Wessex Attractions: Pepperbox Hill

Pepperbox Hill, six miles south of Salisbury, is the site of one of the earliest follies, built in 1606, before the term "folly" was in common use, at least in an architectural context. Built in 1606 by local landowner Giles Eyre for his wife Jane (not that one), its exact function is the subject of debate. The general consensus seems to be that it was some kind of hunting lodge for rich weirdos.

The octagonal building appears to have been modelled on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, as does a similar folly in County Down, Ireland. Now owned by the National Trust, the tower itself is closed to the public, but the surrounding chalk ridge offers magnificent views of the surrounding area. It is a popular spot with dog walkers, so watch where you tread!

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is SP5 3QL.

Essential Wessex: The Prayer Book Rebellion

Plaque in Sampford Courtenay

The Prayer Book Rebellion, also known as the Western Rebellion, was an uprising that took place in Devon and Cornwall in 1549. At the time, there was already social unrest due to a poll tax on sheep, and rumours that it was due to be expanded to other forms of livestock. This was a major burden on farming communities. The straw that broke the camel's back proved to be the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in place of the Latin mass.

The use of English was particularly unpopular in the western parts of Cornwall, where there were still many monoglot Cornish speakers at the time. But it was in Sampford Courtenay in Devon where both the first and the last battles of the rebellion were fought.

The rebellion began when a local farmer, William Hellyons, was run through with a pitchfork for supporting the change. The rebels marched on Exeter, where they were defeated by forces summoned by the Council of the West, the regional government set up by Henry VIII. The leader of the rebels, Humphrey Arundell, regrouped at Sampford Courtenay with the promise of reinforcements from Winchester, but was betrayed by his secretary, John Kessell. The reinforcements never came, and vastly outnumbered, the rebels were thoroughly defeated.

The Western Rebellion is still considered an important part of Cornish history. Hopefully, this very brief summary shows that it has a Wessex dimension as well.

Vo’kspeech Wordlist/J

Jace nFringe
Jackalegs nPenknife
Jackanapes nNarcissist
Jack-A-Lantern nWill o' the wisp
Jad nGroove picked out by quarrymen
Jade nWoman, idle
Jag nOats, awn and head of
Jagg (1)nLoad, small
Jagg (2)vCut roughly
JakesnShit, human
Jakle intShit (minced oath)
JambnStratum (geology)
Jamble vJangle (bell)
Jamrag nRags
Jams nShirt-buttons, wire
Jangle vArgue
Janty adjShowy
Jan-Chider nSedge warbler
Jarl vArgue
Jarman nBrandy snap
Jarworm nInsect, type of
Jawled adjExhausted
Jay (1)nMistle thrush
Jay (2)intJesus (minced oath)
Jellick vThrow stone
Jemima intTerm of reproach for a boy
Jennet nApple, early-ripening
Jenny nSpinning wheel
Jeroboam nChamber pot
Jersey lilynScarborough lily
Jerusalem cowslipnLungwort
Jessamy nJessamine
Jessop nDonkey
Jet vThrow
Jetty vProtrude
Jew 's earnTomato
Jewberry nDewberry
Jewel vValue highly
Jew-Stone nBlue lias
Jib (1)nBarrel-stand
Jib (2)nMouth
Jibber (1)nHorse, obstinate
Jibber (2)vBabble
Jibber Ugly’s Fule nSelfish person
Jibbet nLoad of corn or hay, small
Jibes nWoman, oddly-dressed
Jiff nJiffy
Jiffle vFidget
Jiggamy nThingummy
Jigger (1)nPoliceman
Jigger (2)nThigh
Jigger (3)nPastry-cutter
Jigger (4)nFondue
Jigger (5)vDislocate
Jiggery-Pokery nDeception
Jigget vTrot
Jilt nShabbiness
Jim-crownHat, disreputable
Jimmery intJiminy
Jimmy (1)nHinge
Jimmy (2)nSheep's head
Jimmy (3)adjNeat
Jimp adjSlender
Jingle nGlass beads, string of
Jingling-matchadjBlind-man's buff
Jingumbob nThingummy
Jink nTrick
Jipper nSyrup
Jitch adjSuch
Jitteyfied adjConvulsed
Joan the WadvPixie queen
Jobberheaded adjStupid
Jobbernowl nHead
Jobbet nLoad of hay or straw, small
Jobble nLoad of hay or straw, small
Jobbler nWheatear
Joblin nBoy, stupid
Jock nHorse dealer
Jod nJ (letter)
Jod-Trot vTrot
Joe-Ben nGreat tit
Jog nHedgehog
Jogenny nDonkey
Jogget nLoad of hay or straw, small
Joggett vTrot
Joker nFlask
Jokesy adjJokey
Jollifant adjTogether on one horse (of two women)
Jomick adjGood-looking
Jommetry nMagic
Joneys nOrnaments
Jordan nChamber pot
Joseph and MarynLungwort
Josey nOwl
Josing vMetal detecting
Joskin nYokel
Joss vJostle
Josses nMackerel, small
Jostle vSwindle
Jouder vThrob
Jouds nPieces
Jountish adjBoorish
Journey nDay's work, agricultural
Jove's Nuts nAcorns
Jower vGrumble
Jowl (1)nPan, earthenware
Jowl (2)vPeck
Jowter nFishmonger
Joysome adjJoyful
Jub vPlod
JudcocknJack snipe
Judge vSuspect
Jug vRoost close together (of partridges)
Juggle vShake
Julk vJolt
July flower grassnGillyflower grass
Jumble nGinger nut
Jump (1)nCorset
Jump (2)nJamb
Jumper (1)nMaggot
Jumper (2)nShirt
Jumping stalknSkipping rope
Jumpits nConvulsions
Junival nJuvenile
Junk (1)nChunk
Junk (2)nStew
Jupiter's beardnCommon houseleek
Just vAdjust
Justly advExactly
Jyst nGist

Thomas Malory and Winchester

This would have been an entry in our Wessex Worthies series, except that Thomas Malory probably didn't come from Wessex. Malory's identity is the subject of scholarly debate, but the consensus view is that he came from Newbold Revel in Warwickshire. Alternative candidates hail from Shropshire, Wales and Yorkshire.

He does, however, have a connection to Winchester, which is explicitly identified as Camelot in Malory's book Le Morte d'Arthur, the first major prose work printed in the English language. It was published by William Caxton in 1485 , the year in which the Tudor dynasty ascended the throne of England, and which was said to mark the end of the middle ages and the birth of the modern era when I was at school.

The Caxton book was though to be the earliest manuscript of Le Morte d'Arthur until 1934, when WF Oakeshott, headmaster of Winchester College, was cataloguing the school's library, and came across a previously unknown manuscript. The Winchester Manuscript, as it became known, differed significantly from Caxton's edition, which appears to be a revised version of the same text. In 2009, it formed the basis of a modern English paraphrase by Dorsey Armstrong.

Winchester remains proud of its Arthurian connections, and a 13th century replica dominates the Great Hall. But that's a subject for another post.

Wessex on Screen: Cross Currents

Cross Currents is a 1935 film about which little information is available beyond the briefest of plot synopses: a Devon vicar tries to clear his name after being accused of murdering his rival in love. As Hitchcockian as this sounds, Cross Currents is described as a comedy. It was set in Devon, but filmed in Cornwall.

The film, based on the novel Nine Days' Blunder by Gerald Elliott, was produced by Paramount British as a "quota quickie". The Cinematograph Films Act of 1927 was designed to give a boost to the British film industry, and those of British dominions such as Canada, creating a studio system modelled on that of Hollywood at the time, with production, distribution and exhibition of films being handled by the same (British or imperial) companies. In practice, Hollywood studios simply set up British subsidiaries, churning out B-movies that were designed for no other purpose than to meet the quota for British films specified in the Act, released as supporting features for American films.

The Act was modified in 1938 to exclude Empire nations, and repealed in 1960. It was not generally considered a success, but did aid in the production of some bona fide classics, such as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Thief of Baghdad (1940). Paramount British continued into the 1970s, its biggest success probably being The Italian Job (1969).