Snowdrop ScTug - History

Snowdrop ScTug - History


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Snowdrop

(ScTug: t. 125; 1. 91'0"; b. 17'6"; dph. 8'6"; dr. 8';
s. 12 mph.; cpl. 14; a. 2 guns)

Albert DeGroat-a screw tug built in 1863 at Buffalo N.Y.—was purchased by the Navy at New York City on 16 October 1863; renamed Snowdrop, and was fitted out at the New York Navy Yard. After service at New York into the spring of 1864, Snowdrop was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and ordered to Hampton Roads on 2 May. She served in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron through the last two years of the Civil War and apparently operated exclusively in the Hampton Roads area. After peace was restored, she remained at the Norfolk Navy Yard through the reconstruction years. She was ordered to New York sometime in the second half of 1883 and was broken up at the New York Navy Yard in 1884.


Snowdrops – 10 surprising facts about these dainty little flowers

One of the first flowers of the new year, the snowdrop is one our most endearing flowers. Not only does it remind us that spring is just around the corner, this delicate bell-shaped flower, has an interesting background. Here’s 10 things you didn’t know about the snowdrop.

#1: It’s Greek name ‘Galanthus’, translates as the ‘milk flower’!

Known by several different names, it was officially named the Galanthus in 1753, by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

#2: They are symbolic of spring, purity and religion

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story based on the fate of a snowdrop (short story entitled ‘The Snowdrop’). In a poem of the same name, poet Walter de la Mare likened the flower to the Holy Trinity and he also used the snowdrop illustration throughout his poetry.

#3: Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to appear in the new year

In the northern hemisphere snowdrops can be seen appearing as early as January, weather permitting. They usually flower between the months of January and April.

#4: There are snowdrop gardens throughout the UK

As a carpet of bluebells in woodland is a welcomed sight by many gardeners, so are the snowdrop gardens! Many large gardens open in February, for visitors to witness the snowdrop season.

#5: Collecting snowdrop bulbs in the wild is illegal in many countries

For many, you need a license to sell snowdrop bulbs, as they’re covered by Cites regulations – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. It’s actually illegal to transfer them over borders, without a CITES permit.

#6: Galanthophiles are everywhere!

This is the name given to those who like snowdrops. There’s even regional events, where galanthophiles can buy bulbs for the different varieties.

#7: They contain a substance used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Galantamine is a naturally occurring substance found in the plant.

#8: Not everyone viewed the snowdrop as a good sign

For many Victorians, a single snowdrop signified death and they considered it bad luck to bring one into the home. This could be, in part, due to the bulb of a snowdrop being highly poisonous if eaten.

#9: There are more than 2,500 varieties of snowdrop

They vary in height from 7cm to 30cm and are divided into approximately 20 species.

#10: The snowdrop isn’t native to the UK

They became fashionable in the Victorian era but, due to it being known under several different names, no one knows for sure, when they were first introduced to the UK. The first records of plants in the wild date from 1778 – but botanist John Gerard is said to have described the snowdrop in his writings from 1597.


Contents

The narrator, Princess Celestia, speaks at length of the wonder of the first winter snow before it flashes back to sometime in Cloudsdale's past. In the flashback, Princess Celestia appears as she is depicted in many pieces of fan art: with a uniformly pink mane, to show that she is in her younger years.

A teacher named Mrs. Windith is giving a lesson about warm fronts to a classroom of Pegasi colts and fillies before the subject shifts to the upcoming Spring Sunrise, an event during which weather ponies deliver rainshowers from the south to melt the snow. As part of the occasion, the foals in class have been partnered up to present gifts to the princesses. A filly named Snowdrop is the only one in class with neither a partner nor a presentation, and Mrs. Windith reminds her of the importance of the Spring Sunrise. Fearing further ostracism from her classmates because of her blindness, Snowdrop says she does have a presentation that she's been working on by herself. Before she can elaborate, the bell rings and class is dismissed. Mrs. Windith expresses concern that Snowdrop is working alone, but the filly assures her that it's alright. With a sigh, Snowdrop leaves for home.

At her cloud home, Snowdrop is sad, putting herself down and calling herself useless. She doesn't want to go to the Spring Sunrise for fear of the princesses laughing at her. She looks up to the sky and remembers a night on which she and her mother gazed at the stars and her mother told her that if she listened closely, she could hear the stars twinkle. Snowdrop remarks that she'd rather see the stars than hear them, but Snowdrop's mother tells her she's a special filly, and that she won't need her eyes to find her place in the world. When the flashback ends, Snowdrop makes a wish upon a star to do something memorable for once. In her sorrow, she starts to cry, and the single tear she sheds solidifies into a speck of ice. Snowdrop takes the tiny ice crystal in her hooves, not recognizing the sound it makes as the snow she's familiar with. Remembering her mother's words about the different sizes and shifting shapes of stars, Snowdrop plucks one of her feathers and uses the hollow end to shave pieces off the speck of ice and shape it into something else. Some time later, Snowdrop's mother beckons her daughter inside, and Snowdrop goes to show her mother what she has made.

Young Princess Celestia and Snowdrop

Two days later, on the day of the Spring Sunrise, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna look out onto the foals of Mrs. Windith's class and their families, thanking them for the gifts they've presented. Before one of the gifts can be chosen as the "Centennial Symbol", Snowdrop and her mother arrive to present Snowdrop's gift: a crudely made snowflake. When she's ridiculed by some of her classmates for such a meaningless offering, Snowdrop defends herself by saying that just as the stars of the night sky can grant wishes, so too can stars made of ice. She remarks on the gifts that winter has long brought, but always ignored and that winter deserves just as much love and recognition as the other seasons of the year. Luna seems particularly moved by Snowdrop's words and wishes to see her "wishing snow" up-close. Celestia smiles and asks Snowdrop if she could make more, as Luna admires the snowflake with tears in her eyes.

Celestia narrates that the following year's snow was one of Equestria's most celebrated events. Snowfalls from then on were gentle and sprinkled with Snowdrop's snowflakes, more intricate in design than before. A close-up on Snowdrop shows her receiving her cutie mark, a flower with a snowflake on top.

A thousand years later, sometime after the defeat of Nightmare Moon, only one of Snowdrop's snowflakes is left. Luna wants to preserve it for the sake of honoring her dear friend's memory, but Celestia knows it's not what Snowdrop would've wanted. The two princesses step onto the Canterlot castle balcony. Luna lifts a vase containing the last snowflake into the sky as she mentally gives thanks to Snowdrop. The first snowflake of winter falls out of the vase, being the very first snowflake that Snowdrop ever made. It soon after lands on a flower on the ground below, in a pose similar to Snowdrop's cutie mark.


Snowdrop ScTug - History

Upcoming drama Snowdrop is under fire for allegedly distorting history in the drama’s plot.

JTBC’s new drama Snowdrop is set in 1987 when South Korea was under the rule of a dictatorial government. It stars Jung Hae-in (A Piece of Your Mind) and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo as two ill-fated lovers against the backdrop of political turmoil and chaos in the country. Their love story starts after Jung’s character, Im Soo-ho, breaks into a women’s university dormitory, covered in blood after participating in a protest. Eun Young-cho, played by Jisoo, finds him and hides him inside the dormitory.

Criticisms began pouring online after the drama’s synopsis was made public, and people started raising concerns in online communities that the drama’s setting could cause historical distortion. According to some, the characters are based on real-life figures in the country’s history whose struggle to fight for democracy is being romanticized in the drama. Other netizens also pointed out that the male protagonist is a spy who pretends to be an activist and that another male protagonist was portrayed as a just and straightforward person even though he is a team leader at the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP).

On March 26, JTBC released an official statement to address the controversy.

“This is JTBC’s statement on the controversy surrounding the drama Snowdrop.

Snowdrop is not a drama that disparages the pro-democracy movement or glamorizes being a spy or working for the [A]NSP. Snowdrop is a black comedy that satirizes the presidential elections taking place in the 1980s under a military regime during the North-South tension on the Korean peninsula. It is also a melodrama about the young men and women who were victims of that situation.

We received all sorts of criticism after certain sentences were taken out of context from parts of an incomplete synopsis that were leaked online, but all of this was based on mere speculation.

In particular, accusations like “the drama will show a North Korean spy leading the pro-democracy movement” and “the drama made a real student activist into a character” and “the drama glamorizes the Agency of National Security Planning” are not only different from the drama’s actual content but also far from the production staff’s intention.

We firmly reiterate that the accusations going around about Snowdrop are unrelated to the drama’s actual content or the production’s staff’s intentions. We ask that you refrain from reckless speculation about a drama that has not even been revealed [yet].”

Aside from Snowdrop, other dramas have also received online criticisms for alleged historical distortion. As a result, companies are starting to pull out their sponsorships from these dramas. The chain of criticisms from netizens started after SBS’s Joseon Exorcist canceled its production due to many controversies, some of which are misrepresentations of Joseon’s ruling figures, use of Chinese props on the set, and accusations of receiving product placement arrangements from Chinese companies. The growing issue may also be further connected to the recent Korea-China cultural and political dispute.


Snowdrop ScTug - History

I once went to a lecture about snowdrops. The lady lecturer was showing us pictures which all looked the same, to be honest her lecture was becoming boring. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, she blurted out "I don't know why I am giving this talk, I have never liked these plants". I was shocked because I have always loved the flowers. I have a vivid memory of going on a long walk during my days as a student in North Wales. That year the Spring had been long and cold and I wanted to see snowdrops, after walking in freezing winds for what felt like two hours I finally found a garden where the flowers had emerged from the barren earth, they were pure and white. We all wait for the arrival of the first delicate flowers of Spring, and by chance the first flowers that break from under the snow are the colour of snow. Why had the lecturer hated them so?

In Northern Europe we have inherited richly complex and ambivalent names and stories that thread their way back through many strands of history. The material can be divided and summarised in two parts the first is to do with religious division between Protestant Northern Europe and the Catholic traditions of Purification, the Virgin Mary and Candlemas. These roots reach back through the melting pot of multicultural Rome of the 4th century into the pre-classic cultures of Egypt and Greece. The second part of our story survived through many beautiful fairy tales of Northern Europe and Russia that rest on a broad uneven bedrock of distant bronze age cultures. The festivals of these bronze age cultures survive to this day in the the Balkans, northern Greece and Russia where snowdrops are native and where the plants have never lost their status as herbs and potent symbols of rebirth and fertility.

To English eyes Snowdrops look like drops of snow, to French and Germans they look like milk "Goutte de lait" (drops of milk) or " Milchblume" (“milk flower”). In 1753 the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus married the Continental and English ideas he gave the plant their Latin name "Galanthus nivalis" which means "Milk Flowers of the Snow". They are more commonly known in France as "Pierce-neige", which literally means "Snow Piercers", which is a Common name that has also spread into Yorkshire and Germany "Schneedurchstecher ". T he Italians use Bucaneve (Snow punch)

Other poetic English names include " Fair Maids of February " "Dingle-Dangles" "Snow Bells" "Snowflowers", "Dewdrops", "Drooping bells", "Eve’s comforters" "Eve’s Tears" and "Naked Maiden", . There are just as lovely descriptive names on the Continent, and I would enjoy adding to the collection if you write to me with the names you know. I especially like the Swiss name for the flower "Amselblumli" or " black bird flower" because it blooms as the amsel (blackbird) start to sing. The German's liken the flower to drop-shaped earrings and the Spanish to White Bells

Our English names are not really old. When John Gerard was writing his Herball in 1597 he seemed at a loss about what to call the cultivated flowers. The first appearance of "Snowdrop" is in Thomas Johnson's revised edition of Gerard's Herball (1633) where he added the footnote “some call them snowdrops”. The only other country to use Snowdrop is Sweden.

In 1597 Gerard wrote that the flowers were ' maintained and cherished in gardens for the beauty and rareness of the flowers, and sweetness of their smell..'. Gerarde continued '. these plants do grow wild in Italie and places adjacent, notwithstanding our London gardens have taken possession of them all, many years past.' He ended up calling the unknown plants the "Timely flowring Bulbus violet".

1597 John Gerarde ( 1545�)

In Tudor times, when John Gerard was writing, the plants had many Catholic names given by the medieval monks who had brought the bulbs from their homelands in Italy. The most common being "Mary's taper" "Candlemass Bells" and "Candlemas Lilies", other Catholic names include "Christ's Flower", "Purification Flower", "Snow-bells", "White Ladies", "White Purification", "White Queen" and "The Virgin's Flower".

These Catholic names are found right across Northern Europe:

German:
Lichtmess-Glocken (Candlemas bells)
Marienkerzen (Mary's Candles)
Josefs-Blume (St Joseph's Flower)

Northern France
Chandeleur (1786) (Candlemas)
Porillon de la Chandeleur (1881) (Candlemas narcissus)
Violette de la Chandeleur (1819) (Candlemas Violet)
Claudinette (because the flower was introduced by a monk called Claude)
Pucelle (1816) ( a flower dedicated to the Virgin Marie and Candlemas)
'Bonshommes'(1884) (or 'good Christians' was how the believers of the Cathar movement referred to themselves)

Clhujà Sent Jeuziê (1997) (? St Joseph) Alps

Some of the names even tell us the names of the monks who introduced the flowers . To this day the ruins of old Abbeys and Monasteries are often surrounded by large patches of snowdrops which may be descended from the snowdrops planted by the clergy.

Snowdrops outside the ruins of Fountains Abbey 1132 - 1539

Gerard lived during the turbulent English Reformation in a society that was neurotically fearful of Catholic insurrection. He seems to know that the plants came from Italy but seems to have been avoiding mentioning the Catholic church's part in introducing them, and it seems he was purposely avoiding using the Catholic names people knew these flowers by.

Candlemas, otherwise known as the Christian Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary is on 2 Feburary. Many scholars believe that the roots of the festival connect in mercurial ways with earlier Roman, Jewish and Pagan myths and celebrations of Spring. A Christian version of the festival of candle light was first recorded at the end of the 4th century by a Roman Christian pilgrim called Egeria who recounted his journey in the holy places of Christianity. He describes the rite of lucernare "Do all the lamps and candles, thus making a great light" (Itinerarium 24, 4). At that time the festival was celebrated on February 14 which is 40 days after the Epiphany (The Epiphany are the 12 days of Christmas). In Jewish custom a woman was considered unclean of menstrual blood for a period of 40 days after giving birth to a boy and had to go to the Temple to be purified. A ccording to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22󈞔) Mary and Joseph went with their baby to the Temple in Jerusalem for the purification ritual.


Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: Fra Angelico 1440

Today it is fashionable to make connections between the Christian Candelmas and Roman pagan festivals, in particular with a festival called Lupercalia (Festival of the Wolves which was also celebrated on 14 Feburary). During the wolf festival naked men smeared the blood of a sacrificed dog and two goats on their foreheads and then wearing only the skins ran through the streets lashing the hands of the maidens of Rome that lined the streets, this was said to encourage fertility. According to Ovid the festival was derived from an earlier Etruscan ritual called Februa which in the Etruscan language means "to purge". It is also the origin of our word February. I do not believe this connection between Candelmas and Lupercalia because the only evidence of cross-fertilisation is the concurrent date and place. We know the Christian date was predetermined by the date of Christmas and the wolf festival is unsuited to represent the Christian story or its values.

Later the Christians changed the date of Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary from forty days after the Epiphany (14 Feburary) to forty days after Christmas Day (2 February, Candelmas day). This has made Candelmas nearly coincide with a Gaelic festival called Imbolc (30 Jan - 1 Feb)

The Christian-Pagan rituals Imbolc has survived into the 20th century and is celebrated on 1 February. It is sacred to the pagans because this day is the midpoint between between Winter Solstice and Spring equinox. The celebrations, which were similar to the long gone awakening of the bear festivals in Germany, often involved fires and the lighting of torches and candles that are said to represent the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. In some areas Imbolc has connections with blackthorn blossom (snowdrops were not native to Ireland and Scotland) and it's name may be a corruption of the Old Irish imb-fholc, "to wash/cleanse oneself". The Christians of the 4th century were fiercely anti pagan, the church authorities had specifically banned candles because they wanted to keep themselves clear of pagan idolatry, and the dates and place do not coincide. I can see few reasons for Christians to borrow rituals from a far away Gaelic spring festival.

Imbolc/wolf festival Candlemas Festival 2007 (oh dear)

The Candlemas celebration, as it survives in Italy today, makes perfect sense with what was written in the bible The Jewish custom was to take a lamb to the Temple, but according to the Gospel of St Luke Joseph and Mary were poor and could only afford to offer a pair turtle doves or pigeons (Leviticus 12:8). This story is re-enacted in towns and churches across southern Europe.

The celebration starts with the Church being decorated with candles and snowdrops.

Clergy collect the statue and take her round the streets of the town

Whilst the statue is paraded round the town her place in the church is kept warm with snowdrops that are placed on the dais where she usually stands.

Sadly I could not find a picture where the tradition is being re-enacted using real snowdrops, it seems that in these modern times they prefer to use white cut flowers from the local flower shop.

The fact that the medieval monks brought the snowdrops with them to the monasteries Northern Europe makes me think that they were required as a necessary part of the ritual. The Virgin Mary is associated with many flowers, in particular white Lilies. Flowers and the Virgin Mary seem to go together, on Google images there are many examples in pictures of the Annunciation where the angle is often painted presenting a white flower to Mary.

The Annunciation and Two Saints 1333. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

There are suggestions that the cult of the Virgin Mary was developed out the cult of Isis/Aphrodite which in the formative years of Christianity had spread through the Roman empire, for instance there was a large temple to Isis at Pompei. Isis, wife of Osirus, and mother of the Sun was sometimes represented as a breast feeding mother.

ISIS from Karanis in Graeco-Roman Egypt.
Isis also held the title "Queen of Heaven" because she was mother of the Sun God Horus. One of the emblems of Isis is the Lotus flower (usually blue but sometimes white) which in Egyptian mythology represented the Sun because its flowers bloom every day of the year. It also represented rebirth, healing and through its fragrance, Godliness


The priestesses of Isis wore white

and made perfume called "the aroma of Isis" from Lotus flowers. This image of an Ibis with a lotus flower on its head is from the temple of Isis in Pompei.


Ibis, sacred to Isis, with lotus flowers on its head/ Pompei

Another cult very popular with the Roman soldiers was centred on a God called Mithras. This cult is thought to have originated from Persia and had roots Zoroastrianism. Christians and Mithraians, both popular with the soldiers, both believed in good, evil and redemption. Mithras' reliefs often have images of Mithras banqueting with his friend Sol, the unconquerable sun who has a halo of fire round his head.

Above Mithras slaying a bull/ below Mithras sharing dinner with Sol
In Rome there was a festival on 25 December called natalis invicti that celebrated the birth of the Unconquerable Sun. (In some pagan traditions the Sun dies on the Winter Solstice (21 Dec) and is reborn four days later on the (25 December)).

It is said that Constantine the Great rallied his troops under the Christian banner of ☧ (Chi Rho) to win the battle of Milvan Bridge (312 AD). Having won this battle he entered Rome and became Caesar


Chi-Rho
Chi (Χ) traversed by Rho (Ρ): ☧, a symbol representing the first two letters of the Greek spelling of the word Christos or Christ.

Constantine was an ambitious and pragmatic man who converted to Christianity after becoming Caesar. He set about transforming Christianity from being a marginalised, disparate and sometimes fractious underground sect and set it on the path to becoming the principle religion of the Roman Empire in 389AD. As the Church moved out of their dark basement churches they took over the temples to Mithras (also in basments). Some of today's churches, like Basilica of San Clements (rebuilt 1100), still have foundations on top of the remains of earlier Mithraic temples

The Basilica of San Clement, Rome (rebuilt in 1100)


Remains of Mithric temple under St Clements


We can see why the Sun God was acceptable to Early Christians, Jesus often refers to himself as the light. Christianity is not alone in believing light has spiritual meaning, but the development of Christian theology of light is an eccentric and interesting story. In the old testament God revealing himself to Moses as a burning bush, but the notion that "God is Light" becomes of central importance to Christianity because of what St John tells us in his Gospel:

" This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

and Jesus tells his followers "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 .

Given these texts it is possible to imagine Early Christians accepting the light of the Sun as representative of God. It seems possible that whilst the Christian were absorbing Sun symbols and rituals of Mithraic calendar they also were absorbing elements of the cult of Isis/Aphrodite and her baby the sun god Horus. She was after all the mother of the Sun God who was born on Christmas day.


Enthroned Virgin and Child, Limosin, France

The celebration of Candlemas is very beautiful. The use of candles as a symbol of the light of God is very convincing, but the authorities of early church would have disagreed with you. One of the ten commandments says "thou shalt have no other gods before me" . Candle light was already used on the shrines where Pagan's worshipped, so to worship the light of a candle was the same as to worship another god. At The Synod of Elvira (AD 306, which is before Constantine became Caesar) the Church authorities forbid the use of altar lights and declared " that candles be not burned during the day in cemeteries for fear of troubling the spirits of the Saints" This is further evidence that cults like Lupercalia and Imbolc were already anathema to the early Church. The proscription against "pagan" altar-lights then lasted until 1215 when Pope Innocent III revised the Christian teachings and made altar-lights acceptable, especially when the gospels were not being read.

Imagine yourself as a monk in a dark and cold church without candles on a cold winter's day in February 310 trying to celebrate the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You would want to venerate the purity of the Queen of Heaven, it is the wrong season for lilies but out of the melting snow appear the blooms of the first snowdrops ( Candlemas Lilies!) of Spring. They must have seemed to be a gift and sign from God. You would like to use candles, but candles are proscribed, all you have for candles are snowdrops, so you call them "Mary's Tapers" or "Marienkerzen" (German Mary's Candles). After 1215, when the prescription against altar candle were lifted the celebration of Candlemas became an opulent mixture of flowers and candles.

picture: www.wight-walks.co.uk

But old habits die hard, in Protestant Europe altar candles were again being thought to be an example of Popish blasphemy. In 1536, during the English reformation, Henry VIII reaffirmed "Ye shall suffer henceforth, no candles, tapers, or images of wax to be set before any image or picture, but only the light that goeth across the church by the rood-loft, the light before the sacrament of the altar, and the light about the sepulchre, which for the adorning of the church and divine service ye shall suffer to remain" (Vicar- General Injunction). The altars of Anglican churches were candleless for another three hundred years.

Poor John Gerard, who as a boy had lived through Bloody Mary's reign and was writing 10 years after the Spanish Armada, had every reason to avoid mentioning that the snowdrops were called Candlemas Bells or that they had been brought to this country by the Catholic monks!

But intolerance and inflexibility of the English reformation did not last forever. They may for a while have succeeded in smothering the use of Catholic names for Snowdrops but it was much harder to extinguish the symbolic associations of the flower with notions of purity, chastity and virginity. There are suggestions that even during Elizabeth 1 reign the name "The Virgin Flower" was still being used by courtiers in honour of the Protestant Virgin Queen of England. (a lovely example of linguistic subversiveness).

Some 300 years later in Victorian England a new cult of Virginity and Chastity thrived in Britain. It was set up by a Christian philanthropist called Ellice Hopkins who advocated sexual education and protection for working class women. She believed in “robust virtue, not helpless innocence.”

Ellice Hopkins 1836-1904



Ellice set up groups called "snowdrop bands" 'to prevent the degradation of women and children' by “male devourers” and “unnatural parents” who encouraged their daughters to enter brothels, she established of over two hundred rescue homes. The fascinating history of this movement has been well researched and written about by Paula Bartlett of the Univerity of Wolverhampton (1998) but I could find no pictures of their publication "The Snowdrop" or of their parties where their members met to eat banquets of white food. All I managed to find were adverts from the dying days of the movement.

and this picture of one of the 1 08 homes as sanctuary for girls

Hastings Ladies Association Home c 1915 which was founded by Ellice
Another example of Snowdrops and chastity was the Victorian custom for ladies to send a bunch of snowdrops to men whose attentions they wanted to refuse, conveying the subliminal message "I wish to remain a virgin". (dictionery of plant law DC Watts 2007)

Conveniently for my story of the snowdrop I have discovered that in 2014 a new Christian charity was born called "The Snowdrop Project" which was formed for the protection of victims of human trafficking, including young girls who have been brought to this country to be subjected to exploitation and prostitution. The Charity even has a journal called "the Snowdrop". http://snowdropproject.co.uk/

Today Snowdrops are everywhere in the countryside, in Pembrokeshire our lanes are white with their blooms. They are also especially common in church yards and cemeteries. Perhaps because of Candlemas, perhaps because they are a natural flower of choice, growing as they do out of the barren soil of winter, bringing life and resurrection.

Snowdrops in Graveyard photo: www.panoramio.com

Unfortunately this custom of planting in graveyards might have led to an unfortunate Common name for Snowdrops: "Death Flowers". Victorians said the drooping head of the flowers resembled shrouds and had a saying that "they grow closer to the dead than the living" (was this a memory of propaganda created during English Reformation?). In many parts of the country taking the first snowdrop of Spring or single flowers into the house is still bad luck, other houses have celebrations of purity involving bringing snowdrops into the house. We are very ambivalent towards snowdrops.

So far I have only told half the story, there is a second strand which tells of powerful even older myths at work in Eastern Europe that spread north to Russia and West to Germany and Britain , that unknown to us are still celebrated in our daily lives and cultures. To read about these you will have to wait for part 2 of The Secret History of the Snowdrop.


Snowdrop ScTug - History

'Imbolc Snowdrops' by Anne Thomas
You may buy this and other beautiful cards at 'shiningedge'
mandala © annethomas -used here with Anne's kind permission

“Welcome, welcome!” sang and sounded every ray, and the Flower lifted itself up over the snow into the brighter world.
The Sunbeams caressed and kissed it, so that it opened altogether, white as snow, and ornamented with green stripes.
It bent its head in joy and humility.

“Beautiful Flower!” said the Sunbeams, “how graceful and delicate you are!
You are the first, you are the only one!
You are our love! You are the bell that rings out for summer, beautiful summer, over country and town.
All the snow will melt the cold winds will be driven away we shall rule all will become green, and then you will have companions, syringas, laburnums, and roses
but you are the first, so graceful, so delicate!”

Extract from 'The Snowdrop' by Hans Christian Anderson
Read the entire story online here .

Welcome indeed Snowdrop, Flower of Hope. Among the very first to tingle our senses into believing that winter will soon be past and warm days might really return.

There's such a magic and simple tranquility about them - no wonder they're so beloved of the Faerykind. (Muddypond Green, who writes and researches here, is indeed a Galanthofae!)
Native to our islands or not, who doesn't seek for signs of them in gardens, parks and churchyards on a fine January day as the first grey-green spears of foliage push through the frosty earth?

The first printed British reference to 'snowdrop' flowers can be found in the Gerarde's 'Great Herbal', published in 1597. There he called them 'Timely Flowering Bulbous Violets' which he says may perhaps be the 'Gillowflower or winter-flowering Violet Alba' mentioned by Greek naturalist Theophrastus (c250 BC) in his 'Enquiry into Plants' first published in Latin translation c1490. (Gillowflowers are more usually known to have been sweet smelling 'Pinks'.) The Gerarde's 16th century description is detailed and unmistakable .

'The first of these bulbous violets rises forth of the ground with two small leaves, flat and crested, of an ouerworne green colour: among the which rises up a small and tender stalk, of two hand high
At the top whereof cometh forth of a skinnie hood a small white flower of the bigness of a violet, compact of six leaves, three bigger and three lesser, tipped at the points with a light green. The smaller leaves are not so white as the outermost great leaves, but tipped with green as the others be.

The whole flower hangeth down his head by reason on the weak foote stalk whereon it groweth. The root is small white and bulbous. (It) flowereth at the beginning of Januarie. ….
They are maintained and cherished in gardens for the beauty and rareness of the flowers, and sweetness of their smell.'


Perhaps surprisingly
, these perfect little blooms are not wild British natives. Gerarde continues - 'These plants do grow wild in Italie and places adjacent, notwithstanding our London gardens have taken possession of them all, many years past.'

It's thought that the bulbs were first brought to Britain in the 15th century by Italian monks, who introduced the bulbs into the gardens of monasteries.

Just over half a century after Gerarde, in 1656, John Parkinson describes 'snowdrops' in his elegant book of garden plants 'Paradisi in Sole, Paradisus Terrestris : or, A Choice Garden of all Sorts of Rarest Flowers', calling them 'Lesser Early Bulbous Violets'.


His sample, he tells us, came to him from Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey)..


'This lesser kind riseth up with two grayish green leaves, between which commeth forth the stalk, bearing one small pendulous flower, consisting of three white leaves which are small and pointed, standing on the outside, having three other shorter leaves which seem like a cup in the middle, being each of them round at the ends and cut at the middle making the form of an heart, with a green tip or spot at the broad end or edge. …..

The root is like a small daffodil, with a blackishgrey coat, and quickly divideth into many off-sets.

This lesser sort do most commonly flower in February if the weather be anything milde, or at the furthest at the beginning of March '

The plant referred to by Homer in 'The Odyssey' as the magical herb 'Moly', believed by some to be a reference from 8th century BC to the Snowdrop, is much more likely to have been the white flowering stem of wild garlic, named in Gerarde's Herbal as 'Moly Hippocraticum'.

The first mention of the common name 'Snowdrop' in its modern form comes from the latin 'Galanthus nivalis', clearly classified by Carl Linnaeus, a remarkable Swedish botanist, in his pioneering work 'Species Plantarum' 1753. You can find the reference in Section V1 under. 'Hexandria'. Galanthus translates as having 'milk-white' flowers and Nivalis as 'snowy'.

You may have read the first two lines of the following excerpt on many a website about snowdrops: -

‘The Snowdrop in purest white arraie
First rears her hedde on Candlemas daie
While the Crocus hastens to the shrine
Of Primrose lone on St Valentine.’

where you may be told that this is " From an early church calendar of English flowers, c. 1500." .

The early date suggested is nonsense of course as the common name wasn't so much as dreamt of at that time! The lines come in fact from the pen of an eccentric, 19th century, catholic essayist named Dr Thomas Forster. You may read it all in his work 'Perennial Calendar and Companion to the Almanac'. This was cited in Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 93 Pt 2 as "Preparing for Publication" in 1824!

Candlemas Bells, Christ's Flower, Death's Flower, Dew-drops, Dingle-Dangle, Drooping heads. Drooping Lily, Fair Maids of February, French Snowdrop, Mary’s Taper, Naked Maiden, Purification Flower, Snow-bells, Snow-flower , Snow-piercer, White-bells, White-cups, White Ladies, White Purification, White Queen,

Postcard from Rene Cloke c1940

Snowdrops have aquired many folk names over the last few centuries, some reflecting their appearance, some the superstitions associated with them, some their unusual winter flowering habit and some their identity with the spiritual calendar.

They are often represented as shy flowers, who are afraid to raise their heads because of some misdemeanour or other. The real reason is that their dusty pollen must be kept dry and sweet in order to attract the few insects flying in winter. No mean feat in the February winds, snows and rains. And so - they droop!

One of the most famous legends concerning the snowdrop flower is a kind of creation story -

A Christian Folk Myth which tells 'How the Snowdrop Became"

It was the eve of Brighid's Day when he at last agreed to go down to the earth once again. As he plummeted towards the garden - the promised place - he felt ice crystals in the air, saw the stars far above glitter with frozen light.

Landing lightly on the grass, fragile with frost, he could see them. They stood close together, shivering despite the coverings contrived from feathers and weeds which hung from waists and shoulders, arms raised to protect frightened eyes from his light.

He spread his monumental wings, stepping towards them -
"The Creator says you must leave this place, it is no longer yours as a privilege."
Giving them no time to wonder or delay, the sheer magical strength of him compelled them to move - descending the unfamiliar path towards all that was unknown, nameless, outside.

Watching the two, hand in hand, heads bowed with tears, he noticed the first snow drifting like thistledown through the silence of the night. Deep sorrow he felt for them and stretched out a hand. Snowflakes gathered in his palm, hexagonal wonders, showing no sign of thawing there. Bringing them closer to his mouth, he breathed a sigh over their perfection. As the crystals were touched with the breath, each turned to a three petalled flower white as the snowflake that had birthed it. Each drooped its head, hiding the touch of fresh, soft green at its heart.

"Take a sign of hope," he called, "a sign for your kind and for the earth outside."
As they moved towards the gap in the stone wall, he threw the snowdrops in a halo shower around their heads. They walked on unawares, taking the little blessing with them.

A Romanian Folk Myth which also tells 'How the Snowdrop Became"

In Romania, a folk legend is the basis for an age-old ‘first day of spring celebration’, held on March 1st and known as Mârtisor.

A young Hero, who loved the Sun dearly and saw the plight that the earth would face without her, sort out the Zmeu and lured it from its castle walls. The two fought bitterly and Hero managed to set Sun free. He warmed himself with her kiss as she rose into the sky and the icy winds became Spring breezes.
But poor Hero was grievously wounded and despite Sun’s warmth, he fell to the ground.
Each drop of blood as it fell melted the snow beneath him and the first snowdrops began to grow, opening their white petals as Sun reached her zenith.

It is still a tradition at the Mârtisor Festival, for a woman to receive a charm, worn for good luck, which is some form of red and white threads which are twisted together (see image at right), sometimes with tiny red and white dolls attached.

The 19th century Scottish poet George Wilson, at the conclusion of "Origin of the Snowdrop" gives us the following apt lines .

"And thus the snowdrop, like the bow
That spans the cloudy sky,
Becomes a symbol whence we know
That brighter days are nigh "

Snowdrop Superstition:

Despite the joy that the little flowers bring to early Spring days, snowdrops have been known as objects of dread. No-one seems sure about the roots of this fear, but in folklore from many parts of the British Isles this feeling was uppermost.

'She Calls up the First Snowdrop' Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

If it be true that the plant was brought to this country and introduced to monastery gardens by monks, then the association with burial may well have originated in these very beginnings. The Victorians took snowdrop planting on the graves of loved ones to their hearts, and in many parts of the country, particulary in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was considered very unlucky to bring the little blooms into the house from their cold environment - a single bloom being the worst omen of all. This superstition has been very well documented.

According to "The Handbook of Folklore" published in 1913 by the Folklore Society, it was a common country belief that "Snowdrops may not be brought in at all, as they will make the cows' milk watery and affect the colour of the butter."

The book mentioned above, and Margaret Baker, in her well known book "Discovering the Folklore of Plants" 1969, mentions that, along with other spring flowers, bringing snowdrops into the house could affect the number of eggs that a sitting chicken might hatch.
Snowdrops were not held in fear everywhere however. Interestingly, she also states that "In Shropshire and Herefordshire the house was 'cleansed' when the snowdrop was carried in with ceremony in the 'white purification'.

For many, Galanthus Nivalis was looked upon, not so much as a foreteller of death with its 'corpse-like shroud', but as a sign of triumph over adversity and herald of eternal life when its flowers opened wide in the winter sun after months under the ground.


"It is unlucky to decorate your rooms with snowdrops.
The snowdrop always blossoms on Candlemas Day
The snowdrop will ensure purity of thought to the wearer
If a girl eats the first snowdrop she finds in the spring, she will not get tanned in the summer.
Snowdrops are so much like a corpse in a shroud that in some countries the people will not have them in the house, lest they bring in death.
"

From - "Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World." 1903

There are several calendar festival dates associated with early February, a little later in more Northerly countries, when the snowdrops bloom, I will give only a brief description of them here.

'The Rich earth, black and bare,
Was starred with snowdrops everywhere'.
Artist Sybil Barham 1912

February 1st: (sometimes 2nd) is the festival of 'Brigid's Day' in tribute to the Goddess Brigid.. It is also the ancient celtic festival of 'Imbolc' or Imbolg' celebrating the beginning of Spring. The name comes from an even older word 'oimelc' meaning the milk of the ewe, therefore associated with the pure colour white.
It is a day for physical and spiritual spring cleansing. Later the date was dedicated to St Bride (Brigid, Brighid, Bridget) and four sided crosses known as 'Brigid's Crosses were plaited from rushes and kept in the house, crafted it is said, after one made by St Bride herself.
(You can find plenty more about St Bride's Day and how to make a Brigid cross here on my website.)

February 2nd: 'Candlemass' or 'The feast of White Purification'. A Christian festival, remembering Mary's purification in the Temple at Jerusalem. It was believed (and still is in some parts of the world) that a woman who has given birth is 'unclean', and at around five weeks after the birth, by law, she must be ritually 'purified'. in her place of worship.
Some centuries after the life of Jesus, candles were used in procession to celebrate the day. Still later girls in white dresses would join the procession and snowdrops were strewn about the chutch altar. Families would bring their own candle to the church and light it from a central flame, where it would be blessed. (The candle is used as a symbol, standing to remind the congregation that on that day Simeon held the baby and made a first refernece to his being 'a light'.) (Luke 2: v29-32)

February 14th was 'Lupercalia' (poss 13th - 15th) was a pagan Roman festival, supposedly held in Rome at the site where twine Romulus and Remus were suckled by the mother wolf. After sacfice of a goat and dog, chosen men known at Lupici dedicated themselves to purifying the city before 'The ides of March' or Roman new year. Later, this date was dedicated to St. Valentine.
'The Feast of Purification' was once celebrated on this day as the 40th day after Twelth Night (Epiphany), before the calendar changes of 1752.


March 1st: In Russia, Snowdrop Day is celebrated
. Legend tells that the tiny flowers are the tears of winter snow melting into spring and that they bloom only on that day, You must go out into the forests at sunrise in order to see them. Children pick bunches to give as gifts to parents and grandparents as a symbol of thanksgiving for the passing of winter.
There are 'First Day of Spring' celebrations on this day in many Northern countries (see 'Mârtisor' above).

The long-held, but no longer fashionable view of the snowdrop as a flower of sadness
is vividly expressed by 18th century writer and poet
Mary Robinson in her novel 'Walsingham' 1797

The Snowdrop

The snow-drop, Winter's timid child,
Awakes to life bedew'd with tears
And flings around its fragrance mild,
And where no rival flowrets bloom,
Amidst the bare and chilling gloom,
A beauteous gem appears!

All weak and wan, with head inclin'd,
Its parent breast, the drifted snow
It trembles while the ruthless wind
Bends its slim form the tempest lours,
Its em'rald eye drops crystal show'rs
On its cold bed below.

Poor flow'r! On thee the sunny beam
No touch of genial warmth bestows
Except to thaw the icy stream
Whose little current purls along,
Thy fair and glossy charms among,
And whelms thee as it flows.

The night-breeze tears thy silky dress,
Which, deck'd with silv'ry lustre, shone
The morn returns, not thee to bless,
The gaudy crocus flaunts its pride,
And triumphs where its rival died,
Unshelter'd and unknown!

No sunny beam shall gild thy grave,
No bird of pity thee deplore
There shall no spreading branches wave,
For Spring shall all her gems unfold,
And revel 'midst her buds of gold,
When thou are seen no more!

Where'er I find thee, gentle flow'r,
Thou still art sweet, and dear to me!
For I have known the cheerless hour,
Have seen the sun-beams cold and pale,
Have felt the chilling wint'ry gale,
And wept, and shrunk like thee !

A short fairy tale: from "Land of the Happy Hours" by Stella Mead - first pub: James Nisbet & Co. Ltd 1929

Fairies are never allowed to stray out of Fairyland during the winter-time. But when spring comes they may dance and play in the woods and meadows of the earth as long as they please, and at night they may sleep out in the wood, curled up in a bluebell or a buttercup.

There was once a fairy called Silver Wing , who grew tired of waiting for the spring-time. One day early in February she whispered a secret to her playmates.

She was going to run away from Fairyland and see what the earth looked like in winter-time. Her little friends said it would be great fun to go with her. As soon as supper was over the naughty little fairies slipped away in the dusk until they came to the first wood ourside Fairyland. For a long time they played there, looking very gay and pretty in their green silk frocks and white bonnets. But at last they crept into a bed of ivy leaves and went to sleep.

When they awoke in the morning the ground was covered with soft snow, and a man whose coat was trimmed with hoar-frost, and whose cap had a border of glistening icicles, stood before them.

The little fairies all felt quite frightened when they saw him. They trembled so that even their teeth chattered, for they knew that he was jack frost, and he was stern.

"I don't allow fairies to come here during the winter-time." he said angrily. "Why couldn't you keep away until 'Bluebell-time'?"

To punish them for their naughtiness he turned them into flowers and kept them prisoners for three weeks and a day.

Then he allowed them to go home but every February they have to return for a few weeks, and the children of the earth call them snowdrops.


The Illustration, originally drawn for this story in 'Land of the Happy Hours' is by my favourite fairy artist Helen Jacobs. It was also reproduced in 'The Tribute for the V.C's' published by John Horn 1930.

all content © VCSinden2010 /20 photographs and composites © VCSinden unless otherwise stated


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Cattle History in New Zealand

Oral history has the first importation of Devon Cattle into New Zealand was by James Busby, British Resident for the Queen (Victoria), stationed at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, Northland in 1838. It is said that a small breeding group of 20 heifers and one bull was sent out from England. By examining New Zealand Papers Past internet site, and further research into written New Zealand history, cannot bring up any written connection of Devons and James Busby. History records that over a period of two decades Busby farmed several large blocks of land in the Bay of Islands and Whangarei Districts importing livestock, materials labourers, shepherds, stockmen to NZ at his own expense from Sydney, Australia, but no mention of Devon cattle from England.

The first written record of Devons in New Zealand appears in the 1839-1850 History of Ngunguru reproduced in the Northern Advocate 16 January 1923. “Mr Busby, bought several blocks of land (pre 1840) had to be compensated with £70,000 by the British Government. (post 1840) Among some blocks acquired was the best part of Ngunguru (on the eastern coast between Bay of Islands and Whangarei Heads). Here they built a good house of Kauri Timber. This house was occupied by Captain Thomas Stewart who may be reckoned as the first bona fide settler in Ngunguru. Captain Stewart for a long period in his own vessel, traded between Sydney and the Bay of Islands, but saw that the land was good and settled down at Kopipi, Ngunguru River and set to work clearing land. He raised some splendid Devon Cattle, such bullocks as are seen today, having backs like tables! There he had delightful surroundings, a good library, entertained his friends, bred his Devons and lived for a quarter of century. He expired on the 10 th October 1867 age 49″. As there is a strong connection between James Busby and Capt. Stewart it could be the same ancestral Devon cattle attributed to James Busby.

Bullock teams played a vital role in the timber industry that was an important part of the early development of Northland. Although Shorthorn were the dominant breed and their steers made up the majority of bullock teams, Devons were a popular choice for leaders because of their intelligence and response to commands from the drivers. As well as hauling heavy Kauri logs from the bush to the mills, they were used for the development of farm land and supplied milk and beef to the early pioneers.

Milestone Dates of New Zealand Red Devon Cattleand Early Press Records from Papers Past

April 23 rd 1842: Nelson Examiner and NZ Chronicle Volume 1 P25. For Sale, by Private Contract, the whole of, the LIVE STOCK per S.S.Hope consisting of 58 cows. The cow’s, are all in calve to pure Durham and Devon bulls, imported from England at a very great cost. These cattle have all been selected from the stock of W.C. Wentworth, Esq., who as a breeder, is known to spare no expense in improving his herd. (W.C. Wentworth is known as the first bona fide European born on Australian territory-Norfolk Island)

May 15 th 1844: New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator P25, Volume V, Issue 344 P1. The Imported pure North Devon Bull Lillipont, bred at Torrongton in Devonshire, will stand at Newry, River Hutt, (Hutt Valley, Wellington) this season. The charge for cows sent to him will be five Guineas.

21 Feb 1855: Mr William Dyson of Blackbull, Wakapuaka, Nelson, (South Island) had for sale
A very superior Red Devon Bull. Early livestock in the Nelson area, were imported from Australia (Nelson History)

13 July 1857: S.S. Copenhagen anchored at Hobson Bay. Livestock include prize Durham and Devon Cattle. The accommodation for the cattle was first rate and the condition in which they arrived proved that every attention and care was paid to them during the voyage.

1866: Auckland Annual Show at Otahuhu had classes for Devon bulls, cows and heifers.

1866: Otahuhu Saleyards (Auckland): For Sale, a first class superior bred Devon bull about 3 years old. In the History of the Albertlanders (Matakohe-Wellsford area mid Northland.) written in 1926. ‘E & T Coates occupation commenced in 1868. First with sheep but with a wild dog problems made them turn to beef. The Coates (Ruatuna) were pioneers of an enlighten type. Among the first Hereford Breeders in NZ, they introduced the Devon Cattle into the North, they afterwards passed them onto the brothers G & R Smith (neighbours) who added to them later and produced splendid cattle. In cattle the Oven Bros co-operated with the Smiths in the purchase and development of the Ruatuna herd.

1878: There were Devon Classes in the Canterbury A & P Show (South Island)

1878: Pure bred Devon cows from the Tocal Herd (Australia) was purchased by the firm of McLean & Co Waikato The finest lot of pure-bred Devons which have as yet left this port, were dispatched by the ‘Hero’ on Wednesday for Auckland. They came from the celebrated Tocal herd and were selected by Mr T. Payne who purchased for the firm of McLean & Co of Waikato. This shipment of hardy Reds consisted of 21 head of young females, everyone fitted for a show-ground as a pure representative of the Devon breed and one two year old bull. The heifers are by the well known grand bulls Duke of Flitton 4 th and Emigrant, both imported bulls from England. The male of the lot is Baronet, a fine specimen of the Devon breed. We are informed that Messrs McLean & Co., intend this interesting collection to be the foundation of a Devon herd.

1878: Auckland A & P November Grand Show: McLean & Co Devon Bull gained 1 st prize. The fame of their cattle has already spread through the length and breadth of the colonies. They have the Sydney Show Champion in their herd and the Champion Cow ‘Anemone’. [This Company imported other breeds as well.]

1880: McLean & Co herd of Devons at Pah Farm Cambridge inspected and declared healthy after a sickness scare thought to be Pleuro. Post mortem on one found inflamed Intestines and liver.

1882: Devons the 1 st bull offered was ‘Star’ a 2yr, got by an imported bull. Mr McLean undertook to furnish his pedigree and added that 50gns had been offered for him last year as a yearling. Mr James Robertson purchased him for 25gns. Sir Mathew Lopks sold Red 31 calved 0/9/89. Got by Baronet (Imp) dam, Julia 4 th by Duke of Devon. Major Wimberly the purchaser for 13gns

1883: Devon bull auction at Ohaupo Yards (Waikato). J.S. Buckland

1883: Linwood, (South Island). Devon Bull for sale

1885: Auckland Remuera Sale Yards. Agents, Alfred Buckland 10 Devon heifers and yearling Devon bull for sale

1886: NZ Herd Book-Pedigree Devons-5 bulls, 4 cows

1888: Canterbury (South Island) Cattle Markets- a line of neat little Devon Heifers sold from £5/10s to £6/12s/6d

1890: Pure bred Devon calves at Hawera sale(Taranaki) bought for 1 guinea (21 shillings) each

c1890: Strong evidence that Walter Mountain of Purerua, born 1861, was well established in Devon Cattle.
Oral history records that when he returned from Queensland as their Heavyweight Boxing Champion, he brought two Devon bulls with him as he knew that his home Devon stock were getting inbred. He had the bulls swam ashore onto an Island in the Bay of Islands to quarantine them for some time

1895: Rough voyage for cattle aboard the “Southern Cross”. Durhams died, Herefords survived and Devons did well.

1905: Devons being killed at Gore Abattoirs (Southland), Finest flavour, choicest cuts. 3yr heifers bred by Mr Carswell of Pine Bush Southland Av. 675lb dressed

1908: Early pedigree certificates show cattle bred by the Glen Moan Stud, New South Wales, Australia were sold to Mr G. Smith (Whakatu Stud, Matakohe) and were recorded in Volume 10 of the NZ Herd Book for Other Breeds. The females were Glen Moan Lass, Queen and Bird and a bull Glen Moan Chief

1909: Auckland Star 16/2/1909: Matakohe. This district can boast of possessing 6 enthusiastic breeders of pedigree stock. G & R Coates – Shropshire sheep, Hereford Cattle G & R Smith Border Leicester sheep and Devon Cattle, G. Ovens Devon cattle. Smith Bros have just imported from Australia five head of Devon Cattle, which took 1st prize in the Sydney Show and the new owners anticipate great results from their new and costly purchases.

1910: R & G Smith entered Devon Heifer Moan Queen and Bull Mrytle Boy in Auckland A & P Show

1911: The shipment of South Devon cattle for Mr J. C. N. Grigg of Longreach, Canterbury came to hand by steamer Morayshire. [Previous Red Devon history says that John Grigg of Longreach introduced Devons to the South Island at the turn of the century. [That maybe is a mistake]

1914: NZ Herd Book printed – North Devon section shows entries of Imported Highfield Cows bred by
Mr Charles Morris and owned by Mr J. Birch of Marton. Their names were China Cup, Vanity, Ladybird 4 th , and Snowdrop 2 nd . A bull Claudius bred by King Edward VII on the Royal farm at Windsor was also recorded by
Mr Birch. Thorsby farm is situated a few miles north of Marton (Lower North Island), is one of the finest farms in the district. It comprises 1000 acres of rich undulating land and river flats between the Rangitikei and Powera rivers and was acquired by Mr Birch in 1899. Born in England 1842, emigrated to NZ 1860, Mr Birch developed and owned the high station “Erewhon”.

1917: NZ Soldiers on convalescent in England visit Charles Morris (Highfield Hall) who says he has shipped a few Devons to Mr W. J. Birch of Thorsby, Marton.

1917: Mr Birch of Marton sent 2 Devon Bulls to the Sydney Royal Show

1921: census. 23 Pure bred Devons in NZ

1930: Northern Wairoa Show. R & G .Smith of Matakohe entered 28 head of Devon & Hereford cattle. Included were 2 Devon Steers each of which would tip the beam of 10cwt. looking down on them they appeared almost as square at the shoulders as at the rump.

1935: Walter Hansen purchased his first Devon bull from Walter Mountain and later cows from Cecil Dodds whose herd was based on the original Busby imports

1936: H. Mountain of Waimate North, imported two bulls from Tasmania on board the “Wanganella”. Roseville Leader b.Oct 1934: and Nanhington No.44 son of Crazeloman Perfection. Second time Mr Mountain has imported Devons from Tasmania By 1936 there were only two recorded Devon Herds in New Zealand. Mountain Estate of Waimate North (Bay of Islands) and G & R Smith of Matakohe.

1940: While no definite date has been located, it was about this time that the Dodds herd was formed by the purchase of the G & R Smith cattle, many of whom, were reputed to descend from the Busby 1838 imports via Coates, and possible their Australian imports as well.

The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s may have been the catalyst of the demise of Red Devon cattle outside of Northland. With little income to purchase breeding stock, many valuable breeding females may have finished up in the meat market. But the reason for their decline in numbers in relation to other breeds seems to be attributed to the vast numbers of Angus and Hereford that were imported to establish a beef industry in the early days.

Before the establishment of the New Zealand Devon Cattle Breeders Association in 1972, early noted breeders were the likes northern farmers W. Mountain, W. & K. Hansen, B. Dreadon, W. Kearney, B. Taylor, Foster, Beazley family, Mrs F. Biddle

Modern Day Red Devons

Walter Mountain’s Te Puna and G & R Smith’s Northland cattle appear to be ancestors of many of the foundation cows of today’s herd. Mr Cecil Dodds acquired the Smith herd c1940 and when he passed away in 1967 a number of breeders bought cows, but of note were the cattle that formed the base stock for the Foster herd at Maungaturoto, and the 10 purchased by Mr. Jock McKay from Feilding, to enhance the Oldfield Stud he had started with two cows from the Holmslee Stud in 1962. Many of the Oldfield cows when sold in c1982 went onto become the foundation females of Ian Lipscombe Matahaia Stud where he developed very good cow families such as Tammy, Helen, Joy, Angela, Della, Nicola and Apricot. Joan Powers (Isca) developed good families from Tammy, Della and Angela. Colin Nash (Woodlands) developed good families from Helen, Angela, Apricot and Nicola. Arthur Beazley (Tapuwae) raised a show winning cow from the Joy family. Bert Dreadon in 1961 purchase a yearling Devon bull from Cecil Dodds to mate over his Milking Shorthorns whose descendants were to become son David’s, commercial Devon Herd. To start up their Pencarrow stud the Dreadon’s purchased two Holmslee bred cows.

1954 Mr G. Holmes of Rakaia, Canterbury, South Island imported Rosaville Cherry 6 th and Rosavale Buttercup 5 th from Tasmania to found the Holmslee Stud. Mr M. Turton of Ashburton imported Whisloca Apricot 45 th and Whisloca Kind Regards 3 rd Devons from Mr H. Trethewie, Tasmania 1955 The Holmslee herd was strengthened with the arrival of females from the Willow Vale and Marchington studs, Tasmania. Also arriving at Holmslee, was the champion English bull Trescowe Jason. In later years, Mr Holmes imported the sires Lincoln Park David and Whisloca Passport 120 th from Australia to establish a long line of excellent cattle.

1958 Mr H. Squires of Cannington, Timaru, moved into Red Devons, importing the Show Champion Whisloca Midas 10 th and the basis of the well known Squireleigh stud came into being.

1969 Mr G. Holmes imported the bull Whisloca Passport 120 th

1972 The introduction of exotics to New Zealand provided the impetus for the Devons to re-establish themselves. This move was led by Mr and Mrs Darcy Gilberd of Whangarei, who worked with tremendous vigour and were largely responsible for resurgence of interest in the Devon in New Zealand. A total of seven North Island breeders held an inaugural Meeting in a caravan on June 15 th 1972 at the National Field days at Hamilton. The first Devon Association, was formed with a motion moved by Jock McKay and seconded by Merv Rusk.
Aims:

  • To form a body of Devon Breeders for the benefit of all concerned
  • To make best possible use of the Devon breed of cattle
  • To promote the development of the breed on a sound genetic basis
  • To publicise the breed and promote sales
  • To record the breeding and good genetic qualities and regulate any faults

The first dinner was served by Mrs Alice Gilberd, fish and chips served on newspaper.
The committee consisted of:

President – Jock McKay,
Vice President – Merv Rusk,
Secretary – Darcy Gilberd,
Treasurer – Neville Rae.

Others present were David Holmes, Keith Hansen, Alice Gilberd and Darcy Gilberd Jnr.
The Secretary reported on talks held with Dr Clive Dalton, Head Geneticist at Ruakura Research Station who showed terrific interest and gave considerable advice and support. Later Mr Graham Holmes was invited to be Patron and Mr Walter Alison became Head Classifier.

The first Devon Annual was printed in 1973 and “beef per hectare” became an important promotional call. There was an urgent need for a classification system as bad faults were being seen in the show ring. Dr Dalton obtained permission for the Devon Association to use the Ankony Scientific Research Station’s system of classification, as it was the most progressive and suitable for our needs and embraced every phase of beef production.

1972 Ramsey Farms of Taupo imported 21 heifers from the Monavale Stud, Tasmania, with names Dainty, Brassy, Redgirl, Flirt, Jenny, Plum and Sunset for the Pine View Stud. These female lines feature strongly in today’s herd.

1973 Semen from the top English bull Potheridge Masterpiece, was selectively used by Darcy Gilberd and A. F. Dean in Northland and had great influence on NZ Devons. A son, Dean Peace was a cornerstone sire in the notable Rotokawa stud. Other top U.K Sires used on AB in the 1970s were Nynehead Candidate and Bovey Lonely

1974 Ban Ban and Jingaree Devons were imported from Australia by Kevin Rusk for the Bangaree Stud. Amongst these was Ban Ban Carnation, Ban Ban Lupin, Jingaree Apricot 5 th and Jingaree Jipsylass 4 th whose descendants feature strongly in A. Beazley Tapuwae Stud.

1976 Mrs J. Brooker imported 2 bulls from Australia Tondara Stocklad 19 th and Tondra Servant 53 rd

1978 Hedley Squires imported the English Royal Show Champion, Essington Buccaneer and his son John used him heavily on the Inwardleigh stud

1979: The Rotokawa Stud established owned by Mrs M. J. Liburn and managed by Mr Ken McDowell, were to acquire many leading females from the Holmslee herd.

1980 Fairington Orange 43 rd imported from England by Mr. W. Kearney and Mr. A. Beazley (Tapuwae)

1981 Semen of the English bull Fairington Baron 3 rd imported by K. Rusk (Bangaree) from Australia.

1981 Walter Alison Imported Candlewood Ringmaster 23 rd , Candlewood Ringmaster 30 th , Woodilee Drover and the cow Woodilee Elma from Australia

1982 D. Gilberd imported the English polled sire Bourton Marquis. Semen sales of other English polled bulls Minety Dollies Objective and Dingle Objective soon after, influenced the spread of polled Devons. The polling of these bulls came from a show winning Red Angus bull called Red Eagle.

1983 Woodilee Ely, polled, from South Australia was imported John Squires.

1991 Seaton Park 55, polled, from South Australia imported by Walter Alison (Red Oaks Devons) Whangarei. Later sold to Tuppy Jones (Thelmara Stud) as an aged bull.

1994 Some semen from the English bull Thorndale Baron 4 th was used

2001 Semen from Tilbrook Sunset(P) was bought in by Colin Nash and some on-sold to other breeders. Many of today’s polled Red Devons feature Tilbrook Sunset

2004 Brightly Diamond and Cutcombe Jaunty semen imported from England.

2010 Rotokawa herd sold to USA breeders

2011 New Zealand Red Devon Cattle Breeders Association (NZRDCBA) changes from Beefplan to Breedplan and EBV’s come into use.

Supplied by Eileen Porter to the 2006 AGM of the NZRDCBATranscribed by Wayne Aspin from a hand written letter By Keith Hansen,The Hansen Family’s Involvement with Devon Cattle in New Zealand

James Busby of Waitangi brought the first recorded herd of Devon cattle to NZ. Sixteen cows and two bulls in 1838.

Thomas Hansen the first non-missionary settler in NZ, landed at Te Puna 1814. His son Edward Hansen, born 1823, started a butchery and ship’s provender business at Waitangi next to the Busby property in early 1850’s. His corned Beef & Bacon was guaranteed to last the round trip to England and back on a sailing ship. He supplied some navy ships, very likely with beef from Busby’s farm.

Thomas Hansen’s granddaughter, Hannah Elizabeth Clapham married George Pin Sydey Mountain in 1861. They took over the Hansen land at Purerua and adjoining land and bought Busby’s Devon cattle.

George Mountain’s sons Walter Clapham, Syd and Burt farmed Devon cattle at Purerua, Waimate North and Okaihau. Walter also farmed the Cavalli Islands. He spent some time in Australia and imported some Devon cattle from there. He quarantines them on one offshore island for a year.

My Grandfather Walter Hansen senior used a Devon bull at Tapuhi near Hukerenui early 1900. This bull was in W. Hedley’s bullock team before 1914.

My father Walter Hansen junior worked a team of bullocks until 1939. The leader of his first team was a Devon bullock bred by Mountains. This bullock was used by Mabet & Clements when they shifted the Towai Hotel and the Towai School.

Dad bought several Devon bulls and a few cows from Burt and Sid Mountain at Ohaiwai Sales in 1930. I later bought a bull and six in calf heifers from Cecil Dodds at Maungaturoto. Then I got two heifers and a bull from Graham Holmes (1967) at Rakaia and two heifers from H. Squires at Timaru. I bought the first bull from the Devons Ramsey bros brought from Tasmania, Pine View Midas. Bill Kearney bought Devon cattle with Taylors farm at Peria.

I think this family of Taylors are descended from Amy Hansen. Her granddaughter married E. B. Taylor and later lived at Awanui and are cousins to the Mountain family.

Walter P.S. Mountain drove 300 Devon steers from Purerua to Reatahi freezing works single handed without a dog in 1912. He only lost 2 head in a gumfield swamp between Hukerenui and Towai. He later started his own meat canning works at Teti. This was also used for tinning fish.

Some useful information and history of Devon Cattle in NZ from
[signed] K W Hansen

P.S. My stud name was Rimu, sold 1974.
Rimu Admiral was the bull Darcy Gilberd lent to the Herd Improvement for dairy beef weight gain trials.
1000 calves 2 vet assisted.
Te Puna was the stud name Mountain’s used.
A large number of Devon steers went into the bullock teams working the Kauri bush around Puhi Puhi and Pukati

Transcribed by Wayne Aspin from a hand written letter by Eileen Porter dated 20/9/2005The First Importations of Devon Cattle to New Zealand

Unable to find any record of James Busby importing Devon cattle to the Bay of Islands I rang Walter Mountain now aged 84 and inquired how his father Walter Mountain obtained his Devons? A prompt reply was “He imported them from Queensland along with Marion sheep, good dogs, and an Aboriginal runner! He was definitely the first one!!”

Walter senior was born in 1861 and as a young man went to the Australian Goldfields to make his fortune – decided “that it was a mugs game” and turned to boxing and ended up as Champion Heavyweight Boxer of Queensland.

Returning to New Zealand with his purchases he had the boat brought close into shore at Purerua Peninsula (Bay of Islands) & with dinghies all round swam the cattle ashore to his family’s property. They also had a big farm at Waimate in the Bay of Islands “a lot of country”.

He (Walter senior) was keen on them [Devons] “smaller and fairly straight in the legs and they didn’t get stuck in their properties many swamps”.

Around 1900s the Mountain family had a canning factory under the “Penguin Label” for the mullet in their bays. In the off season they killed the Devon cattle and canned the meat and exported it to England winning many medals there with his beef. Walter’s daughter has some of the English medals made into a chain bracelet.

Walter Senior married and had 5 daughters. His second marriage to Edith Mary Adams produced another 4 daughters and one “marvellous son” (who is giving me this information). Walter was born when his father was 60 years old and he died 8 years later.

The present Walter Mountain had Devons for years but couldn’t buy a bull off anyone. They used to sell bulls to beef farmers [as] they were good to handle with horses. They were getting a bit light and [so] they made the decision to cross with Herefords in later years.

Walter Hansen and his son Keith visited Mountains and purchased Devon stock and Walter Hansen had a renowned Devon team and did a lot of heavy work in the Hukerenui area with them. Later they built up the “Rimu Stud”.

Some of the Mountain Devons went to Taylors – relations – and onto Bill Kearney inland from Taipa.

It is also reported, not by Mr Mountain, that some of the first Devon Cattle went onto Smiths at Maungaturoto who had good cattle there for years.

This information was gathered by Eileen Porter, Towai, Bay of Islands by a phone call to the present Walter Mountain who she found very alert and sure of his facts. As he was only eight when his father died, he was only too happy to set our records right for the future.
[signed] Eileen Porter

More notes from Eileen “All their transport was by boat in those days and they had the Grocery Shop and Post Office.” In the late 1980s & early 1990s our Braelands stud supplied Devon bulls back to Purerua Peninsular to the next property to Mountain’s to use over their Angus breeding herd on Mataka Station.

The Aboriginal imported runner was entered in athletic races to win money evidently profitable in those Days.

The present Walter Mountain’s great grandmother was the first white child born in New Zealand, “Hannah Leithbridge”.

Transcribed by Wayne Aspin from The New Zealand Farmer Weekly August 25 th 1937Mr G. Smith’s Matakohe Herd – A Story of Enterprise

An interesting story lies behind the establishment of the purebred North Devon herd owned by Mr G. Smith, of Matakohe. It is a tale of almost insuperable obstacles in transport, embargo restrictions etc. in the effort to keep the strain pure and of high standard.

The founding of the herd dates back over 50 years when the north was a very sparsely settled and under developed territory, with no transport facilities other than by water and bullock tracks.

The first of the Devons were imported from England and landed at the Bay of Islands by Mr Busby and consisted of one bull and 20 heifers. The herd was afterwards purchased by Mr Coates and bought to Ruatuna, the property now owned by his two sons, Messrs. G and R. Coates

A little later they again changed hands and became the property of Mr Smith, who has retained them ever since.

In 1908 Mr Smith visited the Sydney Royal Show and purchased the Reserve Champion bull, Myrtle Boy, and the champion cow, Coquette 48 th , bred by Mr Hunter White, of Mudgee Farm, NSW, and also six heifers from Mr J.C. Manchees “Glen Moan” station some 500 miles further north. All these cattle have been noted prize winners, the bull, Myrtle Boy, having won almost enough ribbons to make him a cover. Mr Smith had great difficulty in persuading Mr Hunter White to sell Mrytle Boy. It was only after much argument, in which he painted vivid picture of a 100mile trip through the bush to catch a boat, a trip down the Wairoa River in dense fog, in which they ran aground, and finally a 1200 mile sea voyage to Sydney for the express purpose of buying that particular animal, that Mr White (stating that he was a sporting man himself and admired that trait in others) consented to sell. The price was the only thing not discussed and Mr Smith did not know the bull had cost him 300 guineas until he was back in New Zealand.

From one of the Glen Moan heifers, Moan Lass, and sired by Mrytle Boy was bred another great prize winner, Conqueror, who was used as the chief herd sire until, in a endeavour to further improve the quality and stamina of the herd, Highfield Dark Horse was imported. He was from the stud of Mr J.C. Morrisey, of Highfeild Hall, St. Albans, England. The late King George was a large purchaser of stock from this stud.

The Matakohe herd is of a very even—-Three lines missing in paragraph, damaged news clip.

A crossbred Devon-Shorthorn bullock was exhibited at the Auckland Show some years ago by Mr Smith, which weighed 2090lb. Just prior to this, disparaging criticism was made regarding the quality of the northern land by the then Minister of Lands. In answer to this, a placard was placed on the pen by the judge, stating, “This bullock was grown in the north, where the pasture is supposed to die out in three years. What did he live on?”

Mr Smith’s present herd sire is one imported by Mr Mountain, and is a beautiful animal, with all the characteristics of the pure North Devon strain.

The embargo against importation of livestock has proved a big handicap to Mr Smith, as it has to many other enterprising breeders. On one occasion he went to the Royal Sydney Show and purchased the second prize winner for about 300 guineas, only to find that he couldn’t ship him to NZ owing to the danger of importing a disease called worm nogules.

On approaching the director of agriculture in an endeavour to overcome this difficulty, he was told that the beast would have to be killed to ascertain whether or not he was infected. Much to the amusement of the late Rt. Hon. W.F. Massey, who was an interested listener of the debate, Mr Smith replied that he considered the Minister a bright sort of a Doctor if had to “kill the patient in order to discover the aliment”.

A splendid testimonial to the breed is a photograph Mr. Smith has of three Devon bullocks sold to W. Johnstone in 1916. Inset is a photograph of the cheque received, the amount being £100.

Mr George Smith and his brother Mr. Richard formed a partnership and acquired land at Parahi and Pikiwahine. After Dick died in 1922, George farmed these areas as Whakatu Stud of Matakohe but appears to have kept trading as G&R Smith. A tribute to George’s enterprise appears above and traces part of his Devon stud’s history. Before taking up farming the Smith family were bushmen who owned and operated a sawmill, and a 1000 acre kauri bush block called Greenhill above the Ruawai Swamp. To extract the huge kauri logs they used a Devon bullock team. The sawmill and all the cut timber were destroyed in a disastrous fire, so the Devon Bullock and their driver were contracted out to measure, brand logs and extract logs all over Northland (Ed .)

Devons Ancient History

In Britain the Devon acquired a great reputation in the 19 th century. The breed went right to the top with famous victories at Smithfield. In the west of England it was undoubtedly the premier beef animal. The Devon also excelled itself during dairy trials coming in second behind the Jersey for butter fat against all breeds. It has been recorded that at Torrington May Fair as many as 2000 red Devon came under the hammer in a single day. Midway through the 19 th century statistics produced by the Board of Agriculture came as a surprise to many, with Devons second only to the Shorthorn in numbers.

Shorthorn
Devon
Ayrshire
Hereford
Welsh
Aberdeen-Angus
Irish
Lincolnshire Red-Shorthorn
4,413,040
454,694
444,000
384,877
284,041
193,960
188,023
168,790
Channel Islands
Highland Kyloes
South Devon
Galloway
Red Poll
Sussex
Other breeds
101,233
98,804
96,991
31,265
27,232
19,660
37,164

Early recording was due to a John Davy whose family had breed Devons from the early 1700s and he continued to seek to improve the strain in every way. In 1851 Volume 1 of Davys Devon Herd Book came into being and continues on to this day. One breeder a poet of his day composed these famous lines:

Broad in her ribs and long in her rump
A straight flat back and never a hump
Fine in her bone and silky of skin
Shes a grazier without and a butcher within.


My Story

I am not a geneticist. I am, by profession, a sculptor and colorist in the equine collectibles industry. I make hyper-realistic, small-scale earthenware horses like the ones pictured above.

So why does an artist write about horse color genetics?

I became interested in the subject because I wanted to make the horses I created as realistic as possible. From there, my interest grew until I was spending almost as much time researching horse colors and patterns as I was painting them. In 1992, I began publishing articles with the hope of helping other artists accurately portray colors and patterns. Not long after, I began to get requests for articles from the horse community. In 2001, I was asked to give a presentation in Lexington, Kentucky, alongside Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, whose 1983 book Horse Color had sparked my initial interest in the subject all those years ago. That experience convinced me that while my background might be unconventional, it offered its own perspective on the visible expression of coat color genes. I still believe that artists bring a unique set of skills and insights that complement those of the scientists working in this field.

In 2009, I began work on what was intended to be a small guidebook for artists covering the colors found in the different breeds. The project grew in scope, and the first volume of The Equine Tapestry was published in the summer of 2012. A second book followed two years later. The series and its companion blog were enormously popular. Soon I was spending more and more time away from my studio, and I was increasingly identified, not as an artist or even as a writer, but as a &ldquogeneticist.&rdquo

The problem with this was that not only did not have any formal education in the science of genetics &ndash I had no formal education at all! The first time I stepped inside a college classroom was as a guest lecturer I had never taken a science class beyond high school Biology. Everything I knew came from curiosity about a topic I loved and a belief that I could understand anything I put my mind to learning. I still believe that is true, and that we do the cause of scientific literacy a disservice when we behave as if the subject is only accessible to those with a formal education. But I could not help but wish that things had turned out differently. How much more could I have learned in a formal classroom, with others to help guide my inquiries?

In the spring of 2018, I decided that while I could not change the fact that I did not attend college when I was young, the only thing stopping me from attending now was the belief that it was too late. I tracked down my 30-year-old high school transcripts, and before I knew it, I was writing papers in APA format and trying to master college Algebra. Initially, I imagined I was on a path to making my work &ldquoofficial&rdquo by obtaining the proper credentials. But something else happened along the way. I realized that while I love science &ndash and genetics in particular &ndash my heart was actually in the teaching of it. I was admitted to the UNCC College of Education Honors Program in 2019.

That means that, no, I am still not a geneticist. Technically, I am a full-time student and now a somewhat intermittent artist. But I still believe in the value of citizen science, and hope to encourage others to join me in its practice.


History

Snowdrop's History

The founder of Snowdrop is Andrew Brereton. The background of Snowdrop begins with Andrew's son Daniel who was born in 1987 with what were described as 'catastrophic brain injuries.' These injuries resulted in profound cerebral palsy. You can read about Daniel's story here. Through Daniel, Andrew became fascinated with neuroscience and child development, studying at various universities.

After many years of study, Andrew gained a host of qualifications and decided it was time to begin work in trying to help other children. His qualifications are as follows:

BA (Hons). based in 'Psychology, Neurophysiology and Child Development.'

Post Graduate Diploma in 'Social Science.'

Post Graduate Certificate in 'Professional Studies in Education.'

Post Graduate Diploma (with distinction) in 'Language and Communication Impairments in Children.'

MSc, based in 'Cognitive Neuroscience, Connectionist Modelling and Child Development.'

Andrew was recently elected to be a 'Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.'

Snowdrop began in 2007 when we treated our first children, one from South Africa and one from the UK. The success we achieved with these two boys soon meant that other children found their way to us and before we knew it, things were 'snowballing.' Today, 75% of our children are UK based, but we have children on programme in Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, India, Romania, Sweden, Nigeria, South Africa plus many more places. Our reputation continues to grow and it does so because it is based upon results. Just ask our families about the difference we have made to their children. You can speak to our families on our private Facebook group. Just email us and we can give you a visitor's pass for two weeks where you can interact with our families and actually see the progress the children are making.


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