to be haunted by a tall man.  He is thought to be the Anchorite whose body was unearthed during renovations of the chapel.  During the renovations a stone  doorway was discovered that led to a hermitage cell.  The cell contained the remains of a man 7ft 8inches tall.  Perhaps this is linked to the stories of a giant on the Mount. 

A previous tenant of the Mount, Lord St Levan claimed that a four poster bed, decorated with carvings of Spanish shipwrecks that had happened around the coast, made people uneasy.  A ghostly monk has been sighted on the Mount and a Lady in grey.  The Lady in grey is believed to be a former nanny of the St Aubyn family in the 1750s.  It is said that she got pregnant and when the father of her child rejected her she threw herself from the top of the castle.  

In the waters beyond the Mount it is said that some people hear the peel of church bells and the words “I will, I will....” coming from the depths of the sea.  The haunting is said to be the ghosts of Sarah Polgrain and her sailor lover Jack.  Polgrain reportedly poisoned her husband and moved in with her lover Jack.  The villagers were suspicious and Polgrain husband’s body was exhumed.  When it was established she had murdered him she was sentenced to hang.  From the scaffold she was reported to have asked Jack to marry her and he had replied  “I will, I will...”  Following her death Jack became tormented and confided to fellow sailors what he had said.  At midnight, female footsteps were heard on the deck of the ship and a terrified Jack was seen jumping into the water never to be seen again.  

What really impressed me about St Michaels Mount is the way that it rises majestically from the water like a place from a fairy tale.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Elizabethan House, Plymouth

Dating back to 1584, the Elizabethan House is situated in Plymouth, England.  Plymouth is on the coast of Devon, south west of Exeter and west-south-west of London.  The city is enclosed by the River Plym and the River Tamar.  The original harbour of Plymouth has the Barbican on its western and northern sides.  The Barbican, which is a fortified gate, was most likely named in honour of the gate that bid entry to Plymouth Castle. The medieval fortress guarded the Cattlewater, the stretch of water where the River Plym meets the waters of Plymouth Sound.  By the end of the sixteenth century the Plymouth Castle had fallen into disrepair and it was eventually demolished.

The area known as the Barbican in Plymouth was home to Plymouth's fish markets.  During medieval times Plymouth prospered, mostly due to the local fishermen, sea captains, merchants and privateers that used Plymouth as a home or base in their exploits.  Plymouth was the home port for many successful maritime traders.  These included Sir Francis Drake, who served as Mayor of Plymouth and famously finished his game of bowls on The Plymouth Hoe before defeating the incoming Spanish Armada.  Sir John Hawkins, who led England into the Atlantic Slave Trade, also operated from Plymouth Harbour.  Plymouth was becoming so prosperous that the then Mayor, John Sparke approved the development of a new street on the Barbican to help accommodate the growing population whose work and livelihood were based around the harbour.

Located  at 32 New Street, one of the houses built during that time was the Elizabethan House.  The original owner of the house is unknown but the first recorded resident was the borough Treasurer, Richard Brendan who lived in the property until 1631 when he sold it to a William Hele. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Elizabethan House had many different owners and occupants.  Most notable during this period of time was the London Company of Merchants, a company that were exploring and developing the fishing grounds of Newfoundland.

By the late ninteenth century New Street had become very overcrowded.  Slums and hovels replaced all the private owners and entrepreneurs.  by the 1850's up to 24 people were living in single dwellings and diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria and scarlet fever were rampant.

The planned demolition of the Elizabethan House in New Street was prevented and it opened as a museum in 1930.  Preserved as a Captains dwelling of the time, the Elizabethan House is decorated with several pieces of furniture from the seventeenth century.  The front parlor is adorned with oak furniture, some on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, including a table, chairs, a chest and side table.  Pieces from the museum's own collection include side tables, a writing desk and a bible box.  The original gardens were recreated with  plants such as lavender, sweet woodruff, and thyme, which were popular in the past to create beautiful and fragrant gardens.  Raised beds with seventeenth century fruits, herbs and vegetables also adorn the gardens.  The Elizabethan House is also decorated with an Inglenook fireplace, featuring pebble paving and a granite-edged hearth.  The museum also features original foods and wares in the kitchen area as well as lists of purchases recorded by a merchant of the time.

in recent years, Bristol based specialist architects, DHV,  have been given the task of readying the Elizabethan House to serve as an exhibition place and museum for Mayflower 400, a celebration of the sailing of the Mayflower to the colonies to be held in 2020.

Having such a long and interesting history, not to mention a plethora of owners and occupants, it is little wonder that there have been reports of paranormal phenomena in the Elizabethan House.  A cradle in the house is said to rock on its own, while some people have reported seeing a ghostly infant laying in the cradle.  Many passerby's have reported seeing the figure of a young girl looking out from one of the windows in the Elizabethan House, despite the house being empty at the time.

I love Plymouth and its is the sort of place that easily transports you back in time to when it was a busy port populated by all sorts of significant historical characters.