Tree climbing

This Sunday 17th July you can do something amazing at Scotney Castle…

There is a unique opportunity to get into the canopy of one of our largest and oldest Oak trees with the help of The Great BIG tree Climbing Company…

“Two highly skilled and friendly instructors can help all ages reach new heights. They will teach you how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners, whilst being securely attached in a harness at all times. Once at the top of the tree you will gain an experience which can’t be found on the ground whilst hanging out in the canopy and if you’re feeling brave you could try some branch walking before returning safely to the ground. Each session is run for up to 8 people, creating a unique and intimate experience.”

Sound fun?

To book onto a session please visit this link:
http://www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk/tree-climbing-events/

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Another String to their Bow

With the Rio Olympics coming up I thought I’d take a closer look at some of the sports related items in the Scotney Castle Collection. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog may have read about the recent rediscovery of arrows and archery paraphernalia in the cupboard under the stairs. In light of this and other findings I am focusing my attention, and a new display in the Dining Room, on the ancient sport of archery and in particular a group called the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen.

Used by the Egyptians, Greeks and many other civilisations around the world, a bow and arrow was a powerful tool against your enemies on the battlefield but eventually became powerless against technological advancements and new weapons such as guns. Archery was retained as a sporting and hunting pastime, particularly by royalty and became a fashionable pastime for the wealthier members of society. Many clubs were set up in the late eighteenth century thanks to support from royal patrons[1].

The Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen was set up in 1785 and from 1786 met regularly at Dartford Heath where they had the use of a house known as Bowman’s Lodge[2]. The longbow was the bow of choice and the Prince of Wales, later George IV, was made patron in 1789. He donated many objects to be prizes for competitions and it is also noted that he laid out the rules on the uniform of the Society members. Edward Hussey (who bought Scotney Castle in 1778) joined the Society on August 8th 1789.

The Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen took their sport very seriously and the society had their own printed rule book; we are fortunate to have a copy in our collection. This small but beautiful book was printed in 1789 and lays out the rules and regulations of the society such as the uniform expected to be purchased and worn by members and the order of shooting at a meet.

This book was owned by Edward Hussey who labelled the book ‘Edw: Hussey 1790’. He made many other annotations in the book so must have taken great interest in the society. At the back of the book there is a handwritten list of members and when they joined the society.

Along with the Society rule book we also have a beautiful silver horn in a red leather case. The engraving on the horn suggests it was given to the society as a prize by ‘His Royal Highness George Prince of Wales’ and was won by Edward Hussey in August 1794. With the horn in the leather case there are two silver and green tassels (the society colours) that could be hung from the horn.

Unfortunately we do not know of any photographs here at Scotney that show the family taking part in archery or of Edward Hussey participating at a Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen meet. There is, however, an image of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) posing in his Royal Kentish Bowmen uniform in the Royal Collection[3]. The portrait clearly shows the green uniform with silver buttons and plumed hat to the side along with a longbow and arrow. In the background you can see a group of figures with bows near a target, probably at Dartford Heath.

Here at Scotney Castle there is a cupboard in the Hall of the house known as the Ascham cupboard which houses a large collection of archery paraphernalia; Ascham cupboards are named after Roger Ascham who was a Tudor Scholar with a particular interest in Archery[4]. The Ascham cupboard here at Scotney is believed to have come from the lodge of the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen and appears to have been specifically made for the use of storing archery equipment.

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Ascham Cupboard

Within the Ascham cupboard there is a set of sixty-one arrows set into a specifically designed section. These arrows have green and yellow coloured bands on the shaft and it is possible that this set of arrows was used in the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen meets and competitions by Edward Hussey (they appear to match the arrow depicted in the portrait of the Prince of Wales).

Along with the longbows and arrows in the cupboard there are two arrow tubes for transporting and storing arrows. There is one larger black tube and one green tube with a red shoulder strap.

There are many other items relating to the hobby of Archery within the Hussey family and regarding the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen. I hope this has given you a glimpse into the depth of the collection here at Scotney Castle and we will continue to keep you posted on the latest rediscoveries and research.

 

[1] http://www.topendsports.com/sport/archery/history.htm

[2] http://www.ukdfd.co.uk/ukdfddata/showrecords.php?product=19200&cat=217

[3] https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/405414/george-iv-1762-1830-when-prince-of-wales

[4] http://www.britannica.com/biography/Roger-Ascham

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Are you a fan of fans?

Packed away in the attics of Scotney Castle is a treasure trove of colourful fans. The collection consists of an eclectic mix of folding fans, some with finely carved ivory handles, whilst others depict Romantic scenes from popular literature of the time. They are rich in symbolism and are of great historical significance.IMG_3886

Large feather fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Japan and China are often credited with the creation of the folding fan. One historian claims that ‘[t]he earliest representation of the folding fan—the fan proper—is found in the hands of the Japanese god of happiness’.[1] In Japan, many believe that the structure of the fan was based on the construction of a bat’s wings. In China, the folding fan is thought to have derived from observing women fanning their faces with their hands to cool themselves.[2] Whatever the case, folding fans were introduced to Europe in the sixteenth-century via the Portuguese through their strong trade links with China.[3]

In Elizabethan times, fans were used as a symbol for exotic style and a representation of wealth. A list of presents presented to the queen includes a heavily embellished fan from the Countess of Bath:

‘By the Countesse of Bath, a fanne of swanne downe, with a maze of greene velvet, ymbrodered with seed pearles and a very small chayne of silver gilte, and in the middest a border on both sides of seed pearles, sparks of rubyes and emerods, and thereon a monster of gold, the head and breast mother-of-pearles; and a skarfe of white stitche cloth florished with Venis gold, silver, and carnacion silke.’[4]

The craftsmanship that went into making this particular fan, the rubies, pearls and emeralds hint at the value such items were given. Elizabeth I was often painted with fans, and although mostly feathered, she was also depicted with folding fans. For example, Marcus the Younger’s portrait of the Queen, painted in 1592, depicts Elizabeth in an immaculate white outfit, standing on a map or globe of the world, clutching a closed fan. Large pearls line the edging of the fan and a complex pattern painted on the fan’s leaves is suggested through a series of delicate brush marks. In an age where symbolism played a huge part in the presentation of oneself, the eye is drawn to the closed fan in this piece, suggesting a far-reaching and cultured queen, and by extension England.

 

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561-1636), Queen Elizabeth I (‘The Ditchley portrait’), 1592 (95 x 60in)

The purpose and symbolism of fans has fluctuated over the centuries. Indeed, fans could be used as a form of art. The Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834-1917) decorated fans with the intention that they be mounted and displayed in rooms. Degas was inspired by the Japanese style and started painting silk fans in the 1870s.

[5] They had no ‘practical’ use and their design created an atmosphere of night-time at the theatre. The warmth of these creations, in particular Fan: Dancers and the Stage Scenery (1878-1880), alludes to the flirtatious nature of fans and the sensuous atmosphere it creates. Degas used his fan work as a means of experimenting with composition, colour and surface.[6] As a decorative object, fans were a unique way to explore materials and styles from a unique, artistic standpoint.

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Chinese inspired fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Even before Degas’s experimentation in the late nineteenth century, French fans created in the reign of Louis XV (1710-1774), were exploring other decorative ideas. For example small hand-screens, created by famous French fan-makers of the time, made humorous animated fans that moved certain figures when a wire was pulled. One such creation shows a musician playing the cello vigorously whilst rolling his eyes and another has a danseuse doing the high-land fling.[7] It shows a progression from the fan’s initial formation as a means to cool oneself, to a more fashionable and decorative object. Of course, fans were still in use during this time for their original purpose, with the contemporary essayist Joseph Addison describing the sometimes humorous use of fans in an article published in The Spectator:

‘[T]he angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter… I have seen a fan so very angry that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to come within the wind of it’.[8]

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Fan dating back to 1743 from Scotney Castle’s’hidden collection’

Fans could be used as a means of expressing oneself in an age where women were, to a large extent, seen and not heard.  Women’s fashion often determined the size and style of folding fans. At the start of the nineteenth century, the fashion for ‘simplicity’ meant as dresses got slimmer so too did its pockets.[9] Fans were adapted to fit the fashions of the time and were made smaller or larger accordingly. Fans by this period were primarily regarded as a fashion accessory and were made from delicate materials such as silk, ivory, sequins or tortoiseshell.793933

Ivory handled fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Fans could be used for a variety of reasons, for example fashionable, political or social, and could provide women with a communicative outlet otherwise denied to them. Scotney’s collection of fans most likely belongs to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where Romantic scenes were a common choice of decoration. They are a fascinating find and an important addition in piecing together Scotney’s social history. Come and see our display case, located in the Dining Room, to see first-hand a sample of our fan collection!

[1] L. Parr, ‘History of the Fan’, Victorian Magazine: Fashion and Accessories (2016) http://www.victoriana.com/Fans/historyofthefan.html

[2] Ibid

[3] A. Geczy, Fashion and Orientalism: Dress, textiles and culture from the 17th century to the 21st century (London, 2013) p.52

[4] J. Nichols, New Year’s Gifts Presented to the Queen 1588-9  (New York, 1823) p.4

[5] http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/degas-sickert-and-toulouse-lautrec/degas-sickert-and-toulouse-1

[6] M. Gerstein, ‘Degas’ Fans’, The Art Bulletin (March. 1982) p.105

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3050198?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[7] E. Barber, ‘Antique Fans’ Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum (Jul. 1905) p.50 http://www.jstor.org/stable/3793688?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=hand&searchText=held&searchText=fans&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicResults%3FQuery%3Dhand%2Bheld%2Bfans%26amp%3Bacc%3Doff%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone%26amp%3Bsi%3D26&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents

[8] J. Addison, ‘The Exercise of the Fan’, The Spectator, no.102 (London, 1711)

[9] Some fans are even recorded as being no longer than the palm of a person’s palm.

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Mrs Hussey’s Wardrobe

To those who may have visited Scotney castle on a Thursday you may have seen our coming and goings through the house carrying various outfits of Betty’s. This has caused a great lot of interest with visitors getting a glimpse of individual items, and we have often been stopped and asked lots of questions about the project.

For those that have witnessed our presence over the months, many have asked: ‘What are you doing?’ So here’s a little insight into what’s been happening in the closet…

The textile group have had the great honour of working up close with these costumes of Betty’s, most are beautifully handmade garments and a few are from various fashion houses. We can’t help but imagine how elegant Betty would have looked wearing them.

Mrs Hussy’s clothes are going to remain on display, hanging in this wardrobe for years to come, therefore each costume needs to have its own custom made padded hanger to support it properly for the future.

Conservationist Zenzie Tinker has been here to give us full tuition and instructions on how to prepare and set up this conservation project. You can see the work her team has already completed with all the hat supports that are now in place.

group

Each hanger goes through 8 stages and there are 36 costumes that we are working on in this collection.

Stage1 – Study and select the correct shape and type of hanger for each garment.

Stage2 – Each wooden hanger has been sanded and pre-stripped of any finish/varnish covering it.

Stage3 – The hangers were then sealed, using 3 coats of Dacrylate, to avoid any acids from the wood migrating into the fibres of the garments. This would cause damage, discolouration, and embrittlement of their fibres.

dacrylate

Stage 4 – Using wadding, the shape was built up at the shoulders as required, we filled in all the gaps until the garment were fully supported. It has been interesting to see that one of Betty’s shoulders comes out quite differently, identifying postural changes between her left and right shoulder.

padding

Stage 5 – The hanger was covered with conservation graded calico to hold the wadding in place and an under slip was prepared ready for the silk cover to sit on.

Most of this work is all hand sewn and each hanger needs its unique pattern before the cover can be made.

cotton cover

Stage 6 – The silk was boiled to remove any dressing from the dye used and ironed.

Stage 7 – We are continuing the task of fitting and sewing each unique personally made silk cover. This has been the slowest of all the processes, but very rewarding as they look beautiful when complete. Silk is a very tricky material to work with- I think the phase “sewing on jelly” has been used several times!

 

silk

Stage 8 – Our final stage will be the covering of the hanger shank with ribbon.

We are now showcasing the dresses in the wardrobe with shoes and hat to match the ensemble! We are looking forward to display more garments under the title “frock of the month/frock of the season”.

We are sure both visitors and volunteers will enjoy seeing Betty’s clothes in more detail giving us further insight into Betty’s life and the house’s exquisite collection.

By Sally Whittaker, Textile volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The cupboard under the stairs

You might think you have discovered all the secrets of a place when you have been working there for a while but Scotney is still able to surprise you! Given the fact that we have several Attic rooms still to explore and the sheer enormity of drawers, boxes, crates, wardrobes and cupboards spread all over the house, it is possible to just overlook some things.

During one of our annual deep cleans in the Hall we rediscovered a hidden door in the wood panelling under the stair case. Even though we have noticed the door before, it somehow slipped our minds and was totally forgotten for many years. Of course we all were really excited about what might wait for us behind the door…

When we first opened it to look inside there was a huge amount of dust, with cobwebs and spiders covering every visible surface in the pitch-black cupboard. Once we found a torch to shine some light on the objects, it was like entering a treasure chamber. Although not stacked to the ceiling with golden goblets, silver coins or jewellery, it contained a huge variety of items, used by people from different times – you could say a treasure of a different kind.

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For though people might think this is just a normal cupboard, used by the family to store things they didn’t need anymore, it actually tells you a lot about the family life of the Hussey’s and the things they used to do for fun.

Some of the items we first got out of the cupboard were musical and arts equipment: a beautifully crafted music stand and an easel next to a very interesting looking foldable picnic table with a cushion attached to the underside. I would imagine the Hussey’s used to use the table to eat and paint in their garden. This shows they were talented painters, as you can see by the amount of lovely watercolours displayed all over the house.

 

music standstool and cushion

[One part of the music stand.             The picnic table, called “The Settor”]

They seemed to enjoy going fishing in the countryside, as we found a variety of fishing rods in the cupboard and there is lots of fishing equipment scattered around the house, including fishing nets and artificial flies. Who wouldn’t want to try to catch a fish in the moat?

sco0381

Archery was another popular sport in the Hussey family. Edward Hussey III, who built the new house, played an important role in the revival of archery as a hobby. His children, grandchildren and other family members shared his enthusiasm for shooting arrows. The Hussey family built up a large collection of archery equipment, of which we found some arrows hidden in the cupboard under the stairs.

arrow

Interestingly, the finger taps (used to protect the archer’s finger from the bowstring) can be dated back to the 19th century, belonging once to the siblings of Henrietta Windsor-Clive, Edward Hussey III’s wife, according to the engraved initials and the family crest. We can assume both Mary Clive and William Windsor Clive were passionate archers, as well as their niece, Mildred Harriet Hussey, whose arm guard we found in the cupboard.

 

mildred finger tabfinger tab hussey crest

 

[Finger taps of Mildred Harriet Hussey; Finger tab with Hussey crest]

To go with the sports equipment we found a range of folding chairs, which the Hussey’s probably used in their beautiful garden to have a rest from doing exhausting exercise or maybe just simply to enjoy the garden views. Some appear to be more elaborately decorated, while others are less ornate, due to the fact they were produced in different times.

picnic chair

The most interesting and exciting find was a pair of very odd-looking roller skates. As mentioned before, the Hussey’s loved all kinds of sports, for example ice skating on the moat, so it is not surprising to find these roller skates hidden away. They have a wheel attached to the front and a metal base at the back, where you can place your foot and fasten it with a leather strap. It would be brilliant to see the roller skates in action!

 

 

roller skate

Unfortunately we don’t know much about them, only that they were bought or produced in Edinburgh according to the label. However ,after doing some research we came across a very similar looking pair of skates.

They were invented by Charles Choubersky, who was an engineer and inventor, he named them “PATIN BICYCLETTE” (French: ice skate bike) and they date to 1896! Apparently you can use them on the ice as well as on the ground. They are very rare to find in the 21st century, so we are really lucky to have them here.[i]

roller skate poster

[A 19th century poster showing the roller skates in action]

After cataloguing these different items and doing some research on them, a picture of the Hussey family begins to form of them gathered in the garden for summer, with the Ladies sitting around the moat in beautiful dresses and hats, the men fishing in the moat, others training to shoot with bows and arrows, someone wanting to impress the others by doing tricks on their brand new roller skates, another person trying to draw the Old Castle on the foldable drawing table and maybe there is a spontaneous concert, using the music stand …

A nice image, don’t you think?

Written by Henrike Philipp, Inga Risle and Rachel Finch

Conservation Volunteers

 

[i] http://www.oldbike.eu/museum/bikes-1800s/1896-1899-diamond-frames/1896-patin-bicyclette-road-skates-richard-choubersky/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edward Hussey’s Etching Set

IMG_1973

In the Attic on one of the many shelves, lay this unassuming wooden box; however inside was a treasure trove of items…This box contains the etching set of Edward Hussey III (1807-1894), the builder of the new mansion house at Scotney Castle.

Engraving on metal can be dated back to antiquity with etching on items such as armour dating to the middle ages. The use of etching on iron plates is seen to date back to the 16th century with the earliest etching being dated to 1513 known as ‘Girl bathing her feet’.[1] Other examples of etching from this time include five plates by Albrecht Drurer, such as this one titled the Canon.[2]

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The use of etching in the printing process is attributed to be invented by one David Hopfer of Germany (c.1470-1536).[1] David Hopfer was a craftsman who worked on armour and transferred this skill to iron plates and printmaking. A change from iron to copper plates came later in Italy and this change to a softer metal made the process of etching a rival to the use of engraving in printmaking.

The difference between engraving and etching is that engraving requires the physical removal of metal using a burin (chisel) whereas in etching material is removed chemically from the metal plate using an acid. Therefore etching came to be used to artists who could draw rather than your metalwork specialist working with a chisel.

To create an etching plate you would follow this process:

  1. Take a metallic plate, usually in copper and zinc, and cover it in an acid resistant wax.
  2. Scratch into the metal using an etching needle to your chosen design.
  3. Place metal plate into an acid bath which will dissolve parts of the exposed metal
  4. Clean the plate
  5. Spread ink over the plate and print onto paper

Edward Hussey’s etchings box contains all the equipment required to make an etching, including another tool known as an echoppe created by James Callope (1592-1635). The echoppe is a tool like an etching needle with a curved end to swell lines which engravers were able to do in the rival technique.

echoppe

The wooden box also contains several finished plates depicting the Old Castle as well as the view of the new house from the moat.

old castle copper

Some of these plates are accompanied by tracings and sketchings of the finished design and shows the amount of detail, planning and precision that went into making a plate.

793623.20.19

This wooden box is full of delights of a popular pastime by the owner of Scotney Castle, Edward Hussey III. This highlights the gentleman’s fascination with precision and interest in design just as he worked closely with the architect Anthony Salvin in the design of the new house at Scotney Castle. The plate of the old castle and new house really captures what Edward Hussey III was trying to achieve in creating the picturesque view and Scotney as we know it today.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etching

[1] Urs Grath ‘Girl Bathing her feet’; A.M.Hind, A History of Engraving and Etching, Dover Publications Inc, 2003: 106

[2] Albrecht Drurer ‘Canon’; A.M.Hind, A History of Engraving and Etching, Dover Publications Inc, 2003: 106 [http://www.dia.org/object-info/66a6ffc8-97b1-41b3-965b-b84b0f958066.aspx?position=18]

 

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Hedgerow management at Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle are delighted to be promoting…

The South Of England Hedge Laying Society (SEHLS)

Annual Hedge Laying Competition

Sunday 21 February, 9am – 4pm

Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst Kent TN3 8JN

“This is a great opportunity for the public to see some of the best quality hedge laying in the country and learn more about the craft which is enjoying something of a renaissance.” SEHLS President Peter Tunks

National Trust Volunteer Estate Guides will be running guided walks to the site throughout the day.

For more information please visit: www.sehls.co.uk

John Davis - Tilers Field Jan 2015

I thought that it would be a good idea to write a blog about hedgerows, their management and benefits on the Scotney Castle Estate.

Hedgerow history in the High Weald

Hedgerows have been an intrinsic part of the British landscape for thousands of years; their shape, function and history however differ in each region.

In the High Weald landscape, hedgerows were often relics of slow, small scale woodland clearance by the Anglo-Saxons, where boundaries were formed by leaving strips of woodland in-between the newly created agricultural fields1. These hedges, or Shaws, therefore were made up of mainly tree species and were not often straight or uniform, but were subsequently managed as hedgerows for livestock enclosure.

It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th Centuries that planted hedges, usually of Hawthorn, appeared through the Enclosures Act, although these are uncommon in the High Weald.

Since the mechanisation of agriculture post World War Two, hedgerows were removed to allow larger fields and therefore more efficient farming. Added to this, the invention of barbed wire fences has seen over 300,000 miles of hedgerow lost since 1945.2

Hedgerow Wildlife

When woodlands were cleared, wildlife was forced to seek sanctuary in the newly created hedgerows and many have become reliant on this ‘secondary woodland’ habitat for nesting, dispersal and food. Species at Scotney include Dormice, Great crested newts, Brimstone butterflies and Whitethroats. The RSPB claim that 80% of our woodland birds, 50% of our mammals and 30% of our butterflies utilise hedgerows.3 A hedgerow with a diverse mix of trees and shrubs provide more potential for different wildlife to flourish.

Hedgerow planting at Scotney Castle

Several kilometres of hedges have been planted at Scotney Castle over the last few years, this has enabled wildlife corridors to criss-cross the whole estate. A mix of species have been planted including hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, spindle, hornbeam and hazel. Thank you to TCV and the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing whips and volunteers, alongside our regular volunteers, to fulfil this aim.

Hedge-laying at Scotney Castle

As hedgerows were established they then had to be managed, laying and coppicing are typical techniques, with regional styles developing across the country. The invention of the mechanical flail however has made hedgerows look uniform across our landscape. At Scotney Castle, alongside the South of England Hedgelaying Society (SEHLS) we have been laying hedges in order to preserve this ancient technique that goes as far back as Roman times.

In the ‘southern’ style the stem of each individual tree is ‘pleached’ and laid in the same direction, providing a thick barrier beneficial for wildlife and livestock control. Then hazel or willow stakes and binders, coppiced on site or from local woodlands, are added giving the hedge extra height and strength.

Thank you for reading.

References

1 – Hedges in the Weald, http://www.Highweald.org

2 – Hedgerows in the High Weald landscape http://www.highweald.org

3 – Value of hedgerows for wildlife, http://www.RSPB.org.uk

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