All posts by Tim Marsh

Sheffields Ancient Woods and Trees – A surprising History and Heritage — 1st February 2021 — Prof Ian Rotherham

   This was the third visit (1st on Zoom) by Prof. Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University, who is an author, broad­caster and cam­paigner on envir­on­mental issues.

   With the pro­spect of the plant­ing of the Great Northern Forest, between Liverpool and Hull, extend­ing down into South Yorkshire, todays talk was very top­ical.

    To begin with, some defin­i­tions:-

Forest – a land­scape with a high dens­ity of trees.

Woodland or woods a low dens­ity forest, which arose nat­ur­ally, but then was man­aged, and may include clear­ings, shrubs, shade, and grassy areas.

Ancient Woodland – Woodland that has exis­ted at least since the 1600s.

Timber – The large size pieces used in e.g. con­struc­tion, mainly oak, as in cruck houses or box framed dwell­ings.

Wood — The smal­ler pieces e.g. small dia­meter poles cut from cop­pice and used for fuel and wattles etc.

Coppice – Trees cut down to ground level so that they regen­er­ate and ‘’spring’’ into regrowth. Hence in Sheffield, ‘’Ladies Spring Wood ‘’, ‘’New Field Spring Wood’’ and ‘’Parkwood Springs’’ where the cop­picing was used to make char­coal into the 1880s.

Pollard – Trees cut down for shap­ing or regen­er­a­tion, at a point above where an animal can get at it.

Shredding – har­vest­ing of fire­wood and animal fodder,

Herbage – leaves from when pol­lard­ing or cop­picing takes place. Preferred by cows, rather than grass.

Standards – Trees grown in the open with no man­age­ment.

Wavers – young stand­ards

    In 1992, there was a National Woodlands Conference instig­ated by the Peak National Park, between Ecologists, Foresters and Archaeologists to dis­cuss the his­tory, and to co-ordinate future pro­tec­tion, of our ancient wood­lands. The pro­ceed­ings were recor­ded as ‘’Ancient Woodlands – Their Archaeology and Ecology’’. Inspir­a­tion was drawn from pub­lic­a­tions by Prof. Oliver Rackham, our own Prof. Mel Jones. Also, from a 1600s pub­lic­a­tion by John Evelyn entitled ‘’SYLVA’’, which told how wood was pro­cessed, and a Welshman Thomas Pennant, in 1772, who wrote about how trees and local resources are used throughout the coun­try.

   

If we were to go back to medi­eval times we would find a very dif­fer­ent land­scape. Peoples lives were dom­in­ated by the nat­ural mater­i­als around them, and wood­lands were vital resources and busy places, where anim­als for­aged, people lived, and there were even paved tracks for pack­horses. The peoples names reflec­ted the trades and crafts that fed their life­style – Carter, Cartwright, Wood, Underwood, Croft, Fletcher, Warren etc.

There were char­coal makers, besom makers, bow and arrow makers, wheel­wrights etc, and all the build­ings were built using loc­ally sourced mater­i­als.  

 

Styles of con­struc­tion around the coun­try depended on the type of timber avail­able. Uplands had birch but in the fens with no timber they used mud, with­ies, turf, and reeds. Nothing went to waste. Clay, bracken, fungi, wattle and daub, and stone were used. (Wharncliffe was the biggest sup­plier of Quern stones for grind­ing in the Roman Empire). Bark was used for tan­ning, which was best in spring when the sap was rising, and timber was felled in winter after leaf fall, chosen by a master crafts­man. Structural tim­bers were felled when the tree was 50 – 150 years old. This was then box halved with cross saws in a saw pit, (hence top dog and under dog). Some large trees are thou­sands of years old and have been pol­lar­ded and har­ves­ted about every 15–20 years, but have to be retired even­tu­ally, due to old age. They can be cored to find out when they were last pol­lar­ded. They then develop their own eco­sys­tems and become status sym­bols. In Japan bamboo is used, and in North America log cabins abound, as timber was plen­ti­ful, and the pur­chase was fin­anced by potash sales.

    Examples of local old pol­lar­ded trees are

Continue read­ing Sheffields Ancient Woods and Trees – A sur­pris­ing History and Heritage — 1st February 2021 — Prof Ian Rotherham

Magistrates – Judge and Jury? – Richard Gadsden – 21/9/20.

Richard spent 26 years at Sheffield Hallam University, teach­ing stat­ist­ics, becom­ing the Dean of the Faculty. Meanwhile, he spent 25 years as a Lay Magistrate in the Adult Law Courts, based in Sheffield, cov­er­ing South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Lay Magistrates was the topic for today’s present­a­tion.

Types of Magistrate :-

  • A Professional Magistrate, also called a District Judge, who is a sti­pen­di­ary Magistrate and sits on cases alone.
  • Lay Magistrates, who are mem­bers of the public, and sit in a court in groups of 2 or 3.

Types of Courts

  • Adult Courts. All Magistrates start in this court, which deals with any­thing from theft to murder.
  • Family Courts
  • Youth Courts, for people up to 17 years of age

Courts 2 and 3 above con­flic­ted with other interests which Richard had, so he never sat on them.

Who can be a Magistrate.

The Lord Chancellor picks Magistrates. Although he/she keeps an eye on a bal­ance of appoint­ments to reflect polit­ical per­sua­sion, eth­ni­city, sex,  etc., Magistrates can be anyone, unless there is a con­flict of interest, e.g. the police. They must be between 18 and 70 years of age and of ‘good char­ac­ter’. There are not many under 30 years of age. Most are 55 to 70, at which age you must retire. No train­ing in law is required as there is a legal adviser who assists. The main attrib­ute required for being a magis­trate is common sense and you have to be avail­able for at least 26 half days in a year, although it is expec­ted of you to do more.

What do Magistrates do?

All crim­inal cases start in the Magistrates court. Over 90% are dealt with in a   magistrate’s court and include cases on e.g. Council Tax, Education, Environmental Agencies, Fishing licences …….

The Magistrates

  • Hear bail applic­a­tions — They start with the assump­tion, that bail is per­miss­ible. Deciding whether the defend­ant should be free or kept in cus­tody then depends on con­sid­er­a­tions of safety to the public or whether the defend­ant might not come back for trial. So some­times, if bail is gran­ted, there are con­di­tions e.g. tags. Or ‘uncon­di­tional’ bail may be gran­ted but, with the con­di­tion that they turn up for trial.
  • Hear court cases – they listen to the cir­cum­stances of the offences, and decide the outcome/sentence, or whether it should be referred to the Crown Court. The types of cases are :-

- Summary Only – e.g. a driv­ing offence, which will be dealt with by the Magistrates court

- Each Way – for more ser­i­ous crimes. This could be heard in a Magistrates court or the Crown court. The defend­ant can always choose either the Magistrates court, or to be defen­ded by a judge and jury in the Crown court. Some defend­ants think that the Magistrates may be more leni­ent.

- Indictable only – e.g. murder, which is sent to the Crown court.

Magistrates can sen­tence up to 6 months in cus­tody and do it only once more to the same offender, making a max­imum of 12 months.

  • Approve war­rants. For example:-
  • For Statutory Declarations – e.g. those who go to a Magistrates court to alter their names. Permissible as long as they keep the same sur­name.
  • If summoned to court – e.g. because they have not paid a fine. If the defend­ant makes a declar­a­tion that they didn’t get the sum­mons letter, then the pro­cess starts again, until they pay up.
  • An entry war­rant – e.g. if any of the Statutory Undertakers want to enter a build­ing or res­taur­ant.
  • Search Warrant – e.g. if reques­ted by the police. Sometimes these are out-of-hours requests.

How Does the Court Work

  • 2 or 3 Lay Magistrates sit in a court, with the middle one called the ‘Presiding Judge’, and who is the only one who talks for the group and who con­trols any dis­turb­ances. The others, sit­ting to the side are called ‘Wingers’.
  • At the start of a case, the Presiding Judge out­lines the offence. The defend­ant is asked to make a plea. 90% of the time, there is a ‘Guilty’ plea. The Presiding Judge asks for a full report of the case and then decides whether to sen­tence, or to send the case to the Crown Court for sen­ten­cing.
  • If the plea is ‘Not Guilty’ the Prosecution speaks, then the Defense. The Presiding Judge then decides whether there is a case to answer and if there is, he sets a trial date.
  • If there is ‘No Plea’, which is rare, the defend­ant is asked why there is no plea. It may be e.g. that the defend­ant is wait­ing for more evid­ence on the cir­cum­stances of the offence. In this case, the prin­ciple of ‘Newtons Hearings’ is applied. This means that the cir­cum­stances of the offence are dealt with before the trial and the Magistrates decide which ver­sion of the events are to be accep­ted. If it is the defend­ants ver­sion which is accep­ted, then there is a plea of ‘Guilty’, but if the Magistrates decision is not accep­ted, it is still the ver­sion used at the trial in court, but it can be argued at the trial.

Trials

2/3rds usu­ally never occur. Because,

  • there can be a change of plea from ‘Not Guilty’ to ‘Guilty’.
  • Witnesses don’t turn up, or alter or with­draw their state­ments.

If there is a trial, both Prosecution and Defense are heard and wit­nesses can be ques­tioned.

Magistrates then decide on the guilt or oth­er­wise and must give a simple but clear reason for their decision.

If guilty, they are either sen­tenced there and then, or reports are reques­ted from e.g. the pro­ba­tion ser­vice. If the court feels unable to decide, the case can be sent to the Crown Court.

Sentencing

Only 20 years ago, guidelines were given to Magistrates and Crown Courts on sen­ten­cing.

Nothing, how­ever, is ever typ­ical, and all cir­cum­stances are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

For example :-

  • If it is their first offence. Sentence is less than the guideline
  • Plea of ‘Not Guilty’ but found ‘Guilty’. Sentence pos­sibly more than the guideline
  • Assault where incite­ment was involved and there was only one punch. Sentence is less than the guideline.
  • Assault where there were lots of punches, with a record of viol­ence. Sentence more than the guideline.

Some people ask to go to prison, to give struc­ture to their lives or to help them to over­come an addic­tion.

Richard fin­ished his present­a­tion illus­trat­ing the pro­cess of sen­ten­cing with a his­tor­ical car crash case, where the 2 equally bad drivers approached their court cases in a dif­fer­ent way, and were given dif­fer­ent sen­tences.

An absorb­ing and very inter­est­ing talk which was enjoyed by all.

 

 

A Brief History of Knickers – Janet Stain – 27th January 2020

      Janet is a his­tor­ian on Victorian cos­tumes and under­wear, and gives talks Nationally.

      Besides having been a guide at Eyam Hall and Renishaw Hall for many years, she sal­vages second hand underwear, medical equip­ment, spec­tacles. etc, and sends 40 con­tainer loads to the Gambia. (To donate or help phone 0114 230 2916)

      Todays talk con­cen­trated on knick­ers, with many samples from down the ages, amply exhib­ited.

      Before the 1500s, women were generally knick­er­less, but Catherine de Medici intro­duced under­wear from Italy to France in the 1500s, and there is ref­er­ence to under­wear in Elizabethan times. Some upper-class ladies who rode their horses side-saddle, wore silk under­wear.

      In the 1700s, some silk dresses worn by middle and upper-class ladies were up to 8 wide, so knick­ers were born to keep them warm. These ori­gin­ally came in two sep­ar­ate legs down to the knee or ankle, (hence the name - a pair of knick­ers) and christened draw­ers as they were drawnon.

      After the French Revolution, silk dresses went out of fash­ion. Costumes changed to a closer fit­ting Greek peas­ant look, with more white trans­par­ent muslin and open necks, pink stock­ings and no pet­ti­coat. Shoes were flat san­dals, and knick­ers, worn by these middle and upper-class ladies, were now joined into one piece, with a divide for access to the WC, and referred to as ‘pan­talettes’. They had a big space at the back for their bottoms, to prevent them riding up when they sat down. This fea­ture, con­tin­ued until the 1920s.

      Josephine Bonaparte exempli­fied this fash­ion at court in the early 1800s.

      The poor, how­ever, were still knick­er­less, but Muslim women, in full gear, adopted knickers, because if they got wet, their clothes would cling to them, and reveal their body shape.

      In the mid 1800s, ladies owned many pairs, which were numbered, labelled to avoid loss during laun­der­ing, and used in rotation. They cost 3s 6d to 5s 6d for a pair and were adorned with frills and ribbon. For example, made in twill, they were adorned with black ribbon whilst in mourn­ing, which lasted for 2 years for ladies.

       In the 1850s the SINGER Co. brought out the sewing machine. This reduced the price of knick­ers which were either home-made, or sold in dozens, so that more ladies wore them. Amelia Bloomer began extolling Ladies Rights by giving talks, which included advoc­at­ing sens­ible dress, Bloomers.

       Crinoline hoops were in fash­ion, encour­aging the use of knick­ers, to keep warm. There was the risk of a trip with this design, revealing all!!

       Dancing the Polka, cro­quet, and sport, such as golf, was now becom­ing pop­u­lar with women, which tended to reveal a sen­su­ous ankle or two, so boots were worn for decorum. Even climb­ing the Eiger was pos­sible for ladies, with a sur­repti­tious change of clothes, before actu­allyclimb­ing.

        Queen Victorias knick­ers (includ­ing tartan ones) some­times come up for sale. A recent dis­cov­ery, numbered VR7, was sold with VR12, a night dress, for £4500. They can sell for as much as £25000 in the USA.

       There were no public toi­lets in Victorian times for women. You kept off the beer and mead if you were out for any length of time!Otherwise!

       With the devel­op­ment of chem­ical dyes, knick­ers became col­our­ful. Red flan­nel was pop­u­lar.

       In the late 1800s, knicker design for work­ing women and middle and upper-class ladies went into over­drive, with all dif­fer­ent sizes and capa­cit­ies. They were wool, leather, chamois leather, silk, aertex, flan­nel, and flaps with holes at the front for sus­pend­ers tocon­nect to cor­sets, and with stock­ings con­nec­ted to the lower end.Lingerie, as it was referred to, became pretty, although silk was deemed dec­ad­ent, and several pairs of knick­ers were worn at once to keep warm.

       60% of all girls went into ser­vice and had to prove that they could mend knick­ers, before get­ting a job.       The poor were still knick­er­less, or acquired them from the rag and bone man or pawn­broker.

       Around the 1900s, few pic­tures appeared in cata­logues, and they were sold in a corner of a shop, not easily seen, as the whole sub­ject was not openly discussed, and was taboo for men.

       From the 1920s, with the varieties of mater­ials avail­able, knick­ers became uni­ver­sally used, and demand enabled a pleth­ora of new designs, sizes and shapes, to be man­u­fac­tured for any occa­sion. With for­eign fash­ion influ­ence making knickers shorter, skimpier, thin­ner, flightier, flesh col­oured, and with man-made fab­rics, such as rayon and nylon, the range was extens­ive. Janet showed us lots of dif­fer­ent ones, with an insight into who wore them and their nick­names.

       During WW2, para­chute mater­ial was used for their man­u­fac­ture, and could be bought with 4 coupons. Elastic was in short supply, so but­tons had to be well attached, or embarrassment ensued.

        (An aside John Smedleys, near Cromford, made under­wear, to start their busi­ness.)

       Paper knick­ers intro­duced in the 1960s, never became pop­u­lar, as they didnt last long and disinteg­rated when soak­ing wet, although they are used in hos­pit­als today.

       Janet, finally, showed us her com­mis­sioned pic­ture of a row of knick­ers, in ever decreas­ing size, from big draw­ers in the 1700s, to todays skimpy ones. The dif­fer­ences, she pro­claimed, was the out­come of global warm­ing!

        An excel­lent insight into the subject, expertly and con­fid­ently delivered, enjoyed by all.

 

The Truth about Charlie Peace (1832–1879) – by Dr. Alan Caunt — 18th Nov 2019

Charlie Peace was Sheffield’s most notori­ous Victorian mur­derer who was born in grim sur­round­ings at Angel Court, Nursery St., Sheffield, in 1832. This is now the site of ‘The Big Gun’ pub.

His father, John, was a cob­bler, pic­ture framer, and sub­sequently trav­elled with the Wombwell Menagerie as a one legged lion tamer.

Charlie star­ted school in Pitsmoor, then, at Paradise Square for his middle school classes. He got employ­ment at Millsands Works as an appren­tice tin smith, then as a foundry worker at Kelham Island, where at the age of 14, he acci­dent­ally had a red hot iron bar through his leg. 18 months in the Sheffield Infirmary ensued, where he had his left knee­cap removed, but he learnt to play the violin. After dis­charge and a spell with a lock­smith, learn­ing how to make and pick locks, at 17 years of age he was not only an accom­plished viol­in­ist play­ing Paganini at The Prince of Wales pub on Ecclesall Road, but had acquired good house­break­ing skills.  He was short, with a limp, 2 fin­gers miss­ing from a fire­arms incid­ent, prob­ably had suffered with rick­ets and could dis­lo­cate his jaw at will. What a pic­ture!

At 19 he had 1 year in prison after house break­ing with his sister, using a hinged ladder which looked like a pole, when folded. Graham Wardley, a rag and bone man of the Salt Box Houses on Psalter Lane was sus­pec­ted to be the ‘fence’ for his stolen goods. There is a plaque and poem about Wardley at the remains of these houses, even today.

At 22 he was back in Wakefield prison for burg­lary, for 4 years, during which time he tried to escape.

On his release, he mar­ried Hannah Ward, who already had a son. They had 2 fur­ther chil­dren and lived in Kenyon Alley, near Netherthorpe. He still went burg­ling and was soon arres­ted in Manchester where he gave a false name of George Parker. This time he had 6 years hard labour, in Gibraltar.

2 years after his release, in 1866, and at the age of 34, he was caught burg­ling again and sent to prison for 7 years. On his release in 1873, he still went thiev­ing, and even­tu­ally settled in Darnall in 1875, and lived near to a couple called Dyson. He had an affair with Mrs. Dyson, and threatened to kill Mr. Dyson (a Civil Engineer). He was tem­por­ar­ily scared off, and moved to Hull, but when in Manchester whilst burg­ling, armed with a gun, he shot and killed P.C. Cock who had tried to arrest him. Two local broth­ers named Habron were wrongly con­victed of the murder, as they had pre­vi­ously pub­licly threatened to kill the P.C. There is a museum in Preston where P.C. Cock is buried.

Following the murder, Charlie Peace went back to Sheffield to Banner Cross (959 Ecclesall Rd. – which is now a Barbers) where the Dysons then lived. He slandered Mrs. Dyson and got into an argu­ment with Mr. Dyson, whom he shot dead. This was on 29/11/1876.

Charlie went on the run, and there was a big man­hunt.

Meanwhile, he took a girl­friend as a maid to Peckham where he changed his name to John Thompson, (one of many ali­ases he used through­out his life) had a horse and cart, became a respect­able member of the com­munity and had a good life, whilst at the same time, con­tinu­ing his thiev­ing, becom­ing a one-man crime­wave.

He was finally caught by P.C. Robinson, whom he attemp­ted to shoot. He was con­victed of attemp­ted murder and burg­lary. He con­fessed to being Charlie Peace, which wasn’t at first believed, but was con­firmed by his wife and Mrs. Dyson. His family sold up as he was sen­tenced to hard labour in Pentonville prison, for life, so he decided he wanted to die. He came up to Sheffield by train and drew a plan of the Bannercross scene of the murder of Mr. Dyson, which con­vinced the author­it­ies of his guilt of Mr. Dysons murder. On the second trip by train to Sheffield for the com­mit­tal pro­ceed­ings, he jumped out of the train window whilst hand­cuffed to an officer. He was injured in the ensu­ing ker­fuffle, but, reach­ing Sheffield, he was tried in a cor­ridor in the Sheffield Courts.

It took 10 minutes, by a non-white judge, to sen­tence him to be hanged at Armley Gaol by chief hang­man William Marwood, the ‘’long drop’’ pion­eer. The year was 1879. He was buried in a coffin in uncon­sec­rated ground.

There is a recon­struc­tion of the hanging scene in Madame Tussauds.

Before his death he con­fessed to the murder of P.C. Cock, so the Habron broth­ers were exon­er­ated.

In his will he left everything to his wife in her chip shop at Darnall.

A man whose per­son­al­ity changed, after a trau­matic acci­dent in his youth, with a com­pul­sion to burgle, he spent 50% of his life in gaol, and has a sep­ar­ate sec­tion for his thiev­ing arte­facts, at Scotland Yard.

Would he today be dia­gnosed with a treat­able con­di­tion?

Dr. Caunt, a retired anaes­thet­ist, and reg­u­lar S10 Probus speaker, amazed us again with his depth of research into this com­plex and vil­lain­ous char­ac­ter, about whom there have been numer­ous books, films, pho­to­graphs, museum exhib­its and talks.

All agreed it was a most enjoy­able and enlight­en­ing hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flower Power’ by Rod Amos – 16/9/2019

Flowers are an essen­tial part of our lives, and are used in drink­ing, for eating, attract­ing part­ners, admir­ing, treat­ing mal­ad­ies etc…………

Rod, a Rheumatologist, talked to us today about the myths, magic and medi­cinal qual­it­ies of English wild­flowers.

As a warn­ing, in case we fan­cied trying out a few myths and exper­i­ment­ing, we were shown pic­tures of 4 very sim­ilar look­ing plants – Cow Parsley, Sweet Cicely, Angelica and Hemlock, the last of these being the killer. Beware! The devil is in the detail!

Modern medi­cine is deemed to have taken shape from the 19th cen­tury, but prior to that, medi­cine up to the 1700s was based on Quackery, when anyone could sell any sup­posed home-made remedy. Purging the humours was another dodgy wheeze.

As far back as the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians (e.g. Hippocrates, Paracelsus, Dioscorides, Galen) rem­ed­ies, con­cocted from plants, based on myth and magic were pro­moted.

Even today there are myths.
— Why do we apply a dock leaf to a sting? Is this another sting to mask the first? Is it a placebo? It has been found that if you chew a dock leaf first, it releases anti-inflammatory prop­er­ties, so maybe there’s some­thing in it after all.
— Hawthorn (its altern­at­ive name being ‘’Mother will Die’’), brings bad luck if brought into the house, because decay­ing Hawthorn smells like the decay of bodies, giving off the same chem­ic­als.
— Lilac was used to line coffins, as the purple colour was asso­ci­ated to the last stage of mourn­ing.
— Red and white flowers are banned in hos­pit­als as they infer blood and band­ages.

Some myths and super­sti­tions gave rise to the Doctrine of Signatures – This is when nature pro­duces objects used to treat parts of the body which are sim­ilar in appear­ance :-

e.g. — Walnuts used in treat­ment of the brain
— The Eye Bright plant used for the eye
— The Lungwort plant with spots on their leaves appear­ing like air spaces in lungs, which was used for coughs etc

However, some of the main plants that have con­trib­uted to myth, magic or medi­cine, are listed below. In some cases their prop­er­ties were found by acci­dent, or because of the per­ceived Doctrine of Signatures :-
Lesser Celandine and Figwort. Their roots are like haem­or­rhoids (piles). The former is the first flower of Spring and, like fig­wort, is used to treat piles. Both are used to treat Scrofula (TB of the skin) as they con­tain sapon­ins and tan­nins which are a nat­ural pro­tec­tion for the plants and may be anti-inflammatories. Scrofula was also called ‘Kings Evil’ and was thought to be cured when the mon­arch touched you. Because of the time this involved for the King, ‘Touch pieces’ were minted with the Kings head on, as a sub­sti­tute for the mon­archs touch.
Early Purple Orchid. Its roots are like testicles, so it was power­ful in sexual magic, as an aph­ro­dis­iac, or in determ­in­ing the sex of an unborn child. This myth goes back to the Greeks and the plant has lots of folk names, but, there is no known medi­cinal value. The Church called it Gethsemane or Cross Flower because of the spots on the leaves, which rep­res­en­ted drops of blood.
- Lords and Ladies. There were lots of folk names here too, because of its shape, all infer­ring sexual magic.
Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea). There was lots of folk­lore sur­round­ing this plant, with the Church naming it ‘’Ladys’ Fingers and Virgins’ Fingers’’. Fox=mischievous animal, glove= digitalis in Latin, mean­ing you can put your finger in it. William Withering in 1775 acci­dent­ally real­ised that a medi­cine con­coc­tion for bal­an­cing the ‘’humours’’ con­tained digoxin, an extract from fox­glove, as its active ingredi­ent, which was effect­ive against dropsy, which is a swell­ing caused by heart fail­ure.
- White Willow and Meadowsweet (Spirea), which both grow in damp places, give us sali­cylic acid, a major com­pon­ent of Aspirin. Johann Pagenstecher extrac­ted sali­cylic acid from Meadowsweet. Johann Buchner isol­ated a yellow sub­stance from willow tree tan­nins which he called salicin (Latin for willow). Raffaele Piria con­ver­ted this into sali­cylic acid. Further con­tri­bu­tions in this field were made by Thomas John Maclagan. Felix Hoffman went a step fur­ther and found acet­ylsali­cylic acid using acetic acid. He called this A for ‘acetyl’ and ‘spirin’ as it came from Spirea. ASPIRIN was born. (He also found HERO-IN.)
Oskar Lassar inven­ted his famous paste, which has sali­cylic acid in it, for treat­ing skin prob­lems.
Rev. Edmund Stone found by chew­ing willow bark, which is bitter like Peruvian bark, he could cure fever, as it con­tains quin­ine, a treat­ment for mal­aria.
Naked Ladies, (Latin name col­chicum autum­nale) which is an Autumn crocus. This comes up in Autumn before the leaves (hence the name naked ladies) and an over­dose can be pois­on­ous. It pro­duces col­chicine, used to treat gout. This was dis­covered acci­dent­ally by John Hall who mar­ried Shakespeares daugh­ter in 1607. It was recor­ded as having been used as ‘Eau de Medicineale’ by Banks and Cook on the ‘Endeavour’.
Nightshades – The deadly vari­ety (Belladonna) con­tains atropine (from Atropos, one of the 3 Fates). This dilutes the pupil and even­tu­ally leads to death. It is one sub­stance in ‘Flying Ointment’, used as a hal­lu­cin­at­ory exper­i­ence.
Monkshood – All parts of this plant are toxic, reflec­ted in its folk names. It is still used in homeo­pathy in small quant­it­ies. Cerberus and Hecate in Greek myth­o­logy men­tion the toxin acon­ite in this plant.

Now well aware of how to poison someone, Rod fin­ished his talk with a story about Dr. Edward William Pritchard who put the above inform­a­tion to use by pois­on­ing his rel­at­ives, but even­tu­ally was hung for his crimes!!!

Cheers’ Barry Starmore 8thJuly 2019

Today’s talk by Barry Starmore, was an intro­duc­tion to wine and spir­its.

Barry has been in the wine busi­ness over 25 years, during which time he has been a Sommelier at the Savoy Group, and worked for ‘Odd Bins’ and the ‘Wig and Pen’ (both no longer in exist­ence). He is now a Director of ‘StarmoreBoss’ in Sharrowvale Rd. where they offer tast­ings of wine and whisky, and talks on how they are made.

 

An Overview.

Distillers and wine makers must have exper­i­ence, and a pas­sion for what they do, as the para­met­ers are ever­chan­ging – cli­mate, loc­a­tion, farmer, vit­i­cul­tur­al­ist etc

A gen­er­a­tion ago, wines were mainly from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Portugal, Italy, Spain, but now they are from all over the world, but, nev­er­the­less, wines from tra­di­tional sources are still very import­ant.

The UK is the biggest importer of wines which come from Japan, Georgia, Holland, South Africa, South America etc……… Australian wines first came to the UK in 1986. However, research is ongo­ing world­wide to locate new ter­rains, grape types and how to farm them.

In the UK there are 503 vine­yards and 133 winer­ies. The most north­erly vine­yard in the UK is at Junction 46 on the M1 at Leventhorpe (near Leeds) and the nearest one is at Renishaw Hall.

Sales of wine in the UK topped £10bn last year and sales of Spirits were sim­ilar. The duty on a bottle of wine is £2.80 plus 20p for the label and bottle, whereas whisky has a duty of £7.50/bottle.

Big retail­ers import wine by the tanker load and bottle in the UK, which is all strictly con­trolled, so it is still good, even when ‘’bottled’’ in mag­nums or boxes.

 The Grapes –There are 5 noble main grapes but 10000 vari­et­ies of grapes in total. Italy uses 2000. The rest of the world diver­si­fies on vari­et­ies to suit their situ­ation.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon with a black­cur­rant fla­vour is the most pop­u­lar as it is slow­est to ripen but good in dif­fer­ent soils. Malbec grapes have medi­cinal prop­er­ties!
  • The soil is treated with manure and the vines allowed to trail, rather than being trained, with, some­times, roses added to the lines of vines, for help­ing the pro­cess. Less chem­ic­als are now used as there are new meth­ods of get­ting rid of bugs.
  • In the Northern hemi­sphere the grapes are har­ves­ted from late August to October, in the even­ing, which stops oxid­a­tion of the grapes. If the fruit is ripe and the sugars high, then they may be picked earlier. They are then put in a cool tank or vacuum for 10 to 12 days to sta­bil­ise them.
  • The pro­cess then includes adding yeast and sugar to the unfer­men­ted grape juice (the must) plus a bit of sul­phur (min­imal nat­ural sul­phur if pos­sible, to reduce the effects on head­aches and pan­cre­atic prob­lems that some drink­ers suffer from).
  • Oak bar­rels are import­ant for fer­ment­ing or stor­ing, as they take out the tan­nins and allow long time devel­op­ment. For Beaujolais Nouveau the grapes are not pressed hard, they are stored and pro­cessed in neut­ral stain­less steel, clay or con­crete tanks and bottled quickly so that they have less tan­nins and more fla­vour.

The Cork

Cork tree bark is har­ves­ted only every 7 to 10 years to allow the tree to recover. The cork must be washed in clean spring water, so as not to leave a taste and to allow it to last longer before drying out. Wine matures better with a cork than with a screw top. Plastic stop­pers are OK but shrink after about 5 years. Glass stop­pers are used by the Australians.

General

Wine should be drunk within 3 or 4 days of open­ing. Some wine brought back from Europe which was good drunk in Europe when fresh, is only designed to last 2 weeks, so it is never as good at home.

Keep wine at 8 to 10 degrees a long time before open­ing. There is no need to turn the bottles during stor­age. Stand the bottle up 2 days before open­ing and decant and filter reds before drink­ing.

Ice wines are made from grapes left on the vine and picked after they have been frozen. They have less juice as they are shriv­elled, and pro­duce a sweet wine.

There were com­ments from the mem­bers about the descrip­tions of wine, writ­ten on the bottles. The palette is most sens­it­ive in the morn­ing, so see if you can taste the wet grass and goose­ber­ries then!

This was a very inter­est­ing and inform­at­ive insight into the appre­ci­ation and making of wine, but there is obvi­ously a lot more to learn.

CHEERS.