Tuesday, 3 November 2009


David Nicholson has the best pub in Winchester. It defines the word idosyncratic and is stuffed full of treasures wherever you look. Here I am with a sweet little dog I found while I was having lunch there the other day.

Of course, it isn't a REAL dog


It occurred to me that stuffing animals or birds is a subject which fascinates or repels the onlooker and I wasn't quite sure what compelled people to do it, or what purpose it served. So I asked an expert for his personal philosophy of taxidermy, and he said:

"Most people judge taxidermy by its worst examples: distressed specimens with bald patches and stitches stretching open in granny's attic or the junk shop. But there is another side to it. Some taxidermists are keen naturalists. They strive to capture and immortalise the beauty of detail in the natural world, and are meticulous about anatomical accuracy as well as correct and natural poses. They aim to express the inexpressible qualities of a creature being alive, and pausing for just an instant before moving on. The struggle to capture and express such ethereal qualities in a solid medium is the essence of pure art".

Thanks for that, Russell - and I wonder if you agree with him?

In the meantime, here's a more traditional aspect of David's pub.


  1. What a fascinating post sharon. Have to say there is a taxidermist shop where I live in Islington called 'Get Stuffed' (of course) which has everything from stuffed birds to stuffed bears. A bit creepy but also strangely compelling (and my two boys always wanted to look in the window at those animals when they were little)

  2. Hmmm, thanks Heidi - obviously my post title wasn't quite as original as I'd hoped!
    The other day I passed a reptile shop and had a nightmare vision of what it might be like, being locked in there for the night!

  3. A fasicnating post,Sharon.
    We always have to go and look at the stuffed birds whenever we visit a historic house or a Natural history museum as my husband and youngest are mad keen on birds. Some birds sadly now only exist because someone once stuffed them...
    But the pub looks delightful.

  4. There was once, many years ago a pest control shop in Paris with stuffed rats hanging in the window. I must see if I can find the photo of it and show you next time I see you - on the 12th, I hope!

  5. That dog looks startled by his encounter with you, Sharon!

  6. I tend to have that effect on dogs, Meg!

    And Jo, I wonder which district of Paris had the stuffed rats hanging in the window....?