Do Gnomes Belong in Renaissance Fairs?

Many gnome enthusiasts believe that gnomes originated in Germany in the early 1800s and that the first gnomes appeared in England in the 1840s. However, as I attended my very first Renaissance Fair in Bristol Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but notice gnomish influences all around me.

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But wait! The Renaissance is categorized as the period of European history between the 1300s and the 1600s. So how did gnomes begin sneaking their way into these festival celebrations?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “gnome” comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the works of a 16th century Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus. He described gnomes as diminutive spirits that were small, lived underground, and appeared in Renaissance magic and alchemy. In his publications, Paracelsus wrote that gnomes were about a foot tall, could move through solid earth, and were weary of human contact. You can read more about Paracelsus’ gnomes in Alan G. Hefner’s essay, “Paracelus’ Natural Spirits,” and Princeton’s history of gnomes.

But as I walked around the Renaissance Fair chomping on an oversized turkey leg and admiring the costumes, I couldn’t help but notice more trolls, wizards, fairies, and elves than gnomes for sale. One fair vendor selling mushrooms had a lovely lady gnome with her two children on display. The vendor revealed that he and his wife used to run a Renaissance fair booth that was all about gnomes and sold gnomes in all shapes and sizes. I tried to convince him to bring that booth back next year…we’ll see.

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I visited another fair vendor who created handmade pottery sculptures of all kinds. As you can see in this photo, gnomes sat alongside wizards, Santas, and leprechauns. Just as I find with Christmas markets each year, identifying true gnomes in crowds like this is always a challenge.

So I ask again, do gnomes belong at Renaissance Fairs?

As I see it, the purpose of a Renaissance Fair is to take a step back in history to enjoy a day in another place and time. So while the true origin of gnomes is still debated,  gnomes have a special place in history and I think they would really enjoy the Renaissance Fair activities. And if wizards, elves, and trolls are allowed to attend, then I see no reason for gnomes to be left out of the celebration! Cheers!

xoxo,
Roxy the Gnome

*A version of this story is scheduled to be published in the upcoming International Gnome Club Newsletter!

Meet Lampy…The Oldest Gnome in the World (Who’s Overseeing a Cycling Race!)

Here at The Gnome Abode, we got a guy who was born in 1970. Fips has got nothin’ on Lampy, the oldest known gnome in the world.

Lampy is the only survivor of a set of 21 garden gnomes that were important from Germany to Britain in the 1840s. An eccentric spiritualist, Sir Charles Isham, brought Lampy and his dear brothers over in 1847. They were all made out of terracotta, and the whereabouts of Lampy’s brothers’ remains is a mystery.

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Lampy: most treasured father of all gnomes

Isham’s daughters (who sound like miserable people) hated the gnomes and removed them from their property. But sneaky lil’ Lampy survived! And today, he’s considered to be the oldest garden gnome in the world.

In 1997, Lampy was insured for £1 million, and is estimated to be worth £2 million.

WHOA!

You can see Lampy for yourself inside Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire, where he’s been living for over 125 years.

“In Chelsea Flower Show’s centenary year, I can’t think of anything more fitting than an invite for Lampy,” said Lamport Hall’s assistant property manager, Neil Lyon, before the suprisingly gnome-friendly recent event.

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A replica of Lampy the garden gnome (WikiCommons)

So what’s Lampy up to these days?

Well by golly, he’s the guest of honor at an upcoming cycling race…what else?

Cycle 4 Cynthia is taking place on September 21st to raise money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice and the Northhampton charity, Kidsaid, which supports kids who’ve suffered from bullying and abuse. According to the Northampton Chronicle, participants are being encouraged to dress up like dear ole’ Lampy in his honor!

Cyclists will ride five, 25, or 50 mile routes and yes, there are prizes for best costume!

Neil Lyon, Lamport’s Assistant Property Manager, said: “I’m sure Lampy would be pleased to think that he was playing his small part in helping to raise even more money for this wonderful event and he cant wait to see all those riders with red pointed hats perched on top of their cycle helmets pedal off down the drive.”

If your little gnome legs are up for the challenge, sign up for the race at visit www.cycle4cynthia.com!

And this concludes today’s combined lesson of history and current events.

Oh and happy Labor Day to all our lazy non-working American gnomes :)

xoxo,
Sketchy Andy the Gnome

Meet Pennifer Pennypincher: Lava Beds Adventure Extraordinaire!

And now, a brief message from your leader, King Jerry the Gnome: 

Lots of new smiling faces join The Gnome Abode from time to time, but only the cream of the crop pass the stringent screening test to write on The Drunk Gnome blog. Allow me to introduce you to Pennifer Pennypincher….take it from here P.

Hey guys! Pennifer here! I’ve traveled all the way from Portland, where I was born at a pottery shop called Mimosa Studios.
Pennifer PennipincherThese are some of my brothers and sisters…perhaps you’ve met some of them?

Shhh! Some of them aren’t yet fully clothed! Don’t censor me on my first post!

Mimosa studiosMy hometown, Mimosa (fitting for THE DRUNK GNOME, wouldn’t you say??!), is running a traveling gnome promotion right now. If you’re perusing through my city, stop in to adopt one of my brothers or sisters. You’ll get to clothe him/her however you like (kinky, eh?) and even receive an adoption certificate.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Take your new little buddy on wild and crazy adventures, snapping photos along the way, for a chance to win unidentified prizes. My favorite kind!

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My new family took me to Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California to kick off my traveling career. As you can see, I’m clutching my cash and my clutch, and I’m ready to rumble.

There’s more than just dried up lava at this place too….THERE’S CAVES!

Some gnomes prefer deep, dark caves to live in, but me? I’m a west coast girl at heart and I like my sunshine.

sunshineOne particular cave was actually called “Sunshine” because, well, sunshine sneaked down there somehow. Like a miracle!

sunlightThere was hiking and wearing hard hats and using flashlights and everything down here! My new gnome family rocks!

Pun intended.

Don’t worry, I’ll limit my punning posts.

Now that I’ve gotten to you to the edge of your seat, you can scoot back now. I may be made of pottery, but I’m no delicate flower and I see lots more adventures in my new future.

xoxo

Pennifer Pennypincher the latest and greatest travel gnome

 

 

The Coolest Grandpa in All of Scotland

Whew! We’ve just gotten back from a whirlwind west coast tour with lots of gnome sightings along the way. I can barely catch my little gnome breath, but never fear! Plenty of gnomish travel reports are in the works and headed your way soon!

Just as one adventure wraps up, I’ve found another place to go….Scotland!

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Allow me to introduce you to Robert Rae, a 64-year-old who’s spent the last eight years filling his yard with over 1,000 lawn ornaments. Take browse through the photos in this Daily Mail article to get a glimpse of all the gnomes and gnome friends who’ve taken up residence in Caol – the largest village in Scotland.

“It gives me something to do,” Rae explained. “I never thought it would end up like this when I started but the children enjoy it. There’s still room for more”

MORE?!

Yes, more!

Rae used to be a telephone box cleaner, but couldn’t return to work after having a heart attack. Honestly, lawn ornament decorating seems to be a much more pleasant profession.

He’s won all sorts of awards for his amazingly quirky yard, but some a**hole vandals recently broke in so he had to install surveillance. Our hearts go out to the broken gnomes.

Alright gnomies, let’s pack it up for Scotland, because this place surely deserves a visit!

Friday farewell,
Sheldon the retired, but not entirely retired, travel gnome

Weird Crap People Put in Their Yards (Besides Gnomes)

I don’t have to remind you that the ultimate lawn decoration is, of course, a gnome. Gnomes and lawns have a long history, rooted in rich tradition and plenty of weird freaking people.

However, from time to time, I must recognize that people put things in their yards other than gnomes. Shrubberies, for instance. Maybe a hydrangea. And sometimes nude Barbie dolls.

While trolling (pun intended) the Interweb today, I came across an obscure piece from a human guest blogger that we’ve featured from time to time. She found a magical place called Barbie Beach, where naked Barbie dolls get to live out their days playing volleyball, jumping on trampolines, and serving their country at war.

Read Nude Barbies in the Front Yard? Only in Georgia.

barbiebeach Fall 2009

In true serendipitous fashion, I also stumbled upon this gem today:

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Fallen AT-AT – Photo credit: Andrew Liszewski

It’s called a Fallen AT-AT, which I guess is a Star Wars/Trek thing.

If you prefer crying robots to cheerful little gnomes, this lil’ guy is your destiny! Pick him up on Think Geek for $40.

What other weird crap have you been seeing in people’s yards lately? Post a pic to our Facebook page!

It is my position to support each and every lawn decoration out there…as long as there’s a gnome somewhere in the mix too. Here’s to weird lawns…EVERYWHERE!

XOXO,
Humps, the Landscape Architect Gnome