A walk from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge

The other weekend Sarah and I visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the south side of the River Thames in London – between the Millennium Bridge and Southwark Bridge – both of which are between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.  Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was originally built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. The modern reconstruction is based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It was founded by the American actor and director, Sam Wannamaker (Zoës dad), almost on the site of the original theatre, and opened in 1997.


The Globe

Interestingly we went to see a variation on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the ancient Greek play – nothing to do with Shakespeare!  However, as you do, we wandered around the area and what we found, within no more than a 5 minute walk, was quite fascinating.


Inside the Globe  – the set of The Oresteia

If you hear the phrase “he’s in the clink” you think of someone in prison.  But where does the phrase come from?  If you walk eastward from the Globe along Bankside you come into Clink Street – and the answer to the question. Here you will find the Clink Prison Museum. The Clink Prison is the name given to all prisons that have stood on a number of sites around this particular vicinity over the years. The first prison dates back to 1127 and was a cellar in the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester (see below). The last was in Deadman’s Place – now Park Street (immediately southwest of Clink St) – which, at various times, held Protestant and Catholic religious martyrs. It was burned down in 1780 by anti-Catholic Gordon rioters (see Charles Dickens’ 1841 novel, Barnaby Rudge).


The Clink Prison Museum – enter at your own peril….!

Just along from the prison (still going east) is the remains of Winchester Palace. This was the palace of the powerful Bishops of Winchester which was one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. It was founded in the 12th century (around 1136) by Bishop Henry de Blois, brother of King Steven. Its purpose was to house the bishops in comfort whilst they were staying in London on royal or administrative business.  And why not.


Remains of Winchester Palace

The visible remains (above) were part of the Great Hall which formerly stood alongside the south bank of the Thames. You can see the magnificent rose window at the top. Below it are three glass ‘windows’ which were, in fact, entrances leading to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.  Below the hall was a vaulted cellar where goods such as wine could be stored, with a passage to the river wharf. The palace remained in use until the 17th century when it was divided into tenements and warehouses. It was destroyed by fire in 1814 and then rediscovered in the 1980s during redevelopment of the area.


The foundations of the cellar (in between the pot plants) – the ground floor of the hall would have been immediately below the four glass entrances at the top

Along from the palace is the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde. The original ship dates back to the 16th century when it circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Golden Hinde II took two years to build and, as  there were no plans of the original ship, Loring Christian Norgaard, a Californian naval architect, spent three years researching manuscripts about Drake’s voyage, Tudor shipbuilding techniques, and the journals compiled by crew members.  The replica was launched in April 1973 from the  J. Hinks & Son shipyard in Devon.


Golden Hinde II

From Winter 1974 to Spring 1975 the ship sailed from Plymouth to San Francisco to commemorate the upcoming 400th anniversary of Francis Drake’s discovery of Nova Albion in North America in 1579. She returned to England in 1980.  After a tour of Britain and Ireland, Golden Hinde II sailed to Canada to appear in Expo ’86, and a year later began a four-year expedition along the East and West Coasts of North America, returning to the UK in 1991.  Following another successful tour, she finally settled down in her current home at St Mary Overie Dock in 1996.


Golden Hinde II

I don’t wish to be a spoil-sport but if you are in any doubt as to whether she really is a replica check out the propeller!


16th century propeller?   …… perhaps not

Finally, just around the corner from the Golden Hinde II is Southwark Cathedral. This began its life in AD 606 as a convent. Around the 9th century, the Bishop of Winchester may have replaced the nuns with a college of priests. In 1106 the church was ‘re-founded’ by two Norman knights as a priory, living according to the rule of St Augustine of Hippo, dedicated to St Mary.   After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 it was appointed a parish church and renamed St Saviour’s.  It became Southwark Cathedral in 1905.


Southwark Cathedral


Southwark Cathedral – the nave designed  Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895

southwark cath

Inside the Cathedral – quite impressive


Map of the vicinity – Winchester Palace is located between The Clink Prison Museum and the Golden Hinde II  (Blackfriars Bridge is about 300m off the map to the left and London Bridge is on the map, far right)


 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My large friend, Paramount Hargrove, told me he had discovered that he had the body of a Greek god.

I had some difficulty trying to explain to him that Buddha is not Greek.


The Iliad in print

IF YOU HAVE READ some of my previous posts on Homer and/or Troy you will know the Iliad. If you haven’t, you may still know the Iliad. Anyway, it’s Homer’s epic poem on the Trojan War (well, a short time towards the end, terminating with the death of the Trojan Prince, Hektor, at the hands of the Greek hero, Achilles).


Homer was an oral poet composing his epic tale around the 8th century BC about a war possibly taking place around the 13th century BC (see my post, ‘Troy: Hollywood fact of fiction?’ July 21, 2014). He followed it up with the Odyssey which tells of the lengthy return home  from the war by Odysseus, another Greek hero.



As an oral poet, Homer did not write down his words of wisdom, but sang them as a form of entertainment. The Iliad was possibly first written down by order of the Athenian tyrant, Peisistratus, in the 6th century BC (but the ‘jury is still out’ on that).  In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great carried a copy of the Iliad with him wherever he travelled as he likened himself to the (almost) invincible warrior, Achilles (modest or what?).

Alexander the Modest (356-323 BC)

One of the earliest records of the work is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. It is on a 2nd century AD Egyptian papyrus found by William Flinders Petrie in 1888 in a tomb of a female mummy in the cemetery of Hawara in Fayum, Egypt. It is in fragments and is the ‘catalogue of ships’ from Book 2 of the poem. It would have been a continuous scroll of about 30 ft in length.

papThe fragments of papyrus of the Iliad in the Bodleian Library

pap ach  pap ek

earliest record of Hektor                                                      and Achilles

Over the years some 1,550 Homeric fragments on papyrus have been found.


The Iliad on the the Oxyrhynchus Papyri III (Egypt, 2nd century AD)

The Iliad was first printed in 1488 in Florence, and the first 10 books (of 24) were first translated into English in 1581 by Arthur Hall.  He translated it, not from the original Greek, but from a French version by Hugues Salel published in 1555. However, the first celebrated translator of the whole of Homer’s Iliad into English was George Chapman (1559/60–1634).

Now, you cannot buy a papyrus version (no surprises there) but the later printed copies are available occasionally – if you have enough money! As I write you can have a rebound 1611 edition of Chapman’s translation printed by Richard Field for Nathaniel Butter for £40,000 ($64,230); or a rebound 1497 second edition of Lorenzo Valla’s Latin prose translation at a bargain £18,500 ($29,700).

iliad eng 1611       iliad 1497

1611 edition                                                                       1497 edition

Alternatively, you can by a modern paperback version on Amazon for £6.99 ($10.78).


 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

I was given the opportunity of travelling the country with my talk on the Bronze Age of Mycenae. It was a standard talk but informative. My driver, Clarence, always accompanied me. One morning he said, “Do you know I have listened to your talk so many times I reckon I could give it just as well.”

“Right,” I said, thinking cheeky fellow, “tonight we’ll swap roles, you give the talk and I’ll drive.”  He agreed.

I called my old friend, Rolo [Prof Rolande Circumspeque], who I knew would be in the audience that night and gave him a complex and unexplainable question to ask Clarence at the end.  I was determined to the catch the blighter out.

That evening I drove Clarence to the lecture theatre and sat myself at the back.

Indeed he gave the talk without missing a beat, almost word-for-word as I had done it on so many occasions before. Then the questions. Rolo put up his hand and put the ‘complex and unexplainable question’ to him.

Clarence hardly stopped for thought. He looked at Rolo, smiled and said, “Ah, that is such an easy question that even my driver would know the answer, and to prove it I’m going to ask him to come down from the back and respond.”


Buying a Book of Hours 2

WELL, IF YOU ARE interested (and you are probably not but I’m going to tell you anyway), I’ve found the translation of my Book of Hours leaf I showed you last week. I could impress you by saying I translated it myself following my course on Medieval Latin, but that would be a lie (and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway).  I found the translation on the internet, of course – although I did have to recognise the actual Latin words, some of which are in abbreviation (so give me a little credit!).


just to remind you of the leaf

It reads:

eruere.   R: Qui Lazarum resuscitasti a monumento foetidum. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae. R: Thou which didst raise Lazarus stinking from the grave: Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon.
V: Qui venturus es iudicare vivos et mortuos, et saeculum per ignem. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae. V: Which art to come to judge the living, and the dead, and the world by fire. Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon.
[Lectio tertia Iob 10]
Manus tuae Domine fecerunt me, et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu: et sic repente praecipitas me? Memento, quaeso, quod sicut lutum feceris me, et in pulverem reduces me. Nonne sicut lac mulsisti me, et sicut caseum me coagulasti?
[The third lesson Job 10]
Thy hands O Lord have made me, and framed me wholly round about: and dost thou so suddenly cast me down headlong? Remember, I beseech thee, that as clay thou madest me, and into dust thou wilt bring me again. Hast thou not as milk milked me, and curded me as cheese?

The fancy M begins the word Manus which is the beginning of the third lesson of Job 10 [Lectio tertia Iob 10]; above it is the end of the second lesson of Job 10; both are from the ‘Office of the Dead’.

This ‘Office of the Dead’ originated as a text for private mourning. It commemorates the deceased  in order to shorten his or her ordeal in Purgatory.  It also serves to remind the living of their own immortality (memento mori).  It’s made up of three liturgical hours: Vespers (vigil over the body the night before burial), Matins and Lauds (both recited in the church the following morning).

The above leaf is from the second hour – Matins. This consists of three Nocturns each containing three Psalms and three lessons. All nine are from the Book of Job.


So there you have it.


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

I spotted a sign outside a house that read ‘Talking Dog for Sale’.  Intrigued, I knocked and asked for a demonstration

The dog owner looked at the dog and said, “So what have you done with your life?”

“I’ve led a very full life,” said the dog. “I lived in the Alps rescuing avalanche victims. Then I served with the police drug sniffing at airports.  After that I helped out with the visibly impaired.  And now I spend my days reading to the residents of a retirement home.”

I was flabbergasted and asked the dog owner, “Why on earth would you want to get rid of an incredible dog like that?”

The owner replied, “Because he’s a liar – he has never done any of those things!”


Buying a Book of Hours

I FIRST BECAME interested in medieval books when I was given an introduction to the Book of Kells many years ago.  This is a group of manuscripts of the four gospels of the New Testament dating back to the 9th century AD (its exact date is unknown for sure). Today it comprises of 340 folios (pages) bound in four volumes. It takes its name from the 9th century Abbey of Kells (in County Meath, Ireland) where it was situated for most of its existence – until the 1650s when it was sent to Dublin for safe keeping against Cromwell’s motley troops. It then found its way to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1661, where it remains today.


Illustrated page from the Book of Kells

My interest was rekindled when I visited the Winchester Bible. This is another fabulously illustrated book on show at Winchester Cathedral. It was produced at the Cathedral between 1160 and 1175 and is the largest surviving 12th century bible (468 folios, 583 x 396 mm). It’s in Latin of course and written on vellum [1]. It was described in 1622 as two volumes and has been rebound twice since – in 1820 into 3 volumes, and in 1948 into 4 volumes. The text is in the hand of one scribe and  is complete but many of the illustrations, which are the work of 6 different contributors, are not finished. Sadly some nine illuminated initials and at least one full-page illustration have been removed entirely and are now in the hands of private collectors  (I’ll say no more – other than one missing leaf is in the Morgan Library in New York …. can we have it back please?).


Illustrated page from the Winchester Bible

Needless to say there is only one copy of each of these two medieval manuscripts so you cannot own them!  But you can own an original copy of the Book of Hours – at a price. These books are of prayers and get their name from the fact that monks have to pray at certain hours of the day (and night).  Saying that, they were produced for the laypersons as well – thousands of them in fact. And quite a few still exist today. Initially they were handwritten and illustrated with miniatures [2] on vellum.  By the early 16th century they became even more popular and the printing press took over from the laborious handwriting [3].  Printers churned out copies of the book but many of them still contained hand-coloured illustrations and lettering.

Although many of these books can be purchased today they don’t come cheap. Their price depends, of course, on the quality and quantity of illustrations.  Also size – many are very small for portability (averaging around 6″ x 4″ – 15 cm x 10 cm). Hand-written copies vary very much from $20,000 to $500,000 – although I believe the most expensive is the Rothschild Prayer Book (of Hours) which went for $13.5 million (£8.5 million) in 1999 at Christie’s in New York, purchased by Kerry Stokes and now lives in the National Library of Australia, Canberra.


The Rothschild Prayer Book (Flemish, 1500-20)

Quite a few of those that still exist are in remarkably good condition. This is because many of them were owned as a status symbol (as they were very expensive to buy) rather than for religious purposes, and so hardly used!  In saying that, very few of these manuscripts have their original bindings. This is because many original bindings were in materials such as velvet and have long since deteriorated (with exceptions of course). The main chance of finding an original binding is if it was in leather.

 1586 cover             cover lethr

Original velvet binding 1586 (English)        Original leather binding 1510 (French)

The 16th century printed version comes in at around $30,000 (again depending on quality). Even quality facsimiles can fetch anything to around $3,000-$5,000 if not more. There are cheaper versions though – a Hungarian company produces (or produced) some of these. If you are desperate to get your hands on a taster, single leafs can be purchased from anything from $200 upwards into the stratosphere – again depending on how they are illustrated and whether they are handwritten or printed. The big problem here is that it means someone has broken a book up to sell these off separately which is sacrilege in itself. But it’s a means to an end (and, sorry, yes I have one such page …..).


My humble c 1450 leaf – it’s handwritten with nice elaborate gold leaf letter but not, obviously, illustrated (I’m doing a course on Medieval Latin so I’ll get back to you when/if I ever translate it!)



[1] Vellum comes from the Latin word ‘vitulinum’ meaning ‘made from calf’. It is estimated that the hides of some 250 calves were used for the Winchester Bible ….

[2] This word ‘miniature’ comes from the Latin term for medieval illustrated book rather than small picture.

[3] The first printing press was introduced in the Holy Roman Empire by one Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. Documents printed before 1501 were known as incunabula (or incunable).


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

Late one night, a preacher with whom I am acquainted, The Rev. Jacob Aramatic, was driving on a country road and had a crash.

A farmer on his tractor stopped and said, “Sir, are you okay?”

The Rev. Joseph said, “Yes, thankfully I had the Lord riding with me.”

The farmer said, “Well, you better let Him ride with me, because you’re gonna kill him.”