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Tam Black shack

Tam Black’s shack

Down the valley towards Wendover near the Leather Bottle inn, Tam Black, a schoolteacher, used to live for part of the time in a small wooden hut without any modern amenities. The hut is now derelict. Tam is said to have driven a motorised lawn mower to his place of work, a boarding school in Crowthorne, Berkshire. He was an enthusiastic member of the Wendover Fire Brigade in the 1930s when the fireman had first to catch the horses before they could get the manual fire engine to the blaze. Tam’s adventures during the blitz were dramatised by his brother and filmed as The Bells Ring Down with Tommy Trinder playing the part of Tam.

(Dunsmore: People and happenings remembered – Peter Jewell)

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New church banners

Banners of the new religion

Here is a leafy stretch of road between Wendover and Ellesborough, at the north-eastern edge of the Chilterns, what you might call deep Buckinghamshire. And here on the boundary wall of one of the grand houses along this stretch are a pair of t-shirts, or rather t-shirts converted to banners. Read More

Waylands Smithy

The barley in the stone

There were three men come out of the west, their fortunes for to try.
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn would die.
They’ve ploughed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed, thrown clods upon his head
Till these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.
There’s beer all in the barrel and brandy in the glass
But little Sir John, with his nut-brown bowl, proved the strongest man at last.


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Waylands Smithy

Let no rude hand

Let no rude hand disturb this hallowed sod,
Or move stones sacred to the Briton’s god
— Avenging spirits o’er the place preside,
And bold profaners evil will betide.
Sons of the soil,–with faithful watch and ward,
This holy precinct be it your’s to guard.

(Francis Kilvert) Read More

Cardiff knight mural

The knight unmounted and mounted

It seems a curious subject to choose for a public work of art, this mural near the centre of Cardiff. And, as with any state-funded art commission, there must have a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump before final approval was granted. When the artist made his pitch, did anyone on the committee laugh or splutter or quibble, or did they nod sagely, as befits men and women of the cultural establishment? Read More