Select Page

What do jacquard cards and pigsties have in common?  Well, nothing really, except that I’m writing about both in today’s blog!!

Today we uncovered some history in our garden, and I found, by chance, a link to a blog showing jacquard cards used in an architectural way. 

First, whilst I can still remember it (!), here’s the link for the blog…

I just love that jacquard cards have been used in this architectural way!  There is a musical connection here – the rolls of paper that pianolas use to play on were developed in a similar way to the jacquard loom cards, so it’s not quite so bizarre a connection to have the jacquard cards at the Oslo Opera House.  It is a binary code which means either yes, (where there is a hole) or no (where there is just the card). 

In weaving, there are not so many people who know how to translate the pictorial image into the binary code which the loom translates back into the pictorial form, and whilst we can try to change this in a limited way through teaching, it also kind of makes me very proud that I am one of those few and can pass this knowledge on….  I am also very proud to own my 4 sample jacquard hand-looms, and the beast that got me into jacquard in the first place, my industrial power loom from the 1930s, Hattie. 

The magic in the cards has enthralled me since I first set eyes on Hattie back in 2002, and I love that the picture is hidden in plain view within the series of holes in the cards.  It is a hidden language, only expressed through the physicality of weaving, but that expression is vast!  Our modern computerised jacquard hand-looms are wonderful with their ease of production, but there is something special and fundamental about the processes of reading and punching your own cards before the revealing of the picture during the weaving on the loom. 

OK, now for the pigsty bit……

Whilst the rest of the UK, and quite a lot of America, are settling down in front of the TV to watch the opening game of the World Cup for our two sides, I have just been revelling in the uncovering of a piece of history at our house.  Our house is fairly old, 1773 or older, and we have a pigsty.  Actually, we discovered today that we have two pigsties.  What we thought was an outside toilet for a couple of cottages which were demolished at least 30 years ago, turns out to have been converted into two toilets from a second pig-sty in our garden.  Although that’s interesting to us, that’s not what I’m excited about. 

What we discovered was hidden underneath some header stones on the outer wall of the sty. 

3 of the 4 external pig feeding troughs

3 of the 4 external pig feeding troughs

This is apparently quite rare these days.  The hand-carved stone external feeding troughs were where the slops were chucked and led directly into the glazed troughs inside the pig sty.  Our sties have 4 of these, still in pristine condition, thanks to the stone blocks which have protected them for a long time.  So now we need to cut back all the undergrowth and buddleia which has grown up around them, so that we can show them in their true glory! 

We don’t know the full story of this house.  According to one source, we have a priest’s hole, which was a hidey hole for the catholic priests of rich houses to hide in when Cromwell’s Roundhead forces came searching for them back in the English Civil War of the late 1600s.  This house belonged to an estate, and wasn’t the main residence, being more of a farmhouse, but rumour has it that there was a priest’s hole to the side of the inglenook fire-place upstairs behind a walk-in cupboard in one of the bedrooms.  It was already knocked through to make a larger wardrobe/cupboard when we moved in, and we converted it into an ensuite shower room for one of our guest bedrooms.  If that rumour is true, then the house was built during or before the English Civil War, making it another 80 – 100 years older than 1773.  It has very ancient oak timber beams holding up all the ceilings, and the roof, so we know it’s old, but how old still remains a mystery. 

Enough for now.  If you are a football fan, I hope you enjoyed the game, whatever the result!!  As for me, I’m going to sit out by our fish pond, and enjoy the wonderful weather and the singing of the birds whilst the roads are really quiet!