070227.Tucking Mill, Pilgrimage to Smith of the Rocks

February 27, 2007 at 12:18 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, people, Pilgrimage, somerset, Tucking Mill | 10 Comments

Copy of 070215.44.Somset.Tucking Mills.WmSmith House
Why is there a car there? Why is it a red car? Someone told me that red coloured cars are the ones most likely to be stopped by the police for speeding or other traffic infringements. (See JC’s comment.)

House of Geologist William Smith (1769-1839)

“Another claim of Monkton Combe to fame is as the starting-place of the science of geology in this west country. At the hamlet called Tucking Mill at the western extremity of the Parish on the now abandoned canal, which stands a house which bears a modest marble tablet with the inscription—

In this house lived
William Smith
The father of English Geology

“This ingenious pioneer of science was born in 1769 and became a mineral surveyor and civil engineer. In 1794 he was appointed engineer to the Soon Coal Canal, the one which used to pass through Monkton Combe but is new extinct and superseded by the Railway to Hallathrow. He bought this house, now the office of the Fuller’s Earth Factory, and made it his residence, and also traveled much about the country observing strata. He was the first to lay down the important formula of the identification strata by their characteristic organic remains, the great key to unlock the definite order of organic succession in the crust of the earth. (vide Prestwhich Geology, vol. ii, p. 190). He was also the first man to frame a complete geological map of England and Wales. A reminiscence of his country home remains embedded in the nomenclature of Geology, in the name “Midford Sands,” given to a certain formation found at the top of the Upper Lias and at the base of the Oolite series. These “Sands” were exposed in the making of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, the long tunnel between Bath and Midford being cut through them. They are found also at other places in the hills around Bath.” – D. Lee Pitcairn and Alfred Richardson, An Historical Guide to Monkton Combe, Combe Down and Claverton (Bath: F. Goodall Printer, 1924) 29-30.
Clearly the original marble tablet was removed and “re-erected” in 1932 (possibly this refers to more than the plaque.)
Copy of 070215.45.Somset.Tucking Mills.WmSmith House
Ironically, he was sent to King’s Bench Prison for debt after he published his famous map and others merely plagiarized his work without paying him. It’s all over the internet today, and for this post I merely lifted it off a random site without credit to the site or payment made. Thankfully dead people don’t really need royalties, and they wouldn’t be valid anymore since he’s really dead…been so for a while now. (See Barbara’s comment.)

William Smith’s geological map of England and Wales (and part of Scotland) published in 1815:

070216.Tucking Mill, Never Say Never

February 16, 2007 at 12:22 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bridges, Castles, Mansion, Overcast, Pevsner, somerset, Towers, Tucking Mill | 20 Comments

Copy of 070215.33.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
So has this ever happened to you: you get tired of working in your room and you say I need a walk. –After strolling around in circles a few times you end up 3 miles south of Bath and have no actual idea where you are since you’re in a heavily wooded area and the sun has been blocked by the perpetual overcast weather?
070215.38.Somset.Tucking Mills
No? Yes? Well, it happened to me yesterday. I was on a muddy dirt road in the middle of nowhere wilderness when all of a sudden I see a hidden tunnel, possibly abandoned,  with some pavement beneath! I’m suddenly again interested in my surroundings and decide to explore…where does the tunnel lead? Where am I now and why is there wilderness above the tunnel? Or even, how do I get down there? As I’m trying to get on that new path, I find this crazy “Gothik” castle, decked out like a supervillain headquarters with all these bizarre deck of cards’ “club” patterns on its walls–(or quatrefoils, but the plan was definately a club-shape). Either in Midford, itself, or nearby Tucking Mill, the fortress compound is complete with a deceptively-rickety old antenna capable of receiving signals from a satellite relay station. And then, as I’m staring at it, a plane seemingly takes off from nearby, but there’s no airport anywhere in this region! This had to be the lair of some James Bond nemesis—“Dr. Club,” or…(pick a better name.)
070215.28.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775Copy of 070215.35.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
070215.39.Somset.Tucking Mills
More out of boredom than anything else, I go into secret agent mode, leave the road and jump from tree to tree for cover. I wind up coming to a “private property” sign that doesn’t clearly distinguish the private from the public footpath, so I continue. The place, in any event, looks abandoned. An old, junked railroad bridge, which may or may not according to the county belong to Wessex Water (according to an Internet search, its ownership isn’t so much in dispute as it is denied by all parties concerned), with a reservoir lake at the base. On the other thickly-wooded side, there is a series of large tanks and generator-looking devices…and uniformed workers marching around: yes, henchmen! I couldn’t photograph everything that was going on (because my camera makes an annoying chirping sound every time it’s turned on or takes a picture—still haven’t figured out how to turn that off) but as I went down the wooded hill toward the generators, a siren went off, and I had to make a fast getaway.
070215.42.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt.Fisheries
070215.40.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt

So here’s what it turned out to be…(but don’t be fooled, this Forysth could be in their employ…)
Midford Castle, Midford Rd. Beautifully placed in wooded grounds with a s view down to Cane Brook and Midford Brook, this is the most eccentric of the substantial villas that surround Bath. It was build for Henry Disney Roebuck, c. 1775, after a design by John Carter for “a Gothic Mansion,” published in Builder’s Magazine in 1774. It is tower-like, three-storeyed, on an ingenious trefoil plan with semicircular corners, raised on a large plinth containing the service accommodation. Each floor has a lozenge-shaped hall and three rooms giving off it with three-windowed ends. (A story, coined in 1899, said that the plan commemorates some prodigious gambling success of Henry Roebuck and represent the ace of clubs.) The two principal floors have pointed windows with ogee0hoods, the upper windows, straight hoods. To give the appearance of towers, the battlemented parapet projects upwards at in blind arches like eyebrows. The interior has charming light plasterwork, chiefly long branches with sparse leave, attributed to Thomas Stocking. The house is an early example of the unusual-shaped villas, mainly triangular and sometimes castlelated, that architects experimented with in the 1780s-90s. These include Carr’s Grimston Garth, Yorkshire (1781-6), Adam’s Walkinshaw House, Renfrewshire (1791), and Nash’s Castle House, Aberystwyth for Uvedale Price (c.1795).
“Castellated also, the early C19 gatehouse (four-centred head of the archway, quatrefoils in the spandrels) and the picturesque group of stables and tower of the former chapel. This has a tower with pinnacles (and a cupola as well). In the NE part of the grounds are the ruins of a summerhouse known as the priory. A two-storeyed circular tower with a higher circular stair-turret, embattled, with quatrefoil windows. Originally, this had a nave with an apse, with ogee-headed niches. This was presumably built at the same time as the castle as it is mentioned in Collinson’s History of Somerset, 1791. On the brow of a steep descent is a rustic hermitage, now restored. Collinson also mentions this.” —Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 288-289. Midford Castle was also apparently the estate of Charles Conolly….

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