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Written by JulieW
(6/1/2007 4:54 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Questions about beautiful ornaments and petrified spars, penned by Line
"Blue John " is perhaps the most famous Derbyshire mineral, fluorite;the ornament shown above is made from it.
I think JA might have been writing about that mineral specifically, when she wrote of Elizabeth robbing the county of a few petrified spas.She was basically writing about an aspect of the 18th century tourist trade in Derbyshire.
Below is a link to a web site about Blue John's history , with some examples of the mineral( as shown above) and items carved from it,and also details of the village ,Castleton, where the caves containing Blue John can be found.
Blue John was mined extensively and some fabulous, and very desirable ornaments were created from it.Some of the finest were made by Matthew Boulton of Birmingham , in his famous Soho "Manufactory"( more on that later).
These are pictures of some of Boulton's ornaments made of blue john mounted with ormolu and which are now in the Royal Collection and were bought by Geroge III and Queen Charlotte.(The first picture in this post , above, was also made by Boulton for the King)
There are quarries mining alabaster and other minerals in the area too.The famous "marble" hall at Holkham Hall in Norfolk , see picture below, was created in the mid 18th century using alabaster brought from Derbyshire quarries by boat to Holkham on the North Norfolk coast.
The tourists going to see the beauties of the Peak distirct, like the Gardiner's, would often purchase objects made from the Derbyshire minerals to take home as souvenires.Blue John was not only made into ornaments but set smaller items such as jewellery, too.
You can still see some very fine examples today in some grand houses and museums.Birmingham's Art gallery has an extensive collection of Boulton's objects. Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire has one of the largest and most diverse collections of Blue John ornaments on display in England.
As to petrifying , well there wre ( and still are) "petrifying" wells in the area : there is one in Derbyshire,at Matlock .It is found in the passage that was built to transport the mineral waters to the thermal bath that opened in Matlock in the 1780s. As the water is rich in minerals, particularly limestone,items dipped into it and hung out to dry becomes stiff or " petrifiyed" and take on the appearance of stone.I undersand , from a visit there years ago, that these "petrifyed objects" such a wigs or shoes were very popular too with tourists.So perhaps Elizabeth's might want to purchase one of these items........
I prefer to think she had better taste and was thinking of purchasing a tasteful Blue John urn.:-)
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