Filed under British history

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

A Boy’s Memorial

A Boy’s Memorial

Bristol’s Mayor’s Chapel is a strange church, opposite the Cathedral, it was built in the 13th century by Maurice de Gaunt, as a hospital to care for the local poor. When Henry VIII closed the monasteries, it was converted for use by the Queen Elizabeth School for boys, and the associated Red Maids School for … Continue reading

A Witch Saved

This is from Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal from 1773: A few days ago, at the Village of Seend, in Wiltshire, a Report prevailed, that a Woman who was dangerously ill of a putrid Fever, was bewitched, and this Report excited the Curiosity of Numbers of her Neighbours to go and se hr. The Fever attending … Continue reading

Policing Morality

Policing Morality

When Henry VIII closed the monasteries, local parishes had to enforce not just criminal, but also moral codes, which could get a bit messy, and often involved women. Here’s a list of incidents dealt with by the churchwardens of St James’ parish in Bristol in the 17th century: 1627 Item. for a warrant for her … Continue reading

Inside St Peter’s Bristol

Inside St Peter’s Bristol

When we were campaigning to save Bristol’s Castle Park, we were repeatedly told this mediaeval church was at risk of falling inwards, weakened by the fire that destroyed it in The Blitz. But it’s still standing and now volunteers have access to it to help maintain the adjoining garden. It’s misnamed the Physic Garden, but … 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

Brexit – The Devil and the Details

I’ve heard a lot about how hard Brexit will be, and the governments rush into it is worrying. Here’s an article from the i’s Jim Armitage which provides an example of the complexities ahead, and should terrify anyone in these islands. The complexity of untangling 44 years of seamless trade and regulation with Europe is … 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

Child Prodigies

Child Prodigies

James Ferguson grew up in rural Scotland in the early 18th century. Like most families, the Fergusons could not support their children so sent them to work at an early age. James became a shepherd but spent his days making models of mills, spinning wheels and any other mechanisms he saw. At night he lay … Continue reading

Edward Colston and Bristol

Edward Colston and Bristol

The story  of Bristol’s Edward Colston (1636-21) has been dividing the city for decades and has now reached new levels with the decision to remove his name which has existed for well over a century from the city’s main music venue. The Guardian paper notes the similarities between this dispute and that of Cecil Rhodes … Continue reading