Nov 182016
 

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Today is the birthday (1836) of Sir William Schwenck (“W.S.”) Gilbert, an English dramatist, librettist, poet, and illustrator best known for the fourteen comic operas (known as the Savoy operas) produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, numerous stories, poems, lyrics and various other comic and serious pieces. His plays and realistic style of stage direction inspired other dramatists, including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

Gilbert was born in London. His father, also named William, was briefly a naval surgeon, and later became a writer of novels and short stories, some of which were illustrated by his son. Gilbert’s mother was the former Anne Mary Bye Morris (1812–1888), the daughter of Thomas Morris, an apothecary. Gilbert’s parents were distant and stern, and he did not have a particularly close relationship with either of them. They quarreled increasingly, and following the break-up of their marriage in 1876, his relationships with them, especially his mother, became even more strained.

As a child, Gilbert traveled to Italy in 1838 and then France for two years with his parents, who finally returned to settle in London in 1847. He was educated in Boulogne from the age of seven, then at Western Grammar School, Brompton, London, and then at the Great Ealing School, where he became head boy and wrote plays for school performances and painted scenery. He then attended King’s College London, graduating in 1856. He intended to take the examinations for a commission in the Royal Artillery, but with the end of the Crimean War, fewer recruits were needed, and the only commission available to Gilbert would have been in a line regiment. Instead he joined the Civil Service. He was an assistant clerk in the Privy Council Office for four years and hated it. In 1859 he joined the Militia, a part-time volunteer force formed for the defense of Britain, with which he served until 1878 (in between writing and other work), reaching the rank of Captain. In 1863 he received a bequest of £300 that he used to leave the civil service and take up a brief career as a barrister (he had already entered the Inner Temple as a student), but his legal practice was not successful, averaging just five clients a year.

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To supplement his income from 1861 on, Gilbert wrote a variety of stories, comic rants, grotesque illustrations, theater reviews (many in the form of a parody of the play being reviewed), and, under the pseudonym “Bab” (his childhood nickname), illustrated poems for several comic magazines. He published stories, articles, and reviews in a variety of papers, and in 1870 The Observer newspaper sent him to France as a war correspondent reporting on the Franco-Prussian War.

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The poems, illustrated humorously by Gilbert, proved immensely popular and were reprinted in book form as the Bab Ballads. He would later return to many of these as source material for his plays and comic operas.

Gilbert wrote and directed a number of plays at school, but his first professionally produced play was Uncle Baby, which ran for seven weeks in the autumn of 1863. In 1865–66, Gilbert collaborated with Charles Millward on several pantomimes, including one called Hush-a-Bye, Baby, On the Tree Top, or, Harlequin Fortunia, King Frog of Frog Island, and the Magic Toys of Lowther Arcade (1866). Gilbert’s first solo success, however, came a few days after Hush-a-Bye Baby premiered. His friend and mentor, Tom Robertson, was asked to write a pantomime but did not think he could do it in the two weeks available, and so he recommended Gilbert instead. Written and rushed to the stage in 10 days, Dulcamara, or the Little Duck and the Great Quack, a burlesque of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, proved extremely popular. This led to a long series of further Gilbert opera burlesques, pantomimes and farces.

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Theater, at the time Gilbert began writing, had fallen into disrepute. Badly translated and adapted French operettas and poorly written, prurient Victorian burlesques dominated the London stage. From 1869 to 1875, Gilbert joined with one of the leading figures in theatrical reform, Thomas German Reed (and his wife Priscilla), whose Gallery of Illustration theater sought to regain some of theater’s lost respectability by offering family entertainments in London.

The environment of the German Reeds’ intimate theater allowed Gilbert quickly to develop a personal style and freedom to control all aspects of production, including set, costumes, direction and stage management. Gilbert’s first big hit at the Gallery of Illustration, Ages Ago, opened in 1869. Ages Ago was also the beginning of a collaboration with the composer Frederic Clay that would last seven years and produce four works. It was at a rehearsal for Ages Ago that Clay formally introduced Gilbert to his friend, Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert reused many of the plot elements of the German Reed Entertainments (as well as some from his earlier plays and Bab Ballads) later in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. These elements include paintings coming to life (Ages Ago, used again in Ruddigore), a deaf nursemaid binding a respectable man’s son to a “pirate” instead of to a “pilot” by mistake (Our Island Home, 1870, reused in The Pirates of Penzance), and the forceful mature lady who is “an acquired taste” (Eyes and No Eyes, 1875, reused in The Mikado). During this time, Gilbert perfected the ‘topsy-turvy’ style that he had been developing in his Bab Ballads, where the humor was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd.

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Once he became established as a writer, Gilbert assumed the role of stage director for his plays and operas and had strong opinions on how they should best be performed. He was significantly influenced by the innovations in stage direction of the playwrights James Planché and Tom Robertson. Gilbert attended rehearsals directed by Robertson to learn this art firsthand, and he began to apply it in some of his earliest plays. He sought realism in acting, settings, costumes, and movement, if not in content of his plays, shunned self-conscious interaction with the audience, and insisted on a style of portrayal in which the characters were never aware of their own absurdity, but were coherent internal wholes.

Gilbert demanded discipline in his actors. He required that his actors know their words perfectly, enunciate them clearly and obey his stage directions exactly, which was something quite new to many actors of the day. Another major innovation was his replacement of the star actor with the disciplined ensemble, giving him as director a new position of dominance in the theatre. Gilbert prepared meticulously for each new work, making models of the stage, actors and set pieces, and designing every action and bit of business in advance, and would not work with actors who challenged his authority. Even during long runs and revivals, he closely supervised the performances of his plays, making sure that the actors did not make unauthorized additions, deletions or paraphrases. He was famous for demonstrating the action himself, even as he grew older, went on stage himself in a number of productions throughout his lifetime.

In 1871, John Hollingshead commissioned Gilbert to work with Sullivan on a holiday piece for Christmas, Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old, at the Gaiety Theatre. Thespis outran five of its nine competitors for the 1871 holiday season, and its run was extended beyond the length of a normal run at the Gaiety. However, nothing more came of it at that point, and Gilbert and Sullivan went their separate ways. Gilbert worked again with Clay on Happy Arcadia (1872), and with Alfred Cellier on Topsyturveydom (1874), as well as writing several farces, operetta libretti, extravaganzas, fairy comedies, adaptations from novels, translations from the French, and other dramas.

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In 1868, Gilbert had published a short comic sketch libretto in Fun magazine entitled “Trial by Jury: An Operetta”. In 1873, Gilbert arranged with the theatrical manager and composer, Carl Rosa, to expand the piece into a one-act libretto. Rosa’s wife was to sing the role of the plaintiff. However, Rosa’s wife died in childbirth in 1874. Later in 1874 Gilbert offered the libretto to Richard D’Oyly Carte, but Carte could not use the piece at that time. By early 1875, Carte was managing the Royalty Theatre, and he needed a short opera to be played as an afterpiece to Offenbach’s La Périchole. He contacted Gilbert, asked about the piece, and suggested Sullivan to set the work. Sullivan was enthusiastic, and Trial by Jury was composed in a matter of weeks. The little piece was a runaway hit, outlasting the run of La Périchole and was then revived at another theatre.

After the success of Trial by Jury, there were discussions about reviving Thespis, but Gilbert and Sullivan were not able to agree on terms with Carte and his backers. The score to Thespis was never published, and most of the music is now lost. It took some time for Carte to gather funds for another Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and in this gap Gilbert produced several works including Tom Cobb (1875), Eyes and No Eyes (1875, his last German Reed Entertainment), and Princess Toto (1876), his last and most ambitious work with Clay, a three-act comic opera with full orchestra, as opposed to the shorter works for much reduced accompaniment that came before. Gilbert also wrote two serious works during this time, Broken Hearts (1875) and Dan’l Druce, Blacksmith (1876).

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Also during this period, Gilbert wrote his most successful comic play, Engaged (1877), which inspired Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Engaged is a parody of romantic drama written in the “topsy-turvy” satiric style of many of Gilbert’s Bab Ballads and the Savoy Operas, with one character pledging his love, in the most poetic and romantic language possible, to every single woman in the play; the “innocent” Scottish rustics being revealed to be making a living through throwing trains off the lines and then charging the passengers for services, and, in general, romance being gladly thrown over in favor of monetary gain. Engaged continues to be performed today by both professional and amateur companies.

Carte finally assembled a syndicate in 1877 and formed the Comedy Opera Company to launch a series of original English comic operas, beginning with a third collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan, The Sorcerer, in November 1877. This work was a modest success, and H.M.S. Pinafore followed in May 1878. Despite a slow start, mainly due to a scorching summer, Pinafore became a major hit by autumn. After a dispute with Carte over the division of profits, the other Comedy Opera Company partners hired thugs to storm the theater one night to steal the sets and costumes, intending to mount a rival production. The attempt was repelled by stagehands and others at the theatre loyal to Carte, and Carte continued as sole impresario of the newly renamed D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Pinafore was so successful that over 100 unauthorized productions sprang up in the U.S. alone. Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte tried for many years to control the U.S. performance copyrights over their operas, without success.

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For the next decade, the Savoy Operas (as the series came to be known, after the theater Carte later built to house them) were Gilbert’s principal activity. The successful comic operas with Sullivan continued to appear every year or two, several of them being among the longest-running productions up to that point in the history of the musical stage. After Pinafore came The Pirates of Penzance (1879) – which opened first in New York in an attempt to control U.S. copyrights — Patience (1881), Iolanthe (1882), Princess Ida (1884, based on Gilbert’s earlier farce, The Princess), The Mikado (1885), Ruddigore (1887), The Yeomen of the Guard (1888), and The Gondoliers (1889). Gilbert not only directed and oversaw all aspects of production for these works, but he actually designed the costumes himself for Patience, Iolanthe, Princess Ida, and Ruddigore. He insisted on precise and authentic sets and costumes, which provided a foundation to ground and focus his absurd characters and situations.

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I was a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan from about the age of 11 when I saw my first amateur productions of H.M.S. Pinafore and the Mikado in South Australia at a time when Australian television was still in its infancy, and live theater was quite vital. When we moved to England in 1965 I made a point of seeing a number of Gilbert and Sullivan productions by the D’Oyly Carte company in their London theater as well as in Oxford, although I had to go alone because I couldn’t persuade family members to go with me. I always bought the libretti at the performances and kept them for many years. Well . . . that was then, and now is now. My interest has waned considerably, and I think of Gilbert and Sullivan now as period pieces only. Even so, I recognize the revolutionary nature of Gilbert’s stagecraft and writing. He was the master of his era, and his political satire, especially, is well barbed. Unfortunately, you have to know the period to grasp it, and later attempts to rewrite the jokes to make them more current fall flat, in my opinion – although audiences love them.

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On 29 May 1911, Gilbert was about to give a swimming lesson to two young women, Winifred Isabel Emery (1890–1972), and 17-year-old Ruby Preece in the lake of his home, Grim’s Dyke in Harrow, when Preece lost her footing and called for help. Gilbert dived in to save her but suffered a heart attack in the middle of the lake and died at the age of 74. He was cremated at Golders Green and his ashes buried at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Stanmore. The inscription on Gilbert’s memorial on the south wall of the Thames Embankment in London reads: “His Foe was Folly, and his Weapon Wit”.

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Gilbert and his wife, Lucy, were well known for their dinner parties at Grim’s Dyke. By all accounts Gilbert’s tastes were classic British Victorian and he decried the fancy French cooking that Sullivan preferred. So out comes Mrs Beeton. Here’s her suggestion for dinner at this time of year:

2099.—DINNER FOR 6 PERSONS (NOVEMBER).—II.

 FIRST COURSE.

  Game Soup.
  Slices of Codfish and Dutch Sauce.
  Fried Eels.

  ENTREES.

  Kidneys á la Maître d’Hôtel.
  Oyster Patties.

  SECOND COURSE.

  Saddle of Mutton.
  Boiled Capon and Rice.
  Small Ham.
  Lark Pudding.

  THIRD COURSE.

  Roast Hare.
  Apple Tart.
  Pineapple Cream.
  Clear Jelly.
  Cheesecakes.
  Marrow Pudding.
  Nesselrode Pudding.

Dios mio !!! Is this for six or for an army? I would give you her recipe for lark pudding since it shows up on a number of menus. However – she does not give a recipe. This would not pass muster with contemporary editors. She does not give a recipe for Kidneys á la Maître d’Hôtel, but she does give a recipe for the sauce, so it’s not a much of a leap to put it together with grilled or sautéed kidneys (lamb’s kidneys I would think).

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MAITRE D’HOTEL SAUCE (HOT), to serve with Calf’s Head, Boiled Eels, and different Fish.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—1 slice of minced ham, a few poultry-trimmings, 2 shalots, 1 clove of garlic, 1 bay-leaf, 3/4 pint of water, 2 oz. of butter, 1 dessertspoonful of flour, 1 heaped tablespoonful of chopped parsley; salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste; the juice of 1/2 large lemon, 1/4 teaspoonful of pounded sugar.

Mode.—Put at the bottom of a stewpan the minced ham, and over it the poultry-trimmings (if these are not at hand, veal should be substituted), with the shalots, garlic, and bay-leaf. Pour in the water, and let the whole simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the liquor is reduced to a full 1/2 pint. Then strain this gravy, put it in another saucepan, make a thickening of butter and flour in the above proportions, and stir it to the gravy over a nice clear fire, until it is perfectly smooth and rather thick, care being taken that the butter does not float on the surface. Skim well, add the remaining ingredients, let the sauce gradually heat, but do not allow it to boil. If this sauce is intended for an entrée, it is necessary to make it of a sufficient thickness, so that it may adhere to what it is meant to cover.

Time.—1-1/2 hour. Average cost, 1s. 2d. per pint.

Sufficient for re-warming the remains of 1/2 calf’s head, or a small dish of cold flaked turbot, cod, &c.

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She does give a recipe for nesselrode pudding which was enormously popular in Victorian times. It baffles me that it is a frozen dessert specifically for the winter. In the days before electric refrigerators and freezers it would certainly have been easier to make in the winter than the summer, but would not seem seasonable nowadays. Beeton’s recipe is not her own, as she admits, and she likely did not try it.

NESSELRODE PUDDING. (A fashionable iced pudding—Caręme’s Recipe.)

  1. INGREDIENTS.—40 chestnuts, 1 lb. of sugar, flavouring of vanilla, 1 pint of cream, the yolks of 12 eggs, 1 glass of Maraschino, 1 oz. of candied citron, 2 oz. of currants, 2 oz. of stoned raisins, 1/2 pint of whipped cream, 3 eggs.

Mode.—Blanch the chestnuts in boiling water, remove the husks, and pound them in a mortar until perfectly smooth, adding a few spoonfuls of syrup. Then rub them through a fine sieve, and mix them in a basin with a pint of syrup made from 1 lb. of sugar, clarified, and flavoured with vanilla, 1 pint of cream, and the yolks of 12 eggs. Set this mixture over a slow fire, stirring it without ceasing, and just as it begins to boil, take it off and pass it through a tammy. When it is cold, put it into a freezing-pot, adding the Maraschino, and make the mixture set; then add the sliced citron, the currants, and stoned raisins (these two latter should be soaked the day previously in Maraschino and sugar pounded with vanilla); the whole thus mingled, add a plateful of whipped cream mixed with the whites of 3 eggs, beaten to a froth with a little syrup. When the pudding is perfectly frozen, put it into a pineapple-shaped mould; close the lid, place it again in the freezing-pan, covered over with pounded ice and saltpetre, and let it remain until required for table; then turn the pudding out, and serve.

Time.—1/2 hour to freeze the mixture.

Seasonable from October to February.

Modern recipes suggest just molding the mix and setting in the freezer, but you can get better results by using an ice cream freezer. Mold up the mix when it is still soft from the ice cream freezer and let it set up overnight before unmolding. French recipes of the time call for a cold sauce of cream eggs and maraschino to be spooned over servings of the pudding.

Jul 192015
 

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The Mary Rose was a carrack-type warship of the English Tudor navy of King Henry VIII. After serving for 33 years in several wars against France, Scotland, and Brittany and after being substantially rebuilt in 1536, she saw her last action on 19 July 1545. While leading the attack on the galleys of a French invasion fleet, she sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight.

The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1971. It was salvaged in 1982 by the Mary Rose Trust, in one of the most complex and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology. The surviving section of the ship and thousands of recovered artifacts are of immense value as a Tudor-era time capsule. The excavation and salvage of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology. The finds include weapons, sailing equipment, naval supplies and a wide array of objects used by the crew. Many of the artifacts are unique to the Mary Rose and have provided insights into topics ranging from naval warfare to the history of musical instruments. Since the mid-1980s, while undergoing conservation, the remains of the hull have been on display at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. An extensive collection of well-preserved artifacts is on display at the nearby Mary Rose Museum, built to display the reconstructed ship and its contents.

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I visited the ship (along with Nelson’s Victory) about 15 years ago and was completely amazed. It was an absolute slice of history. It was like peeking inside a small Tudor village. Even though I am an anthropologist I am not a fan of museums in general, I enjoyed this display because it showed the real context where 16th century people lived, worked, played, and died. Very moving.

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The Mary Rose was one of the largest ships in the English navy throughout more than three decades of intermittent war and was one of the earliest examples of a purpose-built sailing warship. She was armed with new types of heavy guns that could fire through her recently invented gun-ports (which may also have been her undoing). After being substantially rebuilt in 1536, she was also one of the earliest ships that could fire a broadside, although the line of battle tactics that employed it had not yet been developed. Several theories have sought to explain the sinking of the Mary Rose, based on historical records, knowledge of 16th-century shipbuilding, and modern experiments. The precise cause of her demise is still unclear, because of conflicting testimonies and a lack of conclusive physical evidence, but it seems likely to me that during battle she listed to starboard and water flooded in through the gun-ports.

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In early July 1536 a huge French force under the command of Admiral Claude d’Annebault set sail for England and entered the Solent unopposed with 128 ships on the 16th. The English had around 80 ships with which to oppose the French, including the flagship Mary Rose. But since they had virtually no heavy galleys, the fleet vessels was at its best in sheltered waters like the Solent; the English fleet promptly retreated into Portsmouth harbour when the French arrived.

The English thence became becalmed in port and unable to maneuver. On 19 July 1545, the French galleys advanced on the immobilized English fleet, and initially threatened to destroy an English force of 13 small galleys, or “rowbarges”, the only ships that were able to move against them without a wind. The wind picked up and the sailing ships were able to go on the offensive before the oared vessels were overwhelmed. Two of the largest ships, the Henry Grace Dieu and the Mary Rose, led the attack on the French galleys in the Solent.

Early in the battle something went wrong. While engaging the French galleys the Mary Rose suddenly heeled heavily over to her starboard side and water rushed in through the open gunports. The crew was powerless to correct the sudden imbalance, and could only scramble for the safety of the upper deck as the ship began to sink rapidly. As she heeled over, equipment, ammunition, supplies and storage containers shifted and came loose, adding to the general chaos. The massive port side brick oven in the galley collapsed completely and the huge 360-liter (90 gallon) copper cauldron was thrown on to the orlop deck above. Heavy guns came free and slammed into the opposite side, impeding escape or crushing men beneath them.

For those who were not injured or killed outright by moving objects, there was little time to reach safety, especially for the men who were manning the guns on the main deck or fetching ammunition and supplies in the hold. The companionways that connected the decks with one another would have become bottlenecks for fleeing men, something indicated by the positioning of many of the skeletons recovered from the wreck. What turned the sinking into a major tragedy in terms of lives lost was the anti-boarding netting that covered the upper decks in the waist (the midsection of the ship) and the sterncastle. With the exception of the men who were stationed in the tops in the masts, most of those who managed to get up from below deck were trapped under the netting; they would have been in view of the surface, and their colleagues above, but with little or no chance to break through, and were dragged down with the ship. Out of a crew of at least 400, fewer than 35 escaped, a catastrophic casualty rate of over 90%.

A salvage attempt was ordered by Secretary of State William Paget only days after the sinking, and Charles Brandon, the king’s brother-in-law, took charge of practical details. The operation followed the standard procedure for raising ships in shallow waters: strong cables were attached to the sunken ship and fastened to two empty ships, or hulks. At low tide, the ropes were pulled taut with capstans. When the high tide came in, the hulks rose and with them the wreck. It would then be towed into shallower water and the procedure repeated until the whole ship could be raised completely.

A list of necessary equipment was compiled by 1 August and included, among other things, massive cables, capstans, pulleys, and 40 pounds of tallow for lubrication. The proposed salvage team comprised 30 Venetian mariners and a Venetian carpenter with 60 English sailors to serve them. The two ships to be used as hulks were the Jesus of Lübeck and Samson, each of 700 tons burthen and similar in size to the Mary Rose. Brandon was so confident of success that he reassured the king that it would only be a matter of days before they could raise the Mary Rose. The optimism proved unfounded. Since the ship had settled at a 60-degree angle to starboard much of it was stuck deep into the clay of the seabed. This made it virtually impossible to pass cables under the hull and required far more lifting power than if the ship had settled on a hard seabed. An attempt to secure cables to the main mast appears only to have resulted in its being snapped off. The project was only successful in raising rigging, some guns and other items and around 1549 the effort was abandoned.

During the 16th century a hard layer of compacted clay and crushed shells formed over the ship, stabilizing the site and sealing the Tudor-era deposits. Further layers of soft silt covered the site during the 18th and 19th centuries, but frequent changes in the tidal patterns and currents in the Solent occasionally exposed some of the timbers, leading to its accidental rediscovery in 1836 and aided in locating the wreck in 1971. After the ship had been salvaged it was determined that about 40% of the original structure had survived.

In the summer of 1836, a group of five fishermen caught their nets on timbers protruding from the bottom of the Solent. They contacted a diver to help them remove the hindrance, and on 10 June, Henry Abbinett became the first person to see the Mary Rose in almost 300 years. Later, two other professional divers, John Deane and William Edwards, were employed. Using a recently invented rubber suit and metal diving helmet, Deane and Edwards began to examine the wreck and salvage items from it. Along with an assortment of timbers and wooden objects, including several longbows, they brought up several bronze and iron guns, which were sold to the Board of Ordnance for over £220. The identification of the ship led to significant public interest in the salvage operation, and caused a great demand for the objects which were brought up. Though many of the objects could not be properly conserved at the time and subsequently deteriorated, many were documented with pencil sketches and watercolor drawings which survive to this day. John Deane ceased working on the wreck in 1836, but returned in 1840 with new, more destructive methods. With the help of condemned bomb shells filled with gunpowder acquired from the Ordnance Board he blasted his way into parts of the wreck. Fragments of bombs and traces of blasting craters were found during the modern excavations. Deane then abandoned his efforts .

The modern search for the Mary Rose was initiated by the Southsea branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club in 1965 as part of a project to locate shipwrecks in the Solent. In February 1966 a chart from 1841 was found that marked the positions of the Mary Rose and several other wrecks and a definite location was finally established at a position 3 km (1.9 mi) south of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour (50°46′N 1°06′W) in water with a depth of 11 m (36 feet) at low tide. Diving on the site began in 1966 and a sonar scan by Harold Edgerton in 1967–68 revealed some type of buried feature. In 1970 a loose timber was located and on 5 May 1971, the first structural details of the buried hull were identified after they were partially uncovered by winter storms.

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By 1978 the initial excavation work had uncovered a complete and coherent site with an intact ship structure and the orientation of the hull had been positively identified as being on an almost straight northerly heading with a 60-degree heel to starboard and a slight downward tilt towards the bow. As no records of English shipbuilding techniques used in vessels like the Mary Rose survive, excavation of the ship would allow for a detailed survey of her design and shed new light on the construction of ships of the era. A full excavation also meant removing the protective layers of silt that prevented the remaining ship structure from being destroyed through biological decay and the scouring of the currents; the operation had to be completed within a predetermined timespan of a few years or it risked irreversible damage. It was also considered desirable to recover and preserve the remains of the hull if possible. For the first time, the project was faced with the practical difficulties of actually raising, conserving and preparing the hull for public display. The project went from a team of only twelve volunteers working four months a year to over 50 individuals working almost around the clock nine months a year. In addition there were over 500 volunteer divers and a laboratory staff of about 70 that ran the shore base and conservation facilities.[105] During the four diving seasons from 1979 to 1982 over 22,000 diving hours were spent on the site. Raising the Mary Rose meant overcoming a number of delicate problems that had never been encountered before. Many suggestions for salvage were discarded, including the construction of a cofferdam around the wreck site, filling the ship with small buoyant objects (such as ping pong balls) or even pumping brine into the seabed and freezing it so that it would float and take the hull with it. After lengthy discussions it was decided in February 1980 that the hull would first be emptied of all its contents and strengthened with steel braces and frames. It would then be lifted to the surface with floating sheerlegs attached to nylon strops passing under the hull and transferred to a cradle. It was also decided that the ship would be recovered before the end of the diving season in 1982. If the wreck stayed uncovered any longer it risked irreversible damage from biological decay and tidal scouring.

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As one of the most ambitious and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology, the Mary Rose project broke new ground within this field in the UK. Besides becoming one of the first wrecks to be protected under the new Protection of Wrecks Act in 1973 it also created several new precedents. It was the first time that a British privately funded project was able to apply modern scientific standards fully and without having to auction off part of the findings to finance its activities; where previous projects often had to settle for just a partial recovery of finds, everything found in connection with the Mary Rose was recovered and recorded. The salvage made it possible to establish the first historic shipwreck museum in the UK to receive government accreditation and funding. The excavation of the Mary Rose wrecksite proved that it was possible to achieve a level of exactness in underwater excavations comparable to those on dry land.

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Throughout the 1970s, the Mary Rose was meticulously surveyed, excavated and recorded with the latest methods within the field of maritime archaeology. Working in an underwater environment meant that principles of land-based archaeology did not always apply. Over 26,000 artifacts and pieces of timber were salvaged along with remains of about half the crew members. The faces of some crew members have been reconstructed. Analysis of the crew skeletons shows many had suffered malnutrition, and had evidence of rickets, scurvy, and other deficiency diseases was found.

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Crew members also developed arthritis through the stresses on their joints from heavy lifting and maritime life generally, and suffered bone fractures. As the ship was intended to function as a floating, self-contained community, it was stocked with food and drink that could sustain its inhabitants for extended periods of time. The casks used for storage on the Mary Rose have been compared with those from a wreck of a trade vessel from the 1560s and have revealed that they were of better quality, more robust and reliable, an indication that supplies for the Tudor navy were given high priority, and their requirements set a high standard for cask manufacturing at the time. As a miniature society at sea, the wreck of the Mary Rose held personal objects belonging to individual crew members. This included clothing, games, various items for spiritual or recreation use, or objects related to mundane everyday tasks such as personal hygiene, fishing and sewing. The master carpenter’s chest, for example, contained a backgammon set, a book, three plates, a sundial, and a tankard, goods suggesting he was relatively wealthy.

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The ship carried several skilled craftsmen and was equipped for handling both routine maintenance and repairing extensive battle damage. In and around one of the cabins on the main deck under the sterncastle, archaeologists found a “collection of woodworking tools … unprecedented in its range and size”, consisting of eight chests of carpentry tools. Along with loose mallets and tar pots used for caulking, this variety of tools belonged to one or several of the carpenters employed on the Mary Rose.

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Many of the cannons and other weapons from the Mary Rose have provided invaluable physical evidence about 16th-century weapon technology. The surviving gunshields are almost all from the Mary Rose, and the four small cast iron hailshot pieces are the only known examples of this type of weapon.

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Animal remains have been found in the wreck of the Mary Rose. These include the skeletons of a rat, a frog and a dog. The dog, a mongrel between eighteen months and two years in age, was found near the hatch to the ship’s carpenter’s cabin and is thought to have been brought aboard as a ratter. Nine barrels have been found to contain bones of cattle, indicating that they contained pieces of beef butchered and stored as ship’s rations. In addition, the bones of pigs and fish, stored in baskets, have also been found.

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Two fiddles, a bow, a still shawm or doucaine, three three-hole pipes, and a tabor drum with a drumstick were found throughout the wreck. These would have been used for the personal enjoyment of the crew and to provide a rhythm to work on the rigging and turning the capstans on the upper decks. The tabor drum is the earliest known example of its kind and the drumstick of a previously unknown design. The tabor pipes are considerably longer than any known examples from the period. Their discovery proved that contemporary illustrations, previously viewed with some suspicion, were in fact accurate depictions of the instruments. Before the discovery of the Mary Rose shawm, an early predecessor to the oboe, instrument historians had been puzzled by reference to “still shawms”, or “soft” shawms, that were said to have a sound that was less shrill than earlier shawms. The still shawm disappeared from the musical scene some time in the 16th century, and the instrument found on the Mary Rose is the only surviving example. A reproduction has been made and played. Combined with a pipe and tabor, it provides a bass part for dance music.

A small note here about the use of the word “fiddle” in case my violinist friends protest. Nowadays the words “violin” and “fiddle” are used to denote genres of music, hence the instruments themselves. “Fiddle” is used for folk music and “violin” for classical music. In Tudor England “fydell” was used commonly, and the Mary Rose instruments are quite different from contemporary viols in shape, size and construction. Only a few other fiddle-type instruments from the 16th century exist, but none of them of the type found on the Mary Rose. Reproductions of both fiddles have been made, though less is known of their design than the shawm since the necks and strings are missing.

In the remains of a small cabin in the bow of the ship and in a few other locations around the wreck was found the earliest dated set of navigation instruments in Europe found so far: compasses, divider calipers, a stick used for charting, protractors, sounding leads, tide calculators and a logreel, an instrument for calculating speed. Several of these objects are not only unique in having such an early, definite dating, but also because they pre-date written records of their use; protractors would have reasonably been used to measure distance on maps, but sea charts are not known to have been used by English navigators during the first half of the 16th century, compasses were not depicted on English ships until the 1560s, and the first mention of a logreel is from 1574.

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The cabin located on the main deck underneath the sterncastle is thought to have belonged to the barber-surgeon. He was a trained professional who saw to the health and welfare of the crew and acted as the medical expert on board. The most important of these finds were found in an intact wooden chest which contained over 60 objects relating to the barber-surgeon’s medical practice: the wooden handles of a complete set of surgical tools and several shaving razors (although none of the steel blades had survived), a copper syringe for wound irrigation and treatment of gonorrhoea, and even a skillfully crafted feeding bottle for feeding incapacitated patients. More objects were found around the cabin, such as earscoops, shaving bowls and combs. With this wide selection of tools and medicaments the barber-surgeon, along with one or more assistants, could set bone fractures, perform amputations and deal with other acute injuries, treat a number of diseases and provide crew members with a minimal standard of personal hygiene.

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The conditions of the crews’ skeletons found indicate that their diet was much the same as that of later centuries for sailors, namely, salted meat and dried legumes. I’ve given recipes for these before, so here is a recipe for ox kidneys (a favorite of mine) from a cookbook contemporary with the Mary Rose: A proper new Booke of Cookery. Declaring what maner of meates be best in season for al times of the yeere, and how they ought to be dressed, & served at the Table, both for fleshe dayes and Fish daies. with a new addition, very necessary for al them that delight in Cookery. This is a book of recipes written for women running their own households by an unknown author. The text was published in London and survives in three editions: 1545 (held at the University of Glasgow), 1557-1558 (held at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) and two later editions, one of 1575 (held in the British Library). It is a relatively small volume, beginning with a list of meats and their seasons, followed by a listing of dinners and suggested dishes for service for both flesh and fish days. After this comes a list of 49 recipes mostly covering meat dishes and pies, though there are a small number of dessert dishes. You can find a transcription here: http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/pnboc1575.txt

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I have chosen a recipe for vautes, a kidney-stuffed pancake of sorts. As was common in Tudor cookery this is a meat dish loaded with dried fruits (progenitor of modern mince pies). The recipe is easy enough to follow, although I have not tried it.

To make Vautes.

Take the kidney of Veale, and par-boyle it till it be tender, then take and chop it small with the yolkes of three or fouer Egges, than season it with dates small cut, small raysins, ginger, Suger, Cinnamon, saffron, and a litle salt, and for the paste to lay it in, take a dosyn of Egges both the white and the yolkes, and beate them well altogether then take butter and put into a fryinge pan and frye them as thinne as a Pan-cake, then lay your stuffe therin, and so frye them together in a panne, and cast suger and ginger upon it, and so serve it forth.

Jun 162015
 

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Today is Bloomsday, a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle; they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. The first mention of such a celebration is to be found in a letter by Joyce to Miss Weaver of 27 June 1924: “There is a group of people who observe what they call Bloom’s day – 16 June.”

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On the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O’Nolan organized what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (Registrar of Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Mr. Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam’s funeral. The party were assigned roles from the novel. Cronin stood in for Stephen Dedalus, O’Nolan for his father, Simon Dedalus, John Ryan for the journalist Martin Cunningham, and A.J. Leventhal, being Jewish, was recruited to fill (unknown to himself according to John Ryan) the role of Leopold Bloom. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown. The pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the weary pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancor at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned, and at which, in 1967, he installed the door to No. 7 Eccles Street (Leopold Bloom’s front door), having rescued it from demolition. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

The day involves a range of cultural activities including Ulysses readings and dramatizations, pub crawls and other events, much of it hosted by the James Joyce Centre in North Great George’s Street. Enthusiasts often dress in Edwardian costume to celebrate Bloomsday, and retrace Bloom’s route around Dublin via landmarks such as Davy Byrne’s pub. Hard-core devotees have even been known to hold marathon readings of the entire novel, some lasting up to 36 hours. On the Sunday in 2004 before the 100th anniversary of the fictional events described in the book, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open-air, full Irish breakfast on O’Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings.

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TIME magazine wrote in 1959:

Joyce always liked to say that Nora Barnacle had come “sauntering” into his life out of the Dublin hotel where she worked as a waitress. The first day they went walking together was June 16, 1904, and Joyce always regarded it so romantically that he made it Bloomsday, the day everything happens in Ulysses. Nora had only a grammar school education, but when Joyce spouted his literary dreams to her and then declaimed: “Is there one who understands me?”, Nora understood enough to say yes. She eloped with him to the Continent (they were not married till 27 years later) and he swore to “try myself against the powers of the world.”

Here’s a few excerpts and a gallery for you to savor (the full text is here —

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4300/4300-h/4300-h.htm)

 

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What special affinities appeared to him to exist between the moon and woman?

Her antiquity in preceding and surviving successive tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant implacable resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.

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A warm human plumpness settled down on his brain. His brain yielded. Perfume of embraces all him assailed. With hungered flesh obscurely, he mutely craved to adore.

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He rests. He has travelled.

With?

Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

When?

Going to dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc’s auk’s egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.

For recipes for today you’ve got several choices. You could, for example, have a gorgonzola sandwich with mustard and a glass of burgundy:

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—Hello, Bloom, Nosey Flynn said from his nook.

 —Hello, Flynn.

—How’s things?

—Tiptop… Let me see. I’ll take a glass of burgundy and… let me see.

Sardines on the shelves. Almost taste them by looking. Sandwich? Ham and his descendants musterred and bred there. Potted meats. What is home without Plumtree’s potted meat? Incomplete. What a stupid ad! Under the obituary notices they stuck it. All up a plumtree. Dignam’s potted meat. Cannibals would with lemon and rice. White missionary too salty. Like pickled pork. Expect the chief consumes the parts of honour. Ought to be tough from exercise. His wives in a row to watch the effect. There was a right royal old nigger. Who ate or something the somethings of the reverend Mr MacTrigger. With it an abode of bliss. Lord knows what concoction. Cauls mouldy tripes windpipes faked and minced up. Puzzle find the meat. Kosher. No meat and milk together. Hygiene that was what they call now. Yom Kippur fast spring cleaning of inside. Peace and war depend on some fellow’s digestion. Religions. Christmas turkeys and geese. Slaughter of innocents. Eat drink and be merry. Then casual wards full after. Heads bandaged. Cheese digests all but itself. Mity cheese.

—Have you a cheese sandwich?

—Yes, sir.

Like a few olives too if they had them. Italian I prefer. Good glass of burgundy take away that. Lubricate. A nice salad, cool as a cucumber, Tom Kernan can dress. Puts gusto into it. Pure olive oil. Milly served me that cutlet with a sprig of parsley. Take one Spanish onion. God made food, the devil the cooks. Devilled crab.

—Wife well?

—Quite well, thanks… A cheese sandwich, then. Gorgonzola, have you?

—Yes, sir.

Nosey Flynn sipped his grog.

—Doing any singing those times?

Look at his mouth. Could whistle in his own ear. Flap ears to match. Music. Knows as much about it as my coachman. Still better tell him. Does no harm. Free ad.

—She’s engaged for a big tour end of this month. You may have heard perhaps.

—No. O, that’s the style. Who’s getting it up?

The curate served.

—How much is that?

—Seven d., sir… Thank you, sir.

Mr Bloom cut his sandwich into slender strips. Mr MacTrigger. Easier than the dreamy creamy stuff. His five hundred wives. Had the time of their lives.

—Mustard, sir?

—Thank you.

He studded under each lifted strip yellow blobs.

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Or, how about a breakfast of mutton kidneys? That’s my choice

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Kidneys were in his mind as he moved about the kitchen softly, righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray. Gelid light and air were in the kitchen but out of doors gentle summer morning everywhere. Made him feel a bit peckish.

The coals were reddening.

Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn’t like her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off the hob and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat, its spout stuck out. Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry. The cat walked stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.

Apr 232014
 

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Today is the feast of Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος (Georgios), Classical Syriac: ܓܝܘܪܓܝܣ (Giwargis), Latin: Georgius) He was born in Lydda in Roman Palestine some time between 275 and 281, and was a soldier in the Roman army. He was later venerated as a Christian martyr. His father was Gerontius, a Greek Christian from Cappadocia, and an official in the Roman army. His mother, Polychronia was a local Greek Christian of Palestine. George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian. In hagiography, Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon, and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint George has numerous patronages around the world, including: Georgia, England, Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Russia and Syria, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoort, Beirut, Drobeta Turnu-Severin,  Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg im Breisgau, Kragujevac, Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Pérouges, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lydda, Lviv, Barcelona, Moscow, and Victoria, and of the Scout Movement and a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

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Along with all ancient saints’ lives there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the actual facts of his life. The following is usually accepted by church historians as reasonably accurate. You’d do well to take it with a grain of salt. George’s family were Greek nobles who were faithful Christians, so he was raised Christian. His father, Gerontios, was a Greek from Cappadocia, an officer in the Roman army; and his mother, Polychronia, was a Greek native of Lydda. They decided to call him Georgios, a stock name meaning “worker of the land” (i.e., farmer). At the age of fourteen, George lost his father; a few years later, George’s mother, Polychronia, died. When his mother died George decided to go to Nicomedia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father personally and considered him one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of tribune and stationed as an imperial guard of the emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year  302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However, George objected, and approached the emperor. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of one of his best officials. But George loudly renounced the Emperor’s edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods. George refused them all.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his edict, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have George executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on 23 April 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honor him as a martyr.

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George’s most famous exploit, his slaying of the dragon, is undoubtedly apocryphal unless dragons existed in the 4th century that I am unaware of. In tamer versions of the story the dragon is a crocodile. The original story was brought back to Europe by the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance (courtly knight rescuing a damsel in distress). The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early 11th-century Cappadocia (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

In the fully developed Western version, which was part of the Golden Legend, a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of “Silene” (perhaps modern Cyrene in Libya or the city of Lydda in the Holy Land, depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden is the best substitute for one. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but then Saint George appears on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.

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Depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon often contain the image of the young maiden who looks on from a distance. The standard iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon represents both Satan (Rev. 12:9) and the monster from his life story. The young maiden is the wife of Diocletian, Alexandra. Thus the image, as interpreted through the language of medieval iconography, is a reference to the martyrdom of the saint.

Saint George’s patronages are so vast it would be impossible to cover them all. St George’s Day is celebrated in various ways in numerous countries. St George is the patron saint of England, and the national flag is a St George’s cross, a red cross on a white background. When I was a teenager living in England you almost never saw an English flag, nor paid any attention to St George’s day. It was probably the FIFA World Cup that brought the English flag to the fore because the nations of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), compete individually. Thus, fans of the English team use the St George cross instead of the internationally more familiar Union Jack which represents the U.K. as a whole.

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There have also been lame attempts to make St George’s Day a national day in England akin to St Patrick’s or St Andrew’s. In truth, none of these national saints’ days was much of a deal until ex-pats used them in their adopted countries as symbolic of national pride. The oldest and biggest St Patrick’s Day parade, for example, is the one in New York. The one in Dublin is a later copy. So now you can buy St George’s Day cards to send, and there are parades in some towns – usually featuring scouts since he is their patron (my copy of Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys has a chapter on honor and chivalry with a prominent image of George and the Dragon). But, from what my friends tell me, it’s really all very low key as it should be.

Nonetheless I can still use the day to trumpet the glories of English cooking once more. This time I want to turn my attention to kidneys. Most of my friends in the U.S. turn up their noses at kidneys (not quite as high as when I mention tripe, but almost). But kidneys have been a solid part of English cuisine for centuries. They were especially prominent in Victorian cuisine where deviled kidneys, or fried kidneys were a standard on the breakfast buffet. What is more, it was not just ox kidneys that were popular. Lambs’ kidneys were much favored too. My association with kidneys goes back to my childhood. Steak and kidney pudding was a beloved meal for me – sadly, most often the soggy kind from cans. But as a student I was addicted to the steak and kidney pies, homemade at my two favorite pubs: the Garibaldi in Burnham (Bucks) where I went to grammar school, and the Wharf House in St Ebbes in Oxford, when I was in college.

Since those days, kidneys have been ever present in my culinary life. I’ll make a steak and kidney pudding or pie at the drop of a hat; kidneys form a part of my “full English” breakfast when I can get them; kidneys in gravy with mashed potatoes are an eternal bond between me and the (former) love of my life; and now kidneys are an essential ingredient when I have an asado (Argentine mixed BBQ). I have made ox kidneys, lambs’ kidneys, pigs’ kidneys – even rabbit kidneys – each with a slightly different taste. I’ve also experimented with new ideas.  Here’s an image of a steak and kidney empanada I made at Christmas time 2 years ago, served with leeks, mashed potato, and gravy (extra kidneys on the side).

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Here is an unusual recipe I culled from Isabella Beeton the other day. It is her version of Toad in the Hole which is a famous English dish normally made nowadays with sausages. It consists of an egg batter base which is topped with meat and then baked until golden. If you make it with sausages you should brown them first but not cook them through. You can find my video for making the batter here, if need be: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx9zQ-sRgAkQMEpmZkVZLUJsR1U/edit?pli=1

The main trick is to mix the flour and cold water to a paste first, and then add the eggs one at a time. This video is part of a series on making a classic Argentine tortilla, but the batter recipe is the same for making Toad in the Hole, and also for English pancakes and Yorkshire pudding.  It rises naturally without any baking powder, although it will collapse somewhat when removed from the heat.

Mrs Beeton does not specify the type of kidneys, but I presume she means lamb (or possibly sheep’s) kidneys. Her recipe is one of her “using up” recipes, that is, dealing with leftovers. One hour seems a trifle long to me to bake the dish. I’d suggest no more than 40 minutes in an oven set at 350°F/175°C. I’d also check regularly and remove the dish once the batter has risen and nicely browned.

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE (Cold Meat Cookery).

743. INGREDIENTS.—6 oz. of flour, 1 pint of milk, 3 eggs, butter, a few slices of cold mutton, pepper and salt to taste, 2 kidneys.

Mode.—Make a smooth batter of flour, milk, and eggs in the above proportion; butter a baking-dish, and pour in the batter. Into this place a few slices of cold mutton, previously well seasoned, and the kidneys, which should be cut into rather small pieces; bake about 1 hour, or rather longer, and send it to table in the dish it was baked in. Oysters or mushrooms may be substituted for the kidneys, and will be found exceedingly good.

Time.—Rather more than 1 hour.

Average cost, exclusive of the cold meat, 8d.