Filed under 19th century history

Concubinage in Wales

Concubinage in Wales

I’ve just discovered this fascinating incident in the wonderful ‘Kilvert’s Diary’ written by a cleric in late 19th century Wales: Friday 8 April 1870 In the green lane between York and Cefn y Fedwas I came upon Smith of Wemwg hedging. He told me that a child had arrived at Pen-y-worlodd and wanted to know … Continue reading

A Captive Owl

This is from Kilvert’s Diary, told to him by a Miss Child: She and her sister stranded in London at night went to London Bridge hotel (having missed the last train) with little money and no luggage except the owl in a basket. The owl hooted all night in spite of their putting it up … Continue reading

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

I love obscure bits of history, and parish boundary markers are great because you really have to poke around with your eyes open to spot them. They were used to mark the parish boundaries of mediaeval cities, to establish who had to pay church rates, who attended churches, and as legal documents in property sales. … Continue reading

A Girl Writing

A Girl Writing

This is a lovely image by Henriette Browne of 1870, on display in London’s Museum of Childhood.  But missing from their notes is the story being told. The young girl is gazing at a small bird, not actually writing at the moment. Behind them is an empty cage. Women in the 18th century often described … Continue reading

An Empty Cot

An Empty Cot

This is on display in London’s Museum of Childhood, amidst a variety of child sized furniture and toys. But this one stands out – not for what it is, but for what it is not. A baby sized bed should hold a baby, a miracle, the start of a life, a celebration of family and … Continue reading

Thatcher’s Art Foiled by a Dog

Thatcher’s Art Foiled by a Dog

This is from the i paper a few weeks ago, and is  a fine lesson in how the best laid plans can fail: Previously unseen government documents show how the former Prime Minister pulled out all the stops in 1988 to persuade Swiss-based industrialist Baron Heini Thyssen-Bornemisza and his Spanish wife to bequeath their collection … Continue reading

The Last Days of Solitary

The Last Days of Solitary

This is a really disturbing documentary by the BBC on the US prison system, in which solitary confinement has become widespread as a last resort for dealing with violent uncontrollable prisoners. But for centuries they’ve known it doesn’t work, and in many cases makes prisoners worse. It also costs a hell of a lot of … Continue reading

Anselm Kiefer ‘Walhalla’

Anselm Kiefer ‘Walhalla’

Kiefer may be my favourite artist and I have no idea why, as I’m not usually into such weirdness. I love this huge exhibition, on at the White Cube till 12 Feb. It’s title refers to Norse mythology’s paradise for those slain in battle but also, this being Keifer and heavily into things Germanic, also … Continue reading

Wassailing Exotically

Wassailing Exotically

Here’s a gem from the V&A museum, a wassail set, but not for country yokels! This is made of lignum vitae, an expensive hardwood from the West Indies, and ivory.   

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

What happened to objects when Henry VIII closed the monasteries? This is an area of history that is often ignored or the subject of guesswork, especially in England where there was so much destruction of religious artefacts at the long drawn-out Reformation. But here’s some thoughts. Every church that conducted masses had to have a … Continue reading