Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mini History Blogs: Aquatopia

The above image is J M W Turners Sunrise with Sea Monsters, which, in 2013, I was fortunate enough to see as part of an exhibition entitled Aquatopia at the Tate in St Ives in Cornwall.

Many pieces of art work were on show, some I recognised such as the above mentioned Turner, Katsushika Hokusai, Salvador Dali, Lucian Freud and my favourite piece in the whole gallery was Stanhope Forbes 'Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach.'

I certainly appreciated all the art work there, most I understood, but some I struggled with such as Dali's work and others were not to my taste at all, such as Turners. I stared long and hard at Turners painting, fortunately it was a quiet day and no queue formed behind me, but I could not make out any clear form and was quite confused by it. Interestingly, I read that the interpretations of this painting is the

 'source of much study and open to speculation.' 

The Tate Gallery itself says that the painting is of 'just fish' as the cross hatching at the back may be fishing nets. Others say its paddle boat being eaten by a giant whale as

 "the boat theory is consistent with the interpretation of many of Turner's other later works, as a response to the 'technological changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution."

Phew! It seems I wasn't on my own!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Mini History Blogs: Kathrine of Valois

The remains of Katherine of Valois by Samuel Pepys (according to his diary in 1669.)
......"I now took to Westminster Abbey, it being Shrove Tuesday;and here we did see, by particular favour, the body of Queen Katerine of Valois; and I had the upper part of her body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen, and that this was my birthday, thirty six years old, that I did first kiss a Queen. When Henry the Seventh built his chapel, it was taken up and laid in this wooden coffin; but I did there see that, in it, the body was buried in a leaden one, which remains under the body to this day"
Not the actions of a normal man surely?

The image is of the wooden effigy of Katherine, it was made for her funeral and survives to this day in the Undercroft Museum at Westminster Abbey.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Mini History Blog: 1940's Festival Weekend

Last weekend our village hosted its annual 1940's festival, and what a huge success it was, the event attracted 10,000 visitors. As the village clock was set back to the time of World War Two, wartime songs, vintage cars and even a bombing raid demonstration were just some of the wonderful events we saw over the weekend.

The 1940's festival opened with a service in St Andrew's churchyard in remembrance of those who fought and died during the Second World War, as well as those who worked on the home front.
Many locals and visitor alike dressed up, many in pretty dresses, smart suits and army uniforms all enjoying the sunshine and viewing all the different events that included a military vehicle display, singers and dancers, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight display and wartime re-enactments.

A great two days were had by all.

Mini History Blogs The Witch Girl

Above is an image of the remains of a young girl, thought to be aged about thirteen who was buried face down, evidence, archaeologists say, that despite her tender age, she was rejected by her community and seen as a danger even when dead.
The Italian media named her “The Witch Girl” she was unearthed at San Calocero in Albenga in Italy, by a team of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology at the Vatican.
Archaeologists said 
“These rare burials are explained as an act of punishment. What the dead had done was not accepted by the community. Like other deviant burials, in which the dead were buried with a brick in the mouth, nailed or staked to the ground, or even decapitated and dismembered, the face-down treatment aimed to humiliate the dead and impede the individual from rising from the grave."
A burial such as this was linked to the belief that the soul left the body through the mouth. Burying the dead face down was a way to prevent the impure soul threatening the living and in extreme cases, a face down burial was used as the ultimate punishment, with the victim horrifically buried alive.
The site, a burial ground on which a martyr church dedicated to San Calocero was built around the fifth and sixth centuries, was completely abandoned in 1593.

Mini History Blogs The Battle of Edgecote Moor

On this day in 1469 the Battle of Edgecote Moor took place.  William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke was executed on the order of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Herbert's  death was regarded by the Welsh as a 

'national calamity.'

William Herbert's body was taken for burial at Tintern Abbey. In his will Herbert instructed his widow Anne, to betroth their daughter Maud to Henry Tudor, but this was not to be, Tudors mother would have other plans for him. However, William's son also William, did marry into the royal family (of sorts) his second wife was Kathrine, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III, he had been married to the sister of Elizabeth Woodville previous to that. 

Maud, went on to marry Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. 

Why was Herbert executed........revenge killing maybe? 

My blog Vengeance in Mine is about such killings, have read and let me know your opinion on William Herbert's death.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Vengeance in Mine:

Revenge Killings During the Wars of the Roses 

Behavioral scientists who have studied revenge scanned the brains of people who had been wronged, the researchers gave these people a chance to punish the wrongdoers. As the victims considered revenge, it was noted that this action caused a notable amount of activity in what scientists call the Caudate Nucleus, an area in the brain that processes rewards, which the researchers equated to same feeling we feel when we smoke, or eat chocolate. Just as one piece of chocolate doesn't satisfy our craving, the act of revenge doesn't deliver justice, it prolongs hostility and leads to other acts of vengeance, creating a unending circle of retaliation. 

Revenge is ages old, God himself wanted the monopoly on it, Shakespeare wrote of it and the leather clad Beatrix Kiddo practiced it, but vengeance comes at a cost, no more so than in the time of the Wars of the Roses. Deaths as the result of vengeance were frequent occurrences,  Edmund, Earl of Rutland, Owen Tudor and Roger Vaughan are an example of this practice. Their deaths were linked, they died over a ten year period, but despite this length of time and not surprisingly, the pain each felt never diminished, but what is surprising is that each of the condemned never expected it to happen to them and each pleaded for his life. 

My blog on vengeance and revenge killing continues on my website Meandering Through Time 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sir Renaud de Karihaes and Lienosus.

The Hilarious Antics of the Medieval Duo 

Before they set off for their adventures, let me introduce you to my medieval family.

Here they are, all gathered by the walls of their country pile for a knees up at the annual get together of family and friends.

 Firstly, lets look at Lienosus himself, the grumpy one, here he is with his master, Sir Renaud, who is all decked out in his finest red and blue party outfit. One thing you will notice about Lienosus over the course of his adventures is that his coat is often a different colour, he is a dapple grey at present. Lieonsus can always persuade the local blacksmith to 'do a colour' when he comes to give him a short, back and sides. He is moody and usually grumpy but has been with Sir Renaud since he was a cute little foal. In those days he loved nothing more than galloping around the fields of Karihaes getting his tiny horsey hooves dirty in the wet mud. He has grown into a loyal and somewhat cheeky friend who bosses his master about, he speaks his mind, and more often than not it is he who gets his master out of a sticky situation, and as you will soon find out, he has done this on more than one occasion. 

For the rest of this families story click on the link to my website 

Mini History Blog: Rosemary for Remembrance.

"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets"  Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

More on the healing properties of Rosmary can be found on my blog at

Mini History Blogs: Richard Carew

On the 17th July 1555, Richard Carew, who was primarily known for his Survey of Cornwall, was born at Antony House, in Cornwall.
F E Halliday, an academic and author who published a modern edition of Carew's survey in 1953 writes:
"The importance of Richard Carew has never been appreciated. Few, indeed, are even aware of the writer who, while Shakespeare was writing for the London stage, was quietly at work in his Cornish country house. This neglect is the result of his own modesty, the remoteness of his dwelling, and the multitude of his great contemporaries in and about the capital, and not of any lack of merit; for Godfrey of Bulloigne is among the first great Elizabethan translations, The Examination of Men's Wits contains prose equal to anything of the period, A Herring's Tail is one of its most entertaining poems, and The Survey of Cornwall is a minor classic of our language. Most of our information about Carew, apart from what he himself tells us in the Survey, has been derived from Anthony Wood; and most of it is incorrect, partly because he confuses Carew with his eldest son, another Richard. Fortunately, there is a model muniment room at Antony House which includes numerous official and legal documents, and two invaluable manuscript books by the second Richard, largely autobiographical, but incorporating much material about his father."

Mini History Blogs: Isabella of Portugal

Isabella of Portugal was daughter of John of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, she was the granddaughter of John of Gaunt.
Born in 1397 Isabella married late in her life, she was thirty when she married Philip the Good who was one year older than her. In 1415 Isabella had received an offer of marriage from her cousin Henry V of England, but negotiations came to nothing and as we have seen Isabella remained unmarried.
In this painting Isabella is aged fifty three, it is early copy not the original, and was painted by an unknown artist. It is unusual in style as it is a profile pose, the artist may have been trying to portray Isabella in a "better light" with a "convincing yet elegant style." It may well be that Isabella was like her mother in looks, Philippa was thought to be rather plain.
A generous and intelligent woman, able to hold her own in diplomatic conferences Isabella was influential in the marriage arrangements of son Charles the Bold and the marriage of her great niece to James II of Scotland.
Isabella died in Dijon in 1471 after living a devout and quiet life.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Seagull, Bird of the Ocean, Graceful in Motion.

I have a great affection for the seagull, they form part of any coastal communities life and that should be respected, they are opportunists who now have a bad reputation. 
Did you know that in this country we throw out the equivalent of twenty four meals a month, that adds up to 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year that goes straight from fridges or cupboards into the bin. 

My blog continues on my Website at 

Mini History Blog: The Battle of Castillion.

The 16th of July marks the anniversary of the battle that ended the Hundred Years War.
This battle, which took place in 1453 ended with the French victory, marked the end of the Hundred Years War between France and England although a peace treaty was never signed.
The English who achieved several major victories during the course of the war lost all their possession in France except for Calais which was recaptured by the French only in 1558. The battle, however, also went into history as the first battle in Europe in which cannons played a decisive role.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Symbolism: The Rainbow Portrait and Thomas More's Family Portrait

Non Sine Sole Iris - No Rainbow without the Sun

Even though I have spent many a happy hour gazing at historical images and can always be found with my head in one history book or another I have to admit that I find symbolism in historical works of art quite daunting. I think the main problem for me is not symbolism itself but the use of everyday items that have a symbolic reference and the question of what its saying, who it's aimed at and would the vast majority of people at the time really get its point? 

More of my blog on my website Meandering Through Time at

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Mini History Blog: Wayside Crosses

Wayside crosses appeared in England between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, not only as a reminder to the traveller of their faith, but as a mark of reassurance as they journeyed in what must have been difficult terrain. Many fine examples can be found in the county of Cornwall.
There is a base of such a cross is still in existence just outside the boundary of my 3x great grandfathers farm at Trevemper. This particular cross demonstrates that this area was an important route the medieval traveller was using to reach the Collegiate Church of St Carantoc, founded in the mid thirteenth century by Bishop William Briwere.
The base of the Trevemper cross would be like the one pictured below. This cross can be found not far from Bodmin Cornwall.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Death of Jack Cade

12th July 1450 

  In 1450, a proclamation was issued offering 1000 marks to any person who could capture Jack Cade dead or alive, it did not take long, Cade was eventually found hiding in a garden in Sussex, by one Alexander Eden/Iden. 

Cade may have died in the scuffle, but he was dead by the time he was transported in a cart on his way to London. Eden got his reward and Cade, according to the authorities, got his.

Jack Cade's story continues on my website, Meandering Through Time 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Thomas Vaughan of Monmouth

"To Love and Wait Upon"
The remains of Pontifract Castle's keep.

  The above motto is carved on the tomb of my ancestor Sir Thomas Vaughan at Westminster Abbey. It also sits at the head of my introduction to my blog on Thomas Vaughan which begins:

"It was on the 25th June 1483 that three men were executed for treason at Pontifract Castle in Yorkshire on charges of conspiracy and plotting against Richard, Duke of Gloucester. These men were Anthony, Earl Rivers and Richard Grey, brother and son of Edward IV’s queen ElizabethWoodville, the third man was Thomas Vaughan, chamberlain to Edward, Prince of Wales."
You can continue reading about Thomas Vaughan on my website Meandering Through Time at

NB: 19th August 2015
Thomas Vaughan's story has been update and a new chapter added, it can still be viewed on my website

Mini History Blogs English Chapels

In 1460, the tiny hamlet of Bedlam in the County of Sussex was the home of William Hibberden, member of parliament for Midhurst. By end of the eighteenth century, the land was purchased by one William Mitford of Pitshill, who in agreement with his tenants, created an enclosed woodland for use as a coppice.
In the late 1800's Bedlam was still held by the Mitford family. This family are descended from the Mitfords of Northumberland, whose origins date back to the Norman conquest, also from the same line are the famous twentieth century Mitford family, the sisters Nancy, Jessica, Diana and Unity.
The Bedlam Mitfords have been described as 'indefatigable travellers.' It was William Townley Mitford, whose journals of the long tours he made provide detailed descriptions of Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century, who built the tiny chapel you see below and dedicated it to Saint Michael and All Angels.
Mitford and the English church were interested in providing elementary education for children from the hamlet and surrounding area and the little chapel fitted the bill. The single room was divided by a curtain for infants and senior classes. At the end of the school week the chairs were turned to face the east and ink pots removed from the desks.
At its peak the school had sixty pupils and three teachers, but by the end of the First World War the building was falling into neglect and closed for the education of children in 1925. For a while the building still operated as a church, but in 1959 it was abandoned completely.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Mini History Blog: Lady Godiva

Today, the 10th of July, is the anniversary of the famous horse back ride through the streets of Coventry by the naked and brave Lady Godiva.

Who was the beautiful lady of John Collier 19th century painting and did she actually ride through Coventry's town centre in the nude? 

The rest of Lady Godiva's story can be found on my website, Meandering Through Time.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Mini History Blog: The Cornish Hedge

 It was a delight in the summer when all the wild flowers were at their best, an absolute heaven for an inquisitive child. Hour upon hour I spent sitting against that hedge, butterfly net and jam jar at the ready. What I was waiting to see was the bright green grasshopper with its funny, distinctive sound, the cute little snails with swirly patterns on their shells, furry little caterpillars who were destined for my jam jars, and the beautiful, beautiful array of butterflies that I hoped my collection of caterpillars would turn into. My favourite of all the creatures that lived in my grandparents hedge was the slippery slow worm, who I loved as he wound his way in and out of my little fingers.
All summer long I was kept amazed and fascinated.
This is an extract from my blog My love affair with the amazingly beautiful Cornish hedge.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Mini History Blogs The Death of Percy Bysshe Shelley

On this day in 1822 and only a month before his 30th birthday, Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned when his boat overturned during a storm. He was returning from visiting his friends Lord Byron and James Leigh Hunt. Shelley was cremated and his ashes placed in a cemetery in Rome. Of Shelley's life it has been written:
"The life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley exemplify Romanticism in both its extremes of joyous ecstasy and brooding despair. The major themes are there in Shelley’s dramatic if short life and in his works, enigmatic, inspiring, and lasting: the restlessness and brooding, the rebellion against authority, the interchange with nature, the power of the visionary imagination and of poetry, the pursuit of ideal love, and the untamed spirit ever in search of freedom—all of these Shelley exemplified in the way he lived his life and on in the substantial body of work that he left the world after his legendary death at age twenty-nine."

Mini History Blog St Hugh' Choir and the Nave at Lincoln Cathedral

My photograph, taken a couple of years ago, shows St Hugh's Choir and the Nave at Lincoln Cathedral.

I have been to the cathedral a number of times since and the whole building still amazes me. The nave has a great feeling of light and space and this is accentuated by the Victorian stained glass in the windows that lie either side.  It really doe's take your breath away to see it.

St Hugh's Choir is an early example of the English Gothic style.

Of the Cathedral John Ruskin wrote

'I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles’

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Mini History Blogs: Cornwall's Dozmary Pool in the Story of Excalibur.

Dozmary Pool is a lake that lies near the village of Altarnun on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. According to legend, this stretch of water is where King Arthur rowed out to the Lady of the Lake and received his sword Excalibur. It is also thought to be the pool where Bedivere returned Excalibur as Arthur lay dying after the Battle of Camlann.

Excalibur's story is often mixed up with that of the Sword in the Stone, which King Arthur pulls from a rock, but it isn't, there were two swords. Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady in the Lake toward the end of his life, and as Arthur's story ends it is thrown back to where it came, a hand rising from the lake to catch it and then it disappears. The drawing of the sword from the stone takes place before Arthur is king and is not, I don't think, ever mentioned again. It is in earlier versions of Thomas Malory's story La Morte D'Arthur, written in the late fifteen century, that both swords are merged into one and called Excalibur and this is the reason we think of only one sword today.

So where does the story of the Sword in the Stone originate? My blog of last year explains.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mini History Blogs: Edmund Blair Leighton

Many of the paintings by English artist Edmund Blair Leighton are of the medieval period, he was inspired by medieval chivalric values such as, courtesy, honor and gallantry toward women all of which can be seen in his work.  Leighton depict an interaction between a couple, focusing in particular on a romantic gesture as we can see in his work God Speed or Abelard and Heloise, he captures a certain quality that reaches our emotions which is why I like his work.

No doubt, during the era Leighton covers, there were tender moments such as this between lovers, husband and wives or a mother and her child, but they were equally matched with the emotions of despair and loss as we know with the story of Abelard and Heloise pictured here. 

Their passionate love affair ended in a tragedy that eventually separated them. Leighton captures tiny moments of their story and places in on his canvas for us all to see. 

We must remember though, that in reality, the world in which these people lived was brutal a one.

Mini History Blogs: Baptism of Princess Charlotte

5th July 2015 

Did you know that the water used for royal baptisms always comes from the River Jordan where the Bible says that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

Princess Charlotte, daughter of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, will be baptised today at Church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham where there are two fonts, traditionally a royal baptism takes place at the silver gilt Lily Font that was commissioned by Queen Victoria. 

The princess will wear a gown commissioned by our queen and made from cream lace and satin which is a replica of the famous Honiton lace dress which was made for the christening of the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1841. This gown was used for royal baptisms for decades but is now too fragile to be worn.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Mini History Blogs: On this day in 1468 Charles the Bold married Margaret of York.

In 1467, Charles the Bold became Duke of Burgundy on the death of his father, this followed the death of Charles's second wife Isabel of Bourbon who died in 1465.
In 1454 Charles the Bold's mother, Isabella of Burgundy, granddaughter of John of Gaunt, had favoured a match with England when considering a second wife for her son, but a marriage into the present English royal family was out of the question due to the reigning monarchs consort Margaret of Anjou, being the niece of Charles VII of France who was Burgundy’s bitterest enemy, it was then Charles married Isabel.
Eleven years later, in 1465 after the death of Isabel, Charles was in need of a new wife. This time however, the Yorkists were in a far better position than they had been in 1454, now Edward IV was king of England. Edward's sister Margaret, the youngest daughter of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville was the chosen bride, and in 1468 it was Phillippe Pot who headed the marriage negotiations with the English.

Extract from my blog
Phillippe Pot: Burgundian Nobleman, Military Leader and Diplomat