Tag Archives: Wiltshire

Almanac – April 17

1397 – Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II.

Chaucer scholars have also identified this as the  date (in 1387) as the start of the book’s pilgrimage to Canterbury.

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1891 – George Adamski born.  Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them.

The first of the so-called contactees of the 1950s, he was called a “philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher”, though his claims were met with skepticism.

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1897 – The Aurora, Texas UFO incident. During the 1896–1897 timeframe, numerous sightings of a cigar-shaped mystery airship were reported across the United States.

One of these accounts appeared in the April 19, 1897, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Written by Aurora resident S.E. Haydon, the alleged UFO is said to have hit a windmill on the property of a Judge J.S. Proctor two days earlier at around 6am local (Central) time, resulting in its crash.

The pilot (who was reported to be “not of this world“, and a “Martian” according to a reported Army officer from nearby Fort Worth) did not survive the crash, and was buried “with Christian rites” at the nearby Aurora Cemetery.

Reportedly, wreckage from the crash site was dumped into a nearby well located under the damaged windmill, while some ended up with the alien in the grave.

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1960 – Eddie Cochran died.  American rock and roll pioneer who, in his brief career, had a lasting influence on rock music.

Cochran’s rockabilly songs, such as “C’mon Everybody”, “Somethin’ Else“, and “Summertime Blues”, captured teenage frustration and desire in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

 He experimented with multitrack recording and overdubbing even on his earliest singles, and was also able to play piano, bass and drums.His image as a sharply dressed, rugged but good-looking young man with a rebellious attitude epitomized the stance of the 50s rocker, and in death he achieved an iconic status.

Cochran died aged 21 after a road accident in the town of Chippenham, Wiltshire, during his British tour.

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1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion. An unsuccessful military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the paramilitary group Brigade 2506 , counter-revolutionary military trained and funded by the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Launched from Guatemala, the invading force was defeated by the Cuban armed forces, under the command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro, within three days.

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Almanac – March 12

1507 – Cesare Borgia died. Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and  the brother of Lucrezia Borgia. He was killed  while fighting in the city of Viana, Spain.

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1626 – John Aubrey born.  English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer.  He was a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and who is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument.  The Aubrey holes at Stonehenge are named after him, although there is considerable doubt as to whether the holes that he observed are those that currently bear the name.

 He was also a pioneer folklorist, collecting together a miscellany of material on customs, traditions and beliefs under the title “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme”.

He set out to compile county histories of both Wiltshire and Surrey, although both projects remained unfinished. His “Interpretation of Villare Anglicanum” (also unfinished) was the first attempt to compile a full-length study of English place-names.

He had wider interests in applied mathematics and astronomy, and was friendly with many of the greatest scientists of the day.

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1922 – Jack Kerouac born. American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.

All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

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1955 – Charlie Parker died. American jazz saxophonist and composer. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. Parker introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

He acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career and the shortened form, “Bird”, which continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspired the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.

Parker died in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City while watching The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show on television.

The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker’s 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

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Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire.

Mention was made in the Almanac a day or two ago of Wiilliam Beckford and, by extension, his creation Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, a now-vanished super-folly.

The Abbey in its heyday –

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 And after it started falling down –

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I  found a site dedicated to re-creating 3-D  models of the Abbey from the old drawings, etc – the only way we’re going to get a real impression of the place, at least until time travel becomes a viable option. Find it here:   http://www.hvtesla.com/fonthill/

They’ve also produced  a video (with some weirdly inappropriate music –personal opinion only), which does help to give an idea of the kind of place it was in its heyday.

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