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©2019 by Joy Norman - Mixed Media Artist.

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………

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SERIES ONE:

SEASHORE SPECIMENS

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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

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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.

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

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There are so many places to explore around the seashore: great stretches of pebble-strewn beaches, soaring cliffs to walk along with far-reaching views of the sea and 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.

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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 enjoying a most pleasant sojourn at the coast, visiting relatives. Initially, the weather was extremely blustery, but this did not deter me from my resolve to explore the seashore as soon as I was able.

A most unusual stone

A circle of lovely veined pebbles.

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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 very keen to discuss the latest fashions in dresses and other attire, which I do not mind at all, although I do not have much occasion for the pleasures of such things as fashionable shoes or beribboned hats.

 

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 fripperies. Most of these were Cordelia’s purchases, but for myself, I did choose a pair of soft kid gloves and a very pretty Mother of Pearl necklace of carved leaves. I shall save them for our visit to Great Aunt Sophronia later in the year.

Cordelia Knight

My purchases from Town: a necklace of Mother of  Pearl and a fine pair of long kid gloves

Although searching for treasures has always seemed quite natural to me, Cordelia much prefers to converse with her neighbours and friends when she is out walking. She likes to be aware of any circumstance of note that may have occurred across the county.

        Cordelia bought handmade lace in great quantity as well as hat pins

      and buttons on our shopping expedition to Town

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Yesterday, Cordelia eagerly informed me that, a few days before we arrived here, a shire horse belonging to a local farmer had broken free from its stable and gone for a gallop through a nearby market village! 
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. After 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

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I believe I have had a compulsion to collect ever since I was very young. Father has always encouraged me to do so as he always perfectly understood my interest. As my mother died when I was quite small, Father felt it his duty to take me with him on his travels, along with my nurse and a variety of colleagues, students, and staff, who assisted him at his excavation sites. It was definitely a most unusual upbringing for a child, but one that has always stood me in good stead.

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 from the rock pool area of the shore

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I am particularly looking forward to inspecting and cleaning the specimens that I found today along the seashore. This does generally take quite some time, but it is such a worthwhile occupation: I do love revealing the formation of patterns and textures on these fascinating objects.

 

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 the use of the gardener’s bothy.

Cordelia’s Housekeeper, the indomitable Mrs Butterfield

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

Old Tom, the Gardener with his wife, Rose

Once I have cleaned and polished these precious specimens to my satisfaction, I will arrange them all on the desk in the small study, where I can examine them properly and make the appropriate notations and sketches of my observations. As soon as my research is completed, they may be catalogued, then carefully packed away in tins and boxes so that they can come to no harm.

I arrange my new-found treasures in my favourite 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.’

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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 Father’s cousin and his family, and it is a very pleasant walk through the lovely green countryside. 

I understand 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. In fact, 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

Particularly interesting stones from the seashore

The whole household searched high and low in every nook and cranny. Hester, my nurse, 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

One of my favourite stone samples: it has such unusual markings.

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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, (in his Sunday best, looking very solemn), and 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 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 would 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 this 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 him she would 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’.

SERIES TWO:

A NEW DISCOVERY

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

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 charts for many weeks and is extremely eager to arrive at our destination.

We have now covered a great many miles and passed through dozens of very picturesque rural towns and villages. 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. The servants travelled on ahead of our party some days ago with the wagons and packhorses.