Mudlarking

A treat revisiting the Thames today for an interview (and early morning mudlark) with London in Fragments author Ted Sandling. Ted’s been treasure hunting on the foreshore on and off since 2004, and instagrams his finds at london_mudlark. The book this has spawned is a beauty of a thing, out in September, which among all sorts of other historical titbits, has taught me more about tableware than I ever imagined possible. Specifically, I can now tell a ‘prunt’ from a ‘porringer’. Equally gratifying, I can steer dinner conversation adroitly away from Brexit gloom with newly-gleaned, liberally dispensed cutlery trivia: “Forks, of all things, weren’t accepted in England until post-Reformation French fashion brought them into vogue,” for example.

The book is published by Frances Lincoln, priced £16.99 and, as well as a fascinating curation of Ted’s finds (BEAUTIFULLY photographed too), offers practical tips for budding mudlarkers. Wellies, tide tables and hand wipes are the basic toolkit – with the loot on offer ranging from clay pipes (as plentiful as Ted claims in the book) and ceramics to cow’s teeth and pins. Billions of pins.

The interview was for the wonderful River Thames Society, which anyone with an interest in the Tideway or its upper reaches should really join pronto.

Meanwhile, for a variation on the mudlarking theme check out this Dorry Spikes print, with bonus Conrad quote. Credit to fellow illustrator Kate Slater for the recommendation, which will soon adorn my wall and bring much happiness.