Filed under colonial history

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

This is one of the most important, but least known historical and archaeological sites in Britain. Gunpowder has played a huge role in modernisation; without it we would not have city states, mining, wars, hunting, and spectacular fireworks. This is from historian Brenda Buchannan: Gunpowder and the explosives and propellants which followed it provided a … Continue reading

Women’s Work- 19th Century Britain

Women’s Work- 19th Century Britain

I recently found this wonderful book by Rohana Darlington, Irish Knitting. She graduated from the Central School of Art and Design and in 1984 she received a travelling fellowship to study hand knitting in Norway and Ireland; from the latter came this book, a mix of Irish history focusing on fine art and textiles, but … Continue reading

Ripper Street

Ripper Street

This is a series I came to late as I had no interest in things related to Jack the Ripper, especially in the wake of the campaign against the ripper museum in London’s East End. But the series is astounding on so many levels. For a start, it is not about the gruesome killings per … Continue reading

How to Create a Perfect Wife

How to Create a Perfect Wife

This is an intriguing book by Wendy Moore, a journalist and author who I’d never heard of. The story fills in a lot of gaps in my historical knowledge, especially featuring the poet Thomas Day who I knew from his famous abolitionist poem The Dying Negro and his book on child centred education. He was … Continue reading

Counting Islands

Counting Islands

Here’s an oddity from a few days ago in the i paper: Indonesia is to begin the mammoth task of counting all of its islands with the aim of protecting its territory and natural resources. The government has never had a definite number of islands that make up the vast archipelago, with estimates reaching up … 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

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

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

This is a wonderful, haunting but small museum, a place that should make you fall down and give thanks to whoever you believe in that modern medicine exists. It’s in the attic to provide maximum light for operations. Everything is so small, especially the operating table which I doubt would be long enough for me. … 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.   

Shrunken Heads

I have seen a number of these, especially the collection in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, but though vaguely aware they served some ritual function, never really pursued what they were about. No images are included as it is not possible to photogrph such human remains. This is from the i paper, by Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The … Continue reading