Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Flower power and a smile


Knaresborough's residents seem to take pride in making their homes look pretty. There are beautiful floral displays evident throughout the town, which all adds to the town's charm and character.  Here we have an adundance of pink petunias, flowing over the railings outside a town house beside the main railway station.  If you look back at Sunday's photo you can see the back of this house, one of the tall cream-coloured houses between the railway bridge and the church.

This house also hosted two colourful 'trompe l'oeil' paintings in its 'blind windows'.  You can see the house has been taken over by warring Cavaliers and Roundheads, left behind after the English Civil War.  These two were certainly raising smiles from the many passers-by.

The reason for 'blind windows', as I said yesterday, possibly stems from an unpopular tax on windows which was imposed in 1696 - by the wonderfully named 'Act of Making Good the Deficiency of the Clipped Money'.  It was prior to the introduction of income tax, and was an attempt to tax people according to their wealth (if you had a big house with more windows you paid more) without invading the privacy of people's actual income.  Some say that this is where we get the phrase 'daylight robbery' from.

I don't know what 'the clipped money' was, but on Sunday I heard about some local stories of a gang of 'coiners' who shaved gold off the edges of coins (in those days coins were made of real gold) to melt down and make counterfeit coins. Over time the practice effectively devalued the currency.  So maybe it has to do with that - 'clipping' the edges of coins.

14 comments:

  1. This picture window is oh! so pretty with it's assortment of pretty petunias - lovely photo!

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  2. Pretty petunias - mine are taking over my back yard! I think I'm right in saying that window-tax was only paid on windows at the front of the house, which resulted in lots of houses being built sideways-on to the road so that less windows were taxable.

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  3. When each people takes care of his house, the whole village is becoming pretty.

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  4. I'm guessing the shaved coins is one of the reasons why we now have ridges around the edges of some coins. (That and for ease of identification by touch.)

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  5. The flowers make the house so pretty so pretty. I've never seen petunias climb so high.

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  6. Beautiful...so English, too! :)

    window tax? hope that doesn't come back into fashion! ha.

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  7. Interesting post today, I hadn't heard of 'clipped money' before.
    Sounds like that local story is the answer to the mystery to me.

    Lovely cottage as well.

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  8. You seem to have caught the reflection of a fellow on the street looking up at the windows, or is he a 'trompe l'oeil' as well? And is the fellow in the lower window using a chamber pot as a weapon? Jim

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  9. I had never heard of clipped money before either! The flowers are so pretty and those windows are quite interesting too.

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  10. That is so beautiful! What an effort they have made.

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  11. I do like the wonderful contrast of colours and textures in the top cottage scene - the crisp white of the woodwork, the pretty blended colours of the petunias and the soft tones in the brickwork. .... and is that your reflection in the top right hand corner of the window?

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  12. Jenny, your top photo is absolutely prototypical English countryside. It should be in a book!

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  13. The flowers are so gorgeous, I love the idea of using them above the window frame like that too. ~Lili

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  14. I've not heard the phrase "daylight robbery" (only highway robbery, referring to the Wild Wild West), but it seems an appropriate description for the window tax. I have my doubts that the tax was anywhere as onerous as today's tax rates, though. Delightful sense of humour these trompe l'oeil.

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