Filed under writing history

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

This is a book that sounded intriguing – the tagline was ‘148 Diaries Found in a Skip’. Literary giant Margaret Drabble and historian Kate Sumerscale provided high praise, but I struggled to finish it. Masters discovered the mouldy and tattered diaries in 2001, full of dense handwriting and occasional drawings which began in 1952 and … Continue reading


Fire Protection for Horses

This is from Highways & Byways in Northumbria, Aydon Castle A fortified mansion of the 14th century standing in a fine position on the bank above the dale thorough which the Cor bur runs looking over the valley of the Tyne with Hexham Abbey in the distance. It is now used as a farmhouse and … Continue reading

Troubled History of Hexham

This is some more from The Highways & Byways of Northumbria. This is about one of its most ancient and well known towns: Hexham had a very troubled history, the early portion of which culminated i 875 when the Danes, under Haldane landed and pillaged and destroyed Hexham along with many other churches. The church … Continue reading

Civic Expenses

Bristol Corporation was infamous for spending money on celebrations, and its croneyism. When Manchester debated whether to elect its own MPs they gave corruption in Bristol as a reason not to. This is from Latimer’s Annals of Bristol for 1743: The mind of the Corporation was much exercised about this it by the attempt of … Continue reading

Evelyn and Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell was a soldier, who famously neglected the navy, but here is an account of him with a newly built ship, by John Evelyn, February 1655: “I went to see the greate ship newly built by the Usurper Oliver, carrying 96 brasse guns, and 1000 tons burthen. In the prow was Oliver on horseback, … Continue reading

The Cost of Wife Selling

I just found some articles from volume 1of Old Yorkshire: “At the West Riding sessions of December 28, 1835… a man named Joshua Jackson was convicted of selling his wife & sentenced to imprisonment for 1 month with hard labour”

The Old Bailey and Elizabeth Canning

This is from the book London 1753 by Sheila O’Connell: “The case of Elizabeth Canning was the cause celebre of 1753. On 1 January, Canning, an 18 year old scullery maid living in Aldermanbury postern, disappeared on the way home from visiting relations in the East End. A month later she turned up at her … Continue reading

Medieval Books

These are amazing- books bigger than people, books bound back to back, even 6 books in a single cover, the ultimate in conserving resources and storage space. I’ve seen some great illuminated manuscripts, but these are something else. Wonderfully Weird & Ingenious Medieval Books