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The History Press blog

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    A Song of their Own

     

    Joy Bounds will be at Felixstowe Book Festival on Saturday and Sunday 28th-29th June at 3pm and 5pm. She will be hosting a tea party and talking about her new book, A Song of their Own: The Fight for Votes for Women in Ipswich

    What did women from the Ipswich area have to do with getting the vote? Surely it was only in London that suffragettes chained themselves to railings, held enormous processions, went to prison, and burnt down buildings. But women were also making their voice heard in towns and villages across Britain. This book shows how much women in and around Ipswich were involved, right up to the outbreak of the First World War. In the face of great opposition, persistent heckling and even physical violence, these women held meetings, fairs and put on suffrage plays. Controversially, they shut themselves in to avoid the census and resisted tax. At a time when women had very little power inside or outside the home, it is the story of how ordinary women supported each other to demand a say in the affairs of this country. 


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    Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England's Nero


    For far too long now, the full scale of Henry VIII’s misdeeds and miscalculations has been largely hidden from public view – mainly, it seems, beneath the copious skirts of his six wives, all of whom, both individually and collectively, have received far more than their fair share of literary attention. While historians, popular and otherwise, have poured forth books about Henry the husband and his unfortunate bedmates, other far more pertinent features of his rule have gone largely unmentioned. Henry the spendthrift, would-be warrior, Henry the impulsive religious dabbler, not to mention Henry the man who single-handedly spawned the turmoil of the next two reigns, are all images of the king that are likely to remain curiously unfamiliar to many modern-day readers who might well consider themselves keen students of the reign. And when the most famous Tudor’s notorious ruthlessness is considered at all, it is still often trivialised - the regrettable by-product, as it were, of a one-dimensional pantomime villain whose more high-profile victims suffer their fate with an equally one-dimensional passivity and inevitability.

    In the meantime, for the more obscure – and often far more hideously abused – casualties of Henry’s manic repression, there is only oblivion. Most of us are aware, after all, of the fate of Thomas More, but far fewer, I suspect, know the full details of the imprisonment and slaughter of the London Carthusians who resisted the imposition of the royal supremacy. During their confinement in a stinking dungeon at Newgate Jail over seventeen days, Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew and Sebastian Newdigate were chained to posts, loaded with lead, prevented from sitting and ‘never loosed for any natural necessity’ before being hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Their prior, John Houghton, had suffered a similar execution earlier in the month, after which one of his arms was nailed to the door of the London Charterhouse as a gory reminder to the monks inside of what they, too, could expect.

    Is all this common knowledge? And are, for that matter, the other excesses and follies of England’s most famous king generally appreciated: his hugely counter-productive escapades abroad; his needless search for a male heir and bungled divorce; his largely gratuitous break with Rome and gross financial mismanagement; his disastrously bungled will and testament that blighted the reign of his ‘well-beloved’ successor so grievously? Once again, I suspect not. Perhaps, therefore, it’s time to cast new light on long-neglected dark corners and open a more than timely debate on the nature and causes of tyranny, and what, above all, made this particular tyrant tick.  


    John Matusiak with his book Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England's Nero


    John Matusiak is the author of Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England's Nero. This compelling new account of Henry VIII is by no means yet another history of the 'old monster' and his reign. The '€˜monster' displayed here is, at the very least, a newer type, more beset by anxieties and insecurities, and more tightly surrounded by those who equated loyalty with fear, self-interest and blind obedience.


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  • 06/13/14--02:00: The Friday Digest 13/06/14
  • THP Friday digest
     
    This week's update features the lost whaling station at the end of the world, fifty years of the Red Arrows and ten historical novels that will transport you back in time.


    Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1898


    Who was the mysterious feminist seed dealer and marketing genius Miss Carrie H. Lippincott


    Illd Ldn News 1888 Xmas Miss Pettifers Diary


    * From high society to sea voyages: a comic take on life in the 1880s.


    Holland 1 The Holland 1 was the first submarine commissioned by the Royal Navy (c) Alamy

     

    * Submarines and sea battles: the menace under the sea


    5 yuan note issued by the Sino-Scandinavian Bank (CM 1979,1039.18)


    * Why are there Viking ships on a Chinese note? 


    ‘Portrait of an African’, thought to be a depiction of Ignatius Sancho

     

    * An introduction to the thriving black community in eighteenth-century London

     

    Lindow man, Mid-1st century AD, Cheshire, England, (BEP 1984,1002.1)


    * In respect of the dead: human remains in the British Museum.  


    South Georgia: The lost whaling station at the end of the world


    South Georgia: the lost whaling station at the end of the world


    Red Arrows flying in eagle bend formation


    In pictures: fifty years of the Red Arrows.


    Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 


    * The blues pilgrimage on Highway 61.

     

    BBC1 axes First World War drama The Crimson Field


    * The BBC drama The Crimson Field has been axed as it 'did not attract sufficiently high audiences or critical praise to warrant a return'. Were you a fan of the First World War drama?


    B Flt pilots left to right, 2/Lt L.S. Gedge, Lt J.H. Summers, Captain R.N.Hall, Lt J.D. Baird and 2/Lt T.M.O'Neill.


    * The pilots who worked to thwart the Zeppelin threat at Hainault Farm aerodrome during the First World War.

     

     
    Spot the Dog
     
     



    JK Rowling


    * The cast has been confirmed for the BBC One adaptation of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy with production beginning on 7 July in South West England. 
     

     


      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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    George Raynor: the greatest coach England never had


    Despite being the most successful national coach in the history of football – an accolade bestowed by the Guinness Book of Records – Raynor is one of the least well known within Great Britain. Rising from humble beginnings as a miner’s son, he became a competent but unexceptional footballer for Second and Third Division clubs before discovering his real forte and beginning a meteoric ascent as a coach.

    Dispatched to Sweden after the Second World War, Raynor achieved such success at international level that he clearly came to believe, justifiably, that he would one day be given the responsibility to lead England. His work overseas therefore carries with it the feeling that all was a rehearsal for a triumphant return. However, this was never to come to pass. In this way, Raynor, although an ambassador for English football, became increasingly a reluctant and embittered one.

    Against all the odds, he steered Sweden to Olympic Gold and Bronze medals as well as to second and third places in two World Cups, and managed Italian giants Lazio and Juventus. Yet on leaving Sweden in 1958, the man whose services had been recognised with a knighthood from the King of Sweden and a Presidential Medal from the Brazilian Government was inexplicably (or widely presumed to be) shunned by First Division clubs and found himself working at a grammar school in Skegness as a PE teacher.

    In his own country George Raynor was, and continues to be, ignored or misunderstood. His successes were received by sceptics and resisted by those who had no genuine interest in seeing England win anything. Even today references to him in football history books are disparaging: ‘A little known clogger,’ according to one, and in another (a history of football tactics no less) reference to Raynor is not only fleeting but his name misspelt. Jonathan Wilson’s binning of Raynor’s impact on the ascendance of Swedish football (and, indeed, European football after the Second World War in general) in his Inverting the Pyramid is astonishing not least in its brevity: ‘Under [Raynor’s] guidance, and advantaged by their wartime neutrality, Sweden won Gold at the 1948 London Olympics, finished third at the 1950 World Cup and then reached the final against [Brazil] in 1958. There, they played a typical WM with man-marking …’ And that’s it!

    Did Sweden really play ‘a typical WM’ formation? If they did so play, how could such an antiquated formation produce such success? And, given that it was successful, what influence, if any, did Sweden’s play have on other nations? Moreover, how much a factor was the Swedish neutrality in the war? Particularly in light of the comparative lack of success of Switzerland and Spain who, equally, were neutral in the war. Is this commonplace ignorance and disdain for Raynor’s achievements an indication that Olympic Gold in 1948 and Bronze in 1952, and a second and third place in the 1958 and 1950 World Cup were commonplace and that his ideas lacked tactical sophistication? Is it evidence that the 7–2 victory over Karl Rappan’s Switzerland in 1946 and a 2–2 draw with Gustav Sebes’ world-beating Hungarians in November 1953 – just days before Hungary beat England 6–3 – were merely the results of luck and chance?

    Under Raynor’s tutelage, at each and every international competition in which Sweden qualified they ‘medalled’. Yet in England, the nation which yearned so much for victory their self-belief should have confirmed, there was never a desire to bring Raynor into the fold. He was quite possibly the greatest coach England never had.

    George Raynor’s story might ostensibly be regarded as just  another straightforward ‘poor boy makes good’ tale, but in fact it is one which, when examined more closely, raises a number of intriguing questions. Apart from the obvious – why his methods were so outstandingly successful – probably the most perplexing and difficult to answer is why his evident talents and experience were never to be called upon by his own country.


    George Raynor: the greatest coach England never had

     

    Ashley Hyne is the author of George Raynor: The Greatest Coach England Never Had, a book which finally examines the life and career of the man that The Guinness Book of Records called the most successful football coach in history. 


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  • 06/16/14--00:00: The case that foiled Fabian
  • L: Chief Inspector Robert Fabian. In the 1940s, there was perhaps no detective as famous as the redoubtable ‘Fabian of the Yard’. The Charles Walton murder proved to be a rare failure for the seasoned investigator. R: An undated photo of Charles Walton


    Several years ago, while visiting family in the Cotswolds, I had a drink in a pub outside Evesham. A friendly gentleman at the bar, upon learning I write books on crime and history, suggested I 'do one on the Lower Quinton murder.'  He summarized the case for me: On Valentine’s Day 1945, 74-year-old farm labourer Charles Walton was found on the lower slopes of Meon Hill with a pitchfork plunged through his chest and a trouncing hook buried in his throat.  Numerous crosses were carved into his flesh.  Scotland Yard dispatched their best man, Chief Inspector Robert Fabian, who was stymied by superstitious villagers: they claimed Walton was a warlock who could converse with animals. Out of fear, they refused to cooperate with police.  The case was never solved.

    This immediately piqued my interest.  I read numerous articles, all of which played up the witchcraft angle: Walton was found beneath a willow tree, he was killed in the middle of a stone circle once used for Black Magic rituals, he bred large toads he used to curse local crops, he was clairvoyant, he could communicate with birds, as a boy he was haunted by a headless woman and a black spectral hound.  I paid several visits to Lower Quinton, but was warned villagers did not take kindly to questions about the 'Pitchfork Murder'.


    A section of the Rollright Stones, which feature prominently in the Walton murder. Some accounts claim Walton was killed in the centre of the ancient stone circle, which is 12 miles away from the actual murder site.


    For research, I went straight to the source: the Scotland Yard case files and the detailed reports and notes kept by Fabian. What I found intrigued me.  Rumour and myth had overshadowed the facts of the case and, because of retellings in books and newspapers over the years, had been accepted as the truth.  Charles Walton’s murder was bloody and grotesque—but there were no crosses carved into his flesh.  He was not murdered in the middle of a stone circle, nor did villagers—who spoke with investigators—believe the man to be a practitioner of Black Magic.  Indeed, the witchcraft angle seems to be a device hatched by reporters and authors—including Fabian, himself, who references the case in two volumes of memoirs. 

    That’s not to say the case isn’t strange, for it very much is.  The residents of Lower Quinton did not seem at all alarmed by the vicious murder in their backyard.  In a village of 493 people, not one person could shed any light on the subject.  Although locals answered Fabian’s questions, they never volunteered information.  The seasoned detective thought they were hiding something and believed 'some local history' unknown to the police played a part in the murder.  There is a definite element of the creepy in Charles Walton’s killing. 

    As to the murderer, the circumstantial evidence points heavily to one man—a man Fabian believed for the rest of his life to be the killer and whose family operates a successful Cotswolds pub to this day.  But any concrete solution to the case has forever been lost to history.  Perhaps this is why the story of what many believe to be Britain’s last ritual witchcraft killing continues to fascinate.


    The Case that Foiled Fabian


    Simon Read is the author of The Case that Foiled Fabian which lays out for the first time what actually happened and distills the truth from the many myths about this case that are today mistaken for facts.


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      Pleasure Boating on the Thames

    We are all familiar with the horrors of the First World War, but a side of the conflict that is seldom mentioned is leisure. It may surprise us that any recreational pastimes were pursued at that time, but as the battle raged on the other side of the channel, one place that attracted increasing number of visitors was the river Thames. Indeed, one Oxford boating firm, Salter Bros, had its fortunes transformed by the war.

     The business, founded in 1858 by the brothers John and Stephen Salter, had developed from a leading racing-boat-builder into one of the country’s largest inland boat-builders, boat-letters and passenger boat operators. Yet on the eve of the war the firm was struggling. The river was no longer as busy as it had been during the late Victorian period, when Jerome K. Jerome wrote his famous Three Men in a Boat, and the business was struggling to maintain its cash-flow during the winter months, when little revenue was being generated.

     Pleasure Boating on the Thames

    Initially the onset of war posed a considerable challenge, because pleasure boating on the waterway declined, and the college rowing scene, which the firm was closely connected with, ceased to operate. Yet as the conflict continued there was a notable resurgence in water-based leisure, particularly at peak holidaying times. The firm’s passenger boats started to carry greater numbers of passengers, whilst its rental business also started to pick up. One form of holidaying that became particularly popular during the First World War was camping on the river in a specially designed ‘tent punt’. Many people took advantage of the firm’s delivery and retrieval service (included in the rental price), which enabled them to embark on a one-way journey. There were a number of reasons why leisure took off on the river during the war, but they included the lack of railway facilities (meaning that travelling long distances was less straightforward), sanctions on petrol, and the closure of some seaside resorts.

     Pleasure Boating on the Thames

    The firm was also fortunate enough to be aided by contract work for the war effort. Although gaining work from the Admiralty was a protracted process, it built 144 pontoons, forty collapsible life-boats and seven military craft in 1915 alone. As the conflict progressed it produced a growing range of craft, which included cutters (for larger military vessels), motor boats, pinnaces, gigs and whalers, as well as accessories like buoys, sails, life floats, oars and paddles. The firm also built thirteen Coastal Motor Boats, a craft that was, at the time, one of the fastest pieces of naval weaponry in the world (capable of over 30 knots). These vessels were designed, and outsourced to many smaller firms, by the shipbuilder Thornycroft, and they were used in a number of daring military operations, most notably an attack on a Russian port (Operation Kronstadt) by the intelligence services in 1919.

     

    Pleasure Boating on the Thames

     The additional contract work and the popularity of leisure on the water helped to drive healthy profits, as the firm’s turnover more than doubled in just two years from £5,322 10s 4½d in 1916 to £12,117 19s 10d by 1918. The workforce had also swelled to 167 employees by the summer of 1918 – the largest number recorded at the firm up to that date.

     Once the conflict ended the firm quickly returned to its normal activities. Although the business went on to benefit from a brief post-war boom in pleasure boating and college rowing, there is no doubt that the war had been been crucial in reviving its fortunes.

    Pleasure Boating on the Thames

     

    Simon Wenham is the author of Pleasure Boating on the Thames: A History of Salter Bros 1858-Present Day, and will be 'launching' his new book on Monday 2nd June at Salter's Steamers. For more details: http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/updates/cat/events/post/pleasure-boating-on-the-thames-210614/


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    Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/samueljohn/6149266403/sizes/l. Some rights reserved by SamuelJohn.de.


    Books are wonderful and are the spine of any bibliophile’s house. We love books and we want to cherish them and look after them even in the dawn of the e-reader which threatens every book lover’s world, however I feel that people will soon tire of the new technology and come running back to their old tomes before long. But what do you do if you are a serious book collector who has many volumes for many years. Books grow increasingly fragile as they age and it is important for us, as book lovers, to protect them and keep them looking their best. We must protect out literary heritage. No one would like to see their first edition signed copy of Dracula disintegrate through negligence on their part.

    Some people wish only to keep their own collection looking as mint as possible, however if you’re looking to sell any of your rare books in the future then may I suggest keeping them as sharp as possible as this means they will increase in value as they age and not decrease.


    The environment they are kept in

    This is one of the key factors when protecting your book collection: the room they’re housed in. You must protect them at all costs from a variety of factors that mean them harm. The temperature of the room must be constant and cool. You’ll want a place that you’re comfortable in. If you go into a room and find it too cold, too hot, too stuffy, too damp, etc, then your books won’t like it either. They like constant unchanging temperature that is cool. Direct sunlight is also something you will want to keep them away from.

    Also, when finding the perfect room for your collection, make sure there are no fire threats. Fire is obviously the most dangerous factor when considering a books safety. You will want to make sure that there are no fire hazards near, as well as smoke hazards. Smoke can cause irreparable damage to your books.


    The crawling nasties

    We hate them and so too do books. Bugs like to eat books, although not necessarily the paper. Most book destroying bugs will feast on the glue and bindings of the books, whereas bookworms will eat away at the whole thing. To protect against them, make sure you inspect regularly to see any evidence of destruction. See here for further tips on dealing with bookworms and defending your collection.

     

    Cleanliness is key

    We have to keep our books clean. Over time dirt and dust can seriously affect the overall quality and health of a book. With old books that you buy, they might already possess dust from their previous owner. First and foremost, when you buy an old book from a dealer or shop, you must clean it and make it ready to be stored in your collection. The main areas to focus on when cleaning your tomes are in between the pages of the book and the hinges: where the main body of the book joins the cover.

     

    Easy steps to protect your tomes:

    * Only store them vertically, and not too close together
    * Use a hair dryer on the coolest, slowest setting to keep dust away
    * Handle with extreme care. Don’t drop or break the spines
    * Mini vacuum cleaners are great for getting rid of dirt from between the pages
    * NEVER use tape

     

    Kimberly Wood is a writer and book lover who feel books are something that should be treasured. She ran a store that sold all kinds of second hand books until settling in the heart of the Cotswolds to pursue her writing career.


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    Southampton's Forgotten Military Hospital

     

    Nearly fifty years after its demolition, the loss of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital in Netley near Southampton is still rued by enthusiasts of history and architecture alike. By the 1960s the hospital was derelict and unloved, partially damaged by fire and apparently unfit for any worthwhile purpose. The era was a dark one for architectural conservation and despite the building’s gigantic scale and magnificent appearance, the bulldozers moved in.

    The foundation stone of the hospital had been laid in 1856 by Queen Victoria, who had taken a keen personal interest in its inception and construction. Although opinions differed about its layout and functionality almost as soon as the first patients were admitted in 1863, the hospital dealt with many thousands of ill and wounded over the next few decades, reaching a peak in capacity during the First World War. Photographs of the period depict a brand of medical care that seems rudimentary to us now, but some treatments dispensed at Netley were considered ground-breaking at the time. Flickering ciné footage shows soldiers recovering from both the physical and psychological traumas of war, benefitting from the latest techniques available.


    Southampton's Forgotten Military Hospital

    As the years went by the horrors of the Somme et al gradually dissipated, and for a decade or more the hospital enjoyed a period of relative tranquillity without forgetting its military origins – a “cross between a seaside resort, a sanatorium and an army barracks” in the words of historian Philip Hoare. But by the outbreak of the Second World War the building was showing its age, in both the upkeep of its appearance and the medical facilities it provided. In early 1944 the US Army moved in – frustrated by the hospital’s scale and design they famously drove jeeps up and down the giant corridors to save time.

    Southampton's Forgotten Military Hospital

     After the last vestiges of the war effort had withdrawn, the hospital was largely left to rot – in too poor a condition to make either its use viable or its repair economical. A fire in part of the building in 1963 hastened its demise and in 1966 the end came. The demolition process at least observed the site’s heritage to some extent by allowing time for the recovery of a time capsule placed in the foundations by Queen Victoria at the hospital’s inception. One section of the main building was saved, however – the chapel was preserved at the last minute and remains today, hosting an exhibition about the history of the hospital. The rest of the site and grounds are now the Royal Victoria Country Park, an extremely popular family recreation area with fantastic views across Southampton Water.

    Only the Chapel Remains

    The destruction of the beautiful, unique, expansive hospital is now bitterly regretted by many and rightly so – it exemplifies the tragic losses to British architecture in the twentieth century. But were it still standing today the Royal Victoria Military Hospital would by now surely have succumbed to that most ignominious of fates that great buildings can suffer – the conversion to a warren of luxury apartments. It is unlikely that the general public would have any access to the hospital or its grounds, and sleepy Netley would become a traffic conduit for the residents. Such a scenario would make the building just as tantalisingly unattainable to us today as it seems to be when we look at the old photographs and grainy film and ponder what might have been. In the twenty-first century, perhaps the enigmatic memories and the beautiful waterside park are more of a blessing than we realise.

    Peter Neal is signing copies of The Story of Southampton at Waterstones, Above Bar, Southampton, on Saturday 21st June, from 11am.

     


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  • 06/20/14--02:00: The Friday Digest 20/06/14
  • THP Friday digest
     
    This week's update features a ninety-nine-year-old biscuit, a 60-second guide to the birth of football and a day in the life of a community archaeologist.


    Bletchley Park Hut 3


    * The codebreakers' huts at Bletchley Park were structures that were only designed to last for a few years. So how have these ramshackle huts been given a new lease of life, seventy-five years on?


    The Duchess of Cambridge "listens in on the enemy" during a visit to Bletchley Park


    * This week, the Duchess of Cambridge reopened a codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park, where her grandmother once worked during the Second World War as part of the restoration project. 


    Tough: These biscuits from a major campaign in the First World War will go under the hammer next week. They are almost 100 years old

     

    * Some First World War army ration biscuits that were brought home ninety-nine years ago by a Gallipoli survivor have been put up for auction. Soldier L. B Charles, who fought at Gallipoli and at the Dardanelles in Turkey, brought the biscuits home with him and the biscuits are still edible today although probably not all that appetising. 


    Inside a WW1 medical tin, which focused on pain relief


    * How the First World War changed emergency medicine.


    The bar of soap unearthed in a Dunfermline museum archive.


    * The old bar of soap that has helped to shed light on Fife's First World War history.


    The Anzac Monument, Sydney. Photo: Getty Images


    Busting the Anzac myth: has a national obsession hijacked the centenary commemorations of the First World War? 


    An infantryman of the Worcester Regiment on the Western Front in 1916, wearing the 1908 Pattern Webbing Equipment, a Brodie helmet and puttees.


    * Reading the First World War from the soldiers'-eye view to the grand sweep of history.


    King John signs Magna Carta. Illustration from Cassell's History of England (1902)


    * Sunday, 15 June marked the 799th anniversary of  Magna Carta and David Cameron took the opportunity to order that every school pupil be taught the ‘British values’ enshrined in Magna Carta. But the values of the charter, especially the idea of freedom under the law, cannot be claimed as a solely British value. 


    The people confront the king in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, 'when ordinary folk rose in rebellion at a poll tax. Women such as Johanna Ferrour played a key role.' Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis


    * The government's idea of a unified British history has also caused criticism, with people claiming that it is meaningless because 'our history is the struggle of many different Britains, each with their own conflicting sets of values'. Do you agree? 

     

    The Harrow football team in the 1860s – Getty Images

     

    * Football fans around the world have been looking to Brazil for the World Cup but for those less familiar with 'the beautiful game', here's a 60-second guide to the birth of football as we know it


    George Raynor: the greatest coach England never had


    * Despite being the most successful national coach in the history of football – an accolade bestowed by the Guinness Book of Records – George Raynor is one of the least well known within Great Britain but is Raynor the greatest coach that England never had? 

     

    Man in Apron


    Gendered images? A history of working-class marriage

     

    Richard III tomb (c) Van Heynigen and Haward

     

    The design of the tomb that King Richard III will be reburied in at Leicester Cathedral has been unveiled. It has gone through a number of changes but the cathedral said it was 'deeply respectful.'


    Annie in a hole, or to be more specific a Norman cess pit at Lyminge (Image property of Annie Partridge)


    * Historical Honey share a day in the life of Annie Partridge, a community archaeologist working for Canterbury Archaeological Trust

     

    University of Sheffield returns 300-year-old tapestry looted by Nazis


    * A 300-year-old tapestry, which has hung in the University of Sheffield for half a century, has been returned to the Chateau de Versainville in Normandy after revelations it had been looted by the Nazis.


    Boy with sweets

     


      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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    Handsome Gunner! Moggy looks the part in his early RAF days.


    Seventy-two years to the day from being shot down into the freezing North Sea, Maurice 'Moggy' Mayne passed away. It was only a few weeks ago, the final goodbye, and rather sad that Maurice was denied the chance to see his book come out.  But he knew the rest of us would soon ensure that his story could be heard. He also knew he had told that story well, with a typically mischievous sense of humour and a shocking candour.

    When we gathered at a Gloucestershire crematorium for his farewell service recently, there was standing room only. The RAF was there in force, including a dashing Spitfire pilot from the Second World War. But most of his 217 Squadron colleagues were long gone. Barely 20 per cent of his fellow Beaufort flyers survived the war itself, having faced as much danger as our Spitfire heroes. 

    Hardly surprising, that alarming mortality rate, when the job was to fly directly at giant German battleships and drop a single torpedo, knowing the full force of enemy firepower could bring the British plane down at any second. Maurice 'Moggy' Mayne was a man of rare courage and character.

    The crematorium was packed, yet how many more would have come, if his wartime friends had survived? How many more would have been there, if most of his peacetime friends had still been alive? Where would the organisers have put them all? 

    As it was, Maurice was 93 years old when he died, and so many had departed this world before him. Despite this, there were still more than enough admirers to fill the venue, and the mood was upbeat. 

    'Moggy' Mayne was an air gunner who ended up in the sea and survived after half the crew on his plane had died. He became a POW and escaped alone, almost making it back to his beloved Sylvia. Before that could happen, he almost lost his life on a death march during the final, chaotic months of the war. One moment Maurice looked finished, the next he was popping up as the ecstatic groom in a Devon wedding photo, his dream having come true at last. That's how strange life can be. 

    Sylvia and Maurice remained happily married for the best part of seventy years. He could so easily have been denied that happiness. 

    Maurice loved his Sylvia with a passion, but he wanted this book to be far more than a love story. He wanted the horrors of war to be recorded, and also the natural weaknesses of human beings when placed in dreadful situations. The war sought out those weaknesses, sometimes cruelly. 

    Yet 'Moggy' Mayne was a born survivor. It's funny, in a way, because even the timing of his death reminded us of that survival instinct. 

    I'm proud to have written Down But Not Out with this remarkable war hero. I think you'll like him.

     

    Down But Not Out. 9780750952064. The Incredible Story of Second World War Airman Maurice 'Moggy' Mayne.

     

    Maurice ‘Moggy’ Mayne was a cricket-loving air gunner in the Second World War, with a pretty girlfriend back home in rural England. His turret was in a Bristol Beaufort and his pilot had to fly with almost suicidal bravery at giant German warships before releasing the torpedo. Down But Not Out is his remarkable story. 


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    A Song of their Own

     

    Joy Bounds will be at Waterstones, Ipswich on Tuesday 8th July giving a talk and signing copies of her new book, A Song of their Own: The Fight for Votes for Women in Ipswich

    What did women from the Ipswich area have to do with getting the vote? Surely it was only in London that suffragettes chained themselves to railings, held enormous processions, went to prison, and burnt down buildings. But women were also making their voice heard in towns and villages across Britain. This book shows how much women in and around Ipswich were involved, right up to the outbreak of the First World War. In the face of great opposition, persistent heckling and even physical violence, these women held meetings, fairs and put on suffrage plays. Controversially, they shut themselves in to avoid the census and resisted tax. At a time when women had very little power inside or outside the home, it is the story of how ordinary women supported each other to demand a say in the affairs of this country. 


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    Giffords Circus

     

    Giffords Circus will be at Borzoi Bookshop, Stow on the Wold on Friday 25th July from 11am signing copies their new bookGiffords Circus: the First Ten Years

    Each summer a small and glamorous part of the 1930s comes back to life, recreating magic from an era long past. Evoking a tradition common in the English countryside before the arrival of radio, cinema and television, since 2000 Giffords Circus has delighted fans from far and wide with good old-fashioned entertainment, complete with acrobats, jugglers, horses, magic, puppeteers, dancers and comedy. Lavishly illustrated with a wealth of stunning colour photographs, Giffords Circus goes behind the scenes at the not-so-big top, to show how the magic and mystery are created. 


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    Giffords Circus

     

    Giffords Circus will be at Madhatter Bookshop, Oxfordshire on Friday 18th July from 11am signing copies their new bookGiffords Circus: the First Ten Years

    Each summer a small and glamorous part of the 1930s comes back to life, recreating magic from an era long past. Evoking a tradition common in the English countryside before the arrival of radio, cinema and television, since 2000 Giffords Circus has delighted fans from far and wide with good old-fashioned entertainment, complete with acrobats, jugglers, horses, magic, puppeteers, dancers and comedy. Lavishly illustrated with a wealth of stunning colour photographs, Giffords Circus goes behind the scenes at the not-so-big top, to show how the magic and mystery are created. 


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    Giffords Circus

     

    Giffords Circus will be at Blackwells Bookshop, Oxford on Friday 4th July from 11am signing copies their new bookGiffords Circus: the First Ten Years

    Each summer a small and glamorous part of the 1930s comes back to life, recreating magic from an era long past. Evoking a tradition common in the English countryside before the arrival of radio, cinema and television, since 2000 Giffords Circus has delighted fans from far and wide with good old-fashioned entertainment, complete with acrobats, jugglers, horses, magic, puppeteers, dancers and comedy. Lavishly illustrated with a wealth of stunning colour photographs, Giffords Circus goes behind the scenes at the not-so-big top, to show how the magic and mystery are created. 


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    An East End Album

     

    Steve Lewis will be at Brick Lane Bookshop on Tuesday 1st July signing copies of his new book, An East End Album


    The pictures in this book show the changes that have happened in the East End of London since the beginning of the 1960s. A rag-and-bone man rings his bell to let the residents of Stratford know he is doing his rounds to collect any old junk; a tradesman uses his horse to pull the barrow; the local greengrocer comes round once a week with supplies. One old man uses a bike to collect goods with a sign saying ‘Complete homes purchased’; local traders sell cockles and whelks at an East Ham market, while others enjoy a pint and play cards in the local pub; another old man hawks his goods at the docks, selling shoelaces and boot polish. With never before seen images, this beautiful collection is a must-see for all Londoners. 


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    Queen of the Courtesans

     

    Barbara White will be at The Bath Preservation Society, Royal Crescent, Bath on Thursday 10th July holding a launch for her new book, Queen of the Courtesans: Fanny Murray

    Fanny Murray was an incomparable Georgian beauty and the most desired courtesan of the 1750s. The daughter of an impoverished musician from Bath, she took London society by storm, not only as the most prized ‘purchaseable beauty’ of her day, but also as a fashion icon and muse to poets, writers and artists. Barbara White’s portrait of Fanny Murray takes readers from the brothels of Covent Garden to sex romps at Medmenham Abbey, from refined drawing rooms in London to marital respectability in Edinburgh.

    This is an illuminating contribution to the scholarly understanding and popular appreciation of a complex and intriguing period of British history. Fanny Murray’s triumph – against almost insuperable odds – is a remarkable story, as rich in the telling as it is enthralling. 


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    Scotland's Castles

     

    Janet Brennan-Inglis will be at Blackwells, Edinburgh onTuesday 24th July holding a book launch of her new book, Scotland's Castles: Rescued, Rebuilt and Reoccupied. There wiill also be a talk and the author will be signing copies.  

    Scotland’s Castles is a beautifully illustrated celebration and account of the renaissance of Scottish castles that has taken place since 1950. Over 100 ruined and derelict buildings – from tiny towers to rambling baronial mansions – have been restored as homes, hotels and holiday lets. These restorations have mainly been carried out by new owners without any connections to the land or the family history of the buildings, which they bought as ruins. Their struggles and triumphs, including interviews and first-person accounts, form the core of the book, set in the context of the enormous social, political and economic changes of the late twentieth century. 


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    Scotland's Castles

     

    Janet Brennan-Inglis will be at The Bookshop in the Mill on Fleet on Saturday 12th July holding a book launch of her new book, Scotland's Castles: Rescued, Rebuilt and Reoccupied. There wiill also be a talk and the author will be signing copies.  

     

    Scotland’s Castles is a beautifully illustrated celebration and account of the renaissance of Scottish castles that has taken place since 1950. Over 100 ruined and derelict buildings – from tiny towers to rambling baronial mansions – have been restored as homes, hotels and holiday lets. These restorations have mainly been carried out by new owners without any connections to the land or the family history of the buildings, which they bought as ruins. Their struggles and triumphs, including interviews and first-person accounts, form the core of the book, set in the context of the enormous social, political and economic changes of the late twentieth century. 


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  • 06/24/14--13:00: Return to Whiteleys
  • Whiteleys Queensway (c) Fritz Jörn - Own work


    It was wonderful very recently to return to Whiteleys in Queensway, to take part in filming episode 1 of the new documentary series Shopgirls.

    My book, Whiteley’s Folly about the founder of the famous department store, is a true rags to riches tale of a great entrepreneur showing how underneath the carefully crafted public image of a kindly gentleman there lurked a mean individual, violent to his wife and a serial adulterer.  It is also a tale of murder, and the mystery man who in 1907 had a secret meeting with Whiteley and shot him dead.

    For the programme however the emphasis was on Whiteley as an employer, and I was able to display the list of rules he handed to his employees, a document I discovered in the National Archives during my research for the book. It certainly brought back to me that moment of excitement when I opened a file to reveal the fragile paper and realised what it was. Many of these rules seem very petty to us and most of them, if not obeyed resulted in a fine; for example, if an assistant stood on a chair she was fined 6d. Mr Whiteley was nothing if not thorough and the last rule on the list, number 176 is simply ‘Any rule not before mentioned’, fine for non-observance 6d. 

    Mr Whiteley’s wife had been his employee and his mistress before they were married, and later he chose his young mistresses from amongst the shop girls in his store.  It must have been hard for them to say no to him, as he was so powerful. One, who bore him a son, was provided with a house and an account at the store and went with him on outings. Whether or not she liked his company it was a taste of a life she could not otherwise have enjoyed. 

    After he separated from his wife Mr Whiteley had more freedom to take his pick of companions, but not every girl was flattered by his attentions. A memoir written by a former shop girl at Whiteleys described how when he was about to go on a trip to the continent he would walk around the shop, and the girls used to duck down behind the counter so they wouldn’t be chosen to go with him!

    The filming was done as a conversation between Dr Pamela Cox, the series presenter and myself.  I found that very soon I was at my ease, and as we chatted away cheerfully, I quickly became oblivious of the presence of the cameras.  Pamela was both knowledgeable and charming and the documentary team very enthusiastic and professional. Luckily I have done some interviews for TV before so I was happy to repeat conversations for several takes until everyone was pleased with what had been filmed. Finally it was time for some establishing shots with Pamela and myself walking into and out of Whiteleys.

    I am sure it will be an excellent series giving us fascinating insights into the lives lived by so many women who have previously been overlooked.  


    Whiteley's Folly


    Linda Stratmann is the author of Whiteley’s Folly. Whiteleys was the Harrods of the nineteenth century. Its clients included English and overseas royalty and it offered - and delivered - "Everything from a pin to an Elephant". Created by William Whiteley, a draper's assistant from Yorkshire, who come to London with just a few pounds in his pocket, it was a remarkable achievement by a remarkable man. 


    The ebook of Whiteley’s Folly is now just £2.99, get your copy here


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  • 06/25/14--00:01: Vintage London: 1910 to 1960
  • The Mall


    The past is almost always seen in black and white. Various factors have conspired together to ensure that the public perception of colour photography is that it is a relatively recent invention, certainly within the last half century or so. It is not always appreciated that colour photography has existed for around 150 years.

    Over the past twenty years I have been collecting original colour transparencies and my latest book, Vintage London: The Capital in Colour 1910-60, draws on that source to illustrate, in mostly unpublished images, London from before the First World War through to the end of the 1950s. A London that has vanished into that country where they did things differently – the past.

    Buckingham Palace 1926 on an Agfacolor plate


    The most recent images in the book were taken almost 55 years ago and the oldest way beyond living memory.

    The 1920s and earlier have been an era that has almost never been captured in colour. A few images are known but a large collection of Autochromes came to the market last year and I was fortunate enough to obtain them. Amongst which were a number of colour images of London taken in 1928, a few of which are included in the book. These show a city that the Victorians would have known.
     

    British Museum


    As far as I am aware this is the first book to illustrate London in the half century from 1910 to 1960 in colour, a city seen through the eyes of photographers who put colour film into their cameras when it was tremendously expensive to do so and who had the foresight to allow us a glimpse into the past that our fathers, grandfathers and in some very rare cases great grandfathers knew.
     

    Vintage London


    Gavin Whitelaw is the author of Vintage London: The Capital in Colour 1910-60, an unpublished collection of beautiful images of the capital as it was in all its vintage glory. A London with shops and fashions that have been consigned to history; a London of smart, neon-lit West End theatres contrasting with the squalid docklands of the East End; a London of ceremonial splendour and grimy, soot-blackened majesty; a London of the past brought vividly to life in full colour. 


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