Geometric designs

Star Patterns and Stonemasons: West Chelborough, Dorset

‘West Chelborough is a village so far from the haunts of men’, wrote the eminent surgeon and author, Frederick Treves, ‘that the visit of a stranger causes some unrest’. Treves authored one of the most popular books on the county, Highways and Byways in Dorset, first published in 1906 and reprinted numerous times throughout the twentieth century. Having gained fame and fortune as Royal Surgeon to Edward VII, operating on his appendix and saving his life just two days before the planned date of the King’s coronation, Treves retired aged fifty and turned his hand to travel and memoir writing. As the reprints suggest, at this too he was a success. He cycled over 2000 miles around the county to research his book. It says much about his pioneering spirit that in the early years of the 1900s one of the most famous men in the British Empire might be found negotiating a rough chalk track deep in the Dorset countryside on a bicycle, in order to visit remote stretches of coast and largely undisturbed villages. (more…)

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Circles and Serpents

Romanesque sculpture is consistently surprising. In few places in Cornwall is it anything other than fragmentary, a doorway here or a corbel or tympanum (the segmental space immediately above the door) there. Sometimes, however, it is fragmentary at a single site, which, at some point in its building history has adopted a fairly scattergun approach to the reuse of its twelfth-century carved stones. Mylor is one such church. Here it’s possible to find one doorway still in situ, another likely made up from a tympanum and other original stones, and several carved corbels now positioned in prominent architectural locations (one of which is a beakhead, unknown in the county outside of Morwenstow and Kilkhampton). (more…)