John Taylor: Taking a closer look

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I really must have a word with the editor. The newsprint in the Citizen seems to be getting ridiculously fuzzy.

But then the awful truth dawned! For along with the gradual loss of hair and teeth now comes the need to up the strength of my reading glasses.

So it’s off to the local optician in Fenny Stratford, where Durrans Court recalls a local optician of an earlier time. He was Leopold Durran, whose father having moved from Banbury with his wife in 1881 established a jeweller’s and clockmaker’s business, and also took on responsibility for winding and maintaining the clock at StMartin’s Church.

Apart from his usual business he also pursued a sideline as an optician, and before World War One his son, Leopold, trained as a spectacle maker in London.

Seeing military service with the RAMC in the First World War he would become optician to the Military Hospital at Great Yarmouth, and after the war at 77, Aylesbury Street would for many years carry on an optician’s practice.

Also interested in optical matters had been the famous British scientist Robert Hooke, who having improved on the design of the microscope carried out extensive investigations using the instrument. However he is more locally renowned for having designed the church at Willen.

Yet for many years the credit was afforded to Sir Christopher Wren, until in 1935 entries discovered in Hooke’s diary (preserved in the Guildhall Library) confirmed his rightful claim.

But back to spectacles, which the ad men nowadays refer to as ‘eyewear.’ And, slapping on a designer name is always good for an extra 100 quid.

But then it seems that today the object of ‘eyewear’ is to make one look cooler than a penguin’s bottom!