Index Part 1 of Volume 4

  1. Hauntings of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, England

  2. Famous Hauntings of England

  3. Mrs Duncan – The Last Witch to be Tried in England

  4. Is This Proof of Reincarnation?

  5. Wymering Manor House – The Most Haunted House in England

  6. Stonehenge and It's Eerie Past

  7. City of Bath, England – History and Ghosts

  8. List of Spooky and Ghostly IOW Hauntings

  9. James Herbert OBE – English Iconic Horror Author

  10. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley– English Iconic Author

  11. Sir Michael Caine - English Iconic Actor

  12. Sir Henry Irving – Iconic English Actor Manager

  13. James Bond 007 – British Icon

  14. Dr. Who - A British TV Icon

  15. Sir Rex Harrison - English Iconic Actor

  16. Sir John Mills - English Iconic Actor

  17. Sir Norman Wisdom – Comic Actor and Singer

  18. 7th Century to Swinging Naughties - British Icons

  19. Swinging Sixties – British Fashion Designers

  20. Swinging Sixties ( London ) – British Iconic Music

  21. The New Romantics – 1980's London Music

  22. World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar

  23. Village of Wenlock, England – A Modern Olympic Games – 1850

  24. Sir Isaac Newton – Iconic Scientist

  25. Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882

  26. Lady Godiva (1040-1080 AD) – An English Icon

  27. English Spa Towns – Iconic Places

  28. Edward Somerset – English Inventor of The First Steam Engine 1653

  29. The First Steam Locomotive – England 1804

  30. Howard Carter – The Discoverer of Tutankhamen

  31. Sir Henry Wood – The Last Night Of The Proms

  32. Toad In The Hole – English History and Recipe

  33. Bubble and Squeak – English Recipe and History

Index Part 2 of Volume 4

  1. Black Pudding – It's English History and Recipe

  2. British Cheeses – Types and Taste

  3. English Crumpets – History and Recipe

  4. English Custard – History and Recipe

  5. Spotted Dick or Spotty Dog – English Pudding Recipe

  6. The Earliest Sandwich – It's English History

  7. Ye Olde English Marmalade – History and Recipe 1480 AD

  8. English Chelsea Buns – History and Recipe

  9. English Mustard – An English Icon

  10. Lardy Cake – 15th Century History and Recipe

  11. History of Cribbage – An English Iconic Game

  12. History of English Lawn Bowls – Jactus Lapidum

  13. Jigsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game

  14. The Valentine Card – An English Icon

  15. Sir Francis Walsingham – Spymaster for Queen Elizabeth 1

  16. MI6 and "C" – First Head of MI6 from 1911

  17. P.M. Mrs Margaret Thatcher – The Iron lady

  18. British Knighthoods – Iconic History

  19. Women's Auxiliary Air force – History 1939 - 1949

  20. Women's Timber Corps – 1942 History

  21. Women's Land Army – History 1939 – 1950

  22. Stainless Steel – It's English Discovery 1912

  23. Tower Bridge – London Icon

  24. William Shakespeare – British Playwright Icon

  25. The Globe Theatre – London Icon

  26. Portsmouth Football Club ( Pompey ) 1898

  27. Twenty20 Cricket – It's Founder and History

  28. Commonwealth Games – The Friendly Games

  29. Earliest Horse Races – England 12th Century

  30. The Grand National – England 1839

  31. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race – It's Fun History

  32. British Seaside Piers – History from 1391

  33. Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker

Hauntings and History of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, England

Many years ago I worked at Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, England and as its history is very interesting I thought I would write about it's fun history. The Royal Hospital Haslar began as a Royal Navy hospital in 1753. It has a long and distinguished history in the medical care of service personnel in peacetime and in war. The buildings were designed by Theodore Jacobsen and built from 1746 and completed in 1762. St Luke's Chapel was added in 1762 and later still, a landing stage was added so troops could reach the hospital directly from ships.

Haslar was the biggest hospital and the largest brick building in England when it was built. The hospital included an asylum for sailors with psychiatric disorders and an early superintending psychiatrist was the phrenologist, William Scott, a member of the influential Edinburgh Phrenological Society. James Lind at Haslar Hospital 1758-1774 played a large part in discovering a cure for scurvy, not least through his pioneering use of a double blind trial of vitamin C supplements.


Ghosts of RNH Haslar


A lot of poltergeist activity has been reported in the galley. According to a clairvoyant who worked in the hospital there are three ghosts occupying the kitchen area and many more around the hospital.

1) Michael Connelly, an Irishman who apparently likes the cooking.  'Michael' apparently like to let the galley workers know that they are there. It has been reported that all the files in the office have been tipped on the floor several times by unexplained means, and witnesses have claimed that the taps have turned on by themselves. The radio has apparently turned itself down.

2) An angry man called Derek who appears to have died from stab wounds. 'Derek' and The evening supervisor has reported that cutlery has been thrown around and it has also been claimed by witnesses that the kettle has switched itself on and that doors have opened by themselves

3) A woman called Margaret who haunts the spiral staircase. She is believed to have tripped over something before the stairs were built and died as a result. One of the Wardroom stewards claimed to have met 'Margaret' a few years ago walking up the spiral staircase. She said she met an elderly woman coming down and, thinking she was lost the steward asked her if she needed some help. However, the woman had vanished.

4) There is also a spirit who inhabits the old Senior Rates Mess. Several people have claimed that some parts of the galley are bitterly cold where the rest of it is warm; another favourite trick of all the ghosts is leaving puddles of water on the floor. Many members of the galley staff have claimed to have heard tapping on the window of the chef's office, which has encouraged them to leave for the public restaurant in a hurry.

5) Several members of staff have reported seeing the figure of a man in the corridor outside the galley. One claims to have seen a man look in the door (she went to ask if he was lost but when she got there there was nobody in sight).

6) Another reports having seen the reflection of an older man in the window (he turned around to ask if the man was looking for something, again nobody could be seen). Many people have complained that this corridor gets bitterly cold even when all the windows are shut and the heaters are on.

7) In F Block which used to be the lunatic asylum - the galley, which is opposite, used to be the yard where those in the asylum had their exercise and this area is claimed to be a 'psychic hotspot.

8) Outside the Operating Theatre's Staff have claimed to experience a sensation of being followed and most have reported a feeling of fear while being in this area. Staff members have claimed to hear footsteps as they have walked down the corridor and have admitted that they have quickened their pace while walking alone along it. Most members of the nursing staff choose to take the long route from B block to E block in order to avoid it.


A clairvoyant has claimed that the spirit residing in the corridor died because of a botched operation - an emergency procedure (as he was in immense pain), probably to save him from a blood clot. A hole was drilled in his left temple to relieve the pressure but he died in the corridor. It is claimed that he can only rest once the operation is repeated and the new patient dies. The original spirit is attempting to guide the other man's spirit back to his body. This is supposedly because there was nobody around to help him when he died.


9) In the Children's Ward A member of staff claims to have seen the ghost of a little girl who runs around the top floor of D Block. A large number of children were killed in a fire in this part of the building, but nothing specific is known about this tragedy. The area is now closed as the paediatric department has moved to another hospital.


10) In the Cellar's where I used to use to cut across the hospital (which are now closed), but before that, they were used as a short cut to the X-Ray department. In the days before anaesthetic the cellars accommodated the operating theatres and housed the insane; it has been reported that you can still hear screams and the rattling of chains. During the Second World War the cellars were once again used as operating theatres and as wards during the height of air raids.


11) In the Canada Block the money used to build this accommodation block was raised by the 'Women of Canada' during the Great War. It has been claimed that many spirits supposedly inhabit Canada Block along with unexplained noises and lights turning on and off. The ghost that most have reported seeing is that of a nurse who hanged herself during the First World War. Just to add to this, Canada Block is also built in the site of the original hospital graveyard.


12) Near St. Lukes Church an MoD Police officer described a ghost he'd witnessed while on a night patrol at St. Luke's church at Haslar Hospital. He'd seen an elderly woman walking towards the church, but when he returned less than a minute later, she had disappeared. An hour later, the hospital mortician told him about the body he'd dealt with earlier that day. The description matched that of the woman the police officer had seen.

With its history of pain and distress its not surprising that Haslar is haunted by distressed spirits.


Interesting Facts about RNH Haslar


a) In 1902 the hospital became known as the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar (abbreviated to RNH Haslar).

b) In the 1940s, RNH Haslar set up the country’s first ’blood bank’ to help treat wounded soldiers from the Second World War.

c) In 1966 the remit of the hospital expanded to serve all three services - the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

d) In 1996 the hospital again became known as the Royal Hospital Haslar.

e) In 2001 the provision of acute healthcare within Royal Hospital Haslar was transferred from the Defence Secondary Care Agency to the NHS Trust. The Royal Hospital was the last MOD-owned acute hospital in the UK. The change from military control to the NHS, and the complete closure of the hospital have been the subject of considerable local controversy.

f) The last military-run ward was ward E5, a planned orthopaedic surgery ward. The ward encompasses 21 beds in small ’rooms’, and is run by the military staff with some NHS colleagues; the ward manager is a serving military officer. The ward is served by both military and NHS doctors; the ancillary staff are non-military.

g) The ward E5 closed in 2009 along with the rest of the site and military staff will move to new posts within MDHU Portsmouth or other units around the country.

h) To mark the handover of control to the civilian NHS trust, the military medical staff marched out of RH Haslar in 2007, exercising the unit’s rights of the freedom of Gosport.

i) The staff consisted of Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army led by a band of the Royal Marines. The Gosport citizens are said to deeply saddened by the closure of Haslar and there are campaigns to keep the hospital open. Gosport politicians cite that that the UK is the only country in the Western world not to have a dedicated Military hospital, run by and for its military staff - who understand the needs and ideology of the service person. At present, most casualties from conflicts return to Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham.


J) The grounds are said to contain the bodies of at least 20,000 service personnel.

In 2001 Haslar was designated a Grade II listed historic park. Several of the buildings are listed.

Famous Hauntings of England

During my life here in England I have had various supernatural experiences which has led me to list just some of the many famous hauntings which may be of interest to readers.

This is a list of the most famous haunted locations in England, there are likely to be hundreds of thousands more that are only locally known.

Airfields around the country are said to have paranormal activity arising from the spirits of airmen who died in World War II. Airfields include:

the former RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk.

the former RAF East Kirkby in east Lincolnshire. The control tower is haunted by a 'malign' presence

the former RAF Elsham Wolds, near the A15 just north of Barnetby in North Lincolnshire. The control tower was reportedly haunted by a friendly ghost of an airman, reported in the 1950s. Phantom Lancasters have reportedly been seen taking off at night over the A15.

Arundel Castle in Sussex is often said to be home to just four ghosts but there are more ghostly goings on between its ancient walls than first meets the visitor. The spirit of the first Earl of Arundel, who originally built the castle, is said to still haunt the Castle's Keep. Another spirit is said to be of a young woman who, stricken with grief from a tragic love affair, took her own life by jumping to her death from one of the towers. Seen by some, she is said to still haunt the castle on moonlit nights dressed in white. Another spirit is that of a 'Blue Man' who has been seen within the library since the 1630s and it is thought that he could be a Cavalier due to his time period seeming to be from King Charles I's reign. Another notable 'spirit' is that strangely of a white owl like bird. Legend tells that if the white bird is seen fluttering in one of the windows, it is an imminent warning of a death of a Castle resident or someone closely associated. It's interesting to note here that Dukes used to keep a colony of white American Owls here at the castle before its restoration. There is also mention of a servant lad who once lived at the castle who was treated very badly until beaten to his death. He is said to now haunt the kitchen area and has been seen scrubbing pots and pans. Another strange sighting was more recent in 1958 by a footman. Working late one night on the ground floor the footman was walking near the servant's quarters and saw what he thought to be a man walking in front of him when he thought he had been alone. As he got closer to the apparition the man faded and then was gone.

Bochym Manor is residence to two ghosts, the short pink lady, and an unnamed ghost who stands at one of the bedroom windows.

Belgrave Hall in Leicester, attracted attention in 1999 when a white figure was captured on CCTV. One theory is it is the daughter of a former owner.

50 Berkeley Square is reputed to be the most haunted house in London.

Blue Bell Hill in Kent, specifically the A229. This has been the site of a female phantom hitchhiker. Cars have stopped to pick up a female hitchhiker, only for her to vanish to the drivers' disbelief.

Borley Rectory in the village of Borley, Essex, England. Many sightings have been reported since 1885. The house burned down in 1939, and remains a huge source of controversy.

Brislington, once an attractive Somerset village but now a neighbourhood in Bristol, has many ghosts in pubs and hotels, houses old and new, and public spaces.

Bruce Castle in Tottenham, North London is haunted by the ghost of a woman who allegedly appears every 3 November. The ghost is thought to be Lady Coleraine, who was kept locked in a chamber within the castle by her husband.

Castle Lodge, Ludlow in Ludlow, Shropshire, is believed by many to be haunted by a young girl in Tudor dress. Some say this is Catherine of Aragon, who lived in Castle Lodge during her marriage to Prince Arthur.

Chingle Hall in the village of Goosnargh, near Preston, England. Chingle Hall, previously known as Singleton Hall, was built in 1260 by Sir Adam de Singleton. It is reputably haunted by more than one spirit.

Crowley Hall in the north of England, is supposedly haunted by the spirit of Dr. Bernard Leys. Leys ran the hall for a number of years before dying under mysterious circumstances in 1952. Sightings of ghosts have been reported since the 1970s.

Dartmouth, Devon, ancient maritime town has many modern and traditional ghost stories including (in its hinterland) some recently discovered spirits from the Bronze Age.

In Dorset an axe wielding ghost riding a horse, bareback is described by witnesses as looking like a stone age warrior.

Hampton Court Palace, home of King Henry VIII of England, whose fifth wife, Catherine Howard, is supposed to be heard screaming in the "Haunted Gallery". On December 21, 2003, CCTV footage allegedly showed someone in 16th century clothes and no face closing a fire door that, though locked, was constantly being opened without anyone near it.

Minsden Chapel in Hertfordshire is reported to be haunted by a monk climbing stairs which no longer exist.

The Old Bailey, London's main criminal court. A figure (of unclear sex) supposedly appears in the building during important trials. These appearances have been allegedly witnessed by judges, barristers and policemen.

Pluckley in Kent is listed in the 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of Records as the most haunted village in England. Ghosts include a phantom coach and horses, a colonel and a highwayman.

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall has been sighted quite a few times over the years. She is so called because of the brown brocade dress she is supposedly seen wearing while wandering the halls and staircase. In 1849 a Major Loftus and a friend named Hawkins claimed to see the ghost one night after retiring to bed, saying they were amazed by the old-fashioned clothing she wore. The next night Loftus claimed to see the figure once again, saying he took note of her empty eye-sockets. The incident resulted in several members of staff resigning and a full investigation of Raynham Hall involving local detectives.

There have been a number of reported sightings at the Royal Albert Hall, including the ghost of Father Willis, walking around inside the organ and two ladies wandering the corridors.

Samlesbury Hall in Preston, Lancashire, is supposedly haunted by Lady Dorothy Southworth, known as the "White Lady". Weeping is often heard, and her ghost has been seen wandering near where her lover was buried.

Temple Newsam is reported to be the most haunted house in Yorkshire, with the most famous ghost being Mary Ingram, commonly known as "the Blue lady", who in her life became deranged after an attack by highwaymen. Ghosts linked with the more famous residents of Temple Newsam include "the White lady": this is said to be the ghost of the "nine days queen", the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. She was executed by Mary I.

Windsor Castle — home of English and British royalty for 1,000 years. Numerous ghosts are supposed to have been seen, including Queen Elizabeth I. Her mother, Anne Boleyn, is also said to haunt Windsor castle and supposedly runs down a corridor screaming. Among those who claimed to have seen the ghost, who sometimes is said to be carrying her head, are King George VI, William Ewart Gladstone and Andrew, Duke of York.

Muncaster Castle in the Lake District National Park, Ravenglass.

Pendle Hill, near Clitheroe, Lancashire
Pendle Hill is one of the scariest places. Injuries, strange sightings, uncanny feelings of dread, and even ‘possessions', abounded.

Halloween at Pendle Hill – an appropriate time, as this beautiful area experienced English history's most famous witchcraft trials. Ten witches were hanged, accused of putting curses on locals using clay effigies.

Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
If you settle down to watch a performance at this grand old theatre, the seat next to you might not be as empty as you think…

Actors have reported weird tobacco smells, and theatre-goers sitting with no one beside them have reported feeling a hand on their shoulder.

The spirit is thought to be that of a theatre manager who hung himself from the fly floor when the theatre got into financial difficulties. Sightings of a ‘distinguished woman in white' and the sound of a piano coming from the deserted pit add to the eerie atmosphere.

1)    Macbeth's castle
Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland
The setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth (a play that's not short on its own ghosts and superstitions), Glamis is regarded by paranormal-investigator types as the most haunted castle in Britain.

Among the many alleged ghostly goings-on over the centuries have been a card game between the Earl and the devil (they are said to still play every Sunday, in a secret room within the crypt walls) and an incident a few years ago, when an Edinburgh lawyer visiting for dinner saw a lady in white float beside his car, all the way to the door. And he hadn't even had an aperitif.

1.    Country house haunting
Levens Hall, near Kendal, Lake District, Cumbria
Imposing old country houses were just made to be haunted, and Levens Hall, an Elizabethan manor house with a creepy 12th-century tower, fits the bill nicely.

Once again there's a lady involved, though here it's the Grey Lady, who was, so legend tells, a gypsy who was refused food and shelter during a harsh 17th-century winter. Sometimes a black dog accompanies her, so at least she's not lonely.

There's also a lesser-spotted Pink Lady, and a phantom harpsichord player, though he or she hasn't been heard since the 1950s.

Lord Byron's ruined country pile
Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire

As well as yet another White Lady (frankly, White Ladies are ten-a-penny in the world of British hauntings), the ancestral home of Lord Byron (he of "mad, bad and dangerous to know" fame) positively throngs with phantasms.

The Goblin Friar was said to appear to the head of the Byron family before an unhappy event (such as the arrival of the gas bill).

Also, look out for the Black Friar who, in the 1930s, pointed a lost doctor to the bedroom of a lady who was about to give birth. Nice to know that ghosts aren't always moody and unhelpful.

·       A visitation in the pews
St Mary's Church, Beaminster, Dorset
In the spring of 1728 a boy from the school within the church, John Daniel, was found dead near his home. As he was known to suffer from fits, he was buried without an inquest.

A few days later, some schoolboys found a coffin in the church, with John Daniel sitting next to it. Presently, the apparition and coffin disappeared.

The magistrate was believed the boys, and had the body exhumed. John Daniel was found to have been strangled. No one was apprehended for the crime.

So it's more of an historical haunting, but would you spend a night in St Mary's?

·       Yorkshire's most haunted inn
The Busby Stoop Inn, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
At this windswept Yorkshire pub, you can't move at the bar for parapsychologists, such is the place's renown.

The murderer Thomas Busby's remains were hanged outside the pub after his execution in 1702. He had been the landlord, a boozy thief who killed his father-in-law with a hammer.

Busby cursed the chair he was dragged from by the cops, and anyone who sat in it afterward was said to have died soon afterward. The chair is now in a local museum, but Busby's ghost is still spotted, his head drooping and a rope around his neck.

·       Celebrity ghosts: The Tower of London
As it was the location of violent, bloody tortures and executions for hundreds of years, it's little wonder the Tower of London is London's ghost-central.

And because of the erstwhile English penchant for beheadings, it's home to some classic headless spectres, many of them veritable celebrities.

Anne Boleyn is said to walk the corridors in a headless state, and also to promenade on Tower Green with her head intact. Sir Walter Raleigh has been spotted, too.

Dogs, it's said, will not enter the spooky Salt Tower. There are also two anonymous ghosts known, not very originally, as the Grey Lady and the White Lady.

·       Pagan burial site
The Ram Inn, Wooton under Edge, Gloucestershire
Lots of inns in the UK claim to be the ‘most haunted', but by general consensus, The 12th-century Ram Inn is the daddy.

It was converted into a private residence in 1968, but that hasn't affected its legendary status in the annals of the paranormal. Child sacrifice and black magic practices are alleged to have taken place here.

The Bishop's Room is the hotspot: visitors have reported apparitions, unexplained noises, ghostly orbs and even a spectral cat. To cap it all, the Ram is supposed to have been built on an old pagan burial site.

True Spooky Stories – Called Fate, Bibles, Witches and Castles


During my lifetime I have had many various supernatural experiences including hearing of stories that brings a chill to the back of the neck. Please don't start reading these stories after dark - you have been warned. The first of four stories concerns Fate.


The sport of Cricket has been played in one form or another for over 1,000 years in England. The game consists of 11 players per side and the object of the game is to bowl out the batsman who is defending a set of wickets.


Fate – Gods Revenge


Many years ago in a Hampshire Village in England there was a Cricket Match being played. Going into bat was Jack Smith aged 28 years of age, who had played for his team for many years. During the course of his innings he hit many runs and reached 55 when the weather changed and started to get grey and overcast.


Just as he was about to make a run, after hitting the ball,  Lightening appeared from nowhere and struck him on the foot and knocked him a distance of many metres.

Suffice to say, he was knocked unconscious and taken to hospital where he was treated for slight burns and nerve damage.


Over the next twelve months he recuperated and finally recovered from his shocking experience.


One day he was sitting watching TV when he received a visit from his old cricketing pal, Bill. It transpired that the cricket team were short of players and Jack was asked if he would like to play a match the following Sunday. After much persuasion, he agreed to play for the village team the following Sunday.


The sun was bright and hot that Sunday with lots of spectators watching including his parents. The game progressed with the opposition making 158 runs all out. Then Jacks team went into bat with the hot sun still shining and just before Tea Jacks team were on 76 for 4 wickets when a team mate was bowled. It was Jack's turn to bat, so on he walked to the crease and waited with bated breath for the first ball. All of a sudden the weather changed and it became very dark and cloudy and before he could hit the first ball an almighty bang and lightening strike hit Jack on the head and he was thrown over 100 Metres, dead as a dodo.


I was told this true story by one of the Cricket Players who happened to also be a good friend. In truth, he asked me to play that same match but I was too busy to play (thank god) I believe in fate and God and I believe that when your time is up your time is up.


The Haunted Bible


The second story concerns my life in Gosport when I was 13 years old. One day my step mother and her friend went to a house contents sale where my step mother brought a silver covered bible.  About a week later our TV went on the blink and a repairman was called in to sort out the problem.


The doorbell rang and at the door stood the TV repairman. He refused to enter the house because he felt an evil presence and he described and asked if there was a bible with a silver cross on the cover. When he was told that, yes it was a recent acquisition, the repairman told my step mother to burn the bible to cleanse the evil presence. This she did and when the TV repairman returned he told her the evil had gone. Months later she read in the paper that the TV repairman had been sacked for scaring customers with his psychic abilities.


The Hauntings at Arundel Castle


·       The third story concerns Arundel Castle in Sussex is often said to be home to just four ghosts but there are more ghostly goings on between its ancient walls than first meets the visitor. The spirit of the first Earl of Arundel, who originally built the castle, is said to still haunt the Castle's Keep. Another spirit is said to be of a young woman who, stricken with grief from a tragic love affair, took her own life by jumping to her death from one of the towers. Seen by some, she is said to still haunt the castle on moonlit nights dressed in white. Another spirit is that of a 'Blue Man' who has been seen within the library since the 1630s and it is thought that he could be a Cavalier due to his time period seeming to be from King Charles I's reign. Another notable 'spirit' is that strangely of a white owl like bird. Legend tells that if the white bird is seen fluttering in one of the windows, it is an imminent warning of a death of a Castle resident or someone closely associated. It's interesting to note here that Dukes used to keep a colony of white American Owls here at the castle before its restoration. There is also mention of a servant lad who once lived at the castle who was treated very badly until beaten to his death. He is said to now haunt the kitchen area and has been seen scrubbing pots and pans. Another strange sighting was more recent in 1958 by a footman. Working late one night on the ground floor the footman was walking near the servant's quarters and saw what he thought to be a man walking in front of him when he thought he had been alone. As he got closer to the apparition the man faded and then was gone.

Stonehenge and It's Eerie Past


One of the most spooky experiences I have ever had was driving past Stonehenge, during a cold misty winter's night, with the light of a full moon reflecting of the stone's. As this is one of the most English iconic sights in the world I thought I would write about it's history. For 5000 years, the structure on Salisbury Plain has continued to baffle and intrigue all those who have considered it and it seems it will continue to do so for many more years to come.  Stonehenge is a World heritage site which is older than the Pyramids.


Criss Crossing the English countryside are Leylines which are Psychic lines of force that surround Stonehenge and where the Leylines cross forces of Psychic energy is released. This could explain why the area surrounding Salisbury and Stonehenge is famous for the appearance of a number of “Crop Circles”.


The mystery of the Stone Circles lies more in their ancient majesty than in the enigma of when they were built, or by whom—more in their magic than their history. Of course, interest in the origin of, say, Stonehenge, is as sizeable as the monument itself, and the debate as to how it was built by cavemen — or indeed, a lost civilization of some scientific and cultural achievement — rages on.


But whatever your take, the fact remains that if you’ve ever spent the night at Stonehenge, or any other stone circle for that matter, you will likely have experienced something really quite special—something that embodies in a very real way what could never be experienced simply by crunching the numbers.


Without question something tangible occurs when you enter the inner circle of Stonehenge at midnight. The air stills. The giants come alive. Magic happens.

And it’s that magic more than any facts or figures that informs you of what Stonehenge is all about. If you’ve never done it, I recommend you do. Permission needs to be gained from the relevant authorities and a small fee is required. But it’s worth it.


Stonehenge can be referred to as a monument of the prehistoric times located in Wiltshire (an English country) at around 3.2 kilometers to the west of ‘Amesbury’ and thirteen kilometers to the north of ‘Salisbury’. It is considered to be amongst the most amazing prehistoric sites of the world. A round setting of huge standing stones with earthworks in the centre- comprises the Stonehenge. As per the archaeological survey, the erection of standing stones can be traced back to 2200 BC. The survey also states that the ditch and round earth bank surrounding the monument trace back to 3100 BC.


The Time line in the Building of Stonehenge


1) Pre-Construction

Four huge Mesolithic post holes have been found by certain archaeologists. They trace back to 8000 BC. They are said to lie underneath the modern tourist car park. Neolithic sites such as tombs having long barrows and causewayed enclosure were constructed in the landscape.

2) Stonehenge (3100 BC)

The 1st monument comprised of a round bank and enclosure of ditch made up of Seaford chalk belonging to Santonian Age. It had a diameter of approximately 110 metres. Bones of oxen and deer were placed at the ditch’s bottom.

3) Stonehenge (3000 BC)

The second phase has not left much evidence. From the appearance of some of the postholes, one can have a guess that timber structure had been built after the first phase. ‘Grooved ware’ pottery was the specialty of this phase.

4) Stonehenge (2600 BC)

This phase suggests that timber was replaced by stone. The site’s center had two concentric holes (R and Q holes) dug. Widening of northeastern entrance had taken place.

5) Stonehenge  (2450 BC-2100 BC)

This phase marked the buying of thirty ‘Oligocene-Miocene’ sarsen stones from quarry on Malborough Downs.

6) Stonehenge BlueStones

By this time, bronze era had already dawned. Bluestones had been re-erected. This was the first ever event of that time.

7) Stonehenge (2280 BC-1930 BC)

The bluestones were further rearranged by placing them in circle. Altar stone was made to stand vertically. A horseshoe-shaped setting was created thereafter.

8) After the Construction (1600 BC)

During this Iron Age, Vespasian’s Camp, a hill fort was built near Avon.


City of Bath, England – History and Ghosts


Bath is one of my favourite English City's full of history and Ghosts. It is one of the most attractive city's in layout and history and is famous for it's Spa and Baths. The archaeological evidence shows that the site of the Roman Baths main spring was treated as a shrine by the Celts, and dedicated to the goddess Sulis. There is a legend that Bath was founded in 860 BC when Prince Bladud, father of King Lear, caught leprosy. He was banned from the court and was forced to look after pigs. The pigs also had a skin disease but after they wallowed in hot mud they were cured. Prince Bladud followed their example and was also cured. Later he became king and founded the city of Bath.


The Romans probably occupied Bath shortly after the Roman Invasion of Britain in 43AD. They knew it as Aquae Sulis ('the waters of Sul'), identifying the goddess with Minerva.

In Roman times the worship of Sulis Minerva continued and messages to her scratched onto metal have been recovered from the Sacred Spring by archaeologists. These are known as curse tablets. Written in Latin, and usually laid curses on other people, whom they feel had done them wrong. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the Baths, he would write a curse on a tablet, to be read by the Goddess Sulis Minerva, and also, the "suspected" names would be mentioned. The collection from Bath is the most important found in Britain.


It has been suggested that Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Mons Badonicus (circa 500 AD), where King Arthur is said to have defeated the Saxons, but this is disputed. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions Bath falling to the West Saxons in 577 after the Battle of Deorham.


The Anglo-Saxons called the town Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning "at the baths," and this was the source of the present name. In 675, Osric, King of the Hwicce, set up a monastic house at Bath, probably using the walled area as its precinct. King Offa of Mercia gained control of this monastery in 781 and rebuilt the church, which was dedicated to St. Peter. Bath had become a royal possession. The old Roman street pattern was by now lost, and King Alfred laid out the town afresh, leaving its south-eastern quadrant as the abbey precinct. Edgar of England was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey in 973.


King William Rufus granted the city to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath in 1088. It was papal policy for bishops to move to more urban seats, and he translated his own from Wells to Bath. He planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it. New baths were built around the three springs. Later bishops, however, returned the episcopal seat to Wells, while retaining the name of Bath in their title.


By the 15th century, Bath's abbey church was badly dilapidated and in need of repairs. Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided in 1500 to rebuild it on a smaller scale. The new church was completed just a few years before Bath Priory was dissolved in 1539 by Henry VIII. The abbey church was allowed to become derelict before being restored as the city's parish church in the Elizabethan period, when the city revived as a spa. The baths were improved and the city began to attract the aristocracy. Bath was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth 1 and a Royal Charter in 1590. From then on Bath had a mayor and aldermen. There were some improvements in the little town. Bellots almshouses were built in 1609. In 1615 a 'scavenger' was appointed to clean the streets of Bath. In 1633 thatched roofs were banned because of the risk of fire.

However like all towns Bath suffered from outbreaks of the plague. It struck in 1604, 1625, 1636 and 1643.

There had been much rebuilding in the Stuart period, but this was eclipsed by the massive expansion of Bath in Georgian times. The old town within the walls was also largely rebuilt. This was a response to the continuing demand for elegant accommodation for the city's fashionable visitors, for whom Bath had become a pleasure resort as well as a spa. The architects John Wood the elder and his son John Wood the younger laid out the new quarters in streets and squares, the identical facades of which gave an impression of palatial scale and classical decorum. The creamy gold of Bath stone further unified the city, much of it obtained from the limestone Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down, which were owned by Ralph Allen (1694–1764). The latter, in order to advertise the quality of his quarried limestone, commissioned the elder John Wood to build him a country house on his Prior Park estate. A shrewd politician, he dominated civic affairs and became mayor several times.

The early 18th century saw Bath acquire its first purpose-built theatre, pump room and Assembly Rooms. Master of Ceremonies Beau Nash, who presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761, drew up a code of behaviour for public entertainments.

By the 1801 census the population of Bath had reached 40020 making it amongst the largest cities in Britain.

William Thomas Beckford bought a house in Lansdown Crescent in 1822, eventually buying a further two houses in the Crescent to form his residence. Having acquired all the land between his home and the top of Lansdown Hill, he created a garden over half a mile in length and built Beckford's Tower at the top.

Bath Spa Rail Station was built in 1840 for the Great Western Railway by Brunel and is a grade II listed building.

Between the evening of 25th  April and the early morning of 27th  April 1942 Bath suffered three air raids in reprisal for RAF raids on the German cities of Lübeck & Rostock. The three raids formed part of the Luftwaffe campaign popularly known as the Baedeker Blitz: they damaged or destroyed more than 19,000 buildings, and killed more than 400 people. Much damage was done to noteworthy buildings. Houses in the Royal Crescent, Circus and Paragon were burnt out along with the Assembly Rooms, while the south side of Queen Square was destroyed. All have since been reconstructed.

Bath is a very haunted city and below is a list of the more famous ghosts:

            The man in the black hat

Easily Bath's most famous and most-seen ghost, the man in the black hat is dressed in late 18th-century attire and sometimes wears a billowing black cloak. He's regularly seen around the Assembly Rooms. For the best results, look for him at Saville Row and Bennett Street.

            Freezing Hill

Several ghosts have appeared in the vicinity of Freezing Hill, just outside Bath. Most of these phantoms are from the 17th century, when this hill was the site of the bloody Battle of Lansdown.

The best opportunity to see these ghosts is from The Park, a 240 acre estate featuring a Jacobean mansion that is now an hotel. You can also enjoy a fine meal at The Oakwood Restaurant, and play golf at their Crown and Cromwell courses.

            The Royal Crescent

It's not a movie that's being filmed at the Royal Crescent when you see an elegant coach drawn by four horses. Instead, you're witnessing a residual haunting, repeating the elopement of Elizabeth Linley of No. 11, with Irish playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Sheridan was not Miss Linley's only suitor. Captain Thomas Mathews (a married man) and Lord Sheridan fought two duels--with swords--over the lovely Miss Linley.

Sheridan may have won her hand in marriage, but he later proved unfaithful. Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died at age 38. A bronze plaque at number 11 Royal Crescent marks the address from which she eloped.

The Theatre Royal the Garrick's Head pub

The Theatre Royal and Garrick's Head are next door to each other. Their ghost stories seem to be interwoven, and the ghosts congenially wander from one building to the other.

At least two ghosts appear in this area. One is an unfaithful wife and the other is her lover, from the 18th century. The lover was killed by the husband, and the wife committed suicide. Look for a woman (some say there are at least two) in a grey dress. The lover is handsome and well-dressed.

A second anomaly is noted at the Theatre Royal: A tortoiseshell butterfly appears there during the pantomime run each year, which is not butterfly season.

            Popjoy's Restaurant

Many visit this former home of Richard "Beau" Nash for the fine food. However, the restaurant hosts at least two ghosts, both of them women. One is Juliana Popjoy, the 18th-century mistress of Beau Nash.

The other ghost is Janice (or perhaps Janet). She is more modern, dressed in attire best suited to the 1960's. She dines alone and looks perfectly normal until she vanishes.

            The Beehive Public House

'Bunty', a serving girl from the Victorian Era or slightly earlier, appears in the kitchen of The Beehive, a popular Bath public house.

            Crystal Palace Tavern

A hooded figure--perhaps a monk--appears at this tavern when he is concerned that the structure may change, such as during repairs or redecorating. He usually appears briefly and is fairly transparent.

            Julia, of Queens Square

This jilted bride has been seen strolling around the Square in her white gown.

Today Bath continues to thrive on tourism. Moreover in 2006 a new spa opened in Bath so perhaps the old glory days will return! Today the population of Bath is 85,000.

Famous Hauntings of The Isle Of Wight, England


The Isle of Wight is one of my favourite places to visit and stay. In the late 1970's we had a family holiday on the Isle of Wight and stayed in a Holiday Caravan. The island is famous for its Hauntings of places and houses and I thought it would be interesting to write about these spooky going – ons. The first Ghost Story concerns Dimbola Lodge which was the home of the famous 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. It is said her ghost haunts the museum and the visitors have reported the smell of photographic chemicals.


This small island is home to hundreds of ghosts and spooky happenings. There are all sorts of Isle of Wight ghosts - from phantom monks, grey ladies and poltergeists - to the shades of smugglers, soldiers, Royalty and Romans. There are ghostly murderers and their victims, ghost-ships out at sea, and even a ghost-train still running on long vanished rails.


With the Island´s rich historical heritage, its violent and colourful past, it´s not surprising that ghostly goings-on and haunting echoes of those turbulent times continue to reverberate through 21st century. Hundreds of unquiet and restless Isle of Wight ghosts have been reported here in Hotels, Hospitals, manor houses, Pubs, Shops and offices, while the spirits of smugglers and shipwrecked seamen walk lonely West Wight beaches.


List of Spooky and Ghostly IOW Hauntings


As a visitor to the IOW I thought I would list some spooky stories.

APPULDURCOMBE HOUSE, Wroxall. This handsome haunted mansion with its 365 windows and 52 rooms is now a shell of its former self. The ghosts however, remain. They include a phantom carriage, brown-clad monks, dark shapes glimpsed flitting through the grounds. A baby´s cry is heard, and unseen hands regularly leaf through pages of the visitors´ book. KNIGHTON GORGES, Newchurch. Known as the Island´s most haunted place, every New Year´s Eve, people gather to wait for the ghostly house to re-appear. A pair of weathered stone gateposts are all that remain of the manor house of Knighton Gorges, yet it lives on, its blood-red history a testament to murder, suicide, insanity, malice, and a gallery of ghosts. A coach and horses, poltergeist lights, phantom revels and tales of stone creatures seen upon the gate pillars are just a few of the spooky happenings in this strange place. A brutal family murder and a young girl pushed from a window to her death are at the heart of the hauntings here. A little child in a blue dress is regularly seen and heard, crying "Mama Mama". Other regular visitors are ghostly monks, whose grave chanting is heard, while the figure of a woman wearing a cherry-red gown has also been seen.


Carisbrook Castle For more than nine centuries it has stood firm against attack, but within its walls, ghosts roam. In the famous well house where donkeys work the wooden tread wheel, the face of a dead girl who drowned in the160ft deep well, has been seen. A mysterious cloaked figure, with four dainty lap dogs, walks the castle grounds. Other phantoms include a Victorian lady in grey and tragic Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died a prisoner here.


Arreton Murderous woodcutter Micah Morey who killed his young grandson in cold blood in 1737, was tried and hanged, and his corpse left rotting on the gibbet at Gallows Hill, near the Hare and Hounds, until it became ´an offence to eye and nostril´. The gibbet crossbeam, complete with a notch cut in it beside the date of his execution can be seen in the pub. Morey´s restless spirit can also be seen, roaming Gallows Hill, carrying a large axe.


For almost a century, the world-renowned chest hospital Royal National Hospital specialised in treating the killer disease, tuberculosis. When the half-mile long building was demolished in 1969, the site was transformed into gardens. The hospital was haunted long before this, and even today long-dead patients are still seen and heard. Ghostly weeping, groaning, and smells of ether are reported. A sickly, consumptive-looking ghost, and phantom nurses in old-fashioned uniforms walk the gardens.


You may never find this one, but have fun trying! One dark November night, two Island men set out from Newtown, on what became the strangest night of their lives. They came upon a pub - the Falcon or the Vulcan - where they shared a drink with some unsociable spirits. The drab bar felt unwelcoming and cold. Hostile eyes turned towards the two strangers and all conversation ceased. They drank up quickly and left. The strange old-fashioned pub, which was along a narrow lane somewhere between Newtown and Calbourne, has never been seen again. Despite repeated attempts, neither the lane nor ghostly pub has ever been found.


Northwood House, Cowes Old Town. Northwood House is a Grade II listed Victorian residence built by the Ward family in 1837. It was donated under Trust to the town in 1929, the grounds becoming Northwood Park. Between 1902 and 1906, it was occupied by French Benedictine nuns, and the ghost of one of these sisters can be seen flitting through the park at night. Old stone tunnels under the park were once used by smugglers and, in cellars under the house, the ghost of a grinning pirate appears. On a still night, the sound of boxes and kegs being moved around in the empty cellars can sometimes be heard!


Ghosts of Godshill Church.The Norman church at Godshill is associated with a legend that is common throughout Britain with slight variations. Tradition tells that the original site of the church was towards the Southwest, but each night the stones of the church were moved by an unknown agency on to the hill where the church now stands. The builders of the church wanted to discover who was moving the stones and posted a watch of two guards during the night. While keeping vigil they were astonished to see the stones move up the hill of their own volition. This was taken to be a sign from God that the church should be built of the hill, and the site was named Godshill afterwards. In other traditions it was actually the fairies who moved the stones. The meaning of this folklore motif is obscure, but it has been suggested that it has its roots in the fact that many churches were built on top of older places of worship.


Haunting of St Catherines Lighthouse in Niton Village. St Catherine's Lighthouse is situated in Niton Undercliffe, 5 miles from Ventnor and was built in 1838 following the loss of the ship called The Clarendon on rocks near to the present location. It's Lighthouse haunted by a dark burley man.


The Ghosts of  Osborne House Osborne House is haunted by many Spirits in the rooms and hallways. One of the ghosts is supposed to be that of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow. 


Mrs Duncan – The Last Witch to be Tried in England

The fourth story concerns the last person to be tried as a witch was a Mrs Duncan, a Scotswoman who travelled the country holding seances, was one of Britain's best-known mediums, reputedly numbering Winston Churchill and George VI among her clients, when she was arrested in January 1944 by two naval officers at a seance in Portsmouth. The military authorities, secretly preparing for the D-day landings and then in a heightened state of paranoia, were alarmed by reports that she had disclosed - allegedly via contacts with the spirit world - the sinking of two British battleships long before they became public. The most serious disclosure came when she told the parents of a missing sailor that his ship, HMS Barham, had sunk. It was true, but news of the tragedy had been suppressed to preserve morale.

Desperate to silence the apparent leak of state secrets, the authorities charged Mrs Duncan with conspiracy, fraud, and with witchcraft under an act dating back to 1735 - the first such charge in over a century. At the trial, only the "black magic" allegations stuck, and she was jailed for nine months at Holloway women's prison in north London. Churchill, then prime minister, visited her in prison and denounced her conviction as "tomfoolery". In 1951, he repealed the 200-year-old act, but her conviction stood.

Is This Proof of Reincarnation?

As an Englishman from a country that has many stories of the supernatural I thought I would write about a story that links America with 12th Century York, England.


Many years ago I was reading about this lady american Doctor W. who had spent many years and hypnotised many thousands of volunteer patients, investigating Past Live regression during the 1960's -1970's. Past Life Regression is when a person is hypnotised back before they are born into a past life.


One day she was hypnotising one of her patients who was regressed back to a past life.

The story concerns a period in the 1190's of upheaval in the English City of York during a pogrom against the Jews. This lady believed she was called Susanne de Blouir and she was being chased by a riotus crowd because of her jewness. At the time of her fleeing she had her baby in her arms, which made it difficult to run and escape.


Finally she arrived outside the entrance to York Minster Cathedral and ran through the front doors seeking sanctuary. Finding no one around, she flees to the back of the Cathedral and runs down some steps that led into some rooms. One of the rooms had a door slightly ajar, and she runs through the door and then down some more steps. While running down the steps the woman here's the front doors of the Cathedral open and the noise of the screaming mob come pouring in. Terrified and clutching her baby the woman arrives at a long passage which ends at a door which leads into a Crypt. The woman enters the Crypt and sees various tombs incuding a stone carved black knight lieing on top of a tomb. She puts the baby down and trie's to barr the door with any furniture she could find.


After a period of moments, the door is banged upon and the mob tries to get into the crypt.

Beacuse of the emotion and fear by the woman under hypnosis the doctor decide's to bring the woman out of hypnosis.


Suffice to say, the woman believed her today's lifetime fear of confined spaces could be explained by this past life in 12th century York.


The Doctor decided to investigate this story by contacting the dean at York Minster in England and asking if they had such a thing as a Crypt with a black knight's tomb. After many weeks the dean contacted the doctor and explained York Minster had no record of any Crypt. This seems to confirm the doctors fears that this patient was dreaming and imagining the story.  The strange thing was the woman had never travelled outside the state of Kansas, yet she knew so many things about the dress code of York etc. ( Remember this was in the 1960's-1970's before the Internet)


Forward ten years and outside York Minster the road was being dug up by some workman when all of a sudden the road collapses into a dark abyss. The Fire brigade is called and they lowered some fire fighters down into the deep hole. The hole ended in a stone floor after clearing away some of the rubble he realised he was in a Crypt. In a far corner was the skeleton of a trapped and tied up woman and next to her was a baby skeleton.


It seems that the mob had finally got through the door and tied the woman up and then sealed and bricked up the door while she was still alive.


The spooky thing about this story is that Doctor W. 's book was printed ten years before they found the Crypt and skeleton's.

I believe this story proves Reincarnation – what does the reader think?


Please scroll down the page and vote for this story by clicking on the Stars.


Wymering Manor House – The Most Haunted House in England.


As I am from Portsmouth, England I thought it may be of interest to write about the oldest house in Portsmouth dated from 1042 AD which is also the most haunted house in England called Wymering Manor House.


Although most of the current structure dates back to the 16th century, the manor goes back much further. Records show the first owner of Wymering Manor was King Edward the Confessor in 1042 and then after the Battle of Hastings it fell into the hands of King William the Conqueror until 1084. The house has been altered and renovated continually over the centuries, yet remarkably it has retained materials dating back to medieval and even ancient Roman times.

Having changed ownership many times over these hundreds of years, the property was eventually adopted by the Portsmouth City Council, then sold for a short time to a private organization for development into a hotel. When the development fell though, the property reverted to the council, which has again put it up for auction.

Once a country manor, the structure is now surrounded by modern houses. And when it was saved from demolition and used as a youth hostel, many areas of the building were "modernized" and have an unfortunate, institutional feel.

With this rich history it's no surprise perhaps that Wymering Manor should be haunted.

Below are some of the Ghosts that haunt Wymering Manor:


The Lady in the Violet Dress. When Mr. Thomas Parr lived at Wymering Manor, he awoke one night to the sight of an apparition standing at the foot of his bed. It was his cousin, who had died in 1917. Dressed in a full-length violet-coloured dress, the spirit spoke to him in a friendly and matter-of-fact manner, telling him of her recent religious experiences and about other deceased family members. Suddenly the ghost said, "Well, Tommy dear, I must leave you now as we are waiting to receive Aunt Em." In the morning, Parr received a telegram with the news that his Aunt Em had died during the night.

The Blue Room. An elderly relative of Thomas Parr, who was staying in the "Blue Room," was careful always to lock her door at night, as she feared break-ins by burglars. One morning she was surprised to find her door unlocked and open.

The Choir of Nuns. Mr. Leonard Metcalf, an occupant of the house who died in 1958, said he occasionally saw a choir of nuns crossing the manor's hall at midnight. They were chanting, he claimed, to the clear sound of music. His family never believed his story as they didn't know - and neither did Mr. Metcalf - that nuns from the Sisterhood of Saint Mary the Virgin visited the house in the mid-1800s.

The Panelled Room. The so-called "Panelled Room" may be the manor's most dreaded. The Panelled Room served as a bedroom in the manor's south east corner, and as Metcalf was using the washbasin one day, he was startled by the distinct feeling of a hand on his shoulder. He turned quickly to find no one there. Others have felt an oppressive air in this room, instilling a strong feeling to flee. When the building served as the youth hostel, its warden and wife expressed an unexplained fear of the room.

Other Paranormal occurrences reported at the manor include visitors who claim to have heard the whispers of children, spotted strange apparitions and seen items in the manor move of their own accord. Dramatic drops in temperature and accounts of unusual or intimidating 'spirit energies' have also been reported. Film and video footage has captured both orbs and other strange light anomalies.

James Herbert OBE – English Iconic Horror Author


I am a great fan of James Herbert who has written some great pieces of Horror including my favourite – The “Rats” which I brought in 1974. As a teenager every time James Herbert released a new horror book I would be joining the queue at my local W H Smiths. James Herbert was born on the 8th April 1943 and has sold over 40 million books worldwide. All through my life I can remember reading the newest James Herbert book at certain special events of my life.  I remember buying “The Fluke” in 1977 when I first started work and reading “The Jonah” when I had just got engaged in 1981.


During my lifetime I have had many Supernatural experiences which I have written about in my many articles which can be found at my website. I recommend to  any “Horror Story” fan to go out and buy any of James Herbert's books (They are so much better than Stephen king's) but don't forget to read his books with plenty of lights on and not in a spooky haunted house.


List of James Herbert Books:


1974: The Rats

1975: The Fog

1976: The Survivor

1977: Fluke

1978: The Spear

1979: Lair

1980: The Dark

1981: The Jonah

1983: Shrine

1984: Domain

1985: Moon

1986: The Magic Cottage

1987: Sepulchre

1988: Haunted

1990: Creed

1992: Portent

1992: By Horror Haunted

1993: The City

1993: Dark Places

1994: The Ghosts Of Sleath

1996: '48

1999: Others

2001: Once

2003: Nobody True

2003: Devil In The Dark

2006: The Secret Of Crickley Hall

2010: Ash

James Herbert was awarded the Order Of The British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours list.


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley– English Iconic Author of Frakenstein


Mary Shelley will forever be remembered for her novel “Frankenstein” one of the scariest books you will ever read. Mary was born on the 30th August 1797 in Somers Town, England to well-known parents: author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and philosopher William Godwin. Mary was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer and travel writer who was best known for her Gothic Novel Frankenstein and The Modern Prometheus.


She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic Poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley who she had married in 1816 after the death of his wife Harriet.


In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelley's left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence.


In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author.


Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements.


Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels “Valperga” (1823) and “Perkin Warbeck” (1830), the apocalyptic novel “The Last Man” (1826), and her final two novels, “Lodore (1835) and “Falkner” (1837).


Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book “Rambles in Germany and italy” (1844) and the biographical articles for “Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia” (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life.


Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.


In the mid-1840s, Mary Shelley found herself the target of three separate blackmailers. In 1845, an Italian political exile called Gatteschi, whom she had met in Paris, threatened to publish letters she had sent him. A friend of her son's bribed a police chief into seizing Gatteschi's papers, including the letters, which were then destroyed. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelley bought some letters written by herself and Percy Bysshe Shelley from a man calling himself G. Byron and posing as the illegitimate son of the late Lord Byron. Also in 1845, Percy Bysshe Shelley's cousin Thomas Medwin approached her claiming to have written a damaging biography of Percy Shelley. He said he would suppress it in return for £250, but Mary Shelley refused.


The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53 on the 1st February 1851.


Sir Michael Caine -  English Iconic Actor


Sir  Michael Caine is one of England's greatest iconic actors and is famous for his starring roles from Harry Palmer etc. Michael Caine was born Born Maurice Micklewhite in Rotherhithe, London, on the 14th March 1933. Michael Caine was the son of a fish-market porter and his mother was a cook and housewife. Caine grew up in Camberwell, London, and during the WWII he was evacuated to North Runcton in Norfolk. As a fan, my favourite film would have to be "Zulu" which is shown most christmas's on British TV.


In 1944, he passed his eleven plus exam, winning a scholarship to Hackney Downs Grocers School. After a year there he moved to Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell (now Wilson's School in Wallington, South London), which he left at sixteen after gaining a School Certificate in six subjects.


He then worked briefly as a filing clerk and messenger for a film company in Victoria Street, London and the film producer Jay Lewis in Wardour Street, London.


In 1952, when he was called up to do his National Service, until 1954, he served in the British Army's Royal Fusiliers, first at the BAOR HQ in Iserlohn, Germany and then on active service during the Korean War. Caine has said he would like to see the return of National Service to help combat youth violence, stating: "I'm just saying, put them in the Army for six months. You're there to learn how to defend your country. You belong to the country. Then when you come out, you have a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence."


Upon his return to England he gravitated toward the theatre and got a job as an assistant stage manager. He adopted the name of Caine on the advice of his agent, taking it from a marquee that advertised The Caine Mutiny (1954).


In the years that followed he worked in more than 100 television dramas, with repertory companies throughout England and eventually in the stage hit, "The Long and the Short and the Tall." Zulu (1964), the 1964 epic retelling of a historic 19th-century battle in South Africa between British soldiers and Zulu warriors, brought Caine to international attention. Instead of being typecast as a low-ranking Cockney soldier, he played a snobbish, aristocratic officer. Although "Zulu" was a major success, it was the role of Harry Palmer in Ipcress File (1965) and the title role in Alfie (1966) that made Caine a star of the first magnitude.


He epitomized the new breed of actor in mid-'60s England, the working-class bloke with glasses and a down-home accent. However, after initially starring in some excellent films, particularly in the 1960s, including Gambit (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Play Dirty (1969), Battle of Britain (1969), Too late the Hero (1970), The last Valley (1971) and especially Get Carter (1971). He gave a magnificent performance opposite Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and turned in a solid one as a German colonel in The Eagle has landed (1976). During the 1980's “Educating Rita” (1983) and “Hannah and her Sisters” (1986) (for which he won his first Oscar) were highlights of the 1980s, while more recently Little Voice (1998), The Cider House Rules (1999) (his second Oscar) and Last Orders (2001) have been widely acclaimed.


Films and Actor Credits


Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Harry Brown (2010)

Playing the part of Harry Brown

Inception (2010)

Playing the part of Miles

Is Anybody There? (2009)

Playing the part of Clarence

Flawless (2008)

Playing the part of Hobbs

The Dark Knight (2008)

Playing the part of Alfred

Sleuth (2007)

Playing the part of Andrew Wyke

Children of Men (2006)

Playing the part of Jasper

The Prestige (2006)

Playing the part of Cutter

Batman Begins (2005)

Playing the part of Alfred

Bewitched (2005)

Playing the part of Nigel Bigelow

The Weather Man (2005)

Playing the part of Robert Spritz

Around the Bend (2004)

Playing the part of Henry Lair

Secondhand Lions (2003)

Playing the part of Garth

The Actors (2003)

Playing the part of Tom O Malley

The Statement (2003)

Playing the part of Pierre Brossard

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Playing the part of Nigel Powers

The Quiet American (2002)

Playing the part of Thomas Fowler

Last Orders (2001)

Playing the part of Jack Dodds

Quicksand (2001)

Playing the part of Jake Mellows

Shadow Run (2001)

Get Carter (2000)

Playing the part of Cliff Brumby

Miss Congeniality (2000)

Playing the part of Victor Melling

Quills (2000)

Playing the part of Doctor Royer-Collard

Shiner (2000)

Playing the part of Billy Shiner Simpson

Curtain Call (1999)

Playing the part of Max Gale

The Cider House Rules (1999)

Playing the part of Doctor Wilbur Larch

The Debtors (1999)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1998)

Little Voice (1998)

Playing the part of Ray Say

Blood & Wine (1997)

Playing the part of Victor Spansky

Mandela & de Klerk (1997)

Bullet to Beijing (1995)

Midnight in St. Petersburg (1995)

On Deadly Ground (1994)

Playing the part of Michael Jennings

World War II - When Lions Roared (1994)

On Deadly Ground (1993)

Blue Ice (1992)

Playing the part of Harry Anders

Noises Off (1992)

Playing the part of Lloyd Fellowes

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Playing the part of Scrooge

Bullseye! (1990)

Playing the part of Dr Daniel Hicklar/ Sidney Lipton

Mr. Destiny (1990)

Playing the part of Mike

A Shock to the System (1990)

Playing the part of Graham Marshall

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

Playing the part of Lawrence Jamieson

John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick (1988)

Playing the part of Himself

Without A Clue (1988)

Playing the part of Sherlock Holmes

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Playing the part of Hoagie

Surrender (1987)

Playing the part of Sean Stein

The Fourth Protocol (1987)

Playing the part of John Preston

The Whistle Blower (1987)

Playing the part of Frank Jones

Half Moon Street (1986)

Playing the part of Lord Sam Bulbeck

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Playing the part of Elliot

Mona Lisa (1986)

Playing the part of Mortwell

Sweet Liberty (1986)

Playing the part of Elliot James

Water (1986)

Playing the part of Baxter Thwaites

The Black Windmill (1986)

The Holcroft Covenant (1985)

Playing the part of Noel Holcroft

Blame It on Rio (1984)

Playing the part of Matthew Hollis

The Jigsaw Man (1984)

Playing the part of Sir Philip Kimberley/ Sergeo Kuzminsky

Beyond the Limit (1983)

Playing the part of Charley Fortnum

Educating Rita (1983)

Playing the part of Dr Frank Bryant

Deathtrap (1982)

Playing the part of Sidney Bruhl

Victory (1981)

Playing the part of Captain John Colby

The Hand (1981)

Playing the part of Jon Lansdale

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Playing the part of Dr. Robert Elliott

The Island (1980)

Playing the part of Blair Maynard

Ashanti (1979)

Playing the part of Dr David Linderby

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

Playing the part of Mike Turner

California Suite (1978)

Playing the part of Sidney Cochran

Silver Bears (1978)

Playing the part of Doc Fletcher

The Swarm (1978)

Playing the part of Brad Crane

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

Playing the part of Lieutenant Colonel Joe Vandeleur

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)

Playing the part of Adam Worth

Peeper (1976)

Playing the part of Leslie Tucker

The Eagle Has Landed (1976)

Playing the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Kurt Steiner

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

Playing the part of Peachy Carnehan

The Romantic Englishwoman (1975)

Playing the part of Lewis

The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

Playing the part of Keogh

The Black Windmill (1974)

Playing the part of Major Tarrant

The Destructors (1974)

Playing the part of Deray

Pulp (1972)

Playing the part of Mickey King

Sleuth (1972)

Playing the part of Milo Tindle

X Y & Zee (1972)

Playing the part of Robert

Get Carter (1971)

Playing the part of Jack Carter

Kidnapped (1971)

Playing the part of Alan Breck

The Last Valley (1971)

Playing the part of Captain

Too Late the Hero (1970)

Playing the part of Private Tosh Hearne

Battle of Britain (1969)

Playing the part of Squadron Leader Canfield

The Italian Job (1969)

Playing the part of Charlie Croker

Deadfall (1968)

Playing the part of Henry Clarke

Play Dirty (1968)

Playing the part of Captain Douglas

The Magus (1968)

Playing the part of Nicholas Urfe

Billion Dollar Brain (1967)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Gambit (1967)

Playing the part of Harry

Hurry Sundown (1967)

Playing the part of Henry Warren

Tonite Let s All Make Love in London (1967)

Playing the part of Himself

Woman Times Seven (1967)

Playing the part of Handsome Stranger

Funeral in Berlin (1966)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Solo For Sparrow (1966)

Playing the part of Mooney

The Wrong Box (1966)

Playing the part of Michael Finsbury

Alfie (1965)

Playing the part of Alfie

The Ipcress File (1965)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Zulu (1964)

Playing the part of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead

The Wrong Arm of the Law (1962)

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Carve Her Name With Pride (1958)

How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1958)

Playing the part of Gilrony

The Key (1958)

The Two-Headed Spy (1958)

Playing the part of Gestapo Agent

A Hell in Korea (1956)

Playing the part of Private Lockyer

Back to Top

Producer Credits

Blue Ice (1992)


The Fourth Protocol (1987)

Executive Producer

There is, in a filmography of over 80 titles (plus TV work) and his own performances seem from 5 out of 10 up to 10 out of 10. When the material was right, as in The Man Who Would Be King (US, d. John Huston, 1975), few can touch him for conviction and subtlety. In the latter film, his second wife, Shakira Baksh, played her last screen role;

Caine now runs his own production company, M & M Productions, with business partner Martin Bregman. He was made a CBE in 1992, knighted and awarded a BAFTA fellowship in 2000.

Sir Henry Irving – Iconic English Actor Manager


One of the most famous English theatrical Actor Manager's in the Victorian era was Sir Henry Irving who was born John Henry Brodribb on Feb. 6th  1838 in Keinton Mandeville, Somerset, England. Irving is thought to have been the inspiration for the title character in Lyceum manager “Bram Stoker's” 1897 novel “Dracula”.


Bram Stoker left Dublin for London in 1878 to take a position managing the Lyceum Theatre for actor manager Sir Henry Irving. During his long career at the Lyceum he wrote many fantastic stories and novels, cementing his fame with Dracula. Stoker's tale made vampires famous, and his creepy Count Dracula based on Sir Henry Irving became the model for the popular movie “Dracula” of the 20th century


He toured for 10 years with a stock company before making his London debut in 1866. With his success in The Bells (1871), he became a leading actor in H.L. Batman's company (1871 – 77).


As actor-manager of the Lyceum Theatre (from 1878), he made it London's most successful theatre. He formed a celebrated acting partnership with Ellen Terry that lasted until the company dissolved in 1902. They were noted for their Shakespearean roles, and their theatrical qualities complemented each other: he the brooding introvert, she the spontaneous charmer.


He was a champion of the star system and produced artistic spectacles that emphasized scenic detail. As an actor he was most successful in the "realistic" melodramas of his day and in Shakespeare's plays, which he liberally abridged. To him acting was movement and emotion; his realistic approach to creating a character, in which he stressed that the actor should incorporate real feelings into his characterization, led to the noted controversy with his French contemporary, Coquelin, who advocated simulated emotion (or representation) in acting. His company frequently toured the United States where he became quite well known.


Irving was knighted in 1895, the first actor to be so honoured.


His acting divided critics; opinions differed as to the extent to which his mannerisms of voice and deportment interfered with or assisted the expression of his ideas. On October 13th 1905, Henry Irving appeared as “Becket” at the Bradford Theatre, he was seized with a stroke just after uttering Becket's dying words 'Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands', and though he lived for an hour or so longer he never spoke again. He was brought to the lobby of the Midland Hotel, where he died. The chair that he was sitting in when he died is now at the Garrick Club. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. There is a fabulous statue of Sir Henry Irving behind “The National Portrait Gallery” in London.


James Bond 007 – British Icon


James Bond is one of the most recognisable Movie Characters in the world and was written by Ian Fleming an English writer who was born in London on may 28th, 1908.       As a youngster growing up in Portsmouth, England he was one of my favorite writer's and James Bond one of my favourite characters. I suppose my favorite actor to play James Bond was Roger Moore who I think was the closest to the original character written by Ian Fleming. My favourite baddie has to be Christopher Lee – The man with the Golden Gun. Since the launch of the first film the total box office takings has reached over 8 Billion Pounds.


James Bond 007 is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. The character has also been the longest running and most financially successful English-language film franchise to date, starting in 1962 with Dr. No.


The hero, James Bond, was named after an American Ornithologist who was a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide book “Birds of The West Indies”.

Ian Fleming, a keen birdwatcher had a copy of Bond's field guide at Goldeneye.


With reference to the James Bond name, Fleming once said in a Readers Digest interview, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers.' Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department."


Nevertheless, news sources speculated about real spies or other covert agents after whom James Bond might have been modelled or named, such as Sidney Reilly or William Stephenson who was best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid.


Although they were similar to Bond, Fleming confirmed none as the source figure, nor did Ian Fleming Publications nor any of Fleming's biographers, such as John Pearson or Andrew Lycett.


Historian Keith Jeffrey speculates in his authorized history of MI6 that Bond may be modeled on Fleming's close friend, Bill Biffy Dunderdale a MI6 agent whose sophisticated persona and penchant for pretty women and fast cars closely matches that of Bond.


After Fleming's death in 1964, subsequent James Bond novels were written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Sebastian Faulks. Moreover, Christopher Wood novelised two screenplays, Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond while other writers have authored unofficial versions of the character.

There have been 22 films in the EON Productions Series to date, the most recent of which was Quantum of Solace which was released on 31 October 2008 here in the UK.

There has also been an American television adaptation and two independent feature productions. Apart from movies and television, James Bond has also been adapted for many other media, including radio plays, comic strips and video games.

The EON Produced films are generally termed as "official" films originating with the purchase of the James Bond film rights by producer Harry Saltzman in the late 1950s.

James Bond's association with Aston Martin sports cars has helped further boost the brand's already strong image and popularity since Bond (first played by Sean Connery) who first drove an Aston Martin in Goldfinger in 1964. A poll by Lloyds TSB in September 2010 revealed that Aston Martin was the most desired brand of "dream" car in Britain.


List of James Bond films.

Dr. No 1962

From Russia With Love 1963

Goldfinger 1964

Thunderball 1965

You Only Live Twice 1967

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969

Diamonds Are For Ever 1971

Live and Let Die 1973

The Man With the Golden Gun 1974

 The Spy Who Loved Me 1977

 Moonraker 1979

 For Your Eyes Only 1981

 Octopussy 1983

 A View To A Kill 1985

 The Living Daylights 1987

 License to Kill 1989

 Goldeneye 1995

 Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

 The World is Not Enough 1999

 Die another Day 2002

 Casino Royale 2006

 Quantum of Solace 2008

Dr. Who - A British TV Icon


Dr. Who is the World's longest running Science Fiction television series and as I am a great fan of this BBC show I thought I would write about It's fun history. The programme depicts the adventures of a mysterious and eccentric humanoid alien known as the Doctor who travels through time and space in his spacecraft, the Tardis (an acronym for “Time And Relative Dimensions In Space”), which normally appears from the exterior to be a blue 1950s British Police Box. With his companions, he explores time and space, faces a variety of foes and saves civilizations, helping others and righting wrongs, as well as improving the way people, aliens and robots choose to live their lives.

Some episodes from the 1960s are missing due to the BBC's 1970s junking policy, and thus their serials are incomplete. In the first two seasons and most of the third, each episode of a serial had an individual title; no serial had an overall on-screen title until The Savages. The serial titles are the most common title for the serials as a whole, used in sources such as the Doctor Who Reference Guide and the BBC's classic episode guide, and are generally those used for commercial release. The practice of individually titled episodes resurfaced with the 2005 revival, when Doctor Who's serial nature was abandoned in favour of an episodic format.

The first incarnation of The Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell for 29 episodes. During Hartnell's tenure, the Doctor visited a mixture of both stories set in the future and historical events that had no extraterrestrial influence, such as fifteenth century MesoAmerica. In his last story, The Tenth Planet, the Doctor gradually grew weaker to the point of collapsing at the end of the fourth episode, leading to his regeneration.

The Second incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Patrick Troughton for 31 episodes and whose serials were more action-oriented. He retained the role until the last episode of The War Games when members of the Doctor's race, the Time Lords, put him on trial for breaking the laws of time.

The Third Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Jon Pertwee for 23 episodes. Sentenced to exile on Earth and forcibly regenerated at the end of The War Games, the Doctor spends his time working for Unit. After The Three Doctors, The Time Lords repeal his exile, however the Doctor still worked closely with UNIT from time to time. The Third Doctor regenerated into his Fourth incarnation, as a result of radiation poisoning, near the end of Planet Of The Spiders.

The Fourth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Tome Baker for 40 episodes and is to date the longest-serving Doctor, having held the role for seven seasons.

The Fifth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Peter Davidson for 19 episodes and who was also famous for his role in “All Creatures Great and Small”.

The Sixth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Colin Baker for 11 episodes.

The Seventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Sylvester McCoy for 12  episodes.

The Eighth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Paul McGann for one Movie.

The Ninth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Christopher Ecclestone for 10 episodes.

The tenth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by David Tennant for 36 episodes.

 The eleventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Steven Moffat for 24 episodes up to the end of 2011. Hopefully he will continue as Doctor Who after 2011 even though it is not confirmed. Hopefully he will stay in the role for a good five years. 

There have been many Doctor Who radio broadcasts over the years. In addition to a small number of in-house BBC productions, a larger number of radio plays produced by Big Finish began to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 from 2005, featuring the Eighth Doctor (again played by Paul McGann) with mainstay companions Charley Pollard and later Lucie Miller. All told there were 24 episodes broadcast on BBC radio and later on audio tapes/cd.


Sir Rex Harrison -  English Iconic Actor


Sir Rex Harrison was an English Iconic Actor who had a long and distinguished career. One of his most iconic roles was as Dr. Doolittle in the 1960's film when he talked to the animals. He was born Reginald Carey Harrison on March 5th 1908 in Huyton, Lancashire, England. He was a Debonair and distinguished British star of stage and screen for more than 66 years. Sir Rex Harrison is best remembered for playing charming, slyly mischievous characters.


Stagestruck from boyhood, suave British actor Rex Harrison joined the Liverpool Repertory Theatre at the age of 16, beginning a 66-year career that would culminate with his final performance on Broadway, May 11, 1990, three weeks prior to his death.


Best known for his Tony - and Oscar-winning portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "My Fair Lady", he made his West End debut in "Getting George Married" (1930) and his Broadway debut in "Sweet Aloes" (1936), but it was a two year run on the London stage in Sir Terrence Rattigan's "French Without Tears" that made him a star. Appearances in other sophisticated comedies, S N Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" and Noel Coward's "Design for Living" (both 1939), established him as what Coward himself called "the best light comedian in the world--after me."


Rex Harrison's feature debut came in "The Great Game" (1930), and starring turns in movies like "Night Train to Munich", (1940) "Major Barbara" (1941) and "Blithe Spirit" (1945) brought him to the attention of Hollywood, leading to a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. He scored a major triumph as the King in "Anna and the King of Siam" (1946) and recorded another success with "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947), but subsequent films performed poorly at the box office, although Preston Sturges' "Unfaithfully Yours" (1948) later acquired a cult status.


Actor and studio parted company by mutual agreement, and Harrison returned to Broadway, earning a Tony for his 1948 performance as King Henry VIII in Maxwell Anderson's "Anne of the Thousand Days". Continued acclaim followed for his work in T S Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" and John van Druten's "Bell, Book and Candle" (both 1950). He directed and starred in "The Love of Four Colonels" (1953) and a revival of "Bell, Book and Candle" (1954) and "Nina" (1955), all for the London stage. He made his Broadway directing debut with "The Bright One" (1958).


Despite having, in his own words, a vocal range of "one-and-a-half notes", Harrison talked his way through the numbers of Lerner and Loewe's "My Fair Lady" (1956), directed for the stage by Moss Hart, and became the darling of the critics, playing the show for two years in New York and another in London. His waspish professor of phonetics was "crisp, lean, complacent and condescending until at last a real flare of human emotions burns the egotism away," wrote Brooks Atkinson in THE NEW YORK TIMES, and the success of "My Fair Lady" once again brought Harrison important film offers.


He earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Julius Caesar in "Cleopatra" (1963), stealing the picture from his more famous co-stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Reprising Higgins for the 1964 film version of "My Fair Lady" opposite Audrey Hepburn brought him a Best Actor Oscar and international fame, and "Dr. Doolittle" (1967) introduced him to a new generation of moviegoers as he shamelessly enjoyed himself playing the fanciful jungle gentleman who conversed with wildlife.

Harrison devoted most of his remaining years to his first love, the stage, taking parts in such diverse plays as Luigi Pirandello's "Henry IV" and Rattigan's "In Praise of Love" (both 1974). He co-starred with Claudette Colbert in a Broadway production of "The Kingfisher" (1978), and, after returning to Broadway in "My Fair Lady" (1981), garnered some of the best reviews of his career for a Broadway revival of "Heartbreak House" (1983), later captured for posterity in a 1985 Showtime cable special.


Harrison portrayed Lord Grenham in London and Broadway productions of "Aren't We All?" (1984-85) and Grand Duke Cyril Romanov in the NBC miniseries, "Anastasia: The Story of Anna" (1986).


He last appeared on the London stage in "The Admirable Crichton" (1988) and bowed out in a Broadway revival of W Somerset Maugham's "The Circle", playing eight times a week just prior to his June 1990 death.


The oft-married man dubbed 'Sexy Rexy' by Walter Winchell never wanted to be anything but an actor and never intended to retire. "He died with his boots on, no doubt about it," said "The Circle" producer Elliot Martin. The actor, who was knighted in July 1989, played a wide variety of roles during his long career in theater and films, but he was best known for his portrayal of the waspish professor of phonetics in the musical based on George Bernard Shaw's play ''Pygmalion'' and “Dr. Doolittle”.


Sir John Mills -  English Iconic Actor


Sir john Mills is one of England's greatest acting Icons and is remembered for appearing in more than 100 films in a 70 years plus period.  Sir John Mills was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22nd  1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Belton, where his father was the headmaster of the village school and in in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his mother was a theatre box-office manager. As a fan of John Mills my favourite of his films was “Ice Cold in Alex”, “The Colditz Story” and “Great Expectations”.


After training as a dancer, he was first on stage in the chorus of The Five O'Clock Revue (1929) and was regularly on the London stage, in revues, musicals and straight plays, throughout the 30s, as well as making films before war broke out. He is an engaging juvenile lead in such 1930s pieces as The Ghost Camera (1933), the chirpy musical Car of Dreams (1935), the love interest for Nova Pilbeam’s Tudor Rose (1936), and the schoolboy grown into soldier in Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939).

But WW2 changed everything for Mills, as it did for so many connected with British cinema. The roles he played ‘In Which We Serve’ (1942), ‘We Dive at Dawn’ (1943), ‘This Happy Breed’, ‘Waterloo Road’ (1944) and The Way to the Stars (1945) defined a new kind of British film hero. He was the boy next door in his ordinariness. He also established an everyman reliability under stress; showing himself to be decent, brave and loyal.

John Mills was always noted for his sincerity and believability rather than for romantic qualities. He topped the Picturegoer poll in 1947 for his performance as Pip, the personable everyman in 'Great Expectation's (1946), emphatically a figure for a supposedly more egalitarian Britain; the tormented hero, an industrial chemist who fears he may have committed murder, in The October Man (1947).

This ordinary decency was elevated in ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ (1948) to the status of national hero. It is the nobility of sacrifice for others which turns physical suffering and defeat into a spiritual triumph; a victory for the team rather than for charismatic individualism. In place of the debonair gentleman's dash and charm, Mills embodied a boyish enthusiasm which is deepened by testing into a gritty determination to continue whatever the cost.

He was the shabby private detective in ‘The End of the Affair’ (1954). The twitchy, repressed military types in ‘Tunes of Glory’ (1960) and ‘Tiara Tahiti’ (1962) and he is ultimately very moving as the father in ‘The Family Way’ (1966) who may have loved no one as much as his dead mate.

John Mills was also much admired in ‘Morning Departure’ (1950) as a similarly inspirational leader, this time a submarine captain who has to encourage three of his crew, trapped with him in their stricken craft, to face death calmly. Despite his versatility as an actor, Mills continued to achieve his greatest success in similar roles: as Commander Fraser in ‘Above Us the Waves’ (1955), and as Pat Reid, the head of the escape committee, in ‘The Colditz Story’ (1955).

It was however as the captain in 'Ice Cold in Alex' (1958) that pushed by exhaustion into alcoholism, which really brought out the best in Mills. A superb piece of film-making that embodied most of the key characteristics of ‘being British’. There are two lovely scenes, the first being at the sand hill and ensuing tension when Syms and Mills meet at the bottom after the Landover rolls back down. The second I feel is at the bar where Mills drinks the Carlsberg and his character courageously addresses post war attitudes. In return Qualye’s character admits that the British were not what he had supposed them to be. Both of these statements would both have been very conciliatory at the time. Why ‘Ice Cold’ did not win Oscars…

Typically, then he got the Oscar for a grotesque piece of facial and vocal distortion in the inflated Ryan's Daughter (1970) - supporting actor Oscars have always been drawn to this sort of cosmetic display - when one could nominate a dozen far less showy, more worthy contenders among his roles. Even in perfectly ordinary films like The Vicious Circle (1957), one never stops believing in him.

The later decades saw him many in character roles such as Gandhi (1982); Kenneth Branagh then enlisted him for Hamlet (1996) to play the mute role of `Old Norway', for whom Shakespeare had thoughtlessly failed to produce lines. Though partially now deaf and blind, he still evidenced the chipper persona honed below the decks in those films half a century earlier. The achievement is there in the CV and it has been recognised with a CBE (1960), a Knighthood (1976) and the BAFTA Special Tribute Award (1987).

List Of Sir John Mills Films:


The Midship Maid


Words and Music


The Ghost Camera


Britannia of Billingsgate


River Wolves


A Political Party


Those Were the Days


The Lash


Blind Justice


Doctor's Orders


Royal Cavalcade


Forever England


Charing Cross Road


Car of Dreams


First Offence




The Green Cockatoo


Goodbye Mr Chips


All Hands


Old Bill and Son


Cottage to Let


The Black Sheep of Whitehall


The Big Blockade


The Young Mr Pitt


In Which We Serve


We Dive at Dawn


This Happy Breed


Victory Wedding


Waterloo Road


The Way to the Stars


The Sky's the Limit


Great Expectations


So Well Remembered


The October Man


Scott of the Antarctic


The History of Mr Polly


The Rocking Horse Winner


Morning Departure


Mr Denning Drives North


The Gentle Gunman


The Long Memory


Hobson's Choice


The Colditz Story


The End of the Affair


Above Us the Waves




War and Peace


It's Great to be Young


The Baby and the Battleship


Around the World in 80 Days


Town on Trial


Vicious Circle




I Was Monty's Double


Ice Cold in Alex


Tiger Bay


Summer of the Seventeenth Doll


Tunes of Glory


The Singer Not the Song


The Swiss Family Robinson (U.S.)


Flame in the Streets


The Valiant


Tiara Tahiti


The Chalk Garden


The Truth About Spring


Operation Crossbow


King Rat (U.S.)


The Wrong Box


The Family Way


Africa Texas Style (U.S.)


Chuka (U.S.)


Oh What a Lovely War


Run Wild Run Free


Emma Hamilton (Ger.)


A Black Veil for Lisa


Ryan's Daughter




Young Winston


Lady Caroline Lamb


Oklahoma Crude


The Human Factor


Trial by Combat


The Devil's Advocate


The Big Sleep


The 39 Steps


Zulu Dawn






Who's That Girl


Deadly Advice


The Grotesque






Bright Young Things


I've never considered myself to be working for a living; I've enjoyed myself for a living instead.

Sir John Mills died aged 97 on 23rd  April 2005 in The Chilterns, Buckinhamshire following a chest infection. A few months after Sir John's death, his wife Mary Hayley Mills (Lady Mills) died on 1st  December 2005. A British film actor par excellence, he was the last of his generation.


Sir Norman Wisdom – Comic Actor and Singer


I have just heard about the death of Sir Norman Wisdom one of the great English Comedians and I thought I would write an Englishman's view of his career. During the 1960's while growing up here in England one of the most popular films we used to watch on a Saturday Morning at the cinema was a Norman Wisdom Comedy. Norman was a great singer and musician apart from also being a Genius Comic Actor. Norman J. Wisdom was born on Feb 04, 1920 in Maryleborne, London, England. If you have never seen his films can I recommend that readers go out and buy one of his very funny films – you won't regret it.


After a difficult and poverty-stricken childhood he joined the 10th Hussars and began to develop his talents as a musician and stage entertainer. Wisdom’s mother left when he was nine, and he and his brother were left in the charge of their father.


Wisdom ran away from home when he was 11, but returned to become an errand boy with a grocery store on leaving school at 13. Later he was a coal-miner, a waiter, a pageboy and a cabin-boy, before joining the army and seeing service in India.


After leaving the army in 1946, he made his debut as an entertainer at the advanced age of 31 - but his rise to the top was phenomenally fast. A West End star within two years, he made his TV debut the same year and was soon commanding enormous audiences. By this time, he had adopted the suit that would remain his trademark - tweed cap askew with peak turned up, too-tight jacket, barely-better trousers, crumpled collar and tie awry. The character known as "the Gump" was to dominate Wisdom's film career during the 1950's and 1960's.


In 1966, Norman went to America to star on Broadway in the James Van Heusen-Sammy Cahn musical comedy Walking Happy. His highly-acclaimed performance was Tony nominated. He also completed his first American film as a vaudeville comic in The Night They Raided Minsky's is a 1968 film that purports to show the story of how striptease was invented at Minskys Burlesque circa 1927. Any opportunities which might have opened up by this Stateside success were cut short when he had to return to London owing to a family crisis.

His subsequent career was largely confined to television and he also toured the world with his successful cabaret act.

He won critical acclaim in 1981 for his dramatic role of a dying cancer patient in the play Going Gently. On 11th February 1987 Norman Wisdom was the subject of Thames television's 'This Is Your Life' for the second time.

He became prominent again in the 1990's when helped by the young comedian Lee Evans, whose act was heavily influenced by Wisdom's work. The highpoint of this new popularity was the knighthood which he received in 1999 from Queen Elizabeth II and after he was knighted, true to his accident-prone persona, he couldn't resist pretending to trip off the platform on his way out.

Also in the 1990s he appeared in the recurring role of Billy Ingleton in the long-running BBC comedy Last Of the Summer Wine. He also appeared in the Detective Series called “The last Detective” which also starred Peter Davidson.

In 2004 he made a cameo appearance in Coronation Street playing fitness fanatic pensioner Ernie Crabbe

Norman Wisdom is a well-known and loved Film Icon especially in Albania and was the only Western actor whose films were allowed in the country during the Communist Dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. He is known as "Mr. Pitkin" in Albania, after the character he played in his films. The archetypal Wisdom plot where the common working man gets the better of his bosses was considered ideologically sound by Hoxha. In 1995 he visited the post-Stalinist country, where to his surprise he was greeted by many appreciative fans including the then-president of Albania, Sali Berisha. His fondness for Brighton & Hove Albion is renowned in Albania and subsequently there are many 'Seagulls' fans in Albania.

When England played Albania in 2001 during the World Cup qualifying round Norman Wisdom visited the England Team training ground where he was quickly surrounded by film fans including the England team of David Beckham, David James etc.

Norman Wisdom announced his retirement from the entertainment industry on his ninetieth birthday, on the 4th  February, 2005. He spent his retirement spending more time with his family, playing golf and driving around the Isle of Man where he now lives (being a neighbour of John Rhys-Davies from Sliders).

In mid-2006 he was admitted to hospital after he suffered an irregular heart rhythm. He was in hospital for a few days after he was fitted with a pacemaker device to steady his heartbeat.

In 2007 he made his return to acting in the independent movie Expresso, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on the 27th May.

List of Films:

·       1948: A Date with a Dream

·       1948-50: Wit and Wisdom (TV)

·       1953: Trouble in Store

·       1954: One Good turn

·       1955: As Long as They're Happy

·       1955: Man of the Moment

·       1956: Up in the World

·       1957: Just My Luck

·       1958: The Square Peg

·       1959: Follow a Star

·       1960: There Was a Crooked Man

·       1960: The Bulldog Breed

·       1962: On the Beat

·       1962: The Girl on The Boat

·       1963: A Stitch in Time

·       1965: The Early Bird

·       1966: The Sandwich Man

·       1966: Press for Time

·       1967: Androcles and the Lion (TV)

·       1968: The Night They Raided Minsky's (The Night They Invented Striptease)

·       1969: What's Good for the Goose (Girl Trouble)

·       1970: Norman (TV)

·       1970: Music Hall (TV)

·       1973: Nobody Is Norman Wisdom (TV)

·       1974: A Little Bit of Wisdom (TV)

·       1981: BBC PlayHouse: Going Gently (TV)

·       1983: BBC Bergerac: "Almost Like a Holiday"(TV)

·       1988: The 1950s: Music, Memories & Milestones (TV)

·       1992: Double X: The Name of the Game (Double X, Run Rabbit Run)

·       1995: Last of The Summer Wine (TV): episode "The Man Who Nearly Knew Pavarotti"

·       1996: Last Of The Summer Wine (TV): episode "Extra, Extra!"

·       1998: Where on Earth Is ... Katy Manning (TV)

·       2000: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "The Coming of the Beast"

·       2002: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "A Musical Passing for a Miserable Muscroft"

·       2002  Dalziel and Pascoe (TV): episode "Mens Sana"

·       2003: The Last Detective – episode called “Lofty Brock”

·       2004: Coronation Street (TV)

·       2004: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "Variations on a Theme of the Widow Winstanley".

·       2007: Expresso – Film. Plays himself Sir Norman Wisdom.

·       2008: Evil calls – Film.  Plays Winston Llamata.

·       2010: Labrats – Film. Voice over of a mouse called Scaredy. ( Still in Post Production )  


Music by Norman Wisdom

➢     I Would Like to Put on Record

➢     Jingle Jangle

➢     The Very Best of Norman Wisdom

➢     Androcles and the Lion

➢     Where's Charley?

➢     Wisdom of a Fool

➢     Nobody's Fool

➢     Follow a Star

➢     1957 Original Chart Hits

➢     Follow a Star/Give Me a Night in June

➢     Happy Ending/The Wisdom Of A Fool

➢     Big in Albania - One Hit Wonderland


Sir Norman Wisdom, after suffering various strokes in the last 6 months of his life, died at 6-40 pm on Monday 4th October 2010 still living on his favourite Island - the Isle Of Man.


7th Century to Swinging Naughties - British Icons


England and Britain are famous worldwide for its many British Icons from Boudeca, Queen Chief of the Iceni Tribe, Football, Mini Skirt to the Mini Car and I thought I would tell its British history and list some of the most famous Icons from the 7th Century to the present day. British Icon's have dominated the world with British Royalty, British Music, British Fashion, British Movie Stars, British Saints, British Buildings and British Sports.

The UK, Great Britain, Albion, this Sceptred Isle - however you refer to this small island perched up on the north western edge of the European continent, one thing that is undeniable is that nowhere else on Earth, from any country, has there been such a massive global impact.

Whether in the form of symbols of power as with the British Union Flag, in the guise of the person as with W. Churchill or Princess Diana, or in the form of chic design, as with the mini and mini-skirt in the Swinging Sixties, The Beatles, or the simple yet powerful Oasis logo from the Britpop era of the Nineties, British icons have been at both the forefront and in the background of history, decorating the past and how we perceive it.

In taking a closer look at our British Icons and history, hopefully you can gain a better understanding of the United Kingdom, its people, and what makes us tick.

Below is a list of my favourite British Icons:

King Alfred The Great
Boudeca, Queen Chief of the Iceni Tribe
3) King Edward the Confessor ( I am Related to )
4) Queen Elizabeth the 1st
5) Queen Victoria
6) Queen Elizabeth the 2nd
7) William Shakespeare
8) Charles Dickens
9) Agatha Christie ( Author of Miss Marple and Poiret )
10) J.K Rowling ( Author of the Harry Potter Books )
11) Sir Terry Pratchett ( Author of the Disc World Books )
12) James Herbert ( Horror Story writer of many novels including The Rats )
13) Sir Christopher Wren ( I am related to )
13b) Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel
13c) James Watt ( Inventor of the Steam Engine )
13d) George Stevenson ( Inventor of the Steam Train )
13e) Sir Isaac Newton
13f) Charles Darwin
14) Rudyard Kipling ( Author of the Jungle Book )
14b) H.G. Wells ( Author of The Time Traveller )
14c) Arthur Conan Doyle ( Author of Sherlock Holmes )
14d) Bram Stoker ( Author of Count Dracula )
14e) Mary Shelley ( Author of Frakenstein )
14) Sir Walter Raleigh
15) Sir Francis Drake
16) Duke Of Marlborough
17) Admiral Lord Nelson
18) Duke of Wellington
19) Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
20) Robert Walpole, 1st. Earl of Orford ( Regarded as the first Prime Minister in the modern sense );
21) William The Pit The Younger ( introduced the first Income tax )
22) Charles Grey, The Earl Grey ( restriction of employment of children; reform of the poor Laws, abolition of Slavery )
23) Sir Robert Peel ( Created the first National Police Force )
24) Edward Smith -Stanley, The Earl Derby. ( Father of the Conservative party ).
25) Benjamin Disraeli ( Queen Victoria's favorite Prime Minister )
26) Sir Winston Churchill ( Saviour of the world by defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Japanese Emporer )
27) Lady Margarat Thatcher ( First female prime minister and creator of Privatisation ).
28) The 1966 England World Cup Winning Team
29) The Portsmouth F.Cup Winning Team from 2008
30) Sir Ian Botham
31) David Beckham
32) Lord Sebastian Coe
33) Steve Ovett
34) Virginia Wade
35) David Bedford
36) Johnny Wilkinson
37) Torvil and Dean
38) Jennifer Ennis
39) Dame Kelly Holmes
40) Freddie Mercury
41) Elton John
42) Queen
43) Electric Light Orchestra ( ELO )
44) The Beatles
45) Annie Lennox
45b) Pink Floyd
45c) Genesis
46d) The Spice girls
46) Tom Baker
47) Lord Olivier
48) Sir Roger Moore
49) Cary Grant
50) Peter Davidson
51) John Pertwee


British Sports and Other Icons Given To the World



England Football Team

Portsmouth F. C. ( My Favorite Football Club - Pompey )

Sheffield F.C 1857 ( The Oldest Football Club In The World )

Wembley Stadium and Football Association ( Home of Football )

Wimbledon Tennis Championship ( Home of Tennis )

Saint Andrews ( Home Of Golf )

Lords Cricket Ground ( Home of Cricket )

The Jockey Club ( Home of Horse Racing )

Sebastian Coe

Steve Ovett

Steven Redgrave

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

David Beckham

George Best

Lester Piggett

Lewis Hamilton

Ian Botham


Andrew Flintoff

The England 1966 World Cup Winning Football Team


Football / Soccer

English Premier League

American Football - Adapted from English Rugby

Rugby League

Rugby Union





The Boat Race





Table Tennis



Baseball - Adapted from Rounders and Softball

Modern Olympic Games Held from 1846 Village of Wenlock  by Dr. William Penny Brookes

Horse Racing


Show Jumpingarts

Modern Archery

Bar Billiards

Shove A Ha'penny



Yachting and Sailing



Real Tennis

Hovercraft Racing

Field Hockey

Ten Pin




Pigeon Racing

Greyhound Racing

Stag Hunting

Fox Hunting

Otter Hunting


Formula One ( The First Ever Formula One race was Held in England in 1948 )


A to Z British Games and Icons

British Games

Card Sharp




Crossword Puzzles

Jigsaw Puzzles



Snakes and ladders


Shove Ha'penny

Shoffe Groat

Aunt Sally

Ringing The Bull

Slide thrift



3 Mens Morris


Shut the box




Bat and Ball

Pitch Penny

Toad in Hole


English Morris Dancing

The Valentine Card

William Wordsworth

Oxford University 1096

Cambridge University 1209

Haggis - A Dish first seen in a English Receipe Book from 1615 and loved by the Scots

London Hansom Black Cab

First British canal in AD50

Double Decker Buses ( Routemasters )

History of British Post Box

Histoy of British Telephone Box

Cludge Molliers

English Folk Songs

We British Invented the Fizz and Sparkle in Champagne

Scottish, Irish and English Kilts

History of London Stock Exchange

History of English Sterling Silver and Gold Hallmarks 1300 to present

English Language

English Peoples

British Peoples

Welsh Peoples

Irish Peoples

Scottish Peoples

Union Jack

A Compleat Angler by Charles Cotton and Izaac Walton

The Magna Carta

The Doomsday Book

Anglo Saxon Chronicles

English Jury Service

The English Sherriff

The King James Bible



Tower of London's Beefeaters or Yeoman of the Guard

Saint Georges Day Englands Patron Saint

Saint Andrews Day Scotlands Patron Saint

Saint Patrick's Day Ireland's Patron Saint ( Saint Patrick was an Englishman )

Saint Davids Day Welsh Patron Saint

Listing of All Other British Saints

The City of London ( survey found that over 350 languages are spoken in London Schools )

British Telephone Box

Augustus Pugin

Sir Charles Barry

Sir Christopher Wren ( I am a direct descendent )

Carnaby Street

The Iconic English Pub

Houses of Parliament and Big ben

Number 10 Downing Street

Buckingham Palace

Windsor Castle

Oxford Street

Regent Street


London Theatreland


The London Eye

Madame Tussaud Waxworks Museum

Tower Of London

Windsor Castle

Whitechapel ( aka Where Jack The Ripper Killed. aka Mr Tumblety was the Ripper )


To find out more about these British Icons can I suggest to find out more please enter any of the above Icons into a search engine.

Swinging Sixties – British Fashion Designers


As the swinging sixties is famous worldwide for many things British including Fashion I thought I would tell its history and mention some of the most famous names in British fashion. At the start of the 60's, skirts were knee-length, but steadily became shorter and shorter until the mini-skirt emerged in 1965. By the end of the decade they had shot well above the stocking top, making the transition to tights inevitable.

Many of the radical changes in fashion developed in the streets of London, with such gifted designers as Mary Quant (known for launching the mini skirt) and Barbara Hulanicki (the founder of the legendary boutique Biba). After designer Mary Quant introduced the mini-skirt in 1964, fashions in the 1960s were changed forever. The mini skirt was eventually to be worn by nearly every stylish young female in the western world.

The main outlets for these new young fashion designers were small boutiques, selling outfits that were not exactly 'one-offs', but were made in small quantities in a limited range of sizes and colors. However, not all designers took well to the new style and mood.

The basic shape and style of the time was simple, neat, clean cut, and young. Synthetic fabrics were very widely-used during the Sixties. They took dyes easily and well, giving rise to colors that were both clear and bright, very much mirroring the mood of the period. Hats suffered a great decline and by the end of the decade they were relegated to special occasions only. Lower kitten heels were a pretty substitute to stilettos. Pointed toes gave way to chisel shaped toes in 1961 and to an almond toe in 1963. Flat boots also became popular with very short dresses in 1965 and eventually they rose up the leg and reached the knee.

The principal change in menswear in the '60s was in the weight of the fabric used. The choice of materials and the method of manufacture produced a suit that, because it was lighter in weight, had a totally different look, with a line that was closer to the natural shape of the body, causing men to look at their figures more critically. The spread of jeans served to accelerate a radical change in the male wardrobe. Young men grew their hair down to their collars and added a touch of color, and even floral motifs, to their shirts.

The polo neck never succeeded in replacing the tie, but the adoption of the workman's jacket in rough corduroy. As the suits drifted away from pale, toned shades, menswear was now bright and colourful. It included frills and cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots and even collarless jackets. Ties were worn even five inches wide, with crazy prints, stripes and patterns. Casual dress consisted of plaid button down shirts with comfortable slacks.

The hippie movement late in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies' clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.

In the early to mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both sexes changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade. The leaders of  1960s style were the British. The Mods were characterized by their choice of style different from the 1950s and revealed new fads that would be imitated by many young people. As a level of the middle social class known as the Mods, controlled the ins and outs of fashion in London, 1960s fashion set the mode for the rest of the century as it became marketed mainly to youth. Modernists formed their own way of life creating television shows and magazines that focused directly on the lifestyles of Mods.

British rock bands such as The Who, The Small Faces and The Kinks emerged from the Mod subculture. The Mods were known for the Modern Jazz they listened to as they showed their new styles off at local cafes. They worked at the lower end of the work force, usually nine to five jobs leaving time for clothes, music, and clubbing. It was not until 1964 when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public that women really were accepted in the group. Girls had short, clean haircuts and often dressed in similar styles to the male Mods. The Mods' lifestyle and musical tastes were the exact opposite of their rival group known as the.

The rockers liked 1950s rock-and roll, wore black leather jackets, greased, pompadour hairstyles, and rode motorbikes. The look of the Mods was classy; they mimicked the clothing and hairstyles of high fashion designers in France and Italy; opting for tailored suits, which were topped by anoraks that became their trademark. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. The Mods dress style was often called the City Gent look. Shirts were slim, with a necessary button down collar accompanied by slim fitted pants. Levi's were the only type of jeans worn by Modernists. Flared trousers and bellbottoms led the way to the hippie stage introduced in the 1960s. Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.

Carnaby Street and Chelsea's Kings Road were virtual fashion parades. In 1966, the space age was gradually replaced by the Edwardian, with the men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars, and their hair worn below the collar bone.

Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones epitomised this "dandified" look. Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby, Penelope Tree and Veruschka. Velvet mini dresses with lace-collars and matching cuffs, wide tent dresses and culottes had pushed aside the geometric shift.

False eyelashes were in vogue, as was pale lipstick. Hemlines kept rising, and by 1968 they had reached well above mid-thigh. These were known as "micro-minis". This was when the "angel dress" made its appearance on the fashion scene. A micro-mini dress with a flared skirt and long, wide trumpet sleeves, it was usually worn with patterned tights, and was often made of crocheted lace, velvet, chiffon or sometimes cotton with a psychedelic print.

The cowled-neck "monk dress" was another religion-inspired alternative; the cowl could be pulled up to be worn over the head. For evening wear, skimpy chiffon baby-doll dresses with spaghetti-straps were the mode as well as the "cocktail dress", which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves. Feather boas were occasionally worn.

By 1968, the androgynous hippie look was in style. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, workshirts, and headbands. Wearing sandals was also part of the hippie look for both men and women. Women would often go barefoot, and some even went braless.

Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, Mexican peasant blouses, gypsy-style skirts, scarves, and bangles were also worn by teenage girls and young women. Indian prints, batik and paisley were the fabrics preferred. For more conservative women, there were the "lounging" or "hostess" pyjamas. These consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, and were usually made of polyester or chiffon.

Another popular look for women and girls which lasted well into the early 1970s was the suede mini-skirt worn with a French polo-neck top, square-toed boots and Newsboy Cap or beret. Long maxi coats, often belted and lined in sheepskin, appeared at the close of the decade. Animal Prints were also popular for women in the autumn and winter of 1969. Women's shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of "Woodstock" came about in this generation.

The late 1960 produced a style categorized of people whom promoted sexual liberation and favored a type of politics reflecting "peace, love and freedom". Ponchos, mocassins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed "bubble" sleeves were additional trends in the late 1960s.

New materials other than cloth (such as polyester and PVC) started to become more popular as well.

Starting in 1967, the Mod culture began to embrace reggae music and its working class roots. The new urban fashion known as Skinhead was born.

Swinging Sixties  ( London ) – British Iconic Music


At the start of the 60's, British Music was just emerging from obscurity with Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, Adam Faith beginning to become known worldwide. By the end of the decade British Music dominated the world with The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones etc. One of the stories told by George Harrison was the story that when the Beatles were first in the USA they visited “Elvis” at his home and which ended with Elvis and the Beatles Jamming together. That must have been one of the coolest musical sessions ever.

As the swinging sixties London is famous worldwide for many things British including Music I thought I would tell its history and list some of the most famous names in British Music.

Swinging London was underway by the mid-1960s, and included music by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces and other artists from what was known by America as the “British Invasion” as well as the growing popularity of Psychedelic Rock as Jimi Hendrick being represented as a cultural icon, supported by British bands like Cream and early Pink Floyd. This music was heard in the United Kingdom over pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, Wonderful Radio London and Swinging Radio England.

On December 10th , 1963 the Walter Cronkite ran a story about the Beatlemania phenomenon in the United Kingdom. After seeing the report, 15 year old Marsha Albert of Maryland wrote a letter the following day to disc jockey Carroll James at radio station WWDC asking "why can't we have music like that here in America?".

On December 17th  James had Albert introduce “I Want to Hold Your Hand" live on the air, the first airing of a Beatles song in the United States. WWDC's phones lit up and Washington, D.C. area record stores were flooded with requests for a record they did not have in stock.

On December 26th Capitol Records released the record three weeks ahead of schedule. The release of the record during a time when teenagers were on vacation helped spread Beatlemania in America.

On January 18th , 1964, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” reached number one on the cash Box chart, the following week it did the same on Billboard.

On February 7th  the CBS Evening News ran a story about The Beatles' United States arrival that afternoon in which the correspondent said "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania". Two days later (Sunday, February 9th ) they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy five percent of Americans watching television that night viewed their appearance.

On April 4th  the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the only time to date that any act has accomplished this. The group's massive chart success continued until they broke up in 1970.

Dusty Springfield, having launched a solo career, became the first non-Beatle act during the invasion to have a major U.S. hit with “I only Want to be With You”. She followed with several other hits and has been described by Allmusic as the finest white soul music singer of her era.

During the next two years, Chad & Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and The Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mind-benders, Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs and Donovan would have one or more number one singles. Other acts that were part of the invasion included The Kinks and The dave Clark Five. British Invasion acts also dominated the music charts at home in the United Kingdom.

The Dave Clark Five was the first British Invasion group to formally tour the United States (in the Spring of 1964). The group was considered the main competitor to The Beatles.

The DC5 made its first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on March 8, 1964, shortly after The Beatles. The DC5 made more appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show than any other British Invasion band.

British Invasion artists played in styles now categorized either as blues-based rock music or as guitar-driven rock/pop. A second wave of the invasion occurred featuring acts such as The Who and The Zombies which were influenced by the invasion's pop side and American rock music.

The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night and fashions from Carnaby Street led American media to proclaim England as the center of the music and fashion world.

The emergence of a relatively homogeneous worldwide "rock" music style about 1967 marked the end of the "invasion".

A Second Invasion occurred during the 1980s consisting of acts primarily popularized by the cable music channel MTV which was dominated by British Music video's by Queen, Duran Duran etc. While acts with a wide variety of styles were part of the invasion, New Wave and New Wave-influenced acts predominated.

The New Romantics – 1980's London Music


During the late 1970's Punk Rock became popular and those of us who were fans of Disco ignored punk rock as a passing fad.  In the late 1970's and early 1980's as an alternative to Punk a new type of music appeared in London called The New Romantics. They could be identified by their Big hair and make up – both Men and Women. It was often associated with the New Wave music scene that had become popular during that time. It has seen several revivals since then, and continues to influence popular culture.


Developing in London nightclubs such as Billy's and The Blitz, the movement was associated with bands such as Visage, Culture Club, Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Duran Duran, Japan and Spandau Ballet.


Other artists, such as Brian Eno and Roxy Music had significant influence on the movement. The term New Romantic was coined by Richard James Burgess in an interview with reference to Spandau Ballet.


As a whole, the movement was largely a response to the ethos and style of early punk rock, which had been enjoying widespread popularity around this time. Although punk initially had great appeal as a vehicle of self-expression and entertainment, by the final days of the 1970s, some had felt that it had lost its original excitement and degenerated into an overly political and bland movement instead. The New Romantic image ultimately sought to contrast with the austerity of punk as a whole by celebrating artifice in music and culture as opposed to rejecting it.


New Romantic music is influenced by many genres such as Disco, Rock, R&B and early  electronic pop music. Since the New Romantic movement began in and was largely based in nightclubs, a great amount of the music associated with the movement was meant to be suitable for dancing. Glam rock acts of the 1970s such as David Bowie (whose 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes" was influenced by and considered a New Romantic anthem Roxy Music and Brian Eno have been cited as major influences on the music and image the bands. Kraftwork, a German band pioneering electronic music, also heavily impacted many of the artists.

Since each of the bands associated with the movement took a different approach to their music, it is difficult to define what constitutes New Romantic music. Contrasting with the punk rock which was popular at the peak of the movement, New Romantic music tends to be elaborate and highly stylized. The musical structures are usually consistent with those of pop music, as are the lyrics, which are often very emotional, which deal with themes such as love, dancing, history, the future and technology. The lyrics of New Romantic music also tend to be far more apolitical than those of punk rock or other songs written in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Many of the bands featured synthesizers and electronic drums or drum machines in their music, often alongside bass and lead guitar. While some bands such as Ultravox or Duran Duran consciously synthesized rock and electronic elements, others such as Culture Club or Spandau Ballet drew greater influence from R&B and soul music while still employing electronic instrumentation, albeit to a lesser extent.

Some bands, such as Visage, made music that was almost entirely electronic; often many early British electronic bands such as the Human League and Depeche Mode have been connected to the New Romantic movement, although some sources, sometimes including the individual members of such bands, deny the association.

During the last 25 years the New Romantic's music scene has been active and in the charts on a regular basis – Duran Duran is an example as a group who still release new music.

World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar


As football is England's favourite sport and is called England's national game I thought I would write about the World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar who was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, England on 2nd June 1857.


It has recently come to light that Elgar wrote music to the world's first football chant for his favourite football team Wolverhampton Wanderers which was called “He Banged The leather for Goal” ( The Leather was shorthand for the Football which was made of leather and if you tried to head it when wet, it nearly took your head off )!! Elgar went to his first football match in February 1898 and became hooked on the atmosphere and the football and became a fan of Wolves for the rest of his life.


Edward Elgar was an English Composer who was famous for his orchestral works including the “Land of Hope and Glory”, “Enigma Variations”, the “Pomp and Circumstance Marches”, “concertos for violin and cello” and two symphonies. He also composed oratorios, including “The Dream of Gerontius”, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the Kings Musick in 1924.


Despite the fluctuating critical assessment of the various works over the years, Elgar's major works taken as a whole have in the twenty-first century recovered strongly from their neglect in the 1950s. The Record Guide in 1955 could list only one currently-available recording of the First Symphony, none of the Second, one of the Violin Concerto, two of the Cello Concerto, two of the Enigma Variations, one of Falstaff, and none of The Dream of Gerontius. Since then there have been multiple recordings of all the major works. More than thirty recordings have been made of the First Symphony since 1955, for example, and more than ten of The Dream of Gerontius. Similarly in the concert hall, Elgar's works, after a period of neglect are once again frequently programmed. The Elgar Society's website, in its diary of forthcoming performances, lists performances of Elgar's works by orchestras, soloists and conductors across Europe, North America and Australia.


Edward Elgar died on the 23rd February 1934.


Elgar's statue at the end of Worcester High Street stands facing the cathedral, only yards from where his father's shop once stood. Another statue of the composer is at the top of Church Street in Malvern, overlooking the town and giving visitors an opportunity to stand next to the composer in the shadow of the Hills that he so often regarded. In September 2005, a third statue sculpted by Jemma Pearson was unveiled near Hereford Cathedral in honour of his many musical and other associations with that city. It features Elgar with his bicycle.

Village of Wenlock, England – A Modern Olympic Games - 1850


Before the Modern Olympics began there was an Olympics in the Village of Wenlock, Shropshire, England which was run by Dr. William Penny Brookes from 1850 and every year therafter. He has been widely recognised as the founding father of the modern Olympic Games, but surprisingly not that many people are aware of him or his remarkable life. We in Britain have given the World over 100 Sports and Games and the Wenlock Olympics are still held every year.


In 1850, the Agricultural Reading Society resolved to establish a class called "The Olympian Class", "for the promotion of the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock and especially of the working classes, by the encouragement of outdoor recreation, and by the award of prizes annually at public meetings for skill in Athletic exercise and proficiency in Intellectual and industrial attainments".


The first meeting was held in October 1850, and included athletics and country sports such as quoits, football and cricket. The event quickly expanded, and within a few years attracted competitors from as far away as London and Liverpool.


When the first Wenlock Olympian Games were staged in 1859, there was heavy criticism of Brookes' insistence that the Games be open to "every grade of man". It was felt that such an event would cause rioting, lewd behavior, and that men would leave their wives. Brookes tirelessly avoided requests to limit the Games to only the pupils of public schools and the sons of professionals. The Games were a huge success and none of the threatened disturbances occurred.


In 1859, Brookes established contact with the organisers of an Olympic Games revival in Athens sponsored by Evangelis Zappas. In 1860, the Class officially became the Wenlock Olympian Society, adopted some of the athletics events from the Athens games, and added them to their program. The first athlete to be listed on the honor roll of the Society was Petros Velissariou (an ethnic Greek from Smyrna, in the Ottoman Empire who was one of the first international Olympians.


In 1865, Brookes helped establish the National Olympian Association (NOA) based in Liverpool. Their first Olympic Games, a national event, held in 1866 at the Crystal Palace, London, was a success and attracted a crowd of over 10,000 spectators. W.G. Grace, the famous cricketer (before he became famous), competed and came first in the hurdles event. The Amateur Athletic Club, later to become the Amateur Athletics Association was formed as a rival organisation to the NOA.


In 1877, he requested an Olympian prize from Greece in honour of Queen Victoria'sjubilee. In response, King George I of Greecee sent a silver cup which was presented at the National Olympian Games held in Shrewsbury. This brought Brookes into contact with the Greek government, but his attempts to organise an international Olympian Festival in Athens in 1881 failed.


In 1889, he invited Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the organizer of an International Congress on Physical Education, to Much Wenlock. Meetings between William Penny Brookes and Baron Pierre de Coubertain took place at The Raven Hotel (as did the feast which concluded each year’s Olympian Games), and today in The Raven Hotel there are displayed many artefacts from those early years, including original letters from Baron Pierre de Coubertain to William Penny Brookes. A meeting of the Wenlock Olympian Games was held in de Coubertin's honour in 1890, with much pageantry. On his return to France, de Coubertin gave a glowing account of his stay in an article, "Les Jeux Olympiques à Much Wenlock", and referred to his host's efforts to revive the Olympics.


He wrote: "If the Olympic Games that Modern Greece has not yet been able to revive still survives today, it is due, not to a Greek, but to Dr W P Brookes.


Dr. W.P. Brookes died four months before the Athens 1896 Olympic Games, under the auspices of the IOC which was held in Athens in 1896.

The Wenlock Olympian Society maintains his original ideals, and continues to organise annual games. The William Brookes School in Much Wenlock is named after him.

Sir Isaac Newton – Iconic Scientist


One of England's greatest Icons is Sir Isaac Newton the discoverer of the equation of gravity. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), mathematician and physicist was one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. Born at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire in 1642, where he attended school. Many years ago at school I was taught the story that Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree (Which is still there today) in his garden when he saw a falling apple.


He conceived that the same force governed the motion of the Moon and the apple. He calculated the force needed to hold the Moon in its orbit, as compared with the force pulling an object to the ground. This eventually became the book “Principia”.


He also calculated the centripetal force needed to hold a stone in a sling, and the relation between the length of a pendulum and the time of its swing. These early explorations were not soon exploited by Newton, though he studied astronomy and the problems of planetary motion.


Book I of the Principia states the foundations of the science of mechanics, developing upon them the mathematics of orbital motion round centres of force. Newton identified gravitation as the fundamental force controlling the motions of the celestial bodies. He never found its cause. To contemporaries who found the idea of attractions across empty space unintelligible, he conceded that they might prove to be caused by the impacts of unseen particles.

Book II inaugurates the theory of fluids: Newton solves problems of fluids in movement and of motion through fluids. From the density of air he calculated the speed of sound waves.

Book III shows the law of gravitation at work in the universe: Newton demonstrates it from the revolutions of the six known planets, including the Earth, and their satellites. However, he could never quite perfect the difficult theory of the Moon's motion. Comets were shown to obey the same law; in later editions, Newton added conjectures on the possibility of their return. He calculated the relative masses of heavenly bodies from their gravitational forces, and the oblateness of Earth and Jupiter, already observed. He explained tidal ebb and flow and the precession of the equinoxes from the forces exerted by the Sun and Moon. All this was done by exact computation.

Newton's work in mechanics was accepted at once in Britain, and universally after half a century. Since then it has been ranked among humanity's greatest achievements in abstract thought. It was extended and perfected by others, notably Pierre Simon de Laplace, without changing its basis and it survived into the late 19th century before it began to show signs of failing. See Quantum Theory; Relativity.

Newton has been regarded for almost 300 years as the founding example of modern physical science, his achievements in experimental investigation being as innovative as those in mathematical research. With equal, if not greater, energy and originality he also plunged into chemistry, the early history of Western civilization, and theology; among his special studies was an investigation of the form and dimensions, as described in the Bible, of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.


Time line of Sir Iasaac Newton


1642 Born at Woolsthorpe, Nr. Grantham, Lincs.

1661 he entered Cambridge University.

1665-1666 was "the prime of my age for invention".

1667 He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

1669 became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

Until 1696 he remained at the university, lecturing in most years.

During two to three years of intense mental effort he prepared Philosophiae Naturalis Published in 1687 Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) commonly known as the Principia.

1696 he moved to London as Warden of the Royal Mint.

1699 he became Master of the Mint an office he retained to his death in 1727.

1671 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

1689 and again between 1701-1702 Newton was elected Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge to the Convention Parliament.

1703 he became President of the Royal Society.

1704 “Opticks” was published.

1705 was knighted in Cambridge.

1710), Newton published an incomplete theory of chemical force.

After Sir Isaac Newton's death in 1727 he had posthumously published his writings which included: The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728), The System of the World (1728), the first draft of Book III of the Principia, and Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John (1733).


Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882


I thought it would be of interest to write this article about one of England's greatest scientist - Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.


Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury,Shropshire, England on 12th  February 1809 at his family home, the Mount. He was the fifth of six children of wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and Susannah Darwin (née Wedgwood). He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin on his father's side, and of Josiah Wedgwood on his mother's side. Both families were largely Unitarian, though the Wedgwood's were adopting Anglicanism.


Robert Darwin, himself quietly a freethinker, had baby Charles baptised in the Anglican Church, but Charles and his siblings attended the Unitarian chapel with their mother. The eight year old Charles already had a taste for natural history and collecting when he joined the day school run by its preacher in 1817. That July, his mother died. From September 1818, he joined his older brother Erasmus attending the nearby Anglican Shrewsbury School as a boarder.


Beginning on the 27th of December, 1831, the voyage lasted almost five years and, as Fitzroy had intended, Darwin spent most of that time on land investigating geology and making natural history collections, while the Beagle surveyed and charted coasts. He kept careful notes of his observations and theoretical speculations, and at intervals during the voyage his specimens were sent to Cambridge together with letters including a copy of his journal for his family. He had some expertise in geology, beetle collecting and dissecting marine invertebrates but in all other areas was a novice and ably collected specimens for expert appraisal. Despite repeatedly suffering badly from seasickness while at sea, most of his zoology notes are about marine invertebrates, starting with plankton collected in a calm spell.


His five year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russell Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.

He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origins of Species. The scientific community and much of the general public came to accept evolution as a fact during his lifetime.


It was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences which explained the diversity of life.


Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. In 1871, he examined human evolution. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence as a scientist, he was one of only five 19th-century UK non-royal personages to be honoured by a state funeral and is buried in Westminster Abbey close to John Herschel and Sir Isaac Newton.


Lady Godiva (1040-1080 AD) – An English Icon


One of the most unusual English Iconic stories is the story about Lady Godiva an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and her travel through Coventry on a horse with no clothes on in the 11th Century. The Countess Godiva, who was a great lover of God's mother, longed to free the town of Coventry from the oppression of a heavy toll.


She often said urgent prayers and besought her husband that, from regard to Jesus Christ and his mother, he would free the town from that service and from all other heavy burdens; and when the Earl sharply rebuked her for foolishly asking what was so much to his damage, and always forbade her evermore to speak to him on the subject; and while she, on the other hand, with a woman's pertinacity, never ceased to exasperate her husband on that matter, he at last made her this answer: "Mount your horse and ride naked, before all the people, through the market of this town from one end to the other, and on your return you shall have your request."

On which Godiva replied, "But will you give me permission if I am willing to do it?"

"I will," said he.

Whereupon the Countess, beloved of God, loosed her hair and let down her tresses, which covered the whole of her body like a veil, and then, mounting her horse and attended by two knights, she rode through the marketplace without being seen, except her fair legs, and having completed the journey, she returned with gladness to her astonished husband and obtained of him what she had asked, for Earl Leofric freed the town of Coventry and its inhabitants from the aforesaid service, and confirmed what he had done by a charter.

The above was sourced from Roger of Wendover (d. 1236), Chronica.


Godiva by Alfred Lord Tennyson

I waited for the train at Coventry;
I hung with grooms and porters on the bridge,
To watch the three tall spires; and there I shaped
The city's ancient legend into this:

Not only we, the latest seed of Time,
New men, that in the flying of a wheel
Cry down the past, not only we, that prate
Of rights and wrongs, have loved the people well,
And loathed to see them overtaxed; but she
Did more, and underwent, and overcame,
The woman of a thousand summers back,
Godiva, wife to that grim Earl, who ruled
In Coventry: for when he laid a tax
Upon his town, and all the mothers brought
Their children, clamoring, "If we pay, we starve!"
She sought her lord, and found him, where he strode
About the hall, among his dogs, alone,
His beard a foot before him and his hair
A yard behind. She told him of their tears,
And prayed him, "If they pay this tax, they starve."
Whereat he stared, replying, half-amazed,
"You would not let your little finger ache
For such as these?" -- "But I would die," said she.
He laughed, and swore by Peter and by Paul;
Then fillip'd at the diamond in her ear;
"Oh ay, ay, ay, you talk!" -- "Alas!" she said,
"But prove me what I would not do."
And from a heart as rough as Esau's hand,
He answered, "Ride you naked thro' the town,
And I repeal it;" and nodding, as in scorn,
He parted, with great strides among his dogs.

So left alone, the passions of her mind,
As winds from all the compass shift and blow,
Made war upon each other for an hour,
Till pity won. She sent a herald forth,
And bade him cry, with sound of trumpet, all
The hard condition; but that she would loose
The people: therefore, as they loved her well,
From then till noon no foot should pace the street,
No eye look down, she passing; but that all
Should keep within, door shut, and window barr'd.

Then fled she to her inmost bower, and there
Unclasp'd the wedded eagles of her belt,
The grim Earl's gift; but ever at a breath
She linger'd, looking like a summer moon
Half-dipt in cloud: anon she shook her head,
And shower'd the rippled ringlets to her knee;
Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From pillar unto pillar, until she reach'd
The Gateway, there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazon'd with armorial gold.

Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listen'd round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouth'd heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame; her palfrey's foot-fall shot
Light horrors thro' her pulses; the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less thro' all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flower'd elder-thicket from the field,
Gleam thro' the Gothic archway in the wall.

Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity;
And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
The fatal byword of all years to come,
Boring a little auger-hole in fear,
Peep'd -- but his eyes, before they had their will,
Were shrivel'd into darkness in his head,
And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancell'd a sense misused;
And she, that knew not, pass'd: and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
Was clash'd and hammer'd from a hundred towers,
One after one: but even then she gain'd
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crown'd,
To meet her lord, she took the tax away
And built herself an everlasting name.

 This above famous poem was written in 1842 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892).


English Spa Towns – Iconic Places


I thought as English Spa Towns are famous UK Wide but not World Wide I thought I would explain what a Spa Town is and where in England you can find Spa towns. As a snippet of information the city of "Bath" is a Spa Town (Also a City ) and where the word "Bath" originated.

A spa town (also called a bathing-place or simply a spa) is a town situated around a mineral spa (a developed mineral spring). Patrons resorted to spas to "take the waters" for their health benefits. The word comes from the Belgian town Spa. In continental Europe a spa was known as a ville d'eau (town of water). The term spa is used for towns or resorts offering hydrotherapy which can include cold water ormineral water treatments and hot thermal baths.

Some but not all British spa towns contain "Spa", "Wells", or "Bath" in their names, e.g.,Matlock Bath. Some towns are designated Spa Heritage Towns. Both English towns granted the title "Royal", Royal Leamington Spa and Royal Tunbridge Wells are spa towns. 


A List Of Spa Towns in England




Boston Spa (West Yorkshire)


Cheltenham Spa

Church Stretton

Dorton Spa

Droitwich Spa







Matlock Bath

Royal Leamington Spa

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Scarborough also called The Spa, Scarborough


Tenbury Wells

Woodhall Spa

To find out more about English Spa Towns just enter one of the above towns into Google to find out more about the Town of your choice.


Edward Somerset – English Inventor of The First Steam Engine 1653



I though as England has produced so many famous inventors and engineers I thought it may be of interest to write this short article on the world's first Steam Engine.

Edward Somerset (1601 –  1667)  was an English nobleman involved in royalist politics; he was also an inventor. In the book he authored in 1655 of over 100 inventions, the power and applications of what would become the steam engine are clearly described.


Edward Somerset  was a Cavalier who supported Charles I in Wales and raised a regiment of horse for him. His campaigning in the West of England and in Wales did not go well.

After a month with his force of over 2,000 troops encamped at Higham outside Gloucester in March 1643, Herbert decided to leave them as he travelled to meet the king at Oxford.

In his absence the entire force surrendered without any exchange of fire, earning it the title "The Mushroom Army". He was rewarded in 1644, however, with a peerage, being created Earl of Glamorgan and Baron Beaufort, of Caldecote. However, due to irregularities in the letteers patent these titles were not recognized after the Restoration.

Sent to Ireland, he made a false move in concluding a treaty, in great secrecy, on behalf of Charles that was considered to concede too much to the Catholics there; he himself was a Catholic. In extricating himself from that position, he became a close ally of Giovanni Battista Rinuccini and a potential replacement for James Butler as royalist leader.

His plans to bring Irish troops over to England were overtaken by events, and he left for France with George Leyburn. He succeeded his father as Marquess of Worcester in 1646.

He was formally banished in 1649, but after four years in Paris returned to England in 1653. He was discovered, charged with high treason and sent to the Tower of London he was treated leniently by the Council of State and released on bail in 1654. That year he took up again his interest in engineering and inventions, leasing a house at Vauxhall where his Dutch or German technician Kaspar Kalthoff could work. After this he largely avoided politics, and did not press his claims to the various other titles of nobility.

In 1655 he authored a book which consisted of textual descriptions of 100 separate inventions. It was eventually printed in 1663 and included a device described as his "Water-commanding Engine". Constructed from the barrel of a cannon it was an obvious prototype design for what would later become the steam engine which clearly anticipated the power and applications of that machine.

When Edward died he suggested that a model of his engine should be buried with him. Almost 200 years later in 1861, this prompted Victorian collector Bennet Woodcroft to mount an expedition, on behalf of The Science Museum to the vault of Raglan church, to try and find a model of the invention in Somerset's tomb. Despite opening the coffin lid and searching thoroughly, no model was found. Woodcroft did, however, return with one of Edward's fingers as a memento

The London Science Museum has plans of his "Water-commanding Engine" which shows it was a working steam engine for pumping water.


The First Steam Locomotive – England 1804 and First Steam Engine 1653 - England


As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of history of steam Locomotives I thought it may be of interest to write an article about the history of the earliest steam locomotive. The first full scale working railway steam locomotive was built by Richard Trevithick in the United Kingdom on 21st  February 1804 when the world's first railway journey took place as Trevithick's unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales.

This is different from the first Steam Engine which was first invented in 1653 by Edward Somerset (1601 –  1667)  was an English nobleman.

On Christmas Eve 1801 in West Cornwall, England an engineer called Richard Trevithick took his new steam car, ( or the "Puffing Devil" as it became known) out for its first test run. After a number of years research, Trevithick had developed a high-pressure engine powered by steam. His vehicle was no more than a boiler on 4-wheels but it took Trevithick and a number of his friends half a mile up a hill. The vehicle's principle feature was a cylindrical horizontal boiler and a single horizontal cylinder let into it. The piston propelled back and forth in the cylinder by pressure from the steam. This was linked by piston rod and connecting rod to a crankshaft bearing a large flywheel.

The vehicle was used for several journeys until it turned over on the unsuitable trails that were used for pack horses in Cornwall at that time. After having been righted, Trevithick and crew drove it back to Camborne and retired to a hostelry.

The water level dropped in the boiler and the fusible plug melted, sending a jet of steam into the furnace where it blew embers all around, setting fire to the surroundings and the wooden parts of the engine.

In 1802 a steam-powered coach designed by British engineer Richard Trevithick journeyed more than 160 km from Cornwall to London.

The "Puffing Dragon" was the world's first passenger car. Despite the disaster of losing his first vehicle, undeterred, Trevithick built a 3-wheeled steam carriage but this time complete with seats and a real carriage like appearance. In 1803, he drove it through London's Oxford Street on demonstration runs and reached speeds of 8-9 mph (13 - 14 km/h). Despite the runs, nobody was interested and so when he ran out of funds, he sold the power unit to a local Miller. Trevithick's vehicle was the first self-propelled carriage in the capital and in essence the first London bus.

Regular intercity bus services by steam-powered buses were also pioneered in England in the 1830s by Walter Hancock and by associates of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney among others, running reliable services over road conditions which were too hazardous for horse-drawn transportation. Steam carriages were much less likely to overturn, did not "run away with" the customer as horses sometimes did. They travelled faster than horse-drawn carriages (24 mph over four miles and an average of 12 mph over longer distances). They could run at a half to a third of the cost of horse-drawn carriages. Their brakes did not lock and drag like horse-drawn transport (a phenomenon that increased damage to roads).

According to engineers, steam carriages caused one-third the damage to the road surface as that caused by the action of horses' feet. Indeed, the wide tires of the steam carriages (designed for better traction) caused virtually no damage to the streets, whereas the narrow wheels of the horse-drawn carriages (designed to reduce the effort required of horses) tended to cause rutting.

However, the heavy road tolls imposed by the Turnpike Acts discouraged steam road vehicles and left the way clear for the horse bus companies, and from 1861 onwards, harsh legislation virtually eliminated mechanically-propelled vehicles altogether from the roads of Great Britain for 30 years, the Locomotive Act of that year imposing restrictive speed limits on "road locomotives" of 5 mph in towns and cities, and 10 mph in the country.

In 1865 the Locomotives Act of that year (the famous Red Flag Act) further reduced the speed limits to 4 mph in the country and just 2 mph in towns and cities, additionally requiring a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle. At the same time, the act gave local authorities the power to specify the hours during which any such vehicle might use the roads. The sole exceptions were street trams which from 1879 onwards were authorised under licence from the Board of Trade.


Howard Carter –  The Discoverer of Tutankhamen 


Howard Carter is famous for his discovery of Tutankhamen and as a great English icon I thought it would be of interest to write his history. Howard Carter was born at 10, Rich Terrace in Kensington, London on May 9th 1874. His father, Samuel John Carter, was an artist who specialized in animal paintings. Howard Carter's youth was spent in Swaffham in Norfolk where he also received a relatively modest private education.


Young Carter's talent for drawing and his interest in Egyptian antiquities took him to Egypt when he was still only seventeen, in the autumn of 1891. Over the years he became convinced that there was at least one undiscovered tomb, that of the almost unknown King Tutankhamen.

He was hired by the Egypt Exploration Fund in London to help P. E. Newberry with the epigraphic recording of tombs at Beni Hasan and El-Bersha, in Middle Egypt. In January 1892, he was also asked to join Flinders Petrie who excavated at El-Amarna, and this gave him invaluable archaeological experience. In 1893 he began on epigraphic recording of the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri as a member of an Egypt Exploration Fund expedition directed by Édouard Naville. This task, at which he excelled, occupied him until 1899.

At the beginning of 1900 Howard Carter was appointed Chief Inspector of Antiquities to the Egyptian Government with responsibilities for Upper Egypt. He stayed in this post until late in 1904 when he was moved to the post of Chief Inspector for Lower Egypt. But an unfortunate incident at Saqqara which resulted in a brawl between a party of arrogant Europeans and Egyptian employees of the Antiquities Service brought Carter's meteoric progress to an abrupt stop. Although not personally involved, he sided with his men, was transferred to a less important post in the Delta and eventually resigned from the Antiquities Service the following year. His professional career and his life were in serious crisis.

But a few years later Carter's luck changed.The Earl of Carnarvon, who visited Egypt for health reasons in 1905, became interested in Egyptian antiquities and decided to finance some archaeological work. The Antiquities Service, however, insisted that the work should be in the hands of an experienced archaeologist, and Carter seemed the best person available. The cooperation between an archaeologist and an English aristocrat with a passion for Egyptian archaeology which began in 1909 was, eventually, going to result in the greatest discovery in Egyptian archaeology.

The Carter-Carnarvon work was first centred on Thebes. In 1912 the work moved to the Delta but the results were rather disappointing. In 1914 Lord Carnarvon was able to secure a concession to excavate in the Valley of the Kings. But the outbreak of the First World War meant that any excavation had to be postponed until five short seasons, with little success, between the end of 1917 and March 1922.

The first steps leading into the tomb of Tutankhamen were found on November 4, 1922, only a few days after the beginning of a new season of excavations in the Valley of the Kings. The entrance to the tomb, with intact seals, was uncovered the following day, on November 5. Carter, accompanied by Lord Carnarvon, his daughter Lady Evelyn, Arthur Callender and Egyptian reises (foremen), had their first glimpse of the interior of the tomb on November 26th 1922. A few months after the tomb's opening, tragedy struck. Lord Carnarvon, 57, was taken ill and rushed to Cairo. He died a few days later. The exact cause of death was not known, but it seemed to be from an infection started by an insect bite on his face. Legend has it that when he died there was a short power failure and all the lights throughout Cairo went out. His son reported that back on his estate in England his favourite dog howled and suddenly dropped dead.

Even more strange, when the mummy of Tutankhamen was unwrapped in 1925, it was found to have a wound on the left cheek in the same exact position as the insect bite on Carnarvon that lead to his death.

The work on the clearance and recording of the contents of the tomb continued until the concession ran out in 1929 and during this year eleven people connected with the discovery of the Tomb had died early and of unnatural causes. This included two of Carnarvon's relatives, Carter's personal secretary, Richard Bethell, and Bethell's father, Lord Westbury. Westbury killed himself by jumping from a building. He left a note that read, "I really cannot stand any more horrors and hardly see what good I am going to do here, so I am making my exit “.

According to figures of the 22 people present when the tomb was opened in 1922, 6 had died by 1934 and Of the 22 people present at the opening of the sarcophagus in 1924, 2 died in the following ten years. Also ten people were there when the mummy was unwrapped in 1925 and all survived until at least 1934.

Many years later, Howard Carter, Egyptologist who earned world fame for his discovery and exploration, in association with the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, of the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, died in his London home on March 2nd 1939.


Sir Henry Wood – The Last Night Of The Proms


I thought the last night of the proms is such a English Icon I would tell it's history. The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of over 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Halll, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night of the proms.

Sir Henry Joseph Wood, (3 March 1869 – 19 August 1944) was an English conductor, forever associated with The Proms which he conducted for half a century. Founded in 1895, they became known after his death as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts" and are now the "BBC Proms". He had an enormous influence on musical life in Britain: he improved access immensely, and also raised the standard of orchestral playing and nurtured the taste of the public, introducing them to a vast repertoire of music, encouraging especially compositions by British composers. He was knighted in 1911.

The first Proms concert was held on 10th  August 1895 in the Queen's Hall in langham Place under the auspices of impresario Robert newman. Newman's idea was to encourage an audience for concert hall music who, though not normally attending classical concerts, would be attracted by the low ticket prices and more informal atmosphere. In addition to promenading, eating, drinking and smoking were all allowed. He stated his goal as follows:

"I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages. Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music."

With financial backing from the otolaryngologist Dr George Cathcart, Newman hired Henry Joseph Wood as the conductor for this series of concerts, called "Mr Robert Newman's Promenade Concerts". Wood built the "Queen's Hall Orchestra" as the ensemble devoted to performing the promenade concerts. Although the concerts gained a popular following and reputation, Newman went bankrupt in 1902, and the banker Edgar Speyer took over the expense of funding the concerts. In 1914 anti-german feeling forced Speyer out of his post. After Speyer, music publishers Chappell & Co. took control of the concerts.

Newman continued to work in the artistic planning of these promenade concerts until his sudden death in November 1926. With time, Wood became the name which was most closely associated with the concerts. As conductor from that first concert, Wood was largely responsible for expanding the repertoire heard in later concerts, such that by the 1920s the concerts had grown from being made up of largely more popular, less demanding works, to presenting music by contemporary composers such as Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss Ralph Vaughan Williams. A bronze bust of Wood, belonging to the Royal Academy of Music is placed in front of the Organ for the whole season. While now known as the BBC Proms, the text on the tickets (along with the headline "BBC Proms" next to the BBC logo), still says "BBC Music presents the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts'".

In 1927, the BBC — later based at Broadcasting House next to the hall—took over the running of the concerts. When the BBC Symhony Orchestra (BBC SO) was formed in 1930, it became the main orchestra for the concerts. At this time the season consisted of nights dedicated to particular composers; Mondays were Wagner, Fridays were Beethoven with other major composers being featured on other days. There were no Sunday performances.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the BBC withdrew its support. The Proms continued though, under private sponsorship, until the Queen's Hall was gutted by an air raid in 1941 (its site is now the St George's Hotel and BBC Henry Wood House). The following year, the Proms moved to their current home, the Royal Albert Hall, and the BBC took over once more. In 1944, however, increased danger to the Royal Albert Hall from bombing meant that the Proms moved again, this time to the Bedford Corn Exchange. This venue had been the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1941 and played host to the Proms until the end of the war. After the war, other orchestras were invited to perform in the Proms, such that the BBC SO was no longer the sole orchestra responsible for all Proms concerts.

Wood continued his work with the Proms until his death in 1944. In the years after the war, Sir Adrian Boult and Basil Cameron look on principal conducting duties for the Proms until the advent of Malcolm Sargent as Proms chief conductor in 1947. Sargent held this post until 1966. He was noted for his immaculate appearance (evening dress carnation) and his witty addresses where he good-naturedly chided the noisy Prommers. Sir Malcolm championed choral music and classical and British composers, especially Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The charity founded in his name, CLC Sargent continues to hold a special Promenade Concert each year shortly after the main season ends. CLIC Sargent, the Musician's Benevolent Fund and further musical charities (chosen each year) also benefit from thousands of pounds in donations from Prommers after most concerts. When asking for donations, Prommers from the Arena regularly announce to the audience the running donations total at concert intervals through the season, or before the concert when there is no interval.

In 2009 the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. In the context of classical music festivals. The Proms has been described as "the world's largest and most democratic musical festival".

Toad In The Hole – English History and Recipe

I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the famous and traditional English recipe with a weird name – “Toad In The Hole”. This is a recipe of Batter and Sausages baked in an oven. The origin of the name "Toad-in-the-Hole" is often disputed. Many suggestions are that the dish's resemblance to a Toad sticking its head out of a hole provide's the dish with its somewhat unusual name.

Nowadays this British dish typically consists of sausage cooked in batter, but in its earliest incarnations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (when it was usually called toad in a hole) various cuts of meat were used. Mrs. Beeton, for instance, used steak and kidney, and recipes recommending the finest fillet steak are to be found, but often enough toad in the hole was a repository for leftovers. Even today lamb chops are occasionally found lurking in batter, and sausage toad' is the unappetizing colloquialism that distinguishes the orthodox version.


Toad in the hole...provokes historical questions of exceptional interest. What are the origins of the dish and how did it get its name? Enquiries are best commenced from two starting points. The first is that batter puddings (whether baked in the oven by themselves or cooked under the spit or jack in the drippings falling from a joint--in the latter case they could be classed as Yorkshire pudding) only began to be popular in the early part of the 18th century.


Jennifer Stead's essay is the best reference for studying the complex historical questions regarding batter pudding and Yorkshire pudding.


The second is that the earliest recorded reference in print to toad in the hole occurs in a provincial glossary of 1787, quoted by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as saying: the dish called toad in a hole meat boiled in a crust.' That gives the name, but the technique is different form that subsequently established...Mrs. Beeton (1861) describes the dish as homely but savoury


A wartime variation on the original uses pieces of Spam in place of sausages.

The recipe itself is rather simple. A pan is placed into the oven and heated for about 15 minutes while the batter is prepared. The sausages and batter are added and cooked for half an hour. With frozen sausages, the meat is placed into the dish while heated. It is normally accompanied by gravy (often onion gravy), vegetables, chips or mashes potato's.


Recipe for Toad – In – The - Hole


This very objectionable title enables me to usher in to your special notice a dish possessing some claims to consideration, when prepared with care as follows: viz., —cut up about two pounds of tender steak or ox-kidney, or half of each, into rather thick collops about three inches in diameter; season with pepper and salt; fry them over a sharp fire, merely to brown them without their being done through; place the collops in neat order in a buttered pie-dish; detach the brown glaze from the bottom of the pan in which you have fried the beef, with gravy or water, and a little catsup, and pour the residue to the collops in the dish; then add a well-prepared batter for Yorkshire pudding, (see elsewhere on the recipe section -we have included Mrs Beetons recipe on the site instead as its better), gently poured upon the meat, bake for about an hour, and serve while quite hot. This excellent old English dish will occasionally prove a welcome addition to the dinner-table of paterfamilias.

by Charles Elme Francatelli (1805-1876)


Bubble and Squeak – English Recipe and History


I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the famous British recipe – Bubble and Squeak which is a really tasty meal of fried leftovers. There is a fine example of metaphorical ‘Bubble and Squeak’ and eighteenth century wit in an article in The Mid-Wife: or, the old woman’s magazine, by Christopher Smart, 1753 - which is certainly not a cookery magazine. The second quotation cited for the actual dish is in 1772 but there are earlier references to the figurative use of the phrase, so the dish was undoubtedly being made well before this time all over England.


Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The chief ingredients are potato and cabbage but carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables can be added. It is traditionally served with cold meat from the Sunday Roast and pickles. Traditionally, the meat was added to the bubble and squeak itself, although nowadays it is more commonly made without meat. The cold chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides.

The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds made as it cooks. The name bubble and squeak is used throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and other Commonwealth countries. It may also be understood in parts of the United States. In the UK the dish may sometimes be referred to as bubble or bubble and scrape.

Bubble and squeak was a popular dish during World War 11 as it was an easy way of using leftovers during a period when most foods were subject to rationing. In more recent times, pre-prepared frozen and tinned versions have become available.


Bubble and Squeak Ingredients

450g/1lb potatoes, unpeeled
salt and pepper
70g/2 1/2 oz butter
125g/4oz Cabbage - shredded                                                                                                        125g/4oz Carrots - shredded                                                                                                            125g/4oz  Brussels Sprouts – shredded                                                                          125g/4oz  Peas
3 tbsp water
3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped

Cook the potatoes for 25 minutes in a pan of lightly salted boiling water, then drain, peel and dice.

Place them in a bowl with 55g/2oz of the butter and mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place the cabbage, water and remaining butter in a large heavy based saucepan and cover. Cook gently for 10 minutes, or until tender. Mix the Cabbage, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Peas and mashed potato together and season with a drop of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Heat half the Sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the potato and cabbage vegetable mixture and press down with the back of a wooden spoon to make a flat, even cake.

Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes until golden brown on the underside and place on a large plate. Add the remaining oil and cook again on the other side for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a plate, cut into wedges and serve.

Black Pudding – It's English Recipe and History


I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the English recipe and history – Black Pudding which is a sausage of interesting taste and is eaten as a breakfast or snack and can be traced back to the 16th Century..


Black pudding in the United Kingdom is generally made from pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal. In the past it was occasionally flavoured with pennyroyal. differing from continental European versions in its relatively limited range of ingredients and reliance on oatmeal instead of onions to absorb the blood. It can be eaten uncooked, but is often grilled, fried or boiled in its skin.

In the UK, black pudding is associated with Lancashire and particularly with the town of Bury where it is usually boiled and served with malt vinegar out of paper wrapping. In the remainder of the country, and especially in the south, it is usually served sliced and fried or grilled as part of a traditional full breakfast.

it is also served this way in Ireland, New Zealand and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The further addition of the similar white pudding is an important feature of the traditional Northumbria, Scottish, Irish and Newfoundland breakfast.

Towns other than Bury noted for their black pudding include Clonakilty, County Cork in Ireland's south west and on Stornaway, Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland.

Black and white pudding, as well as a third variant red pudding is served battered at chip shops in Scotland and England as an alternative to fish and chips.

Pig or Cattle blood is most often used;Sheep and Goat blood are used to a lesser extent.

Typical fillers include Meat, Fat, Suet, Bread, Sweet Potato, Onion, Chestnuts, Barley and Oatmeal.


1 litres Wild Boar


300g Wild Boar, cubed

1.5 Onions, diced

300g Oatmeal, soaked

1 tbsp Paprika

1 tbsp Butter




·       Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onions until soft but not browned.

2. Mix the onions with the cubed fat and oatmeal. Mix well and season with salt, pepper and the paprika.

3. Add the blood and mix well with your hands to ensure a sloppy consistency. Leave to cool.

4. Pipe the mixture into the ox casings. At regular intervals tie the bag off to make individual sausage-shaped black puddings. Prick each pudding to ensure it doesn't split whilst being cooked.

5. Heat a large pan of water to 80C and add the black puddings. Cook for about 10 minutes; it is vital that you continually move them around while cooking.

6. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.

I hope you enjoy this tasty bit of England which if you visit England can be found in the chill cabinet and brought from our local supermarkets.

British Cheeses – Types and Taste


Britain is famous for it's many cheeses made over the centuries by many cheese makers.   I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the various 700 types of British Cheeses. Cheese is an ancient food whose origins pre-dates recorded history.


The British Cheese Board claims that Britain has approximately 700 distinct local cheeses, France and Italy have perhaps 400 each. Still, the advancement of the cheese art in Europe was slow during the centuries after Rome's fall. Many cheeses today were first recorded in the late Middle Ages or after— cheeses like Cheddar around 1500.

There are many different ways of categorising cheese, but perhaps the easiest way is to break them down according to their texture and the style of manufacture as follows:

Fresh Cheese - Cheese that is almost ready to eat the moment it is made such as Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Fromage Frais, Ricotta, Mozzarella. They have high moisture content and therefore a relatively short shelf life.

Soft Cheese - Cheese with a very soft texture including Brie, Camembert which do require time to reach maturity and full flavour. Again they have relatively high levels of moisture and need to be eaten within a defined period once sold. On white mould cheeses such as Brie and Camembert the young cheese is sprayed with penicillium candidum to help ripen the cheese from the outside in an unripe cheese will have a chalky white strip running through the middle of the cheese.

Semi Hard Cheese - As the name suggests, these cheeses sit between being soft and hard. Often they have a rubbery texture such as Edam and will be sold at a relatively young age of a few months. Other examples would include St. Paulin and Port Salut and certain other cheeses where the rinds will be washed with brine, beer, wine or fruit juices to add character to the cheese during the maturation process.

Hard Cheese - Firm - These are cheeses which have been pressed to remove as much of the whey and moisture from the curds as possible to ensure a long keeping product. Cheeses may be matured from anything between 12 weeks in the case of mild Cheddar, up to 2 years or more in the case of vintage Cheddar, Parmesan or Manchego. Other British examples of firm hard cheese will include Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Derby, Malvern, Worcester, Hereford. Continental varieties include Emmental and Gouda.

Hard Cheese - Crumbly - A category of cheeses well known in the UK as young variants of Cheshire, Caerphilly, Lancashire and Wensleydale all fall into this group. The cheeses are pressed to remove much of the moisture but because they are sold at a relatively young age - typically between 4 and 8 weeks of age - they retain a crumbly texture and a fresh flavour. Older more mature versions of these cheeses will tend to become firmer and may lose their crumbly texture and hence fall into the firm hard cheese category. They will also have a stronger flavour.

Blue Cheese - There are blue cheese variants of many of the cheese listed above. What puts them into the blue cheese category is that penicillium roqueforti - a blue mould - is added to the cheese at various stages in the making process. Sometimes it is added to the milk at the start of the process in other cases it is sprayed onto the curds before being shaped. Normally the cheese will be pierced with stainless steel needles to allow air into the body of the cheese which then activates the blue mould and starts to break down the protein which in turn creates the blue mould. The process is a way of accelerating the normal development of the cheese and means that quite strong tasting cheese is produced within a few months. Blue Stilton is perhaps the best known blue cheese produced in the UK but there are now more than 70 different blue cheeses being produced within the UK. Other notable British examples are Shropshire Blue, Blue Cheshire, Blue Wensleydale, Dovedale, Buxton Blue, Blacksticks Blue and even Blue Leicester! Imported examples include Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Cambozola and Danish Blue.

Blended Cheese - Also known as fruit cheese, herb cheese, cheese with bits or More Than Just Cheese. Though we think of these as modern cheeses it is well known that the Romans routinely blended their cheese with fruit and herbs. High quality hard cheeses are chopped into small pieces and herbs or fruit added and the whole mixed together before being shaped into cylinders or blocks. Most popular examples in the UK are Wensleydale with Cranberry, White Stilton with Apricots, Cheddar with Caramelised Onion, Double Gloucester with Chives and Onion and Lancashire with Garlic.

These categories can apply to any cheese regardless of the animal from which the milk came.

English Crumpets – History and Recipe


I thought as English Crumpets is an Iconic English Recipe and Snack, which I thought would be interesting to tell on its long history. Crumpets were an Anglo-Saxon invention. In early times, they were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era which were made with yeast. The crumpet-makers of the Midlands and London developed the characteristic holes, by adding extra baking powder to the yeast dough. The term itself may refer to a crumpled or curled-up cake, or have Celtic origins relating to meaning a "thin, flat cake".

Crumpets are generally circular roughly 7cm in diameter and roughly 2cm thick. Their shape comes from being restrained in the pan/griddle by a shallow ring. They have a characteristic flat top with many small pores and a half-chewy half-spongy texture. They may be cooked until ready to eat warm from the pan, but are frequently left slightly undercooked so that they may be cooled and stored before being eaten freshly-toasted. In Australia and New Zealand, branded square crumpets can be purchased from supermarkets, designed to easily fit in a standard toaster.

Crumpets are generally eaten hot with butter with or without a second (sweet or savoury) topping. Popular second toppings are cheese (melted on top), honey, poached egg, jam, marmite, salt, marmalade, cheese spread, golden syrup, hummus, lemon curd and maple syrup. The butter may be omitted - but a phrase very commonly associated with crumpets is "dripping with butter" (in this context, 'dripping' is - usually - a verb, rather than a reference to animal fat).

Delicious fresh from the pan spread with butter! Why not try with a slice of cheese and gently grill?



450 grams

 White Bread Flour


1 sachet

 Baking Yeast1 x 7g sachet


300 ml



300 ml



1 tsp



1 tsp





Warm the milk and the water together.

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth (1 to 2 minutes).

Leave until the mixture is frothy and double in size.

Grease and heat a heavy frying pan or griddle and 9 cm (3 in) rings and half fill with the mixture.

Maintaining a moderate heat, cook the crumpets for 5 minutes until the mixture bubbles.

Reduce the heat until the bubbles have burst.

Turn the crumpets over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve hot with butter and jam.

If allowed to cool, toast before serving.

 Preparation Time 30 minutes

 Baking Time 07 minutes

 Portions 12  

I hope visitors to article will enjoy the English Crumpets.


English Custard – History and Recipe


I thought as English Custard (which the French do not have a name for) is an Iconic English Recipe and food, I thought my article would be interesting to fans of English Food. Custard was known in English Cuisine at least as early as the fourteenth century. One of the most popular and quintessential English Custard's is "Birds Custard Powder" which I recommend to any cook who wants to make the perfect English custard.

The first reference to custard in England was as almond milk or almond cream In a history of the Abbey of Croyland, England, Laurence Chateres in 1413. It contained almonds, thick milk, water, salt and sugar.

Not all custards are sweet. A quiche is a savoury custard tart. Some kinds of timbale or vegetable loaf are made of a custard base mixed with chopped savoury ingredients. Custard royale is a thick custard cut into decorative shapes and used to garnish soup or broth.

Bird's Custard (a brand name) is the original version of what is known generically as custard powder. It is a cornflour-based powder which thickens to form a custard-like sauce when mixed with milk and heated to a sufficient temperature. Bird's Custard was first formulated and first cooked by Alfred Bird in 1837, because his wife was allergic to eggs the key ingredient used to thicken traditional custard.

In some regions of the United Kingdom the popularity of this type of dessert is such that it is simply known as "custard." In such cases, general usage of the word may be more likely to refer to the "Bird's" custard rather than to the traditional egg-based variety.

In recent years, "instant" versions (containing powdered milk and sugar and requiring only hot water) and ready-made custard in tins and cartons have also become popular.

A food and drink survey carried out in 2000 found 99% of customers recognised the brand which accounts for 45% of the custard consumed in the UK. Bird's Custard is also exported to several countries around the world, including the United States, where it is popular among several ethnic groups. Many ethnic and specialty stores across the United States sell the product. In Canada Bird's Custard can often be found in many popular grocery supermarkets.

In addition to the Bird's brand, generic cornflour-based custards are widely available.


"English Custard”



1/3 cup sugar
2-3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 piece vanilla bean



Work up sugar and egg yolks with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Add flour. Scald milk and vanilla bean together and then add egg yolk mixture to it, little by little. Return to saucepan and cook slowly, stirring constantly until it comes to the boiling point. Do not allow to boil. Remove vanilla bean. Cool, stirring vigorously at first and then from time to time to prevent crust from forming on top. Serve cold or a little warm. Other flavoring may be used. For coffee flavor use 1/2top milk and 1/2 strong coffee, for chocolate flavor add grated chocolate to taste to hot milk. Serves to to 3.


Spotted Dick or Spotty Dog – English Pudding Recipe


Many food stuffs are synonymous with iconic English Dishes. We in England may have strange names for our quality food but at least we don't eat Pets like the french who eat Horses, Frogs and Pet Birds. I thought as Spotted Dick is an Iconic English Recipe and pudding I thought I would tell its history.

Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit (usually currents) commonly served with custard. Spotted refers to the dried fruit (which resemble spots) and dick may be a contraction or corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable) or possibly a corruption of the word dough or dog, as "spotted dog" is another name for the same dish with the use of plums rather than currants. Another explanation offered for the latter half of the name is that it comes from the German word for "thick", in reference to the thickened suet mixture.

Food historians generally agree the first puddings made by ancient cooks produced foods similar to sausages. We English claim pudding as part of their culinary heritage. Medieval puddings black and white were still mostly meat-based. 17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts & sugar) and were typically boiled in special pudding bags. The “The Pease Porridge" most of us know from the old nursery rhyme was most likely a simple boiled pudding of pease meal. By the latter half 18th century traditional English puddings no longer included meat. 19th century puddings were still boiled but the finished product was more like cake. These puddings are still traditionally served at Christmas time. Plum Pudding (aka Christmas pudding) is a prime example. Modern steamed puddings descend from this tradition.



5 oz (75g) Self raising Flour

5 oz (75g) Chopped Suet

3 oz (50g) Fresh White Breadcrumbs

4 oz (75g) Raisins

4 oz (75g) Currents

3 oz (50g) Brown Sugar

Pinch of Salt

1/2 teaspoon Mixed Spices

1/2 pint (300ml) Milk

Pkt. Of Birds Custard


Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix them together well. Now add the Milk and mix to a fairly soft dough.

Put the mixture into a greased 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin and cover with kitchen foil, making a pleat across the centre to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil firmly in place with string, forming a handle across the top so that you can lift the pudding easily.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and place an inverted saucer in the bottom. Lower in the pudding basin and let it boil, covered, for 2 hours, filling the pan with more boiling water as the level falls.

Remove from the pan by the string handle, unwrap, turn out on to a heated dish.

Open pkt of Birds Custard and follow instructions on pkt. 

Serves 4.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest documented reference is a recipe for "Plum Bolster or Spotted Dick", in Alexis Soyer's The Modern Housewife, or, Ménagère (1850).

The Earliest Sandwich – It's English History


I thought as The Sandwich was created by The fourth Earl of Sandwich in 1762 and is an Iconic English Snack, I thought it would be interesting to readers and fans of English Food to know It's beginings and history. We in England have sandwiches while having a picnic or as a general snack just like anyone else in the world.

The first mention of the word, "Sandwich" came around 1762 when a reporter wrote in the daily news about John Montague, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792). As he sat gambling for long hours, the only sustenance he requested was spirits, water, bread, cheese and meat. As he continued to play with one hand, he sat the meat and cheese between the slices of bread and held them in his non-playing hand. His fellow gamblers, no doubt looking for a lucky charm, began to order "the same as Sandwich!" The original sandwich would have been nothing more than a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread. Whatever the truth of the legend, the name sandwich is inscribed for all time.

John Montagu was First Lord of the Admiralty and patron to Capt. James Cook who explored New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and Polynesia. Capt. Cook named the Hawaiian Islands after him, calling them the Sandwich Islands. Legend holds that Montagu was addicted to gambling, so addicted that he gambled for hours at a time at a restaurant, refusing to get up for meals. 

A sandwich is a food item, often consisting of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them or one slice of bread with a topping or toppings, commonly called an open sandwich. Sandwiches are a widely popular type of lunch food, typically taken to work or school, or picnics to be eaten as part of a packed lunch. They generally contain a combination of salad vegetables, meat, cheese, and a variety of sauces. The bread can be used as it is, or it can be coated with any condiments to enhance flavor and texture. They are widely sold in restaurants and cafes.

In Spain, where the word sandwich is borrowed from the English language, it refers to a food item made with English sandwich bread.


The verb to sandwich has the meaning to position anything between two other things of a different character, or to place different elements alternately


Recipes for sandwiches were not immediately forthcoming in cookbooks. In England they were (at first) considered restaurant fare. The primary difference between early English and American sandwiches? In England beef was the meat of choice; in America it was ham. A simple matter of local supply.


Literary references to sandwiches begin to appear in English during the 1760s, but also under the assumption that they are a food consumed primarily by the masculine sex during late night drinking parties. The connotation does not change until the sandwich moves into general society as a supper food for late night balls and similar events toward the end of the eighteenth century.


Charlotte Mason was one of the first English cookbook authors to provide a recipe for sandwiches. During the nineteenth century, as midday dinner moved later and later into the day, the need for hot supper declined, only to be replaced with light dishes made of cold leftovers, ingredients for which the sandwich proved preeminently suitable. Thus the sandwich became a fixture of intimate evening suppers, teas, and picnics, and popular fare for taverns and inns. This latter genre of sandwich has given rise to multitudes of working class creations.


Ye Olde English Marmalade – History and Recipe 1480 AD


I thought as English Marmalade is an Iconic English Recipe and food, I thought it would be interesting to fans of English Food to know It's recipe and history. According to the Oxford English Dictionary "marmalade" appeared in the English language in 1480 AD.

In 1524, Henry VIII received a "box of marmalade" from Mr. Hull of Exeter. As it was in a box, this was likely to have been marmelada, a quince paste from Portugal , still made and sold in southern Europe. Its Portuguese origins from marmalado can be detected in the remarks in letters to Lord Lisle, from William Grett, 12th May 1534, "I have sent to your lordship a box of marmaladoo and another unto my good lady your wife" and from Richard Lee, 14th December 1536, "He most heartily thanketh her Ladyship for her marmalado".

The extension of "marmalade" in the English language refers to citrus fruits which were made in the 17th century, when citrus first began to be plentiful enough in England for the usage to become common.

Various Marmalade's from around the World

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the peel of Citrus Fruits, Sugar and Water. The traditional citrus fruit for marmalade production is the "Seville Orange" from Spain, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, thus called because it was originally only made in Seville in Spain; it is higher in pectin than sweet oranges and therefore gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the marmalade. Marmalade can be made from lemons, limes, grapefruits, sweet oranges or any combination thereof. For example, California-style marmalade is made from the peel of sweet oranges and consequently lacks the bitter taste of Spanish style marmalade.

In languages other than English, marmalade can mean preserves made with fruit other than citrus. For example, in Spanish all preserves are known generically as mermelada (There is no distinction made between jam, jelly, preserves or marmalade).

The recipe for marmalade includes sliced or chopped fruit peel simmered in sugar, fruit juice and water until soft; indeed marmalade is sometimes described as jam with fruit peel (although manufacturers also produce peel-free marmalade). English Marmalade is often eaten on toast for breakfast.


2 lb (900 g) Seville oranges

½ lb (225 g) lemons

6 pints (3.4 litres) water

1 lb (450 g) sugar per 1 lb (450 g) pulp – of which 1lb should be brown



Wash and dry the fruit. Cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the pips, inside skin and pith. Tie these in a piece of muslin.

Cut the peel chunkily.

Put the peel in a large bowl with the bag of pips etc and the juice. Add 6 pints (3.4 litres) of water and leave to soak overnight.

Weigh the preserving pan and make a note of it. Put the soaked peel, pith and pips into it with the water and juice.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the peel is soft and the contents of the pan have been reduced to half its original bulk. This will take about 1½ hours.

Lift out the bag of pips and pith, squeezing it again the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Test for pectin.

Re-weigh the pan and subtract from this weight the original weight of the empty pan to calculate the weight of the remaining pulp.

Add 1 lb (450 g) of warmed sugar to each 1 lb (450 g) of pulp of which 1 lb (450 g) should be brown. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the marmalade sets when tested.

Remove the scum and leave to cool slightly.

Pot and seal whilst still hot.

Makes about 6 lbs (2.7 kg) of marmalade.


English Chelsea Buns – History and Recipe


I thought as Chelsea Buns is an Iconic English Recipe and Snack, which I thought would be interesting to Fans of English Food. Chelsea Buns have been made since at least the start of the 1700s. They were reputedly invented either at the Old Chelsea Bun House, or at the "Real Old Original Chelsea Bun-house" in London, England.

The two were rivals. Both were on Grosvenor Row, both made great buns, and both had a long wooden covered footpath in front of them, that looked something like a verandah except it was a sidewalk, too.

Grosvenor Row (which no longer exists) was the name for what is now approximately the middle section of Pimlico Road, from Passmore Street east a few blocks to Bourne Street. Technically, the area is Pimlico, not Chelsea, but it's probably far too late to suggest the name "Pimlico Buns" to anyone.

The Old Chelsea Bun House was owned by a 'Captain Bun' (sic). Reputedly, in the latter decades of the 1700s, it was frequented by George II, his son George III (the mad King George) and his wife Queen Charlotte. In 1817, it had been in business for four generations of the same family (as per Sir Richard Philips (1767-1840; one of whose pseudonyms was Reverend David Blair.)

On Good Fridays, they sold Hot Cross buns, and were frequently mobbed by huge line-ups. The mob scene had been so great in 1792 that they in fact skipped selling them in 1793. They posted a notice instead on Wednesday, 27 March 27 1793 saying, "Royal Bun House, Chelsea, Good Friday.—No Cross Buns. Mrs. Hand respectfully informs her friends and the public, that in consequence of the great concourse of people which assembled before her house at a very early hour, on the morning of Good Friday last, by which her neighbours (with whom she has always lived in friendship and repute) have been much alarmed and annoyed; it having also been intimated, that to encourage or countenance a tumultuous assembly at this particular period might be attended with consequences more serious than have hitherto been apprehended; desirous, therefore, of testifying her regard and obedience to those laws by which she is happily protected, she is determined, though much to her loss, not to sell Cross Buns on that day to any person whatever, but Chelsea buns as usual."

But the shop appears to have got back into the Hot Cross Bun business. On 18 April 1839,

Good Friday for that year, they sold around 24,000 Hot Cross buns. Nevertheless, the business was sold and demolished later that year."

Mentions of Chelsea Buns in Letters and Publications

A fine day, but begins to grow a little warm; and that makes your little fat Presto sweat in the forehead. Pray, are not the fine buns sold here in our town; was it not Chelsea buns? I bought one to-day in my walk; it cost me a penny; it was stale, and I did not like it." -- Jonathan Swift. Letter no. 22. The Journal to Stella, 28th  April 1711.

"I soon turned the corner of a street which took me out of sight of the space on which once stood the gay Ranelagh. … Before me appeared the shop so famed for Chelsea buns, which for above thirty years I have never passed without filling my pockets. In the original of these shops—for even of Chelsea buns there are counterfeits—are preserved mementoes of domestic events in the first half of the past century. The bottle-conjuror is exhibited in a toy of his own age; portraits are also displayed of Duke William and other noted personages; a model of a British soldier, in the stiff costume of the same age; and some grotto-works, serve to indicate the taste of a former owner, and were, perhaps, intended to rival the neighbouring exhibition at Don Saltero's. These buns have afforded a competency, and even wealth, to four generations of the same family; and it is singular that their delicate flavour, lightness, and richness, have never been successfully imitated." -- Sir Richard Phillips (1767-1840). In "Morning's Walk from London to Kew." 1817.

The Royal East London Volunteers made a brilliant sight that day: formed into lines, squares, circles, triangles, and what not, to the beating of drums, and the streaming of flags; and performed a vast number of complex evolutions, in all of which Sergeant Varden bore a conspicuous share. Having displayed their military prowess to the utmost in these warlike shows, they marched in glittering order to the Chelsea Bun House, and regaled in the adjacent taverns until dark." -- Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, Chapter 42.

"I was rather in a hurry," returns Mr. Bucket, "for I was going to visit a aunt of mine that lives at Chelsea -- next door but two to the old original Bun House..." -- Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Chapter 53.

"Give her a Chelsea bun, miss! That’s what most young ladies like best!" The voice was rich and musical, and the speaker dexterously whipped back the snowy cloth that covered his basket, and disclosed a tempting array of the familiar square buns, joined together in rows, richly egged and browned and glistening in the sun." -- Lewis Carroll, A Tangled Tale.


Mrs. Beaton's Recipe for Chelsea Buns



0.5 oz. dried yeast
0.25 pints mixed milk and warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. strong plain flour
3 oz. margarine
3 oz. castor sugar
2 large eggs
2 oz. currants



1. Pre heat oven to 200°C

2. Mix the yeast with the warm milk and water and add 1 teaspoon of sugar.

3. Mix the salt into the flour and rub in 2 oz. of the margarine.

4. Add 2 oz. of the castor sugar to the flour and the salt.

5. Whisk the eggs.

6. Mix the eggs and other liquids into the flour and knead it until if forms a smooth dough.

7. Leave the dough to rise in a greased bowl, in a warm spot away from draughts.

8. Cover the bowl ( tea-towel or Cling film ) to keep it warm and free from draughts, and leave it until the dough has almost doubled in size.

9. Spread a little flour on a wooden board. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the board.

10. Roll out the dough into a piece about 20 by 8 inches.

11. Spread the remaining 1 oz. of butter over the surface of the rolled out dough.

12. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and currants evenly over the dough.

13. Roll up from the shortest edge to form a roll about 20 inches long.

14. Cut the roll into 15 / 20 equal slices.

15. Place the slices on a greased tray, leaving spaxce around each so they can expand. Cover with a tea-towel and leave until the buns rise and are puffy.

16. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes.

NB: It may be necessary to cover the top of the buns with metal foil towards the end of the cooking to prevent them from browning / burning too much.

Either eat them fresh or put them in the freezer. They freeze very well.

GLAZE: Mix 2 tablespoons of boiled milk with a tablespoon of sugar, then brush it over the tops of the buns whilst they are still hot.

English Mustard – An English Icon


I thought as English Mustard is an Iconic English sauce I thought I would tell its history. Oner of the most commonest English meals is Roast Beef, Roast Potato's, Brussel Sprouts, Gravy with English Mustard.

According to an old saying, Durham City, England was famed for seven things - wood, water and pleasant walks, law, gospel, old maids and mustard.

This saying probably originated in the 18th Century when Durham's mustard achieved great fame.

Mustard was introduced into England in the 12th Century and in early times seeds were coarsely ground at the table using a mortar and it was eaten in this rough state.

It had reached the North-East by about 1486 when monks on the Farne Islands (a monastic cell tied to Durham Cathedral) are known to have used quern stones in the grinding of "mwstert".

In those early days, it was used primarily to disguise the flavour of rotten meat and it was not until the late 1600s that it came to be recommended in its own right.

At that time, the town of Tewkesbury was primarily noted for mustard making, but in those days it was a much weaker substance and it was not until 1720 that English-style mustard, resembling what we know today, really came into being.

English mustard was born largely due to the vision and energy of a Durham City woman by the name of Mrs Clements.

Her forename has, despite her remarkable achievements, eluded all historians that have strived to tell her story.

In 1720, she invented a new method of extracting the full flavour from mustard seed. Her methods were secretly guarded but involved grinding the seeds in a mill and passing them through several processes similar to those used in the making of flour from wheat.

This resourceful woman soon recognised the potential of her invention and travelled the country collecting orders.

She regularly visited London where her product tickled the palate of none other than King George I, whose liking for the mustard brought Mrs Clements numerous orders from people who wished to follow royal fashion.

It is said that Mrs Clement's mustard mill was situated at the rear of a property in Saddler Street (now a clothes shop that was once the House of Andrews stationer), but this is not certain.

Mustard seeds were certainly grown on local farms in the early days, including Houghall Farm, near Shincliffe. It must have been a lucrative trade because mustard crops worth up to £100 an acre were occasionally known.

The manufacture also stimulated other industries and it is known that a Gateshead pottery specialised in supplying pots for mustard export.

In the 18th century, the name of Durham came to be synonymous with mustard and, in local slang, Durham people came to be known as knock-kneed Durham men from the alleged grinding of mustard between their knees.

Later in the century, rival mustard firms sprang up around the country, including London where Messrs Keen and Sons manufactured the product from 1742, supplying it to taverns and chophouses.

Though later acquired by Colmans of Norwich (who made mustard from 1814) the London firm is still remembered in the saying "keen as mustard".

By 1810, the London Journal recorded that the once frowned upon condiment of "mustard seed is now used and esteemed by most of the quality and gentry". However, by this time, Durham had lost its mustard monopoly.

Meanwhile, Mrs Clements' daughter, who was heir to the family business, married local man Joseph William Ainsley whose family had been involved in Durham flour-making since 1692.

The Ainsley family became the main name in Durham mustard making and their business was situated in Silver Street - number 22. This location, and not Saddler Street, may have been the original site of Durham's mustard factory.

The Ainsley family history is not totally clear, but at the beginning of the 19th Century the business passed into the hands of a son or grandson, also called Joseph William Ainsley. Another family member, possibly a brother, called John, worked at a flour mill at Crook Hall. This mill seems to have been involved in making mustard for the Silver Street premises.

Following Joseph Ainsley's death in about 1830, his widow, Eleanor, carried on the business but later married John Balmborough who became proprietor in the 1840s or 50s.

At about this time, a new mustard business also opened in the city, this time in Saddler Street and was operated by William Ainsley who was, it is believed, the son of John, from Crook Hall flour mill.

Balmborough was clearly threatened by this rival firm and his advertisements went to great lengths to emphasise that he was the true heir to the Ainsley name.

William Ainsley however was a successful entrepreneur noted for his printing and stationery business at 1 Saddler Street. He moved to larger premises at 74 (later the House of Andrews) after branching out into mustard.

A William Ainsley advertisement of 1865 only lists mustard as a footnote to a number of enterprises that included gunpowder-making, but it must have affected Balmborough's business.

By the early 1870s, Saddler Street was too small for the business and Ainsley moved to Waddington Street in the northern part of the city. In 1874, he died and was succeeded by his sons, William and John Ainsley, trading as William Ainsley and Brother. Balmborough also died during this period and the Silver Street business closed.

A new Durham mustard business was launched in 1888 operated by John Simpson and James Willan, initially in Providence Row and then in Gilesgate's Station Lane, but it barely lasted a decade.

Simpson, who died in 1908, spent his final years as a timekeeper at the city's gas company.

William Ainsley died in 1896 and the Ainsley firm lasted only two or three years into the following century.

Durham's mustard-making trade fell into the hands of Colmans, the Norwich firm most closely associated with English mustard-making today.


Lardy Cake – 15th Century History and Recipe


I thought as English Lardy cake is an Iconic English Spiced bread I thought it would be interesting to fans of English Food to know It's recipe and history. Lardy cake is also called Lardy bread, Lardy Johns, Dough cake and Fourses cake and originates from Wiltshire.     In the West Country and dates from the 15th. Century. Today local bakers still make it to their own recipes, cramming in as much lard, sugar and fruit as they or their customers choose.

The lardy cake relates back to the 15th. Century 'Old English Fair' which was an eagerly awaited event by town and countrymen who would get together to sell their wares. Gingerbread and Plum Cake became established products at these fairs, with the Lardy Cake being an adapted version of the later.

The major difference between the two products was that the fat (lard) was layered into the dough similar to Danish Pastry. Today a equal mixture of lard and brown sugar are layered in at approximately 20% of the dough weight. The fermented dough also contains fruit and will also be spiced.





20 Gram Yeast fresh (1 3/4 tsp dried + pinch of sugar) (3/4 oz)
450 ml Water, warmed (3/4 pint)
600 Gram Strong white flour (1 1/4 lb)
1 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
100 Gram Lard, diced (4 oz)
100 Gram Butter, diced (4 oz)
240 Gram Mixed sultanas and currants (10 oz)
65 Gram Chopped mixed peel (3 oz)
65 Gram Sugar (3 oz)


Makes 16 slices


Preheat oven to 220 °C / 425 °F / Gas 7. Grease a 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 inch) roasting tin. Blend the fresh yeast with the warm water. If using dried yeast, sprinkle it into the warm water with the pinch of sugar and leave for 15 minutes until frothy.

Put the flour and salt in a bowl and rub in 100g ( 4 oz) of the lard. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast liquid. Beat together to make a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean, adding more water if necessary. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead well for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl. Cover with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle about 0.5 cm ( 1/4 inch) thick. Dot one-third of the remaining lard and butter over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle over one-third of the fruit, peel and sugar. Fold the dough in three, folding the bottom third up and the top third down. Give a quarter turn, then repeat the process twice more.

Roll the dough out to fit the prepared tin. Put in the tin, cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes, until puffy. Score the top with a criss-cross pattern with a knife, then bake for about 30 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown. Turn out and serve immediately or leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cooled this can be stores in a freezer until ready to warm up. It's best served plain or with butter.

Lardy Cake is really scrumptious hot or cold and once cooked can be kept in a freezer until ready to carve up and then warmed up prior to eating.

History of Cribbage – An English Iconic Game


I thought as the Game of Cribbage was invented by us English and is played Worldwide I thought I would tell its history. The most famous cribbage player of all, as described by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist: "Mr Toby Crackit swept up his winnings [at cribbage] and crammed them into his waist-coat pocket."

According to John Aubrey who was a 17th Century English antiquary and writer, cribbage was created by the English poet Sir John Suckling in the early 17th century, as a derivation of the game “Noddy”. While noddy has disappeared, crib has survived, virtually unchanged, as one of the most popular games in the English Speaking world. The objective of the game is to be the first player to score a target number of points, typically 61 or 121 Points are scored for card combinations that add up to fifteen, and for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes.

Cribbage, or crib, is a card game traditionally for two players, but commonly played with three, four or more, that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations which gain points. Cribbage has several distinctive features: the cribbage board used for score keeping, the eponymous crib or box (a separate hand counting for the dealer), two distinct scoring stages (the play and the show) and a unique scoring system including points for groups of cards that total fifteen.


1) The players cut for first deal, and the dealer shuffles and deals five or six cards to each player, depending on the number of players. For two players, each is dealt six cards; for three or four players, each is dealt five cards. In the case of three players, a single card is dealt face down in the centre of the table to start the crib. Once the cards have been dealt, each player chooses four cards to retain, then discards the other one or two face-down to form the "crib" which will be used later by the dealer. At this point, each player's hand and the crib will contain exactly four cards. The player on the dealer's left cuts the deck and the dealer reveals the top card, called the "starter". If this card is a jack the dealer scores two points for "his heels", also known as "his nibs".


2) Starting with the player on the dealer's left, each player lays one card in turn onto a personal discard pile, stating the cumulative value of the cards laid (for example, the first player lays a five and says "five", the next lays a six and says "eleven", and so on), without the total going above 31. Once no more cards can be played, the cumulative position is reset to zero and those players with cards remaining repeat the process until all players' cards have been played. Players score points during this process for making a total of fifteen, for reaching exactly, or as close as possible to a total of thirty-one, for runs and for pairs. Players choose the order in which to lay their cards in order to maximize their score; experienced players refer to this as either good or poor "pegsmanship". If one player reaches the target (usually 61 or 121), the game ends immediately and that player wins.


3) Once the play is complete, each player in turn receives points based on the content of his hand in conjunction with the starter card. Points are scored for combinations of cards totalling fifteen, runs, pairs, flushes and having a Jack of the same suit as the starter card ("one for his nob [or nobs or nibs]"). The dealer scores his hand last and then turns the cards in the crib face up. These cards are then scored by the dealer as an additional hand in conjunction with the starter card. Scores between 0 and 29 are all possible, with the exception of 19, 25, 26 and 27.Players may refer colloquially to a hand scoring zero points as having a score of nineteen.


4) Visually, cribbage is known for its scoring board - a series of holes ("streets") on which the score is tallied with pegs (also known as "spilikins"). Scores can be kept on a piece of paper, but a cribbage board is almost always used, since scoring occurs throughout the game, not just at the conclusion of hands as in most other card games. Points are registered as having been scored by "pegging" along the crib board. Two pegs are used in a leapfrog fashion, so that if a player loses track during the count one peg still marks the previous score. Some boards have a "game counter", with many additional holes for use with a third peg to count the games won by each side.

The most famous cribbage player of all, as described by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist: "Mr Toby Crackit swept up his winnings [at cribbage] and crammed them into his waist-coat pocket."


History of English Lawn Bowls –  Jactus Lapidum


I thought as Green Bowls is popular worldwide and was invented by us English I thought I would tell its history. One of the most famous stories concerning Bowls was On 19th July 1588 Captain Thomas Fleming in the Golden Hinde, glimpsed the Armada through the swirling morning mist off the Lizard and raced for Plymouth, Lord Howard’s home port. Fleming came up the channel into Plymouth with the afternoon tide to find Sir Francis Drake playing bowls with his officers on the Ho, high above the harbour. On hearing of Fleming’s sighting Drake insisted on continuing with the game.

Bowls is a sport in which the objective is to roll slightly asymmetric balls, called bowls, so that they stop close to a smaller—normally white—bowl called the "jack" or "kitty". Bowls, either flat- or crown-green, is usually played outdoors, on grass and synthetic surfaces. Flat-green bowls can also be played indoors on synthetic surfaces. Both variants are collectively known as "lawn bowls".

It is most popular in Australia, New Zealand (where the natural playing surface is cotula), the United Kingdom and in other Commonwealth nations.

It has been traced certainly to the 13th century and conjecturally to the 12th century with William Fitzstephen (d. About 1190 AD). In his biography, Thomas Becket gives a graphic sketch of the London of his day and writing of the summer amusements of the young men, says that on holidays they were "exercised in Leaping, Shooting, Wrestling, Casting of Stones [in jactu lapidum], and Throwing of Javelins fitted with Loops for the Purpose, which they strive to fling before the Mark; they also use Bucklers, like fighting Men."

It is commonly supposed that by jactus lapidum, Fitzstephen meant the game of bowls, but though it is possible that round stones may sometimes have been employed in an early variety of the game - and there is a record of iron bowls being used, though at a much later date, on festive occasions at Nairn, - nevertheless the inference seems unwarranted. The jactus lapidum of which he speaks was probably more akin to the modern "putting the weight," once even called "putting the stone." It is beyond dispute, however, that the game, at any rate in a rudimentary form, was played in the 13th century. A manuscript of that period in the royal library, Windsor (No. 20, E iv.), contains a drawing representing two players aiming at a small cone instead of an earthenware ball or jack. The world's oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green which was first used in 1299 AD.

Another manuscript of the same century has a crude but spirited picture which brings us into close touch with the existing game. Three figures are introduced and a jack. The first player's bowl has come to rest just in front of the jack; the second has delivered his bowl and is following after it with one of those eccentric contortions still not unusual on modern greens, the first player meanwhile making a repressive gesture with his hand, as if to urge the bowl to stop short of his own; the third player is depicted as in the act of delivering his bowl.

As the game grew in popularity, it came under the ban of king and parliament, both fearing it might jeopardise the practice of archery, then so important in battle. Statutes forbidding it and other sports were enacted in the reigns of King Edward III, King Richard II and other monarchs. Even when, on the invention of gunpowder and firearms, the bow had fallen into disuse as a weapon of war, the prohibition was continued. The discredit attaching to bowling alleys, first established in London in 1455, probably encouraged subsequent repressive legislation, for many of the alleys were connected with taverns frequented by the dissolute and gamesters. The word "bowls" occurs for the first time in the statute of 1511 in which Henry VIII confirmed previous enactments against unlawful games. By a further act of 1541 - which was not repealed until 1845 - artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like were forbidden to play bowls at any time except Christmas and then only in their master's house and presence. It was further enjoined that any one playing bowls outside his own garden or orchard was liable to a penalty of 6s. 8d., while those possessed of lands to the yearly value of £100 might obtain licences to play on their own private greens.

Bowls is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong and parts of the United States. It is also gaining momentum in Japan.

Because of its competitiveness, skill and the fact that it is a non-contact sport, the game suits people from teen years through to their nineties. However, there is a considerable professional competition with many younger men and women playing.

Since the 1990's, the sport has developed in Denmark as well. The World Championships are held in the UK annually and the £100,000 competition is watched by 3 million viewers on BBC TV.

Today the sport is played in over 40 countries with more than 50 member national authorities.

Jigsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game


I thought as Jigsaw Puzzles was invented by us English I thought I would tell its history. The first jigsaw was made by John Spilsbury (an Englishman) in 1766 who was a renowned mapmaker and engraver from London who mounted a map of England on a thin sheet of mahogany board, used a hand held fretsaw to cut round the county boundaries and sold the boxed pieces for children to assemble. They were known as "Dissected maps". The result was an educational aid, which could be used for teaching Geography to children.

John Spilsbury certainly spotted a great  business opportunity. In the space of two years he marketed the eight map subjects most likely to appeal to upper class English parents: The World, the Four Continents then known (Africa, America, Asia and Europe), England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

During the next 40 years several other manufacturers (including individuals in Holland) copied John Spilsbury's ideas and introduced historical scenes to compliment his map subjects. In the early part of the century, puzzles were made almost exclusively for wealthy children and almost always with education in mind.

To save on cutting labour the puzzles consisted of only a few large pieces and only the outside interlocked – the rest was cut quickly with straight or wavy lines. The wood used was usually Mahogany or Cedar. The jigsaw named “The Parable of the Sower” on the right was cut by Betts in about 1870 and typifies the style of jigsaws up to that date. Only the outside pieces interlock and the quality of the print is very poor by modern standards.

Towards the end of the century great strides were made in many manufacturing techniques and three of these influenced jigsaws:

Treadle operated jigsaws were invented.

Techniques were developed to produce THIN sheets of wood.

Printing improved in leaps and bounds.

These technological advances enabled jigsaws to be made that were much more intricate, durable and colourful. Adults became interested in doing jigsaws and this spurred the manufacturers to widen the range of subjects available and to make them more difficult to do.

It became evident that colourful, complex jigsaws held a fascination for many people.
In the late 1800’s a German furniture dealer named Raphael Tuck and his two sons developed 4 techniques that set the scene for jigsaw development into the next century:

2)    Their subjects included many varied and colourful topics.

3)    Cutting was made more intricate and included "Whimsies" – individual pieces cut into recognisable shapes like animals and household goods.

4)    Plywood and thick card started to be used instead of expensive hardwood.

5)    Attractive boxes (that for the first time included an image of the uncut puzzle) were introduced.

Those with an interest in history might like to know that Raphael Tuck was also instrumental in the development of other industries – he is credited with the first commercial production of Christmas cards and also the first picture postcards. He set up printing establishments in London, Paris and New York and in 1893 he received the Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria for printing the Queen’s letter to the nation on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Clarence.


The Valentine Card – An English Icon


I thought as the Valentines Card was invented in England I would write about It's story. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415 AD is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London. England.

Valentine greetings have been popular since the Middle Ages, a time when prospective lovers said or sang their romantic verses. Written valentines began to appear after 1400. Paper valentines originated in the 1500s, being exchanged in Europe and being given in place of valentine gifts and oral or musical valentine greetings. They were particularly popular in England.


The first written valentine (formerly known as "poetical or amorous addresses") is traditionally attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. While confined in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt, the young Duke reportedly passed his time by writing romantic verses for his wife in France. They are credited with being the first modern day valentines.


By the Sixteenth Century, written valentines were commonplace and by the Seventeenth Century, it was a widespread tradition in England for friends and sweethearts to exchange gifts and notes on February 14.

During the early 1700s, Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical art known as the "language of flowers" to Europe and throughout the Eighteenth Century, floral dictionaries were published, permitting the exchange of romantic secrets via a lily or lilac, for example, culminating in entire conversations taking place within a bouquet of flowers.

The more popular the flower, the more traditions and meaning were associated with it. The red rose, for instance, believed to be the favored flower of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, became universally accepted to represent romantic love. Thus, the custom of giving red roses on Valentine's Day quickly gained popularity.

Some time after 1723, the popularity of valentine cards in America began to grow with the import from England of valentine "writers." A "writer" was a booklet comprised of a vast array of verses and messages which could be copied onto gilt-edged paper or other type of decorative sheet. One popular "writer" contained not only "be my valentine" types of verses for the men to send to their sweethearts, but also acceptances or "answers" which the ladies could then return. Late Eighteenth Century and Early Nineteenth Century valentines were often religious in nature and it is possible that the "Sacred Heart" often depicted on these cards eventually became the "Valentine Heart" with the customarily accompanying Angel eventually becoming "Cupid." It is believed that the earlier versions of these religious valentines may have been made by nuns who would cut-out the paper lace with scissors. It is thought the process probably took many days since the cards had every appearance of being machine-made.

By the early 1800s, valentines began to be assembled in factories. Such early manufactured valentines were rather simplistic, composed of black-and-white pictures painted by the factory workers. Fancy valentines comprised of real lace and ribbons were introduced in the mid-1800s. Paper lace began to be introduced to the cards later in the 1800s, These valentines also contained delicate and artistic messages with pictures of turtledoves, lovers' knots in gold or silver, bows and arrow, Cupids and bleeding hearts.

During the Victorian Era and its printing advances, Valentine cards became even more popular and the modern postal service of the age implmented the "penny post," which made it easier to mail written valentines. (Prior to that time, postage was so expensive that most cards were hand-delivered and usually left on doorsteps.) Known as "penny postcards" (because they were mailed with a one-penny postage stamp), these valentine greetings were very popular from around 1890 to 1917.

During this time, it was also considered "proper" to collect and display collections of postcards and trade cards in the Victorian and Edwardian parlor. Friends and guests would be invited to sit for hours, leafing through albums while they visited. This custom gained so much popularity that photographers, studios, printers and business continually strived for new and exciting subjects to satisfy a public which was anxious for innovative items in order to impress their acquaintances.

To make their cards stand out, people often sought for real photographic postcards. As opposed to mass-produced lithographs, these were actual photographs made with a postcard-printed back. The photography studios frequently employed women to hand-tint and color the black-and-white images. Some of the best of these cards came from Germany...famous for its detailed and colorful lithography. Popular subjects included women, children, flowers and couples, posed and arranged in an effort to portray the idealized virtues of the Era.

Indeed, it was in England that the first commercial-type valentine was produced on embossed paper, later perforated to make a lace-type design. Some of these cards contained tiny mirrors with the message: "Look at my Beloved," while others were called "Cobweb Valentines" because the center could be lifted by a tassel to reveal a cobweb effect of paper and underneath, a picture of a couple or a romantic message.

Although pre-Victorian valentines are virtually unavailable today, but cards have survived over a century due chiefly to the fact that they began to be mass-produced around 1850. However, the majority of early Victorian valentines were customarily made by hand from honeycombed tissue, watercolors, paper puffs, colored inks, embossed paper hearts and exquisite lace. These were truly beautifully-created small works of art, often adorned with silk or satin (in addition) to lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. Such fragile honeycomb designs remained the vogue until around 1909.

Some of the most unusual valentines were fashioned by lonely sailors during this time...unique cards sporting seashells of various sizes employed to create hearts, flowers and other designs, or to cover heart-shaped boxes. Sailors also sent what were known as "Busk Valentines," rounded long sticks fashioned from ivory or wood, somewhat resembling a tongue depressor but approximately five time longer. Upon these sticks, the sailor would carve hearts and other loving designs. The "Busk Valentine" was worn by the sailor's sweetheart inside her corset. It was not unusual for a manufactured valentine of this era to cost as much as a month's earnings, particularly the "proposal valentines" which were very popular and might contain the depiction of a church or a ring. In keeping with Victorian etiquette, it was considered improper for a lady to send a valentine greeting to a man.

Sir Francis Walsingham – Spymaster for Queen Elizabeth 1


Sir Francis Walsingham was one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as the greatest Spymaster of the 16th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in 1532.


Francis Walsingham was born at the Walsingham family seat, Scadbury park near Chislehurst, Kent to William Walsingham and Joyce Denny. His father died the following year, and later, his mother married Sir John Carey a relative by marriage of Queen Anne Boleyn.

Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth 1st of England from 1573 till 1590, and is popularly remembered as her “Spymaster”. Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security. He oversaw operations which penetrated the heart of Spanish military preparation, gathered intelligence from across Europe, and disrupted a range of plots against the queen, securing the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.


Walsingham studied at Kings College, Cambridge from 1548 with many Protestants but as an undergraduate of high social status he did not sit for a degree. In 1550, he travelled abroad, returning two years later to enroll at Gray's Inn. Upon the death of  Edward VI and accession of Catholic Queen Mary, he fled to continue his studies as a law student at the University of Padua. Between April 1556 and November 1558, he visited Switzerland and cultivated contacts among the leading Protestant statesmen on the continent.

When Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, Walsingham returned to England and, through the support of Sir William Cecil, was elected to the House of Commons for Banbury in 1559 and then Lyme Regis in 1563.

After his return, Walsingham was appointed joint principal secretary ("of state": the phrase was not used at this time in England) with Sir thomas Smith, succeeding Sir William Cecil. Smith retired unexpectedly in 1576, leaving Walsingham in sole charge.

Elizabeth called him her "Moor", perhaps due to his complexion or a preference for sombre clothes. She put up with his blunt, often unwelcome, advice because she valued his competence and industry, his passion for her security, and his grasp of foreign affairs.

On 1 December 1577, Walsingham received a knoghthood. He spent the years between 1574 and 1578 consolidating his control of the routine business of the English state, foreign and domestic. This included the substantial rebuilding of Dover Harbour and the coordination of support for Martin Frobisher's attempts to discover the north west passage and exploit the mineral resources of Labrador. Walsingham was among the foremost promoters of the career of Sir Francis Drake and was a major shareholder in his 1578–1581 circumnavigation of the world. Walsingham's participation in this venture was calculated to promote the Protestant interest by provoking the Spanish and demonstrating the vulnerability of their Pacific possessions.

He was sent on special embassies to the Netherlands in 1578, and again in 1581 to the French Court, suggesting both the Queen's high confidence in his abilities, and also that she knew how to exploit his standing as a committed Protestant statesman to threaten the Catholic powers.

Between 1578 and 1581, Walsingham was at the forefront of debate on the attempt by a group at court to encourage the Queen to marry the Duke of Anjou, heir to the French throne. Walsingham passionately opposed the marriage, perhaps to the point of encouraging public opposition. Walsingham canvassed the variety of consequences of a Catholic French consort of a Queen now past the age of childbearing, and with no clear successor. He believed that it would serve England better to seek a military alliance with France against Spanish interests,and the debates in council raged around the viability of an independent England against the increasing threat posed by Spain, and by the forces of international Catholicism which were undermining the unity of the French state.

Walsingham advocated direct English intervention in the Low Countries, and eventually, after the deaths of both Anjou and William of Orange in 1584, English military intervention was agreed at the Treaty of Nonsuch in 1585.


In the realm of counter-espionage, Walsingham was behind the discovery of the Throckmorton and Babington Plots to overthrow Elizabeth I, return England to Catholicism and place Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne.

In November 1583, after months of surveillance, Walsingham had Throckmorton arrested. He extracted, under torture, Throckmorton's confession — an admission that he had plotted against Elizabeth with the Spanish ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza and others. The plot, which may not have been known to Mary, called for a two-pronged invasion of England and Scotland along with a domestic uprising. Throckmorton was executed in 1584, and Mendoza was expelled from England.

Although Mary was not prosecuted, Walsingham became so concerned about her influence that he was determined to hold her responsible for any further conspiracies.

Babington's Plot was the result of that determination. Walsingham drew deeply on his spies among the English Catholic community, and abroad, on whose divisions he was adept at playing. The uncovery of the Babington plot, which is unusually well documented, is a compelling piece of counter-espionage, and stretched the policing resources of the Elizabethan state to the limits, with Walsingham's private secretaries carrying out surveillance in person. This led to Mary's execution in 1587, for which Walsingham had worked since before his advent to power. He was an active participant at her trial. He briefly experienced his share of the Queen's displeasure after the execution of Mary, which the queen claimed not to have sanctioned, due to Elizabeth's desire to distance herself from this action.

Prior to the attack of the Spanish Armada, he received a large number of dispatches from his agents from mercantile communities and foreign courts. Walsingham's recruitment of Anthony Standen in particular represented an intelligence triumph, and Standen's dispatches were deeply revealing. However the close security enforced by Philip II meant that Walsingham remained in the dark about the Spanish strategy and the planned destination of the Armada. This, plus his naturally bold spirit, lay behind his encouragement of the more aggressive strategies advocated by Drake in particular. The Cadiz raid in 1587 wrought havoc on Spanish logistics, and Walsingham would have repeated this the following year if more cautious counsels had not prevailed.

In foreign intelligence, the full range of Walsingham's network of "intelligencers" (of news as well as secrets) may never be known, but it was substantial. While foreign intelligence was part of the principal secretary's duties, Walsingham brought to it flair and ambition, and large sums of his own money. He also cast his net more widely than others had done hitherto, exploiting the insight into Spanish policy offered at the Italian courts; cultivating contacts in Constantinople and Aleppo, building complex connections with the Catholic exiles.

Among his minor spies may have been the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who seems to have been one of a stream of false converts whom Walsingham planted in foreign seminaries for gathering intelligence and insinuating counter-intelligence (citation needed). A more central figure was the cryptographer Thomas Phelippes, expert in deciphering letters, creating false handwriting and breaking and repairing seals without detection.

Walsingham was one of the small coterie who directed the Elizabethan state, overseeing foreign, domestic and religious policy. He worked to bring Scotland and England together. Overall, his foreign policy demonstrated a new understanding of the role of England as a maritime and Protestant power in an increasingly global economy. He was an innovator in exploration, colonization and the use of England's potential maritime power. He is also a convincing prototype of the modern bureaucrat.


Francis Walsingham died on 6 April 1590, leaving great debts, in part arising from his having underwritten the debts of his son-in-law and colleague, Sir Phillip Sidney. But the true state of his finances is undocumented and may have been less dismal than regularly alleged, and he pursued the Sidney estate for recompense, and had carried out major land transactions in his later years.


His daughter Frances received only £300 annuity. However, she married well, to the Earl of Essex and Walsingham's widow lived comfortably until her death. After his death, his friends reflected that poor bookkeeping had left him further in the crown's debt than was fair, and a compromise was eventually agreed upon with his heirs. His public papers were seized by the government and his private papers, which would have revealed much, not least about his finances, were lost.


MI6 and "C" – First Head of MI6 from 1911

I have decided to create this article about the first head of MI6 as he's one of the Icons of Britain.

Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming (1 April 1859 – 14 June 1923) was the first director of what would become the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6. In this role he was particularly successful in building a post-imperial intelligence service.

Born into a middle-class family, Smith attended the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and, upon graduation, was commissioned a sub-lieutenant. He was posted to the HMS Bellerophon in 1878 and for the next seven years saw sea duty in the East Indies. However he increasingly suffered from severe seasickness, and in 1885 was placed on the retired list as "unfit for service".

He was recalled to duty into the foreign section of Naval Intelligence in 1898 and undertook many missions. He would travel through eastern Germany and the Balkans pretending to be a German businessman, even though he didn't speak any German. His work was so successful that he was recruited to the Secret Service Bureau as the director of the foreign section. During this period he married the extremely rich May Cumming, and as part of the marriage changed his name to Smith-Cumming.

In 1911 Cumming's became the new head of the Foreign Section, responsible for all operations outside Britain. Over the next few years he became known as 'C', after his habit of initialing papers he had read with a C written in green ink. This habit became a custom for later directors, although the C now stands for "Chief". Ian Fleming took these aspects for his "M", Sir Miles Messervy - using Cumming's other initial for the name and having M always write in green ink.

In 1914, he was involved in a serious road accident in France, in which his son was killed. Legend has it that in order to escape the car wreck he was forced to amputate his leg using a pen knife. Hospital records have shown however that while both his legs were broken, his left foot was only amputated the day after the accident. Later he often told all sorts of fantastic stories as to how he lost his leg, and would shock people by interrupting meetings in his office by suddenly stabbing his artificial leg with a knife, letter opener or fountain pen

Budgets were severely limited prior to World War 1 and Smith-Cumming came to rely heavily on Sidney Reiley (aka the Ace of Spies), a secret agent of dubious veracity based in Saint Petersburg. He described pre-1914 espionage as ‘capital sport', but was given few resources with which to pursue it. His early operations were directed almost entirely against Germany. Between 1909 and 1914 he recruited part-time ‘casual agents' in the shipping and arms business to keep track of naval construction in German shipyards and acquire other technical intelligence. He also had agents collecting German intelligence in Brussels, Rotterdam and St. Petersburg.

At the outbreak of war he was able to work with Vernon Kell and Sir Basil Thomson of the Special Branch to arrest twenty-two German spies in England. Eleven were executed, as was Sir Roger casement found guilty of treason in 1916. During the war, the offices were renamed: the Home Section became MI5 or Security service, while Smith-Cumming's Foreign Section became MI6 or the Secret Intelligence Service. Agents who worked for MI6 during the war included Augustus agar, Paul Dukes, John Buchan, Compton Mackenzie and W. Somerset Maugham. When SSB discovered that Lemon Juice made a good invisible ink his agents adopted the motto "Every man his own stylo".

With the outbreak of the First World War, Cumming's control of strategic intelligence gathering as head of the wartime MI1c was challenged by two rival networks run by general headquarters. Cumming eventually out-performed his rivals. His most important wartime network, 'La Dame Blanche', had by January 1918 over 400 agents reporting on German troop movements from occupied Belgium and northern France. Cumming was less successful in post-revolutionary Russia. Despite a series of colourful exploits, his agents obtained little Russian intelligence of value.

Secret Service budgets were once again severely cut after the end of WWI, and MI6 stations in Madrid, Lisbon, Zurich and Luxembourg were closed. Cumming succeeded, however, in gaining a monopoly of espionage and counter-intelligence outside Britain and the empire. He also established a network of SIS station commanders operating overseas under diplomatic cover.

To the end of his life Cumming retained an infectious, if sometimes eccentric, enthusiasm for the tradecraft and mystification of espionage, experimenting personally with disguises, mechanical gadgets, and secret inks in his own laboratory.

P.M. Mrs Margaret Thatcher – The Iron lady


In the last 100 years there have been two Great British Prime Minister's of the 20th. Century, Churchill is one of them and the other is Mrs. Thatcher. Margaret Hilda Roberts was born October 13, 1925. Home was, Margaret recalled, "practical, serious and intensely religious." During the 1970's the economy of Britain was dominated by the unions and a ridiculous tax rate of 90%.


When Mrs. Thatcher was elected in 1979 she inherited an economy and country which was in hock to the IMF, where inflation was 30%, where there was Power Cuts, Where Strikes had caused overflowing Rubbish Bins and where bodies were piled high and unburied in hospital Morturies.


The similarities to today is stark, where the British economy in 2010 is overdrawn by 155 Billion Pounds caused by Gordon Brown the ex Labour PM changing the Rules on oversight of the Banks from the Bank of England to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which was so incompetent it missed all the warnings.


What the new government of 1979 had to do was cut back on spending and introduce new laws to curb the unions. One of the best bits of legislation was to outlaw Unions sending striking pickets to other strike actions by other unions and to maximise the number of strikers on a picket line to six. This allowed non strikers to go to work unmolested in law.


Because of the needed cuts the Tory party was quite low in the opinion polls in early 1982 when the dictatorship of Argentina decided to invade the Falkland Islands. This caused the Royal Navy to send a task force to recapture the Falklands and rescue the inhabitants. When the Islands had been retaken it was found that the Argentinians had changed the road signs and traffic flow from the Left to the Right side of the roads. Also, the Argentinians had raided the homes of the local inhabitants and stole goods and food and also killed some 3 Civilian's.


The Falkland Islands are a group of islands 300 miles east of Argentina. The two main islands are East Falkland and West Falkland. There are about 200 smaller islands that together form a total land area of approximately 4,700 square miles. The capital is Port Stanley. The Falkland Islands include the British territories of South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the Shag and Clerke rocks. The population of the islands in 2010 was about 3,000.


On June 20th the British formally declared an end to hostilities and established a Falkland Islands Protection Zone of 150 miles. This undeclared war lasted 72 days and claimed nearly 1000 casualties. The British took about 10,000 Argentine prisoners during the undeclared war while Argentina lost 655 men who were killed while Britain lost 236. Argentina's defeat discredited the military government and led to the return of democracy in Argentina in 1983.


Mrs. Thatcher was elected in 1979, 1983 and 1987 and ushered in a decade of painful reform, privatization, deregulation and tax cutting. At first inflation and unemployment rocketed, some businesses crumbled. But—"the lady's not for turning"—the prime minister brazened it out over three historic terms of office, wrenching the economy back off its knees. At least one widely popular measure was the sale of council houses, allowing by 1982 a half-million people to become homeowners (and possibly Tory voters) for the first time.


Less spectacular but truly far-reaching was Mrs. Thatcher's role in bringing about the end of the Cold War and contributing to the demise of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. As an individualist and free market advocate, she had an innate and frequently voiced distrust of communism. In Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, however, she found a man she "could do business with," and she helped to persuade President Ronald Reagan away from "evil Empire" rhetoric to do the same. The chemistry between Reagan and Thatcher made their alliance a high point of the special relationship between Britain and the United States in the 20th century. "She was warm, feminine, gracious and intelligent and it was evident from our first words that we were soul mates when it came to reducing government and expanding economic freedom," Reagan remarked.


She badly misjudged when she introduced the notorious poll tax despite advice against it; she openly clashed with her chancellor over monetary policy and with her foreign secretary on European policy. Both resigned, precipitating a party leadership battle, which concluded in Thatcher's resignation on November 28, 1990. She was cast back outside. For once the tears were public as she left 10 Downing St.

Elevated to the House of Lords, she styled herself Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in honor of her roots. She set up the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to continue to promote her ideas and undertook lecture tours; she was particularly gratified by her welcome in the United States, "the seat of radical modern conservative thinking and almost my second home."

Mrs. Thatcher was Prime Minister for 11 years, six months and 24 days (1979-90)

After a series of small strokes, doctors advised her in 2002 against public speaking.

In 2003 Denis, her constant companion, died; they had been married 52 years. More than any political knocks, it was a devastating loss.

In future history books she will be remembered for her invention of  Privatization and Thatcherism and also Sticking to her ideals and her down to earth honesty.

British Knighthoods – Iconic History


British Knighthoods are recognised worldwide as one of the most romantic and chivalrous awards. Since the dawn of English History England has had Knights like King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. The British honour's system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom.


Although the Anglo Saxon Monarchs are known to have rewarded their loyal subjects with rings and other symbols of favour, it was the Norman's who introduced Knighthoods as part of their feudal government. The first English order of chivalry, the Order of The Garter was created in 1348 by King Edward III. Since then the system has evolved to address the changing need to recognise other forms of service to the United Kingdom.


The system consists of three types of award: Honours, Decorations and Medals:

Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service.

Decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds.

Medals are used to recognise bravery, long and/or valuable service and/or good conduct.

Current orders of Chivalry

The Most Noble Order of The Garter which was Established in 1348 by King Edward III.


The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle which was Established in 1687 by King King James II.


The Most Honourable Order of The Bath which was Established in 1725 by King George I.


The Most Distinguished Order Of Saint Michael and Saint George was Established in 1818 by the Prince Regent.


The Distinguished Service Order was Established in 1886 by Queen Victoria.


The Royal Victorian Order was Established in 1896 by Queen Victoria.


The Order of merit was Established in 1902 by the King Edward VII.


The Imperial Service Order was Established in 1902 by King Edward VII.


The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was Established in 1917 by King George V.


The Order of the Companions of Honour was Established in 1886 by the Queen Victoria.


There are five ranks of hereditary peerage's: Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. Until the mid 20th century, peerages were usually hereditary (bar legal peerages - see below) and, until the end of the 20th century, English, British and UK peerages (except, until very recent times, those for the time being held by women) carried the right to a seat in the House of Lords.

Hereditary peerages are now normally only given to members of the Royal Family. The most recent was the grant to the Queen's youngest son, the Earl of Wessex, on his marriage in 1999. No hereditary peerages were granted to commoners after the Labour Party came to power in 1964.

Margaret Thatcher tentatively reintroduced them by two grants to men with no sons in 1983, respectively the Speaker of the House of Commons George Thomas and the former Deputy Prime Minister William Whitelaw. Both these titles died with their holders. She followed this with an Earldom in 1984 for the former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan not long before his death, reviving a traditional honour for former Prime Ministers. Macmillan's grandson succeeded him on his death in 1986.

No hereditary peerages have been created since 1986 and Mrs. Thatcher's own title is a life peerage (see further explanation below). The concession of a baronetcy (i.e. hereditary knighthood), was granted to Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis following her resignation

Orders were created for particular reasons at particular times. In some cases these reasons have ceased to have any validity and orders have fallen into abeyance, primarily due to the decline of the British Empire during the twentieth century. Reforms of the system have sometimes made other changes. For example the British Empire Medal ceased to be awarded in the UK in 1993, as was the companion level award of the Imperial Service Order (although its medal is still used).


Women's Auxiliary Air force – History 1939 - 1949


During the war the women of Britain joined many organisations and various armed services, wheras before the war women had not been able to join the sevices. One of the Corps especially created for women was the "Women's Auxilliary Air Force". The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was formed in June 1939. The main reason for this service was to release men for combat posts.

A Womens Royal Air Force had existed from 1918 to 1920. The WAAF was created on 28th  June 1939, absorbing the forty-eight RAF companies of the Auxillary Territorial Service which had been formed since 1938. Conscription of women did not begin until 1941. It only applied to those between 20 and 30 years of age and they had the choice of the auxiliary services or factory work.

Women were accepted between the ages of 17 and 44.  By the year 1943 there were 180,000 women in the WAAF. The work done by the WAAF covered virtually every activity carried out by men including Intelligence Operations.

WAAFs did not serve as aircrew. The use of women pilots was limited to the Air Transport Axillary (ATA - which was civilian) which delivered aircraft to the various RAF bases.  Neither did they participate in active combat, though they were exposed to the same dangers as any on the "home front" working at military installations.

WAAF's  were also active in the following:

Parachute Packing

Manning of The Barrage Balloons

All types of Catering




Communications duties including wireless Telephonic and Telegraphic operations.

Intelligence Operations using Codes and Ciphers

Analysis of reconnaissance photographs Operation Rooms controlling Radar, Aircraft and Plotters.

Nurses belonged to Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service

Medical and Dental officers were commissioned into the Royal Air Force and held RAF ranks.

Alas, WAAFs were paid two-thirds of the pay of male counterparts in RAF ranks.

By the end of World War II, WAAF enrollment had declined and the effect of demobilisation was to take thousands out of the service. The remainder, now only several hundred strong, was renamed the Womens Royal Air Force on 1st  February 1949.

Nursing Orderlies of the WAAF flew on RAF transport planes to evacuate the wounded from the Normandy battlefields. They were dubbed Flying Nightingales by the press. The RAF Air Ambulance Unit flew under 46 Group Transport Command from RAF Down  Ampney, RAF Broadwell and RAF Blakehill Farm. RAF Dakota aircraft carried military supplies and ammunition so could not display the Red Cross.

Training for air ambulance nursing duties included instruction in the use of oxygen, injections, learning how to deal with certain types of injuries such as broken bones, missing limb cases, head injuries, burns and colostomies; and to learn the effects of air travel and altitude.

In October 2008 the seven nurses still living were presented with lifetime achievement awards by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Women's Land Army –  History 1939 – 1950


During the war the women of Britain joined many organisations and the various armed forces, wheras before the war women had not been able to join the sevices. One of the Corps especially created for women was the "Women's Land Army" where 80,000 women were enrolled to work on Farms all over the UK. The "Women's Land Army" (WLA) was a civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as "Land Girls".

The Women's Land Army was often referred to as "The Forgotten Army" and was actually originally formed in 1917 by Roland Prothero who was the then Minister for Agriculture.

The Board of Agriculture organised the Land Army during the Great War, starting activities in 1915. Towards the end of 1917 there were over 250,000 - 260,000 women working as farm labourers. 20,000 in the land army itself.

With 6 million men away to fight in the First World War we in Britain were struggling to find enough workforce. The government wanted women to get more involved in the production of food and do their part to support the war effort. This was the beginning of the Women’s Land Army. Many traditional farmers were against this, so the board of trade sent agricultural organisers to speak with farmers to encourage them to accept women’s work on the farms.

The First World War had seen food supplies dwindle and saw the creation of the Women's Land Army (WLA).

The WLA was reformed in June 1939 first asking for volunteers and later by conscription with numbers totalling 80,000 by 1944.

The women were called “Land Girls”, as they were affectionately known, replaced the men who had answered the call to war. They wore the same uniform as the “Women Timber Corps” ( Except with a different badge on their Beret's) and their living conditions were frequently primitive and for girls who had worked in shops, offices, hairdressing salons and restaurants, the work was pretty tiring.

The Women's Land Army was made up of girls from every walk of life. Posters of smiling girls bathing in glorious sunshine and open fields covered the fact that the WLA often presented raw recruits (many from industrial towns) with gruelling hard work and monotony. The majority of the Land Girls already lived in the countryside but more than a third came from London and the industrial cities of the north of England.

Homesickness was common as many of the girls had never been away from their parents for long periods. This was particularly true of girls that stayed in private billets. The girls that stayed in local hostels often told a different story and were more settled as they were grouped together. However despite all this there was a great sense of friendship amongst the girls.

The WLA lasted until its official disbandment on October 21, 1950. Looking back over the last 70 years it is always surprising how many stories there is still to tell concerning the British Struggle during the second world war and how the war affected every day life and person in the country. My generation who were born in the1950's and 1960's owe our parants and grandparants generation for todays freedoms and our grateful thanks.

Women's Timber Corps – 1942 History


During the war many women of Britain joined many organisations and the various armed forces, wheras before the war women had not been able to join the sevices. One of the Corps especially created for women was the "Women's Timber Corps" where 4,900 women were enrolled to felling, snedding, loading, crosscutting, driving tractors, trucks, working with horses, measuring and operating sawmills and manage forests all over the UK.

Originally the Women’s Timber Service had been set up during the first world war, but in April 1942 the Ministry of Supply (Home Grown Timber Department) inaugurated a new venture – the "Women's Timber Corps" (WTC), in England. The Scots quickly followed in May 1942, forming their own Women’s Timber Corps which was a part of the Women’s Land Army of Scotland. This was a new unit with its own identity and uniform.

Today if you talked of the Women's Timber Corps the most likely response is "Never heard of them". Yet their story is fascinating. The Women's Timber Corps replaced men in the forests and helped to produce timber vital to the war effort. These women were called “Lumber Jills” as they were affectionately known, who replaced the men who had answered the call to war. They wore the same uniform as the women Land army ( With a different badge on their Beret's) and their living conditions were frequently primitive and for girls who had worked in shops, offices, hairdressing salons and restaurants, the hardship was daunting.

Worst of all was the extreme physical effort required to lay-in, fell and cross-cut the timber; but the girls of the WTC set to with determination to produce pit-props for the mines, telegraph poles for communications, gun-stocks for the troops and even coffins for the casualties of war. There are tales of the social and practical aspects of living in crowded huts, as well as the more technical details of working with axe and saw. Training centres were set up throughout the UK.

The Women’s Timber Corps was disbanded in August 1946, with each girl handing back her uniform and receiving a letter from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who was then the patron of the WTC.

Looking back over the last 70 years it is always surprising how many stories there is still to tell concerning the British Struggle during the second world war and how the war affected every day life and person in the country. My generation who were born in the1950's and 1960's owe our parants and grandparants generation for todays freedom with our grateful thanks.


Stainless Steel – It's English Discovery 1912


I thought as Stainless Steel was discovered here in England, by Harry Brearley, I thought it would be interesting write It's history. Brearley was born in Sheffield, England in 1871. His life had humble beginnings as the son of a steel melter. He left school at the age of twelve to enter his first employment as a labourer in one of the city's steelworks, being transferred soon afterwards to the post of general assistant in the company's chemical laboratory.

For several years, in addition to his laboratory work, he studied at home and later in formal evening classes, to specialize in steel production techniques and associated chemical analysis methods.

By his early thirties, Brearley had earned a reputation as an experienced professional and for being very astute in the resolution of practical, industrial, metallurgical problems. It was in 1908, when two of Sheffield's principal steel making companies innovatively agreed to jointly finance a common research laboratory (Brown Firth Laboratories) that Harry Brearley was asked to lead the project.

In 1912, Harry Brearley of the Brown-Firth research laboratory in Sheffield, England while seeking a corrosion-resistant alloy for gun barrels, discovered and subsequently industrialized a martensitic stainless steel alloy. The metal was later marketed under the "Staybrite" brand by Firth Vickers in England and was used for the new entrance canopy for the Savoy Hotel in London in 1929.

Brearley died in 1948, at Torquay, a coastal resort town in Devon, south west England. He is buried at Sheffield Cathedral.

It was probably Harry Brearley’s upbringing in Sheffield, a city famous for the manufacture of cutler since the 16th century, which led him to appreciate the potential of these new steels for applications not only in high temperature service, as originally envisioned, but also in the mass production of food-related applications such as cutlery, saucepans and processing equipment etc. Up to that time carbon steel knives were prone to unhygienic rusting if they were not frequently polished and only expensive sterling silver or EPNS cutlery was generally available to avoid such problems. With this in mind Brearley extended his examinations to include tests with food acids such as vinegar and lemon juice, with very promising results.

Brearley initially called the new alloy "rustless steel"; the more euphoric "stainless steel" was suggested by Ernest Stuart of R.F. Mosley's, a local cutlery manufacturer, and eventually prevailed. It is reported that the first true stainless steel, a 0.24wt% C, 12.8wt% Cr ferrous alloy, was produced by Brearley in an electric furnace on August 13, 1913.

The well told story is that Brearley noticed in his sample bin one of his pieces which had not shown signs of rusting after being exposed to air and water. This was further examined and analysed, a new steel, which he called "rustless steel", was born, the first commercial cast coming from the furnaces in 1913. Its name was changed to the more euphonic “Stainless Steel” following a suggestion from Ernest Stuart of R.F. Moseley's, a local cutlery maker, and this eventually prevailed.

 He was subsequently awarded the iron and steel institutes's Bessemer Gold Medal in 1920.

Virtually all research projects into the further development of stainless steels were interrupted by the 1914-18 War, but efforts were renewed in the 1920s. Harry Brearley had left the Brown Firth Laboratories in 1915, following disagreements regarding patent rights,

The research continued under the direction of his successor, Dr. W.H. Hatfield. It is Hatfield who is credited with the development, in 1924, of a stainless steel which even today is probably the widest-used alloy of this type, the so-called "18/8", which in addition to chromium, includes nickel (Ni) in its composition.

Tower Bridge – London Icon

I have decided to create this article about "Tower Bridge" as it's one of the Icons of London.

In the second half of the 19th century, increased commercial development in the East End of London led to a requirement for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge. A traditional fixed bridge could not be built because it would cut off access to the port facilities in the Pool of London between London Bridge and the Tower of London.

A Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1876, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The evaluation of the designs was surrounded by controversy, and it was not until 1884 that a design submitted by Horace Jones the City Architect (who was also one of the judges), was approved.

Jones' engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry devised the idea of a bascule bridge with two towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways.

During it's building, two piers were sunk into the river bed to support the weight of the bridge. A massive 11,000 tons of steel used then for the walkways and towers. A layer of Cornish granite and Portland stone were used as a covering, to protect the steelwork and to make it look nicer to the eye.

Still in use today the bridge is still opened for river traffic many times in a week. It is said the bridge carries 1,900 vehicles per hour between 7am and 10am during London rush hour. 140 feet above the Thames you can look down and around the tower and see the original steam engines used to lift the huge bridge until 1976.

Historic Dates worthy of note

·       1910 - the high-level walkways were closed down due to lack of use.

·       1912 - Frank McClean flew between the bascules and the high-level walkways in an emergency. Quite a spectacle for onlookers and the bi-plane pilot.

·       1952 - a London bus leapt between the opening bascules to avoid plunging into the river as the bridge opened with the bus still on it.

·       1977 - for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue.

Tower bridge was completed and opened in the year 1894. It was opened by Edward 7th when he was Prince of Wales. It took 8 years in it's construction, using 5 major contractors and over 400 labourers. When it was completed and as it stands still today, it is one of London's most famous landmarks, its designers, John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones can be proud of a splendid piece of engineering.

William Shakespeare – British Playright Icon


William Shakespeare is one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide. I thought it would be interesting to write the history of this famous icon from his early cloudy beginnings.


William Shakespeare was born to John Shakespeare and mother Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is no record of his birth, but his baptism was recorded by the church, thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23rd  of April. His father, John Shakespeare, was a whittawer by profession and held several important town offices. His father was also a prominent and prosperous alderman in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and was later granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds.

His mother, Mary Arden, was from a fairly wealthy family.

In all the Shakespeares had eight children, and William was their first son.  

All that is known of Shakespeare's youth is that he presumably attended the Stratford Grammar School, and did not proceed to Oxford or Cambridge.

The next record we have of him is his marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582. The next year she bore a daughter for him, Susanna, followed by the twins Judith and Hamnet two years later.

Seven years later in 1889 Shakespeare is recognized as an actor, poet and playwright, when a rival playwright, Robert Greene, refers to him as "an upstart crow" in A Groatsworth of Wit.

Between 1590 and 1592 no records of Shakespeare were found, and that period of his life is usually referred to as "The Lost Years". Some have speculated that he either became a school teacher, became a butcher's apprentice, or was running from the law during this time. 

The first evidence of Shakespeare after 1592 was in London. Here he had established himself as a playwright and actor and had found a sponsor, Henry Wriothsley. However, Shakespeare's work in the theatres came to a halt in January of 1593 when the theatres closed because of the plague. The company that Shakespeare worked for was called "Lord Chamberlain's Men" and changed their name to "The King's Men" after King James I took over in 1603. Because Shakespeare worked and performed for them, this company became the biggest and most famous acting company. Shakespeare became very wealthy as a director, writer, actor, and stockholder in "The King's Men".

In 1596 Hamnet died at the age of eleven.

When, in 1599, the troupe lost the lease of the theatre where they performed, (appropriately called The Theatre) they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across the Thames, south of London, which they called "The Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599, built from the timbers of The Theatre, with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (A whole world of players) When James I came to the throne (1603) the troupe was designated by the new king as the King's Men (or King's Company). The Letters Patent of the company specifically charged Shakespeare and eight others "freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Inerludes, Morals, Pastorals, stage plays ... as well for recreation of our loving subjects as for our solace and pleasure."

Shakespeare entertained the king and the people for another ten years until June 19th , 1613, when a canon fired from the roof of the theatre for a gala performance of Henry VIII set fire to the thatch roof and burned the theatre to the ground. The audience ignored the smoke from the roof at first, being to absorbed in the play, until the flames caught the walls and the fabric of the curtains. Amazingly there were no casualties, and the next spring the company had the theatre "new builded in a far fairer manner than before." Although Shakespeare invested in the rebuilding, he retired from the stage to the Great House of New Place in Statford that he had purchased in 1597, and some considerable land holdings where he continued to write until his death in 1616 on the day of his 52nd  birthday.

·       1556 - Anne Hathaway is born.

·       1564 - Shakespeare's baptism is recorded in the parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon dated April 26, 1564. The usual delay between birth and baptism was 3-4 days, making the date of birth most likely April 22 or 23. Since Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and the engraving on his monument lists him as aged 53, it is assumed he was born on April 23. At least, that is how scholars in the absence of any other information have been willing to leave it. April 23 is also St. George's day, an appropriate day for the birth of the national poet.  (94 miles from London.)

·       1582 - Marries Anne Hathaway on November 27.  Worcester was 21 miles west of Stratford, and the consistory court there the place where a marriage license, issued to a local parish priest, might be obtained. Whitgift's register for the date November 27nd , 1582 indicates the issuance of a license for marriage between William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. At the time, Shakespeare would have been 18 years old.

·       1583 - Susanna Shakespeare is born.

·       1585 - The twins Judith and Hamnet Shakespeare are born.

·       1592 - After leaving Stratford for London, William was recognized as a successful actor, as well as a leading poet. He was a member of 'The Chamberlain's Men'.

·       1596 - Hamnet dies at the age of eleven. Shakespeare becomes a "gentleman" when the College of Heralds grants his father a coat of arms.

·       1597- He bought a large house called "The Great House of New Place".

·       1599 - The 'Globe Theater' is built from the pieces of 'The Theater' in July.

·       1603 - 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men' became 'The King's Men' on May 19.

·       1613 - The 'Globe Theatre' burns during a performance of Henry VII when a canon fired on the roof sets fire to the straw thatch. The theatre is rebuilt, but Shakespeare retires.

·       1616 - April 23, in Stratford, on his 52nd birthday he died.


In 1611 Shakespeare retired and left London. He made a will on March 25, 1616, and died on April 23, 1616. He was fifty two years old. The cause of Shakespeare's death is not known. Shakespeare also wrote his own epitaph because during his time, when the graveyard was full, people would dig up someone's corpse and burn it so that another could be buried in that person's place. This disgusted Shakespeare, and he didn't want this type of disrespect after his death. His epitaph reads as follows:

"Good Friends, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the bones enclosed here!
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

To this day no one has disturbed Shakespeare's grave.


The Globe Theatre – London Icon

I have created this article about The Globe Theatre as it's one of the newly re-built Icons of London.

The Globe Theatreis a reconstruction of the open air playhouse originally designed in 1599. The theatre was in London and associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company and the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders. Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert Burbage owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Hemmings, Augustine Phillips and Thomas Pope owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority shareholders leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry The Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644, or slightly later—the commonly cited document dating the act to 15 April 1644 has been identified as a probable forgery—to make room for tenements.

A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named "Shakespeare Globe", opened in 1997 approximately 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre. Open-air performances are held May -September. The Globe Exhibition, situated beneath the theater itself, offers a fascinating glimpse of Elizabethan theater and audiences and the design and reconstruction of the new Globe.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders in Lord Chamberlain's Men.

Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother CuthbertBurbage, owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope, owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority sharers, leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage, in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry the Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale.It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644 to make room for tenements.

Portsmouth Football Club ( Pompey )


Portsmouth F.C. was founded in the back garden of 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth on 5th  April 1898 with John Brickwood, owner of the local Brickwoods Brewery as chairman and Frank Brettell as the club's first manager. Portsmouth F.C. is an English football club based in the city of Portsmouth. The city and hence the club are nicknamed Pompey and sometimes called 'The Blues', with fans known across Europe. Pompey were early participants in the Southern League, One of their first Goalkeepers Pre -1898 was Arthur Conan Doyle the author of Sherlock Holmes.


The club joined the Southern League in 1898 and their first league match was played at Chatham Town on 2nd  September 1899 (a 1–0 victory), followed three days later by the first match at Fratton Park, a friendly against local rivals Southampton, which was won 2–0, with goals from Dan Cunliffe (formerly with Liverpool) and Harold Clarke (formerly with Everton.


That first season was hugely successful, with the club winning 20 out of 28 league matches, earning them the runner-up spot in the league. During 1910-11 saw Portsmouth relegated, but with the recruitment of Robert Brown as manager the team were promoted the following season.


The team play in the Football League Championship after being relegated from the Premier League after the 2009/10 season. Until then, Portsmouth had been a member of the Premier League for seven consecutive seasons.

Portsmouth's debut season in the English First Division was during the 1920's that alas, turned out to be a difficult one. However, despite disappointing league form the club fought off stiff competition to reach the FA Cup final closely losing out to Bolton Wanderers.

Having solidified their position in the top flight, the 1938-1939 season saw Portsmouth again reach the FA Cup final. This time Portsmouth were successful beating Wolves in a convincing 4-1 win. The club had secured their first major trophy.

After the end of World War Two league football began again and Portsmouth quickly proved to the footballing masses that they were a team to be reckoned with, lifting the League title in 1949 season. The club then crowned this achievement by retaining the
title the following year 1950 and becoming only one of five English teams to have won back to back championships since World War Two.

Portsmouth was the first club to hold a floodlit Football League match when they played Newcastle in 1956.

Finally under the management of Harry Redknapp Portsmouth were promoted into the Premier League and have held a solid place in the top flight since this date despite coming close to relegation a number of times.

Portsmouth went from strength to strength under the careful management of Harry Redknapp and a much-needed injection of cash. In the 2007-2008 season Portsmouth won the English F.A. Cup and qualified for the UEFA Cup qualification. They had proven themselves as a consistent and strong team.

Alas during the 2009-2010 season they had financial difficulties and were at the root of the Premier League because of there financial difficulties they were deducted 9 points due to going into Administration and subsequently relegated into the Championship league Division. They only bright part of the season was when they reached the F.A.Cup final in 2010 and lost to Chelsea.

Twenty20 Cricket – It's Founder and History


As an Englishman from a country that has created 100+ Sports and Games given to the world and a fan of most sports, I thought I would write about the latest sport given to the world which is proving a great success with the world - Twenty20 Cricket and it's history.


Twenty20 is a form of cricket originally introduced in England for professional inter-county competition by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), in 2003. A Twenty20 game involves two teams, each has a single innings, batting for a maximum of 20 overs. Twenty20 cricket is also known as T20 cricket.

A Twenty20 game is completed in about three and half hours, with each innings lasting around 75 minutes, thus bringing the game closer to the timespan of other popular team sports. It was introduced to create a lively form of the game which would be attractive to spectators at the ground and viewers on television and as such it has been very successful. The ECB did not intend that Twenty20 would replace other forms of cricket and these have continued alongside it.

The idea of a shortened format of the game at a professional level was discussed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 1998 and 2001.

When the Benson and Hedges Cup ended in 2002, the ECB needed another one day competition to fill its place. The cricketing authorities were looking to boost the game's popularity with the younger generation in response to dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship. It was intended to deliver fast paced, exciting cricket accessible to thousands of fans who were put off by the longer versions of the game. Stuart Robertson, the marketing manager of the ECB, proposed a 20 over per innings game to county chairmen in 2001 and they voted 11-7 in favour of adopting the new format. A media group was invited to develop a name for the new game and Twenty20 was the chosen title. Twenty20 cricket is also known as T20 cricket.


Historical Dates of Twenty20


1) Twenty20 Introduced in England for professional inter-county competition by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), in 2003.

2) On 10th January 2005 Australia's first Twenty20 game was played at the WACA between the Western Warriors and the Victorian Bushrangers. It drew a sell out crowd of 20, 700.

3) Starting 11th  July 2006 19 West Indies regional teams competed in what was named the Stanford 20/20 tournament. The event has been financially backed by billionaire Allen Stanford who gave at least US$28,000,000 funding money. West Indies legends also backed the programme, and several "looked after" the teams during their stay in and around the purpose built ground in Antigua. It was intended that the tournament would be an annual event. Guyana won the inaugural event, defeating Trinidad and Tobago by 5 wickets. The top prize for the winning team was US$1,000,000, but other prizes were given throughout the tournament, such as play of the match (US$10,000) and man of the match (US$25,000).

4) On 1st  November 2008 the Superstars West Indies team (101-0/12.5 overs) beat England (99/all out) by 10 wickets. England slumped to 33-4 and then 65-8 after 15 overs before Samit Patel's 22 took them to 99 in 19.5 overs, still easily their lowest Twenty20 total. Chris Gayle scored an impressive 65 runs not out.

5) On 5th  January 2007 Queenslands Bulls played the New South Wales Blues at The Gabba, Brisbane. A crowd of 11,000 was expected based on pre-match ticket sales. However, an unexpected 16,000 turned up on the day to buy tickets, causing disruption and confusion for surprised Gabba staff as they were forced to throw open gates and grant many fans free entry. Attendance reached 27,653.

6) For 1st  February 2008's Twenty20 match between Australia and India, 84,041 people attended the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground involving the Twenty20 World Champions against the ODI World Champions.

7) Twenty20 attracted billions of fans to the game through the Indian Premier League.   The first Indian Premier League which was staged in India in 2008 changed the face of the game. The league involved over hundreds of players contracted and over billion dollars investment. It was won by Rajasthan Royals with the Chennai Super Kings finishing as runners-up.

8) The second edition was staged in South Africa which was won by Deccan Charges beating the Royal Challengers in the final.

9) The third edition was played in India despite the many challenges and controversies surrounding the league which was won by the Chennai Super Kings with Mumbai Indians finishing as the runners-up.

10) On 17th  February 2005 Australia defeated New Zealand in the first men's full international Twenty20 match, played at Eden Park in Auckland.

11) The first Twenty20 international in England was played between England and Australia at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire on the 13th  June 2005, which England won, by a record margin of 100 runs.

12) On 9th  January 2006 Australia and South Africa met in the first international Twenty20 game in Australia. In a first, each player's nickname appeared on the back of his uniform, rather than his surname.

Since its inception the game has spread around the cricket world. On most international tours there is at least one Twenty20 match and most Test-playing nations have a domestic cup competition. The inaugural ICC World Twenty20 was played in South Africa in 2007 with India winning by five runs against Pakistan in the final. Pakistan won the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 defeating Sri Lanka by eight wickets. England won the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 defeating Australia in the final by 7 wickets.

In June 2009, speaking at the annual Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's, a former Australian wicket-keeper pushed for Twenty20 to be made an Olympic Sports. "It would," he said, "be difficult to see a better, quicker or cheaper way of spreading the game throughout the world." Earliest Horse Races – England 12th Century


I thought as English Horse Races are famous worldwide I thought my article on the earliest English horse races would be of interest to horse lovers and readers from all over world.  The origins of modern racing lies in the 12th century, when English knights returned from the Crusades with swift Arab horses.

Over the next 400 years, an increasing number of Arab stallions were imported and bred to English mares to produce horses that combined speed and endurance. Matching the fastest of these animals in two-horse races for a private wager became a popular diversion of the nobility.

Horse racing began to become a professional sport during the reign (1702-14) of Queen Anne, when match racing gave way to races involving several horses on which the spectators wagered. Racecourses sprang up all over England, offering increasingly large purses to attract the best horses. These purses in turn made breeding and owning horses for racing profitable.

With the rapid expansion of the sport came the need for a central governing authority. In 1750 racing's elite met at Newmarket to form the English Jockey Club, which to this day exercises complete control over English racing.

The English Jockey Club wrote complete rules of racing and sanctioned racecourses to conduct meetings under those rules. Standards defining the quality of races soon led to the designation of certain races as the ultimate tests of excellence. Since 1814, five races for three-year-old horses have been designated as "classics." Three races, open to male horses (colts) and female horses (fillies), make up the English Triple Crown: the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby (see DERBY, THE), and the St. Leger Stakes. Two races, open to fillies only, are the 1,000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks.

The Jockey Club also took steps to regulate the breeding of racehorses. James Weatherby, whose family served as accountants to the members of the Jockey Club, was assigned the task of tracing the pedigree, or complete family history, of every horse racing in England. In 1791 the results of his research were published as the Introduction to the General Stud Book. From 1793 to the present, members of the Weatherby family have meticulously recorded the pedigree of every foal born to those racehorses in subsequent volumes of the General Stud Book.

By the early 1800s the only horses that could be called "Thoroughbreds" and allowed to race were those descended from horses listed in the General Stud Book. Thoroughbreds are so inbred that the pedigree of every single animal can be traced back father-to-father to one of three stallions, called the "foundation sires." These stallions were the Byerley Turk, foaled c.1679; the Darley Arabian, foaled c.1700; and the Godolphin Arabian, foaled c.1724.

Overseas Horse Racing

The British settlers brought horses and horse racing with them to the New World, with the first racetrack laid out on Long Island as early as 1665. Although the sport became a popular local pastime, the development of organized racing did not arrive until after the Civil War. (The American Stud Book was begun in 1868.) For the next several decades, with the rapid rise of an industrial economy, gambling on racehorses, and therefore horse racing itself, grew explosively; by 1890, 314 tracks were operating across the country.

In 1894 the America's most prominent track and stable owners met in New York to form an American Jockey Club, modeled on the English Jockey Club, which soon ruled racing with an iron hand.

The Grand National – England 1839


I thought as The Grand National is an Iconic English  Horse race, I thought it would be interesting to fans of English Horse racing to know It's history. The origins of the Grand National can be traced back to the first official races at Aintree which were initiated by the owner of Liverpool's Waterloo Hotel, Mr William Lynn. Lynn who leased the land from Lord Sefton, built a course, built a grandstand and staged the first Grand National on Tuesday February 26th 1839 and Lottery became the first winner of The Grand National. In those days the field had to jump a stone wall (now the water jump), cross a stretch of ploughed  land and finished over two hurdles.

The Grand National in the days of the Topham family owned substantial tracts of land around Aintree and had been involved with the management of the course since the early years of the Aintree Meeting. In 1949 Lord Sefton sold the course to the Tophams who appointed ex-Gaiety Girl Mirabel Topham to manage it. Mrs Topham built a new track within the established National Racecourse and named it after Lord Mildmay, a fine amateur jockey and lover of the Grand National. The Mildmay course opened in 1953, the same year as the motor circuit which still encircles the track.

The motor circuit was another of Mrs Topham's ideas and it quickly gained a reputation as one the best in the world hosting a European Grand Prix and five British Grand Prix. Stirling Moss won his first Grand Prix on it in 1955 while Jim Clark won the 1962 event.

Aintree Racecourse suffered some lean times in the post-war years and in 1965 it was announced that the course would be sold to a property developer. In 1973 the Tophams finally sold the course to property developer Bill Davies who gave a commitment to keep the race going however he was not a real racing fan. As a result the attendance at the 1975 Liverpool Grand National was the smallest in living memory (Davies had tripled the admission price) and the great race reached its lowest point.

Ladbrokes, the bookmaker made a bold bid in 1975 and signed an agreement with Davies allowing them to manage the Grand National.

Ladbrokes, like all true racing professionals, had a genuine love for the National and were determined to keep it alive. Their task stretched over the next eight years and they set about it admirably but Davies was reluctant to renew their contract. He was determined to sell Aintree.

Racing and the public in general finally realised that after so many years of "crying wolf" the threat was serious and a huge campaign was launched to rescue the race once and for all.

Donations from the public helped the Jockey Club pay Davies' price and in early '83 he finally sold the racecourse. That year the Grand National was sponsored by the Sun newspaper but in '84 Seagram Distillers stepped in to provide the solid foundation on which Aintree's revival has been built.

The last Seagram-sponsored National was in 1991 when the race was won by a horse which chairman Straker twice had the opportunity to buy; the horse's name was Seagram.

The Seagram subsidiary, Martell, took over sponsorship in 1992. Martell backs the whole three-day Grand National meeting. Around 100,000 people will be at Aintree to watch the top horses battle for honours.

By far the most successful and my favourite horse in Grand National history was Red Rum, the only horse to win three times, in 1973, 1974, and in 1977. He also came second in the two intervening years, 1975 and 1976. In 1973, he beat the champion Crisp who had to carry 12 stone, in what is arguably the most memorable Grand National of all time.


Aintree racecourse has overcome all the obstacles and today enjoys its most successful period in modern times. Future plans include a new grandstand, a Heritage Centre and a strong ambition to establish Aintree as an international tourist attraction on non-racedays.


Below is a list of the Past Winners of the Grand National:


















Gay Lad





















Peter Simple









Miss Mowbray



Peter Simple















Little Charley



Half Caste



























The Lamb



The Colonel



The Colonel



The Lamb



Casse Tete





















The Liberator





















Old Joe















Come Away



Father O'Flynn






Why Not



Wild Man From Borneo



The Soarer












Ambush II






Shannon Lass












Ascetic's Silver









Lutteur III









Jerry M









Ally Sloper



1916–18 see below









Shaun Spadah



Music Hall



Sergeant Murphy



Master Robert



Double Chance



Jack Horner






Tipperary Tim






Shaun Goilin









Kellsboro Jack



Golden Miller









Royal Mail












1941–45 no race [b]



Lovely Cottage






Sheila's Cottage



Russian Hero






Nickel Coin






Early Mist



Royal Tan



Quare Times









Mr What






Merryman II



Nicolaus Silver









Team Spirit



Jay Trump









Red Alligator



Highland Wedding



Gay Trip






Well to Do



Red Rum



Red Rum






Rag Trade



Red Rum









Ben Nevis












Hallo Dandy



Last Suspect



West Tip



Maori Venture



Rhyme 'n' Reason



Little Polveir



Mr Frisk






Party Politics



race void [c]






Royal Athlete



Rough Quest



Lord Gyllene



Earth Summit









Red Marauder






Monty's Pass



Amberleigh House









Silver Birch



Comply or Die



Mon Mome



Don't Push It



 The 1843 winner Vanguard was trained at Lord Chesterfield's private stables at Bretby Hall
 The race was abandoned from 1941 to 1945 because of World War II
 The 1993 running was declared void because some of the horses failed to be called back after a false start.


Unofficial winners Pre-1839


The first official running of the "Grand National" is now considered to be the 1839 Grand Liverpool Steeplechase. There had been a similar race for several years prior to this, but its status as an official Grand National was revoked some time between 1862 and 1873.




The Duke


The Duke


Sir William



For three years during World War 1, the Grand National could not be run at Aintree, and so a substitute event was held at another racecourse, Gatwick. This venue is now defunct, and it is presently the site of Garwick Airport. The course was modified to make it similar to Aintree, and the races were contested over the same distance, with one less fence to be jumped.

The 1916 running was titled the Racecourse Association Steeplechase, and for the next two years it was known as the War National.











Please visit my Horse racing and Jockeys on  Art Prints Collection @


The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race – It's Fun History


I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the history of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race as It's one of the most famous boat races in the world and is one of England's greatest sporting Icon competition's.


The event generally known as "The Boat Race" is a rowing race in England between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club. The teams comprised of Eight rowers in each team with a cox in the bow who would control the speed of the boat.

The race is between competing eights, each spring on the Thames in London. It takes place generally on the last Saturday of March or the first Saturday of April.

The formal title of the event is the Xchanging Boat Race, and it is also known as the University Boat Race and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

The event is a popular one, not only with the alumni of the universities, but also with rowers in general and the public. An estimated quarter of a million people watch the race live from the banks of the river, around seven to nine million people on TV in the UK, and an overseas audience estimated by the Boat Race Company at around 120 million, which would make this the most viewed single day sporting event in the world. However, other sources estimate that the international audience is below 20 million.

Members of both teams are traditionally known as blues and each boat as a “Blue Boat” with Cambridge in light blue and Oxford dark blue. The first race was in 1829 and it has been held annually since 1856, with the exception of the two world wars. The most recent race was on Saturday, 3 April 2010 at 4.30pm with Cambridge (on the Middlesex Station) winning.


Full Results by Year






Total wins





01829-06-10 10 June 1829







01836-06-17 17 June 1836







01839-04-03 3 April 1839







01840-04-15 15 April 1840







01841-04-14 14 April 1841







01842-06-11 11 June 1842







01845-03-15 15 March 1845







01846-04-03 3 April 1846







01849-04-29 29 April 1849







01849-12-15 15 December 1849







01852-04-03 3 April 1852







01854-04-08 8 April 1854







01856-03-15 15 March 1856







01857-04-04 4 April 1857







01858-03-27 27 March 1858







01859-04-15 15 April 1859







01860-03-31 31 March 1860







01861-03-23 23 March 1861







01862-04-12 12 April 1862







01863-03-28 28 March 1863







01864-03-19 19 March 1864







01865-04-08 8 April 1865







01866-03-24 24 March 1866







01867-04-13 13 April 1867







01868-04-04 4 April 1868







01869-03-17 17 March 1869







01870-04-06 6 April 1870







01871-04-01 1 April 1871







01872-03-23 23 March 1872







01873-03-29 29 March 1873







01874-03-28 28 March 1874







01875-03-20 20 March 1875







01876-04-08 8 April 1876







01877-03-24 24 March 1877

dead heat






01878-04-13 13 April 1878







01879-04-05 5 April 1879







01880-03-22 22 March 1880







01881-04-08 8 April 1881







01882-04-01 1 April 1882







01883-03-15 15 March 1883







01884-04-07 7 April 1884







01885-03-28 28 March 1885







01886-04-03 3 April 1886







01887-03-26 26 March 1887







01888-03-24 24 March 1888







01889-03-30 30 March 1889







01890-03-26 26 March 1890







01891-03-21 21 March 1891







01892-04-09 9 April 1892







01893-03-22 22 March 1893







01894-03-17 17 March 1894







01895-03-30 30 March 1895







01896-03-28 28 March 1896







01897-04-03 3 April 1897







01898-03-26 26 March 1898







01899-03-25 25 March 1899







01900-03-31 31 March 1900







01901-03-30 30 March 1901







01902-03-22 22 March 1902







01903-04-01 1 April 1903







01904-03-26 26 March 1904







01905-04-01 1 April 1905







01906-04-07 7 April 1906







01907-03-16 16 March 1907







01908-04-04 4 April 1908







01909-04-03 3 April 1909







01910-03-23 23 March 1910







01911-04-01 1 April 1911







01912-04-01 1 April 1912







01913-03-13 13 March 1913







01914-03-28 28 March 1914







01920-03-28 28 March 1920







01921-03-30 30 March 1921







01922-04-01 1 April 1922







01923-03-24 24 March 1923







01924-04-05 5 April 1924







01925-03-28 28 March 1925







01926-03-27 27 March 1926







01927-04-02 2 April 1927







01928-03-31 31 March 1928







01929-03-23 23 March 1929







01930-04-12 12 April 1930







01931-03-21 21 March 1931







01932-03-19 19 March 1932







01933-04-01 1 April 1933







01934-03-17 17 March 1934







01935-04-06 6 April 1935







01936-04-04 4 April 1936







01937-03-24 24 March 1937







01938-04-02 2 April 1938







01939-04-01 1 April 1939







01946-03-30 30 March 1946







01947-03-29 29 March 1947







01948-03-27 27 March 1948







01949-03-26 26 March 1949







01950-04-01 1 April 1950







01951-03-26 26 March 1951







01952-03-29 29 March 1952







01953-03-28 28 March 1953







01954-04-03 3 April 1954







01955-03-26 26 March 1955







01956-03-24 24 March 1956







01957-03-30 30 March 1957







01958-04-05 5 April 1958







01959-03-28 28 March 1959







01960-04-02 2 April 1960







01961-04-01 1 April 1961







01962-04-07 7 April 1962







01963-03-23 23 March 1963







01964-03-28 28 March 1964







01965-04-03 3 April 1965







01966-03-26 26 March 1966







01967-03-25 25 March 1967







01968-03-30 30 March 1968







01969-04-05 5 April 1969







01970-03-28 28 March 1970







01971-03-27 27 March 1971







01972-04-01 1 April 1972







01973-03-07 7 March 1973







01974-04-06 6 April 1974







01975-03-29 29 March 1975







01976-03-20 20 March 1976







01977-03-19 19 March 1977







01978-03-25 25 March 1978







01979-03-17 17 March 1979







01980-04-05 5 April 1980







01981-04-04 4 April 1981







01982-03-27 27 March 1982







01983-04-02 2 April 1983







01984-03-18 18 March 1984







01985-04-06 6 April 1985







01986-03-29 29 March 1986







01987-03-28 28 March 1987







01988-04-02 2 April 1988







01989-03-25 25 March 1989







01990-03-31 31 March 1990







01991-03-30 30 March 1991







01992-04-04 4 April 1992







01993-03-27 27 March 1993







01994-03-26 26 March 1994







01995-04-01 1 April 1995







01996-04-06 6 April 1996







01997-03-29 29 March 1997







01998-03-28 28 March 1998







01999-04-03 3 April 1999







02000-03-25 25 March 2000







02001-03-24 24 March 2001







02002-03-30 30 March 2002







02003-04-06 6 April 2003







02004-03-28 28 March 2004







02005-03-27 27 March 2005







02006-04-02 2 April 2006







02007-04-07 7 April 2007







02008-03-29 29 March 2008







02009-03-29 29 March 2009







02010-04-03 3 April 2010






Unofficial wartime races
















Although the heavyweight men's eights are the main draw, the two universities compete in other rowing boat races. The main boat race is preceded by a race between the two reserve crews (called Isis for Oxford and Goldie for Cambridge).

The women's eights, women's reserve eights, men's lightweight eights and women's lightweight eights race in the Henley Boat races a week before the men's heavyweight races. There is also a 'veterans' boat race, usually held on a weekday before the main Boat Race, on the Thames between Putney and Hammersmith.

Commonwealth Games – The Friendly Games


The Commonwealth games is a sporting event that appears every 4 years and over 70 countries are represented. The Commonwealth Games are called the friendly games and the atmosphere is completely different to the Olympics. The sporting competition brought together the members of the old British Empire was first proposed by the Reverend Astley Cooper in 1891 when he wrote an article in The Times suggesting a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire"


In 1911, the Festival of the Empire was held in come London to celebrate the Coronation of King George V. As part of the festival an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics.

In 1928, a key Canadian athlete, Bobby Robinson, was given the task of organizing the first ever Commonwealth Games. These Games were held in 1930, in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and saw the participation of 400 athletes from eleven countries.

All other nations march in English alphabetical order, except that the first nation marching in the Parade of Athletes is the host nation of the previous games, and the host nation of the current games marches last. In 2006 countries marched in alphabetical order in geographical regions.

Since then, the Commonwealth Games have been held every four years, except for the period during the Second World War. The Games have been known by various names such as the British Empire Games, Friendly Games and British Commonwealth Games. Since 1978, they have been known as the Commonwealth Games. Originally having only single competition sports, the 1998 Commonwealth Games at Kuala Lumpur saw a major change when team sports such as cricket, hockey and netball made their first appearance.

In 2001, the Games Movement adopted the three values of Humanity, Equality and Destiny as the core values of the Commonwealth Games. These values inspire and connect thousands of people and signify the broad mandate for holding the Games within the Commonwealth.

The Games were originally known as the British Empire Games. The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930 at Hamilton, Canada. The 10th Commonwealth Games were held at Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974, the 11th in Edmonton (Canada) in 1978, the 12th in Brisbane (Australia) in 1982, the 13th in Edinburgh (Scotland) in 1986, the 14th in Auckland (New Zealand) in 1990 and the 15th in Victoria (Canada) in 1994, where about 3,350 athletes from a record 64 nations (including South Africa, which joined the family of Commonwealth athletes after 36 years) participated. Namibia also, which gained its independence in 1990, made its debut while Hong Kong made its final appearance in the Games before being ceded to China in 1997.


Table of Past Commonwealth Games


...................Venue.............Year........No of Countries


1 Hamilton,Canada               1930               11

2 London,England                 1934               16

3 Sydney, Australia   1938               15

4 Auckland, N Z                    1950               12

5 Vancouver, Canada          1954               24

6 Cardiff,Wales                     1958               35

7 Perth, Australia                  1962               35

8 Jamaica, West Indies        1966               34

9 Edinburgh, Scotland          1970               42

10 Christchurch, N Z 1974               38

11 Edmonton, Canada         1978               48

12 Brisbane, Australia          1982               47

13 Edinburgh, Scotland        1986               26

14 Auckland, N Z                   1990               55

15 Victoria, Canada             1994               64

6 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1998                 70

17 Manchchester, England 2002                72

18 Melbourne, Australia       2006               76

19 New Delhi, India   2010               72

20 Glasgow, Scotland          2014


After Olympics, Commonwealth Games is the second largest sports festival in the world. The Games are held once in four years but only in between the Olympic years.

The three nations to have hosted the games the most number of times are Australia (4), Canada (4), and New Zealand (3). Furthermore, five editions have taken place in the countries within the United Kingdom. Two cities have held the games on multiple occasions: Auckland (1950 and 1990), and Edinburgh (1970 and 1986).

British Seaside Piers – History from 1391


As an Island race and surrounded by water I thought as British Seaside Piers are popular with us Brits I thought I would tell the history of Piers and list all the British Piers. There have been very few piers built since the First World War. However, due to the precarious nature of piers - they are often prey to fires, collisions, and storm damage. Today several piers have been completely changed in the period from the thirties to the present day.

The oldest Pier in England is in Cramer where there has been a pier or jetty in Cromer, Norfolk, England since 1391. Letters granting the right to levy duties for repairs suggest that attempts at maintenance seem to have gone on until 1580. In 1582, Queen Elizabeth I granted the right to the inhabitants of Cromer to export wheat, barley and malt for the maintenance of their town and towards the rebuilding of the pier. 

The oldest cast iron pier in the world is Gravesend Town Pier in Kent which opened in 1834. However, it is not recognised by the National Piers Society as being a seaside pier.

There are still a significant number of piers of architectural merit still standing, although some have been lost.

The most well known piers are perhaps the two at Brighton in East Sussex and the three at Blackpool in Lancashire.

Two piers, Brighton's now derelict West Pier and Clevedon Pier were Grade 1 listed: Brighton West lost its status after a series of fires and storms. The Birnbeck Pier in Weston-Super-Mare is the only pier in the world that is linked to an island.

The National Piers Society gives a figure of 55 surviving seaside piers in England and Wales.


Herne Bay Pier

Blackpool Pier

Bognor Regis Pier

Boscombe Pier

Bournemouth Pier 

Brighton Pier

Burnham-on-Sea Pier 

Clacton Pier

Clarence Pier, Southsea

Cleethorpes Pier 

Clevedon Pier  

Cromer Pier 

Deal Pier 

Eastbourne Pier 

Felixstowe Pier 

Fleetwood Pier 

Great Yarmouth Pier 

Harwich Pier 

Hastings Pier 

Herne Bay Pier

Hythe Pier

Lowestoft Pier 

Lytham St Annes Pier 

New Brighton Pier 

Paignton Pier 

Portsmouth Pier  

Ryde Pier 

Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier 

Sandown Pier 

Southend-on-Sea Pier

Southport Pier

South Parade Pier, Southsea 

Southwold Pier  

Swanage Pier


Totland, Isle of Wight Pier 

Walton on the Naze Pier 

Weston-super-Mare Pier 

Weymouth Pier

Whitby Pier 

Wigan Pier 

Worthing Pier 

Yarmouth Pier 


Aberystwyth Pier 

Bangor Pier 

Beaumaris Pier 

Colwyn Bay Pier 

Llandudno Pier 

Mumbles Pier 

Penarth Pier

Isle Of Man

Ramsey Pier

In their heyday, there were many pleasure piers across England. These were found in most fashionable seaside resorts during the Victorian era.

Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker


One of the most famous Furniture makers in England in the last 80 years is the Mouseman - Richard Thompson who was born in Kilburn, Yorkshire, England on the 7th May 1876. If you love beautiful, handmade wooden furniture that's also highly collectible, you should investigate Robert Thompson's Mouseman furniture. On any piece of Robert Thompson Furniture was carved  a mouse – hence his name “The Mouseman”.


The story began when one day in 1919 an offhand remark about being as poor as a church mouse, lead him to carve a mouse on the finished cornice he was working on. In that moment, a famous trademark was born - even though it wasn't registered until the 1930's.

Even though Robert Thompson adopted the mouse as his trademark, not all the furniture created in the early years had it.

The patina of the furniture, the colour and degree of adzing, the use of a specific tool to shape the timber, also aid in identifying the pieces that weren't marked with the mouse.

His mouse has changed also.

Thomson removed the front legs from the mouse design in 1930 because they tended to break off easily.

The facts the mouse has no front legs but clearly recognisable whiskers are important things to look for when you find a piece identified as Mouseman furniture for unfortunately, there are imposters. (If you're worried about fakes, check out The Vintage Mouseman. where a "Rogue's gallery" of known replicas and fakes is maintained.)

Each piece of Mouseman Furniture is truly unique. It's not made by committee. Each craftsman starts a piece of furniture and remains responsible for it from selecting the wood to carving the signature mouse. In fact, just by looking at the pieces, most avid collectors of Robert Thompson's furniture can tell which craftsman made the piece.

Inspired by the medieval oak furnishings at Ripon and York Cathedrals, Robert Thompson became determined to spend his life bringing back the spirit of craftsmanship in English Oak, and set about teaching himself how to use traditional craft tools. He soon developed a technique of finishing the surfaces of his oak furniture with a pronounced “tooled” effect using an adze, a medieval tool which had been much used in the past for roughing out the broad shapes of ships' timbers, etc, and this still remains a feature of today’s items.

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey's furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson's furniture.


The “Mouseman” style was based on sound construction and a straightforward fitness for purpose, using the three basic materials of English Oak, real cowhide and wrought iron.  During his working life he worked alongside architects such as Sir Giles Scott and J S Syme, who in turn have left their mark on buildings throughout the United Kingdom.


The workshop, which is now being run by his descendants includes a showroom and visitors' centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains "Mouseman" Pews, fittings and other furniture. Please enter into any Search Engine  The company which is now known as "Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd - The Mouseman of Kilburn.". The original Robert Thompson – The Mouseman died on December 8th 1955 and is buried in the small church graveyard at Kilburn overlooking his beloved workshop, which was later extended by his two grandsons and is still in production today.

Please visit my Funny Animal Art Prints Collection @

My other website is called Directory of British Icons:      

The Chinese call Britain 'The Island of Hero's' which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.

Copyright © 2011 - 2012  Paul Hussey. All Rights Reserved.



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