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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

Addington cows

Bovine epistemology

‘On behalf on the Bovine Philosophical Society, Addington branch, we wish you to know that the finest minds of the countless generations of our clan have examined and debated an apparently simple question, year upon year, decade upon decade, century upon century, without conclusion or resolution. Read More

Victorian terraces

The quantity theory of history

Every city, every town, has them. And if the planners and developers get their way, every village will too one day. Once you venture outside the ‘historic’ centre, meaning the bit that’s more than, say, a hundred and fifty years old, there are streets and stretches of Victorian terraces or Thirties semis or modern housing estates. Read More