Butser Ancient Village

If you like your history hands-on, this could be the place for you.

Situated about 5 miles south of Petersfield in Hampshire, England, Butser is an open air museum, a ‘living history’ experiment, that tries to re-create the bygone ways of life. It now has reconstructions of ancient homes from the stone age and includes Iron Age and Anglos Saxon dwellings, as well a Roman villa, all of which you can wander around.

Butser was originally funded in 1970 by the Council for British Archaeology, and was intended as a working archaeology experiment to learn more about the old ways of life, and to test theories on agriculture and domestic economy. Butser now has a number of rare breeds on site, such as Manx Loaghtan sheep from the Iron Age and Soay sheep from Scotland and these are said to be be typical of the sheep around in the Bronze Age and early Iron Age. These are very independent animals that cannot be worked by sheepdogs. Butser also has goats and, sometimes, pigs, although these are more seasonal to the site. Apparently the Celts regarded pigs in very high regard.

The site is open to the public most of the year, but check for times as the winter season has shorter hours. Butser gets a lot of school parties, and on occasion they do hire the venue out – not surprisingly a lot of filming has taken place here – and at certain times they run workshops and courses for visitors. Sadly there was none of these in operation when we visited, which was a little disappointing.

However, this made no difference to our enjoyment of the day. We visited on a glorious summer day – there was a school party but they didn’t really bother us and it was otherwise fairly quiet. It was quite amusing to watch the children encounter the various unfamiliar animals and dwellings, and in predictable child humour the outside loo created lots of ribald hilarity!

My favourite was the Saxon Longhouse, based on excavations of an Anglo-Saxon settlement found in the nearby village of Chalton. The archaeology discovered a large rectangular structure with opposing doors in the middle of the long sides of a dividing interior wall. The structure made at Butser is primarily of English oak, sweet chestnut and hazel, and has a thatched roof.

The building was really cosy inside, with an open fire on the left hand side when entering, and with benches huddled around on three sides. We were told that Butser sometimes has evenings with the public where everyone gathers here and tells stories. That sounded like huge fun and we were sad to have missed that – we would be tempted to go back to the village just to take part!

The work on all the buildings is ongoing, and we particularly noticed this at the villa. This was the first Roman villa to be built with authentic materials and techniques for over 1,600 years. Work on the floors began in 2017 and when we visited, they were installing a real mosaic floor. It looked intricate and fiddly and I’m sure it will be beautiful when its finished, and the process looked fascinating. Apparently Butser has its own Roman re-enactment society, and this makes the perfect headquarters for them!

All in all it was a really enjoyable day, and although the village was smaller than we’d expected, it was still really worth the journey to see it. I had hoped for more insight into the fashions and jewellery of the time, but there was very little on view for those. The location is very open and the view down over the surrounding countryside is lovely. Most of the village is fairly flat and would be fine for most people, and the management state that the site is completely wheelchair accessible. However, the area is pretty much all grass and I would imagine that on a very wet day, it could get very muddy and probably hard going for anyone with mobility issues.

A great day out for the family!

Fun bag decorations and fun links

I have 6 new beautiful, and colourful, Sari Silk bag decorations. These pretties will add a lovely splash of colour to your bags, belts, rooms, or anywhere else you want to display them!

No two are alike – different colours, different swivel claps, and differing lengths from around 9 – 16 inches! (or 24 – 39cms) These are fun and funky and the Sari Silk comes from an ethical supplier dealing with women’s co-operatives in India.

These start at £14 and will be on sale between my Etsy and Folksy shops.

Okay, so how about a bunch of fun links?

New clothes for Barbie’s 60th Birthday

Fabulous Bronze Age Necklace found and giving insight into life 4.000 years ago

Roman glass found at Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire, believed to have come from Ukraine.

Make-up tips from the Ancient Egyptians

And the man who wears Regency

What is Steampunk?

What is Steampunk?

That’s a good question, as it seems to mean different things to different people. Even the definition of Steampunk alters depending on who you talk to, so for the purposes of this simple guide, I am giving you the definition as I understand it. Any products or accessories from the genre can only be subjective, for that reason. When people ask me what Steampunk is about, they don’t want a long-winded explanation, they just want a short answer, and in that case, I will generally call it ‘Victorian science fiction’. Its more complicated than that, of course, as we shall see.

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When did Steampunk start?

Many people believe the genre to be rooted in the 19th Century novels of the French author, Jules Verne. Of course, he didn’t know he was writing Steampunk – or science fiction, for that matter – as both terms hadn’t been invented then. H.G Wells is another candidate for the steampunk storyteller crown, and after the term was introduced – around 1987, there have been plenty of authors actively writing in the genre since.

What elements make up Steampunk?

If you want to write in the genre, or make your own costumes, jewellery and accessories, you’ll want some clue as to where to begin. I don’t think you can go too far wrong by starting in the Victorian era, and then adding layers. Or distorting layers. Corsets, for instance – we all know that the ladies used to lace them up and then hide them under their dresses and bodices. Not so with Steampunk – wear them loud and proud ladies! (or gents, if you are so inclined…) Use bright colours, fancy materials, or moody leathers, and pop them on over your dress or shirt for maximum impact! No longer need they be devices of torture, they can now be fun and sexy.

Time is a prominent component and gadgets feature heavily, too. The quirkier the better. Have them steam-powered, or using technology available in the Victorian era but spiced up as much, or as little, as you want. Fancy having a steam-powered computer? Why not? Its your world – play with it!

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Materials for making Steampunk jewellery

The world is your oyster!

Think found objects – you can have such fun scouring car boot sales, thrift stores and charity shops for the items listed below, and once you get your eye in, I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with lots of your own ideas, too.

Think mad scientist – curiosities, test tubes, scientific bits and pieces

Think mechanics – copper, steel, brass, locks and keys, valves, small nuts and tiny machine parts

Think Victorian – lace, cameos, chain, charms, flora and fauna, old broken jewellery and watches (please be careful if you disassemble old clocks and watches with glow-in-the-dark hands, as they may contain radium)

Think stones – amethyst, coral, jet, turquoise, pearls, onyx, ruby, etc

Think colours – black, grey, burgundy, red, purple. Mostly the colours were fairly natural in the Victorian era so not as bright as we’d be used to. Purple was discovered by accident by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1856. He was looking for an alternative to quinine (used to treat malaria) and started the trend for synthetic dyes instead when he discovered mauveine, which was made from aniline.

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Is Steampunk the only genre of its type?

Nope! 

Whereas Steampunk is generally Victorian/Edwardian, rough timelines for some of the others include:

Cyberpunk – 1960’s and 1970’s

Dieselpunk – war eras 1920’s to 1945

Atompunk – atomic age, circa 1945- 1965

And then there’s

Solarpunk – a wonderful, positive, Utopian world where everyone is equal, power is clean and renewable. I think I like that optimistic future… lets try for that, shall we?

Bath Fashion Museum

My design inspiration can come from anywhere – a random comment from a friend or family member, an interesting colour combination, or something I’ve seen while out and about. But because I love historical jewellery, often the initial spark will come from that, and there is nothing quite like actually going to visit a good fashion or jewellery collection to see the item sitting in front of you.

Earlier this year we scooted off to Bath to visit the Fashion Museum. It’s a beautiful place and was certainly well worth the journey. The museum has a lovely selection of clothing and often does extra exhibitions. It was one of these that I wanted to see – namely a collection called Royal Women. This exhibition has finished now, but if you are in the Bath area, please go and visit; their standard exhibition is worth the trip on its own!

A quick warning about Bath if you have mobility issues. This area of Bath is very hilly, and something of a mountain goat trek, but there is one of those on-off tour buses that covers all the main attractions and costs around £16. The museum itself is in a very old – and very lovely – 18th Century Georgian house with lots of stairs. The conveniences are down a couple of flights of stairs but the museum is accessible for all, just speak to a member of staff who will escort you to the lift. For the record, all of the staff we spoke to were extremely polite and professional, and I’m sure they will be able to sort out any problem you may have.

This elegant house was designed by John Wood the Younger and finished in 1771. There are some impressive inter-connecting Assembly Rooms, picture of the Ballroom below, and these, as are many old buildings in Bath, also available for public hire. The Assembly Rooms are lit by nine 18th Century chandeliers, measuring an average of 8 feet in height and were made from Whitefriars Crystal (from the Whitefriars Glass works in London). These chandeliers were originally lit by between 40-48 candles per chandelier, changing to gas in the 19th century and then altered again for electricity.

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The standard exhibition here is ‘A History of Fashion in 100 Objects’ and shows off a fabulous collection of items from the 1600’s to the present day and includes dresses, shoes, underclothes and men’s wear as well. Alongside the Georgian and Regency clothes you will also find more contemporary fashion sporting names like Christian Dior and Norman Hartnell.

But my reason for visiting the Museum was to the see the ‘Royal Women’ display, and in particular, this stunning mauve/purple wedding dress originally belonging to Princess Alexandria in 1863.

It did not disappoint, and my picture doesn’t really do it justice, but it was every bit as beautiful as it looked in the pictures I’ve seen of it.

The Royal Women display also included clothing from Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret.

The Museum has a small display of clothing for dressing up purposes, for both adults and children. Several children were having a whale of time in there when we passed through, but sadly there was nothing in there in my size.

Children can also take part in a sticker trail (info from reception) and there are drawing cards in the galleries to amuse them.

There is cafe which serves a variety of tasty items but we can personally vouch for the delicious cake on offer!

A nice shop selling books and knick-knacks was available, too. I bought a book covering the ‘100 objects’ collection and a little booklet for the visiting Royal Women collection as well.

Bath has an abundance of museums and art exhibitions as well, and you definitely should see the Roman Baths – yes, the remains are really that old – and still pretty impressive. If you intend to visit both the Fashion Museum and the Roman Baths, you can buy a combined ticket to save a little money. We didn’t visit the Baths on this occasion, as we’ve been to the city before, but the Bath complex also houses the ruins of the Temple Sulis Minerva and a bronze head of the Goddess is on display in the adjoining museum.

Jewellery for all

It surprises me how many people have difficulty finding the right jewellery. I’m not talking here about the difficulties of choosing between that lovely pair of red drop earrings or the spectacular emerald green ones (buy both!)

I firmly believe that jewellery should be available to all, and yet, so many of us struggle to achieve this simple goal, and for many different reasons.

Sizing

Not being a standard size myself, I do understand the frustration of not being able to find something to suit your personality. This is actually one of the reasons I started to make my own jewellery in the first place. I think its better now than it used to be, but the situation is still far from perfect. For this reason, I now use extension chains on a lot of my jewellery to make them adjustable, I might make them multi-size or sometimes do a selection of sizes but not only can this can get very expensive, but isn’t really practical as quite a few of my designs are one-off unique creations.

Some of my pieces are in ‘an average’ size, simply because I have to choose a size to make the item in, and since I am running a business, this needs to be what most of my customers require. However, I am aware that there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ and not everyone fits neatly into one category. Nor would I want them to. Wouldn’t that be boring if we all had the same shape?

Materials

Lots of you have allergic reactions to standard jewellery components. The most common is with ear wires, and because of this most of my wires are sterling silver. Unfortunately, a surprising amount of you can’t wear sterling silver, and this is where it gets interesting because in spite of what the manufactures tell you, there is no such thing as ‘safe for everybody’ wires. Most of my wires are fairly safe. I use lots of sterling silver, hypo-allergenic niobium, goldfill (these are 14k gold-plated) stainless steel, and occasionally, titanium as well. If you have sensitive ears it might be best to steer clear of copper ear wires. I stock them because so many people like them, and copper earrings are beautiful, but they are not hypo-allergenic and the copper has a tendency to go green, so these might best be avoided if you have problems with jewellery components.

A selection of wires from my current stock

Ability

Jewellery can be fiddly for the best of us, and if you have, for instance, arthritis or mobility issues, putting on jewellery can, quite literally, be a pain in the neck. Even something as simple as being left-handed can be a nuisance in dressing day to day. I know you get used to it. Yes, I’m sure you can cope perfectly well, but if it bothers you, why suffer when you might not need to? There are often ways around these problems. But I can’t help if I don’t know what the problem is.

What to do

Come and talk to me. I will not share anything you tell me with anyone else unless you want me to. Nor will I judge you. I just want to help you find the fun and pleasure that everyone deserves. Nobody should be excluded from expressing themselves in this way simply because of their size, age, gender, or physical ability. I like to think that between us, we can find a style that will work for you. I don’t generally make custom pieces, but usually that’s not necessary. I would be happy to advise on which of my products could be suitable for your needs, and a lot of items can be adjusted to work for you – like changing a fastening, ear wires, or adding an extension, for instance. In special circumstances I would consider making something just for you, but unless you ask, that’s not going to happen, is it?

10 First Women achievements – with bonus firsts!

As with anything in life, there must always be A First Time, no matter what it is you’re doing. For a little bit of fun, and to mark this blog’s first proper post, how about this list of intrepid women being first…

The first First Lady.

Well, that’s a tongue twister, isn’t it? That honour goes to Martha Washington, the wife of the first U.S President George Washington, 1789 – 1797. The title, however, of First Lady didn’t come into use until after her death. Nor did she ever live in the White House as it hadn’t been built at the time, but work for the famous building did begin during George Washington’s term of office.

The U.K’s first female Prime Minister.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 after defeating Edward Heath and then became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1990. This made her the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office.

First woman in space.

Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in Space on June 16 1963 when she was on the Vostok 6 mission. In a little under three days, she orbited the earth 48 times, and on her return, she was given the medal ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’.

First IVF baby

At 11.47pm July 25 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born at Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester weighing 5lbs, 12 ounces. She was conceived by the – then experimental – technique in vitro fertilization (IVF), and coining the phrase of ‘test tube baby’. She went on to have a child of her own in December 2006. Her son Cameron John Mullinder was conceived naturally.

First woman to run a marathon

Kathrine Switzer ran in the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant in 1967, a race official tried to stop her by lunging for her official bib, but was halted by another race entrant – her boyfriend Thomas Miller. Kathrine Switzer finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Fifty years later, at 70 years of age, she completed the 2017 Boston Marathon again, wearing the same bib number of 261 and finished with a time of 4 hours, 44 minutes and 31 seconds.

First woman to win a Nobel Prize

In 1903, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel. In 1911, she also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and became the first person (man or woman) to win a second Nobel Prize and for two different scientific fields. She became the first woman to be employed at the University of Paris following the death of her husband in 1906, due to a traffic accident.

When war broke out in 1914, Curie helped equip more than 20 ambulances -which became known as ‘Little Curies’ and she even drove one herself – and hundreds of field hospitals with basic x-ray machines and Radon gas syringes designed to cauterise wounds. It was estimated that during the course of the war, her equipment helped to save the lives of a million soldiers.

First woman to climb Everest.

Not only was Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975, but in 1992 she was also the first woman to ascend all Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.

First woman to sail around the world

Dame Naomi James left Devon on 9 September 1977 on her journey to sail single-handedly around the world (via Cape Horn) and returned on 8 June 1978 – taking 272 days. In recognition of her journey, she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979.

First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

Amelia Mary Earhart made her solo transatlantic flight on May 20 1932, She went from Newfoundland to Ireland in just under 15 hours and was awarded the United States’ Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Her disappearance remains a mystery.

First woman to swim the English Channel

This was Gertrude Caroline Ederle on 6 August 1926 on her second attempt. She set off from Cape Gris-Nez in France and ended up at Kingsdown in Kent at 9.04 pm with a time of 14 hours and 39 minutes breaking the previous record by almost 2 hours. Gertrude Ederle had always had poor hearing due to contracting measles as a child, but at 23, she said that so much immersion in the water was causing her to go deaf. She later taught children to swim at the Lexington School For The Deaf.

Hi – welcome to my new blog!

If you’re following from my previous location, or on social media, you know what to expect, but if you’ve just stumbled in, you might be wondering who I am, and what you’re letting yourself in for?

Well, my name is Lynne and I live in a very old village in southern England. I’m a mother, jewellery maker, closet geek, and lover of coffee, fascinating words, quotes from any source, social history, fashion and jewellery history and anything interesting, quirky, fun, or just downright daft.

With the above paragraph under your belt, you’ve already got a clue as to the kind of posts you will find here. I will be talking about my new products, various jewellery-related topics from the news, fashion, history, and anywhere else I can find things of interest. Fashion stuff is more likely to be retro than modern, because there is so much to discover and old things are so interesting!

Living in Britain, you become very aware of history. Old buildings and architecture are everywhere, and I’m fascinated by how people used to go about their daily lives, so don’t be surprised if something Roman, Victorian, medieval, or vintage pops up on this blog from time to time!

As well as jewellery and retro fashion, I want to share local views, lots of sea pictures, interesting links, and probably a bit about certain fandoms or films too. The British, incidentally, are obsessed with the weather and it is one of our main topics of conversion. If you come from somewhere that has more-or-less the same weather all the time, you might not understand our need to panic over those six flakes of snow that bring the country to a halt or how our weather staggers from hot-to-cold-to-windy-to flippin’ heck its boiling! all in one afternoon.

Eccentricities are part of the British charm, you know.

Where else can you find me?

I have a general jewellery shop over at Etsy.

Another shop at Folksy selling more of the Boho and Festival style of jewellery.

At the moment I only use two of the social media channels –

Instagram, where I sometimes post pictures of all those things mentioned above, as well as little peeks of my life, garden, and so on. I use the hashtag #rosebaycountry for pictures of local views and places of interest – check them out if you like that kind of thing.

Over on Twitter, as well as my latest products I like to retweet anything that is fun, interesting or quirky. So if you like daft stuff, come along for the journey. The more the merrier!