Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fake antiques

It was reported in yesterday's newspaper that the Great Wall of China is now the Not So Great Wall of China.  It seems that locals have helped themselves to some of the stones in order to build houses for themselves - although that was probably not within living memory.  Some parts of the Wall - presumably smaller stones - are being sold to tourists, although I beg leave to be just a tad sceptical of the origin of those stones.  Some of the towers are crumbling because nobody is quite sure just who is responsible for their upkeep.  Other parts of the Wall are simply wearing away as a result of too many tourists.  A bit like constant dripping wears away a stone.

Reading that news story made me wonder; just how much of the Wall really is the genuine, original thing?

"This is my grandfather's axe.  My father gave it a new head and I have replaced the haft."

It happens all around us.  Take some of the old cathedrals of England, such as Canterbury.  Parts of the building, especially statues and other fiddly bits, have eroded badly over the centuries and stonemasons are busy making replacement parts.  Just how much of the building must be original for it truly to be called a 14th (or whatever) century cathedral?

And what about HMS Victory, Lord nelson's flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar?  It has been sitting in Portsmouth dockyard for many a long year and I am reasonably sure that bits of decking, rigging etc have been replaced over time.

Or a really old house such as the Clergy House at Alfriston.  This has a thatched roof which has certainly been replaced several times since the house was constructed in the 14th century.
The Clergy House, Alfriston.                                            © John Miller

And is that glass in the window really 700 years old?

Mention of the Victory reminds me of the story of the guide who told a party of tourists, "This brass plate is the spot where Admiral Lord Nelson Fell".

Said a tourist, "I'm not surprised,  I nearly tripped on it myself!"

1 comment:

joeh said...

Hmmm...interesting points.

And funny, so that makes it a two-fer.