Fringe Box



Where Is This? No.248

Published on: 23 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 23 Feb, 2017

By David Rose

Only four replies to last week’s mysteries – perhaps they were just a bit too difficult.

There were some correct replies to the vintage picture of Williamson’s Old English Furniture store, in Guildford High Street, and now occupied by House of Fraser.

The turbine shown as the quirky picture can be found beside the car park at Stoke Mill, the offices of the Surrey Advertiser and other publications produced by Trinity Mirror.

Some readers suggested the turbine had once been at the Town Mill (near today’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre). And going by their replies is there another one at the National Trust’s Dapdune Wharf?

If so, and that one came from the Town Mill, where does the one at Stoke Mill come from? I am not sure whether it was once housed in Stoke Mill, but perhaps it found its current resting place when the mill was converted into offices in about the early 1990s? So, the mystery continues.

Click here to see last week’s post and the replies – with some extra details about the firm Williamson.

Here are this week’s mystery images and a departure from the usual fare.

A Guildford view painted in watercolours. But where exactly?

The vintage image is a watercolour painted in 1922 by a Miss Biddle. It appeared in a guide book to Guildford and I wonder whether she was a member of the Biddle family of stationers and printers in Guildford?

Can you name the location of the view?

In which public building can this be found and what is it?

I do not normally feature quirky things that are inside buildings, However, this one, emailed by Dragon News reader Dave Middleton, can be seen in a public building in Guildford town centre that gets a lot of visitors.

Some readers may know what this piece of artwork is. It was one of a number of similar tableaus strung up in the town to commemorate a specific event a few decades ago.

So, what is it and where is it?

If you think you know the answers, please leave a reply in the box below. The answers, along with the next pair of images, will be published at about the same time next week.


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Responses to Where Is This? No.248

  1. Peta Lawrence Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Not sure about the watercolour, but the unicorn is dancing above the door to the computer room in Guildford library.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 24, 2017 at 7:21 am

    1) The river up stream showing Holy Trinity and the Castle Keep.

    2) Abbot’s Hospital.

  3. John Lomas Reply

    February 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

    The painting would appear to be looking north north-east along a reach of the River Wey towards the Castle Keep and the “houses in between”.

    The river can be seen to curve right in the mid distance which would be leading towards the rowing club on the right bank.

    If the artist was painting from the towpath she would have been approximately behind the houses at the bottom of The Meadows. Alternatively, she could have been working from a rowing boat in the centre of the river.

    The plaque would appear to reference “The Owl and the Nightingale” a twelfth- or thirteenth-century Middle English poem detailing a debate between an owl and a nightingale as overheard by the poem’s narrator.

    Nicholas of Guildford is mentioned several times in the text as the man best suited to judge which bird presents the strongest argument. I did not know about this, and found the above in Wikipedia.

    I have to wonder if the event some decades ago was the opening of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    The painting is of the Wey at the back of Shalford Park, looking downstream towards the bend by the weir. I’d say that’s the tower of St Mary’s on the skyline.

    No comment on the quirky picture at the moment!

  5. Bill and Doug Stanniforth Reply

    February 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Picture 1 is a view of the River Wey looking towards St Mary’s in the background. It must be an old picture as there is not a speed boat in sight.

    Picture 2 is probably in Guildford House.

  6. Brian Holt Reply

    March 1, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    The image in watercolour of the River Wey is part of the river by Shalford Meadows on the right and the towpath on the left, but there are no trees that side.

    Then the river bends round to the right to where the rowing club is.

    The artist has added in the picture Holy Trinity Church and an edge of Guildford Castle and buildings, which would not have be seen from that view.

  7. Margaret Cole Reply

    March 1, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    The first picture shows the willow tress along the Wey bordering on Shalford Meadows with St Mary’s Church in the background showing a bit of artistic licence there.

    Second one no idea – looks a bit masonic?

  8. Chris Townsend Reply

    March 2, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    In directories for 1930 and 1955, a Miss Florence L. Biddle is listed as artist at 47 Curling Vale, Onslow Village.

    Florence Louisa Biddle was born in Alton, Hants in 1876, and died in 1956 aged 80.

    She was one of the children of Charles Abraham Biddle (c.1834-1904) the Martyr Road printer, in business in Guildford from 1885.

    Surrey History Centre lists in its catalogue three paintings by Florence, two High Street scenes and one of Lyon’s Gateway – where was that?

    No doubt there are other paintings of hers in existence, but I don’t see any listed in the Borough Collection.

    The mystery view might be from near the present Rowing Club, where there’s a sharp bend in the river.

  9. Dave Middleton Reply

    March 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Now that the location of the plaque has been revealed as being in Guildford Library, I can add a little more detail.

    There were a good number of these plaques of various designs, created for the celebration of The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 and strung up along the High Street.

    This one was saved and put up on the 3rd floor of the library. I daresay there may be others lurking around the town in people’s attics and sheds!

    The one in the library used to have a notice pinned to the wall next to it, describing the content of the plaque, but at some stage over the years, probably during redecoration, it was taken down and lost.

    A retired member of staff has provided the some information from memory. He says that there were other plaques showing a lion rather than a unicorn. The lion and unicorn in reference to the Royal coat of arms, indicating Guildford’s royal connections in the past where the castle was a summer retreat for various monarchs.

    Top left shows a representation of the King Edward and Queen Eleanor sundial, hopefully still preserved on the wall of the Tunsgate Centre, facing the castle. Queen Eleanor apparently had a hand in founding the original Friary on the site of the shopping centre and former brewery.

    Top centre, shows a royal crown and two orbs, again indicating Guildford’s royal connections.

    On the right of the crown seems to be a representation of a coin or token, minted at Guildford at some time as a form of local currency.

    Below this is a representation of the castle keep and next to it, a rabbit, possibly a reference to Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit. Just to the bottom left of the seal are the happy / sad masks, a reference to Guildford’s theatrical arts.

    Below this is the Guildford borough mace, counterpart to the borough sword on the left.

    Bottom left is a Bishop’s mitre and three round objects, referring to the Diocese of Guildford. To the right of this are some music notes, perhaps to represent Guildford’s music school. Above the mitre are two butterflies and what seem to be two flowers. I’m not sure of their significance.

    Bottom centre on the odd shaped blob, the “U” & “S” presumably refer to the University of Surrey, housed in the town.

    To the right of this is a book “Owl 1189”. This refers to an obscure poem from the 12th or 13th century, entitled “The Owl and the Nightingale”, which takes the form of a heated debate between the two birds. “Nicholas of Guildford”, who may have been the author of the poem, is mentioned in the text, as being the best man to resolve their argument. There is a Wikipedia article about the poem:

    The round shield with 1901 CC surrounding it is a bit of a mystery. I wonder if it might be a representation of a former crest of either Surrey County Council (unlikely) or a former crest of Surrey Cricket Club, housed at Woodbridge Road, since 1938.

    Finally, on either side of the plaque appear to be tasselled hanks of wool, with wool sacks above them, as a reference to Guildford ancient wool industry.

    Does anyone else have more detail?

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