Sunday, October 22, 2006


Betty Gill on EBay.

Today I am writing more about EBay business - or more precisely the end of a deal.
Last Thursday I listed a water colour painting.
I bought it some time ago at the boot sale in Dorking because I liked it.
It shows a view of The South Downs.
I feel sure that it is a view of Mount Caburn near Lewes.

All my childhood holidays were spent camping on Beddingham Hill looking across to Mount Caburn. The picture does not have the same view as we saw every day; I felt that the artist had been sitting beyond Furlongs Farm to achieve her painting.

When I got home I realised that the artist was Betty Gill. I was excited by this and wondered if she were the wife of Eric Gill, an artist of high renown. Internet research revealed that Eric Gill had a daughter Betty.

Now I will return to Furlongs Farm for a moment. The farm buildings were rented by artists. Old Farmer Freeman used to chuckle about them and Dad picked up his style and the people in the farm were referred to as "the artists" spoken with a strong Sussex accent, accentuating the r.

I really had little to do with them, but I know that when we did all meet they were pleasant and probably Dad and Mum enjoyed having contact with such Bohemian people.

I know now that some of them were artists of note; the best known being Eric Ravillious. He was dead by the time we took our holidays there. Peggy Angus, who we did know, has also had exhibitions in London.

So, I had a picture which might have been of Mount Caburn from Furlongs Farm. There were influential artists at the farm. My painting was by Betty Gill, whose father was one of the most prominent artists of the 2oth century.

Naturally I assumed that my Betty Gill was Eric Gill's daughter, Betty.

Perhaps you would like to see the picture now.

This is Bill's photograph of the picture for EBay.
Bill added the artist's name.
It is not framed - just a painted piece of cartridge paper which he lay on a blue backing card for the photograph.

I believed that if I had a work by somebody from an important family I should let it go. So I listed it on EBay with a modest opening bid of £24.95.

Soon I began to get some inquiries.

Hello. I am interested to know what makes you think that this watercolour was done by Betty, daughter of Eric Gill 1882/1940 and where the G came from as that is not in her name and in 1934 she was living in Capel-y-ffin and had been there since 1924. I would be very interested if you can throw some light on this. Have you any history,like where it came from etc. Many Thanks. Eric Williams.

Well, I thought - what does he know! I replied with everything I thought I knew, including the fact that Eric Gill stayed at Capel y Ffyn for only a few years and by the time the picture was painted he was not there.
I also assumed that his daughter would have become independent by this time (aged 29 in 1934) and she would have wanted to live away from her father who was, apart from his art, not a man to be respected, with some very strange ideas about sex and was a known paedophile, abusing Betty from an early age.

Well, my corrspondent has written again to tell me that he knows a great deal about Betty Gill (Eric Gill's daughter). She was his mother - Eric was his grandfather.

Hello Paula. I thank you for your quick response to my question and think I should come clean and respect your frankness. I was born in the Monastery at Capel-y-ffin and Betty was my mother, she married David Pepler and they had five children sadly David died very young in 1934 and in 1938 she married Harley Williams and from that marriage came three children myself and 2 girls one older than me and one younger. She was named Elizabeth Angela Williams nee Gill daughter of Arthur Eric Rowton Gill and Ethel Gill nee Moore. Betty as she was known was born in 1905 and died 1956. Yes E.G. moved to Piggott's in 1928 but Betty stayed in Capel-y-ffin with David farming and in 1935 she was Matron and Mary Winefride Reeves was Principal at the school that was started in the Monastery that closed at the start of the war and up to her death it was a home for a large family. A Youth Hostel. & a Guest House. I have asked three of her daughters and they have never heard of Betty using a G as an initial in her name. She did do a number of engravings five or six I believe. I could go on. If you have any questions please ask. All The Best. Eric.

It seems poignant that Betty held her father in high enough esteem to name her son after him.

Of course my first need was to cancel the listing. It was not what I had purported it to be. But there was a bid by this time, from somebody in the USA. I had to get in touch with him and explain the situation.

This afternoon the bidder has been in touch.

Yes please retract my bid. Thank you for your honesty and integrity. I am a museum curator in Dallas and working on a Gill paper and exhibition. Is there a way you can forward the information on how to contact Betty Gill's son so that I might interview him? I'm interested in Gill scholarship and I believe he needs to be recognized for his work here in the US through exhibition and publication

So, as far as I am concerned all is well. The bid has been retracted and the picture is no longer listed on EBay.

I have suggested that the American museum curator send me his EMail address which I can pass on to Eric Gill's grandson and hopefully the two of them will be able to corrspond and share information. It is nice to think that my picture might have led to that at least.

And I still have the picture. We will find a frame for it and I shall enjoy it on the wall. It will make me think of my own family and our holidays near Furlongs Farm, even if it is not Mount Caburn at all. And I will also think of the 2 Betty Gills and feel glad that this episode has brought them both into my life. I am glad to have dallied a while with Eric Gill - though perhaps I am glad he is not actually here to dally with. I know that some of his artwork is special, though some of it is rather deep and difficult. He created the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral where we went with Ashley and Ekatarina in the summer. Perhaps I should go back and have another look.

One day I might discover who Betty G Gill was. Maybe she was somebody at Furlongs Farm in the 1930s, but probably one of the less influential artists. It is a nice painting, but I acknowledge it is not a great work of art.

So, this EBay deal has all fallen through. But not every EBay problem is a disaster. All the people concerned have behaved well and been helpful and thoughtful (including me!). It ends up having been a pleasure to work through it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006



Two weeks ago we spent the morning in Devizes. Devizes is the nearest town to Market Lavington, home of Roger and Sue.
Bill and I have been visiting Devizes now for 35 years so it begins to feel like part of our world.

Devizes is a lovely town, not quaint, but having a lovely mix of of things to do, things to see and intersting architecture. It is a small market town in north Wiltshire, probably best known for the Kennet and Avon Canal's Caen Hill flight of 29 locks (picture lower down the page), which rise 237 feet in 2½ miles. Or maybe because it has one of the best breweries in the country, or even because it is such a good name for limericks!

The brewery is Wadworths and their most famous beer is Wadworths 6X. When we first used to visit Devizes barrels of beer were hauled round the town on carts pulled by handsome shire horses. I don't think that happens now, except perhaps on special occasions.

The limerick verses can raise a chuckle - but fear not I am not going to print one! Suffice it to say that the second line has to end with a rhyme for Devizes and "sizes" fits the bill admirably. The limerick talks of a gentleman who has 2 parts of his anatomy of different sizes - and we don't mean ears! The largest of the 2 wins magnificent prizes, thus providing the last line of the limerick with a rhyme for Devizes.
I am sure you can fill in the missing bits in between.

But on our last visit we were not thinking of canals, beer or poetry.
We just wanted a gentle stroll in the town and a browse through the delights (or otherwise) of the charity shops and the antiques centre.
I found a few booklets about interesting places in a charity shop that I hope an EBay customer will want one day.

There were 2 charity shops in this pedestrianised street known as The Brittox (above). I am sure Sue can remind me of the derivation of this unusual street name for she is good on such things - and remembers what she has learned.
The shops are mostly similar to those in any town, but generally a bit smaller than in the big cities. There are no big department stores.

If you look along the many turnings off the main street you can find alleyways and lovely old buildings.

In the centre of the town is the market place. Normally we try to find a space to park in the market place, though not on a Thursday because that is the day the market sets up.
There are 2 monuments in the market place.

This picture above was taken by Roger whilst Bill and I were busy in the antiques shop.
Across the market place you can see The Bear Hotel and to its right is the town hall. We have been there for antiques fairs some times.
The antiques shop in Devizes is a lot of fun. It is called Upstairs Downstairs and there are a lot of stairs leading up three floors and down to the cellar. The old house is divided into many rooms and each room is rented by a different dealer.
It is a place to spend many hours in if you want to see everything.
I found that the prices were very reasonable mostly, meaning that things were priced much as I would price them.
Bill and I came out with an odd collection of things. There is a slipper box - a box covered in brass with the word SLIPPERS embossed on it, a n old tin of dried yeast, a dollies picnic set and a few other bits. I have still got to sort most of it out.

We didn't go to the canal on our last visit. The Kennet and Avon canal runs through the town in an area known as the wharf. This area has been smartened in recent years with a number of small specialist shops. On the May Day bank holiday it is the centre of activities for The Lions fun day.
The picture shows the canal just outside Devizes. Devizes is on high ground and for the barges on the canal to get into town they have to negotiate a massive series of 29 locks. The short distance can take half a day.
I hope you have enjoyed a brief look at Devizes with me.
Bill and I returned the next day to a sort of boot sale in The Shambles - now I know that quaint old name has to do with butchery and slaughtering, so not so quaint really.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Marlborough in Wiltshire

Two weeks ago, on a very wet morning such as we are experiencing today, we were in Marlborough, Wiltshire.
Marlborough is pronounced Maul - bruh.
Here is a little historical background to the town centre.
The High Street is the A4 road, the main road from London to the West country.
During the rebuilding of the town after the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 which destroyed almost the entire town, the high street became what is claimed to be the widest in England. This allows ample space for a local market which is held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Every summer the town holds a jazz festival with local pubs, clubs, hotels and various other venues playing host to live jazz music over the course of a weekend. Every October the high street is closed for the two Saturdays either side of October 11 for the Marlborough Mop Fair. This was originally a hiring fair for agricultural workers seeking employment but now has become a funfair. The right of the town to close the road to hold the fair is set down in the Charter. (Wikipedia web site).

This picture shows the High Street and the regular twice weekly market. The traffic passes either side of the stalls.

This is the town hall. We arranged to meet Sue here. We had browsed some charity shops and found a couple of antique shops, while Sue had been searching for some new trousers.
Marlborough looked to be a good place for clothes shopping, especially if you have high expectations and money to spend. Sue's expectations were for neat trousers at a reasonable price.

This in one of the disused chapels in the town, down towards the River Kennet. It is now an antiques centre. The original stained glass windows have survived and looked lovely. There were cabinets on the floor of the chapel with some lovely things and in the balcony area were cheaper more modern collectables.
It was still raining when we came out and we battled against the wind along a river side path.
We had seen a Christian Bookshop cafe earlier, by the river.

We have eaten in a Christian Bookshop cafe a few times - there is a good one in Horsham. The food is basic and not really any cheaper than anywhere else. But what I appreciate is that it is manned by volunteers and profits are ploughed back into church funds (all denominations) and towards various good causes.
We enjoyed our jacket potatoes at a table overlooking the river and watched ducks being fed bread by a little girl from the bridge.
After lunch, Sue had some more shopping to do. Bill and I made our way along the main street to another disused church. This one is now used as a craft centre and also serves food. We bought a few bits to be presents for the children.

As we walked along the High Street we realised it was exceedingly quiet. This was just the moment when the road had been closed in preparations for the annual Mop Fair (see the wikipedia piece above).
This lovely wide roadway through Marlborough was completely empty - and bother we had left the cameras in the car!
In fact we had not bothered with photography all day for the rain was falling so hard. The pictures I have put here are all from various websites.
But we should have had the cameras at this time for such a rarely viewed and lovely scene scene, especially as the weather had begun to brighten up.
By the time we came out of the craft centre the road had filled again with men setting up all the paraphanalia of a fun fair.
I have not mentioned what Marlborough is famous for, because it was not part of our day. There is a famous fee paying school at Marlborough. There are lots of lovely old buildings, but all we saw was a covered footbridge which crosses the busy road from one part of the school to another. Websites suggest that the college chapel would be worth a visit one day.

So, that was Marlborough. Sue has 2 pairs of trousers and we have a couple of books from a charity shop which I have enjoyed looking at. One is a 1900s nature study book with wonderful illustrations of children in the countryside. Later on I will find more pleasure with them when I put them up for sale.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The workings of EBay

If you want to see the fruits of today's labours you will have to wait until tomorrow.
I have been working very hard today preparing items to list on EBay.
If EBay is a closed book for you then I will explain it a little more.
EBay is an international auction site. People from all over the world list items they wish to sell and others bid. At any given moment there are thousands or millions of EBay activities going on.
For us it is a great hobby that gives a great deal of satisfaction. We love to hunt for things to sell - sometimes going no further than our own shelves. I love to know that on the whole I have got things right and people want to buy what we have on offer.
It is my policy to have things for sale at all times - mainly because I feel a bit lost when there is nothing to check. I describe everything carefully and put a photograph with each item. I choose that my things stay listed for 10 days and then the auction ends and the highest bidder has won the item. I send them an invoice and they pay and then I post off the book or whatever it is.
When I have been paid I write a brief feedback on the deal so that everybody else can see that the buyer was reliable. The buyer should then leave a feedback for us when they have received their item so that people all round the world can see that we are people to trust.
Occasionally things go wrong of course and people are deserving of a negative feedback; too many negatives and EBay ban people from trading.
But on the whole the people I have been in communication are friendly and helpful and I enjoy contact with them and occasionally a sort of friendship develops.
I think you can find almost anything to buy on EBay. My own purchases tend to be limited to things connected with the family history - postcards and souvenirs of the places frequented by both Bill and me and our ancestors. Its easy - just type in the name of the place you are interested in where it says search, and off you go. You will find a list of all the items for sale at that particular moment connected with that place. People buy books, clothes, household goods, cameras, CDs, even cars and houses.
There are charges to sell on EBay, but not to buy. We pay for everything we list. This is mostly very little - 20p for things which have an opening bid of less than £5. There is also a charge based on the price that something sells at, which is also quite a low charge.
Sometimes EBay offer a day when you can list anything for 10p. There is such a day tomorrow. So we have been working hard to take advantage of the chance to save some money. It makes good sense to list things with higher opening bids which might cost perhaps 70p normally.
I shall list all these things tomorrow afternoon and you might like to see the range of things we offer.
I am sure I need not give advice on how to navigate round websites but I will give just a few brief instructions for anybody who is less familiar with things.
After your first visit you could save my page in your favourites and then it would be very easy to find.
But for a first time I suggest you use your normal search engine (we use Google) and search for EBay UK.
Then you will see across the top Welcome to EBay.
Under that are various bits and on the right hand side you will see Advanced Search.
Go into that and on the left hand side you are given some options.
Choose By Seller.
Then you you will be given a space in which to type a sellers username.
Our username is monkland119
I suggest you do not have the box ticked for completed listings, although you might start to get interested in the final selling prices of things.
When you search you will find the username and on the right hand side is a box View seller's Items.
Click this and there will be my list of items for sale.
There are things for sale right now of course. the auctions for them finish in the morning.
This is the page you could put in your favourites.
I have lots of people's lists in my favourites - a combination of being nosey, I guess, and it always gives me a chance to be friendly and make comments about their good deals.
Maybe you will start buying and selling too. And if not, you may understand better just why this hobby is so time consuming and such fun.....did I mention profitable too!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



Yesterday I mentioned that we has passed by the ancient temple of stones on our way to Wiltshire.
Many people pass Stonehenge every day.
It now seems most unfortunate that over 2,000 years ago the ancient Britains should build their stunning temple to the sun at a spot where 2 major trunk roads now meet up, with Stonehenge standing in the angle where the 2 roads join.
There are dreams of making things better - a new road further away perhaps or even a tunnel for the road. These ideas would be costly to fulfil and I doubt that I shall ever see it happen.
The full purpose of Stonehenge and the way that it was constructed are shrouded in mystery. Over 2,000 years ago it would have required the work of thousands of men. We know that the stones themselves were carried about 200 miles from West Wales. They are huge stones, weighing a great deal and must have been difficult to manouvre across the country and then into place on the Stonehenge site. One can only wonder at the techniques used to lift the cross stones at the top into position.
What we do know is that at sunrise on the longest day - the Summer Solstice, the sun rises exactly over the most important stone. There are still people today who claim to be Druids and for that night only people are allowed to perform ancient Druid rites amongst the stones.
Every other day visitors must now keep behind a fence circling the stones.
It was not always so.

There are many web sites giving information about Stonehenge. Wikipedia is very good for basic facts.

Although we pass by quite often, there is still a tingle within at being so close to ancient history.

And in 1965 it was still possible to feel really close to the ancient Druids.
This picture was taken on 15th August, the day after our wedding.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound......
Today is just like the first day at home after a holiday.
We have been on the go for 11 days now. First we had 4 lovely days in Wiltshire with Roger and Sue, and Simon too.
A couple of days after we came home from Wiltshire, Ashley came to us to stay for a break, though not a rest.... we were busy a lot of the time.
This morning he went back to Bangor. We all jumped in the car to take him to the station and the radio came on, playing Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel. How very apt.
In our own home I have made a start on getting up to date with the huge pile of things that have been bought to sell during the last 2 weeks.
It is a lovely bright autumn day; fortunately there have been quite a lot of lovely days.
But the day we drove to Wiltshire was not one of them. We had chosen to take our time on the journey to enjoy some of the interesting places on the way. Sadly, in the torrential rain we were not tempted to get out of the car much to explore and so all the pictures are courtesy of websites.
The route starts along familiar roads of West Sussex of course. The first place we come to that is a bit outside our normal haunts is Petworth. It is not so very far away, but as a place to visit it is way out of our league!
A large proportion of the shops these days are antiques shops; these shops attract many foreign buyers and interior designers looking for just the right piece to create the right effect in a rich man's house. It is sad really that many basic shops have gone - where is the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker?

The photographer here seems to have found 2 peasants!
Apparently the monument was erected in grateful thanks to a benefactor who installed the first gas lighting in the small town.

The cottages within the town still retain a rustic charm. Petworth is a very attractive little place to look at, perched on a hill with quaint alleyways and old houses.

Petworth House.
We have never been inside, though it is open to the public.

Petworth is in Sussex.
We continued along the A272 westwards towards Hampshire. This road takes us through all sorts of little villages - a wondrous road, so good that a Dutch couple wrote a book about it. They described the history and peoples of places north and south of the road from its start at a crossroads in East Sussex to its end at Stockbridge, which we will reach later.
I am sure the Dutch couple would have not been out researching for their book on such a day as we were experiencing.

The largest town on the route is Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex. Wessex is (was) an area of England with its own king and King Alfred is the most famous. The statue of Alfred dominates the eastern end of the High Street.

The cathedral is lovely - on a sunny day with blue skies overhead.
It can look quite dark and brooding under grey skies.
We have not been in the cathedral for some time. These days there is an admission charge for tourists.

Facing the Cathedral Green are old buildings. We chose The Eclipse Inn for a midday meal. That is the timbered building in the picture.
We had plenty of time to study the interior! The barman had to apologise frequently to waiting customers that the meals were taking a long time to appear.

Eventually we tucked into our meals - a peasant's hotpot for Bill and salmon fishcakes for me. The food was actually quite good.
Then we scurried off through the rain to continue our journey, quite glad to leave Winchester behind. We had not found much pleasure in the historic buildings and the High Street shops seemed to be much the same as you would find in any town.
The next place of note that we came to was Stockbridge. I like Stockbridge; one single main street of interesting houses and shops, with a little stream flowing along one side with ducks swimming. We have stopped and eaten there a few times in the past.

I looked quite longingly at the tea rooms which had once been the home of Lily Langtry, actress and mistress of Edward VII.
I recalled a nice simple meal there some years ago.
Today we didn't stop - we didn't want a soaking.
We continued westwards passing the villages known as The Wallops - Upper, Middle and Lower Wallop.
All these villages are steeped in history - but nothing seems to fascinate as much as Stonehenge.
The stones draw tourists from all parts of the world every day of the year - including the very wet ones.
This ancient Druid temple to the rising sun is a fascinating image.
Nowadays the circle of standing stones is fenced off.
We remember a stunning visit to Stonehenge on 15th August 1965. This was the first full day of our married life together and our honeymoon was, just as it might be today, a series of trips to interesting places to learn about them and photograph them. In 1965 visitors wandered amongst the stones and could touch them and maybe pick up some of the ancient vibes through their fingers.

We certainly didn't stop at Stonehenge this time, though there were people there.
We were glad to hurry along to Market Lavington, Roger and Sue's village.
We turned off from the main street, crossed the little stream at Northbrook and climbed up to the top where Locksands Farm awaited us with a nice cup of tea. Thank you Roger and Sue!

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