SPIRITS: YORK | GREEN JENNY


There’s been a couple of occasions when I’ve mentioned the Haunted York book that I’ve recently re-written (with maps!), partly because it was relevant but also as a shameless piece of self promotion (thought it best to be honest) and I’m mentioning it again for the same reasons.

The book plug is just to let those of you interested in ghost stories know that the publisher I mentioned have decided to go ahead and the book is due for release next month (hurray). It should be easily (I hope) available in retail outlets in York (I’ll publish a list when I know more) but if anyone has trouble getting hold of a copy just let me know and I can supply you directly.

In terms of relevance, that’s the drawing posted here; a picture of Jenny, who features in the book. This is the second Haunted York piece (the first being YORK | COLLEGE STREET) and I know what you’re thinking: why is she called ‘green’ Jenny?

Story time again:
Jenny (the ghost, as oppose to the original girl) has only been seen once and that was way back in the early years of the eighteenth century, so it’s a very old story. She was a serving girl at the pub that is now known as the Watergate Inn (and previously known as the Five Lions) in York’s town centre. Apparently an ostler (the olden days’ term for a stable boy) had seen a young lady wearing a vivid green dress ascending a set of stairs in the pub that led to a room used for blood sports such as rat baiting and cock fighting (both of which were made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835). Startled by the fact that a woman was about to enter such a room he at first thought that it was the innkeeper’s wife. He was then doubly perturbed when the girl acknowledged him with a wave and he realised that it was in fact Jenny, who had recently died.

So the dress is the reason for the name, possibly because, as with dreams, it’s unusual for a colour to be so apparent during a ghost sighting. Which I suspect is due to the fact that people are so surprised to see a ghost that any colour involved with the experience just doesn’t get noticed, unless it is very vivid, such as bright red hair, or Jenny’s green dress.

Given that the colour green is an important element of the story I feel that not only should the collage materials reflect this but that there should be some actual green in the artwork. If you look at the thumbnail gallery it may be obvious that green is not a colour I use a great deal, and so I’m going to have to give some thought as to how to approach this.

I’ll let you know what I come up with…

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SPIRITS: YORK | COLLEGE STREET
THE FIRST ACTUAL SPIRIT

YORK | COLLEGE STREET
Graphite and collage on plywood board
20” x 30”

If you’ve read my previous post on York | College Street you’ll know that it’s based on the ghost story of the hapless girl that was entombed in her own home during the plague of 1604. Admittedly it’s not a very cheery motif but it is a fascinating one and it does make a great subject for a Spirits’ piece.

Having torn out and mounted the portrait of the young lady I then found some collage material with a distinctly plague theme, including recipes for prevention, a talisman that theoretically achieved the same end, and cures in the event that neither of these actually worked, and given that the talisman was listed in a 15th century leechbook I don’t think we can assume the best.

Although I should probably point out that a leech book is not a collection of remedies that involve leeches (although some no doubt did) but was so named due to doctors in those days being referred to as a ‘leech’. This was apparently due to the fact that they did indeed use leeches a part of their arsenal of cures and not, as a cynical person may assume, as a result of their exorbitant fees.

Original Artwork : £290.00

See more information in the gallery

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GHOSTS AND THE PLAGUE: EUROPE’S MOST HAUNTED CITY


Although I’ve done the Mad Alice piece for the Haunted York series I thought it might be a good idea to start a piece that used an actual ghost as its subject.

If you’ve ever done one of the ghost walks in York you may be familiar with the girl at 5 College Street. It’s a fabulous location, right next to the East face of the minster and sitting at the end of the street that houses St William.s College (which has its own ghost story that I’ll relate in a future post). Number five is a small, medieval house whose residents fell victim to the plague in 1604 and unfortunately for the young lady that lived there she was mistakenly thought to have died along with her parents and the house was duly boarded up as part of the ongoing plague control measures. Having recovered, she found herself imprisoned in the building that was to become her tomb and the ghost stories attest to the noise of agitated footprints and the sound of a child crying.

We shan’t spoil the story by wondering how anybody actually knew this, given that she was barricaded in her house. Instead we shall allow a cold shiver to run down our spine and be thankful that modern day York seems to be free of such inconvenient epidemics.

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SPIRITS: YORK | MINERVA: GODDESS OF WISDOM

YORK | MINERVA
Graphite and collage on plywood board
20” x 30”

According to the Roman legend, Minerva was born when she sprang out of her father Jupiter’s head, apparently clad in armour and fully armed, suggesting that she was either ready to do battle with the god that had raped her mother or she was wise enough to come fully prepared for whatever any of the Roman gods had in mind for her.
This, perhaps inevitably, led to her becoming the goddess of wisdom and warfare along with a few additional areas of expertise including poetry, medicine and weaving, the latter skill resulting in a challenge by a mortal girl named Arachne who, rather foolishly, considered her abilities at the wheel to be better than Minerva’s. The ensuing dual of tapestry creation culminated in Minerva declaring herself to be the winner (perhaps a little biased) and turning Arachne in to a spider by banging her on the head three times.

Minerva sits at number three in my Arts Heritage series and a 2nd century statue of Minerva depicts her wearing the same Corinthian style helmet that is now worn by Britannia, which struck me as being a nice visual representation of the evolving British independence that, nevertheless, was still still very much reliant on Rome during the 3rd century AD.

She’s not wearing a helmet in this piece of artwork but I like the idea of possibly doing a second version where she is… although I’ll have to find a decent photo of a Corinthian helmet to use as a reference.

Original Artwork : £290.00

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