Filed under technology

Wellington’s Victory Dinner Service

The Duke of Wellington is one of Britain’s greatest military heroes, but he was also seen as a saviour in Spain and Portugal. In the V&A is this huge dinner set commissioned by these grateful nations, produced 1813-16   Advertisements

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

Shipley Art Gallery

Shipley Art Gallery

This is a brilliant venue, all the more so as it is owned and run by Gateshead Council and is said to have the finest collection of ceramics outside London’s V&A. I visited it when it opened and for an hour I was the only visitor though the staff warned some children were coming later. … Continue reading

England’s Vanishing Arts

England’s Vanishing Arts

Last Friday the i featured England’s last cooper, Les Skinner, 72  who is about to retire and sell his business in Liverpool. The trade was once at the heart of Britain’s trade, as they produced barrels for food and drink, whale oil so was a huge industry, and one of the last of the guilds … Continue reading

Beyond Love

I’ve become a huge fan of Ira Glass’s ‘This American Life’ podcast, especially since it provides a welcome antidote to all the bad news coming out of the states recently. Last week i stumbled upon one of the strangest stories ever, in the episode ‘Grand Gestures’ which challenges so many aspects of what we are … Continue reading

Monstrance & Clocks

Monstrance & Clocks

Here’s a bit of seriously obscure research that took me a while to nail down. I found a few monstrance clocks but wanted to know what they were and meant. Here’s one from the collection of the Guild of Clockmakers, now in the Science Museum: The original. monstrance was an ornate container for display and … Continue reading

Teazel House

Teazel House

Trowbridge was for centuries a major centre for the wool trade.I think its last weaving factory closed about 1980, and many former mills have been converted to other uses, with one being engulfed into the shopping centre as part of the local history museum. But when I was told about this one, called Handle House, … Continue reading

Pie in the Sky Research

Pie in the Sky Research

This is from Friday’s i paper, a reminder that English eccentricity is still alive and well – at least up north. A meat and potato pie was “Sent into space” yesterday, attached to a weather balloon. The pastry lifted off in Wigan in advance of the World Pie Eating Championships, which begins on Tuesday next … Continue reading