All posts by David Corns

The Knights Templar — Pat McCloughlin — 9th September.

cavaleiro-templario - CopyA very inter­est­ing talk by Pat McCloughlin on The Knights Templar or by their lesser known title ‘ The Poor Fellow- Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem

They reined from 1129–1312, start­ing off as heroic warrior-monks, like super­stars waging war against evil. Sadly at the end they were accused of heresy, magic and sav­agery and were imprisoned , tor­tured and burnt to death.

To under­stand the begin­nings of the Knights of Templar we need remind ourselves of the upheaval and wars that were hap­pen­ing in the Holy Lands around this time. The Byzantine and Roman empires around the middle east were under con­stant and severe threat from the rising power of Islam.  Egypt, Lebanon and much of Iberia ( Spain and Portugal), all Christian coun­tries. were conquered.  Further, Pilgrims and trav­el­lers to the  Holy sites were har­assed and often slaughtered.

This led to the start of the cru­sades to repel the thrusts of the Muslims into the Christian Byzantine Empire. The Pope asked the Princes of Europe to launch a Holy War into the Holy Lands. The first cru­sade was launched in 1095 but it took 4 haz­ard­ous years trav­el­ling across Europe on horse and foot. Not for the feint hearted.

In 1119 Hugues de Payens and 8 fellow knights estab­lished the order of the Knights Templar with the mis­sion to fight evil, pro­tect pil­grims and trav­el­lers and visit Holy places. 300 knights were bil­leted at the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Temple Mount.  There were a fur­ther 1000 ser­geants and a con­sid­er­able number of mer­cen­ar­ies. The Knights were of noble birth but appar­ently illit­er­ate but looked splen­did and fear­some in their armour, white garb and with shield red cross on white.  The ser­geants were edu­cated but wore black to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them from the Knights. The Templars lived in a state of total abstin­ence, ate in silence and were denied worldly com­forts.  It was not all bad.  In 1139 Pope Innocent 11 gave them the power to pass freely from coun­try to coun­try and pay no taxes. The Knights became trus­ted and reli­able bankers for every throne in Europe and were able to arrange safe and effi­cient move­ment of money .The Knights grew in num­bers and power through­out Western Europe. The order had numer­ous Preceptors  ( or HQ’s for the knights) across Europe, includ­ing 10 in Yorkshire!!.   They built their own churches with con­sec­rated graves with the most famous in the UK being the Temple Church in London with its cir­cu­lar knave.

All this power was amassed at a time when the Order was involved in fight­ing in the cru­sades to regain lost Christian lands.  Deeds of bravery, hero­ism and sac­ri­fice are legendary.  The Muslims may have been crit­ical of the Order’s med­ical prac­tices and they ridiculed their justice system but they respec­ted the mil­it­ary power of the Knights.

It could not last.  The public star­ted to  ques­tion whether men of the church should carry arms.  They cri­ti­cized their lack of account­ab­il­ity and focused more and more on their fail­ures. On Friday, 13th October 1307 all Templar broth­ers in France were imprisoned and accused of heresy and enga­ging in magic. Phillip IV with the Pope’s sup­port that all Templar s across Europe should be imprisoned.  King Edward 11 of England insisted they had com­mit­ted no crime and refused.  The Pope gave Edward the choice arrest or be excom­mu­nic­ated.  172 Templars were arres­ted in England, Scotland and Ireland, tor­tured and burnt to death   The Pope and Phillip 1V died shortly after­wards.  Strange coin­cid­ence or what!

Pat’s talk was fas­cin­at­ing on the Knights Templar whose memory lives on in legend and myth —  Da Vinci Code, Turin Shroud, Mary Magdalene and treas­ures found in Newfoundland !!

James Chesterman And Their Measuring Tools — Jim Nicholson

Jim Nicholson, a Cumbrian by birth, came to Sheffield to study Glass Technology, mar­ried and stayed.  The rest is his­tory and makes a very inter­est­ing story of his time at James Chesterman and his detailed know­ledge of the meas­ur­ing tools industry.

James Chesterman was born in 1792 and came to Sheffield in 1820 where he ini­tially worked for Dixons as a powder flask maker.  He was very invent­ive and during this early period, he formed the  James Chesterman com­pany with a busi­ness part­ner.  His inven­tions ranged across such diverse sub­jects as sup­ports for crinolines, cor­sets and hangers for top hats: no doubt vital in those bygone times. Patents were taken out for tape meas­ures, door springs and door bells .  The com­pany, which was based on Kelham island went from strength to strength but was severely dam­aged by the Sheffield flood of 1864. Rumor had it that James and his son took the remains of their busi­ness, in a hand cart to their new premises off Ecclesall road, but this was not so.

James ChestermanThe new com­pany premises, Bow Works on Pomona Street, adja­cent to Ecclesall Road was well under­way but the flood prob­ably hastened their exit from the Kelham Island area.  James died in 1867 and the busi­ness was taken over by his son William and a cousin: fur­ther suc­cess fol­lowed.  The busi­ness con­tin­ued to expand and build up a world-wide repu­ta­tion for meas­ur­ing tools and high pre­ci­sion equip­ment. In the 1990s the com­pany was bought out by Stanley Tools but they were not inter­ested in devel­op­ing the pre­ci­sion side .  James Chesterman and its suc­cessors cel­eb­rated over 200 hun­dred years of design and man­u­fac­tur­ing in Sheffield.

Jim Nicholson brought with him a ver­it­able treas­ure chest of meas­ur­ing instru­ments , includ­ing , micro­met­ers, ver­nier cal­lipers, height gauges, boiler plate gauges, steel tapes, steel rules, a blind man’s rule , dip tapes , feeler gauges wedge and wire gauges. Jim had col­lec­ted these over his career in engin­eer­ing and was still using many of them well into his retire­ment.

Jim’s enthu­si­asm was infec­tious and Stumperlowe respon­ded by having many ques­tions and showed great interest in the meas­ur­ing tools.

Sheffield Theatres (The Crucible & Lyceum). — Kathy Gillibrand — 22nd July 2013.

sheffield Theatres (1)

Kathy Gillibrand gave us a fas­cin­at­ing insight into the Sheffield theatres remind­ing us what gems we have on our door­step.  Their refur­bish­ment over the last decade has cer­tainly added to Sheffield’s regen­er­a­tion and appeal. The theatres offer over 800 per­form­ances per year and annual ticket sales exceed £360,000.  Besides excel­lent pro­duc­tions, we mustn’t forget the Crucible is the home of world snooker and venue for squash and bad­min­ton events. The accom­pa­ny­ing  pho­to­graph show­ing the Crucible and Lyceum theatres in Sheffield was taken by Adam Bright.

Kathy described the his­tory of The Crucible, its refur­bish­ment, and the range of facil­it­ies avail­able. No story would be com­plete without its ghosts, fires and mys­ter­ies.  Sheffield theatres have plenty. Funding and income comes from many sources with the box office account­ing for 64% in 2011/12, and pro­duc­tion costs account­ing 52% of out­go­ings. The theatres reach out to the local com­munity with work­shops for local schools, open events and fund rais­ing din­ners. Kathy described the stages a pro­duc­tion goes through, from concept right up to the open­ing night on stage. There is no doubt that the chop­ping and chan­ging that goes on behind the scenes, as the pro­duc­tion evolves, makes for very inter­est­ing times. Finally, she gave us a taster of pro­duc­tions to come.

You can always judge the suc­cess or oth­er­wise of the Monday morn­ing present­a­tion by the interest shown and number of ques­tions asked — Monday was a suc­cess!