Filed under open spaces

Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

This is some more from a German physician’s journal, Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599 Especially every quarter when the law courts sit in London and they throng from all parts of England for the terms … to litigate in numerous maters which have occurred in the interim, for everything is saved up till that … Continue reading

Rosemary Ritual

Rosemary Ritual

I am fascinated how people invent and perpetuate personal rituals and a few days ago I think I saw one. It was simple, but seemed deliberate. A man walking out of a big carpark stroked a large rosemary bush and smelled his hand. A simple act, but it seemed unconscious, as if he’d done it … Continue reading

Punishment for Milan’s Plague

This is a miscellaneous tract from the university of Chicago, and a fascinating one on many levels The great plague of Milan in 1630 was alleged to have been set in motion by the actions of a Milanese barber and the Commissioner of Public Health. The two were executed. The officials of Milan then erected … Continue reading



These are my favourite birds – maybe along with starlings, but they always seem to be alone, which is why this group of 6 seem so startling – all lined up on their concrete – what are they? podiums? Like dudes in tuxedoes, they don’t care who’s watching them posing. I love the different poses … Continue reading

Battle of Fairs

There were many problems caused by the urbanisation of Britain; houses had to be build fast, and were often overcrowded and substandard. Before railways allowed mass movement of food, fairs and markets were crucial in ensuring food supplies, especially to the ‘great wen’ of London. Markets and fairs were conducted by licence, often of long … Continue reading

Counting the Black Death

We know the epidemic known as the Black Death killed a lot of people in Britain and Europe. It put an end to the gloriously labour intensive architectural style of Decorated Gothic, to be replaced by the more austere Perpendicular. The manpower shortage was so desperate it led to the Peasants’ Revolt demanding better wages … Continue reading

Widdecombe Fair

I recently made a wonderful purchase from an antiques store – this fine pottery mug, of indeterminate age, which came from a dealer in Burton on the Water, Gloucestershire. But the fair it refers to is on wildest Dartmoor, about half way between Buckfastleigh and Moretonhampstead, and now found in atlases as Widecombe in the … Continue reading

Rhinoceros Survives Poachers

This is from last Friday’s i and shines a light on current conservation efforts in Africa: Staggering around when you’re woozy with sedatives must be particularly testing when you weigh two tonnes, like Hope. She is a five-yea-old rhinoceros in south Africa who has spent a year being treated by vets after going through a … Continue reading

18th Century Slinging

This is a piece on the little known sport/weaponry of the slingshot, from Sports & Pastimes of England, published in 1800: I remember in my youth to have seen several persons expert in slinging of stones, which they performed with thongs of leather, or, wanting those,k with garters; and sometimes they used a stick of … Continue reading

Arthur the best Archer

I am posting this under curiosities as it intrigues me. I knew that Henry VIII had an older brother – he married Catherine of Braganza who had been his late brother’s wife, but I don’t think I knew his name. There is much in the following which has elements of the Arthurian legend. Intriguing… Again … Continue reading