Tag Archives: antiquarian

Ancient relics of St Cuthbert to be sold at auction

A piece of the coffin of St Cuthbert which was removed from his shrine at Durham Cathedral is to be sold at auction

The fragments of coffin and robe from St Cuthbert’s shrine are mounted in a display box thought to date from the 19th Century.

On what is the feast day today of St Cuthbert, it has emerged that the item will be sold on March 27 by auctioneers Anderson & Garland in Newcastle, with an estimate of £200 to £300.

The item has come from the collection of the late Ian Curry, who was Durham Cathedral architect from 1976-1997, and who died in 2012.

He served as president of Sunderland Antiquarian Society and was a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The shrine of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral was opened in 1827 by Canon James Raine, and several pieces of the coffin and cloth were removed.

In 1899, the shrine was opened again by antiquarian  Canon William Greenwell.

The pieces of the coffin were removed and the casket was partially restored in 1946 and again in 1978.

Cathedral head of marketing and events Ruth Robson said: “Canon Raine gave several pieces as gifts to friends and they do sometimes turn up.

“Perhaps Mr Curry bought this item in an antique shop.”

She said that the cathedral was considering bidding for the item. Mr Curry was born in Newcastle and lived in Sunderland.

The coffin will be among items which, it is planned, will be on display next year as part of the cathedral’s major Open Treasure project.

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Almanac – March 03

1756 – William Godwin born. English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism.

 Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel. Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s.

 In the ensuing conservative reaction to British radicalism, Godwin was attacked, in part because of his marriage to the pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and his candid biography of her after her death.

Their daughter, Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley) would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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1765 – William Stukeley died. English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as “probably… the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology”.

Becoming involved in the newly fashionable organisation of Freemasonry, he also began to describe himself as a “druid“, and incorrectly believed that the prehistoric megalithic monuments were a part of the druidic religion. However, despite this he has been noted as being a significant figure in the early development of the modern movement known as Neo-druidry.

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1863 – Arthur Machen born.  Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella “The Great God Pan” (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror (Stephen King has called it “Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language”). He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

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1951 – Jackie Brenston, with Ike Turner and his band, recorded “Rocket 88″, often cited as the first rock and roll record, at Sam Phillips‘ recording studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

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2006 – Ivor Cutler died. Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist. He became known for his regular performances on BBC radio, and in particular his numerous sessions recorded for John Peel‘s influential radio programme, and later for Andy Kershaw‘s programme. He appeared in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour film in 1967 and on Neil Innes‘ television programmes.

The hallmarks of Cutler’s work are surreal, bizarre juxtapositions and close attention to small details of existence, all described in seemingly naive language. In performance his delivery was frail, halting and minimally inflected. His writing sometimes edged into whimsy or the macabre. Many of his poems and songs are in the form of conversations delivered as a monologue

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Almanac – November 09

1623 – William Camden died. English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

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1877 – Allama Muhammad Iqbal born.  Philosopher, poet and politician  in British India who is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature,  with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.

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1888 –  Mary Jane Kelly murdered, generally considered the last known victim of Jack the Ripper.

Or was she ? Although the victim was found in Kelly’s room, the body was badly mutilated,  there were supposed sightings of her after she was dead, leading to the theory that someone else was using her room for purposes of prostitution and got unlucky. If Kelly did survive, she vanished from history at that point.

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1918 – Guillaume Apollinaire died. French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.
Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word Surrealism and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play The Breasts of Tiresias (1917) . Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 at age 38.

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1953 – Dylan Thomas died.  Welsh poet and writer.  A post mortem gave the primary cause of death as pneumonia, with pressure on the brain and a fatty liver as contributing factors.

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1967 – First issue of Rolling Stone Magazine  published.

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Almanac – November 07

1492 – The Ensisheim Meteorite, the oldest meteorite with a known date of impact, struck the Earth around noon in a wheat field outside the village of Ensisheim, Alsace, France.

The meteorite was an LL6 ordinary chondrite, weighing 127 kilograms; it was described as triangular in shape, and it created a 1 meter deep hole upon impact.The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball for a distance of up to 150 kilometres from where it eventually landed.

Sebastian Brant (1458–1521), satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff” described the meteorite and its fall in the poem, “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite”

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1687 – William Stukeley born.  English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as “probably the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology”

Becoming involved in the newly fashionable organisation of Freemasonry, he also began to describe himself as a “druid”, and incorrectly believed that the prehistoric megalithic monuments were a part of the druidic religion. However, despite this he has been noted as being a significant figure in the early development of the modern movement known as Neo-druidry.

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1872 – The ship Mary Celeste sailed from New York, eventually to be found deserted.

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1879 – Leon Trotsky born. Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army.

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1908 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were reportedly killed in San Vicente, Bolivia.
Two Americans certainly seem to have died in a shoot-out with the authorities, but their identities have never been confirmed, and there seems to be evidence that both outlaws returned to the USA and lived on at least into the 1930s.
Their real names, incidentally, were Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh.

Hollywood, of course, re-wrote history in time honoured tradition…

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1913 – Albert Camus born.  French pied-noir author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism.

He wrote in his essay “The Rebel” that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom. Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label. In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…”

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1991 – Tom of Finland died.  Finnish artist notable for his stylized androerotic and fetish art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. He has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade.

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