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Has anyone ever come across the Weyhill Mermaid?

 
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TheManyOffline
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PostPosted: 17-12-2013 19:00    Post subject: Has anyone ever come across the Weyhill Mermaid? Reply with quote

While looking online I found a dairy entry from 1811 referring to the sale of a "mermaid" at the Weyhill Fair in Hampshire. Has anyone out there come across this story before and does anyone know any more detail about the reported mermaid?

http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/peter-hawker/the-diary-of-colonel-peter-hawker-1802-1853-volume-1-kwa/page-3-the-diary-of-colonel-peter-hawker-1802-1853-volume-1-kwa.shtml

http://unusual-encounters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-weyhill-mermaid.html

Thanks in advance
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 17-12-2013 19:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

We do have mermaid threads - main one here:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=302#302

But thanks for posting those links. The first one gives a fascinating account of the difficulties of sea travel in the 19th century. It was good to have a mention of a Falmouth Packet as a sailing ship, and not just as the error-strewn local newspaper that carries the name now!

Many of the places mentioned will be familiar to those who've followed my Lone Coastguard thread, and I also mentioned there the prevailing northerly winds off Portugal which so often make (and made) the passage from Lisbon to England a tiresome beat to windward.

Can't help with the Weyhill Mermaid though - maybe something posted in the Mermaids thread will offer a clue. (But I doubt if it was alive, because then Colonel Hawker would have probably shot it, and then recorded the gun and ammunition he used! Wink )
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TheManyOffline
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PostPosted: 17-12-2013 20:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the link, I will give the Mermaid thread a read.

The reference to the Mermaid caught my interest as the Fair is only a few miles down the road from me, but I don't have a warm feeling that further detail will be easy to find, unless another diarist visited the fair that day.

Hawker did seem to like his guns Very Happy
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 17-12-2013 21:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheMany wrote:
The reference to the Mermaid caught my interest as the Fair is only a few miles down the road from me, but I don't have a warm feeling that further detail will be easy to find, unless another diarist visited the fair that day.

That particular 'mermaid' may well have been mentioned in other places if it travelled around as a fairground exhibit, but without any mention of Weyhill, so it may well be difficult to track its movements.

But the pics of Weyhill look familiar, which gives me an idea...

Back shortly...!
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 17-12-2013 22:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner2 wrote:
That particular 'mermaid' may well have been mentioned in other places if it travelled around as a fairground exhibit, but without any mention of Weyhill, so it may well be difficult to track its movements.

But the pics of Weyhill look familiar, which gives me an idea...

Back shortly...!

Well, no other mentions on FTMB.

But a wider websearch turns up the (probably) trivial information that at Aldermaston Church, 21 miles NE of Weyhill, "There are some ancient frescoes, faint and dim by contrast with the modern scheme of decoration; they represent St. Christopher carrying our Lord, and, below, a mermaid and fish."
http://www.fullbooks.com/Wanderings-in-Wessex5.html

That's all from me!
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EnolaGaiaOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 01:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps a more effective search strategy would be to focus on the subject's alleged point of origin (capture) rather than the site of a subsequent showing. Hawker's diary entry states:

Quote:

Went to Weyhill Fair, where the principal curiosity
was a creature (shown under the name of a mermaid) that
was caught and brought alive from the Southampton river.


Where was 'the Southampton river'?
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 08:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

EnolaGaia wrote:
Where was 'the Southampton river'?

That could refer to what we now call Southampton Water, an arm of the sea that reaches up to the City and Port of Southampton, or to one of the two rivers that enter it there, the Test and the Itchen.

The Test stretches inland for some miles to the north, and a tributary, the Anton, reaches Andover. A tributary of the Anton, the Pillhill Brook, reaches westward, passing about a mile south of Weyhill....

But until we know more of the habits and usual habitats of mermaids, that probably doesn't really help!

Modern maps however show the top end of Southampton water, where it passes the docks once used by trans-Atlantic liners (and used now by cruise ships) as the River Test.

The Itchen reaches north and east to Winchester, and then east to Old Arlesford.

What we need is an old map stating "Here be Mermaids"! Wink
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EnolaGaiaOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 14:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for confirming that, rynner2 ... My UK geographic knowledge isn't all that vast, no 'Southampton River' could be found, and I figured 'Southampton river' most likely referred to Southampton Water or its tributaries.

If there's another record of the same specimen, it will probably mention a sighting / capture location somewhere in that area.

On the other hand ... Hawker was an experienced hunter who characterized the mermaid as a 'creature shown under the name of a mermaid'. This leads me to suspect he recognized it as an aquatic animal rather than a semi-human marvel.
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TheManyOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 18:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner2 wrote:


What we need is an old map stating "Here be Mermaids"! Wink


Now that would be far too easy!


Last edited by TheMany on 18-12-2013 18:51; edited 1 time in total
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TheManyOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 18:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

EnolaGaia wrote:
On the other hand ... Hawker was an experienced hunter who characterized the mermaid as a 'creature shown under the name of a mermaid'. This leads me to suspect he recognized it as an aquatic animal rather than a semi-human marvel.


When I read this my assumption was that Hawker perhaps saw a FeeJee style mermaid and recognized it for an obvious fake. But in truth it could have been anything, given the vagueness of the description! Shame they did not have camera phones and twitter back in 1811!
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EnolaGaiaOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2013 23:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that's another reasonable theory. Unfortunately, Hawker's account doesn't even offer clues as to whether the exhibited 'creature' was alive or dead.
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