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Edward Worth Library – A Little Gem

Edward Worth

Edward Worth

They say that ‘good things come in small parcels’ and a visit to the Edward Worth Library certainly proves the point. It is one of the city’s   lesser-known gems and, after nearly three hundred years, is unchanged and offering a unique step back in time.

Worth (1678-1733) was born in Dublin, the second son of John Worth, Dean of St Patrick’s cathedral. He was educated as a physician in Oxford and Leiden University in the Netherlands. The collection of books reflects his training, in that as much as a third comprises  works on medicine and science, with the remainder dealing with philosophy, literature, history and the classics. And although he has left us a priceless gift, it is surprising that we know almost nothing about his own life, personal or professional, as he left no correspondence. The closest we get are the notes he made on book- auction lists.

Dean John bequeathed a small number of books to Edward who was only ten years old when he died in 1688. However, the majority of the collection was assembled by Edward himself, buying ‘libraries’ from auctions in Dublin, London and Amsterdam. He was very selective in what he bought and the collection reflects this. There are almost 4,400 volumes on show, with the earliest dating from 1475 – a mere thirty-odd years since Guttenberg’s breakthrough!

HANDrail in the courtyard

HANDrail in the courtyard

Worth worked in Dr Steevens’ Hospital and he bequeathed his collection, and funds for shelving and bookcases, to the new hospital. And east-facing room was chosen to minimize the sun’s effect, and the library was the first to protect books through glass-fronted doors.

Original glass-fronted bookcases

Original glass-fronted bookcases

Today, many conferences are seminars are held in the library that reference books in the collection. There will be an Open Day on Friday July 24 that will be of interest to those with a love of books and ‘all things Dublin’. Should you go along? Of course, because it’s Worth it!

Dr Steevens' Hospital

Dr Steevens’ Hospital

 

 

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From Kent to Chelsea

Shepherd Neame HQ - Beer Central!

Shepherd Neame HQ – Beer Central!

Although I have often been in a pub, until a few weeks ago I had never visited a brewery. However, while spending a  few days  with my cousin Paschal  in London, we went to Faversham, Kent and spent a few very pleasant hours touring the Shepherd Neame Brewery. It has operated since 1698 and is the country’s oldest brewer – and with beers like Spitfire, Spooks and the wonderfully named Bishop’s Finger (it’s so Carry On!) it would have been rude not to drop in.

We joined  twenty-or-so other visitors and after a short video history of the company we were off. I was elected as ‘Shepherd’ for the visit, making sure that nobody was left behind, or God forbid, fell into a vat (a tonne, actually) of beer. We were taken through the whole process, and it was fascinating to learn how the different roasting procedures (of the barley) could make such unique and distinct flavours. At the end of the tour we were each given six small glasses with a selection of beers and lagers. We sipped, swirled and, of course, swallowed the precious liquid and there was much ‘I like that one,’ comments from those around the tables. And, surprise, surprise I was given a bottle of beer for the ‘demanding work’ (not my words!) as Shepherd. A visit to a brewery and I come away with a free drink – now that’s what I call a result! Cheers.  

Roll out the barrells......

Roll out the barrells…..

Here they come!

Here they come!

 A few days later I was in London and heading towards the Thames, at Albert Bridge, with my friend Don. He had heard about a race Doggett’s Coat & Badge and was keen to see it, and thankfully we had a great day for it.  The sun shone and the breeze was gentle as we leaned over the most attractive bridge on the river  and, like the line of viewers with cameras at the ready, watched the race.

The race dates from 1715, making it the oldest rowing race in the world – the first Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race was not held until 1829! The race begins at London Bridge, passes under 11 bridges, before ending at  Cadogan Pier (a few hundred yards from Albert Bridge). It was conceived and financed by Thomas Doggett (an actor from Dublin) who used to travel along the river between Drury Land Theatre, The City where he worked for many years, and his home in Chelsea. 

Albert Bridge - the prettiest one of all

Albert Bridge – the prettiest one of all

Back then there were only a few bridges across the river and most people had to use the services of a waterman (we would call him a taxi driver) to get across. Legend has it that a waterman rescued Doggett after he fell into the river, but there is, sadly, no definitive proof of this. Anyway, he decided to organise a race (length 4 miles 5 furlongs) and offer the winner a prize of a red  waterman jacket, a large silver badge with the word ‘LIBERTY’ inscribed on it, and some money. Six apprentice watermen were invited to compete, for what has subsequently become a prestigious honour. It has continued to this day with the record winning time of 23 mins and 22 secs set in 1973. The race was usually held on the 1st August in celebration of  the accession of George I in 1714, but is now run on a Friday in July with an incoming tide to help the rowers.

On the day we went there was a big crowd on the river (in three large ‘Gin Palaces’) following the racers and a a few celebrities waited at the finishing line, including Prince Philip. The local Mayor, photographers and TV crews all added to a colourful event that next year will celebrate it’s 300 hundredth anniversary. Well done Thomas.

Winner alright!

Winner alright!

 

 

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