Friday 13 March 2020

Emma of Halberton

Stained glass window of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral - Holly Hayes / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Stained glass window of Thomas Becket in
Canterbury Cathedral - Holly HayesCC BY-SA 3.0

In the 1898 book St Thomas of Canterbury: His Death and Miracles by Edwin A. Abbott, there is a story from the late twelfth century regarding a local "miracle":
But we also learn from William many new and interesting facts illustrating the abuses that rapidly attached themselves to the cultus of St Thomas. Emma of Halberton ventured to stitch on a hook and eye that had come off her little sister’s cloak — and this on the Wednesday in Whitsuntide! Her fingers were immediately contracted. With tears and prayers she resorted to the relics of St Thomas in the village church, and in the presence of the priest and dame Caecilia, the respected wife of a neighbouring knight, the casket containing the sacred treasures was applied to the girl’s hand. Virtue came forth, her fingers were restored, the church bells were set ringing, and they blessed God.

Next day, however, the girl fell into so heavy a slumber that she was thought dead. When her friends succeeded at last in rousing her, she blamed them bitterly. She had had a vision of St. Thomas, she said : he had assured her that her chastening was not on her own account but for the cure of the sins of others. “Thy hand,” said the Martyr, “is my hand. Whomsoever thou shalt bless with this hand [of thine] shall be healed from his infirmity” ; and he was on the point of uttering the mystic word that would have imparted the divine power, when she was awakened and deprived of the celestial benefit. However, she had other dreams and visions, one, for example, warning her mother to continue her customary eleemosyna — three masses a week for her deceased husband, and a candle as well — as long as she had a farthing.

A more doubtful revelation was that her mother was to dismiss her maid-servant. But this did not seem to have been acted on. “We know not,” says William, “the cause of this precept : but it happened that some little time aftewards the maid voluntarily gave notice.” Perhaps Emma had made her life uncomfortable, though Osanna (the mother) had not discharged her. Lastly, Emma revealed to William at Canterbury that she “had seen punishments prepared for a young kinsman of hers, a fellow-pilgrim, because he had sinned with a certain maid, and had not duly brought forth fruits of repentance.” On being cross-examined by William, the young man replied that “she (Emma) knew nothing at all about his offence till it was [divinely] revealed to her” : but how this negative was proved, William does not explain. In any case, Emma does not seem quite a satisfactory character, or the sort of person to whom the real St Thomas would say, “Whomsoever thou shalt bless shall be delivered from his infirmity.”
The story gets a brief mention again in The Senses in Late Medieval England by C. M. Woolgar (2006).

Saturday 7 March 2020

Postcard of the Railway Station c.1910

Postcard of the Railway Station c.1910
"The Station, Tiverton"
Valentine's Series - c.1910

J. D. Salinger and Tiverton

J. D. Salinger was based in Tiverton as part of the US 4th Infantry that took over Collipriest House in 1944 as a Division Command Post. You can read about the division's time in Devon in the 4th Infantry Yearbook by Major General Harold Whittle Blakeley (from page 18).

Tiverton may have been the basis of the setting for J. D. Salinger's short story For Esmé - with Love and Squalor.

Collipriest House - Division Command Post for the US 4th Infantry - 1944
Collipriest House - Division Command Post
for the US 4th Infantry - 1944

From J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski (2012):
From February 1944, all of Salinger’s correspondence passed through military censors, thus muddying the specifics of his actions while in England. We know from his letters that he spent time in Tiverton, the Devon town where the 4th Infantry had its headquarters, and in Derbyshire and London, attending CIC training courses. As the invasion drew nearer, he participated in amphibious landing exercises on the south coast at Slapton Sands, between Plymouth and Dartmouth, and on the north coast at Woolacombe Bay, sites chosen by the Allied High Command because they resembled the French coastline.

Tiverton was a town very similar to the one described in his 1950 story “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor.” It was small and charming and had a population of about 10,000 before its own invasion by American servicemen. Set among the hills of Devon, Tiverton is a quaint place with narrow cobblestone streets that meander along the contours of the land. They were streets that Salinger loved to stroll in his spare time, often stepping into a pub for a drink or slipping into a church during choir practice.

The 4th Infantry had taken over a number of large buildings in and around Tiverton. Division headquarters was located at Collipriest House, a large estate just outside town, and it was here that Salinger collected his mail, reported for assignments, and, as in “For Esmé,” attended “rather specialized pre-Invasion training” courses. These courses instructed Salinger in combat espionage, sabotage, and subversion, and how to deliver security lectures to the troops, search captured towns, and interrogate both civilians and enemy troops in occupied territory.

The image of J. D. Salinger wandering the streets of Tiverton in pensive solitude illustrates the contemplative mood that absorbed him while he was stationed in England. During the months he trained for the invasion, Salinger began to reevaluate his attitude toward both his writing and his life.
Various news outlets ran articles about Salinger and Tiverton in 2016 following a BBC radio documentary about how he may have been developing Catcher in the Rye during his time here:

Thursday 5 March 2020

Vice President of Nicaragua

The current Vice President of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, attended the Greenway Convent Collegiate School in Tiverton. The school took boarders from age 5 to 18 and she was born in 1951, so I would estimate late 1950s to early/mid 1960s.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Aerial Photo of Heathcoat's Factory 1939

Aerial Photo of Heathcoat's Factory (1939)
Heathcoat's Lace Factory - 1939
Courtesy of Britain From Above

Aerial Photo of Greenway Convent Collegiate School 1953

Aerial Photo of Greenway Convent Collegiate School (1953)
Greenway Convent Collegiate School - 1953
Courtesy of Britain From Above

Aerial Photo of Greenway Convent 1953

Aerial Photo of Greenway Convent (1953)
Greenway Convent - 1953
Courtesy of Britain From Above

Bakers Hill

Bakers Hill is named after the Reverend Edward Baker who was the vicar of St Paul's between 1870 and 1895. There was also a pub called the Bakers Arms in West Exe, but I cannot find any information about it and may be unrelated.

Postcard of Lowman Bridge and the Clock Tower c.1900

Postcard of Lowman Bridge and the Clock Tower c.1900
"Lowman Bridge and Clock Tower, Tiverton"
Pelham Series - c.1900

Postcard of Heathcoat's Factory c.1904

Postcard of Heathcoat's Factory c.1904
"The Lace Factory, Tiverton"
Valentine's Series - c.1904

Postcard of Blundell's School c.1930

Postcard of Blundell's School c.1930
"Tiverton, Blundell's School"
Frith's Series - c.1930