Osborne & Minerva

Osborne House was built in the mid-1700s and after being owned by an Irish surgeon, became the schoolhouse for Minerva Grammar School next door. Mr Tyler, the headmaster who retired in the 1930s, owned the first wireless in Laugharne. It was a huge machine which occupied the whole of an alcove in the dining room and was connected to an aerial which ran up a 70ft tree outside. So many turned up to listen to broadcasts that Tyler designed extension speakers for the other downstairs rooms.

The house had access via a door in the attic to the school next door, which was named after the Roman goddess of wisdom. Minerva (right, above) was opened in the mid-1800s by a Thomas J. Morgan, formerly of Bristol. The 1871 census shows that Thomas (aged 41), his wife Sarah (42) and a Assistant Master, 19 year old James Parris of Bridport, looked after 11 boarding pupils aged 8-17, one of whom was an 13 year old American called John Thomas. They were assisted by a cook, Ann James (25), and a housemaid, Ann Adams (18), both of the township.

An interesting feature of Osborne House is a circular space in the kitchen wall. This once housed a wheel (not unlike a hamster's wheel) which was operated by a Turnspit dog - basically a small terrier-like creature. The wheel was attached to a spit which would roast a good sized piece of beef in 3-4 hours. This bizarre cooking practice had largely died out by the 1850s. Turnspits a.k.a. 'The Vernepator Curs' or 'Underdogs' were also taken into church to serve as foot warmers. This unfortunate breed - now extinct - were described as, '...long-bodied, crooked-legged and ugly dogs with a suspicious, unhappy look about them.' We're not surprised!

 

Turnspit Boy

The use of the turnspit hasn't completely died out. In this video a small boy is seen turning a wheel at the @Bristol centre, but the practice is proving unpopular amongst today's workshy scamps as the task is, and we quote, '...too hard.'

However, small boys still make excellent footrests...



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