5 min read

The Old Mint House & Other English Sights

I don’t often scan postcards that belong to locales outside of Canada simply because they aren’t in my wheelhouse so much, and I have to be a bit more selective in what I preserve. I’m sure I’ll fill up this Terabyte drive in due time. Even with that said, there are some real photo postcards that are just so visually interesting that I can’t help myself—something about the way the image was taken resonates with me, so I must archive it.

The Old Mint House: A Pevensey Haunt

The first location in our tiny tour is the Mint House in Pevensey, a 12th century home with a rather sordid—and lengthy!—history.

The house itself was built in 1342 on the site of what’s believed to have been a Norman mint, hence the name. Coinage may have consistently struck here from at least 1076 to the coronation of Henry the Second in 1154. Perhaps earlier! It’s also rumoured that there was a tunnel beneath the property that lead to the nearby castle.

There are eighteen rooms in this house, and one room boasts lovely oak carvings as seen below.

We can trace the current form of the Mint House to renovations conducted in 1542 by Dr. Andrew Borde, King Henry the VIII’s Court Physician. It’s not clear how long he lived in the house, though we do know that King Edward the VIth spent time there in 1548 for health reasons. Who can blame him? The place is lovely. In fact, I feel a cough coming on… think I could stay there for a while, too?

All those lovely wood beams, just enough light to not be bothersome, a writing desk? What else do I need, exactly? I'm pretty sure there's a pub nearby. We're set. Let's go.

Mint House has some murder in its history, too, with the most frequently-repeated story being that of Thomas Dight and his mistress. It’s stated that in 1586 he visited the area and stayed at the Mint House for a hunting trip. When he returned, he found his mistress in bed with someone else, and in his rage, killed them both.

The other story, which I can’t confirm, is that a man jumped out a second-storey window and was promptly killed by several horsemen in 1607. Two different websites mention the incident, but use slightly different names for the victim each time—and I cannot find references to the man under either name. Either details have been lost to the mists of time over the years, or the story is a legend (completely made up) that has come to be considered part of the property's history.

Strangers’ Hall: A Norwich Gem

Strangers’ Hall in Norwich has been consistently populated since the 14th century. A beautiful, Tudor-style home, it’s been host to many important people during its lifetime—including many merchants and politicians, all of whom have added their own little touches to the place.

The name of the dwelling is derived from the 16th century Flemish and Walloon refugees that settled in the area after fleeing religious persecution. Some lived in the building during that time, and they were called Strangers by the residents of Norwich. The textile industry in the area was suffering badly and it was because of this influx of refugees that it gradually recovered (the name “Strangers’ Hall” wasn’t used for the Hall until the 19th century).

Times were not always kind to Strangers’ Hall. During the 19th century, the place was inhabited by Catholic priests, who left in the mid 1890s. It spent several years empty and in a derelict state, until being purchased by one Leonard Bolingbroke in 1899.

Mr. Bolingbroke was part of Norfolk’s Archaeological Society. He was a bit of a collector, and when he opened the Hall as a folk museum in 1900, he was introducing something fresh and new to his visitors: a museum displaying items from everyday life. He handed over the keys to the City of Norwich in 1922, and the Hall remains a jewel in its crown to this day.

Last, But Not Least…

Some bonus spots for you lot.

This postcard shows a view of Elm Hill, a cobbled street in Norwich that’s known for its many Tudor-era buildings. The oldest building on the street is The Britons Arms, which survived the massive fire of 1507. Over 700 houses went up in flames during that disaster.

London’s Marble Arch, which looks nothing like its initial plans—King George IV loved to spend money and had John Nash design the thing with all sorts of reliefs. His Majesty passed on before the Arch could be completed. Construction was put on hold for two years under William IV, who couldn’t believe how much this damned thing was costing and tried to dump the project into Parliament’s lap. No dice. When the Arch was finally completed in 1833, it was a far cry from the original design. It was supposed to have a bronze statue of the King placed on top—the one that's now in Trafalgar Square—and many more reliefs. So many more reliefs. If you want to know what the Marble Arch was supposed to look like, check out the model that's on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Westminster Abbey, or the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, has been around in some form or another since about 960. The existing building’s construction began in 1245. This is where royals tend to get married and buried, and has been for centuries. Ah, tradition.

Lastly, The Foreign Office, which you all can research yourselves as I ran out of steam at this point and became distracted by reading about Urbain Grandier again. Horrifying demises of various historical figures are a thing I get stuck on for months at a time, and most don’t have as perfect a film representative as… Oliver Reed. I really need to watch that goddamn movie. Look at this.

Anyway. Yes. The Foreign Office in Whitehall. Lovely. Over two-hundred years of exciting foreign affairs action! Now called the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, it’s the thing that looks after the UK’s interests in other countries and deals with national security stuff. Very important. Possibly interesting to the right people.

I’m not the right people! You're on your own for this one, lovelies.

Anywho. As usual, if you enjoyed my ramblings and feel like tossing a coin to your writer now and then, subscribe to this blog or try out the tip jar.

Until next time!