Filed under history

Listen To Britain 75th Anniversary

Listen To Britain 75th Anniversary

This is an incredibly famous documentary made in the dark days of World War II by Humphrey Jennings as a means of uniting the United Kingdom. I’d heard a lot about it but never seen it before. Documentary maker Kevin Macdonald introduced it, describing it as a masterpiece; it is that and more. There is … Continue reading

Arms to Luxury Furniture

Arms to Luxury Furniture

One of the biggest problems governments had at the end of wars was what to do with the unemployed servicemen and the factories which had been churning out arms. Peter the Great of Russia learnt a lot when he lived and worked in England. I think he may be the only one to build an … Continue reading

Forth Bridge and Britain’s Decline

Forth Bridge and Britain’s Decline

This is from a piece by Ian Jack who remembered the opening of its predecessor 53 years ago. What has been lost? Odd little things: a quiet pice of shoreline a view, a further erosion of Fife’s separateness – which could be argued is for the good. The argument against the car is a bigger … Continue reading

Machin Tomb, Gloucester Cathedral

Machin Tomb, Gloucester Cathedral

This is the only Tudor tomb in the Cathedral (I think), showing the family of Alderman Thomas Machin who died in 1614 and Christian his wife who survived him by only a year. They were survived by quite a large brood, but what intrigues me is how the young boys had to continue round the … Continue reading

A Bad Doctor

A Bad Doctor

John Aubrey is one of the great English writers and left a huge amount of diaries which range over a wide range of topics. They are chatty, he often qualifies what he writes by citing he’s not sure of this, or that someone told him, so provides insight into his life and thinking. This is … 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

Waltham Abbey

Waltham Abbey

This town is now part of London’s northern commuter belt, but the Abbey was one of the wealthiest before Henry VIII closed it. It was founded by King Harold who was miraculously cured by the relic of the Holy Cross which had come from Montacute in Somerset.  After the Battle of Hastings, some of his … Continue reading

The Tree of Wooden Clogs

The Tree of Wooden Clogs

This is one of the first foreign language films I saw, and despite its length, I remember being fascinated by it. Set in a farm settlement in 19th century Lombardy where the families have to give 2/3 of their produce to the landlord, it shows a year in the lives of 5 families. They live … Continue reading

William Henry Hunt Watercolour painter

William Henry Hunt Watercolour painter

Hunt is an artist I’d not heard of, so his show at the Courtauld Institute was an eye opener. Born near Covent Garden in 1790, he was disabled, so unable to do physical work, but fortunately he showed a talent for art so was apprenticed at the age of 14 to John Varley who shared … Continue reading

Perfume: A Sensory Journey

Perfume: A Sensory Journey

This is a fascinating exhibition at London’s Somerset House, which encourages participants to re-think how they engage with perfumes and scents. The display is made up of 10 rooms, each with different scents,presented in displays from bowling balls in black sand to a colourful chaise loungue draped in scented fabric. We are given a card … Continue reading