Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill

January daffodils in Moseley Bog

My dogs love Moseley Bog. It is steeped in history, not that they would care one way or another, but it is in an area where Tolkien spent his early years, and the house Tolkien lived in is only a three hundred yards from one of the entrances to the bog. Tolkien scholars inform that the bog and other places of interest are woven into his fantasies. Another feature of the area is Sarehole Mill, which is even closer to where Tolkien lived.

Sarehole Mill last week

Sarehole Mill was once in the hands of Matthew Boulton's father, also called Matthew, during the 1750s. Boulton is as responsible as any single individual for the prosperity of Birmingham, and together with James Watt, they gained fame for, among other advancements, revolutionary improvements to the steam engine. Boulton, however, was not the only entrepreneur with connections to Sarehole Mill. John Baskerville, who gave his name to a typeface, lived with the mill proprietor's wife, Sarah Eaves, for many years. He married her when her husband died. Recently she gave her name to a typeface too, Mrs Eaves.

Sarah Eaves was hired as Baskerville's housekeeper and they "lived in sin" at a time when living in sin really was a sin. Boulton too, was not in favour with the church, having married Ann Robinson, sister of his first wife Mary following Mary's death, both very wealthy young women. In those days this would be considered incestuous. It might not incorrectly be conjectured that it was the Robinson wealth that built the famous Soho works.

So when I walk the dogs around Moseley Bog and along the River Cole I am aware of the fascinating history on my doorstep.

After the walk

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