Advent 21: I Saw Three Ships…

p1170778p1170569I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Photos of the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

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Advent 12: Illuminations

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The Titanic leaving Dock Gate 4, Southampton

p1180671Southampton is not usually forthcoming on Christmas lights as much as other cities – What with the Christmas market and so many lights from shops, ships and offices – But, to open up a leisure area for Christmas at West Quay malls this year, a stunning loop of 7-minute, light and sound illuminations ran on our Old Town Wall at the weekend.

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p1180656Depicted, was the history of Southampton’s port, which focused on departures of: Henry V troops leaving for Agincourt, The Mayflower with Pilgrims preparing for America, The Titanic leaving for New York, boats and planes in WW2 manoeuvres, J-Class yachts, powerboats, hovercraft, container-ships and so on.

Do you have any festive lights where you are?

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Southampton’s city square

Cannibals at Sea & the Real Richard Parker

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For my local Halloween story I would like to tell you about the real story of Richard Parker. An unfortunate cabin boy who sailed from Southampton at the tender age of 16 only to be eaten by his crew.

In Southampton’s Peartree Churchyard lies an unusual gravestone…

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The newer stone in Peartree Southampton which combines the grave of Sarah Parker and the memorial to her son Richard Parker – the victim of cannibalism at sea

It is the combined stone which marks the grave of Sarah Parker and the memorial of her beloved son Richard Parker, who had reached the age of 17 by the time he became the victim of cannibalism at sea.

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Richard Parker was killed and eaten by Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens to prevent starvation Regina versus Dudley and Stephens (1884) established the precedent that necessity is no defence against a charge of murder Concerning survival cannibalism following a shipwreck the case overturned the folklore of the Custom of the Sea

Richard Parker served on the English yacht Mignonette, which set sail for Sydney, Australia from Southampton, England in 1884. While in the South Atlantic, the Mignonette sank, leaving Parker and his three shipmates in a lifeboat. Dying of thirst Richard fell into a coma after drinking sea water. As the crew thought he was going to die anyway, they killed the boy to drink his blood, then ate him so that they could survive. There had been many similar cases like this up until that time, which were given over to sympathy from seafarers, even those in Richard Parker’s own family in Southampton. It had been regarded legally as “A Custom of the Sea”.

The surviving three were rescued after 24 days by the German sailing barque Montezuma, named fittingly enough  after the Aztec king who practiced ritual cannibalism.

But this case caused a great uproar in Victorian Britain. The men were charged with murder and were found guilty. Although not much was done about the prisoners even when their sentences were later reduced to six months hard labour. Most importantly, their trial, R v Dudley and Stephens established a legal precedent in common law around the world, that: ‘Necessity is no defence to a charge of murder’. It is one of the first cases that law students read about.

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The original memorial to Richard Parker which reads: Sacred to the memory of Richard Parker, aged 17, who died at sea July 25th 1884 after nineteen days dreadful suffering in an open boat in the tropics having been wrecked in the yacht Mignonette.’ Though he slay me yet will I trust in Him. Job 15 v 15 Lay not this sin to their charge. Acts vii6

If you haven’t read Yann Martel’s Booker Prize novel about the Life of Pi then you may have seen the ®Oscar-winning movie of the same name directed by Ang Lee.

The narrator is a novelist who has been recommended to interview an Indian man named Piscine Molitor Patel, as his life-story will make him “believe in God”.

Pi’s story is how at 16 he survives a shipwreck in which his family and the zoo of animals they are transporting to Canada, all die, apart from him and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker who he ends up sharing a lifeboat with.

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Booker Prize novel ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel

In the novel the tiger who arrived at their zoo was called Thirsty but got mixed up on the list with the hunter’s name – Richard Parker. The novel is an allegorical one about man’s battle between his animal instincts and his religious ones. Pi has been brought up a vegetarian and does not even eat fish.

By a great nautical coincidence, the name of Martel’s tiger, Richard Parker, was also inspired by a character in Edgar Allan Poe’s nautical adventure novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). In Poe’s book, Richard Parker is a cabin boy who is stranded and eventually the victim of cannibalism on a lifeboat. There is a dog aboard who is named Tiger.

A third Richard Parker drowned in the sinking of the Francis Speight in 1846, described by author Jack London, and later a cabin boy was cannibalized.

Yann Martel said: “So many victimized Richard Parkers had to mean something. My tiger found his name. He’s a victim, too – or is he?”

The Mignonette yacht sketched by Dudley
The Mignonette yacht sketched by Dudley

For most who have never had starvation forced upon us it must be difficult to imagine how this could happen. One can only receive clues from behaviours in the animal kingdom.

There have also been three plays written about Richard Parker  –   ‘Richard Parker’ by Owen Thomas, ‘Mr Parker’s Bones, or The Strange, Lamentable, Bloody, and mostly true History of Parker of Pear Tree Green and of his Captain, the Dastardly Cannibal Tom’ written by Russ Tunney and more recently The Sad Tale of Richard Parker by Cheryl Butler who also works on historical walking tours of Southampton.

Although there are still many shipwrecks, technology is developing all the time and we are now able to convert sea water into drinking water in minutes. Although still expensive, new materials will soon make it available for common use.

To visit Pear Tree Church and cemetery on Peartree Green by satellite navigation, use the postcode SO19 7GY

Jack London - When God Laughs and other short stories
Jack London – When God Laughs and other short stories

For further interesting links on this story:

Court case: R v Dudley and Stephens 

You Tube video of descendant of Richard Parker

Edgar Allan Poe: Horrific Prediction Haunts my family –  by descendant/psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker

‘The Sad Tale of Richard Parker’ a play by Cheryl Butler

‘Life of Pi’ – Creating ‘Richard Parker’ (Behind the scenes making of the movie)

Southampton is a Cool Cat

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Southampton is a ferrel catp1170655

stretched out on a grand, green lawn

of broad summer sunshine

Fatted on battered haddock

grappled for against gulls

conquests behind nightclubs

kicked-over street bins

reeking of curry and booze

She cleans her face but not Her furp1100615

Who does She need to impress?

 

Southampton is a cool cat

catch the rat between two rivers

acrobatics at gas works

parkour-flipping around the old town walls

From hooks of port cranes

She sees it all.


Southampton is a wise old catp1090073

hoisted up quick and sailed close-to-wind

Her kittens roam world-wide

thirst knowledge – take notes

stalk students on side-streets

hide beneath Ford Transits

 

Southampton is flatteredp1100968

by the kindness of strangers

You’re fun – She likes to play

Curl up with Her by the coal fire

Stroke, purr, snooze,

Come dawn She’ll yowl you out of bed

Howl and holler ‘til She’s fed

p1120095Southampton is the eternal cat

you will never own

She’ll still be here

when you’ve sneaked out

by the back stairs

never to be forgotten

so longed for on your return

 

p1110933You will find Her asleep on tombs of sea captains

who dutifully sank with their vessels

You will find Her at the dock-gates

preening Her paws for sailors

from mighty merchant boats

who came bearing gifts

in big metal containers

For this ship’s cat

that can stare at Queens

 

p1140027Call Her names across the pitch… Scummer!

But don’t come looking for a fight – Mush!

Or She’ll give you War

Southampton. The great Defender

She sees you in the dark

She will hook out your eyes

with Her steel claws

One Spitfire pounce can kill

Wounds licked  –  She’ll be on her feet again

This Cat has nine lives

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Poem and Photos © Southampton Old Lady

Unto Cowes and Come Home

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From Shamrock Quay along the River Itchen and under its bridge into Southampton Water

Regular readers will know that I am going to live on a sailing boat  with my husband as we have to move soon. We are selling or giving away worldly goods and doing up an old Maxi 95 sloop.

As it has been 15 years or so since I did any sailing, and pre-cancer/chemo, I thought it best to go on a refresher sailing course with a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor.

Last weekend I got on a run as a team of five of like-minded individuals also honing their skills. We sailed from Shamrock Quay in Southampton to the Isle of Wight, where Cowes Week brought sailing boats from all over the world.

 

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Plain sailing on the Solent

The severe treatment for my Hodgkin Lymphoma left my body and brain somewhat disorientated. I describe my brain as living in a town where a bomb has hit and roads have been blocked off. I have had to find detours and rebuild. I had been having terrible balance problems since the treatment, but following a number of NHS exercises I have not had any accidents for about a year now.

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We anchored just off Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This was Queen Victoria’s favourite residence and this her own private beach. It opened to the public 2 years ago.

Although I was used to sailing I had been extremely nervous about going out, especially onto the Solent, which requires strength, skill and alertness due to its tides, geographical structure and the many number of different vessels using its channel.

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The marina on the Isle of Wight was busy for Cowes Week and took great skill to moor four abreast

This weekend course really helped me to regain my confidence and sort out what I could remember and what I needed to practice.

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Ready with a slip-line returning to port

I feel brilliant!

The D-Day Wall

The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at West Quay. © Southampton Old Lady
The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at the side of the Grand Harbour Hotel West Quay.

Visitors from around the world, but especially from North America, emerge from cruise ships at Southampton Docks and head immediately for London or Stonehenge. Many stay at the prestigious Grand Harbour Hotel on West Quay without knowing that their country’s heroes had stayed on that very piece of land before sacrificing their lives.

Southampton. The day before D-Day
Southampton. The day before D-Day
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel

This historically, was the site for troops to be stationed before going off to wars, from Agincourt to The Falklands.

WW2 allied troops would have health check-ups and their vehicles disinfected. Servicemen would kill time playing cards and etching their names on the red-brick boundary wall. One of the most prolific times was when North American service personnel were stationed here during the run up to the D-Day manoeuvres.

Southampton Docks. Convoy during peparations for D-Day
Southampton Docks. Convoy during preparations for D-Day
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported to France, she struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr. The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported from Southampton to France. She struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
North American servicemen's names etched on to the D-Day wall. © Southampton Old Lady
North American servicemen’s names etched on to the D-Day wall. © SOL

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When the site was demolished, local people campaigned to keep the brickwork of names standing as a monument. Unfortunately, with no glass or perspex covering these names deteriorate each year. Responsibility for the wall shifts from pillar to post.

After some research on the internet I found one man who, in despair, felt it important to catalogue the names that were still legible some years ago. However even by the time I took this photo, last year, some of those have disappeared.

Here is the list according to that person, some of the names are still very readable:

W.E SHIRK, Wm MUELLER, CLEMTATIO, JOE HAMMOND, H.L. EATHERINGTON – ZION T/S, ROBERT M RAY & DAVE RAY OHIO, ROBERT GOLDEN, Geo FABER OF COLO, JAMES HENLEY, LAWRENCE MATHIS 1941 DEC 23, JAMES ?, DES PENNY, VIRRLA PENNY, CALAVERY AMER ? ?, D CHICAGO ILLINOIS, F.F JOHNSON USA, JOE N JONES DEC 22 1944, D.W SMITH, J.C KELLOE, CHARSTON S.C, BILLIE WILSON, P.W ?- AAL, RALPH ODEL, J.L PLIEL, JONY JOHNSTON, BILL ? URBAN, W KNIGHT

And hidden behind dustbins a small demolished section of this wall in jumbled order

M.P CARTER AUG 44, M J WOMPON FEB 45, ?F RECINE – OCT 10,1944 FRANCE, P.D B?EECH – CATAWISSA PENNA, J.C CHRISTEN ?, N ALDEN BOLL M???NN, G.N BUNKER ? – CITY IOWA – 1945 BALTIMORE, EDDIE MEYER ILLINOIS 17/21/44, JOHN HELMLIIIO ELYRIA OHIO 11-4-44, DOOLING – BEVERLY MASS, R FINN, J.E WETTA- CALLAWA MIAMI FLORIDA LAB RY MT NC, ED C??BA??K – BOUND BROOK, JO COURT, ?.M SLATER MAY 13 1937, VANEE, MARTIN VA

Post: 6th JUNE, 2016

IN HONOUR OF D-DAY HEROES, 6th JUNE, 1944

 

Colour Your World: Red

Today’s colour challenge: RED

The Calshot Spit at Southampton Docks © 2015 Southampton Old Lady

… in response to the Colour Your World Photo Challenge whereby there is a different Crayola crayon colour prompt for each day. To see more or take part yourself visit: http://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/03/24/color-your-world-red/
Red boat in barbed wireP1130120

 

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Holyrood

There is a plaque on a large anchor outside a derelict church in Southampton’s High Street (QE2 Mile) which reads: The Church of Holyrood erected on this site in 1320 was damaged by enemy action on 30 Nov 1940. Known for centuries as the church of the sailors, the ruins have been preserved by the people of Southampton as a memorial and garden of rest, dedicated to those who served in the Merchant Navy and lost their lives at sea.

There are many memorials in this peaceful place to those lost at sea. From mediaeval captains that went down with their ship to those bombed while bringing supplies during WWII.

There is a special corner dedicated to the crew who drowned when the Titanic sank. Of her 1,517 victims, Southampton was home to 538 of the 685 crew members who died on this White Star liner’s fateful crossing to New York on the 15th of April 1912. It was like our 9/11 – our city lost a generation.

gospel choir singing in the Merchant Seamen's Memorial (this was once Holy Rood Church) during Music in the City festival, Southampton. © Southampton Old Lady
Gospel choir singing in the Merchant Seamen’s Memorial (this was once Holyrood Church) during Music in the City festival, Southampton. © Southampton Old Lady
Holyrood bells, Southampton. © Southampton Old Lady
Holyrood bells, Southampton. © Southampton Old Lady

I have been meaning to write about the Holyrood neighbourhood of Southampton for some time.  In the 1960s a new area of council flats were developed on that which was raized to the ground by the Blitz. In the last decade Southampton council has employed mural artists and sculptors to reveal the history of the area. However, Marie Keats, another Southampton blogger I follow, has been able to do this so much better than I on her ‘I Walk Alone” wordpress site – so if you are interested in her lovely mural walk around the area please do visit her blog: http://www.iwalkalone.co.uk/?p=22590

The Woolston Ferry

The Floating Bridge by L.S Lowry. On loan by Carol Ann Lowry to Southampton Art Gallery
The Floating Bridge by L.S Lowry. On loan by Carol Ann Lowry to Southampton Art Gallery
The Woolston Ferry is now a restaurant at Eelphant Wharf, Burseldon, Southampton www.ferryrestaurant.co.uk
The Woolston Ferry is now a restaurant at Elephant Wharf, Burseldon, Southampton
http://www.ferryrestaurant.co.uk

The main link is a reblog from The Reclining Gentleman – a fellow Sotonian that I follow. This song has filled me with so much melancholy.  I just loved the Woolston Ferry (Southampton’s Floating Bridge) and it made a wonderful free day out for me as a child.  The video (if you click on the original blog) show clips at Southampton Art Gallery with paintings of the ferry at by L.S Lowry, who was in love with a Southampton girl at the time. Sadly she married someone else, then so did he. But both couples remained good friends during their lifetimes though. The Woolston Ferry song is by Gutter Percha & The Balladeeros from Southampton. The Ferry itself has made a comeback since this song. It is now a summer restaurant further along the River Itchen at Elephant Wharf, Bursledon, for anyone interested.

The Reclining Gentleman

This tune will mean nothing to 99.99% of readers, but i don’t care. I love it. The tune and the ferry are part of my heritage.

You can see my flat in the map near the beginning. In fact i have never lived outside the area of that map since i came home from Southampton General Hospital at age 2 days. You can also see St Mary’s Stadium where Southampton FC play. Every few years the fans try to get the chorus of this song to become our anthem and sing it at games, but sadly it has never properly caught on. I love singing it in away pubs though and seeing the confused looks of the home fans.

You can keep your Ferry Cross the Mersey, your Skye Boat Song, and anything Bryan Ferry has ever recorded. This song, its ferry, its heart and its history are about the…

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