Over a year ago, I was kicking about the back roads of Cornwall for a few days. Having had to revise my itinerary due to confusion about a car registration, I chose to take the bus out to Zennor to see the famous mermaid bench in its church (here’s the legend that surrounds it). Not knowing what else to visit in Zennor, which is an incredibly small town, I chose to spent a pleasant hour in the Wayside Museum there, which includes a working mill and other relics of traditional life in Cornwall from various eras. It was there that I saw the following curious item, hanging on a beam over the hearth in the kitchen display:
It’s hard to see from the position, but you can see the crook at one end on the left and follow the shaft over Here are the two captions underneath:
Made of Bristol glass … was hung over the fireplace so that when the little devils came down the chimney at night, they settled on the stick to count the little bubbles and cracks. In the morning they were wiped off with a rag and the rag burnt!
This stick is of Nailsea glass. Items like this were often made by apprentices at the end of the day. It would have been brought back to Cornwall on the ships that carried tin-ore to Bristol for smelting.
Of course, that was the sort of thing that got my attention. Given all the other scrambling about attached to my trip, I wasn’t able to sit down and think about it until later. I’ll post more about this in a subsequent entry. In the meantime, if you’re not making it out to Zennor any time soon, you might take this short video tour. I believe you can glimpse the end of the stick around the 8:30 mark: