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UK Royalty and Race

UK Royalty and Race

There’s a lot of discussion about how the present royal family is dealing with Prince Harry’s present partner, but I am increasingly fascinated by what defines race. This is an article by Kate Williams takes definitions of race onto a new level: Queen Charlotte, the German wife of “mad” King George III and mother of … Continue reading

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

Against the Law

This documentary was screened as part of the BBC’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, i.e., that of males, as the law always assumed that women don’t do such things. It tells the story of journalist Peter Wildeblood who was put on trial with his friends Lord Montague and Michael Pitt-Rivers … 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

The Heroism of A Stranger

The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to … 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

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

Imprisoning the Mentally ill

This is from Patrick Cockburn, award winning war correspondent with the i paper. It seems a far cry from his usual topic, but not really. The criminalisation of the mentally iill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. He discusses a number of cases of impending executions for the … Continue reading