“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Nazi London

On a recent trip to London I was surprised to find two “memorials” to Nazis in prominent locations in the city. The first “memorial” was a bust of Hitler which was in the White Tower at the Tower of London. This bust of Hitler (pictured below) was kept company by a corresponding bust of Mussolini.

The second “memorial” was far more interesting. In Carlton House Terrance, at the top of the Duke of York Steps there is a small grave stone in front of a tree. The grave stone commemorates a dog known as “Giro” (sometimes reported as an Alsatian and in some instances, as a Terrier), who belonged to Dr Leopold von Hoesch. Hoesch was a well-respected diplomat under both the Weimar Republic and then the Nazi Government. Giro is reported to have died in 1934, killed by accidental electrocution, having apparently chewed through a live wire. The inscription on the grave stone reads Giro - Ein Treuer Begleiter! (Giro - a true companion!).

Even though Giro is often referred to as a Nazi dog, in actuality this is probably an unfair descriptor. Even though Hoesch served in the Nazi Government and was afforded a burial ceremony in London, draped in a Nazi flag and with military honours, it seems that he was far from in agreement with Hitler and his actions!

Pictures, London (May 2012).

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Weymouth Cannon Ball

In Weymouth on Maiden Street, there is a building which today is a public convenience. When looking at this building, if you happen to glance upwards, you may notice what appears to be a cannon ball lodged in the wall of the building.

During the English Civil war in the 1640’s, there was a plot by royalist sympathisers loyal to King Charles I, known as the Crabchurch Conspiracy. The ultimate aim of the plot was to secure a port to allow the King to land a force of French soldiers to bolster his chances of winning the war. This attempt to secure a port (Weymouth) led to some extensive fighting in the town, with a force of circa 1000 Roundheads pitched against a force of circa 6000 Royalists. It is commonly believed that the cannon ball found its way into the wall during this battle.

Pictures, Weymouth (June 2012).

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Canada Square UFO

In Canada Square (Canary Wharf), there is a sculpture called “The Big Blue”, which serves as a piece of art and also forms part of the skylight of the shopping centre below. The sculpture is called “The Big Blue” because it is surrounded by a ring of blue lights that shine upwards and reflect off the curved underside of the sculpture.

To most people’s eyes, the sculpture looks like a flying saucer which has had a bad landing in the square, and personally it reminds me of the alien craft from the family film “Flight of the Navigator”.

These pictures have been featured on Andrew May’s Forteana blog, and I also sent them into the team at Fortean Times who said that even though they are based in London, that they had never heard of the sculpture before. Here is hoping that they publish the pictures in a future edition of Fortean Times.

Pictures, London (May 2012).

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Very Strange Lake

In Wiltshire there are two small hamlets called Wilsford and Lake, this leads to there being an interesting hamlet in between them called Wilsford Cum Lake, where Cum means “together” or “with”. Whenever I drive pass this road sign it makes me smile, as I can imagine some hapless tourist (who does not understand the peculiarities of the English language) expecting to see a rather odd and salty lake nearby.

In the background of the picture, you will notice that there is a barrow in the field to the left of the sign. Barrows are ancient burial mounds and Andrew May discusses this and other barrows in his Forteana Blog.

I did send this picture into Fortean Times, and the response was that they would consider if they could feature it. So watch this space..

Pictures, Wiltshire (February 2012).

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Farting Lamp

Just off the Strand in London, running down the side of the Savoy Hotel is Carting Lane. In Carting Lane you will find a curious lamp, a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp. Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamps are chiefly fuelled by a mains supply of gas, but they can also draw up waste gases from the sewers for combustion.

The lamp pictured below on Carting Lane, was partially powered by sewer gas up until the 1950’s, and now it solely runs on mains gas. Before it switched over however, it was a common notion with Londoners that the Carting Lane lamp was powered by the bowel movements of guests of the Savoy Hotel, and this led to Carting Lane being locally branded as “Farting Lane”.

Pictures, London (May 2012).

Saturday, 7 July 2012

London’s Thin House

Pictured below is a house on Thurloe Square in Knightsbridge (a short walk from the Natural History Museum). If you happen upon this house, and happen to appoach it from the correct direction, you will see what appears to be an impossibly thin house! This is just an optical illusion however, the house is really a wedge shape, but is it very striking on first glance!

Pictures, London (May 2012).

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Tedworth Drummer

The below picture shows Tedworth House in the town of Tidworth (previously known as Tedworth), which lies on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border. As the famous tale goes, in the seventeenth century, the owner of the house had a dispute with a local drummer and won a judgement resulting in the drummer’s drum being confiscated, and the drummer being put into prison. Following the detainment of the drummer, Tedworth House was plagued by nocturnal drumming noises (amongst other strange phenomenon), which were attributed to the drummer exacting revenge via witchcraft. This tale is often cited as an early example of poltergeist activity and features in seventeenth century paranormal literature (see Andrew May’s Forteana Blog for a more detailed discussion).

As it can be seen from the final picture, the tale of the Tedworth drummer has been captured in the local imagination and has left a lasting mark on the local landscape.

Pictures, Tidworth (February 2011).