The History Girls: The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo A review by Tanya Landman

Originally posted on The History Girls.

I’ve always been fascinated by the real life story of Caraboo – a warrior princess from the tropical island of Javasu, captured by pirates, taken half way around the world before she escaped from them by jumping ship in the Bristol Channel and swimming to shore.  Homeless in a foreign country she was taken in as a house guest by the Worrall family of Knole Park, Almondsbury, in 1817. There she spent weeks speaking in an incomprehensible language, hunting with a bow and arrows, swimming naked in the lake, climbing trees and praying to a pagan god.

This strange, exotic beauty was a sensation, charming everyone she met until she was recognised and exposed. In reality she was Mary Willcox, a cobbler’s daughter from Witheridge in Devon.

The story of Princess Caraboo is an intriguing one not least because no one really knows what Mary’s motivation was.  As Catherine Johnson points out in her author’s note this wasn’t a con trick as such – Mary Willcox didn’t profit financially from it.  She was never prosecuted for fraud – in fact Mrs Worrall obviously cared deeply about Mary, paying for her fare to America after her identity was revealed and treasuring the letters Mary sent back.

So why did Mary Willcox do it?…

via The History Girls: The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo A review by Tanya Landman.

Salvaged artefacts from war-torn steamer return to Barry – BBC News

Originally posted on BBC News

The paddle steamer PS Barry saw action during both World War One and World War Two and now, over a century since she left the port after which she was named, some of her artefacts have finally come home.

Originally designed in 1907 for a sleepy life carrying tourists along the Bristol Channel, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1914 and went on to save thousands of lives not once, but twice.

Surviving both the Gallipoli landings and Dunkirk, she was sunk in a bombing raid off Sunderland on 5 July 1941, and lay undiscovered until 2010.

Now a group of enthusiasts have purchased her salvaged helm, wheel and brass windows, and hope to display them in time for the centenary of PS Barry’s finest hour.

Keith Greenway of the Merchant Navy Association in Barry said: “She started the Great War quite quietly, housing German prisoners and carrying supplies…

See original: Salvaged artefacts from war-torn steamer return to Barry – BBC News.