Archive for the ‘Modern(ish)’ Category

London Stone restored to visibility

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

The London Stone, so aptly described by author Iain Sinclair as “an object that everyone agrees is significant, even if no one quite knows why,” finally has the place in the wan London sun it so richly deserves. After a legendary history going back to the founding of the city by Brutus, a grandson of Aeneas of Troy who medieval chroniclers basically invented as the namesake of Britain and its first king, and a documented history going back to the 12th century when it was already a famous city landmark, London Stone suffered from centuries of obscurity. It was struck by swords and hundreds of “badd and deceitful” spectacles, cracked apart by the Great Fire of 1666, moved around the street three times, bombed in the Blitz, and moved again to a dent in the wall of a bank/sporting goods store/book store so obscure you couldn’t even see it walking by. 

London Stone was removed from its sad niche of neglect in May 2016 while a new office building was constructed on the site. For more than two years, the stone took up residence at the Museum of London where it was conserved, studied and displayed. In October of 2018, London Stone returned to 111 Cannon Street, but it was no longer hidden behind a grating that made it basically invisible from the street and a random, shin-level non-entity inside the store. 

To this day, the exact origin of this 53cm-by-43cm-by-30cm piece of rock, known as London Stone, remains a mystery. Studies undertaken in the 1960s revealed it was likely Clipsham limestone, probably extracted from the band of Jurassic-era rock that runs from Dorset in England’s south-west to Lincolnshire in the north-east. In 2016, results from tests conducted by the Museum of London Archaeology suggest London Stone could be from the Cotswolds, 160km west of London.

The new enclosure is very similar in design to the shrine in which it was installed when it was first moved out of the middle of the street to the wall of St. Swithin’s church in 1742. The stone is behind a glass window, not covered up, and even has its name inscribed into the wall above it. It’s still quite dark and could conceivably be ignore by busy passersby, but that’s because the front of it has absorbed centuries of coal smoke, Great Fire soot and assorted city grime.

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Maine shipwreck identified as Colonial sloop

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

An unknown ship whose skeletal remains have haunted a beach in York, Maine for 70 years may have been identified as a Colonial-era schooner. First emerging from the sands after a brutal nor’easter in 1958, the shipwreck appears every few years when exposed by storms. Its most recent appearance was after the 2018 bomb cyclone.

The 51-foot keel, the broken ribs and a few planks are all that remain of the ship, making identification difficult and very little is known about the ship. When it was first exposed, locals thought it might be a pinky schooner, a small fishing boat with a pinched bow that was in common use on the New England coast from the early 18th century well into the early 20th.

Experts thought its dates might be narrowed down to the late Colonial through early post-Colonial period, ca. 1750 to 1850. Now a researcher thinks he’s identified far more precisely it as the Defiance, a 60-foot sloop, (a single-masted sailing vessel) built in Massachusetts in 1754. It was recorded as having washed to shore in York during a storm in 1769.

Funded by the Maine Historical Commission, researcher Stefan Claesson embarked on the first scholarly study of the wreck. To narrow down its age, Claesson sent samples of the wood from the wreck to the Cornell University Tree-Ring Laboratory which was able to compare the dendrochronology of the timbers to the New England tree-ring index. The trees the wreck samples were taken from had been felled in 1753.

He then scoured archives to find ships that washed ashore in York around that time. The likeliest candidate was the sloop Defiance, whose history also matched the dendrochronological evidence.

Records from the 18th century show that Defiance was sailing out of Salem, Massachusetts for Portland, Maine, according to Claesson.

The ship was carrying a cargo of flour, pork and English goods along with a four-man crew. But the ship encountered a fierce storm.

“They took anchor, but in heavy seas the crew was forced to cut the anchor cables, and they were pushed ashore onto York Beach,” Claesson said. “The ship was a total loss, but the crew survived.”

Claesson’s discovery is significant because it’s one a very few examples of a pre-Revolutionary War ship built in New England, he said. But also because it can reveal the increase and impact of storm events and sea level rise.

“Shipwrecks like this can also be thought of as living organisms, or environmental warehouses, that store and can reveal information about regional climate variations through study of tree rings. In this initial study, we now have tree-ring data for multiple species from the early 1600s to the 1750s,” Claesson said.

The wreck site is owned by the town of York, but it has not been treated with much reverence, I’m afraid. Whenever it has appeared, beachcombers have walked on its planks, clambered over its ribs, taken photos and much worse, taken pieces of wood as “souvenirs.” As a significant historical find, the wreck could qualify for the National Registry of Historic Places and further studies could reveal much more about the skeleton ship if it is properly protected from human predators. The elements are foe enough.

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Watch stopped at moment of Pulaski shipwreck goes under the hammer

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

A watch recovered from the wreck of the steamboat Pulaski marking the precise time of its sinking is going up for auction. The ship sank off the coast of North Carolina the night of June 14th, 1838, when its starboard boiler exploded, taking 128 souls down with it. Only sixty or so survived.

The wreck was discovered under 100 feet of water in January 2018 and conclusively identified as the Pulaski that May from artifacts stamped with its name. The passenger list read like a who’s who of southeastern society and the artifacts recovered in the exploration of the wreck reflected their wealth. The estimated value of property lost in the wreck was $150,000 in 1838. That was a huge amount, and because wealthy people traveled with a lot of cash in those days before paper money, a good amount of it was in coin, perhaps as many as 100,00 gold and silver coins.

Over several dives in 2018 and 2019, Blue Water Ventures International and project partner Endurance Exploration Group recovered hundreds of coins from what used to be passengers’ steamer trunks along the wreck trail. The wooden trunks rotted away in the salt water, leaving behind the metal bands, fittings, locks and the contents. Divers found stacks of coins standing up as if still inside the trunks. By February 2019, they’d recovered 502 gold and silver coins, including some of the oldest US coins ever salvaged from a wreck. The oldest coin overall is a British gold guinea from the 1750s.

That first set of coins was sold to a dealer for an undisclosed sum with the goal of recouping the expenses of the 2018 season. Now four gold pocket watches recovered from the wreck are going up for auction, including one particularly notable survival: a British-made 18-carat gold watch whose hands are set at 11:05, five minutes after the boiler explosion that tore the steamship apart.

S.T. Tobias & Co. 18kt Gold Open-face Watch, Liverpool, wonderfully chased and engine-turned case retaining much of its detail, with what was originally a silvered or multicolored roman numeral dial that still shows the engraved floral center, and gilt hand set marking 11:05, minutes following the explosion, swing-out key-wind, key-set movement marked “S.T. Tobias & Co./Liverpool,” with dust cover, interior case back markings “5725” below the 18 mark and partial retailer’s hallmark depicting an eagle, dia. 48 mm, 94g.

The Liverpool watch marking a major historical event to the literal minute is going under the hammer at Skinner’s Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments sale. It and the other three gold watches recovered from the Pulaski are all estimated to sell in the $12,000-15,000 range. Online bidding opens Monday.

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Van Gogh painting stolen on his birthday

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

A painting by Vincent van Gogh was stolen from the Singer Laren museum just outside Amsterdam on what would have been the artist’s 167th birthday. At around 3:15AM on Monday, March 30th, thieves smashed through the glass door, stole Van Gogh’s Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring and made a quick getaway. The burglar alarm was triggered, but the perpetrators were gone before police arrived at the scene.

“I feel incredibly angry and now I’m starting to feel sadder too,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, director of the Singer Laren Museum, told Reuters in an interview.

He appealed to those who had taken the painting to treat it with care “so that sooner or later it can be shown to the public unharmed”.

Van Gogh painted this piece in 1884 when he was living with his family at the vicarage in Nuenen where his father was pastor. This was a formative early period in his artistic life. It was Nuenen’s peasants and weavers who were the subjects of his seminal The Potato Eaters. He drew and painted the vicarage and its grounds a number of times, capturing it in different seasons. At 9.8″ x 22.4″, it is uncommonly wide.

De Lorm described the painting, which depicts a woman in a garden with red-flowered bushes and with a church in the background, as “an image of silence, of reflection and of tranquility, which undoubtedly offered him comfort and inspiration”.

“Through him, it gave us and our audience the same emotion,” de Lorm added.

The oil on paper on panel work was part of the museum’s Mirror of the Soul. Toorop to Mondrian exhibition focusing on works displaying the inner life of Dutch artists at the turn of the century. It’s a collaboration with the Rijksmuseum and was inspired by a book on the topic written by the Rijksmuseum’s senior curator of paintings. It features more than 70 paintings, drawings and watercolors from artists world-famous and relatively little known. It was fully insured, of course, and the insurers had inspected the museum’s security measures before the exhibition began.

There are works from the Singer Laren’s collection in the show, but the stolen Van Gogh was not among them. It was on loan from the Groninger Museum, a modern and contemporary art museum with an ecclectic permanent collection that contains exactly one Van Gogh. The painting has been in its collection since 1962 and its loss is incalculable, far beyond monetary value which is easily in the millions.

The theft is being investigated by local police and by Interpol.

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It’s 10 o’clock in Lausanne and all is not well

Monday, March 30th, 2020

For 615 years, Lausanne’s designated night watchman has called out the hour from the bell tower of Lausanne’s cathedral and assured the townspeople that all is well. From his watchtower atop the 153 stone steps of the cathedral belfry, he emerges every hour from 10PM to 2AM, cups his hands around his mouth and cries the hour to each cardinal direction: “This is the watchman! The bell has rung [whatever the hour is]!”

The tradition was established after a fire devastated the city in 1405. During the fire itself, the bells were rung continuously as calls to action. People rallied to put out the fire under their peals of encouragement. The night watchman was appointed to look over the city from the height of the bell tower and keep an eye out for any signs of smoke or fire, shouting the hour to check in and connect with a network of watchmen on the ground who could rapidly rouse the city in case of need.

The job continued unchanged until 1960 when  the city trimmed the hours of the watchman to the current four from the original full night coverage of 9PM to dawn. The hourly ringing of the bells had been automated a decade earlier, fire alarms and sirens had been installed on buildings in 1907 fire emergencies were handled by professionals, and everyone had clocks and watches of their own to figure out the time.

The local press expressed concern that this change sounded the death knell, as it were, of the longstanding tradition and residents rallied to defend their beloved watch, showering the city government with letters demanding the night watchman remain on duty in perpetuity. Today the tradition continues undeterred, a proud holdover of the Middle Ages, a landmark symbol of the city’s history and community spirit. Lausanne is now one of only seven cities in Europe that have a night watchman on duty 365 days a year.

Since 2002, the watchman has been Renato Häusler. For nigh on two decades he has embraced his role for its connection to the city’s past, its significance as intangible cultural heritage and for the unique opportunity it affords him to experience the city at night from on high. Now that another peril is abroad in the land, the night watchman’s vigil has taken on new meaning. He shouts the hour and then he peals Clémence, the bell designated to sound in an emergency, swinging the clapper by hand. Three strikes followed by six strikes and again warn the people of danger.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne was built in the 13th century, but the oldest of the bells, Lombarde, dates to 1493. Clémence is the next in seniority, cast in 1518. With a diameter of 174 cm (5’8.5″) and weighing four tons, she is the second largest of the cathedral’s bells after the bourdon Marie-Madeleine. She rings a C note.

(The article erroneously states Clémence is made of steel. Like most of her kind, she’s made of bell metal, a high-tin bronze alloy that is more rigid and sonorous than regular bronze. The clapper is soft steel.)

The canton of Vaud of which Lausanne is the capital has the highest coronavirus rates in Switzerland. There is no stay at home order in place yet, but public gatherings of more than five people have been banned and the thriving night life that the watchman once watched over has gone silent, lending him fresh insight into what his predecessors experienced.

“Since these restrictive measures urging people to stay at home, it has completely changed,” said Hausler.

“It is quiet all week, even from 8:00pm, and when I get here, there is hardly any activity around the cathedral or even in the city so it brings a tranquility that I have never experienced before.

“There is a real calm which resembles what it would have been like in the past, before there was all this traffic noise.

“There is perhaps just one last thing that would bring us right back to how things were in the Middle Ages: turning out the lights.”

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Care for a little ginger beer with your lead?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

This February, 600 Victorian stoneware beer bottles were found under an old cellar staircase in Leeds. They had been carefully stacked under the steps of what was once the Scarborough Castle Inn in the late 19th century. In 1931, the site of the former inn was acquired by the Tetley company and became part of Tetley’s Brewery, an Art Deco factory that is now being excavated in advance of for redevelopment.

The excavation is being undertaken to examine an area spanning the former line of Hunslet Lane on the southern approach to during the medieval and later periods.

Along with the road, there are the remains of the Scarborough Castle Inn, properties along the former South Terrace and workers housing have been targeted for excavation.

This excavation is providing archaeologists with a rare chance to explore the social development of this part of Leeds from the late medieval period through to modern day.

David Williams, at Archaeological Services WYAS, said: “This excavation is giving us a great opportunity to uncover a part of Georgian and Victorian Leeds. The results so far are giving a real insight to the daily lives of the former residents of Leeds during this period.”

Rather perilous daily lives, as it turns out. The bottles appeared to be were mostly ginger beer. Labels indicated most of the bottles were produced by J. E. Richardson of Leeds, although several different local breweries were represented.

NB: The original ginger beer made in England in the mid-18th century, it was not the sweet carbonated soft drink it is today. It was a fermented beverage with the punch of beer but the taste of ginger. Water, ginger, sugar and a combination yeast and bacteria starter culture known as the ginger beer plant (GBP), were fermented to create a bubbly, spicy alcoholic drink. Ginger beer could pack a goodly wallop getting up to 11% alcohol.

Stoneware bottles like the ones in the Leeds find were key to the success of ginger beer as a popular and commercially viable export product. England produced stoneware bottles of such high quality that they could be shipped without catastrophic breakage. Ginger beer got even more popular after 1835 when an improved stoneware glazing process was invented. The bottles, corked and wired like champagne today, lasted indefinitely, the beer inside preserved by the alcohol and natural carbonation.

Some of the Leeds bottles had their corks intact and liquid still sloshing around inside. Two of the bottles that contained liquid were sent to West Yorkshire Joint Services for testing.  The results were surprising.  The alcohol content was a modest 3%. The lead content was an impressive .13 mg/l, making this weak beer but strong poison. According to the World Health Organization, the safeish lead concentration in water is .01 mg/l (it’s zero for children), but really there is no safety to be found in lead ingestion because it accumulates in the body over time and irreversibly damages the nervous system.

The likely source of the contaminated ginger beer was lead water pipes. The water was contaminated before it even made contact with the other ingredients that would make it ginger beer, so the high lead level was present in the drink from day one.

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New date for dugout canoe

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

A dugout canoe pulled from Squam Lake in central New Hampshire in 1939 is significantly older than previously believed, dating to the mid-16th century.

It was discovered by James King and Harold Smith of Tilton when they were fishing on Squam Lake in 1936. It was under 14 feet of water, so they didn’t recover it right away. They did keep an eye on it, and in August 1939, their friend Horace Wheaton was able to raise it to the surface. It took him 15 dives to remove the stones pinning the canoe to the lakebed and raise it to the surface. The canoe was 14 feet long, three feet wide and 15 inches deep, and there was a paddle inside too, but it had disintegrated when Wheaton touched it. The three men put the canoe on display in a garage in Tilton and it got a lot of visitors for a couple of weeks.

When it first raised from the lake, the assumption was that it was an old Indian canoe, but by early September a new origin story had taken hold. Locals claimed it has been carved in the second half of the 19th century by one Bartlett Smith of Holderness. He felled a large tree and dug it out to use on the lake as a personal watercraft. Alas, he had overestimated his canoe-making skills and on Smith’s first attempt to cross the lake from Holderness, the vessel sank. He abandoned it on the lake floor and there it remained until 1939.

There was some desultory talk about preserving the canoe as a sort of quaint artifact of the quaint olden times, but ultimately nobody in New Hampshire cared to take on the boat, so eventually it wound up in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont whose experts correctly identified it as a Native American artifact.

In 2019, the canoe returned to New Hampshire, now in the care of the Holderness Historical Society. Again it was subject of local interest, increasing visits to the historical society tenfold. They decided to undergo a new analysis to date the canoe and help determine its real history.

The highly complex process for dating the canoe began with the taking of a small sample of the wood and exposing it to a series of stress tests: freeze-drying it to minus-107 degrees Celsius to remove all moisture, then heating it to more than 110 degrees Celsius to remove any trace of iron and calcium carbonates.

Using sterilized instruments, the sample was placed inside a quartz tube with cupric oxide and silver added before it was “hydrogen flame-sealed” under vacuum and combusted at 820 degrees.

The sample was then radiocarbon dated to the mid-17th century, a good hundred years before English settlers discovered Squam Lake.  When Samuel Lane surveyed its shores in 1751, he saw evidence of settlement and agriculture by the Penacook-Abenaki People of the Algonquin Federation. Artifacts connected to the Cowasuck Band have been unearthed around the lake and river.

Experts theorize that, with no saw or metal tool marks evident, and an upturned stern with bow and sides of varying thickness, that the Holderness canoe is undoubtedly made by Native Americans during the “Early Contact Period.”

By the mid-1600s the more maneuverable birch bark canoe had replaced the cumbersome dugout, so this Squam Lake artifact most likely had been abandoned.

The canoe is scheduled to go on display June to September at the Holderness Historical Society Museum. Fingers crossed.

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Tour the Winchester Mystery House

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

The famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is closed until at least April 7th, but the museum has compiled a comprehensive 41-minute video tour for our remote enjoyment.

The manchester was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of rifle tycoon William Wirt Winchester. When he died in 1881, his wife inherited a huge fortune in cash and stock, making her worth a half billion dollars in today’s money and one of the richest women in the world. Legend has it — and it is very much legendary as Sarah left no correspondence or journals on the subject, nor did any family, friends or loyal employees ever volunteer an explanation — that, devastated by the loss of her husband and daughter, she sought the advice of a Boston medium named Adam Coons. After a séance, he told her that she was haunted by the thousands of Civil War soldiers and Indians who had been killed by Winchester firearms, and that the only way to appease the vengeful spirits was to use the Winchester money she’d inherited to build them a house. Another origin story claims that a medium told her she would die as soon as the house was finished, so she saw to it that construction continued until her last breath. There is zero evidence that any of this ever happened.

In 1884, she moved to California and bought a 161-acre farm in Santa Clara Valley from Dr. Robert Caldwell. There was a modest eight room farmhouse already on the property, but Sarah’s vision was far vaster. For 38 years, she had her crew of carpenters and masons work in shifts so construction continued 24-7, 365 days a year. (Again, this is the legend; somebody probably took some time off now and again.) built and built, creating a mansion with hundreds of rooms, rooms-within-rooms, unfinished rooms, mazes of corridors, dead ends, staircases that are short cuts from one part of the house to the other, staircases that lead nowhere, doors that open up to walls, doors that open to the outside two stories up, small doors, big doors, cupolas, turrets, windows of every shape and size, skylights in floors, prime numbers, especially 13, everywhere. There was even a seven story tower at one point, but it was destroyed in the 1906 Frisco quake.

When she died on September 5th, 1922, work immediately stopped. There are still nails half-hammered in to the walls. The rich reclusive widow and her labyrinthine mansion were already famous by then. The villa was known as the Spirit House and rumors abounded of nightly séances, copious hauntings and “evil spirits” confounded by Sarah Winchester’s architectural follies.

She left her estate to the charities she supported, dedicated employees and family. The furnishings of the house were sold and the mansion itself opened to tours in 1923. Millions of visitors have trod its eccentric floors in the century since then. You can now join them virtually from the comfort of your home, maybe chasing the tour with a viewing of the horror thriller Winchester starring Helen Mirren now showing on Showtime and streaming on Hulu.

You can also buy discounted ticket vouchers for a visit to the mansion that will be valid through May 2021. The vouchers cost $26, $13 off the regular ticket price. The income from the voucher sales will help keep the lights on and food on the table for the museum’s employees while the Winchester House is closed.

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Coin hoard found under Slovakian church floor

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

A hoard of 500 coins from the early 18th century has been discovered under the floor of a church in the town Obišovce, near Košice, eastern Slovakia. The trove of coins had been stashed in a ceramic mug covered with a slab or stone.

It was found in the foundations of the Renaissance church which was demolished in the 19th century and the current church built over it. The foundations were discovered when the floor of the church was removed. Archaeologists explored the structural remains and came across the hoard that had been stashed under the original stone floor near the western entrance.

Most of the coins are salary plates issued by the many mines in what was then Upper Hungary. Copper, iron, silver and gems had been mined in the east Slovakian fields since the 9th century arrival of the Hungarian tribes. In the 15th century, the five main mining towns including Košice, had united to promote their interests. They had mints that produced coinage and salary plates with which the miners were paid. The hoard also includes silver coins, believed to have been wrapped separately in a linen textile, and a few Polish coins. From the dates on the coins, the earliest the hoard could have been buried was 1702.

When the coins were cached, Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary ruled by the Catholic Habsburgs and under regular attack by the Ottoman Empire. In the 17th century, Protestant Magyar nobles fleeing Turkish incursions moved to Upper Hungary, modern-day Slovakia, temporarily tipping the demographics of the region to majority Protestant. They allied with Transylvanian prince István Thököly in the failed Magnate conspiracy to overthrow Leopold I in 1670, and again with his son Imre Thököly in his anti-Habsburg rebellion in 1678.

Imre, allied with the Ottoman sultan, took control of territories in eastern and central Hungary, creating the short-lived Principality of Upper Hungary which largely conforms to the boundaries of Slovakia. By 1685 he had managed to be defeated in battle by the Habsburgs and to piss off the Turks so the putative principality was no more. The Great Turkish War between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League ended in 1699 with the Habsburgs in control of Hungary.

Thököly’s peasant army kept fighting against the Habsburgs, however, and in 1703, Hungarian prince Francis II Rákóczi led them in an uprising against the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire, then engaged in the War of Spanish Succession. The Rákóczi rebellion lasted until their surrender in 1711.

With the region mired in so much religious and political turmoil in the late 17th and early 18th century, hoarding and hiding coins doubtless seemed prudent.

Preservationists say it is probable that the priest from the local church and parish collected the money and hid it under the floor in times of unrest. It is probable that when he left, he omitted to say anything about the money under the floor and it was forgotten about.

The historic sources state that after the Thӧkӧly uprising was over, sometime between 1685 and 1687, a Catholic priest returned to Kysak parish. Obišovce at that time belonged to this parish. The priest was a Pole, he was blind in one eye and sometime in the 1690’s he went blind completely. The church was under the administration of the Catholic church until 1705 when rebels plundered it and it was left as a ruin for three years. The Polish priest was expelled and he returned to Poland.

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Conserving the Wolsey Closet ceiling at Hampton Court Palace

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Hampton Court was built by Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey, the immensely wealthy and influential statesman who served as Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII. He spent hundreds of thousands of crowns and ten years building a lavish palace worthy to host visiting royalty domestic and foreign. Henry stayed in the state rooms in 1525 and was favorably impressed, so much so that Wolsey gave him the palace in 1528 in the attempt to stave off his fall from grace.

It didn’t work. In 1529, Wolsey’s failure to secure an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon saw him stripped of his offices and properties. He would have probably lost his head too, but he died on his way to London to answer to treason charges in 1530.

Henry promptly set to work expanding the palace. The famous kitchens, the Great Hall with its amazing hammer-beam roof, the gatehouse, its astronomical clock, and enough rooms to accommodate a court of one thousand date to Henry’s reign. Subsequent monarchs, most notably William and Mary with their two Baroque wings, made major additions and alterations to the palace.

Most of the original spaces from Cardinal Wolsey’s time are gone. The Wolsey Closet, today part of the 18th century Georgian Rooms, is now the only surviving room from what were once the cardinal’s personal apartments. It too has gone through changes. The linenfold oak panelling is Tudor but not original to the room. The panel paintings on the walls — scenes from the Passion of the Christ — were commissioned by Henry VIII but also later installations in the room. The frieze at the top of the walls repeats Wolsey’s motto taken from Psalm 117 “Dominus michi adjutor” (The Lord is my help) and surely dates to his time, but it isn’t original to the room either. It was in a larger space, trimmed and reset in the Closet as it is today.

The Tudor roses and Prince of Wales feathers on the elaborate ceiling were long believed to be made of leather maché in the Tudor era, but when Historic Royal Palaces conservators began to study the ceiling to learn how best to repair it, they discovered how much they still have to learn about the complicated history of this room. This video gives an all-too-brief summary of what they’ve found so far.

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