Miss Clara Knight's Curious Collections is a journal style story that I have written to accompany my work of the same title. I am not a writer or a historian: this is a work of fiction, so please forgive any liberties I may have taken with the timeline. Relax with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and read on......

Series One: 'Seashore Specimens', finds Clara and her father exploring the southern coast of England for fascinating finds.........

 

And later, in Series Two 'A New Discovery', they then travel north to search for a mysterious ancient hoard...........

MISS CLARA KNIGHT'S CURIOUS COLLECTIONS:   
SERIES ONE: SEASHORE SPECIMENS

 

 PART ONE

Miss Clara Knight is a Victorian girl possessed of a particularly independent nature, who has spent many years travelling the country with her father, an eminent Professor of Archaeology. As they search for wonders of antiquity, Clara compiles treasured collections of her own………

My father, Professor Godfrey Knight

1/2

Our stay at the coast is proving to be utterly delightful. Father and I are presently the guests of one of our favourite cousins, Mr Idris Knight, and his wife, Cordelia and their small son, William.

Father’s cousin: Mr Idris Knight, Mrs Cordelia Knight and their son, Master William Knight

  

Father has been very preoccupied with the excavation of a nearby site of archaeological interest so, when my assistance there is not required, I have been exploring the seashore and the surrounding area. The sea here is a vast and breath-taking sight to behold as it is buffeted by the bracing sea breeze.

Seashore Specimens. (i). A most interesting find from our recent stay at the coast.

A very curious stone......

Seashore Specimens: Part Two

There are so many places to explore around the seashore: great stretches of pebble-strewn beaches, soaring cliffs to walk along with such spectacular views of the sea and sheltered areas with little rock pools just waiting to be investigated. I have already discovered many curious specimens of natural history to add to my collections.

Seashore Specimens: (ii). ‘I was especially pleased to discover this specimen during our

stay at the coast.’

A fine specimen of the skeleton of a fish....

Seashore Specimens: Part Three

Seashore Specimens (vii). ‘We have had such a splendid sojourn at the coast and I

have discovered some fine samples for my collection.

We are greatly enjoying this pleasant sojourn at the coast, visiting our relatives. Initially, the weather was extremely inclement and  blustery, but this did not deter me from my resolve to explore the seashore as soon as I was able.

A most unusual stone indeed.......

I do believe this may be a faerie ring...........

From time to time, Cordelia accompanies me on my walks. She is a very pleasant-natured person, with a similar sense of humour to my own. She is always keen to discuss the latest fashions in dresses and other attire. I will admit, I do find it very pleasant to discuss such frivolities. My apparel, though by no means passé, is by necessity rather more practical than fashionable.

Cordelia is always very fashionably attired...........

Cordelia and I went on a shopping trip to Town on Tuesday and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Our carriage was overflowing on our return with boxes and packages all full to the brim with gloves, fans, hats, lace ribbons and all kinds of delightful fripperies. Most of our purchases were Cordelia's, but for myself, I did choose a pair of soft kid gloves and a very pretty necklace made of Mother of Pearl carved into the sweetest little leaf-shapes. I shall pack the gloves away in my trunk and save them for our visit to Great Aunt Sophronia.

Cordelia bade me promise to wear my new necklace at dinner this evening. It will look very pretty indeed with my green silk gown.

My purchases from Town: a necklace of

Mother of  Pearl and a fine pair of long kid gloves....

Cordelia bought a great quantity of lace, hat pins and gloves as well as ribbons on our shopping expedition to town....

Seashore Specimens: Part Four

Cordelia is a naturally inquisitive person and is always aware of the latest news and gossip from all around the county. Yesterday she merrily regaled me with the tale of a recent occurrence: a shire horse belonging to a local farmer had broken free from its stable and gone for a mad gallop through the village market! Being an extremely large and rumbustious animal, it evaded all attempts at its capture for absolutely ages and caused a considerable amount of chaos. 


Eventually the horse paused to partake of luncheon in an apple orchard and was seized by a motley assortment of village lads and farm hands. Having eaten its fill, the animal was apparently quite content to return to the peace and quiet of its stable, quite unconcerned about the uproar it had caused.

Seashore Specimens (iii). ‘I found so many fascinating

specimens as I walked along the beach in the sunshine.’

A fine blue and pearly-white oyster shell.....

Seashore Specimens: Part Five

Father is fascinated by Roman artefacts.....

I believe I have had a compulsion to collect objects of interest ever since I was very young. Father has always encouraged me to do so

as he has always perfectly understood my interest. My mother passed away when I was quite small,  and father felt it his duty  to take me with him on his travels, along with my nurse, Hester,  and an ever-changing variety of colleagues, students and staff. It was definitely a most unusual upbringing for a child, but one that has always stood me in

good stead.

Hester

At present, Hester is taking the opportunity to visit her mother while we stay with our cousins and will be joining us again when we leave here to journey north. I look forward to seeing her again: I know she will be very interested to see all the curious treasures I have found along the seashore.

Seashore Specimens (iv). ‘Our stay at the coast has been utterly delightful.

I do wish it were possible for Father and I to stay here a while longer.’

The claw of a crab with stones found in the

rock pool area of the shore....

Seashore Specimens: Part Six

I am particularly looking forward to inspecting and cleaning the specimens that I found today along the seashore. This does usually takes quite some time, but it is such a worthwhile occupation. As I work, I become completely absorbed in the  meticulous task of revealing the mysteries of these little fragments of existence.

Cordelia's housekeeper, Mrs Butterfield, made it known quite early in our visit that she would much prefer me to perform this task outside, so consequently I have been granted the use of the gardener's bothy.

Cordelia’s Housekeeper, the indomitable Mrs Butterfield

Old Tom, the Gardener, has kindly supplied me with a quantity of brushes and cloths and some pails of water. I am quite used to spending many hours cleaning the finds in the open air when Father and I are at a dig, so I am perfectly content with this arrangement.

Old Tom, the Gardener with his wife, Rose

Once I have cleaned and polished these precious specimens to my satisfaction, I will list them all and examine them properly, making the appropriate notations and sketches of my observations. As soon as my initial research is completed I shall carefully pack them into tins and boxes so that they can come to no harm. I shall be able to study the whole of the collection in much greater detail when we are returned to our own home.

New-found treasures in sturdy tins and boxes.....

Seashore Specimens (v). ‘We have found our stay at the coast to be most productive. Father has promised that we will return here to continue our search for more interesting finds after our trip to visit Great Aunt Sophronia.’

Seashore Specimens: Part Seven

Earlier this week I spent some time helping Father at his archaeological dig. The site lies some two miles from where we are staying with Idris and Cordelia and it is a very pleasant walk through the lush green countryside. I understand my father's methods of working better than any of his colleagues or his students, so he has no qualms about trusting me to carry out even the most arduous of tasks.

Seashore Specimens (vi). Today was a blustery day indeed, yet I have still managed

to find many fascinating examples of natural history

 

Father is such a brilliant scholar, and spends so much time deep in thought, that he often finds he has managed to completely lose all track of time and place. Indeed, on occasion he can be extremely absent-minded. Only yesterday, the house was in complete disarray when he discovered he had mislaid some of his lecture notes

Could this be a hag stone? I shall ask Hester 's opinion when she returns.....

One of my favourite stone samples: it has such unusual markings - as if it had been struck by lightening.....

The whole household searched high and low in every nook and cranny. Mrs Butterfield even looked in the scullery. Eventually the papers were found under a plump velvet cushion on the chair on which Cordelia's pet cat was sleeping! The cat had been most reluctant to move and was particularly vociferous in her protests when she was

compelled to do so.

Seashore Specimens: Part Eight

Seashore Specimens (viii). Our stay at the coast has been most agreeable and our hosts have made us very welcome. Their young son, William, takes great delight in assisting me in my quest to discover little treasures along the seashore

 

Idris and Cordelia have a small son called William, (though he is generally known as Will). He has been very keen to assist me in my searches, and has even started his own little collection of special finds. He especially enjoys investigating the little pools that gleam amongst the rocks when the sun is shining. He loves to watch sea-creatures in their own habitat and greets every new discovery with whoops of delight

Will, looking very solemn in his Sunday best, 

with some of his precious finds.

 

This morning, I showed Will how to make paper boats to sail along the shallow pools of seawater that are formed in the sand when the tide goes out. We had a race with our boats, but mine sailed along so swiftly, it floated all the way along a narrow channel into the open sea and was lost. 

Will was very concerned that his vessel should not suffer the same fate, so I managed to retrieve it before it sailed too far. His paper boat was still partially dry, so I turned it upside-down so he could use it as a little basket for collecting seashells and interesting pebbles.
 

Will was very pleased with his piece of seaweed.....

Will has announced to his mother that he intends to be an explorer when he grows up. Cordelia is very amused and has promised she will buy him a special box for the safekeeping of his treasures.

Seashore Specimens (ix). ‘Father and I recently visited distant relatives: the Knights and their young son, William. Will is a sweet child who took great delight in searching for treasures as we walked along the seashore’.

                  THE END

© COPYRIGHT 2018 Joy Norman Mixed Media Artist  

Copyright of all art works remains with the artist Joy Norman. All design and written content remains the intellectual property of Joy Norman. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. 

................................................................................................................................

MISS CLARA KNIGHT'S CURIOUS COLLECTIONS:

 

SERIES TWO: A NEW DISCOVERY

 

PART ONE

Miss Clara Knight is a Victorian girl possessed of a particularly independent nature, who has spent many years travelling the country with her father, an eminent Professor of Archaeology. As they search for wonders of antiquity, Clara compiles treasured collections of her own………

My father, Professor Godfrey Knight

We have now left the kind hospitality of Cordelia, Idris and Will to journey inland. I was rather downhearted to be leaving our charming cousins and their delightful home with its beautiful view of the sea, but our trip could be postponed no longer.

All has been swiftly packed away in readiness.....

We are travelling quite some distance to a site that, according to my Father, is of enormous archaeological significance. He has been studying his maps and ancient history books for many weeks now and is extremely eager to arrive at our destination.

Father will not travel without his compass and his pipe

A great many miles have been covered now and we have passed through dozens of delightfully pretty country villages and hamlets.

Tree branches touching overhead to form a faerie glade......

We form quite a large, jolly party: Father, Hester, and I are settled in the coach, while Father’s students travel in the dray, with the equipment and the provisions for the journey. Webster, (our major-domo), Mrs Eccles, (our cook), and some of the servants travelled on ahead of our party some days ago with the wagons and packhorses.

Hester was my governess for many years but presently resides within our household as my companion and chaperone.

Whenever our journey has been paused for refreshment Hester and I have found such fine examples of nature. Sadly though, we saw no sign of faeries, though we searched in all the kinds of places they might be.....

A New Discovery: Part Two

It was still misty on our arrival at the camp but, once this had dissipated,

the sun shone brightly upon us.....

We have arrived at last: the site is happily situated within a group of three large hills. Webster has arranged the camp between these and a fast-flowing stream. There is a village and a farm house only three miles away from whence have been purchased the fresh provisions necessary for our stay.

Webster, our trusted major domo, has meticulously organised the domestic arrangements for Father’s expeditions for many years now….

Farmer Birch and his wife, Bessie, have been very generous with their produce and have sent the most appetising breads, cheeses, fruits and meats as well as a large Fruited Apple Cake. Indeed, this last was so much enjoyed by the whole company that Mrs Eccles felt she must visit Bessie as soon as may be to discuss favoured recipes and other vital matters of a culinary nature.

Mrs Eccles is a highly skilled cook.....

A delicious and most welcome supper was enjoyed by all.....

I shall ensure everyone is comfortably settled this evening and then the excavation of the site will begin in earnest tomorrow. 

 Pseudofumaria Lutea

A New Discovery: Part Three

Father has instructed that the area around the base of the largest hill is where we must first begin. We have been clearing away the undergrowth and digging the hard clay soil at this site for many days now with little to show for our efforts but we will persevere. Father repeatedly checks his maps and his notebooks, and assures us it will not be long now before progress is achieved.

 

My goodness – I have such news to impart! Throughout the night, bouts of fierce, thundery rainstorms have loosened much of the soil where we have been working. There is now revealed a small cave-opening in the undergrowth and the crumbled remains of what was once a richly decorated door.  Much to our excitement, this would seem to have once been the entrance to a chamber.

Our search continued for many days...

Little was left of the door to the entrance, but we could see that it had once been very fine indeed.....

Our team of workers used their mattocks and shovels to enlarge the entrance enough to enable my father and I to venture inside. I followed with more than just a little trepidation for I have a dislike of such small spaces, but my intense curiosity drove me onwards.

 Once we had positioned our lamps around the perimeter of the chamber we could survey our strange surroundings. We appeared to be inside a small antechamber which lead to another much larger room. I could make out intricate trailing patterns worked into the walls in some unknown material.

We had never before seen the like of such a chamber.......

These patterns became ever more complicated with spirals, curlicues, curious flowers and leaves as we continued on into the large chamber. As if walking through a dream we gazed around the room, entranced by its strange beauty.

I was enthralled by the strangeness of our surroundings.......

Then we made the most astonishing discovery – five mysterious chests, each placed in its own niche carved into the cave wall.  The chests were completely covered in the same intricate decoration as the walls of the cave chamber and each had been carefully sealed, then hidden away from all of humanity for thousands of years.

Some of the vessels were packed inside the chests stacked

inside one another........

A New Discovery: Part Four

Once the chests had been transported back to our camp, Father and I carefully opened each one in turn. I was so excited; I had to try so very hard make my hands cease their trembling! Inside each were a myriad of delicate vessels and objects, the like of which we had never seen before.

Such little fragments of existence....

A New Discovery (i). ‘Father and I have made an astonishing new discovery at the dig…’

Some had such an ethereal appearance...

A New Discovery (ii). ‘Some of the finds have the appearance of vessels but their purpose remains a mystery….’

A few  of the vessels were delicately coloured...

Some were plainer in appearance, and some decorated, and some seemed so fragile, we were afraid to remove them from their resting place. Thus far, we are quite perplexed as to their purpose. Father declared that in all his years of study he has never seen anything quite like these fragile artefacts. For myself, I truly believe there is evidence of faerie handiwork here.....  

A New Discovery (iii). ‘The vessels appear to be so very delicate; I am taking great care not to cause any damage as I study them...'

A New Discovery (iv). ‘I am most eager to begin cataloguing and studying theses delights….’

Exercising a good deal of caution, I have started to clean and catalogue the contents of the five chests. The vessels appear to be so very delicate, I am taking great care not to cause any damage as I work.

A New Discovery (v). ‘Some of the vessels appeared to be so very fine and delicate as to have been spun from spider silk by faerie folk…'

A New Discovery (vi). ‘Each chest had been carefully sealed, then hidden away from all humanity for thousands of years…’

This collection of vessels is such an extremely rare and unusual find; Father is quite overcome! Once we have catalogued and studied the objects, he intends to write letters to other notable scholars in London, Oxford and Cambridge to inform them of this new discovery.

A New Discovery (vii). ‘Some were plainer in appearance, and some decorated, and some seemed so very fragile, we were afraid to remove them from their resting place…’

A New Discovery (viii). ‘We are quite perplexed as to their purpose, but I believe there is evidence of faerie handiwork....’ 

The End

© COPYRIGHT 2019 Joy Norman Mixed Media Artist.

Copyright of all works remains with the artist Joy Norman. All design and written content remains the intellectual property of Joy Norman. Please do not reproduce with out permission. All rights reserved.