An Englishman's Favourite Bits of London

19/10/2012 12:37

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  • Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397
  • History of Roman London Part 1 (43 AD to 300 AD)
  • History of Anglo Saxon London Part 2 (300 AD to 1066 AD)
  • History of Medieval London Part 3 (1066 AD to 1485)
  • History of Tudor London Part 4 (1485 AD to 1605)
  • History of Stuart London Part 5 (1605 AD to 1700)
  • History Of Georgian London Part 6 (1700 AD to 1837)
  • History of Victorian London Part 7 (1837 AD to 1901)
  • History of Modern London Part 8 (1901 AD to Present)
  • The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History
  • Sir Christopher Wren
  • Portobello Road Market, London Icon
  • British Silver and Gold Hallmarking from 1300 AD to present
  • London Parks and Gardens– Free Entry
  • Smithfield Market – London Icon
  • Famous Victorian London Engineer Joseph Bazalgette
  • The Crystal Palace Exhibition – London 1851
  • The London Hackney Carrieage and Hansom Cab – History from 1625
  • London Routemaster Buses – History
  • City of London Livery Companies
  • England's House of Parliament - It's History
  • Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot 1605
  • London Underground – The World's First Underground Railway
  • The London River Thames – It's History
  • The British Inventions – Cheques, ATM's and Their History
  • History of Stocks and Shares London from 1688 to Present
  • Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, London Icon – History
  • The London Thames Watermen and Lightermen
  • London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – History
  • History of the English Constitution AD 890 to Present day
  • English Kings and Queens from 774 AD to Present Day
  • The English Translated Magna Carta
  • List of British Royal Societies
  • History of British and London Police and Victorian Funny Art
  • History of England's Trial by Jury
  • English Tea Drinking Traditions – London History
  • The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History
  • Invention of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England
  • Invasion of Lovebirds and Parrots in London
  • Tower of London – London Icon
  • The Great Plague of London -1665
  • British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History
  • Swinging Sixties – British Fashion and Music
  • The New Romantics – 1980's London Music
  • Tower Bridge – London Icon
  • William Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre – British Icons
  • Hauntings of Ye Olde London
  • Louis Wain 1860-1939 Life Story

Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397 AD

I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell my favourite stories and History.

Dick Whittington and His Cat is a British folk tale that has often been used as the basis for stage pantomines and other adaptations. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. The character of the boy is named after a real-life person, Richard Whittington, but the real Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat.

The first recorded pantomime version of the story was in 1814, starring Joseph Grimaldi as Dame Cecily Suet, the Cook. The pantomime adds another element to the story, rats, and an arch villain, the Pantomime King (or sometimes Queen) Rat, as well as the usual pantomime fairy, the Fairy of the Bells. Other added characters are a captain and his mate and some incompetent pirates. In this version, Dick and his cat "Tommy" travel to Morocco, where the cat rids the country of rats. The Sultan rewards Dick with half of his wealth. Sybil Arundale played Dick in many productions in the early years of the 20th century

The real Richard Whittington ( Dick Whittington ) lived from about 1350-1423. He achieved many things in his life. Now he is known for having a pet cat and 'turning again'.

Richard or 'Dick' Whittington was born during the 1350s. He was the younger son of Sir William Whittington, Lord of the Manor of Pauntley in Gloucestershire. Sir William died in 1358. The oldest son inherited the estate, so Richard travelled to London to find work.

Whittington served an apprenticeship, and eventually became a ‘mercer', dealing in valuable cloth from abroad, such as silks, velvets and cloth of gold. The main market for selling these cloths was the Royal Court. Whittington supplied large quantities to King Richard II (who owed Whittington £1000 when he was deposed in 1399) and to King Henry IV. Whittington became rich. After 1397 he often lent large sums of money to the Crown. In return he was allowed to export wool without paying customs duty on it.

He became a City alderman, or magistrate, in 1393. In 1397 the Mayor, Adam Bamme, died in office and the King chose Whittington to become the new mayor. He was re-elected the following year, and again for 1406-7 and 1419-20. This made him Mayor of London four times.

Whittington died in March 1423. His wife Alice, daughter of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn (or Fitzwarren) of Dorset, had died before him. They had no children.

The gifts left in Whittington's will originally made him famous. However, Londoners did not know how he first made his money. Stories began about how a poor boy became rich with the help of his cat. There is no evidence that Whittington kept a cat, and as the son of a Lord he was never very poor. Despite being untrue the stories flourished. A play produced in 1606 tells most of the story. There are many different versions, but essentially the tale was:

Dick Whittington was a poor boy from Gloucestershire who walked to London to seek his fortune. He found work in the house of a rich merchant Fitzwarren, and fell in love with Fitzwarren's daughter, Alice. Dick had a cat to keep down the mice in the attic where he slept. Fitzwarren invited his servants to put money into a sailing voyage. Dick had no money, but gave his cat to the captain to sell.

Dick decided there was no future for him in London, and left to go home to Gloucestershire. He stopped on top of Highgate Hill on the way out of London. There he heard the bells of London ringing - they seemed to say: ‘Turn again, Whittington, three times Lord Mayor of London'.

Dick thought this was a good omen and returned to Fitzwarren's house. He learnt that the ship had returned with great news. The sailing party arrived in a foreign land where the king's court was overrun by rats. Dick's cat killed or drove out all the rats. In thanks the king paid a huge sum of gold to buy the cat. Dick was now a very wealthy man. He married Alice Fitzwarren, and eventually became Lord Mayor of London.

The story continued to grow in the 17th and 18th centuries and appeared in many children's books. In the 19th century, the story became the subject for pantomimes and other characters were added. The story is still told today in pantomimes and new versions of the story are still published. Even now, Dick Whittington and the cat that made his fortune are familiar to people who have never heard of the ‘real' Richard Whittington.

History of Roman London Part 1 (43 AD to 300 AD)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part one covers the Roman era.

The beginnings of London can be dated with some exactitude to the invasion of the Romans in 43AD. Prior to the Roman invasion there was no permanent settlement of significance on the site of London. Instead, the Thames River flowed through marshy ground sprinkled with small islands of gravel and sand. There were probably more mosquitoes than people inhabiting the area.

The commander of the Roman troops was one Aulus Plautius. He pushed his men up from their landing place in Kent towards Colchester, then the most important town in Britain. The Roman advance was halted by the Thames, and Plautius was forced to build a bridge to get his men across.

This first "London Bridge" has been excavated recently, and found to be only yards from the modern London Bridge!

The Roman bridge proved a convenient central point for the new network of roads which soon spread out like a fan from the crossing place and allowed the speedy movement of troops. The Roman settlement on the north side of the bridge, called Londinium, quickly became important as a trading centre for goods brought up the Thames River by boat and unloaded at wooden docks by the bridge.

Just 18 years after the arrival of the Romans, Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe of present-day East Anglia, launched her rebellion against the new rulers of Britain. The new trading centre of London was one of her primary targets, and her warriors leveled the burgeoning city to the ground and killed thousands of the traders who had begun to settle there.

The city was quickly rebuilt, with a cluster of timber-framed wooden buildings surrounding the imposing Roman civic buildings. The city continued to grow in size and splendor over the next century, reflecting the increasing importance of trade in Britain.

By the middle of the second century AD, Londinium possessed the largest basilica (town hall) west of the Alps, a governor's palace, a temple, bathhouses, and a large fort for the city garrison. Gracechurch Street, in the City, runs through the middle of the old Roman basilica and forum (market place).

One of the best Roman remains in London is the 2nd century Temple of Mithras (mithraism was a form of religion popular among Roman soldiers). It was found near Walbrook during construction work in this century, and moved to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street. Artefacts recovered from the excavation of the temple are now in the Museum of London.

About the year 200 AD a defensive wall was built around the city. For well over a millennium the shape and size of London was defined by this Roman wall. The area within the wall is now "the City", London's famous financial district. Traces of the wall can still be seen in a few places in London.

London continued its growth under the late Roman Empire, and at its peak the population probably numbered about 45,000. But, as the Roman Empire creaked its way to a tottering old age, the troops defending London's trade routes were recalled across the Channel, and the city went into a decline which lasted several centuries.


History of Anglo Saxon London Part 2 (300 AD to 1066 AD)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part two covers Anglo Saxon era.

After the Romans left, the city of London fell into a decline. That's a polite way of saying that the population diminished drastically and large areas of the city were left in ruins.

London's location on the Thames was too good for this decline to continue, and the 7th century saw trade once more expand and the city grow once more.

Early in that century, perhaps in 604 AD, the first St. Paul's Cathedral was founded, on the site now occupied by the present St. Paul's.

By the 9th century, London was a very prosperous trading centre, and its wealth attracted the attention of Danish Vikings. The Danes periodically sailed up the Thames and attacked London. In 851 some 350 longboats full of Danes attacked and burned London to the ground.

The tale of the next century is a confused one, with first English, then Danish, then Norman kings controlling the city. The Danes were ousted from the city by Alfred The Great in 886, and Alfred made London a part of his kingdom of Wessex. In the years following the death of Alfred, however, the city fell once more into the hands of the Danes.

The Danes did not have it all their own way. In 1014 they were occupying the city when a large force of Anglo-Saxons and Norwegian Vikings sailed up the Thames to attack London. The Danes lined London Bridge and showered the attackers with spears.

Undaunted, the attackers pulled the roofs off nearby houses and held them over their heads in the boats. Thus protected, they were able to get close enough to the bridge to attach ropes to the piers and pull the bridge down. There is some speculation that the nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down" stems from this incident.

The attacks ceased when the Danish king Cnut (Canute) came to power in 1017. Cnut managed to unite the Danes with the Anglo-Saxons, and invited Danish merchants to settle in the city. London prospered under Cnut, but on his death the city reverted to Anglo-Saxon control under Edward the Confeddor. Edward had been raised in Normandy, so his rule brought French influence and trade.

London was now the most prosperous, and largest city in the island of Britain - but it was not the capital of the realm. The official seat of government was at Winchester, although the royal residence was generally at London.

Edward the Confessor was an extremely religious man, and he made it his dream to build a vast monastery and church at an island on the Thames just upriver from the city. He refounded the abbey at Westminster and moved his court there.

When Edward died in 1065, his successor, Harold, was crowned in the new abbey, cementing London's role as the most important city in England.

History of Medieval London Part 3 (1066 AD to 1485)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part three covers Medieval era.

In some ways the medieval history of London can be said to have begun on Christmas Day, 1066, when William the Conquerer was crowned king of England in a ceremony at the newly finished Westminster Abbey, just three months after his victory at the Battle of Hastings.

William granted the citizens of London special privileges, but he also built a castle in the southeast corner of the city to keep them under control. This castle was expanded by later kings until it became the complex we now call the Tower of London.

The Tower acted as royal residence, and it was not until later that it became famous as a prison. During the medieval period it also acted as a royal mint, treasury, and housed the beginnings of a zoo.

In 1097 William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall was to prove the basis of a new Palace of Westminster, the prime royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. On William's death his brother Henry needed the support of London merchants to maintain his dubious grip on the throne. In exchange, Henry I gave city merchants the right to levy taxes and elect a sheriff.

By the early 12th century the population of London was about 18,000 (compare this to the 45,000 estimated at the height of Roman Britain). In 1123 St. Bartholomew's Priory was founded in the city, and other monastic houses quickly followed.

At one point in the medieval period there were 13 monasteries in the city. Today, these houses are remembered only by the names they gave to their area, such as Greyfriars, Whitefriars, and Blackfriars.

The city played a role in the outcome of the struggle between Stephen and Maud for the crown in the 12th century. Although they initially supported Maud, her arrogant behavior when she occupied Westminster so angered the citizens that they rose in revolt and Maud was forced to flee London.

In 1176 the first stone London Bridge was built, mere yards from the original Roman bridge across the Thames. This bridge was to remain the only one in London until 1739. Because the passage across this one bridge was narrow and clogged with traffic, it was much quicker and easier for travelers to hire waterboatmen to row them across the river, or transport them up or down river.

In 1191 Richard I acknowledged the right of London to self-government, and the following year saw the election of the first Mayor. This right was confirmed by later monarchs.

In 1245 Henry III began his lifetime work of rebuilding Westminster Abbey which was reconsecrated in 1269. The other major building project of the medieval period was Old St. Paul's. The cathedral was finished in 1280.

In 1381 the city was invaded by peasant's during the Wat Tyler's Peasant's Revolt. Although the major complaints of the peasants were aimed at the advisors of Richard II, they took advantage of their occupation of London to loot houses within the city. The Lord Mayor, William Walworth, stabbed Wat Tyler to death in a confrontation at Smithfield.

The London merchants supported Edward IV in his grab for the throne in 1461. In gratitude Edward knighted many of the merchants. A few years later in 1477 William Caxton made history when he printed the first book on his new printing press near Westminster.

Daily Life
Medieval London was a maze of twisting streets and lanes. Most of the houses were half-timbered, or wattle and daub, whitewashed with lime. The threat of fire was constant, and laws were passed to make sure that all householders had fire-fighting equipment on hand. A 13th century law required new houses to use slate for roofing rather than the more risky straw, but this seems to have been ignored.

The government of the city was by a Lord Mayor and council elected from the ranks of the merchant guilds. These guilds effectively ran the city and controlled commerce. Each guild had its own hall and their own coat of arms, but there was also the Guildhall (1411-40) where representatives of the various guilds met in common.

Many of the streets in the city were named after the particular trade which practiced there. For example, Threadneedle Street was the tailor's district, Bread Street had bakeries, and on Milk Street cows were kept for milking. There was also a very active livestock market at Smithfield.

Plague was a constant threat, particularly because sanitation was so rudimentary. London was subject to no less than 16 outbreaks of the plague between 1348 and the Great Plague of 1665.

The prime real estate in London was the Strand, where many rich landowners built homes. Lawyers settled at the Temple and along Fleet Street. The Fleet River (which was called the Holborn) was navigable by boats, and docks were set up at what is now Farringdon Street. The Fleet River was covered over in the 18th century.

History of Tudor London Part 4 (1485 AD to 1605)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part four covers the TUDOR era.

When Henry VII took the throne in 1485, the population of the city of London was about 75,000. By 1600 that figure had risen to 200,000. London under the Tudors was a prosperous, bustling city.

Henry's son Henry VIII made Whitehall Palace the principle royal residence in the city, and after Cardinal Wolsey "gave" Hampton Court to Henry, that palace became a countryside retreat for the court.

During Henry's Dissolution of the Monasteries the 13 religious houses in London were either converted for private use or pulled down for building materials. All that now remains are the names they gave to areas of the city, such as Whitefriars and Blackfriars.

Many areas that are now London Parks were used as Royal hunting forests during the Tudor period. Richmond Park served this purpose, so did Hyde Park, Regent's Park, and St. James Park.

An international exchange was founded by the mercer Thomas Gresham in 1566 to enable London to compete for financial power with Amsterdam. This became the Royal Exchange in 1560, and is now housed in a massive Victorian building beside the Bank of England Museum in Mansion House Square.

In 1598 John Stow, a retired tailor, wrote a survey of the city of London, which gives a wonderful historic snapshot of the state of Tudor London and its history. Stow is buried at St. Andrew Undershaft and a ceremony is held there every year celebrating his life.

After the Reformation, theatres were banned in the city of London, but it wasn't for religious objection to the play's contents. Rather, the city authorities (read guilds) thought they wasted workmen's time.

Rather than disappearing, the theatres moved across the Thames to Southwark, outside the authority of the city government. Southwark became the entertainment district for London (it was also the red-light area).

The Globe Theatre, scene of many of Shakespeare's plays, was built on the South Bank in 1599, though it burned down in 1613. A modern replica, also called the Globe, has been built near the original site. Southwark was also a favorite area for entertainment, like bull and bear-baiting.

Unfortunately, many of London's Tudor buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, so it is difficult to get a real sense of what the city was like at that time.

History of Stuart London Part 5 (1605 AD to 1700)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part five covers the Stuart era.

The history of Stuart London almost kicked off with a real bang. Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament when they opened on November 5, 1605, hoping to kill the new king, James I.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your sympathies, the plot was discovered, and a conspirator named Guy Fawkes was discovered in cellars beneath Parliament with kegs of explosives. This event, called the Gunpowder Plot, is commemorated each year with the celebration of Bonfire Night on November 5.

London water was pretty foul in those years, so you can imagine the delight of Londoners at the completion in 1613 of the New River Head at Finsbury. This was a massive engineering project collecting clean water from 40 miles away and bringing it to large cisterns at Finsbury before final delivery to the city in "pipes" made of hollowed elm trunks.

In the early Stuart years the landscape of London was changed by the extraordinary work of the self-taught architect, Inigo Jones. In 1631 Jones designed Covent Garden piazza, the first purpose-built square in the city. Jones' other important work in this period was at Queen's House (Greenwich), Banqueting Hall (Whitehall), and Queen's Chapel.

In 1637 Charles I, in one of the few gestures of his life that may have swayed public opinion his way, opened the royal reserve of Hyde Park to the public. This was the first royal park to be made public.

If Charles was looking for support, he didn't get it from Londoners. The City helped finance the Parliamentary war efforts in the English Civil War, and Charles was eventually beheaded outside Inigo Jones' Banqueting House in Whitehall.

The Protectorate and Commonwealth that followed Charles' death saw a concerted effort by Puritan extremists to quench Londoner's appetite for the bawdier aspects of life. Theatre was banned, as was dancing and just about anything else enjoyable. Churches had their organs and choirs removed.

But when the Restoration of the Monarchy brought Charles II to the throne in 1660 the pendulum swung back the other way with a vengeance. Riotous entertainment was once more in fashion. Theatre was not only admissible, it even earned royal approval - Theatre Royal Drury Lane gained the royal warrant in 1665.

The city entered on a period of extensive building development, and new residential squares were laid out for the aristocracy to live in. St. James Square was the first of these, and the districts of St. James, Mayfair, and Marylebone became areas for the well-heeled to settle.

The Stuart period is sadly dominated by two disasters, the Great Plague and the Great fire. In 1665 Plague broke out in the city, brought by ship from Holland. London had been no stranger to the plague since the Middle Ages, but this was something different - a strain so virulent that sufferers could catch it and die within hours. The city descended into a state of panic.

Sufferers were locked in their houses, along with their families. It was thought that dogs and cats spread the disease, so the Lord Mayor ordered them all killed. Thus, with one stroke, the natural enemies of the rats who were the true carriers were decimated.

Throughout the very long, dry summer of 1665 the plague raged in London. The court fled, most doctors and priests followed, and anyone with the means to leave, left quickly. Although the worst of the plague died by autumn, it was not until the next great calamity cleansed the filthy streets of London that the plague was truly over. Estimates of the death toll range from 70,000 to well over 100,000 lives.

The second calamity was the Great Fire. On the night of September 2, 1666 a small fire, perhaps started by the carelessness of a maid, started in the shop of the king's baker in Pudding Lane. Fanned by a strong wind, the fire soon became an inferno. For four days the fire raged through the close-packed streets of wooden houses, until the wind died.

The toll of the fire was immense. Although only 8 lives were lost, fully four-fifths of the city was completely destroyed, including 13,000 buildings, 89 churches, 52 company halls, and old St. Paul's Cathedral.

Within days, Christopher Wren presented a plan for rebuilding the city with broad boulevards and open squares replacing the warren of alleys and byways. Wren's plan, though, was simply too costly, and people being people, new buildings were built along the same street pattern as before.

Wren was, however, given the task of rebuilding the churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. Most of the churches in London today are Wren's work, and it is difficult to find churches that date to the period before the fire.

History Of Georgian London Part 6 (1700 AD to 1837)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part six covers the Georgian era.

The early years of the 18th century saw the birth of newspapers in London. The early papers, the most notable of which was Richard Addison's Spectator, catered to the demands of an increasingly literate population. Many of the newspapers that followed Addison put up shop along Fleet Street.

The Georgian period in London coincided very neatly with the Palladian Revival in architecture and art. Lord Burlington, in his 1715 design of Burlington House in Piccadilly, played a major role in popularizing this classical style which became the norm for much of the century. A few years later, in 1725, Lord Burlington was at it again, with his remodeling of Chiswick House, then a country retreat but now part of the greater London sprawl.

At the same time Grosvenor Square was laid out in Mayfair, part of the Grosvenor family's development of that aristocratic district. More London squares followed, notably at Berkeley Square (design by William Kent). Kent was also responsible for building the Treasury Building (1733), and the Horse Guards (1745).

Theatre, which had been so popular under the Stuart Restoration, became a little too vociferous for the taste of the city authorities. In 1737 a series of satires staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket so infuriated them that the Lord Chamberlain was given the power of censorship over all public theatre performances. This power was not revoked until 1968.

For some six hundred years the only bridge across the Thames in London was London Bridge, of nursery rhyme fame. However, the growing city demanded more ease of movement, so the shops and houses on London Bridge were pulled down, and large sections of the old city walls destroyed. In 1750 a second stone bridge was added, Westminster Bridge.

In 1759 the British Museum opened its doors for the first time. The museum was based on a collection of "curiosities" collected by the packrat nobleman, Sir Hans Sloane. When Sloane died his collection, really a jumble of oddments that happened to catch Sloane's fancy, was acquired by the government and put on display to the public.

If the early Georgian period was influenced by Lord Burlington, the latter was the domain of Robert Adam and his neo-classical imitators. Adam was responsible for a spate of influential house designs around London, including Syon House (1761), Osterley Park, and Kenwood House.

A year after Adam's work at Syon, King George III and Queen Charlotte moved into Buckingham House (later to become Buckingham Palace). St. James Palace remained the official royal residence.

One of the biggest social revolutions in Georgian London was a quiet one. It was the popularity of coffee houses as a forum for business, entertainment, and social activity. The London coffee houses were immensely popular, and certain houses became associated with different political viewpoints or kinds of commercial activity. It was in one of these coffee houses, New Jonathan's, that merchant venturers (read entrepreneurs) gathered, and formed what was to become the London Stock Exchange.

Lest you think that religious strife ended with the demise of extreme Protestantism after the English Civil War, 1780 saw the outbreak of what we now call the Gordon Riots. The riots began as a march through the streets of London to protest the Catholic Relief Act, which granted basic rights to Catholics.

The marchers, under the vociferous leadership of Lord George Gordon, let their religious prejudice boil over into a week of looting and murder. For that week Londoners lived their own version of the "Reign of Terror" which later gripped Paris. The Gordon Riots terrified the authorities and brought repressive measures against any form of protest or reform-minded writing.

On a lighter note, Georgian London saw a new form of entertainment, the pleasure garden, become popular. These pleasure gardens, notably at Ranelagh and Vauxhall, were like outdoor amusement parks, complete with musicians and fireworks.

History of Victorian London Part 7 (1837 AD to 1901)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part seven covers the Victorian era.

The Victorian city of London was a city of startling contrasts. New building and affluent development went hand in hand with horribly overcrowded slums where people lived in the worst conditions imaginable. The population surged during the 19th century, from about 1 million in 1800 to over 6 million a century later. This growth far exceeded London's ability to look after the basic needs of its citizens.

A combination of coal-fired stoves and poor sanitation made the air heavy and foul-smelling. Immense amounts of raw sewage was dumped straight into the Thames River. Even royals were not immune from the stench of London - when Queen Victoria occupied Buckingham Palace her apartments were ventilated through the common sewers, a fact that was not disclosed until some 40 years later.

Upon this scene entered an unlikely hero, an engineer named Joseph Bazalgette. Bazalgette was responsible for the building of over 2100 km of tunnels and pipes to divert sewage outside the city. This made a drastic impact on the death rate, and outbreaks of cholera dropped dramatically after Bazlgette's work was finished. For an encore, Bazalgette also was responsible for the design of the Embankment, and the Battersea, Hammersmith, and Albert Bridges.

Before the engineering triumphs of Bazalgette came the architectural triumphs of George IV's favorite designer, John Nash. Nash designed the broad avenues of Regent Street<, Piccadilly Circus, Carlton House Terrace, and Oxford Circus, as well as the ongoing creation of Buckingham transformation of Buckingham House into a palace worthy of a monarch.

In 1829 Sir Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police to handle law and order in areas outside the City proper. These police became known as "Bobbies" after their founder.

Just behind Buckingham Palace the Grosvenor family developed the aristocratic Belgrave Square. In 1830 land just east of the palace was cleared of the royal stables to create Trafalgar Square, and the new National Gallery sprang up there just two years later.

The early part of the 19th century was the golden age of steam. The first railway in London was built from London Bridge to Greenwich in 1836, and a great railway boom followed. Major stations were built at Euston (1837), Paddington (1838), Fenchurch Street (1841), Waterloo (1848), and King's Cross (1850).

In 1834 the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Palace burned down. They were gradually replaced by the triumphant mock-Gothic Houses of Parliament designed by Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin.

The clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, known erroneously as Big Ben, was built in 1859. The origin of the name Big Ben is in some dispute, but there is no argument that the moniker refers to the bells of the tower, NOT to the large clock itself.

In 1848 the great Potato Famine struck Ireland. What has this to do with the history of London? Plenty. Over 100,000 impoverished Irish fled their native land and settled in London, making at one time up to 20% of the total population of the city.

Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria was largely responsible for one of the defining moments of the era that bears his wife's name; the Great Exhibition of 1851. This was the first great world's fair, a showcase of technology and manufacturing from countries all over the world. The Exhibition was held in Hyde Park, and the centerpiece was Joseph Paxton's revolutionary iron and glass hall, dubbed the "Crystal Palace".

The exhibition was an immense success, with over 200,000 attendees. After the event, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham, in South London, where it stayed until it burned to the ground in 1936. The proceeds from the Great Exhibition went towards the founding of two new permanent displays, which became the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The year 1863 saw the completion of the very first underground railway in London, from Paddington to Farringdon Road. The project was so successful that other lines soon followed.

But the expansion of transport was not limited to dry land. As the hub of the British Empire, the Thames was clogged with ships from all over the world, and London had more shipyards than anyplace on the globe.

For all the economic expansion of the Industrial Revolution, living conditions among London's poor were appalling. Children as young as 5 were often set to work begging or sweeping chimneys. Campaigners like Charles Dickens did much to make the plight of the poor in London known to the literate classes with his novels, notably Oliver Twist. In 1870 those efforts bore some fruit with the passage of laws providing compulsory education for children between the ages of 5 and 12.

History of Modern London Part 8 (1901 AD to Present)


I have many ancestors from London including Sir Christopher Wren and to this day I have many cousins still living in London. As so many Famous events and People were Born, Lived and worked in London which extends almost two thousand years, I thought it would be a good idea to tell its story and History in 8 parts and part eight covers the modern era.

The terrific population growth of the late Victorian period continued into the 20th century. In 1904 the first motor bus service in London began, followed by the first underground electric train in 1906, but perhaps more notable was the spate of new luxury hotels, department stores, and theatres which sprang up in the Edwardian years, particularly in the West End. The Ritz opened in 1906, Harrod's new Knightsbridge store in 1905, and Selfridges in 1907.

New entertainment venues sprouted like mushrooms; with the London Palladium the largest of some 60 major halls for music-hall and variety shows.

Several major building projects marked Edward VII's reign. The long, broad sweep of the Mall was designed by Aston Webb. Webb was also responsible for Admiralty Arch, the Queen Victoria memorial, and the east front of Buckingham Palace.

Although the hardship of London during the Second World War is well known, it is easy to forget that WWI brought hardship as well to the city. In the Fall of 1915 the first Zeppelin bombs fell in London near the Guildhall, killing 39 people. In all, 650 fatalities resulted from bombings during the "War to End All Wars".

Population surged after the war, to about 7.5 million in 1921. The London County Council began building new housing estates, which pushed further and further out into the countryside. Unemployment was high, and labour unrest erupted in the 1926 General Strike. So many workers joined the strike that the army was called in to keep the Underground and buses running, and to maintain order.

In the 1930's large numbers of Jews emigrated to London, fleeing persecution in Europe, and most of them settled in the East End. The year 1938 saw movement out of the city; the threat from Germany was great enough that large numbers of children were moved out of London to the surrounding countryside.

The outbreak of WWII precipitated the defining moment of the century for Londoners - the Blitz. During the dark days of 1940 over a third of the City was destroyed by German bombs, and the London Docks largely demolished.

One 17 of Christopher Wren's London churches were badly damaged. The area worst hit was the City itself, but strangely, St. Paul's Cathedral suffered only minor damage.

Some 16 acres around the area that now houses the Barbican development and the Museum of London were totally flattened, and numerous historic buildings were destroyed. The death toll was heavy; 32,000 dead and over 50,000 badly injured.

In the post-war period heavy immigration from countries of the old British Empire changed the character of the city. Notting Hill acquired a large Caribbean population, Honk Kong immigrants settled in Soho, Sikhs in Southall, and Cypriots in Finsbury.

The Festival of Britain took place in 1951 on the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Whereas that first exhibition had left the legacy of the extraordinary Crystal Palace, the Festival left behind it the universally reviled concrete mass of the South Bank Arts complex.

Heathrow airport opened to commercial flights in 1946, and the first double-decker red buses (dubbed the Routemaster) appeared on London roads in 1956.

The London Docks declined after the war, and the formerly bustling area around the Isle of Dogs fell into disuse until rescued by modern development in the last decade.

Between 1972-82 the Thames Barrier was built to control flooding along the river. This amazing engineering feat consists of 10 moveable underwater gates supported by 7 shining steel half-domes strung across the river.

The last great building project of the century was the controversial Millennium Dome, an exhibition centre beside the Thames in North Greenwich. The Dome, which opened on January 1, 2000, is a massive complex, built at a cost of over 750 million GBP. It houses, among other things, sponsored exhibits on the human experience of life, including Faith, Science, and biology.

After the success of the London Olympics and the London Paralympics during 2012 I think London has confirmed as the world's Capital for sports and culture.


As an addendum there was a survey by the United Nations in 2010 which showed there were 312 languages spoken in London schools.

The Freemasons – It's English London Origins and History

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Freemasonry and London Livery companies I have created this article on the history of the Freemasons. England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD.

The history of Freemasonry originates from the time of the Knights Templer. The aim of Freemasonry is to study the development, evolution and events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. This history is generally separated into two time periods: before and after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Before this time, the facts and origins of Freemasonry are not absolutely known and are therefore frequently explained by theories or legends. After the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the history of Freemasonry is extremely well-documented and can be traced through the creation of hundreds of Grand Lodges that spread rapidly worldwide.

English Masonic historians place great importance on 24 June 1717 (St. John the baptist's day) when four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's churchyard and formed what they called The Grand Lodge of England. Although Freemasonry had existed in England since at least the mid-1600s and in Scotland since The Schaw Statutes were enacted in 1598 and 1599, the establishment of a permanent Grand Lodge in London in 1717 is traditionally considered the formation of organized Freemasonry in its modern sense.

A credible historical source asserting the antiquity of Freemasonry is the Halliwell Manuscript or Regius Poem - believed to date from ca. 1390. This makes reference to several concepts and phrases similar to those found in Freemasonry. The manuscript itself seems to be an elaboration on an earlier document, to which it refers.

There is also the Cooke Manuscript, an undated manuscript constitution from the mid-15th century, the oldest of the Gothic Constitutions. The first statutory use of the word 'Freemason' in England appears in the Statutes of the Realm enacted in 1495 under Henry VI, although the archaic term "frank mason" had been used fifty years earlier. Prior to that, the earliest use of the term "frank Masons" was in a 1376 reference to the "Company of frank Masons," one of the numerous craft guilds of London.

By 1583, the date of the Grand Lodge manuscript, the documentary evidence begins to grow. These are described as Head and Principal respectively. As a side note, following a dispute over numbering at the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (GLS) - Kilwinning is numbered as Lodge Mother of KilwinningNumber 0 (pronounced 'Nothing'), GLS. Quite soon thereafter, a charter was granted to Sir William St. Clair (later Sinclair) of Roslin (Rosslyn), allowing him to purchase jurisdiction over a number of lodges in Edinburgh and environs. This may be the basis of the Templar myth surrounding Rosslyn Chapel.

The Regius Poem and Cooke manuscript, about 1390 and 1410 respectively, are written in the dialects of the west and southwest of England, and may have been written for the school of masonry associated with Salisbury Cathedral.

Early operative Freemasons, unlike virtually all Europeans except the Clergy, were Free - not bound to the land on which they were born. The various skills required in building complex stone structures, especially churches and cathedrals, allowed skilled masons to travel and find work at will. They were lodged in a temporary structure - either attached to, or near, the main stone building. In this lodge, they ate, slept and received their work assignments from the master of the work. To maintain the freedom they enjoyed required exclusivity of skills, and thus, as an apprentice was trained, his instructor attached moral values to the tools of the trade, binding him to his fellows of the craft.( citation needed ).

Freemasonry's transition from a craft guild of operative, working stonemasons into a fraternity of speculative, accepted, gentleman Freemasons began in Scottish lodges during the early 1600s. The earliest record of a lodge accepting a non-operative member occurs in the records of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), 8 June 1600, where it is shown that John Boswell, Laird of Aucheinleck, was present at a meeting. The first record of the initiation of a non-operative mason in a lodge is contained in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) for 3 July 1634, when the Right Honourable Lord Alexander was admitted a Fellowcraft. The first record of the Initiation of a non-operative on English soil, was in 1641 when Sir Robert Moray was admitted to the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) at Newcastle.

From the early 1600s references are found to Freemasonry in personal diaries and journals. Elias Ashmole was made a Mason in 1646 and notes attending several Masonic meetings. There appears to be a general spread of the Craft, between Ashmole's account and 1717, when four English Lodges meeting in London taverns joined together and founded the Grand Lodge of London (now known as the United Grand Lodge of England). They had held meetings, respectively, at the Cheshire Cheese Tavern, the Apple-Tree Tavern, the Crown Ale-House near Drury Lane, the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Westminster.

With the foundation of this first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry shifted from being an obscure, relatively private, institution into the public eye. The years following saw new Grand Lodges open throughout Europe. How much of this growth was the spreading of Freemasonry itself, and how much was due to the public organization of pre-existing private Lodges, is uncertain.

Sir Christopher Wren – London Icon

My family tree has been traced back to the early Kings of England from the 7th. Century AD. This gives me an interest in English History which is great fun to research. As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren, one of England greatest architect's, I thought it would be of interest to write about his life story and about his famous buildings.

The greatest British architect of all time was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, in 1632, the son of the rector of Knoyle. Christopher Wren attended Westminster School and Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated with a masters degree in 1651. At this stage Wren was a pure scientist (by the standards of the time) focusing on astronomy, physics, and anatomy. He experimented with submarine design, road paving, and design of telescopes. At the tender age of 25 he was offered the Chair of Astronomy at Gresham College, London from 1657 to 1661.

In 1660 Wren was one of the founding members of the Society of Experimental Philosophy. In 1662, under the patronage of Charles II, this body became known as the Royal Society.

His architectural career began in 1661 when Charles II appointed him assistant to the royal architect and in 1665 he spent six months in Paris studying architecture. The distinguished buildings Wren created in the years thereafter owe much of their cerebral rigor to his mathematical training. After the great fire of 1666 Wren prepared a master plan for the reconstruction of London, which was never executed. He designed, however, many new buildings that were built, the greatest of which was Saint Paul's Cathedral.

In 1669 Wren was named royal architect, a post he retained for more than 45 years. From 1670 to 1711 he designed 52 London churches, most of which still stand, notable for their varied and original designs and for their fine spires. They include:

·       St. Stephen Church, Walbrook;

·       St. Martin Church, Ludgate;

·       St. Bride Church, Fleet Street;

·       St. Mary-le-Bow Church, manifesting the type of spire in receding stages generally associated with Wren's name.

Among his numerous secular works are the:

·       Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford;

·       the elegant library of Trinity College, Cambridge;

·       the garden facade of Hampton Court Palace;

·       and the buildings of the Temple, London.

·       Tom Tower at Christ's Church, Oxford,

·       and the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.

·       He also enlarged and re-modeled Kensington Palace,

·       Hampton Court Palace,

·       The Naval Hospital at Greenwich.

Wren also built residences in London and in the country, and these, as well as his public works, received the stamp of his distinctive style. His buildings exhibit a remarkable elegance, order, clarity, and dignity. His influence was considerable on church architecture in England and abroad. Wren was knighted in 1675, and is buried in the crypt of St. Paul's. He is rightly regarded as the most influential British architect of all time.

Portobello Road Market, London Icon

I have created this article about Portobello Road as it's one of the Icons of London.

When Sir William Bull wrote his description of Portobello Road's Market in the 1730's it was already a place where commerce and entertainment met.

Portobello Road is a legacy of its rural origins when it was a country lane that ran from Notting Hill Gate to Portobello Farm, named by a patriotic farmer after Admiral Vernon captured the city of Puerto Bello in the Caribbean in 1739. One hundred and thirty years later houses and shops stood in an almost continuous line on each side of the road and Sir William Bull described the market in the following way "on Saturday nights in the winter it was thronged like a fair. The people overflowed from the pavement so that the roadway was quite impassable for horse traffic which, to do it justice, never appeared. On the left hand side there were costermongers barrows, lighted by flaming naphtha lamps. In the side streets were side shows, vendors of patent medicines, conjurers, itinerant vocalists, etc."

In 1740, at a society dinner in honour of the admiral, 'Rule Britannia' (see THE BRITANNIA) was performed for the first time, stirring up great national pride. Over time Portobello Lane became, of course, Portobello Road, one of the best-known London street names and the location of possibly the most famous street market.

After the end of the second world war there were many "rag and bone" men in the area who would sell goods on the market stalls. Such were the stupendous bargains to be found that it developed a reputation amongst those in the know as the place to find and buy antiques. As a result the antique trade developed, profiting often from amateurs who came to sell on a Saturday bringing useful stock which would be snapped up by the more knowledgeable professional dealers.

Nowadays in the road there are 30 individual antique markets which open at different times to allow in the crowd of buyers who move from one market to another. The Good Fairy Antique Market is the busiest market of them all and it is the first to open, raising its shutters every Saturday at 4 p.m. Many of the buyers are specialists who appreciate the fresh stock brought into the market each week. Later in the day crowds of tourists shuffle past the rows of pastel painted terraced cottages at the Notting Hill end of the road weaving slowly past the market stalls. The market has an extraordinary draw on people from far and near, fulfilling some kind of human need, presumably on an emotional and financial level.

British Silver and Gold Hallmarking from 1300 AD to present

Hallmarking is necessary because when jewellery is manufactured, precious metals are not used in their pure form, as they are unworkable. Gold, Silver, and Platinum are always alloyed with copper or other metals to create an alloy that is more suitable to the requirements of the jeweller. Such an alloy needs to be strong, workable and attractive.

Due to the high value of gold, platinum and silver, there are significant profits to be gained by reducing the precious metal content of an alloy at the manufacturing stage. Even an expert cannot determine the quality or standard of precious metal items by eye or touch alone. Base metal articles plated with a thin coat of gold or silver are indistinguishable from the same articles made wholly of precious metal until subjected to expert testing.

With volume manufacturing, enormous profits can be made from undercarating. Without compulsory independent testing there is huge potential for deception and fraud.

The UK Hallmarking system has offered valuable protection for over 700 years. Compulsory Hallmarking protects all parties; the public who receive a guarantee of quality, the manufacturer who is given quality control and protection from dishonest competitors at a very low cost and the retailer who avoids the near impossible task of checking standards on all his goods.

Brief History of UK Hallmarks
Hallmarking is the world's first known instance of consumer protection law, in the UK it dates back to about 1300 AD.




Hallmarking introduced in UK


Town Marks Introduced


18 Carat Replaces 191/5 Carat as Standard Gold


Date Letters Introduced


London Assay Office Opened


Lion Mark Introduced for Sterling Silver


22 Carat Replaces 18 Carat as Standard Gold


First Edinburgh Date Letters


Britannia Mark Introduced for Silver


Castle Mark Introduced for Exeter


Sterling Silver Standard Re-admitted


Hibernia Mark Introduced for Dublin


Thistle Mark Introduced for Edinburgh


Birmingham Assay Office Opened


Sheffield Assay Office Opened


Duty Mark Imposed


18 Carat Reintroduced in Addition to 22 Carat


Lion Rampant Mark Introduced for Glasgow


Customs Act Requiring Foreign Goods to Have British Hallmark


9 Carat Introduced


12 Carat Introduced


15 Carat Introduced


York Assay Office Closed


Foreign Mark Introduced


Exeter Assay Office Closed


Duty Mark Dropped


Carat Marks Compulsory on Gold


12 Carat Mark Discontinued


15 Carat Mark Discontinued


14 Carat Introduced

1934 - 1935

Silver Jubilee Mark Used

1952 - 1953

Silver Jubilee Mark Used

1953 - 1954

Coronation Mark Used


Chester Assay Office Closed


Glasgow Assay Office Closed


Hallmarking Act


British Hallmarking Council Formed


Platinum Mark Introduced


UK Ratifies Convention Mark


Silver Jubilee Mark Used


Revised Hallmarking Acts


New Acts Become Effective

1999 - 2000

Millennium Mark Used

A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing; Standard Mark, City Mark, Date Letter, Duty Mark and Maker's Mark.

The Standard mark indicates the purity of the silver.
A - Sterling .925
B - Britannia .958, used exclusively 1697 - 1720, optional afterwards.
C - Sterling .925 for Glasgow
D - Sterling .925 for Edinburgh
E - Sterling .925 for Dublin

The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478 (elsewhere as the hallmarking system evolved). Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.

In 1784 the duty mark was created to show that a tax on the item had been paid to the crown. The mark used was a profile portrait of the current reigning monarch's head. The use of this mark was abolished in 1890.

The enforced use of the maker's mark was instituted in London in 1363. Its purpose was to prevent the forgery of leopard's head marks upon silver of debased content. Originally, makers' marks were pictograms, but by the beginning of the 17th Century it had become common practice to use the maker's initials.

London Parks and Gardens– Free Entry

London Parks are the lungs of London and are famous for there beauty, history and serenity and are ideal for visitors to enjoy a picnic or just to chill out and enjoy nature and It's water features. To find the London Parks listed below (Which are Free to enter) just enter the name into a search engine.

●      Alexander Park

●      Barnard Park

●      Battersea Park

●      Bishop's Park

●      Bonnington Gardens

●      The Bothy

●      Bushy Park

●      Chelsea Physic Gardens

●      College Farm

●      Crystal Palace Park

●      Dean's Park

●      Dulwich Park

●      Furnival Gardens

●      Golden Square

●      Golders Hill Park

●      The Green Park

●      Greenwich Park

●      Gunnersbury Park

●      Gunnerbury Triangle

●      Hainault Forest Country Park

●      Hampstead Heath

●      Hannover Square

●      Holland Park

●      Hoxton Square

●      Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

●      Inner Temple

●      Island Gardens

●      Kew Gardens

●      Lee Valley Regional Park

●      Leicester Square

●      Lloyd Park

●      Phoenix Gardens

●      Pub on The Park

●      Regent's Park and Primrose Hill

●      Richmond Park

●      Roots and Shoots

●      Royal Botanical Gardens Kew

●      Russell Square

●      Victoria Embankment Gardens

●      Victoria Park

●      Saint James Park

●      Streatham Common

●      Syon Park

●      Tavistock Square

●      Temple Gardens

●      Tibetan Peace Garden

●      Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

●      Trent Park

●      Waterloo Place

●      Waterworks Nature Reserve and Golf Centre

●      Wimbledon Common

Smithfield Market – London Icon

I have always been interested in English History and arts and as a fan of London Icons I thought I would write an article about It's famous Smithfield Market.

Meat has been bought and sold at Smithfield for over 800 years, making it one of the oldest markets in London. A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century.

Smithfield (also known as West Smithfield) is an area of the City of London in the ward of Farringdon Without. It is located in the north-west part of the City of London, and is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market, today the last surviving historical wholesale market in Central London. Smithfield has a bloody history of executions of heretics and political opponents, including major historical figures including the leader of the Peasant's Revolt Wat Tyler and a long series of religious reformers and dissenters.

A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century. In 1174 the site was described by William Fitzstephen as:

"... a smooth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be sold, and in another quarter are placed vendibles of the peasant, swine with their deep flanks, and cows and oxen of immense bulk".

The livestock market expanded over the centuries to meet the demands of the growing population of the City. In 1710, the market was surrounded by a wooden fence to keep the livestock within the market; and until its abolition, the gate house of Cloth Fair was protected by a chain (le cheyne) on market days. Daniel Defoe referred to the livestock market in 1726 as "without question, the greatest in the world". and the available figures appear to support this claim. Between 1740 and 1750 the average yearly sales at Smithfield were reported to be around 74,000 cattle and 570,000 sheep. By the middle of the 19th century, in the course of a single year 220,000 head of cattle and 1,500,000 sheep would be "violently forced into an area of five acres, in the very heart of London, through its narrowest and most crowded thoroughfares". The volume of cattle driven daily to Smithfield started to raise major concerns.

Today, the Smithfield area is dominated by the imposing, Grade II Listed covered market designed by Victorian architect Sir Horace Jones in the second half of the 19th century. Some of the original market buildings were abandoned for decades and faced a threat of demolition, but they were saved as the result of a public inquiry and will be part of new urban development plans aimed at preserving the historical identity of this area.

Approximately 120,000 tons of produce pass through the market each year. As well as meat and poultry, products such as cheese, pies, and other delicatessen goods are available. Buyers including butchers, restaurateurs and caterers are able see the goods for themselves and drive away with what they have bought. Bargaining between buyers and sellers at Smithfield sets the guidelines for meat and poultry prices throughout the UK.

The market has recently undergone a £70 million refurbishment to equip it for the future and enable it to comply with modern hygiene standards. The ancient meat market has been transformed into the most modern in Europe, possibly even the world.

The process of change at Smithfield has not been restricted to the buildings alone, but has extended to the whole environment and working practices that had hardly changed in 130 years. The result has been the creation of a thoroughly modern temperature controlled environment inside a magnificent Grade II listed Victorian building.

Famous Victorian London Engineer Joseph Bazalgette

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren I have been interested in English history and researching fun and interesting bits of England including famous British Engineers..

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, (28 March 1819 – 15 March 1891) was born at Hill Lodge, Clay Hill, Enfield, London, England, the son of Joseph William Bazalgette (1783–1849), a retired captain of the Royal Navy and Theresa Philo, née Pilton (1796–1850).

He began his career working on railway projects, articled to noted engineer Sir John Macneill and gaining sufficient experience in land drainage and reclamation works for him to set up his own London consulting practice in 1842. By the time he married, in 1845, Bazalgette was deeply involved in the expansion of the railway network, working so hard that he suffered a nervous breakdown two years later.

As Civil Engineer and Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation in response to "The great stink" of 1858 which caused Parliament to finally create the world's largest Sewer complex and underground sewer tunnels and the cleaning of the River thames.

Championed by fellow engineer Isambaard Kingdom Brunel, Bazalgette was appointed chief engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works, in 1856 (a post he retained until the MBW was abolished and replaced by the london County Council in 1889). In 1858, the year of the Great Stink, Parliament passed an enabling act, in spite of the colossal expense of the project, and Bazalgette's proposals to revolutionise London's sewerage system began to be implemented. The expectation was that enclosed sewers would eliminate the stink ('miasma'), and that this would then reduce the incidence of cholera.

Joseph Bazalgette Civil Engineer and Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works, was given responsibility for the work. He designed an extensive underground sewerage system that diverted waste to the Thames Estuary, downstream of the main centre of population. Six main interceptory sewers, totalling almost 100 miles (160 km) in length, were constructed, some incorporating stretches of London's Lost Rivers. Three of these sewers were north of the river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the Thames Embankment. The Embankment also allowed new roads to reduce traffic congestion, new public gardens, and the Circle Line of the London Underground.

The intercepting sewers, constructed between 1859 and 1865, were fed by 450 miles (720 km) of main sewers that, in turn, conveyed the contents of some 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of smaller local sewers. Construction of the interceptor system required 318 million bricks, 2.7 million cubic metres of excavated earth and 670,000 cubic metres of Concrete. Gravity allows the sewage to flow eastwards, but in places such as Chelsea, Deptford and Abbey Mills pumping stations were built to raise the water and provide sufficient flow. Sewers north of the Thames feed into the Northern Outfall Sewer, which feeds into a major treatment works at Beckton. South of the river, the Southern Outfall Sewer extends to a similar facility at Crossness.

During the 20th century, major improvements were made to the sewerage system and to the Sewage treatment provision to substantially reduce pollution of the Thames Estuary and the North Sea.


The Crystal Palace Exhibition – London 1851

I hope all readers will find my article on The Crystal Palace of interest and let's hope in the future It will be re-built to its former glory.

In 1851 Great Britain was the leader of the industrial revolution and feeling very secure in that ideal. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London was conceived to symbolize this industrial, military and economic success of Great Britain. It was decided to make the exhibit truly international with invitations being extended to almost all of the colonized world.

It was also felt that it was important to show Britain's achievements right alongside those of other countries. The prevailing attitude in England at the time was ripe for the exhibiting of its many accomplishments. Many felt secure, economically and politically and Queen Victoria was eager to reinforce the feeling of contentment with her reign. It was during the mid-1850s that the word "Victorian" began to be employed to express a new self-consciousness, both in relation to the nation and to the period through which it was passing.

The exhibition was also a triumph for Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, whom she had married in 1840. Despite outbursts of opposition to Albert by the press the family life of the Victorian court began to be considered increasingly as a model for the whole country. Albert had appreciated the achievements of Prime Minister Robert Peel's political and military advances and publicly advocated the advancement of industry and science. These facts began to sway opinion in his favour as respectable foundations of family life and industrial supremacy were becoming rapidly acquainted with the monarchy of Victoria and Albert. Conceived by prince Albert, the Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park in London in the specially constructed Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was originally designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in only 10 days and was a huge iron goliath with over a million feet of glass. It was important that the building used to showcase these achievements be grandiose and innovative. Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by over 6,200,000 visitors to the exhibition.

The millions of visitors that journeyed to the Great Exhibition of 1851 marvelled at the industrial revolution that was propelling Britain into the greatest power of the time. Among the 13,000 exhibits from all around the world were the Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, tools, kitchen appliances, steel-making displays and a reaping machine from the United States. The objects on display came from all parts of the world, including India and the countries with recent white settlements, such as Australia and New Zealand, that constituted the new empire. Many of the visitors who flocked to London came from European cities. The profits from the event allowed for the foundation of public works such as the Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

This "bigger and better" building was divided into a series of courts depicting the history of art and architecture from ancient Egypt through the Renaissance, as well as exhibits from industry and the natural world. Major concerts were held in the Palace's huge arched Centre Transept, which also contained the world's largest organ. The Centre Transept also housed a circus and was the scene of daring feats by world famous acts such as the tightrope walker Blondin. National exhibitions were also staged within its glass and iron walls, including the world's first aeronautical exhibition (held in 1868) and the first national motor show, plus cat shows, dog shows, pigeon shows, honey, flower and other shows.

The Crystal Palace itself was almost outshone by the park in which it stood, which contained a magnificent series of fountains, comprising almost 12,000 individual jets. The largest of these threw water to a height of 250ft. Some 120,000 gallons of water flowed through the system when it was in full play.

The park also contained unrivaled collections of statues, many of which were copies of great works from around the world, and a geological display which included a replica lead mine and the first attempts anywhere in the world to portray life-size restorations of extinct animals, including dinosaurs. Crystal Palace park was also the scene of spectacular Brock's fireworks displays.

After the Great Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in South London and reconstructed in what was, in effect, a 200 acre Victorian theme park. The new Crystal Palace park at Sydenham was opened by Queen Victoria on June 10th, 1854.
In 1911, the year of King George V's coronation, the Crystal Palace was home to the Festival of Empire. Three-quarter size models of the parliament buildings of Empire and Commonwealth countries were erected in the grounds to contain exhibits of each country's products.

The Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire on November 30th 1936, following which the area lost much of its focus and began to decline. But many of the most important events in the history of the Crystal Palace took place in the grounds, which retain much of their original overall layout today and are a Grade II listed historic park. Thus, for 140 years, Crystal Palace park has been the scene of innumerable contributions to the nation's social, scientific and sporting history.

The London Borough of Bromley, who own the park today, together with the Crystal Palace Foundation, have recently submitted an outline proposal to the National Heritage Lottery Fund to restore much of the park to its former glory. The proposals covered by this application aim not only to improve the park as an amenity, but also to restore a number of its major heritage features. This will include restoration of the Grand Central Walkway, which originally ran the length of the park, the preservation and restoration of the terraces, and the restoration of the geological islands.

The London Hackney Carrieage and Hansom Cab – History from 1625

The first Powered Passenger Car was driven 160 KM across Cornwall, England in 1801. As my family have lived and worked in London for many centuries I decided to write this article about one of the many London Icons – The London Black Cab.

The Hackney Carriage originated in London, England in 1625. The cabs still come under some of the old rules from the horse drawn days. The Black Cabs' history goes back to the time of horse-drawn cabs which were called Hackney Cabs. The Black Cabs to date are the only taxis that are allowed to pick people up from the street.  

The first Hackney Carriages were licensed in 1662, and were at the time literally horse-drawn carriages. During the 20th century these were generally replaced with cars, and the last horse-drawn Hackney carriage was withdrawn from service in 1947. The name derives not from Hackney in London, but from the French word haquenée, referring to the horse that was pulling it. A carriage house, also called remise or coach house, is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages and the related tack.

In the United Kingdom, a hackney carriage is a taxicab licensed by the Public Carriage Office in the London Metropolitan Area or by the local authority (shire district councils or authorities) in other parts of England and Wales, Scottish Executive in Scotland, and the Department of the Environment.

In most of the country hackney carriages are conventional four door saloon cars but in London (and some other cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh) hackney carriages are specially designed vehicles manufactured by Manganese Bronze. These vehicles are designed to take up to 6 passengers in the back, and hold luggage in the front next to the driver. Some modern designs can also accommodate wheelchairs in the back. They were traditionally all black in colour and are popularly known as black cabs.

London Routemaster Buses – History

The first Powered Passenger Bus was exhibited up and down Bond Street, London in England in 1803. This could be called the first London Bus.

The traditional red Routemaster has become one of the famous features of London, with much tourist paraphernalia continuing to bear Routemaster imagery, and with examples still in existence around the world. Despite its fame, the previous London bus classes the Routemaster replaced are often mistaken for Routemasters by the public and by the media.  

The AEC Routemaster is a model of double decker bus that was built by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in 1954 (in production from 1958) and produced until 1968. Primarily front-engined, rear open platform buses, a small number of variants were produced with doors and/or front entrances. Introduced by London Transport in 1956, the Routemaster saw continuous service in London until 2005, and currently remains on two heritage routes in central London.

The Routemaster was developed by AEC in partnership with London Transport, the customer for nearly all new Routemasters. In total 2,876 Routemasters were built with approximately 1,000 still in existence.

A pioneering design, the Routemaster outlasted several of its replacement types in London, survived the privatisation of the former London Transport bus operators, and was used by other operators around the UK. The unique features of the standard Routemaster were both praised and criticised. The open platform, while exposed to the elements, allowed boarding and alighting away from stops; and the presence of a conductor allowed minimal boarding time and optimal security, although the presence of conductors produced greater labour costs.

Designed for and largely operated in London, over 2,800 of the original Routemaster buses were built between 1956 and 1968, following a design effort started in 1947. So robust was the design that the Routemaster outlived newer buses intended to replace it, into the deregulated era. It was not eventually withdrawn from regular London passenger service until December 2005.

While older buses were exempt from the disability discrimination requirements until 2017, after the 2004 election, TfL adopted an internal policy aim of requiring all of its bus routes to be operated by low-floor buses, thereby requiring the withdrawal of the Routemaster from London. Contributory factors to the withdrawal were said to be the risk of litigation over accidents arising from using the rear platform, and the cost savings of one man operation, and that passengers preferred the comfort levels of modern buses to the now vintage Routemaster.

The Routemaster continues in operation on two heritage routes awarded as TfL contract tendered routes, but they do not contravene the TfL accessible public transport policy requirement as they are paralleled over their entire route by low-floor vehicles of the same route number.

The new Mayor of London in 2008 announced the re-introduction of the routemaster. The new routemaster will be updated to modern hybrid engineering and the new design has been chosen. It is hoped that the new bus will be operating across London in time for the London Olympics of 2012.

City of London Livery Companies

England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD. The London livery companies began in London as craft guilds. At present there are 108 guilds covering most crafts and professions. The oldest guild is the *Bakers Company Guild which started in 1155 AD. 'Guild' derives from the Saxon word for payment, since membership of these fraternities was, and still is, paid for. The word 'livery' refers to uniform clothing as means of identification, hence the term of freemen being "clothed in livery" when they become liverymen of their Company.

A to Z of London Livery Guilds and Year of incorporation:

Actuaries 1979

Air Pilots & Air Navigators 1929

Apothecaries 1617

Arbitrators 1981

Armourers & Brasiers 1453

Bakers* 1155 ( The Oldest Livery Company - See Link Above )

Barbers 1308

Basketmakers 1569

Blacksmiths 1325

Bowyers 1371

Brewers 1437

Broderers 1561

Builders Merchants 1961

Butchers 1605

Carmen 1517

Carpenters 1333

Chartered Accountants 1977

Chartered Architects 1985

Chartered Secretaries & Administrators 1977

Chartered Surveyors 1976

Clockmakers 1631

Clothworkers 1528

Coachmakers & Coach-Harness Makers 1677

Constructors 1976

Cooks 1482

Coopers 1501

Cordwainers 1272

Curriers 1415

Cutlers 1344

Distillers 1638

Drapers 1364

Dyers 1471

Engineers 1983

Environmental Cleaners 1972

Fan Makers 1709

Farmers 1952

Farriers 1674

Feltmakers 1604

Firefighters 2001

Fishmongers 1272

Fletchers 1371

Founders 1614

Framework Knitters 1657

Fruiterers 1605

Fuellers 1984

Furniture Makers 1963

Gardeners 1605

Girdlers 1327

Glass Sellers 1664

Glaziers & Painters of Glass 1637

Glovers 1349

Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers 1693

Goldsmiths 1327

Grocers 1428

Gunmakers 1637

Haberdashers 1371

Hackney Carriage Drivers 2004

Horners 1638

Information Technologists 1992

Innholders 1515

Insurers 1979

International Bankers 2001

Ironmongers 1463

Joiners & Ceilers 1571

Launderers 1960

Leathersellers 1444

Lightmongers 1979

Loriners 1261

Makers of Playing Cards 1628

Management Consultants 2004

Marketors 1977

Masons 1677

Master Mariners 1926

Mercers 1394

Merchant Taylors 1327

Musicians 1350

Needlemakers 1656

Painter-Stainers 1283

Pattenmakers 1670

Paviors 1479

Pewterers 1384

Plaisterers 1501

Plumbers 1365

Poulters 1368

Saddlers 1362

Salters 1394

Scientific Instrument Makers 1955

Scriveners 1373

Security Professionals 2000

Shipwrights 1387

Skinners 1327

Solicitors 1944

Spectacle Makers 1629

Stationers & Newspaper Makers 1403

Tallow Chandlers 1462

Tax Advisors 2005

Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers 1670

Tobacco Pipe-Makers & Tobacco Blenders 1960

Turners 1604

Tylers & Bricklayers 1416

Upholders 1626

Vintners 1364

Water Conservators 2000

Wax Chandlers 1484

Weavers 1155

Wheelwrights 1670

Woolmen 1522

World Traders 2000

Companies without Livery

Parish Clerks

Watermen & Lightermen

England's House of Parliament - It's History

The Houses of Parliament is always called the "Mother of Parliaments", so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.

The Houses of Parliament occupy the site of an ancient palace and in virtue of that fact still rank as a royal palace and are in the charge of the hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain (not to be confounded with the Lord Chamberlain of the Household). This ancient palace, altered and added to from time to time was the chief London residence of the sovereign from the reign of Edward the Confessor (or perhaps earlier) until Henry VIII seized Whitehall in 1529.

The English Parliament traces its origins to the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot. In 1066, William of Normandy brought a feudal system, by which he sought advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws. In 1215, the tenants-in-chief secured the Magna Carta from King John, which established that the king may not levy or collect any taxes (except the feudal taxes to which they were hitherto accustomed), save with the consent of his royal council, which slowly developed into a parliament. In 1265, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester summoned the first elected Parliament. The franchise in parliamentary elections for county constituencies was uniform throughout the country, extending to all those who owned the freehold of land to an annual rent of 40 shillings (Forty-shilling Freeholders).

In the boroughs, the franchise varied across the country; individual boroughs had varying arrangements. This set the scene for the so-called "Model Parliament" of 1295 adopted by Edward I. By the reign of Edward II, Parliament had been separated into two Houses: one including the nobility and higher clergy, the other including the knights and burgesses, and no law could be made, nor any tax levied, without the consent of both Houses as well as of the Sovereign.

In the Middle Ages and early modern period there were the four separate kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and these developed separate parliaments.

In 1605 a chamber at its south end, was the scene of the Gunpowder Plot.

In 1512, the palace was very seriously damaged by fire and it was practically never rebuilt, though Henry VIII. added the cloisters and perhaps also the Star Chamber.

Henry VIII seized Whitehall in 1529.

The Laws in Wales Act of 1535–42 annexed Wales as part of England,

In 1547, the House of Commons, which had hitherto usually met in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, transferred its sittings to St. Stephen's Chapel in the palace; and in 1800 the House of Lords removed to the old Court of Requests, a chamber then situated a little to the south of Westminster Hall.

When Elizabeth I was succeeded in 1603 by the Scottish King James VI (thus becoming James I of England), the countries both came under his rule but each retained its own Parliament.

James I's successor, Charles I, quarrelled with the English Parliament and, after he provoked the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, their dispute developed into the English Civil War. Charles was executed in 1649 and under Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth of England the House of Lords was abolished, and the House of Commons made subordinate to Cromwell. After Cromwell's death, the Restoration of 1660 restored the monarchy and the House of Lords.

Amidst fears of a Roman Catholic succession, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II (James VII of Scotland) in favour of the joint rule of Mary II and William III, whose agreement to the English Bill of Rights introduced a constitutional monarchy, though the supremacy of the Crown remained. For the third time, a Convention Parliament, i.e., one not summoned by the king, was required to determine the succession.

The 1707 Acts of Union brought England and Scotland together under the Parliament of Great Britain

Old Palace Yard was an inner court of the palace, and down to 1800 the House of Lords assembled in a chamber at its south end.

The 1800 Act of Union included Ireland under the Parliament of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In 1834, however, the entire palace was burned down, with the exception of Westminster Hall, the crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel, and part of the cloisters. Rooms were hastily repaired for the use of the two Houses, and the rebuilding of the whole was at once begun.

In 1847 The Lords removed to their present abode and the Commons to theirs in 1850.

The first woman-member of Parliament to take her seat, Viscountess Astor, was elected for Plymouth on November 15th, 1919; the first woman minister was Miss Margaret Bondfield, Undersecretary for Labour in 1924. Payment of members (£400 a year) was established by resolution in 1911.

In 1979 The country voted for the first woman Prime Minister "Margaret Thatcher" who was one of Britain's greatest Prime Minister's and whose party invented "Privatisation" which was taken up by the world. With the help of Ronald Reagan she also helped in destroying Communism and what it stood for. The Soviet Union called her "The Iron Lady" which tells you how impressed they were. As an Englishman I would call Mrs. Thatcher the greatest Prime Minister since Churchill.

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot 1605

On every November 5th 1605 we in England and all over the World including New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, parts of the Canada and Caribbean and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda celebrate the failed gunpowder plot by Guy Fawkes and his fellow catholics with a bonfire and the burning of an effigy called a "Guy" and the exploding of Fireworks. The failed plot involved the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament and the murder of the elite of England including the King James I, Princes, Lords and Parliamentarians.

As an addendum, Colonial America also celebrated November 5th until the war of Independence against Britain when George Washington Banned the celebration due to its British connections. This is a bit hypocritical since The Freemasons were founded in London, England yet he still supported and encouraged freemasonry to his friends after the war of independence ( Typical Politician ).

The plot involved 13 conspirators: Robert Catesby, Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, Guy fawkes, John Wright, Christopher Wright, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham and Thomas Bates.

The 13 conspirators planned to place a hoard of gunpowder in an undercroft directly underneath the House of Lords. The plotters believed it to be the perfect place to hide explosives, as the undercroft had gone unused for some time. As October came and the plot was finalised, concerns arose that there may be Catholics present in Parliament when the device was to explode.[4] On Saturday 26 October William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, Francis Tresham's brother-in-law, received an anonymous letter warning him not to attend Parliament. On Friday 1 November the King was shown the letter, and it was later decided that a search of the Houses of Parliament would be undertaken on Monday.

According to the King's account, searchers discovered a servant nearby a large pile of firewood in the undercroft on Monday 4 November. He informed the searchers that the firewood belonged to his master, Thomas Percy. The servant's true identity was Guy Fawkes. As the searches had so far failed to locate anything untoward the King demanded that a more thorough search must commence. Shortly after midnight a search party under the command of Thomas Knyvet discovered Fawkes in the undercroft. Fawkes, who identified himself as John Johnson, was placed under arrest, and his possessions searched. He was discovered to be carrying a pocket watch, matches, and torchwood. The search team then unearthed barrels of gunpowder hidden beneath the pile of firewood.

Fawkes, still using the alias John Johnson, claimed when interrogated that he had acted alone. "Johnson" was relocated to the Tower of London on 6 November, where he was to be tortured, after the King gave his consent for the torture to take place. On 7 November Fawkes confessed that he had not acted alone, and the full extent of the plot was unearthed.

The plotters were all executed, aside from Catesby and Percy, who had already been killed amidst their refusal to surrender, however the bodies were exhumed and their heads were added to the other conspirators and placed on spikes outside the Houses of Lords.

In January 1606 the Thanksgiving Act was passed, and commemorating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot became an annual event. Early traditions soon began after the act was passed, such as the ringing of church bells and the lighting of bonfires, and fireworks were even included in some of the earliest celebrations. The act remained in place until 1859. Despite the repeal of the act taking place over 150 years ago, Guy Fawkes Night still remains a yearly custom throughout Britain. When I was at school all children were taught the following rhyme:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,

The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I see no reason Why the Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent To blow up the King and Parli'ment. Three-score barrels of powder below To prove old England's overthrow; By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*) With a dark lantern and burning match. Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! And what should we do with him? Burn him!

London Underground – The World's First Underground Railway

The transport system now known as the London Underground began in 1863 with the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway. Over the next forty years, the early sub-surface lines reached out from the urban centre of the capital into the surrounding rural margins, leading to the development of new commuter suburbs.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, new technology—including electric locomotives and improvements to the tunnelling shield enabled new companies to construct a series of "tube" lines deeper underground. Initially rivals, the tube railway companies began to co-operate in advertising and through shared branding, eventually consolidating under the single ownership of the London Electric Railway with lines stretching across London.

Important Dates of The London Underground



Using his patented tunnelling sheild, Marc Brunel begins construction of the Thames Tunnel under the River Thames between Wapping and Rotherhithe. Progress is slow and will be halted a number of times before the tunnel is completed.


1843 The Thames Tunnel opens as a pedestrian tunnel. 1845 Charles Pearson, Solicitor to the City of London, begins promoting the idea of an underground railway to bring passenger and goods services into the centre of the City.


1854 Metropolitan Railway (MR) is incorporated and granted powers to construct an underground railway from Paddington to Farringdon. 1856 Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) opens a line from Leyton to Loughton.


1861 Construction of the Metropolitan Railway near Kings Cross Station.

1870 Tower Subway opens, briefly, using a cabled-hauled carriage before conversion to pedestrian use. Constructed using a circular tunnelling shield developed by Peter W. Barlow and James Henry Greathead and lined with segmental cast-iron rings, this short tunnel under the River Thames successfully demonstrated new tunnelling techniques that would be used to construct most of the subsequent underground lines in London.


1880 MR extends to Harrow on the Hill. MDR extends from West Brompton to Putney Bridge.


1890 City and South London Railway electric locomotive and carriages.

1890 City of London and Southwark Subway changes name to City and South London Railway (C&SLR) and opens between Stockwell and King William Street, the world's first deep-level underground and electric railway.


"Underground"-branded Tube map from 1908 showing the newly opened tube lines in central London.

1910s Tube roundels based on Edward Johnston's design

1910 District line extends from South Harrow to connect to the MR at Rayners Lane and commences services to Uxbridge.

1930s Arnos Grove station designed by Charles Holden

1932 MR extends to Stanmore. Piccadilly line extends from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove.

1940s Londoners sheltering from The Blitz in a tube station

1940 Northern line extends over former EH&LR route to High Barnet.


A rear-end collision between two trains on the Central line between Stratford and Leyton kills 12 passengers. 1955 Aldenham depot opens as bus overhaul works. 1956 Parliament grants approval for the construction of the Victoria line. 1957 Electric tube trains replace steam-hauled shuttles between Epping and Ongar. 1959 District line spur between Acton Town and South Acton is closed.

1960s Hans Unger's tiling design at Blackhorse Road Victoria line station, opened 1968

1960 The last published underground map designed by Harry Beck is released. 


1970 Greater London Council (GLC) takes control of management of London Underground from London Transport Board controlling the Underground through a new London Transport Executive (LTE).

1980s London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

1980 London Transport Museum opens in Covent Garden.


2010 East London line reopens as part of London Overground network.

England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD this makes London a world capital. A recent UN survey recently found that London schools had children speaking 365 languages. Please click on links below to visit my various Articles and websites.

The London River Thames – It's History

The Thames is always called the "Artery of England", so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.

The story of the Thames goes back to over 30 million years ago when the river was once a tributary of the River Rhine, because Britain was not an island but joined at the hip to France. During the Great Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, the Thames changed its course and pushed its way through the Chiltern Hills at the place now known as the Goring Gap. The Thames was then 10 times its present size, a high-energy fast flowing river, fuelled by the melting ice sheets. However, this rapid progress slowed down, and by 3,000 years ago the river had settled down into its familiar meandering pattern that – with a few exceptions – we know today.

The first settlements along the Thames valley began 400,000 years ago by early Neolithic Tribes. Later the Romans came to the site of Londinium in 43AD, present day London, and they consolidated the Thames as an international port by constructing wharves mills and, of course, London Bridge, the first man-made crossing of the river. The story of why they selected the site we now see as the place for the bridge is an interesting one. It was where there was the first easy crossing of the river after they sailed upstream from the estuary. The Romans discovered that by using the rising tide their boats could be swept over 50 miles inland up the Thames from the North Sea, with no wind or muscle power needed. Later invaders also made use of this free energy source.

Old Father Thames is at present 346 kilometres in length (215 miles) – and is one of the most famous rivers in the world. It is the longest and most important waterway in England. Roman writers mention it as the Tamesis, and the name is probably a Celtic word which means ‘broad river'. The Thames connects the Heart of London to the North Sea. Its source starts in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds down to the mighty Thames Barrier on the London estuary. It is a magnificent river and many places of interest lie on its banks (Eton, Oxford, Henley, Windsor, Hampton Court, Richmond). In London the river flows past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. Ocean tides move up the river to south-west London. The Thames is 250 yards wide (229 metres) at London Bridge and 700 yards (600 metres) wide at Gravesend. It widens until it joins the North Sea at the London estuary. Its fame includes its history, its culture and its amazing variety of wildlife, archaeology and scenery – called The river with Liquid History.

During the 19th century The Thames became one of the busiest rivers in the world. The Thames today is one of the cleanest rivers in the world and has more river tourists than any other types of River traffic.

Some of the famous poems about the River Thames include the following poem by Wordsworth Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames at Evening composed in 1790.

Glide gently, thus forever glide,
O Thames! that other bards may see,
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
Oh glide, fair stream! for ever so;
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
‘Till all our minds forever flow,
As thy deep waters now are flowing.

Another Wordsworth poem and written in September 1802, entitled Composed upon Westminster Bridge.

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep:
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

In 1929 the MP John Burns once famously described the river as "liquid history" – the actual quote was "The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history".

The British Invention - Cheques and Their History

In everyday life here in England in 2010  we use cheques to pay all our bills. I thought it would be interesting to write the History of British Cheques. I remember in the early 1980's having cheques that had pictures – called Pictorial Cheques. I hope one day british banks or building socities will re-introduce Pictorial cheques.

By the 17th century, bills of exchange were being used for domestic payments in England. Cheques, a type of bill of exchange, then began to evolve. They were initially known as ‘drawn notes’ as they enabled a customer to draw on the funds they held on account with their banker and required immediate payment. These were hand written and one of the earliest known still to be in existence was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London and dated 16 February 1659.

In 1717 the Bank of England pioneered the first use of a pre-printed form. These forms were printed on ‘cheque’ paper to prevent fraud and customers had to attend in person and obtain a numbered form from the cashier. Once written the cheque would have to be brought back to the bank for settlement.

Up until around 1770 an informal exchange of cheques took place between London Banks. Clerks of each bank visited all of the other banks to exchange cheques, whilst keeping a tally of balances between them until they settled with each other. Daily cheque clearings began around 1770 when the bank clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London, to exchange all their cheques in one place and settle the balances in cash.

In 1811 the Commercial Bank of Scotland is thought to have been the first bank to personalise its customers cheques, by printing the name of the account holder vertically along the left-hand edge. In 1830 the Bank of England introduced books of 50, 100 or 200 forms and counterparts, bound or stitched. These cheque books became a common format for the distribution of cheques to bank customers.

In the late 1800s a number of countries formalised laws around cheques. The UK passing the Bills of Exchange act in 1882 which covered cheques. In 1931 an attempt was made to simplify the international use of cheques with the Geneva Convention on the unification of the law relating to cheques. Many European and South American states as well as Japan joined the convention. However all the members of the Common Law including the United States and the members of The Commonwealth did not participate.

In 1959 a standard for machine readable characters (MRC) was agreed and patented in the United States for use with cheques. This opened the way for the first automated reader/sorting machines for clearing cheques. The following years saw a dramatic change in the way that cheques were handled and processed as automation increased. Cheque volumes continued to grow, and in the late 20th century cheques became the most popular non cash method for making payments, with billions of them processed each year. Most countries saw cheque volumes peak in the late 1980s or early 1990s. At that time electronic payment methods started to become popular and as a result cheque usage started to decline.

In 1969 cheque guarantee cards were introduced in some countries, this allowed a retailer to confirm that a cheque would be honoured when they were used to pay at point of sale. This was done by having the drawer sign the cheque in front of the retailer so it could be compared to the signature on the card and them writing the cheque guarantee card number of the back of the cheque. These were generally phased out and replaced by debit cards starting in the mid 1990s.

As an addendum – The first ATM Machines were developed simultaneously in Sweden and Britain. Both countries developed their own cash machines during the early 1960's. The first of these was put in use by Barclays bank in Enfield – a town in the north london on the 27th. June 1967.

This machine was the first in the UK and was used and advertised by English comedy actor – Reg Varney so as to produce the maximum publicity for the machines that were to become mainstream in the UK. This instance of the invention has been credited to John Shepherd-Baron OBE and other engineers at the British Company De La Rue Instruments.

History of Stocks and Shares London from 1688 to Present


As my family can trace our family tree back many generations of Londoners including directly descended from the famous church builder Sir Christopher Wren I thought I would write about its history. One of the interesting things I learnt in my Commerce Class was the London Stock Exchange saying "My word is my bond". Trading in London accounted for 36.7% of the world total, making London by far the most important global centre for foreign exchange trading.


The trade in shares in London began with the need to finance two voyages: The Muscovy Company's attempt to reach China via the White Sea north of Russia, and the east India Company voyage to India and the east. The trading in the stocks of the second company began in 1688. Unable to finance these expensive journeys privately, the companies raised the money by selling shares to merchants, giving them a right to a portion of any profits eventually made.


The idea soon caught on (one of the earliest was the Earl of Bedford's scheme to drain the Fens). It is estimated that by 1695, there were 140 joint-stock companies. The trade in shares was centred around the City's Change Alley in two coffee shops: Garraway's and Jonathan's. The broker, John Castaing, published the prices of stocks and commodities called The Course of the Exchange and other things in these coffee shops.


In 1697, a law was passed to "restrain the number and ill-practice of brokers and stockjobbers" following a number of Insider Trading and market-rigging incidents. It required all brokers to be licensed and to take an oath promising to act lawfully.


In 1698, when a man named John Castaing began publishing lists of stock prices called 'The Course of the Exchange and Other Things'. London's stock dealers were at this time making trades in the streets and in coffee houses. In 1761, 150 of these stockbrokers started a club for buying and selling shares in a dealing room on Sweeting's Alley, which eventually became known as The Stock Exchange. It became an official, regulated exchange in 1801 and a year later moved into a building in Chapel Court.


Like many other stock exchanges, the London Stock Exchange closed for five months during World War I, and again for six days during World War II.

Previously, all members of the London Stock Exchange had to be British as per Rule 21. The nationality requirement was lifted in 1970. This allowed foreigners to become members of the London Stock Exchange, the first approved membership being that of Egyptian Prince Abbas Hilmi.

Then in 1972 a new office with a 23,000 square foot trading floor was opened for the exchange by Queen Elizabeth II on Threadneedle Street. A year later, all the regional exchanges in England and Ireland merged with the London Stock Exchange.

In 1986 there was a deregulation of the exchange, called the 'Big Bang'. Among other things, this deregulation allowed outside corporations to own member firms, eliminated voting rights for individual members, and transformed the face-to-face trading system into one largely operated over computers and telephones.

In 1995, the London Stock Exchange opened the Alternative Investment Market, creating the division between the trading of large cap and small cap companies.

In 2000, the London Stock Exchange made the decision to go public, and began listing their shares on their own exchange in 2001.

In 2004, the exchange left their building on Threadneedle Street to move to their current location on Paternoster Square near St. Paul's Cathedral.

On February 9, 2011, the London Stock Exchange announced that they had agreed to merge with the Toronto-based TMX Group, the owners of the Toronto Stock Exchange, creating a combined entity with a market capitalisation of listed companies equal to £3.7 trillion.

In October 2010, the London Stock Exchange announced that the new Linux based trading system. named Millennium Exchange, had smashed the world record for trade speed, with 126 microsecond trading times being recorded on the Turquoise dark pool trading venue and would go live on in early 2011.

Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. For instance, when the IMF calculates the value of its SDR's (Special Drawing Rights ) every day, they use the London market prices at noon that day.

Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, London Icon – History

I have created this article about Speakers Corner as it's one of the Icons of London.

Speakers Corner is situated in the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park, opposite Marble Arch. Whilst it is nothing much to look at, it is London's most famous place for public debate. Free speech and banter is the name of the game here, and anyone with something to say can step up and speak their mind.

This was the first royal park opened to the public in 1637. On its corner stands Speakers Corner where on a Sunday morning speakers pontificate of every subject under the sun. During the summer band concert, softball games and boating on the lake takes place. However whilst safe during the day it is better avoided at night.

Its origins date from the 1700s, when Tyburn was still a site of public execution. Condemned men were allowed one last speech before they met their maker, and the memory has stuck throughout the centuries. It gained a huge boost in 1855, when a crowd gathered to rail against the Sunday Trading Bill. When the police arrived to arrest the ringleader, they were met by a mob 150,000 strong.

It moved to its present location, the northeast corner of Hyde Park in 1851. Just beyond it, in the park, is the Speakers' Corner, where soap- box orators sometimes put on a diverting show.It runs through Oxford Circus and passes many department stores on its way to Marble Arch. Modeled on the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Marble Arch was designed to serve as a gate to Buckingham Palace, but was British Travel Association BEHEMOTH -- London tour bus passes Parliament Square and Big Ben. moved to its present location, the northeast corner of Hyde Park in 1851. Just beyond it, in the park, is the Speakers' Corner, where soap- box orators sometimes Speak there mind.

The events of June 1855 at Speakers' Corner inspired Karl Marx ( the disliker of democracy ) to declare that the English proletariat had begun their inexorable rise and that social revolution leading to a communist state was under way. "This alliance between a degenerate, dissipated and pleasure-seeking aristocracy and the church -- built on a foundation of filthy and calculated profiteering on the part of the beer magnates and monopolistic wholesalers -- gave rise to a mass demonstration in Hyde Park.

As in most things neo-communist this was another failed attempt to create a revolution in England which failed because we in England held with suspicion anyone who tried to cause dis-harmony and invariably they would fail miserably. This is probably why Karl Marx and his ilk went back to where they came from. Typically they used our freedoms to try to undermine our freedoms.

The history of Speakers Corner began in 1872. It was then that an Act of Parliament, otherwise known as law, was passed giving up a small corner of Hyde Park to pubic speaking. Throughout the years, great debates and large crowds were common. Today, not so much, but this is still considered a must see. If you are easily offended by many of today's political and religious issues or if you cannot stand to hear another word about the "impending apocalypse," it may be best to walk away or put your hands over your ears.

During 1872 the place had started to gain a nationwide fame, and a legal licence was granted to allow sizeable meetings.

There are many Speakers Corner around the world in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore, Trinidad and tobago, Thailand and Malaysia and in English Cities Nottingham, Worthing based on London's Speaker Corner.

The London Thames Watermen and Lightermen

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Livery companies I have created this article to the Company of Waterman and Lighterman.

By Elizabethan times Thames watermen had become some of the most important tradesmen in London. But work on the river could be dangerous for poorly qualified men in unsuitable boats. Accidents were frequent, and passengers were often overcharged.

In 1514, in Henry VIII's reign, Parliament found it necessary to introduce an Act to regulate watermen's fares. A further Act of 1555 led to the foundation of the Company of Watermen and the introduction of apprenticeships on the river.

In 1585 Elizabeth I granted the Company its own coat of arms showing the tools of the watermen's trade, and soon afterwards their first Hall was built.

The original one-year waterman's apprenticeship became seven years in 1603.

Then in 1700, another group of river workers, the lightermen, who carried goods rather than passengers, joined with the Company. It became the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, a title it still holds. The Company moved to its present Hall in 1780.

Watermen flourished in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and many popular prints and ceramic figures illustrate their activities. Some of these caricatures make fun of the watermen's rivalry when touting for passengers and the reputation of the less scrupulous for overcharging.

However, competition from new bridges, improved road and rail transport and Thames steamers with their heavy wash, eventually led to a decline in the number of watermen.

The lightermen, however, benefited at first from the increase in the shipping trade of the Port of London. But they were severely affected by new cargo-handling methods introduced into the docks in the second half of the 20th century.

The Company was responsible throughout the 19th century for regulating watermen and lightermen and their fees, and for registering their boats. Later, the Thames Conservancy and the Port of London Authority took over most of these duties. However, the Company continued to be responsible for apprenticeships and the granting of Freedoms.

Today, the principal activities of the Company are the training of apprentices and the charitable support of watermen and their families. The Watermen's Company also continues to encourage an interest in rowing and the use of the Thames, as well as traditional City of London ceremonial river events.

London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – History

The bridges that cross the Thames total 214 with over 20 tunnels, six public ferries and one ford, so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.

Barrier and Boundary

Until sufficient crossings were established, the river provided a formidable barrier, with Belgic tribes and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being defined by which side of the river they were on. When English counties were established their boundaries were partly determined by the Thames. On the northern bank were the historic counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and Essex. On the southern bank were the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey, and Kent. However the permanent crossings that have been built to date have changed the dynamics and made cross-river development and shared responsibilities more practicable. In 1965, upon the creation of Greater London, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames incorporated areas that had been part of both Middlesex and Surrey; and changes in 1974 moved some of the boundaries away from the river. For example, some areas that had been part of Berkshire became part of Oxfordshire, what had been Buckinghamshire became part of Berkshire, and what had been Middlesex became part of Surrey. On occasion – for example in rowing – the banks are still referred to by their traditional county names.

History of Crossings

Many of the present road bridges on the river are on the site of earlier fords, ferries and wooden structures. The earliest known major crossings of the Thames by the Romans were at London Bridge and Staines Bridge. At Folly Bridge in Oxford the remains of an original Saxon structure can be seen, and mediaeval stone structures such as Newbridge and Abingdon Bridge are still in use. Kingston's growth is believed to stem from its having the only crossing between London Bridge and Staines until the beginning of the 18th century. Proposals to build bridges across the Thames at Lambeth and Putney in around 1670 were prevented by the Rulers of the Company of Watermen, since it would mean ruin for the 60,000 rivermen who provided a pool of naval reserve.[1] During the 18th century, many stone and brick road bridges were built from new or to replace existing structures both in London and along the length of the river. These included Putney Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Datchet Bridge, Windsor Bridge and Sonning Bridge. Several central London road bridges were built in the 19th century, most conspicuously Tower Bridge, the only Bascule bridge on the river, designed to allow ocean going ships to pass beneath it. The most recent road bridges are the bypasses at Isis Bridge and Marlow By-pass Bridge and the Motorway bridges, most notably the two on the M25 route Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and M25 Runnymede Bridge.

The development of the railway resulted in a spate of bridge building in the 19th century including Blackfriars Railway Bridge and Charing Cross (Hungerford) Railway Bridge in central London, and the spectacular railway bridges by Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Maidenhead Bridge, Gatehampton Railway Bridge and Moulsford Railway Bridge.

The world's first underwater tunnel was the Thames Tunnel by Marc Brunel built in 1843 and used to carry the East London Line. The Tower Subway was the first railway under the Thames, which was followed by all the deep-level tube lines. Road tunnels were built in East London at the end of the 19th century, being the Blackwall Tunnel and the Rotherhithe Tunnel, and the latest tunnel was the Dartford Crossing.

Many foot crossings were established across the weirs that were built on the non-tidal river, and some of these remained when the locks were built – for example at Benson Lock. Others were replaced by a footbridge when the weir was removed as at Hart's Weir Footbridge. Around the year 2000 AD, several footbridges were added along the Thames, either as part of the Thames Path or in commemoration of the Millennium. These include Temple Footbridge, Bloomers Hole Footbridge, the Hungerford Footbridges and the Millennium Bridge, all of which have distinctive design characteristics.

Some ferries still operate on the river. The Woolwich Ferry carries cars and passengers across the river in the Thames Gateway and links the North Circular and South Circular roads. Upstream are smaller pedestrian ferries, for example Hampton Ferry and Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry the last being the only non-permanent crossing that remains on the Thames Path.

The list starts at the downstream (Estuary) end and follows the river upstream towards the source. A few of the crossings listed are public pedestrian crossings utilising walkways across lock gates and bridges above or adjacent to the adjoining weirs. Most of the other locks on the River Thames also have walkways across their lock gates and weirs, but these either do not completely cross the river, or are restricted to authorised personnel only, and are therefore not listed. Besides the ferry crossings listed, there are commuter boat services operating along the river in London, and tourist boat services operating both in London and upstream. Whilst the principal purpose of these services is not to carry people across the river, it may be possible to use them to do so.

List Of Thames Crossings

North Sea to London

·       proposed Lower Thames Crossing at or east of Dartford Crossing - three options announced in April 2009

·       Gravesend - Tilbury Ferry, a passenger ferry.

·       High Speed 1 rail tunnels from Swanscombe in Kent to West Thurrock in Essex. (Two 2.5 km tunnels, 7.15 m internal diameter.)

·       Dartford Crossing including two Dartford Tunnels (1963 and 1980) and the cable-stayed Queen Elizabeth II Bridge (1991)

·       Dartford Cable Tunnel (2003; tunnel carrying electrical cable; accessible by authorised personnel only)

·       380kV Thames Crossing (power line crossing at West Thurrock)

East London

·       proposed Thames Gateway Bridge, bridge between Beckton with Thamesmead, cancelled in November 2008.

·       Docklands Light Railway tunnel (between King George V and Woolwich Arsenal stations)

·       Woolwich foot tunnel (1912)

·       Woolwich Ferry

·       Crossrail tunnel (construction started 15 May 2009)

·       Millennium Dome electricity cable tunnel

·       Thames Barrier (includes service tunnel accessible by authorised personnel only)

·       proposed Silvertown Link (bridge or tunnel to relieve the Blackwall Tunnels)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between North Greenwich and Canning Town; 1999)

·       Blackwall Tunnels (Alexander Binnie, 1897; second bore 1967)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich; 1999)

·       Docklands Light Railway tunnel (between Island Gardens and Cutty Sark; 1999)

·       Greenwich foot tunnel (Alexander Binnie, 1902)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Canada Water and Canary Wharf; 1999)

·       Canary Wharf - Rotherhithe Ferry

·       Rotherhithe Tunnel (Maurice Fitzmaurice, 1908)

·       Thames Tunnel (Wapping to Rotherhithe Tunnel) (Marc Brunel, 1843; the world's first underwater tunnel, now part of the East London Line)

Central London

·       Tower Bridge (1894)

·       Tower Subway (Peter W. Barlow and James Henry Greathead; 1870. The world's first underground tube railway, cable hauled - now used for water mains and telephone cables and not accessible)

·       Northern Line (City branch) tunnels (between London Bridge and Bank; 1900)

·       London Bridge (1973)

·       City & South London Railway tunnels (This railway's original crossing of the river between Borough and King William Street; 1890. Abandoned in 1900 when the Northern Line City branch tunnels were opened on a new alignment)

·       Cannon Street Railway Bridge (1982)

·       Southwark Bridge (1921)

·       Millennium Bridge (footbridge, 2002)

·       Blackfriars Railway Bridge (1886)

·       Blackfriars Bridge (1869)

·       Waterloo & City Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Bank; 1898)

·       Waterloo Bridge (1945) (the "women's bridge")

·       Northern Line (Charing Cross branch) tunnels (between Waterloo and Embankment; 1926)

·       Hungerford Footbridges (Golden Jubilee Bridges) (2002)

·       Charing Cross (Hungerford) Bridge (Railway, 1864)

·       Bakerloo Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Embankment; 1906)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Westminster; 1999)

·       Westminster Bridge (1862)

·       Lambeth Bridge (1932)

·       Vauxhall Bridge (1906)

·       Victoria Line tunnels (between Vauxhall and Pimlico; 1971)

·       Grosvenor Bridge (Victoria Railway Bridge) (1859)

South west London

·       Chelsea Bridge (1937)

·       Albert Bridge (1873)

·       Battersea Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1890) (Henry Holland, 1771)

·       Battersea Railway Bridge (1863)

·       Wandsworth Bridge (1938)

·       Fulham Railway Bridge and Footbridge (1889)

·       Putney Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1886) (Phillips & Ackworth, 1729)

·       Hammersmith Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1887)

·       Barnes Railway Bridge and Footbridge (1849)

·       Chiswick Bridge (1933)

·       Kew Railway Bridge (1869)

·       Kew Bridge (John Wolfe-Barry, 1903)

·       Richmond Lock and Footbridge (1894)

·       Twickenham Bridge (1933)

·       Richmond Railway Bridge (1848)

·       Richmond Bridge (1777)

·       Hammerton's Ferry (F) (Marble Hill Twickenham to Ham House)

·       Teddington Lock Footbridge

·       Kingston Railway Bridge (1863)

·       Kingston Bridge (1828)

·       Hampton Court Bridge (1933)

·       Hampton Ferry (F) (to Hurst Park, East Molesey, 1519)

London to Windsor

·       Walton Bridge (1953 and 1999)

·       Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry (F)

·       Chertsey Bridge (1785)

·       M3 Motorway Bridge (1971)

·       Staines Railway Bridge (1856)

·       Staines Bridge (1832)

·       M25 Runnymede Bridge (Edwin Lutyens, 1961; widened 1983 and 2005)

·       Albert Bridge (1928)

·       Victoria Bridge (1967)

·       Black Potts Railway Bridge (1892)

·       Windsor Bridge (1824)

·       Windsor Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1849)

·       Queen Elizabeth Bridge (1966)

Windsor to Reading

·       Summerleaze Footbridge (1992)

·       M4 Bridge (incorporates footbridge) (1961)

·       Maidenhead Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Maidenhead Bridge (1777)

·       Cookham Bridge (1867)

·       Bourne End Railway Bridge (1895; incorporates footbridge)

·       Marlow By-pass Bridge (1972)

·       Marlow Bridge (William Tierney Clark, 1832)

·       Temple Footbridge (1989)

·       Hambleden Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Henley Bridge (1786)

·       Shiplake Railway Bridge (1897)

·       Sonning Bridge (c.1775) & Sonning Backwater Bridges (1986)

·       Caversham Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Reading Bridge (1923)

·       Caversham Bridge (1926)

Reading to Oxford

·       Reading Festival Bridge (2008, a temporary footbridge on permanent footings for the Reading Festival)

·       Whitchurch Bridge (1902, a toll bridge from Whitchurch-on-Thames to Pangbourne)

·       Gatehampton Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Goring and Streatley Bridge (1923)

·       Moulsford Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Winterbrook Bridge (1993)

·       Wallingford Bridge (1809)

·       Benson Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Shillingford Bridge (1827)

·       Little Wittenham Bridge

·       Day's Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Clifton Hampden Bridge (George Gilbert Scott,1867)

·       Appleford Railway Bridge (1929)

·       Sutton Bridge

·       Culham Bridge (across Swift Ditch, a backwater and former main course of the river near Abingdon)

·       Abingdon Bridge (1416)

·       Abingdon Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Nuneham Railway Bridge (1929)

·       Kennington Railway Bridge (1923)

·       Isis Bridge (1962)

·       Donnington Bridge (1962)

·       Folly Bridge (1827)

·       Oxford Footbridge

·       Osney Footbridge

·       Osney Rail Bridge

·       Osney Bridge (1885)

Oxford to Cricklade

      .    St. John's Bridge, Lechlade.

·       Medley Footbridge (1865)

·       Godstow Bridge (1792)

·       A34 Road Bridge

·       Swinford Toll Bridge (1777)

·       Pinkhill Lock (Incorporates public footbridge)

·       Hart's Weir Footbridge (1879)

·       Newbridge (13th century)

·       Tenfoot Bridge

·       Shifford Cut Footbridge and Duxford Ford

·       Tadpole Bridge

·       Old Man's Bridge (1868)

·       Radcot Bridge (1787)

·       Eaton Footbridge (1936)

·       Bloomers Hole Footbridge (2000)

·       St. John's Bridge (1886)

·       Halfpenny Bridge (James Hollingworth, 1792) - the start of the navigable Thames

·       Hannington Bridge

·       Castle Eaton Bridge

·       Water Eaton House Bridge

·       Eysey Footbridge

·       A419 Road Bridge

·       Cricklade Town Bridge

Beyond Cricklade

·       Waterhay Bridge

·       High Bridge, Ashton Keynes

·       Three Bridges, Ashton Keynes

·       unnamed road bridge at grid reference 020946

·       Neigh Bridge

·       unnamed road bridge at grid reference 004972

·       Parker's Bridge, Ewen

·       A429 Road Bridge

·       A433 Road Bridge

History of the English Constitution AD 890 to Present day

AD 890 The Anglo Saxon Chronicles.

Originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great, approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th Century. The original language is Anglo-Saxon (Old English), but later entries are essentially Middle English in tone.

AD 1086: The Domesday Book

Domesday is Englands most famous and earliest surviving public record. It is a highly detailed survey and valuation of all the land held by the King and his chief tenants, along with all the resources that went with the land in late 11th century England. The survey was a massive enterprise, and the record of that survey, Domesday Book, was a remarkable achievement. There is nothing like it in England until the censuses of the 19th century.

1215: Magna Carta

The 'great charter' is most famous for consolidating judicial rights, notably habeas corpus, the right not to be unlawfully imprisoned. However, it was also an important first step in removing power from the central authority - King John - and spreading it wider.

Its 61st clause, known as the Security Clause, declared that a council of 25 barons be created with the power to overrule the will of the King, by force if necessary.

This was repealed angrily by the King shortly afterwards, and mediaeval rulers largely ignored the document altogether, but it became an early foundation of England's - and later the United Kingdom's - unwritten constitution.

1376: The first Speaker of the House of Commons is appointed
An English Parliament had existed since late in the 13th century, and had been divided into two houses since 1341, with knights and burgesses sitting in what became known as the House of Commons while clergy and nobility sat in the House of Lords. However, its duties largely consisted of ratifying taxes for the Crown. In 1376, Thomas de la Mare was appointed to go to the King with complaints about taxation, and the Commons for the first time impeached some of the King's ministers. While de la Mare was imprisoned for his actions, the House created the position of Speaker to represent the Commons permanently. Above is Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker from 1992 to 2000.

English Petition of Right in 1628

Parliament passed the Petition of Right in 1628 in response to a number of perceived violations of the law by Charles I in the first years of his reign. In 1626, Charles had convened Parliament in an effort to obtain desperately needed funds for the continuation of his unsuccessful war with Spain. Unhappy with the prosecution of the war, however, Parliament swiftly began impeachment proceedings against Charles' favorite and principal counselor, the Duke of Buckingham. In order to protect Buckingham, Charles was forced to dissolve Parliament before it had voted any subsidies. Left without recourse to parliamentary taxation, Charles resorted to two forms of extra-parliamentary taxation to raise the funds he needed - a benevolence and a Forced Loan - that were of doubtful legality at best. He also began to billet soldiers in civilian homes, both as a cost-saving measure and as a means of punishing his political opponents.

Citing the Forced Loan's illegality, a number of gentlemen refused to pay, and many of them were imprisoned as a result. Ultimately, five of the imprisoned gentlemen - the so-called "Five Knights" (since they were all knights) petitioned the Court of Kings Bench for writs of habeas corpus to force the government to specify the reason for their imprisonment. Seeking to avoid a direct challenge of the legality of the Loan, Charles refused to charge the prisoners with a specific crime, instead declaring on the return to the writs that the knights were detained "per speciale mandatum domini regis" ("by special command of our lord the king"). In the resulting hearings before the King's Bench - the famous Five Knights case - counsel for the Knights argued that imprisonment by "special command" amounted to a fundamental violation of the principle of due process established by chapter twenty-nine of Magna Carta, which declared that imprisonment could only occur in accordance with the law of the land. The Five Knights' counsel claimed, therefore, that the king, upon receipt of a writ of habeas corpus, must return a specific cause of detention, the legality of which could be assessed by the courts. In contrast,Robert heath, the Attorney General, claimed that the king had a prerogative right to imprison by royal command for reasons of state, and these detentions could not be challenged by habeas corpus.

Faced with conflicting precedents, and, undoubtedly, political pressure, the Court decided to remit the Knights to prison while taking the case under advisement. Although equivocal, this decision was taken as a major victory for the king, and a significant blow to the opponents of his extra-legal policies. It was largely a desire to overturn immediately this ruling that would provide the primary impetus for the House of Commons decision to create the Petition of Right in the subsequent Parliament.

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of the Parliament of England passed during the reign of King Charles 11 to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whereby persons unlawfully detained cannot be ordered to be prosecuted before a court of law.

The Act is often wrongly described as the origin of the writ of habeas corpus, which had existed for at least three centuries before. The Act of 1679 followed an earlier act of 1640 which established that the command of the King or the Privvy Council was no answer to a petition of habeas corpus. Further Habeas Corpus Acts were passed by the British Parliament in 1803, 1804, 1816 and 1862, but it is the Act of 1679 which is remembered as one of the most important statutes in English constitutional history. Though amended, it remains on the statute book to this day.

The Act came about because the Earl of Shaftsbury encouraged his friends in the Commons to introduce the Bill where it passed and was then sent up the Lords. Shaftesbury was the leading Exclusionist—those who wanted to exclude Charles II's brother James, Duke of York from the succession—and the Bill was a part of that struggle as they believed James would rule arbitrarily. The Lords decided to add many wrecking amendments to the Bill in an attempt to kill it; the Commons had no choice but to pass the Bill with the Lords' amendments because they learned that the King would soon end the current parliamentary session.

The Bill went back and forth between the two house, and then the Lords voted on whether to set up a conference on the Bill. If this motion was defeated the Bill would stay in the Commons and therefore have no chance of being passed. Each side—those voting for and against—appointed a teller who stood on each side of the door through which those Lords who had voted "aye" re-entered the House (the "nays" remained seated). One teller would count them aloud whilst the other teller listened and kept watch in order to know if the other teller was telling the truth. Shaftesbury's faction had voted for the motion, so they went out and re-entered the House. Gilbert Burnet, one of Shaftesbury's friends, recorded what then happened:

Lord Grey and Lord Norris were named to be the tellers: Lord Norris, being a man subject to vapours, was not at all times attentive to what he was doing: so, a very fat lord coming in, Lord Grey counted him as ten, as a jest at first: but seeing Lord Norris had not observed it, he went on with this misreckoning of ten: so it was reported that they that were for the Bill were in the majority, though indeed it went for the other side: and by this means the Bill passed.

The clerk recorded in the minutes of the Lords that the "ayes" had fifty-seven and the "nays" had fifty-five, a total of 112, but the same minutes also state that only 107 Lords had attended that sitting.

The King arrived shortly thereafter and gave Royal Assent before proroguing Parliament. The Act is now stored in the Parliamentary Archives.

1688: The Great Revolution
The Civil War a few years before had removed the monarchy, and then reinstated it in a weakened form, setting the stage for the attenuated 'constitutional monarchy' that we have today. But it was the arrival of William of Orange from Holland to take the throne from James II which led to the creation of the Bill of Rights, constitutionally preventing absolute rule by the Kings and Queens of Great Britain to this day, and leaving Parliament as the true seat of power in the country.

The English Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament in December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1688, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. It enumerates certain rights to which subjects and permanent residents of a constitutional monarchy were thought to be entitled in the late 17th century, asserting subjects' right to petition the monarch, as well as to have arms in defence. It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in parliament.

Along with the 1701 Act of Settlement the Bill of Rights is still in effect, one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession to the throne of the United kingdom and—followingBritish Colonialism, the resultant doctrine of reception, and independence—to the thrones of those other Commonwealth realms, by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated part of the particular realm's constitution. Since the implementation of the statute of Statute of westminister in each of the Commonwealth realms (on successive dates from 1931 onwards) the Bill of Rights cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm's own parliament, and then, by convention and as it touches on the succession to the shared throne, only with the consent of all the other realms.

In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British Constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act applies in Scotland. The English Bill of Rights 1689 inspired in large part the United States Bill of Rights.

4 July 1776 American Declaration of Independence The American Congress formally declares the separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain through the Declaration of Independence.

17 September 1787 Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is signed and then ratified the following year. It establishes the system of federal government that begins to operate from 1789.

15 December 1791 American Bill of Rights Based on the English Bill of Rights - The American Bill of Rights is added to the U.S. Constitution as the first ten amendments.

1832: The Reform Act
Democracy of sorts had existed in England for centuries - as far back as 1432, Henry VI passed statues declaring who was eligible to vote (male owners of land worth at least 40 shillings, or a freehold property - perhaps half a million people nationwide). However, the counties and boroughs that sent Members to Parliament were of wildly differing size. The county of Yorkshire had more than 20,000 people, and the borough of Westminster had around 12,000, but they only sent one representative to the Commons - as did, for example, Dunwich, which had 32 voters, or Gatton, which had seven.

The Reform Act increased enfranchisement to over a million, or about one in six of all adult males, by allowing men who rented property above a certain value to vote too. It also tore up the mediaeval boundaries of counties and boroughs, giving more equitable representation for the cities that had sprung up since the Industrial Revolution. A second Act, in 1837, enfranchised all male householders, regardless of value.

1913: Emily Davison's death
Campaigns for women's suffrage go as far back as 1817, when the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote Plan of Parliamentary Reform in the form of a Catechism. William Thompson and Anna Wheeler also published a pamphlet in 1825 on the subject. However, despite these green shoots of support, the 1832 Act for the first time explicitly limited suffrage to "male persons". It was not until 1861, when John Stuart Mill published The Subjection of Women, that the movement began to gain momentum.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country to allow women to vote. In Britain, progress was slower, and in the early 20th century women took to direct and sometimes violent action; chaining themselves to railings, arson attacks, and even bombings. Many were imprisoned, and some went on hunger strike. Emily Davison died at the Epsom Derby in 1913, when she ran out in front of the King's horse, Anmer, clutching the banner of the Women's Social and Political Union. It was around this time that the originally derogatory word 'suffragette' was coined, in a Daily Mail article.

1918: The Representation of the People Act
World War I could not be said to have had many silver linings, but it gave British women - who had spent the last four years, in a country shorn of young men, keeping the war effort running in munition factories and farms - a newfound political confidence. The 1918 Act recognised that not only these women, but many soldiers who had supposedly fought for British democracy, were still unable to vote. It removed all property restrictions from male voters, and allowed women to vote for the first time - although not those under 30, and with property restrictions - and to stand for election. The first woman, Nancy Astor, was elected to Parliament just 18 months later, in Plymouth Sutton. Ten years later, the restrictions on women were lifted, allowing them to vote at 21 whether or not they held property.

10th  December 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1969: The Representation of the People Act
After one final loophole was closed in 1948 - weirdly, up until that point, some seven per cent of the electorate had two votes per person - voting in the United Kingdom reached essentially its modern state in 1969, when Harold Wilson's government dropped the voting age for all citizens from 21 to 18. Further acts in 1983, 1985 and 2000 changed the laws on prisoners and overseas voters (essentially, convicted criminals may not vote while in prison; expatriates can still vote in their last constituency for 15 years after they left the country, and holidaymakers can vote by postal ballot or proxy). In 2000, a hoary constitutional prejudice against "lunatics" was weakened when psychiatric hospitals were allowed to be designated as registration addresses. 2 October 2000 British Human Rights Act The British Human Rights Act 1998 came into force. This makes the European Convention on Human Rights enforceable in UK courts. ( As an Englishman this is one of the worst drafted Acts in the history of the British Constitution.)

English Kings and Queens from 774 AD to Present Day

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th. Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a list of English and British Kings and Queens.

774-796 Offa King of the Angles and not necessarily the Saxons.

802 - 839



839 - 856



856 - 860



860 - 866



866 - 871

Ethelred I

the unready

871 - 899

Alfred the Great

He who burnt cakes

899 - 924

Edward the Elder


924 - 939


May have been the son of his fathers mistress

939 - 946

Edmund I


946 - 955


955 - 959


Aged 13 when he became king

959 - 975


His wife was the first to be crowned Queen

975 - 979

Edward the Martyr


979 - 1013

Ethelred II the Unready


1013 - 1014


Installed by the nobility he was Canute's father

1014 - 1016

Ethelred II the Unready

Unready means No-counsel or Unwise

1016 - 1016

Edmund II Ironside

Only ruled for 6 months

1016 - 1035


Tried to hold back the tide

1035 - 1040

Harold Harefoot

He usurped Hardicanute and murdered the only other contender

1040 – 1042


Also King of Denmark he drunk himself to death

1042 - 1066

Edward the Confessor

Responsible for the building of Westminster Abbey

1066 - 1066

Harold II

Killed at Hastings - that he was shot in the eye is a myth

The Normans

1066 - 1087

William I the Conqueror

A comtemporary chronicle described him as a stern and violent man. The Bayeaux Tapestrey was created by weavers in Kent, England.

1087 - 1100

William II

Killed in hunting accident

1100 - 1135

Henry I

Died from eating too many Lampreys

1135 - 1154


Briefly usurped by Matilda

House of Plantagenet

1154 - 1189

Henry II

died in Battle

1189 - 1199

Richard I The Lion Heart

Famous for his crusades and for leaving John as his Regent

1199 - 1216


The King John of Robin Hood fame who was forces to sign Magna Carta

1216 - 1272

Henry III

Unsuccessfully tried to set aside the Magna Carta

1272 - 1307

Edward I

Conquerer of the Welsh and the King Edward of Braveheart fame

1307 - 1327

Edward II

Renounced throne and later murdered

1327 - 1377

Edward III

Created the Duchy of Cornwall to support the heir to the throne

1377 - 1399

Richard II


House of Lancaster

1399 - 1413

Henry IV

Died of Leprosy and epilepsy. His wife was later convicted of witchcraft

1413 - 1422

Henry V

Of Agincourt fame

1422 - 1461

Henry VI


House of York

1461 - 1470

Edward IV


House of Lancaster

1470 - 1471

Henry VI


House of York

1471 - 1483

Edward IV


1483 - 1483

Edward V

Murdered - One of the Princes in the Tower

1483 - 1485

Richard III

Killed in battle

House of Tudor

1485 - 1509

Henry VII

Won the crown at the Battle of Bosworth Field

1509 - 1547

Henry VIII

Of 6 wives fames. Formed the Protestant church

1547 - 1553

Edward VI

Tricked in to declaring Jane his heir.

1553 - 1553

Lady Jane Grey

Reigned for 9 days later executed

1553 - 1558

Mary I

Bloody Mary

1558 - 1603

Elizabeth I

Her reign is often described as the Golden Age

House of Stuart

1603 - 1625

James I

James VI of Scotland

1625 - 1649

Charles I



1649 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell

Lord Protector

1658 - 1660

Richard Cromwell

Lord Protector

House of Stuart

1660 - 1685

Charles II

A trouble reign that encompassed the Great Plague & the fire of London

1685 - 1688

James II


1689 - 1702

Williams III & Mary II

William of Orange.Joint Sovereigns Mary died 1694

1702 - 1714


The last monarch to veto an act of Parliament.

House of Hanover

1714 - 1727

George I

Sometimes known as German George

1727 - 1760

George II

The last King to fight with his troops

1760 - 1820

George III

Sometimes called Mad George. Lost the American Colonies

1820 - 1830

George IV

Prince Regent for part of his fathers reign.

1830 - 1837

William IV

Presided over the great Parlimentry Reform Act

1837 - 1901


The longest reigning monarch

House of Sax-Coburg-Gotha

1901 - 1910

Edward VII


House of Windsor

1910 - 1936

George V

1936 - 1936

Edward VIII


1836 - 1952

George V

1952 - present

Elizabeth II

The English Translated Magna Carta

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th. Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a document that we English class as part of of what we are about. The Chinese call England “The Island of Hero's” which I think sums up what we English are all about.


JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

(1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a 'relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of 'relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of 'fees'

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

(10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

(11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

(12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied. 'Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

(13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

(14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.

(15) In future we will allow no one to levy an 'aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied.

(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's 'fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.

(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.

(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.

(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

(25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and riding shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.

(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

(27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.

(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this service.

(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.

(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.

(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.

(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of the 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', unless the 'fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

(42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.

(43) If a man holds lands of any 'escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the 'escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.

(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

(45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.

(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.

(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

(48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

(49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.

(50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.

(51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.

(52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace. In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.

(53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's 'fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a 'fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's 'fee', in which the lord of the 'fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.

(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

(55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.

(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

(57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.

(58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.

(59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court.

(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

(61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:

The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.

If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.

If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.

In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.

The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.

We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

(62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.

In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

(63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.

Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above-mentioned people and many others.

Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May).


As might be expected, the text of Magna Carta of 1215 bears many traces of haste, and is clearly the product of much bargaining and many hands. Most of its clauses deal with specific, and often long-standing, grievances rather than with general principles of law. Some of the grievances are self-explanatory: others can be understood only in the context of the feudal society in which they arose. Of a few clauses, the precise meaning is still a matter of argument.

In feudal society, the king's barons held their lands 'in fee' (feudum) from the king, for an oath to him of loyalty and obedience, and with the obligation to provide him with a fixed number of knights whenever these were required for military service. At first the barons provided the knights by dividing their estates (of which the largest and most important were known as 'honours') into smaller parcels described as 'knights' fees', which they distributed to tenants able to serve as knights. But by the time of King John it had become more convenient and usual for the obligation for service to be commuted for a cash payment known as 'scutage', and for the revenue so obtained to be used to maintain paid armies.

Besides military service, feudal custom allowed the king to make certain other exactions from his barons. In times of emergency, and on such special occasions as the marriage of his eldest daughter, he could demand from them a financial levy known as an 'aid' (auxilium).

When a baron died, he could demand a succession duty or relief (relevium) from the baron's heir. If there was no heir, or if the succession was disputed, the baron's lands could be forfeited or 'escheated' to the Crown. If the heir was under age, the king could assume the guardianship of his estates, and enjoy all the profits from them - even to the extent of despoliation - until the heir came of age.

The king had the right, if he chose, to sell such a guardianship to the highest bidder, and to sell the heir himself in marriage for such price as the value of his estates would command. The widows and daughters of barons might also be sold in marriage. With their own tenants, the barons could deal similarly.

The scope for extortion and abuse in this system, if it were not benevolently applied, was obviously great and had been the subject of complaint long before King John came to the throne. Abuses were, moreover, aggravated by the difficulty of obtaining redress for them, and in Magna Carta the provision of the means for obtaining a fair hearing of complaints, not only against the king and his agents but against lesser feudal lords, achieves corresponding importance.

About two-thirds of the clauses of Magna Carta of 1215 are concerned with matters such as these, and with the misuse of their powers by royal officials.

As regards other topics, the first clause, conceding the freedom of the Church, and in particular confirming its right to elect its own dignitaries without royal interference, reflects John's dispute with the Pope over Stephen Langton's election as archbishop of Canterbury. It does not appear in the 'Articles of the Barons', and its somewhat stilted phrasing seems in part to be attempting to justify its inclusion, none the less, in the charter itself. The clauses that deal with the royal forests  over which the king had special powers and jurisdiction, reflect the disquiet and anxieties that had arisen on account of a longstanding royal tendency to extend the forest boundaries, to the detriment of the holders of the lands affected.

Those that deal with debts reflect administrative problems created by the chronic scarcity of ready cash among the upper and middle classes, and their need to resort to money-lenders when this was required.

The clause promising the removal of fish-weirs was intended to facilitate the navigation of rivers.

A number of clauses deal with the special circumstances that surrounded the making of the charter, and are such as might be found in any treaty of peace. Others, such as those relating to the city of London and to merchants clearly represent concessions to special interests.

List of British Royal Societies

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda ( Suffragette and Headmistress ) traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a description and list of the various British Royal Socities.

This is a list of Royal Societies.

Royal Academy 1768

·       Royal Aeronautical Society 1866

·       Royal Anthropological Institute 1871

·       Royal Asiatic Society 1823

·       Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 1890 incorporated in Ontario, Canada (royal charter 1903)

·       Royal Astronomical Society 1831 formed from the Astronomical Society of London (founded 1820)

·       Royal Bath and West of England Society 1777

·       Royal Dublin Society 1731

·       Royal Geographical Society 1830

·       Royal Heraldry Society of Canada

·       Royal Historical Society 1868 University College London

·       Royal Horticultural Society 1804 and 1861

·       Royal Medical Society

·       Royal Numismatic Society 1836

·       Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain 1841 and 1988

·       Royal Scottish Geographical Society 1884

·       Royal Society 1660

·       Royal Society for Nature Conservation

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

·       Royal Society for the Promotion of Health aka Royal Society of Health 1904

·       Royal Society for the Protection of Birds 1904

·       Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1849

·       Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce 1754 aka The RSA, Royal Society of Arts

·       Royal Society of Canada 1882

·       Royal Society of Chemistry 1980 formed from the Chemical Society (founded 1841), the Society for Analytical Chemistry (founded 1874), the Royal Institute of Chemistry (founded 1877) and the Faraday Society (founded 1903)

·       Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783

·       Royal Society of St. George 1894

·       Royal Society of Literature 1820

·       Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge 1660

·       Royal Society of Medicine 1805 formed from the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London

·       Royal Society of New South Wales 1821

·       Royal Society of New Zealand 1851

·       Royal Society of Queensland 1884

·       Royal Society of South Africa 1877

·       Royal Society of South Australia 1880

·       Royal Society of Tasmania 1844

·       Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

·       Royal Society of Victoria 1854

·       Royal Society of Western Australia 1914

·       Royal Statistical Society 1834

·       Royal West of England Academy.

History of British and London Police from 1798

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were also members of various London Police Forces, I thought it may be of interest to write an article about British Policing's history. The first English and British Police Force started in 1798 as the Marine Police which patrolled the River Thames and it was later absorbed into the Metropolitan Police in 1839.

Policing in its present form has existed for about 150 years. The earliest form of policing in Britain predates the Norman Conquest. The Saxon frankpledge was a private, social obligation in which all adult males were responsible for the good behaviour of others. The people were expected to live peaceably and lawfully, keeping the King's peace.

This was more formally arranged with men between the ages of 12 and 60 organised into groups of 10 family units called tithing’s (also spelled tithing’s). These were headed by a tythingman. Each tithing was grouped into 100, which in turn was headed by a hundred men. He acted as an administrator and judge. The hundred man reported to the King's deputy, the local shire reeve whose responsibility was it to keep order in the county.

In 1750 Henry Fielding, novelist and Chief Justice of Westminster, set up the Bow Street Runners, their numbers started with just six police officers, by the end of the 18th century their numbers had risen to approximately seventy.

Debate continued during the early part of the 19th century as to the importance of a police force in England. The Home Secretary of the time, Robert Peel, later Sir Robert Peel, sponsored the first successful bill for a salaried civilian police force. The Metropolitan Police Act 1829 was limited to the London area; however it excluded the City of London and provinces.

Policemen were to be easily recognised and dressed in uniform. Patrols would prevent crime and disorder. As the police were to be salaried, stipend or rewards were not permitted for the resolution of crime or the return of stolen property. Along with their regular duties, the new police force would continue some of the duties of the watchmen such as lighting lamps, calling time and fire detection.

As Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel main achievement was the reforming of the London Police force, the forerunners of the modern day British Police services. The nickname of the police officers were nicknamed "Peeler's" and named after the prime minister.

In Britain in 1812, 1818 and 1822 a number of committees had examined the policing of London. Based on their findings the home secretary Robert Peel passed the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, introducing a more rigorous and less discretionary approach to law enforcement. The new Metropolitan Police Service, founded on September 29th was depersonalized, bureaucratic and hierarchical with the new police constables (US = patrol officers) instructed to prevent crime and pursue offenders. However in contrast to the more paramilitary police of continental Europe the British police, partly to counter public fears and objections concerning armed enforcers, were initially clearly civilian and their armament was limited to the truncheon, a fear of spy systems and political control also kept 'plain clothes' and even detective work to a minimum. The force was independent of the local government; through its commissioner it was responsible direct to the Home Office. The new constables were nicknamed 'peelers' or 'bobbies' after the then home secretary, Sir Robert Peel.

Even within the Metropolitan Police districts created from 1829, there remained a number of police establishments outside the control of the Metropolitan Police. These were the Bow Street patrols; both mounted and on foot, latterly named the Bow Street Runners. Police constables attached to these offices were under the control of the magistrates. By 1839, with the exception of the Marine or River police and transport Police, all of these establishments were absorbed by the Metropolitan Police force. The City of London Police Force was set up in 1839 and to this day remains independent.

The first Detective Force was created by the Metropolitan Police Force in 1842 and eventually became the famous Scotland Yard.

2nd July 1798
The first organized police force in the UK, the Marine Police, commence patrolling the River Thames. It is absorbed into the Metropolitan Police in 1839.

The Surrey Iron Railway opens between Wandsworth and Croydon. This is the first public railway sanctioned by Parliament; horses pull its goods wagons.

William James, an engineer employed by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway is assaulted while surveying the line. This is possibly the first railway related crime.

30th June 1826
A Regulation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway refers to the police establishment of: "One Superintendent, four officers and numerous gate-keepers." This is the first mention of railway police anywhere and is three years before the Metropolitan Police Act is passed.

15th September 1830
The opening of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway by the Duke of Wellington. The event was marred by the death of the Rt. Hon William Huskisson, the local MP, who fell under an engine. He was the first person to be killed by a train.

22nd November 1830
Minutes of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway refer to their "Police Establishment".

31st May 1835
the Great Western Railway Police is formed. The officer in charge, a superintendent based at Paddington has 707 men under his command.

21st March 1838
the first section of the London to Southampton Railway is opened. A later account states: "Policemen were more numerous than any other class of (railway) servant; they acted as signalmen and ticket collectors and were stationed at regular intervals along the line. Their uniforms consisted of a swallow-tail coat, dark trousers and a tall hat with a leather crown."

The Regulation of Railways Act is passed. It includes the offences of railway staff being drunk on duty, impeding or obstructing engines and endangering the safety of persons on the railway.

March 1841
James Thompson is convicted of "holding Miss Emily Stacey in an improper manner" while on the London and Greenwich Line. This is one of the first records of a sex offence on the railway.

1st January 1845
Sgt William Williams of GWR Police becomes the first person to make an arrest using technology. Alerted by a telegraph message sent from Slough, he arrested John Tawell after he stepped off a train at Paddington. Tawell had murdered a girl at Slough.

15th May 1855
the Great Gold Robbery. Gold bullion locked in a box, locked in a safe in a guards compartment of a train is stolen whilst en-route between London and Paris. The thieves replace the gold with lead shot and re-seal the boxes so the crime is not discovered until Paris. It is an 'inside job' and three men are convicted and transported to Australia for life. One of the bullion boxes is on display at the National Railway Museum at York.

The Great Western Railway forms the first 'Detective Department'.

September 1867
John Reid and some friends comment on the smoky atmosphere at Gower Street Underground station (now Euston Square) by "coughing outrageously". When a porter, Henry Maunders asks them to be quiet, Reid pulls his beard and is later fined £3 for assault. This may be the first record of a crime on the Underground.

The Great Western Railway Act is passed which gives its police officers jurisdiction on and within half a mile of the railway. It also requires them to produce their Warrant card on demand with a penalty of 40 shillings for failure.

13th September 1880
a bundle of explosives is placed on the track between Bushey and Watford with the purpose of blowing up a train carrying Grand Duke Constantine of Russia. Chief Superintendent Copping of the MR Police assists the Metropolitan Police with the investigation. This is the first record of terrorism on the railway in mainland Britain.

The Regulation of Railways Act created offences of travel fraud which are still in use today.

26th November 1907                                                                                                                   Superintendent Dobie and three other NER Police Officers from Hull Docks visit Ghent in Belgium to study the police dogs in us

20th December 1917
the first policewomen are sworn in on the North Eastern Railway. Women police officers were previously employed on the Great Eastern Railway and Great Western Railway.

The Railways Act amalgamates more than a hundred separate railway systems (most with their own police forces) into four groups: the Great Western Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway and the Southern Railway. Each of these has a police force headed by a chief of police.

October 1948
the first edition of the staff magazine The Railway Police Journal, later the British Transport Police Journal, is published.

October 1953                                                                                                                                               The BTP Journal announces the first arrest made in the force using a 'walkie-talkie' radio.

15th October 1959                                                                                                                                        the first British Transport Police Headquarters is formally opened in Coronation Road, Park Royal, and London NW11.

The British Transport Commission is disbanded and the word 'Commission' is dropped from the name of the force which becomes the British Transport Police. The force loses jurisdiction over British Road Services and the British Inland Waterways Board.

31th August 1963
William Owen Gay becomes Chief Constable.

Chief Constable William Owen Gay retires and is replaced by Eric Haslem.

Force Headquarters moves to 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1. The building is the former headquarters of Express Dairies.

Kenneth Ogram becomes the new Chief Constable of the BTP.

Associated British Ports decides to no longer use the services of BTP.

18th November 1987
A fire on an escalator at King's Cross Underground station results in the death of 31 people. BTP officer PC Stephen Hanson suffers severe burns.

24th  April 1989
Desmond O'Brien OBE, QPM, becomes the new Chief Constable of the BTP.

April 1991
the first edition of BTP staff newspaper The Blue Line is published. Edited by Simon Lubin, it replaces the BTP Journal published since 1948.

March 1994
Superintendent Joyce (London Transport Area) exchanges duties with Deputy Chief Bohrer of the New York City Transit Police. The first international exchange involving BTP.

June 1996
Special constables reintroduced to police the railways. Paid special constables had previously been used during war years.

19th September 1997
seven people are killed in the Southall Train Crash.

6th October 1997
David Williams QPM, LLB becomes the new Chief Constable of the Force.

September 1997
The BTP Free phone number 0800 40 50 40 is launched.

June 1999
The Midland-Metro, a tram system linking Birmingham and Wolverhampton, starts operation. This is the first tram system to be policed by BTP.

July 1999
BTP website is launched.

5th October 1999
Thirty-one people are killed when the driver of a local train misses a signal and is hit by a Paddington bound express train.

11th May 2000
the 28km of the Croydon Tram link is opened and policed by BTP.

17th October 2000
four people are killed at the Hatfield Train Crash which was caused by a broken rail.

28th February 2001
The Selby train crash. A Land Rover driven by Gary Hart comes off the M62 onto the railway. It is hit by a passenger train which collides with a freight train killing 10 people.

1st May 2001
Ian Johnston CBE, QPM becomes the new Chief Constable for British Transport Police.

June 2001
Commencing with London Underground Area, officers begin to get issued with yellow high-visibility tabards as opposed to the orange ones.

11th December 2001
British Transport Police jurisdiction is extended in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act to effectively cover all of England, Scotland and Wales.

10th May 2002
a faulty set of points south of Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire causes the derailment of a northbound train. The last carriage overturns and becomes lodged under the station canopy. Six passengers are killed as is a pedestrian walking nearby who is struck by debris.

February 2003
a series of four one-hour television programmes called Rail Cops is shown on BBC. It follows the duties of several British Transport Police officers.

13tth December 2004
the first BTP Community Police Support Officers are recruited in Liverpool and London.

October 2012                                                                                                                                              New National police Force created in Scotland.

Outside of the metropolitan area the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 and further legislation in 1839 and 1840 allowed counties to create their own constabulary. The first county force created was Wiltshire in 1839. Around thirty counties had done so before the County and Borough Police Act of 1856 made such forces mandatory and subject to central inspection. There were over 200 separate forces in England and Wales by 1860.


I also have some very funny Victorian policeman on art prints at my hobby website:

History of England's Trial by Jury

Many of my London relatives are Magistrates and this has made me a great fan of English and British Law history including the Jury Service and it's history.

A jury is a group of persons selected from the community that is charged with hearing a legal case and delivering a verdict on it. Juries are used in both civil and criminal cases, and they base their decisions on testimony and other evidence that is presented at trial.

The English King Ethelred the Unready set up an early legal system through the Wantage Code of Ethelred, one provision of which stated that the twelve leading minor nobles of each small district were required to swear that they would investigate crimes without a bias. These juries differed from the modern sort by being self-informing; instead of getting information through a trial, the jurors were required to investigate the case themselves.

In the 12th century, Henry II took a major step in developing the jury system. Henry II set up a system to resolve land disputes using juries. A jury of twelve free men were assigned to arbitrate in these disputes. Unlike the modern jury, these men were charged with uncovering the facts of the case on their own rather than listening to arguments in court. Henry II also introduced what is now known as the "Grand Jury" through his Assize of Clarendon. Under the assize, a jury of free men was charged with reporting any crimes that they knew of in their hundred to a "justice in eyre," a judge who moved between hundreds on a circuit. A criminal accused by this jury was given a trial by ordeal this sometimes involved tying up the miscreant and putting them in the river. If they floated they were innocent and if they sank they were guilty and killed.

The Church banned participation of clergy in trial by ordeal in 1215. Without the legitimacy of religion, trial by ordeal collapsed. The juries under the assizes began deciding guilt as well as providing accusations. The same year, trial by jury became a pretty explicit right in one of the most influential clauses of Magna Carta, signed by King John. Article 39 of the Magna Carta read: It is translated thus by Lysander Spooner in his Essay on the Trial by Jury: "No free man shall be captured, and or imprisoned, or diseased of his freehold, and or of his liberties, or of his free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we proceed against him by force or proceed against him by arms, but by the lawful judgement of his peers, and or by the law of the land." Although it says and or by the law of the land, this in no manner can be interpreted as if it were enough to have a positive law, made by the king, to be able to proceed legally against a citizen. The law of the land was the consuetudinary law, based on the customs and consent of John's subjects, and since they did not have Parliament in those times, this meant that neither the king nor the barons could make a law without the consent of the people. According to some sources, in the time of Edward III, by the law of the land had been substituted by due process of law, which in those times was a trial by twelve peers.

During the mid-14th Century, it was forbidden that persons who had sat on the Presenting Jury (i.e., in modern parlance, the Grand Jury) to sit on the trial jury for that crime. 25 Edward III stat 5., c3 (1353). Medieval juries were self-informing, in that individuals were chosen as jurors because they either knew the parties and the facts, or they had the duty to discover them. This spared the government the cost of fact-finding.Over time, English juries became less self-informing and relied more on the trial itself for information on the case. Jurors remained free to investigate cases on their own until the 17th century. The Magna Carta being forgotten after a succession of benevolent reigns (or, more probably, reigns limited by the jury and the barons, and only under the rule of laws that the juries and barons found acceptable), the kings, through the royal judges, began to extend their control over the jury and the kingdom. In David Hume's History of England, he tells something of the powers that the kings had accumulated in the times after the Magna Carta, the prerogatives of the crown and the sources of great power with which these monarchs counted.

The case against William Penn and William Mead in the late seventeenth century illustrated the importance of the jury and its rise to power within the judicial system. Penn and Mead were religious dissenters who were given to preaching in public. Around this time, we British were so suspicious of King Charles II's Catholic leanings that they passed laws against preaching in public. Pennand Mead were arrested, and opponents of the king sought to have Penn and Mead prosecuted and imprisoned, which would have embarrassed the king. The court impaneled a jury and, after both sides presented their case, they retired todeliberate, knowing full well that they were expected to deliver verdicts of guilty. Around this time, the judge had a tremendous amount of power over jurors. A judge could keep jurors until they delivered a verdict desired by thejudge, and in some cases, a judge could lock the jury in a room and deprivethe jurors of food and water and other amenities until they delivered the desired verdict.

Several members of the jury led by Edward Bushell, refused to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict. The jury was sent off to deliberate againand again, without food, drink, fire, or tobacco, but it still could not deliver a guilty verdict. It did absolve Mead, but the judge ruled that Mead could not be released because he was charged with conspiring with Penn. Penn, from his cage in the courtroom (Mead likewise was kept in a cage), bellowed that"[i]f not guilty be not a verdict, then you make of the jury and Magna Cartabut a mere nose of wax." The Lord Mayor of London threatened to cut Bushell's throat and the jury was sent away for another night without food or drink.The next morning, it returned with not guilty verdicts again, and the judge imposed a fine on each juror. The jurors refused to pay the fine and were sentto jail.

Eight jurors eventually relented, but four did not, and they eventually brought their own case against the court from jail. In what became knownas Bushell's Case, the Court of Common Pleas declared that the punishment of the jurors was illegal and that no jury could be punished for its verdict. Penn and Mead, both of whom were sent to jail after the fiasco, were released when Penn's father paid their fines. The four jurors were released from jail after the decision in Bushell's Case, and their ultimate success helped to establish the power of the jury system in England.

English Tea Drinking Traditions – It ‘s London History

I have created this article about Tea as it's one of the Icons about us English.

While the Chinese drank green tea hundreds of years before Christ, the English developed their tea-drinking habit in the 17th century. In 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted permission for the charter of the British East India Company, establishing the trade in spice and silk that lead to the formal annexation of India and the establishment of the Raj. Initially, tea was a sideline but it became increasingly important and started to define us English.

Curiously, it was the London coffee houses that were responsible for introducing tea to England. One of the first coffee house merchants to offer tea was Thomas Garway, who owned an establishment in Exchange Alley. He sold both liquid and dry tea to the public as early as 1657. Three years later he issued a broadsheet advertising tea at £6 and £10 per pound (ouch!), touting its virtues at "making the body active and lusty", and "preserving perfect health until extreme old age".

In 1662 tea drinking became very popular when King Charles II's wife, Queen Catherine made tea very popular among the wealthier classes of society. Soon, tea replaced ale as the national drink, as everyone tried to mimic high society. Tea drinking remains as a popular activity in England up to this day, as the English are particularly known for their afternoon tea (taken in the late afternoon with scones, pastries and cakes capped by a cup or two of tea).

Tea gained popularity quickly in the coffee houses, and by 1700 over 500 coffee houses sold tea. This distressed the tavern owners, as tea cut their sales of ale and gin, and it was bad news for the government, who depended upon a steady stream of revenue from taxes on liquor sales. By 1750 tea had become the favourite drink of England's lower classes.

Twinings, the world-famous English tea company, celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2006 . Twinings was, in 1706, one of the first companies to introduce tea drinking to the English. That was the year Thomas Twining began selling tea from his new premises in London. Stephen Twining, who is a tenth generation member of the famous tea family and world renowned tea guru, is visited South Africa in September 2006 as part of the company's celebrations.

Tea became the focus of rebellion in 1773 when the English Government tried to establish a monopoly on all tea sold in the American colonies. Colonists resented this since it put local merchants at a disadvantage. The British government tried to tax the American colonists so as to pay for their defence. The result was the Boston Tea party, during which Americans tipped some 45 tonnes of English tea into the sea.

In 1864 the woman manager of the Aerated Bread Company began the custom of serving food and drink to her customers. Her best customers were serverd with tea. Soon everyone was asking for the same treatment. The concept of tea shops spread throughout Britain like wildfire, not in the least because tea shops provided a place where an unchaperoned woman could meet her friends and socialize without damage to her reputation.

Tea at the Ritz, London, England which opened in 1906, its tea room, the Palm Court has a history and legend all its own. It is perhaps here that the ritual of tea drinking in the English manner seems the most "civilized." The Palm Court, a long, narrow room adjacent to the hotel's main corridor, combines the English Edwardian charm with the elegance of the French Louis XVI architecture and design.

The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History


One of the oldest English organisations is the Royal Mint which has been minting English Coinage since 886 AD during the time of King Alfred the Great. The Mint originated over 1,100 years ago, but has functioned since 1975 as a Trading Fund, operating in much the same way as a government-owned company. The Royal Mint also manufactures and circulates coins for over 100 other countries, mints collectors' coins, and produces military medals and civilian decorations for the British armed forces and orders of chivalry.


As well as minting coins for the UK, it also mints and exports coins to many other countries, and produces military medals, commemorative medals and other such items for governments, schools and businesses, being known as the world's leading exporting Mint Responsibility for the security of the site falls to the Ministry of Defence Police, who provide an armed contingent.


The Royal Mint began to move its operations from Tower Hill, London to Llantrisant, South Wales, in 1968 and has operated on a single site in Llantrisant, since 1980,[2] where it holds an extensive collection of coins dating from the 16th century onwards. The collection is housed in eighty cabinets made by Elizabeth II's cabinet maker, Hugh Swann.


The London Mint first became a single institution in 886, during the reign of Alfred the Great, but was only one of many mints throughout the kingdom. By 1279 it had moved to the Tower of London, and remained there the next 500 years, achieving a monopoly on the production of coin of the realm in the 16th century. Sir Isaac Newton took up the post of Warden of the Mint, responsible for investigating cases of counterfeiting, in 1696, and subsequently held the office of Master of the Royal Mint from 1699 until his death in 1727. He unofficially moved the Pound Sterling to the gold standard from silver in 1717.


By the time Newton arrived, the Mint had expanded to fill several rickety wooden buildings ranged around the outside of the Tower. In the seventeenth century the processes for minting coins were mechanised and rolling mills and coining presses were installed. The new machinery and the demand on space in the Tower of London following the outbreak of war with France led to a decision to move the Mint to an adjacent site in East Smithfield. The new building, designed by James Johnson and Robert Smirke, was completed in 1809, and included space for the new machinery, and accommodation for the officers and staff of the Mint.

The building was rebuilt in the 1880s to accommodate new machinery which increased the capacity of the Mint. As technology changed with the introduction of electricity and demand grew, the process of rebuilding continued so that by the 1960s little of the original mint remained, apart from Smirke's 1809 building and the gatehouse in the front.

During WWII, the Royal Mint was bombed by the Germans. The Mint was hit on several different occasions and was put out of commission for three weeks at one point.

The Tower Hill site finally reached capacity ahead of decimalisation in 1971, with the need to strike hundreds of millions of new decimal coins, while at the same time not neglecting overseas customers. In 1967 it was announced that the Mint would move away from London to new buildings in Llantrisant, ten miles (16 km) north west of Cardiff.

It was rumoured the reason for the move was the welsh Prime Minister – Harold Wilson wanted to win a local by – election and curry favour with his welsh MP's..

The first phase was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 17 December 1968, and production gradually shifted to the new site over the next seven years until the last coin, a gold sovereign, was struck in London in November 1975. Smirke's 1809 Building is now used as commercial offices by Barclays Global Investors.

Trial of the Pyx

The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly-minted coins conform to required standards. The trials have been held since the twelfth century, normally once per calendar year, and continue to the present day. The form of the ceremony has been essentially the same since 1282. They are trials in the full judicial sense, presided over by a judge with an expert jury of assayers. Trials are now held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, having previously taken place at the Palace of Westminster. Given modern production methods, it is unlikely that coins would not conform, although this has been a problem in the past as it would have been tempting for the Master of the Mint to steal precious metals.

The term "Pyx" refers to the boxwood chest (in Greek, πυξίς, pyxis) in which coins were placed for presentation to the jury. There is also a Pyx Chapel (or Pyx Chamber) in Westminster Abbey, which was once used for secure storage of the Pyx and related articles.

The jury is composed of Freemen of the Company of Goldsmiths, who assay the coins provided to decide whether they have been minted within the criteria determined by the relevant Coinage Acts.

Invention of The 17th Century Corkscrew – London, England

Cork was used already by the ancient Greeks and Romans as stopper for jars  in the 6th  century BC. But after the collapse of the Roman Empire the usage of cork seems to have ceased. In the early part of the 17th century cork re-appears as a wine bottle stopper  together with the use of glass bottles.  

In the early days, before the corkscrew, a cord tied around the top of the cork was used to extract the cork.  

In the 1700's us British invented the technology to bottle wine and use corkscrews. 

The earliest references for corkscrews came from England in the early part of the 17th  century.  

The heyday of corkscrews coincided with the great period of British manufacturing and invention in the middle of the 1800s.  

The first Corkscrew registered patent was to the British Reverend Samuel Henshall (1765-1807) on August 24th 1795 with patent #2061. This was the first documented patent given for such a device.

Samuel Henshall, the son of a Cheshire grocer, was born in 1765. Educated first at Manchester Grammar School, he went up to Brasenose as a Somerset Scholar in 1782 and gained his MA in 1789 shortly before his ordination. Samuel Henshall was made a Fellow of the College but his academic career was not as illustrious as he had hoped: his dense scholarly works received a mixed reception and his bid, in 1800, to become Oxford's Professor of Anglo-Saxon was unsuccessful. He became a Curate of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and from 1802 until his death in 1807, he held the post of Rector of St. Mary's which, at that time, was one of the College's livings.

In May 1795, Samuel Henshall approached Matthew Boulton, the famous Birmingham entrepreneur, to arrange for the manufacture of the corkscrew which he invented. Samuel Henshall design included a concave ‘button', fixed between screw and shank, which prevented the screw penetrating too far into the bottle and simultaneously gripped the cork to break its seal with the neck of the bottle.

Samuel Henshall clearly took to the idea and stayed a fortnight with him while they developed the design. However, Samuel Henshall was not an ideal business partner: he was clearly having financial problems and did not put up his portion of the patent expenses. Boulton's legal advisor wrote in 1795: 'I doubt I shall not so easily extract £50 from the Parson, as he would a Cork from a Bottle.'

Within five years, there is evidence of further money woes as Samuel Henshall appeared in court three times being sued for the recovery of debts, the largest amount - some £420 - payable to a brewer. It is said that the remaining stock of corkscrews was buried with Samuel Henshall in the chancel of Bow Church, London.

Invasion of Lovebirds and Parrots in London

While growing up in the 1970's I remember watching on TV that famous film by Alfred Hitchcock called 'The Birds' where Birds swarmed in large flocks and attacked people.

It now seems London is being invaded by large flocks of tame Lovebirds and Parrots!!!

London green spaces are famed for their unusual wildlife and I recently heard of flocks of Lovebirds over London. Lovebirds have been pets for over 100 years and have been seen in London, in flocks of upto 3,000. Parks and gardens in the leafy London suburbs have been adopted as a preferred habitat by birds that are native to southern Asia.

Escaped parakeets have been spotted nesting in this country since the 19th  Century.

Even though there was a wild population in the 1960s,  the numbers remained very low through to the mid-1990s, when the population appeared to start increasing more rapidly.


In the Surrey stockbroker belt, a single sports ground is believed to be home to about 3,000 parrots. They are mainly found just west of London, Surrey and parts of Kent.

In particular, they have been observed in growing numbers in the outer suburbs and the Home Counties, with trees in parkland and sports grounds becoming their homes.

Parrots have been reported in inner-London, including parks in Peckham, Brixton, Greenwich and Kensington and have also been spotted in East Anglia, the North West and even in Scotland.

Alexandrine parakeets have been spotted by Lewisham crematorium and orange-winged parakeets, native to the Amazon, have now set up home in Weybridge.

South American monk parakeets have formed a colony in Borehamwood and blue-crowned parakeets were observed in Bromley.

At Esher Rugby Club's ground was observed to have had a parrot population that grew from 800 to 2,500 in the space of three years - and researchers estimate there might be 3,000 living there.

There have been reports that there could now be 20,000 wild parrots, including parakeets, living in England, with the largest concentration around London and the South East.

The population boom has been put down to a series of mild winters, a lack of natural predators, food being available from humans and that there are now enough parrots for a wider range of breeding partners. Please visit my website where I have various very funny Parrots, Lovebirds and Budgies, Owls on fine art prints:

 Tower of London – London Icon

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

Her Majestys Royal Palace "The Tower of London" is a castle first founded back in 1066.

When it was built by William The Conquerer in 1078 it was the tallest building in the World. Over several centuries it has been expanded by the many kings and queens that have ruled England during the last 1,000 years. Today it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. During its long history the Tower of London has served many purposes which have ranged from a royal palace to a prison. Today It's a World heritage Site.

The tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. Although the Tower is popularly known today as a place of imprisonment, and was used as such from as early as 1100, that was not its primary purpose. Early in its history, the Tower was a grand palace, serving as a royal residence. The castle underwent several expansions, especially under Kings Richard The Lionheart, Henry III and Edward III, resulting in its current general layout in the 13th century. It was sometimes used as a refuge from the general populace in times of unrest.

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, is part of the manuscript collection of the Brtish Library in London. England.

Thomas B. Costain, writing in the middle of the 20th century, considered the story of Lord Hastings' summary execution to be the "smoking gun" that proved Morton deliberately falsified the record to make King Richard out to be a villain. Morton wrote in his History that at the lords' council meeting in the Tower of London on 13 Jun 1483, Richard suddenly called his men at arms into the room and had them arrest Hastings for treason and take him outside and chop his head off.

There is much to learn from the story of how the head of one of the most revered men in England, Sir Thomas More, ended up on the chopping block on London's Tower Hill in 1535. Few people in history have faced their trials and deaths as squarely, calmly, and with as much integrity as did More. More's road from his post as Lord Chancellor of England to the Tower of London owes its course to a Bible passage, a marriage of a long-dead prince, and the consuming desire of More.

The zenith of the castle's use as a prison came in the 16th and 17th centuries, when many political or religious figures, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower". The Tower is also known as a place of torture and execution, although only seven people were executed within the Tower; executions more commonly took place on the notorious Tower Hill, north of the castle.

Throughout its history, the Tower of London has served variously as an Armoury, Prison, Treasury, Zoo, Royal Mint, Public Records Office and is home to the Crown Jewels. The Tower of London is reputedly the most haunted building in England. The ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, beheaded in 1536 for treason against King Henry VIII, has allegedly been seen haunting the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, where she is buried, and walking around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm.

Other ghosts include Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margarat Pole and the Princes in the Tower. In January 1816, a sentry on guard outside the Jewel House witnessed an inexplicable apparition of a bear advancing towards him, and reportedly died of fright a few days later. In October 1817, an even more inexplicable, tubular, glowing apparition was seen in the Jewel House by the Keeper of the Crown Jewels, Edmund Lenthal Swifte. The apparition hovered over the shoulder of his wife, leading her to exclaim: "Oh, Christ! it has seized me!" Other nameless and formless terrors have been reported, more recently, by night staff at the Tower.

The Great Plague of London -1665

I have created this article about London's Bubonic Plague of 1665 which killed over 15% of the population of London.

This was the worst outbreak of plague in England since the black death of 1348 and  London lost roughly 15% of its population. While 68,596 deaths were recorded in the city, the true number was probably over 100,000. Other parts of the country also suffered.

The earliest cases of disease occurred in the spring of 1665 in a parish outside the city walls called St Giles-in-the-Fields. The death rate began to rise during the hot summer months and peaked in September when 7,165 Londoners died in one week.

Rats carried the fleas that caused the plague. They were attracted by city streets filled with rubbish and waste, especially in the poorest areas.

Those who could, including most doctors, lawyers and merchants, fled the city. Charles II and his courtiers left in July for Hampton Court and then Oxford. Parliament was postponed and had to sit in October at Oxford, the increase of the plague being so dreadful. Court cases were also moved from Westminster to Oxford.

The Lord Mayor and aldermen (town councillors) remained to enforce the King's orders to try and stop the spread of the disease. The poorest people remained in London with the rats and those people who had got the plague. Watchmen locked and kept guard over infected houses. Parish officials provided food. Searchers looked for dead bodies and took them at night to plague pits for burial.

All trade with London and other plague towns was stopped. The Council of Scotland declared that the border with England would be closed. There were to be no fairs or trade with other countries. This meant many people lost their jobs - from servants to shoemakers to those who worked on the River Thames. How did Londoners react to this plague that devastated their lives?

The plague that hit London and England in 1665 was the bubonic plague and the classic symptoms associated with the Bubonic Plague were as follows:

"The first sign of the plague was that swellings appeared in the groin or the armpits. Some of the swellings became as large as an apple, sometimes they were the size of an egg. The deadly swellings then began to spread in all directions over the body. Then the disease changed. Black or red spots broke out, sometimes on the thigh or arm. These spots were large in some cases; in other they were almost like a rash."

A few days after being infected, a victim developed a rash and there was pain all over the body. The victim began to feel tired and lethargic but the pain made it difficult to sleep. The temperature of the body increased and this affected the brain and the nerves. Speech was affected and the victims became less and less intelligible. As the disease took more of a hold, the victim took on the physical appearance of a drunk with stumbling movement and gait. The victim then became delirious.

After about six days, the lymphatic glands became swollen and inflamed. In the groin, neck and armpit areas of the body this led to buboes – large and highly painful swellings. These buboes caused bleeding underneath the skin, which turned the buboes and surrounding areas blue/purple. In some cases, red spots appeared on the buboes as death approached.

The average time of death from the first symptom was between four to seven days. It is thought that between 50% and 75% of those who caught the disease died.

The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Pudding Lane, in the bakeshop of Thomas Farynor, baker to King Charles II. At one o'clock in the morning, a servant woke to find the house aflame, and the baker and his family escaped, but a fear-struck maid perished in the blaze. This fire destroyed 80% of the Property was lost in the fire and this helped in the ending of the Plague.

British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History

The British Broadcasting Company started daily transmissions on November 14th 1922, by which time more than one million ten-shilling (50p) licences had been issued. In 1927 the company was restructured as a public corporation -the BBC that we know today- by its founding father, John (later Lord) Reith, but by this time an even newer technology was being developed -television.

In truth, the Corporation was very interested in Baird's experiments and wanted them to continue under their sponsorship, and not under that of any other company. Accordingly, Baird's company was offered the use of facilities on London's South Bank. By 1932 the BBC were sufficiently happy to allow regular experimental broadcasting. They now offered Baird a studio in their newly acquired premises in Portland Place, W1. Studio BB, Britain's and the World's first dedicated television studio, was housed in the basement of Broadcasting House, and it was from here that Baird continued to experiment and refine the new medium. Competition came from the Electronic and Music Industries (EMI), based in Hayes, Middlesex, where they had been working with the Marconi Company on developing a high definition system.

In May of 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television, which had to transmit a definition of not less than 240 lines with a minimum of 25 pictures per second. With the publication of this report the era of the low definition picture came to an end with ballerina Lydia Sokolova being the last artiste in Britain to appear via the old 30-line system.

The committee proposed that the two new high definition systems (Baird's 240 line and Marconi-EMI's 405 line) would be chosen to alternate transmissions by the BBC over a set period, until it was decided which was the better. Looking for a suitable site for the new service, the BBC chose Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London. Its position, high on a hill, made it the ideal place to place a transmitter that would cover all of London and many of its surrounding counties.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."

With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936. This was the World's first Television broadcast. At the start of the war in 1939 over 80,000 viewers had been watching television 7 days a week.

During September 1st 1939 while Mickey Mouse was being shown on Television, All television's became blank and went off air. This programme returned in 1946 and BBC Television and radio has since gone from strength to strength.

Swinging Sixties – British Fashion and Music


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.


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.

A third invasion has happened in the 2010's as One Direction has created similar beatlemania inthe USA and Adele has been hailed as one of the greatest singers of her era.


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.


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 and The Globe Theatre – British Icons


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.


Hauntings of Ye Olde London

London is famous for its history, designers, inventors, fashion and music. Ghosts and Ghoulies are also endemic across London which not a lot of people know about and which I have decided to write about in this article. London is said to be the most haunted City in the world. Below I have listed just some of the spooky hauntings of London.

The Tower of London is haunted by many ghosts and one recorded haunting from the 19th century was from a Crown Jewel keeper E. L. Swifte. He and his family were having dinner in the Martin Tower when his alarmed wife spotted a moving object. Both he and his wife witnessed what looked to be a cylindrical object, resembling that of a lab tube, filled with blue bubbling fluid. Tube or not, the wife claimed it tried to grab her (not sure how a tube with no hands would do that but it gave the wife that impression). The tube seemed to be an apparition as Swifte tried to throw a chair at it but it went straight through it. It then vanished into thin air.

Other famous ghosts are Thomas A. Becket who struck down the Traitor's Gate with a crucifix, witnessed by a priest. People have also seen 12-year-old King Edward V and his 9-year-old brother Richard Duke of York in the Bloody Tower still wearing the white gowns they were imprisoned in. Foggy figures, soldiers, and 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey haunt the battlements of the Tower of London. Whole squads of soldiers have been seen marching the grounds.

Hampton Court is haunted by many ghosts including:

Catherine Howard the best known haunting at Hampton Court is by Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. Charged with adultery in 1541 and placed under house arrest, she broke free from her guards and ran to her husband to plead for her life. The guards dragged her back and she was executed. To this day, it is claimed, a woman in white can be seen floating down the Haunted Gallery.

• JANE SEYMOUR Henry VIII's third wife, who died in childbirth in 1537, is said to walk through the cobbled courtyard carrying a lighted taper.

• LADY IN GREY Sybil Penn was nurse to Prince Edward, Henry's only son. She died in 1562 and was buried in Hampton Church. When the church was pulled down in 1829 her remains were disturbed and it is said she returned to the rooms she once lived in.

• THE WOLSEY CLOSET The room has a 'strange atmosphere'. A phantom dog has been seen and heard here on more than one occasion.

The Spooky Hauntings of London Underground

  • Anne Naylor haunts Farringdon Underground Station. The odd screams that have been heard in this area are attributed to Anne Naylor a thirteen year old girl who was murdered on this site in 1758. She is now referred to as 'the Screaming Spectre'.
  • Tapping sounds at the Elephant & Castle Station, Northern Line. Footfalls and rapping have been often heard in the station when it is closed - on investigation, no source can be found. Another story says the last train of the night is haunted by a lone girl who walks from the last carriage to the tip of the train, vanishing as she reaches the engine.
  • A Faceless Woman at the Beacontree Station. A station employee working alone heard the door to his office rattle several times. Unnerved, the man began to climb upstairs to find a colleague but felt he was being watched. Turning around, he saw a woman standing there with long blond hair but no face - her features were completely smooth. Talking to his colleague a short time later, the employee discovered that he was not the only person to have seen her.
  • Sarah Blackhead haunts Bank Station, Central Line. Possibly the same figure that haunts the Bank of England; in life this poor girl couldn't handle news that her brother had died, and returned daily to his office to meet him. Dressed in black clothing, she is affectionately called 'the Black Nun'. A worker once chased what he thought was an old lady locked in the station during the early hours of the morning, but she vanished down a corridor with no possible exit. In addition, at least one employee has reported something knocking on an empty lift door from the inside, way after normal closing time.
  • Rebecca Griffiths haunts Liverpool Street Station. Once the site of the first Hospital of the Star of Bethlehem, an asylum for the insane, the area was haunted by the screams of Griffiths who was buried without a coin she compulsively held on to when locked away here. She also had the habit of exciting other inmates by peering through their cell windows. More recently there have been reports by underground staff of a man in white overalls on the platforms that can only be seen on CCTV.
  • Cries and Screams haunt Bethnal Green Station. A station master working alone in the station office late at night heard the soft sounds of children crying. As time went by, the cries grew louder and were joined by the screams of women. He ran from the office. One hundred and seventy-three people died in the station in a single accident during World War 2, the vast majority being women and children.
  • Grinning Man haunts Channel Sea Depot, Stratford. A former British Rail employee reported seeing a tall man wearing a cape and top hat standing by a hanger. He had a terrible grin and a mouth full of white teeth, and immediately vanished, leaving the witness very cold and apprehensive. A few months later, in the same area, the witness felt a strong tug at her bag that almost pulled her over; she spun around expecting to see a colleague, but no one was in sight.
  • Silhouette haunts King William Tunnel, Under London Bridge (disused underground tunnel). An image taken by a photographer shows what appears to be a silhouetted figure along this tunnel, though no one else was there at the time. A medium called to the location claimed that the ghost was that of a man who died while breaking up a fight.
  • Old Woman haunts Aldgate Underground Station. This old woman was seen by an engineer as it stroked his friend's hair, seconds before the co-worker touched a live wire which sent 20,000 volts through his body. Remarkably, he survived. Phantom footfalls have also been reported coming from down the tunnel, abruptly finishing.
  • A Distressed Woman haunts King's Cross underground station. A witness spotted a woman in her twenties with long brown hair, wearing jeans and t-shirt. The figure was kneeling at the side of the corridor with her arms outstretched, and appeared distressed and crying. Someone walking in the opposite direction then walked through the woman. The witness said that upon reflection, it was like watching a repeating piece of film.
  • Sir Winston Churchill haunts Queensway Station, Northern Line. Witnessed waiting on the platform, Sir Winston Churchill once lived quite close to the station.
  • A Steam Train haunts East Finchley to Wellington Sidings underground. This stretch of the Northern Line is reputed to be haunted by a spectral steam engine.
  • Boadicea's haunts King's Cross Station, Platform 10 which is the final resting ground of the warrior queen which is reported to be under this busy platform.
  • A Rail Worker haunts Tulse Hill Station, platform one. Killed as he walked on the tracks, the worker's footfalls are sometimes heard echoing through the station late at night.
  • A Nun haunts London Road Depot (Bakerloo Line). This area is thought to be haunted by a nun who is connected to a nearby Roman Catholic school.
  • Many Monks haunt the Jubilee Line, from Westminster to Stratford. Since the construction of the Jubilee Line, reports of phantom monks walking the tracks have begun to emerge. The sightings may be connected to the large number of graves which were disturbed while work was commencing.
  • A Woman with a Red Scarf haunts Uxbridge (Greater London) - Ickenham Station. This ghostly figure stands at the end of the platform, close to where she fell and was electrocuted. She sometimes waves to attract attention before vanishing.
  • A Tube Traveller haunts the Elephant and Castle Underground Station, Bakerloo line. Seen by both staff and commuters, this young woman enters the train's carriages, but is never seen leaving. Some also allocate the blame on the same entity when invisible footfalls create loud echoing around the station after hours.
  • The Sounds of a Steam Train haunts Highgate High Level Station. Started during the Second World War, the station was never finished, though locals sometimes reported the sound of a steam train along where the track was supposed to have been laid. One rational explanation put forward is that the sounds of the trains came from nearby stations which were active until the 1970.
  • The Cries of the Trapped haunts Lewisham Station. A crash in 1957, caused partly by fog, killed ninety people and injured over one hundred. It is their cries which can be heard on the anniversary on the accident.
  • A Tall Man haunts Vauxhall Underground Line. This seven foot tall man was seen underground several times by diggers working on the line - he wore brown overalls and a cap.
  • A Bricked up Train haunts an Area below Crystal Palace Park. A local legend states that there is a train bricked up under the park, complete with dead passengers and crew - sometimes the hands of the dead reach up from the ground and try to grab the living
  • A Reflection haunts the Bakerloo line, Elephant & Castle and other stations along the line. It is reported that occasionally, while travelling northbound, some passengers can see the reflection of someone sitting next to them, even though there is no one in the seat.
  • The sound of Slamming Doors haunts Kennington Loop. All passengers disembark at Kennington and the carriages are checked just prior to trains turning in the loop. However, as the train drivers sit waiting in the dark loop tunnel, at least two have reported hearing the connecting carriage doors open and close as if someone is moving from the rear of the train towards the driving compartment.
  • A Workman haunts West Brompton tube station. A man dressed in dark, old looking workman's clothing has been spotted early in the morning and late at night. He walks to the end of the platform before disappearing.
  • Man with a Tilly Lamp haunts South Island Place, Northern Line, near Stockwell Station. A trainee manager sent to walk the line by himself as part of his training encountered an old man with a Tilly lamp working at South Island Place. They exchanged a couple of words in passing. When the trainee reached Stockwell Station and commented that he had seen someone else along the line, a search party was dispatched to find the worker as no maintenance work was scheduled. No one could be found, and the trainee later discovered that the old man had been seen dozens of times over the years, and was believed to be the ghost of a worker killed on the spot during the 1950s.
  • An Oppressive Feeling is felt along the Embankment Station - Page's Walk. Staff who walk along the long dark tunnel known as Page's Walk complain of cold winds, doors which open and slam shut, and an oppressive feeling.
  • The sound of Footprints haunts Baker's Street to St John's Wood, northbound tunnel. Bill, an underground track walker, sat down for a break while patrolling the line. He reported disembodied footprints which crunched down in the ballast and appeared before him. The footsteps went straight past him and stopped ten metres from his position. When he finished his rounds, one of his colleagues said that other people had also encountered the footsteps, and they belonged to a workman killed in the area.
  • A Striding Grey Man haunts Acton Green common, near Turnham Green tube station. This semi-transparent entity was observed walking parallel to the railway line, wearing a knee length cape. The dark grey figure vanished when the witness momentarily looked away.
  • An Egyptian Princess haunts British Museum Station (which closed 1933). Connected to the 'curse' of the Amen-Ra's tomb, this Egyptian Princess would return from the grave late at night and would wail and scream in the tunnels. A more recent report states that these sounds can now be heard further down the track, in Holborn station.
  • William Terriss haunts Covent Garden Station, on the Piccadilly Line. The actor, Mr Terriss was stabbed to death in December 1897 at a nearby theatre. His ghost, tall in stature, has been seen dressed in a grey suit with white gloves, standing on the platform late at night.
  • A Displaced Actress haunts Aldwych Underground Station (no longer operational). Built where the Royal Strand Theatre once stood, it is thought the female ghost seen standing on the tracks migrated from the original building to the station shortly after it became operational. She is normally reported by cleaning staff working the night shift.

I hope the reader has enjoyed the ghostly and spooky tales. Please visit my Article website where I have listed many articles about many more haunting stories.

London theatres are famous for the ghosts and spirits with many famous actors experiencing the ghosts for themselves. So widespread is the belief in Britain that many theatres in Britain have what is called a 'ghost light' burning on the stage all through the night. In Shakespeare's time it would have been a candle. Now it is a single bare light-bulb and its intended purpose is to keep the ghosts at bay. Below is listed just some of the most haunted Theatres.

The Adelphi Theatre, is haunted by the shade of the great actor William Teriss. He was stabbed to death at the Stage Door in 1897 by a fellow actor. Terriss is supposed to haunt not only the backstage areas of the Adelphi Theatre but also the Lyceum Theatre and Covent Garden Tube Station. Terriss is described as an imposing figure, being tall and wearing a grey suit with white gloves. His murderer was found to be 'insane' and spent the remainder of his life in a mental institution. It is interesting to note that on the day before Terriss was murdered, his understudy related a disturbing dream he had had in which he had seen Terriss lying on the dressing room steps with blood flowing from a gaping wound in his chest.

The Dominion Theatre was built in 1930 on the site of Meux's House Shore Brewery. Over the years, many audience members have reported seeing a brewery worker in the Dominion Theatre. There has also been heard the sound of a child giggling. And as with so many other haunted theatres in London, there is reported poltergeist activity. At least one book suggests that the spirit of Freddie Mercury haunts the Dominion Theatre allegedly because the theatre is the home to the musical, ‘We Will Rock You'.

The Fortune Theatre is haunted by a woman dressed in black, who is often seen in the hospitality bar and in one of the boxes from where she appears to be watching the play. During the performance of the play, ‘Woman in Black', one of the actors, Sebastian Harcombe, saw two women to the right of the stage where no living person was in fact standing. At the same time, the leading lady mentioned that she felt that she had been followed onto the stage by someone she couldn't see.

Her Majesty's Theatre was the venue that saw the first performance of 'The Phantom of the Opera' should also be a haunted theatre in its own right. Her Majesty's Theatre was built in 1897 for actor-manager Sir Beerbohm Tree and he made several appearances on its stage. His favourite place in the house from which to watch performances was the top box, stage right and it appears that this is the centre for the manifestations. Occupants of the box complain of cold spots and of the door to the box suddenly opening of its own accord.
If it is Sir Beerbohm who is responsible then he does not seem to restrict his activities to this area. In the 1970's, during a performance of, 'Cause Celebre', the entire cast of the play, which included the actress Glynis Johns, watched as the ghost walked across the theatre at the back of the stalls.

Lyceum Theatre is a haunted theatre with a unique ghost. For sitting in the cheaper seats in the Lyceum Theatre has been seen an elderly woman cradling what appears to be a severed head in her lap. No-one knows the identity of the ghost or indeed the owner of the cranium (if this it is). It has been suggested that woman might be Madame Marie Tussaud who, in 1802, showed her waxworks in the theatre for the first time, with one of her exhibits. However, why anyone would want to 'stroke' a wax head is beyond me!

The Noel Coward Theatre is one of the more modern haunted theatres, the New Theatre as it was originally called was built in 1903 a few years after the Wyndham Theatre which stands behind it. Sir Charles Wyndham is believed to have been seen walking in the corridors and appearing in the dressing rooms.

The Piccadilly Theatre is haunted by a minor actress called Evelyn Lane, who worked at the Piccadilly Theatre when it first opened. She may not have made much of an impression when alive but she is making up for it now. For it is she who is blamed for the poltergeist activity for which the theatre is known. Her photograph hangs in the theatre offices and when the picture was removed some years ago, the poltergeist became especially violent. Fortunately, someone realised the cause of the problem and when the picture was returned to its accustomed place, everything became quiet again.

The Queen's Theatre is the only one of the haunted theatres to have a gay ghost! Male staff report feeling that they are being watched as they change into their uniforms before a performance. There have also been reports that some of them have felt their bottom pinched by an invisible presence.

The Theatre Royal is haunted by the Man in Grey that ensures the Theatre Royal a place in the list of haunted theatres. The Theatre is the oldest in London and is home to an absolute gaggle of ghosts. There is actor Charles Macklin perhaps he feels remorse for 'accidentally' killing another actor in 1735 during an argument over a wig by stabbing him in the eye with his cane. The clown Joe Grimaldi has also been seen and it is he who it is thought helpfully guides nervous actors to their correct position on the stage. The music hall entertainer and clog-dancer Dan Leno haunts the building. The sound of clog dancing has been heard coming from empty dressing rooms and actors have felt his presence on stage and smelt the distinctive scent of lavender which Dan Leno always wore.

The friendly phantom of actor-manager John Buckstone has been seen many times in the Theatre Royal Haymarket. When shown a picture of John Buckstone witnesses always confirm that that is he whom they saw. As indeed did Dame Judi Dench and Donald Sinden.
Apparently, John Buckstone is still very much attached to his old Dressing Room 1 as that is where he usually manifests. However, he has been observed in other places in the building as well, including the stairwells and once on the stage. Staff backstage have heard him rehearsing his lines although he has not seen there.

Visiting haunted theatres can certainly be a 'hair-raising' experience. At least it be if you go to the Victoria Palace Theatre For there have been many numerous reports of poltergeist activity involving, of all things, wigs. They have been observed flying through the air unaided. The door to the room in which the hair-pieces are kept, opens and closes by itself And it is no use locking it as it unlocks and locks itself apparently without any human assistance. No-one seems to have an explanation for this bizarre paranormal activity.

London is famous for its history, designers, inventors, fashion and music. Ghosts and Ghoulies are also endemic across London which not a lot of people know about and which I have decided to write about in this article. London is said to be the most haunted City in the world. Below I have listed Part 3 of just some of the spooky hauntings of London.
The Old Bailey is London's main criminal court. A figure supposedly appears in the building during important trials. These appearances have been allegedly witnessed by judges, barristers and policemen.

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 up in a chamber within the castle by her husband .

50, Berkeley Square is a four-storey brick town house was constructed in 1740. From 1770 to 1827 it was the home of British Prime Minister George Canning commemorated by a plaque on the house today. During the subsequent Victorian era, it was the location of reported apparitions, screams and noises. After the death of its ninety-year-old occupant in 1859, the house was unoccupied until 1880. "It is quite true that there is a house in Berkeley Square (No. 50), said to be haunted, and long unoccupied on that account. There are strange stories about it, into which this deponent cannot enter." - George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton in Notes and Queries – 1872.

In 1873, the local council sued a new tenant of 50, Berkeley Square called Myers for not paying taxed or rates. He didn't appear in court, but the judge summed up "the house in question is known as a 'haunted house' and has occasioned a good deal of speculation amongst the neighbours."

A writer in 1880 said that Myers had leased the house for his impending marriage and began to furnish the house, when his wife-to-be left him.

"This disappointment is said to have broken his heart and turned his brain. He became morose and solitary, and would never allow a woman to come near him" said the writer.

Myers, to escape society lived in the famous top room of the house and would often walk around the house at night to see what should have been the scene of his happiness bathed in candlelight. His midnight wanderings could have laid the foundations for ghost story.

Hallam also writes that in 1907, ghost author Charles Harper revealed "The secret of the house, according to Mr Stuart Wortley, was that it belonged to Mr Du Pre, of Wilton Park, who shut his lunatic brother in one of attics. The captive was so violent he could only be fed through a hole. His groans and cries could be distinctly heard in the neighbouring houses."

So could it be the nocturnal wanders of a jilted recluse or the insane cries of violent lunatic spurned the stories of a lurking murderous ghost? Or maybe the house was damned, haunted by angry ghosts, hell bent on revenge on the living.

London is famous for its history, designers, inventors, fashion and music. Ghosts and Ghoulies are also endemic across London which not a lot of people know about and which I have decided to write about in this article. London is said to be the most haunted City in the world. Below I have listed part 4 of just some of the spooky hauntings of London.

Haunted Hotels and Pubs of London

14-15 Crooked Billet, Wimbledon Village, London.

This property can date back to the early 16th century and is of course reputed to be haunted. It is an Irish ghost that haunts here, a female with most of the activity being limited to the area of the cellar.

14 Flask Walk, London.

This is supposedly the haunt of a former landlord who can become more fluid in his haunting if changes are made.

1 North Road, Highgate, London.

The ghost here is thought to be a woman who was a guest at the old pub called 'Mother Marnes.'

63 Pitfield Street, London.

Established in 1600, there are claims that the upstairs is the haunt of a female.

35-39 St. George's Drive, Westminster, London.

Since being extended it is now a much larger property. Several spirits are said to reside here, including those of children.

47 Villiers Street, Strand, London.

A delivery boy is said to have fallen to his death and still haunts the place.

7 Montague Street, London.

Haunted by a ghostly chambermaid.

18 Wilton Row, London.

Wisps of smoke have been recorded and photographed.

39 Broadwick Street, London.

Apparently the ghostly male spirit with glowing red eyes sits in a corner. It is thought to be a victim of a cholera epidemic. The pub is named after Dr John Snow who discovered that cholera is water-borne, tracing the outbreak to a local water pump.

1c Portland Place, Regent Street, London.

A Victorian gentleman with grey hair, another gentleman in Victorian dress who is said to be more active during the month of October, a German in military uniform, and even Napoleon Bonaparte are said to haunt here. There is one spirit that tips people out of bed.

58 Millbank, London.

The cellar is said to be haunted by a convict who died there. He was probably an escapee hiding out to evade capture, but the reason for his death differs from suicide to natural causes. There are also a couple of animal manifestations in the form of a squirrel and a hare.

North End Way, London.

When renovations took place a skeleton was found behind a bricked up wall. It is now the haunt of a Victorian gentleman. It is also interesting to note that medical implements were found bricked up with the body. This is only speculations but worth thinking about as Victorian London was in the grip of terror by Jack the Ripper. Did the unsuspecting doctor go out on a call, only to be waylaid thinking he was the Ripper! Or is it that the reason why the murders stopped so abruptly!

44 Essex Road, London.

The haunt of a woman and a young girl from the Tudor period, the child often looking sad. Footsteps have been heard and doors frequently open and close of their own accord.

23 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London.
An actor from the 18th century named Robert Baddely is said to haunt the inn.

185 Clay Hill, Enfield, Middlesex.
This claims to be one of the many haunts of Dick Turpin. He is said to have used the inn as a place to lie low as his grandfather, Mr Mott was at one time a proprietor.

Spaniard Road, London.
This is one of the haunts of Dick Turpin and the hoof beats of Black Bess are often said to be heard.

126 Newgate Street, Blackfriars & St. Paul's, London.
The cellar is reputed to be haunted. There are two ghosts, one a prostitute and the other named Fred who is blamed for the poltergeist type activity.

245-247 Baker Street, London.
The ghost said to be haunting this place is that of Robert Neville. The Neville family home stood on this spot until it was burned down in 1654.

Be warned if you decide to stay at any of these hauntings you may wake up with your hair turned a lighter shade of white!!!

Louis Wain 1860-1939 his Life Story by Paul A. Hussey Esq.

Louis William Wain was born in the London district of Clerkenwell in London on 5th. August 1860. In the period from 1880's up to the start of the first world war he ruled supreme in cat and animal humour especially the 'Louis Wain Cat' which was recognised worldwide.]#

One of his quirks was to draw cats in their more interesting moods, Mr Wain sketched with his left hand a pretty feline head, and then signed it with his right hand.

The Louis Wain dogs and cats appeared in Art Prints, Comics, Newspapers, Books, Magazines, Post Cards and Annuals. The Wain cats are to be found in every human activity - from playing golf and other sports, digging up roads, Playing music.

In his early years Louis Wain was a sickly child and often skipped school. He attended his early schooling at The Orchard Street Foundation school in Hackney and at The Saint Joseph's Academy, Kennington.

Wain was born with a Cleft Lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. As a teenage youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and sisters after his father's death.

With reference to his family, Louis Wain's father had moved to London from Leek in Staffordshire where he met Julie Felice Boiteux (Anglo-French) who attended the same Roman Catholic church. They married in 1859. He had 5 younger sisters (two of whom became competent artists) and his father worked as a textile salesman and his mother designed Church fabrics and carpets.

At the age of 17 he attempted to become a musician though no evidence of any success exists today. Louis Wain then decided to study and trained at The West London School of Art ( 1877- 1882 ) and remained as an assistant teacher until he left in 1882.

After his Father - William Wain's death in 1880 he had to support his mother - Julie Wain and five younger sisters.

To help to support his family he became a freelance illustrator ( initially influenced by Caldecott and May ).

He began to make his name with Dog and Animal drawings at various Dog and Country Shows including the early British National Dog show at Crystal palace in 1882 ( which later became known as Crufts ).

In 1884 Louis Wain married Emily Richardson ( His youngest sister's governess ). Shortly after he married her she contracted Breast cancer. He brought Emily a Kitten which they called Peter and to entertain her he started drawing Peter in humorous situations and poses.

She wanted him to show his cat drawings to some editors to which some comments were - ‘whoever would want to see a picture of a cat.'

The break he had been waiting for came in 1886 when he drew several kitten illustrations for a children's book. After this, Sir William Ingram, Proprietor of the Illustrated London News, commissioned a narrative drawing of a ‘Kitten's Christmas Party'. It contained 200 cats, took 11 days to complete and according to Wain brought him ‘overnight fame.' With the success of his funny cat pictures they started to make his reputation here in Britain and in America where his humorous cat pictures were seen in Comics, newspapers and magazines. These pictures were so successful that his life would never be the same again. Alas, this was tinged with sadness as his wife died shortly afterwards, but knowing that Louis Wain had become a great success.

In the period from 1880's up to the start of the first world war he ruled supreme in cat and animal humour especially the 'Louis Wain Cat' which was recognised worldwide. The Louis Wain cats appeared in Art Prints, Comics, Newspapers, Books, Magazines, Post Cards and Annuals. The Wain cats are to be found in every human activity - from playing golf and other sports, digging up roads, Playing music, Ascot fashions, Driving cats plus lots more.

In 1886 he joined the staff of The Illustrated London News. He was the first illustrator to work consistently within the convention of depicting clothed and standing animals.

He contributed to "Comical Customers at our Fine New Store of Comical Rhymes and Pictures" in 1896 and to "Jingles. Jokes and Funny Folks" in 1898. 1902 saw the word "Catland" commonly associated with Wain's illustrations, and the publication of "Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens." His anthropomorphic vision of the world soon brought him fame and as a result he was elected President of the British National Cat Club in 1898 and 1911.

In 1904 Louis Wain wrote a book entitled 'In Animal land with Louis Wain' which was a great success. During 1907 he invested all his savings into various Ceramic's with pictures based on his funny cats and sent most of them to America. Alas, while crossing the Atlantic, the ship capsized and all Louis Wain ceramics went to the bottom of the sea. Due to this misfortune Louis Wain went bankrupt and decided on a temporary move to the United States. He produced strip cartoons for the New York American ( 1907-1910 ) and many other American comics, newspapers and magazines.

After the death of his mother, In 1910, he returned to England and over the next few years he continued to produce books and supply pictures to various comics, newspapers and magazines.

He continued drawing fanciful cats for various newspapers and comics near the end of the first world war. During this time in 1917 he was thinking of experimenting in animation and the film was to be called 'Pussyfoot'. Alas, he decided not to persue this project and so the world lost the chance of a genius of comic cat art moving into animation. This year was a turning point in the history of Louis Wain's cats. His sister Caroline died and he fell off an Omnibus and hit his head.

After he recovered from these set backs his cats became more frenzied, surreal, jagged and pointy. During 1917 he was also diagnosed as a schizophrenic which alas, stayed with him for the rest of his life. During the onset of his disease at 57, Wain continued to Paint, Draw and Sketch cats.

In 1924 due to the economic climate and the slow recovery of GB after WW1 Louis Wain Art became less popular and he fell into poverty when his mental health deteriorated and finally his family had him certified Insane and he was committed to a pauper ward at Springfield Hospital ( Previously Surrey County Asylum ) at Tooting, London on June 16th 1924. During 1925 he was discovered by a visitor to the hospital painting his funny cat pictures. The visitor exclaimed that the artist pictures reminded him of Louis Wain's famous cats. Imagine his surprise when the Artist turned to the visitor and exclaimed he was indeed Louis Wain. After the visitor told the world of Louis Wain's hospitalization, his admirers started a campaign which included prime minister Ramsey Macdonald, HG Wells and King George who helped set up a foundation which was set up to enable Wain to spend the last few years of his life in comfort in private asylums including Bethlehem Hospital in a private room where his treatment continued. H. G. Wells best portrays Louis Wain when he said in a 1925 broadcast, in an attempt to raise money for the impoverished artist, that three generations had been brought up on Louis Wain's cats and few nurseries were without his pictures. He made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.

Some time in the late 1920's he was sent to Saint James Fields, Southwark where he continued to paint and draw his cats.

In 1930 he was transferred to Napsbury Hospital near Saint Albans where he continued to paint and sketch until the end of his days. Exhibitions of his work were held in London in 1931 and 1937. On 4th. July Louis Wain died at Napsbury hospital. He is buried at Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Harrow Road, London NW10 ( next to Kensal Green Cemetery, London ) next to the same burial plots as his 5 sisters and parents.

He is probably best remembered through a quote from H.G. Wells "He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves."

Louis often gave lectures on the welfare of cats and encouraged people to take in stray cats, not just purebred cats. He was elected as President and Chairman of the National Cat Club, which he served for many years, and the logo he designed for the National Cat Club is still used to this very day. He was also involved in many other animal (mainly cat) charities and groups.

I am a collector and seller of Louis Wain 1860-1939 Funny Cats, Birds, Pigs, Owls and Dogs on Art prints, so please feel free to visit my Louis Wain website.

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 © 2012 Paul Hussey. All Rights Reserved