Thursday, 12 April 2012

Down memory lane


I haven't been sleeping very well these last few nights.  This medieval lane runs below and right at the back of our compact but adorable city apartment, right along the perimeter of the old city wall.  Our rooms are about 50 feet away from it.



The police dubbed it 'Slippery Lane' due to  - yes, you guessed it - it's slipperiness, caused by the lack of  footfall which allows the algae and pigeon shit to accumulate on the ancient flag stones.  There are plenty of pigeons still flapping around down there, and it is a favourite place for hawks to eat their kills in peace, because the public no longer have access.

It leads to the river - or it used to, before more building work in the early nineteenth century. Those blocked off doors and windows date from the seventeenth century.

It's real name is 'Ducking Stool Lane', because - as you might also guess - this was the way down to the river and the ducking-stool torture inflicted on witches and (more likely) 'cuckolds' who the male elders of the City of Bath managed to get convicted.  Think Vincent Price.  Think Civil War.



That old door at the end of the lane leads to the hidden, underground and late medieval street I have been telling you about.  In the good old days, when men were men and witches were witches (or cuckolds), access to the river bank and the chair would have been unhindered.

You may not know it, but you have probably seen this desolate little lane many times before.  It used to be a favourite spot for film locations of the 'Jack the Ripper' variety.

I'll let you know when I go down into the hidden street - as I most surely will.  It is owned by a property developer, and I will not let him rest until I have been down and photographed it.

This is where I live.  I have a right to go down there - don't I?

17 comments:

  1. P.S. I thought I heard thunder over Bath today, but I just heard on the news that it was a Typhoon fighter breaking the sound barrier. Reminds me of my youth, when they all did it.

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  2. Right on! Tell the property developer that the world is waiting for the photographs. I am fascinated by anything old and truly hope (to satisfy my own curiosity) that you will not be denied access. If he turns out to be stubborn, just let him know that you know an angry German .. Don't menschon ze var!

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  3. Just out of curiosity, why would a property developer be interested in the hidden street? As a future tourist attraction? I look forward to your eventual success in photographing it -- and your report to us!

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    1. It's the vast complex of buildings above it that he is interested in. It is because nobody is interested in the other stuff that it has survived for so long. Sometimes it's better to be ignored - I speak from experience.

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  4. Fascinating! I thought perhaps you were going to say this lane was pervading your dreams, causing your slumber to be fitful.

    megan

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    1. No, the first sentence - though true - was completely off topic.

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  5. I do hope Madame Tussaud doesn't get hold of it.

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    1. It would be a good addition to a city tour, though.

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  6. How fascinating. Love the green hues in the last photo. Definitely want to see what lies behind that door.

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  7. Perfect Friday 13th post, Tom. xx

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  8. have you got an old police whistle Tom.... if you have.... creep out on a misty night and blow it hard!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. How wonderful to have that little lost street so close to your compact but adorable city apartment, Tom. I would give my right arm to get through that ominous looking door and into the medieval street beyond.

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    1. They probably don't want to let people down there for Health and Safety reasons - they're scared you might break your right arm.

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  10. Why don't you break in (gently), have an explore, take the photographs and bypass the landlord altogether?
    All it will take is a screwdriver and some wine, but only enough to overcome any heebie jeebies and to say in an authoritarian tone, "I have a RIGHT to down here."
    And say gidday to the old ducks for me, poor dears.

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    1. The idea has already occurred to me, Sarah, but I will wait until I have exhausted the appropriate channels, as they say... Anyway, I would scare the shit out of anyone going down there to see what what was going on - I've broken up black magic covens in the same way before now.

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