Friday, 10 June 2022

Clunch … a soft stone building material …

 

I'd never come across Totternhoe Clunch before … so I needed to find out exactly what it was …


Totternhoe Quarry

The connection came from Berwick Church, where we find the Bloomsbury Group murals … which have recently been repaired, conserved and restored to last for at least another 100+ years …



my WEP Narcissus post was a 'Hilary - creative by-product' of learning more about the restoration of these wall paintings …



The Chancel - murals painted by the
Bloomsbury Group

the Bloomsbury Group included Virginia Woolf – who I think you might have heard about … her sister Vanessa Bell and other members lived nearby … hence the artistic connection ...




Berwick, East Sussex church

I have family connections in the area … and so am always interested to hear what's going on over at the Church.





The new porch being built

At the moment having restored, repaired and ensured the Church can 'survive in good order' well into the 22nd century … they are now building an outer porch, to form an air-lock between the interior of the church, and the great outdoors.




Berwick Church has applied for and been given money from the Heritage Lottery Fund – so the conservation and repair works need to conform to, and comply with, best practise …



Our iconic white cliffs - this area is very often
used in films, tv programmes and commercials

Along the south coast of England we have this geological band of chalk – as you'll know 'The White Cliffs of Dover', or here, near Eastbourne, … the iconic cottages above Cuckmere Haven …



Whether Clunch was excavated here in the last 2,000 years or so (it probably was – but flint-stone was more important) we'll never know … but the recorded Totternhoe Clunch is to be found just north-west of London …



Totternhoe Castle mound
(Norman period 11th century)

I looked at Totternhoe Castle mound and thought – that looks like Dunstable Downs – where I briefly took some gliding lessons – off those chalk downs – many, many moons ago – small connections of this world.




Gliding down to the runway

both the Romans and Normans used this soft limestone, as it's easier to work … in more recent times 1700s!! - it has been used in Woburn Abbey.



There's a really fascinating information site from Stone Specialist about the stone called 'Totternhoe Clunch' … amazing history about the area and 'clunch'


Woburn Abbey


The approved builders for Berwick Church, under the auspices of English Heritage, have sourced this particular stone as meeting the standards required.


Wider angle showing further mural artwork
by the Bloomsbury group - painted during WW2

I suspect that you'll be getting another post using the information I've gleaned from the Stone Specialist …


As described - the light green
depicts chalk.  Beachy Head
is very near where I live.
So as I've been rather engrossed in other subjects – here's a post to tide me over, til I need to write a letter for WEP next week (see the side bar) …

Life is interesting to put it mildly … and recently it has had its odd moments – even today I nearly got off the beaten path again …



So I'd better get on and introduce you to 'clunch' – a new word to me … but more fascinating to learn about its history and present day usage …


Looking across the South Downs at Lewes,
c/o John Wallace


Here's to Totternhoe Clunch! Have happy weekends …






There's an excellent book on the Bloomsbury group at the Church ....  “Even more may be gained, from Peter Blee’s scholarly, perceptive, and beautifully produced account of The Bloomsbury Group in Berwick Church.





Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

28 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Do you know, although I was aware of a church in connection with the Bloomsbury crowd, I don't recall ever having known it as Berwick... and I had to go check maps because, of course, my reference is Berwick (as per 'on Tweed') up this way! I was fairly certain there was none of this going on there. Lots of other histories, just not that. Different stone, too. Fascinating stuff! YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

Truly fascinating - with rabbit holes to get lost down.
Many, many thanks.

Sandra Cox said...

Huh. Now I know why they are called the white cliffs of Dover:)
Have a great weekend, Hils.

Liz A. said...

It's nice when older buildings can do restoration work.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

The Totternhoe area is one where I sometimes go walking and the castle mound is at this time of year abloom with wild orchids. I've also mentioned clunch a few times on my blog and once got a comment which revealed that "clunch" is a dialect word in Lincolnshire and it means someone who plays their cards close to their chest and never reveals anything. The only connection I can make is that the stone is quite soft and easily worked so can be cut very precisely so that the blocks fit together very closely with no gaps.

hels said...

I remember the Bloomsbury artists so well, especially Bell, Fry and Grant. But I don't remember them being involved in church murals. Do you know of a journal article I might read?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam - yes ... it is muddling isn't it - the two Berwicks. I've been to your Berwick - the castle there is imposing and that area is historically very interesting ... very different too.

@ EC - yes ... lots of rabbit holes to get lost down ... with such fascinating history ...

@ Sandra - yes ... that's why they're called the 'White Cliffs of Dover' ... we're about 65 miles westwards down the coast from Dover - but the chalk is here too - as you can see in the photo ...

@ Liz - it's taken a lot of fund-raising to achieve this high standard of conservation to the Church ... they've done a wonderful job.

@ John - oh good I hoped you'd comment about Totternhoe - how wonderful to see the orchids. I've just been and checked in re 'clunch' on your blog ... the best one is 31 October 2011 - yes your blog has been there for over 11 years with its beautiful photos.

I didn't come across an obvious derivation for 'clunch' ... so thank you for that. The stone is 'easy' to cut and use - but not weather-proof over centuries ... Again I enjoyed finding out about it ...

@ Hels - oh yes the Bloomsbury Group in Sussex - and these murals are very well known. I did a brief search on the net - there's quite a lot available to look at ... for an in-depth article I need to check a few things - I'll email you. I'd ask you to note that the conservation work has only started in the last couple of years ... so many of the photos are pre the conservation work ...

Thanks for your interest ... cheers Hilary

Damyanti Biswas said...

Such lovely sites Hilary! I love 'The White Cliffs of Dover,' it is so mesmerising!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Clunch is a new word to me, Hilary, although I notice that John says that he has mentioned it on his blog. I have either forgotten it or perhaps it was before I started to follow his blog. In any event, it's an interesting discourse today, all going to prove the old adage that you are never too old to learn. I will eagerly await the next circuitous bend around which your inquiring mind takes us! With my very best wishes - David

Jacqui Murray said...

In another life, I would have enjoyed being a geologist. How amazing to uncover history in the earth.

Inger said...

I miss ancient churches living in the U.S. The white cliffs are beautiful. Thank you, Hilary, for helping me with my continuing enjoyment of all things English. So much history...

John Holton said...

Interesting. You say your family attends church there, or did I get that wrong? It's great that they're keeping it up like that.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Now this was intereesting because it was all new to me

Debbie D. said...

Interesting to learn about Totternhoe Clunch. Old churches are always fascinating and I'm in awe of their architectural splendours. Thanks for the tour!

Keith's Ramblings said...

I must have passed this church many a time when visiting the Berwick Inn, and when on the train to Brighton but I had no idea of it's historic importance. I feel a visit coming on!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Damyanti - thank you ... it is a lovely area - those 'cliffs' are here in Sussex, not further east in Kent at Dover ... but they are stunning, and yes mesmerising ...

@ David - yes 'clunch' was a new word to me ... while John's post is a very informative summary on a few subjects. I do rather go off the normal path posting about one subject ... but I learn too ... and am always glad people are happy to follow along.

@ Jacqui - yes I think I'd love to have a career in something similar - I really enjoy learning as I post and live life today ...

@ Inger - I know how much you love our English countryside, and can easily relate to my posts ... always good to see you ...

@ John - thank you ... and yes the family supports the Church - it's a fabulous church to be around, while the vicar, Peter Blee, read Natural Sciences at St John's, Cambridge before training as an Anglican priest ... we are lucky to have him in place at the Church. He's written a book - 'The Bloomsbury Group in Berwick Church' - an excellent and scholarly one.

@ Jo-Anne - thank you ...

@ Debbie - I'm glad you enjoyed the post ... we're lucky to have so much history here in the UK - of which a great deal is recorded ...

@ Keith - yes ... but it's just south of the Cricketeers pub - not the Berwick Inn ... it's a stunning area, with good walks around ... so please go and enjoy, see the amazing updates they've made at the church ...

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting - we always need to keep our brains open to life in general ... as well as learning - so much wonderful information available ... cheers - Hilary

Botanist said...

Well, I learned a new word today. Clunch. At first it sounds too soft to be a durable building material, but I read that once it dries out after being quarried it hardens up.

hels said...

Hilary, bless your heart. Once I knew what I was looking for, it was easy.

Joanne said...

I did a double-take on the word "clunch". My eyes kept wanting to read "church" but I thought to myself that you would not have misspelled something twice in one post. So - very interesting amount of history in that area and so much to research, preserve, and present. You do find the darndest things!

Dan said...

I love posts like this, Hilary. I learn a lot of things. I've always heard about the White Cliffs of Dover, but I never knew what they were.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ian - yes ... I'd never come across it (the word 'clunch') before - and yes it was an easy building material, which was utilised by the Romans and the Normans in this country, before better weathering materials were made use of ...

@ Hels - glad I've satisfied your curiosity/request ... thank you.

@ Joanne - sorry ... it's an unusual word - glad you had trust in me! We're lucky (well I think so) that history does seem to abound here and we're always finding new things - which I enjoy posting about ...

@ Dan - thanks ... I know you enjoy this sort of post ... the White Cliffs of Dover and our area here in Sussex ... is a huge band of earthy type of limestone that stretches under the English Channel into France ...

Thank you for being here ... further ideas are 'brewing' - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a lovely church! So nice that the restoration work will keep the church in great condition well into the 22nd century. :)

bazza said...

Of all the works by any members of the Bloomsbury Group, I love the work of Duncan Grant. I'm not sure but I think the cafe in the Tate has a mural of his featuring swimmers. Fabulous stuff!
(Incidentally, we spent the Jubilee weekend with friends in Eastbourne. They had the Presidential Suite at the Grand!. We were at the more modest Burlington.)
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s righteously rebarbative Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Nick Wilford said...

I was aware of the Bloomsbury Group, but not in connection to Sussex, my old stomping ground. Great photos and I'm glad the church is being preserved for future generations. "Clunch" is new to me too - I might well use it as the name of a villain because it sounds quite sinister!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth - it's a beautiful part of the world - and they've done an amazing job securing the art's future, as well as the church.

@ Bazza - Duncan Grant painted some wonderful works ... and yes 'Bathing' is an especially iconic piece ... as you say 'fabulous stuff'!

Again you were in sunny Eastbourne - a stone's throw away ... one day we'll meet up - perhaps at the Towner Gallery ... ?

Good heavens the Presidential Suite - the Burlington isn't bad ... and at least only next door.

@ Nick - yes up the coast from Brighton ... Charleston, Berwick Church and Rodmell for Virginia Woolf ... stunning area as you'll know.

Thankfully the artworks have been conserved properly with interesting historical finds ... then the church being completely renovated and revamped for this day and age ... they've done a beautiful job.

Clunch could definitely be a character couldn't it ... you'd be interested to learn where Svengali originated ...

Cheers to three of you - so pleased you enjoyed the post - thank you - Hilary

Deborah Weber said...

Clunch, White Cliffs, long-ago gliding lessons - so much goodness in this post Hilary. I always love stepping into your world.

Sandra Cox said...

You took gliding lessons? How cool is that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deborah - thank you ... I'm always happy when people enjoy being here ... appreciate your thoughts. I'm always amazed how much inter-connectedness there is ...

@ Sandra - yes I was quite keen for a while ... gliding is just wonderful ... especially over the Cornish cliffs ...

Cheers to you both - Hilary