An Englishman’s Favourite English Traditions and Icons Part One

27/09/2012 09:44

*Please Click on above underlined Link and then Scroll Down Page to read my Icons articles"*



  • Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397
  • The longitude's Marine Chronometer by John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776)
  • History of English Nursery Rhymes
  • Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee Inventor of The World Wide Web
  • Sir Christopher Wren
  • The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History
  • 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 Designers
  • The New Romantics – 1980's London Music
  • Tower Bridge – London Icon
  • William Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre – British Icons
  • English Crop Circles – The History From 1115 AD
  • Halloween – It's English Celtic History  
  • Windsor Castle – It's Royal Hauntings
  • Stonehenge and It's Eerie Past

Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397

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.

The longitude's Marine Chronometer by John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776)

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and I have a keen interest in English and British history especially English hero's like John Harrison I thought I would write this article.

John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776) was a self-educated English Clockmaker and Yorkshire Carpenter who invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or Longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the Age of Sail. The problem was considered so intractable that the British Parliament offered a prize of £20,000 (comparable to £2.87million / €3.65million / $4.72million in modern currency) for the solution.

John Harrison was born in Foulby near Wakefield in West Yorkshire the first of five children in his family. His father worked as a carpenter at the nearby Nostell Priory estate. The house where he was born bears a blue plaque.

Around 1700, the family moved to the North Lincolnshire village of Barrow upon humber. Following his father's trade as a carpenter, Harrison built and repaired clocks in his spare time. Legend has it that at the age of six while in bed with smallpox he was given a watch to amuse himself, spending hours listening to it and studying its moving parts.

In 1730 Harrison created a description and drawings for a proposed marine clock to compete for the

Longitude Prize and went to London seeking financial assistance. He presented his ideas to Edmond Halley, the Astronomer Royal. Halley referred him to George Graham the country's foremost clockmaker. He must have been impressed by Harrison, for Graham personally loaned Harrison money to build a model of his marine clock.

It took Harrison five years to build Harrison Number One or H1. He demonstrated it to members of the Royal Society who spoke on his behalf to the Board of Longitude. The clock was the first proposal that the Board considered to be worthy of a sea trial. In 1736, Harrison sailed to Lisbon on HMS Centurion and returned on HMS Oxford. On their return, both the captain and the sailing master of the Orford praised the design. The master noted that his own calculations had placed the ship sixty miles east of its true landfall which had been correctly predicted by Harrison using H1.

This was not the transatlantic voyage demanded by the Board of Longitude, but the Board was impressed enough to grant Harrison £500 for further development. Harrison moved on to develop H2, a more compact and rugged version. In 1741, after three years of building and two of on-land testing, H2 was ready, but by then Britain was at war with Spain in the War of Austrian succession and the mechanism was deemed too important to risk falling into Spanish hands. In any event, Harrison suddenly abandoned all work on this second machine when he discovered a serious design flaw in the concept of the bar balances. He was granted another £500 by the Board while waiting for the war to end, which he used to work on H3. Harrison spent seventeen years working on this third 'sea clock' but despite every effort it seems not to have performed exactly as he would have wished. Despite this, it had proved a very valuable experiment. Certainly in this machine Harrison left the world two enduring legacies — the bimetallic strip and the caged roller bearing.

After steadfastly pursuing various methods during thirty years of experimentation, Harrison moved to London in the late 1750's where to his surprise he found that some of the watches made by Graham's successor Thomas Mudge kept time just as accurately as his huge sea clocks. Harrison then realized that a mere watch after all could be made accurate enough for the task and was a far more practical proposition for use as a marine timekeeper. He proceeded to redesign the concept of the watch as a timekeeping device, basing his design on sound scientific principles.

He had already in the early 1750's designed a precision watch for his own personal use, which was made for him by the watchmaker John Jefferys C. 1752 - 53. This watch incorporated a novel frictional rest escapement and was also probably the first to have both temperature compensation and a going fusee, enabling the watch to continue running whilst being wound. These features led to the very successful performance of this "Jefferys" watch and therefore Harrison incorporated them into the design of two new timekeepers which he proposed to build. These were in the form of a large watch and another of a smaller size but of similar pattern. However only the larger No. 1 (or "H4" as it sometimes called) watch appears ever to have been finished. (See the reference to "H6" below) Aided by some of London's finest workmen, he proceeded to design and make the world's first successful marine timekeeper that for the first time, allowed a navigator to accurately assess his ship's position in Longitude. Importantly, Harrison showed everyone that it could be done. This was to be Harrison's masterpiece — an instrument of beauty, resembling an oversized pocket watch from the period. It is engraved with Harrison's signature, marked Number 1 and dated 1759.

This first marine watch (or "Sea watch" as Harrison called it) is a 5.2" diameter watch in silver pair cases. The movement has a novel type of escapement which can be classed as a frictional rest type, and superficially resembles the verge escapement with which it is often incorrectly associated. The pallets of this escapement are both made of diamond, a considerable feat of manufacture at the time. The balance spring is a flat spiral but for technical reasons the balance itself was made much larger than in a conventional watch of the period. The movement also has centre seconds motion with a sweep seconds hand. The Third Wheel is equipped with internal teeth and has an elaborate bridge similar to the balance cocks of the period. It runs at 5 beats (ticks) per second, and is equipped with a tiny remontoire. A balance-brake stops the watch half an hour before it is completely run down, in order that the remontoire does not run down also. Temperature compensation is in the form of a 'compensation curb' (or 'Thermometer Kirb' as Harrison put it). This takes the form of a bimetallic strip mounted on the regulator sector-rack, and carrying the curb pins at the free end. During development of No.1, Harrison abandoned the regulator, but left the regulator disc in place for æsthetic reasons, and the compensation.

H4 took six years to construct and Harrison, by then 68 years old, sent it on its transatlantic trial in the care of his son, William, in 1761. When HMS Deptford reached Jamaica the watch was 5 seconds slow, corresponding to an error in longitude of 1.25 minutes, or approximately one nautical mile. When the ship returned, Harrison waited for the £20,000 prize but the Board believed the accuracy was just luck and demanded another trial. The Harrisons were outraged and demanded their prize, a matter that eventually worked its way to Parliament, which offered £5,000 for the design. The Harrisons refused but were eventually obliged to make another trip to the Caribbean city of Bridgetown on the island of Barbados to settle the matter.

At the time of the trial, another method for measuring longitude was ready for testing: the Method of Lunar Distances. The moon moves fast enough, some twelve degrees a day, to easily measure the movement from day to day. By comparing the angle between the moon and the sun for the day one left for Britain, the "proper position" (how it would appear in Greenwich, England at that specific time) of the moon could be calculated. By comparing this with the angle of the moon over the horizon, the longitude could be calculated.

During Harrison's second trial of "H4" the Reverend Neville Maskelyne was asked to accompany HMS Tarter and test the Lunar Distances system. Once again "H4" proved almost astonishingly accurate, keeping time to within 39 seconds, corresponding to an error in the longitude of Bridgetown of less than 10 miles (16km). Maskelyne's measures were also fairly good, at 30 miles (48 km), but required considerable work and calculation in order to use. At a meeting of the Board in 1765 the results were presented, and once again they could not believe it was not just luck. Once again the matter reached Parliament, which offered £10,000 in advance and the other half once he turned over the design to other watchmakers to duplicate. In the meantime H4 would have to be turned over to the Astronomer Royal for long-term on-land testing.

Harrison began working on his H5 while the H4 testing was conducted, with H4 being effectively held hostage by the Board. After three years he had had enough; Harrison felt "extremely ill used by the gentlemen who I might have expected better treatment from" and decided to enlist the aid of King George III. He obtained an audience by the King, who was extremely annoyed with the Board. King George tested H5 himself at the palace and after ten weeks of daily observations between May and July in 1772, found it to be accurate to within one third of one second per day. King George then advised Harrison to petition Parliament for the full prize after threatening to appear in person to dress them down. In 1773, when he was 80 years old, Harrison received a monetary award in the amount of £8,750 from Parliament for his achievements, but he never received the official award (which was never awarded to anyone). He was to survive for just three more years.

In total, Harrison received £23,065 for his work on chronometers. He received £4,315 in increments from the Board of Longitude for his work, £10,000 as an interim payment for H4 in 1765 and £8,750 from Parliament in 1773. This gave him a reasonable income for most of his life (equivalent to roughly £45,000 per year in 2007, though all his costs, such as materials and subcontracting work to other horologists, had to come out of this). He became the equivalent of a multi-millionaire (in today's terms) in the final decade of his life.

James Cook used K1, a copy of H4, on his second and third voyages, having used the Lunar distance method on his first voyage. K1 was made by Larcum Kendall, who had been apprenticed to John Jeffreys. Cook's log is full of praise for the watch and the charts of the southern Pacific Ocean John Jeffrey's made with its use were remarkably accurate. K2 was on HMS Bounty was recovered from Pitcairn Island, and then passed through several hands before reaching the National Maritime Museum in London.

Harrison died on his eighty-third birthday and is buried in the graveyard of St. John's Church, Hampstead along with his second wife Elizabeth and their son William. His tomb was restored in 1879 by the Worshipful Company of Clockmaker's even though Harrison had never been a member of the Company.

Harrison's last home was in Red Lion Square in London, now a short walk from the Holborn Underground Station. There is a plaque dedicated to Harrison on the wall of Summit House in the south side of the square. A memorial tablet to Harrison was unveiled in Westminister Abbey on 24 March 2006 finally recognising him as a worthy companion to his friend George Graham and Thomas Tompion, "The Father of English Watchmaking", who are both buried in the Abbey. The memorial shows a meridian line (line of constant longitude) in two metals to highlight Harrison's most widespread invention, the bimetallic strip thermometer. The strip is engraved with its own longitude of 0 degrees, 7 minutes and 35 seconds West.

The Corpus Clock in Cambridge, unveiled in 2008, is an homage to Harrison's work. Harrison's grasshopper escapement — sculpted to resemble an actual grasshopper — is the clock's defining feature.

Captain James Cook took the first Chronometer on his voyage of discovery which forced the British government to give his reward.  Though the British Parliament rewarded John Harrison for his marine chronometer in 1773, his chronometers were not to become standard such as those by Thomas Earnshaw, suitable for general nautical use by the end of the 18th century. However, they remained very expensive and the lunar distance method continued to be used for some decades.

History of English Nursery Rhymes

Growing up in 1960's England one of the traditions we all learnt were the various nursery ryhmes which to this day I still have fond memories off. The history and origins of most nursery rhymes reflect events in history and where available we have included both the meanings, history and origins of everyone's favourite nursery rhymes.

Two examples of these types of nursery rhymes history and origins are 'Ring a Ring of Roses' which refers to the Bubonic plague and 'Remember, Remember the Fifth of November' nursery rhyme which alludes to Guy Fawkes' foiled attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament! Many of the words and nursery rhymes lyrics were used to parody the British royal and political events of the day, direct dissent would often be punishable by death! Strange how these events in history are still portrayed through children's nursery rhymes, when for most of us the historical events relationship to the nursery rhymes themselves are long forgotten!

Various Nursery Rhymes

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt 
London Bridge is Falling down
The Sandman
Aiken Drum
The Big Ship Sails on the Ally-Ally-oh
A Wise Old Owl Nursery Rhyme
An Apple a Day lyrics
As I was Going to St. Ives lyrics
Baa Baa Black Sheep rhyme
Christmas is Coming
Cry Baby Buntin lyrics
Diddle Diddle Dumpling
Ding Dong Bell ryme
Doctor Foster lyrics
For Want of a Nail rhyme
Georgie Porgie Nursery rhyme
Goosey Goosey Gander lyrics
Grand Old Duke of York
Hark hark the Dogs do Bark
Here is the Church rhyme
Hey Diddle Diddle lyrics
Hickory Dickory Dock lyrics
Horsey Horsey Rhyme
Hot Cross Buns rhyme
Humpty Dumpty story
Hush-a-bye Baby
Itsy Bitsy Spider lyrics
Jack and Jill went up the Hill lyrics
Jack be Nimble rhyme
Jack Sprat
Ladybug Ladybug rhyme
Little Bo-Peep rhyme
Little Boy Blue rhyme
Little Hen Nursery Rhyme
Little Jack Horner lyrics
Little Miss Muffet rhyme
Little Robin Red breast
Little Tommy Tucker rhyme
Mary had a Little Lamb lyrics
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
Mondays Child rhyme
Old King Cole lyrics
Old Mother Hubbard
London Bells Nursery Rhyme

London Bridge is Broken down
Lucy Lockett
One Two Buckle my Shoe
One Two Three Four Five
Oranges and Lemons Nursery Rhyme
Pease Pudding Hot Rhyme
Pat a Cake Pat a Cake
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Polly put the Kettle on Rhyme
Pop goes the Weasel
Pussycat, Pussycat rhyme
Rain Rain go Away
Red Sky at Night lyrics
Remember Remember
Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
Ring around the Rosy lyrics
Rock a Bye Baby rhyme
See Saw Marjory Daw rhyme
Simple Simon lyrics
Sing a Song of Sixpence rhyme
Star Light Star Bright lyrics
Three Blind Mice Rhyme
Three Little Kitten lyrics
The Cat, the Rat & Lovell the dog
The Elephant Rhyme
The Lion and the Unicorn rhyme
The North Wind doth Blow
The Owl and the Pussycat
The Queen of Hearts
There was a Crooked Man
There was an Old Lady lyrics
There was an Old Woman
Thirty Days hath September rhyme
This is the House that Jack built
This Little Piggy lyrics
Tom Tom the Pipers son
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star rhyme
Two Little Dicky Birds rhyme
Wee Willie Winkie rhyme
What are Little Boys made of lyrics
Who Killed Cock Robin lyrics
When Adam delved, and Eve span

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee Inventor of The World Wide Web

I have decided to create this article about The British inventor of the World Wide Web.

A graduate of Oxford University, Tim Berners-Lee ( born 8 June 1955 ) invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing while at Cern, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in 1989. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URL's, HTTP and HTML were refined as Web technology spread. He is also a Professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK.

On December 25,1990 he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet with the help of_Robert Cailliau and a young student staff at CERN whose name is unknown. In terms of the technology that enables all forms of data communication (web,email,instant_messaging,digital phone, etc) between all the connected computer systems of the world.

The first Web site built was at CERN, and was first put on line on 6 August 1991.

The Internet and Transmission Control Protocols were initially developed in 1973 and published in 1974. There ensued about 10 years of hard work, resulting in the roll out of Internet in 1983. Prior to that, a number of demonstrations were made of the technology - such as the first three-network interconnection demonstrated in November 1977 linking SATNET, PRNET and ARPANET in a path leading from Menlo Park, CA to University College London and back to USC/ISI in Marina del Rey, CA.

Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He is a director of The Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI),[4] and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Centre for Collective Intelligence In April 2009, he was elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences based in Washington, D.C.


In 1994 he is one of only six members of the World Wide Web Hall of Fame of 1994.

·      In 1999, Time magazine named Berners-Lee one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century.

·      In March 2000 he was awarded an Honorary Degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.

·      In 2003, he received the Computer History Museum's Fellow Award, for his seminal contributions to the development of the World Wide Web.

·      On 15 April 2004, he was named as the first recipient of Finland's Millenium Technology Prize, for inventing the World Wide Web. The cash prize, worth one million euros (about £892,000, or US$1.3 million, as of May 2009), was awarded on 15 June, in Helsinki, Finland, by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen.

·      He was awarded the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (the second-highest class in this order of knighthood) by Queen Elizabeth II, as part of the 2004 New Year's Honours, and was invested on 16 July 2004

·      On 21 July 2004, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lancaster University.

·      On 27 January 2005, he was named Greatest Briton of 2004, both for his achievements and for displaying the key British characteristics of "diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humour and adaptability",

·      In 2007, he was ranked Joint First, alongside Albert Hofmann, in The Telegraph's list of 100 greatest living geniuses.

·      On 13 June 2007, he received the Order of Merit, becoming one of only 24 living members entitled to hold the award, and to use 'O.M.' after their name. (The Order of Merit is regarded as a personal gift bestowed by the reigning monarch, and does not require ministerial advice.)

·      On 20 September 2008, he was awarded the IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award, for conceiving and further developing the World Wide Web IEEE.

·      On 21 April 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

·      On 28 April 2009, he was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

·      In 2009, he won the Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement.

·      In October 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Vriji Universiteit Amsterdam.

In 2010 Berners Lee updated HM Queen Elizabeth II website which is now much easier to navigate and load and is full of really interesting details.

Famous British Engineers – History

Britains history is made up of very famous engineers all through their history. This has made me decide to list just some of the most famous with links to websites with more details on the various engineers.

Thomas Savery (1650-1715)
Thomas Savery was an English military engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam engine.

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.

The Freemasons – It's English 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.

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 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 magnificentGrade 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 and Victorian Funny Art

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

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 tithings (also spelled tythings). These were headed by a tythingman. Each tything was grouped into 100, which in turn was headed by a hundredman. He acted as an administrator and judge. The hundredman 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.

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.

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 – 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 – 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 Designers


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swinging Sixties  ( London ) – British Iconic Music


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The New Romantics – 1980's London Music


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar


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


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


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


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


Edward Elgar died on the 23rd February 1934.


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


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.


English Crop Circles – The History From 1115 AD

As a fan of English History I thought readers may be interested in the history of English Crop Circles. Excluding some of the Modern day hoaxes many of the modern day Crop Circles have been seen to form below a bright light. One of the earliest writings on Crop Circles was In 1115 A.D., the Bishop of Winchester wrote of corn flattened by 'magical storms'.

One late summer's day in 1678, an English farmer and a poor mower were arguing over the cost of harvesting the farmer's oat field. Incensed at the mower's proposed price, the farmer swore that the Devil himself should harvest the crop and stomped off. That night, a strange, bright glow lit up the field and, the next morning, the farmer returned to find round circles where the crop had been 'neatly mowed by the Devil, or some infernal spirit'. Each crop stalk had apparently been placed with such 'exactness that it would have taken above an age for any man to perform what he did in that one night'. The event frightened the farmer enough that he subsequently decided to abandon any attempt at harvesting the strange circle.

This description from a woodcut known as the "Mowing Devil or 'Strange News out of Hartford-shire'" is now widely regarding as the first explicit report of a crop circle. Similar accounts have 'cropped up' throughout history leading credence to theories that the crop circle phenomenon is much more than a modern-day fad. While crop circles can occur in any weather, original theories on crop circle formation relate to swirling vortices of ionised air or some other type of natural process similar to ball lighting. Several scientific journals of the nineteenth-century also include references to storms and flattened circles. Another account from 1871 near Plummer's Hill, in High Wycombe, Bucks, describes two disc-shaped objects with flashing lights hovering over a site where the very next day a circle of bent, flattened grasses was discovered.

Tales of unusual light beams, even UFOs, are commonplace around crop circles. While some of these strange lights have been captured on film, perhaps more intriguing are the many oral accounts of crop circle activity from the days before air planes or secret military technology. Between 1900 and 1910, one woman recalled having seen circles on her grandfather's land near Tilshead, Salisbury Plain. The wheat was apparently 'flattened so firmly that it could not lifted without springing back down.' Some crop circle researchers (know as 'cereologists' after the Roman goddess of agriculture, Ceres) have even wondered if the famous Salisbury Plain megalith, Stonehenge, was itself built to commemorate the spot where a crop circle once formed.

The area certainly has had its fair share of crop circles in recent years. In 1996, the 'Julia Set', a staggering 915 foot long formation with 151 circles, appeared near Stonehenge in broad daylight and within a forty-five minute period. No one had noticed a thing but when news of the miraculous crop circle broke, it attracted over ten thousand visitors within the following weeks.

So what exactly are these crop circles and why are they now such a prominent feature of the English countryside? No one really knows but enough research, however, has been carried out over the last two decades to establish these enigmatic patterns as one of the most awesome and tangible mysteries of our time. Crop circles, also know as agriglyphs and pictogram s, have been reported in virtually every country around the globe and in all types of fields, in fact, similar, unexplained patterns have occurred in snow, ice, gravel and even Japanese rice paddies. Since the early 1980's over ten thousand crop circles have been documented with the vast majority appearing in England. The 'hot spot' of crop circle activity happens to be Wiltshire, perhaps because it is the home of ancient sacred sites and mystical monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury. During the warm summer months, researchers, enthusiasts, even the military, have gathered in the fields of this southern English county to study the intricate and mesmerizing designs of the crop circles. The formations now happen so frequently that special tour buses headed towards the latest crop circle have become a regular sight on the narrow, winding roads of Wiltshire hills.

Researchers are still baffled by what causes crop circle formations. While sceptics try to dismiss them as elaborate hoaxes, crop circles do exhibit a number of unusual characteristics. For one, they are often not simple circles but beautiful geometric patterns. These include crescent shapes, abstract designs, insect forms, vortex swirls like those in seashells or galaxies. Some represent complex examples of fractals, even mathematical theorems. In 1994, a 'Mayan lunar calendar design' appeared near the ancient Avebury stone circle. Its gradually changing circles were eerily reminiscent of the phases of our moon. In July of 2004, an exquisite 'Chakra' formation occurred in the Vale of Pewsey directly beneath one of the area's chalk White Horses.

Dowsers, and people particularly sensitive to the earth's energy levels, often detect unusual readings within crop circles. The patterns seem to fall on or near invisible energy pathways, or known 'ley lines' across the country. Interestingly, animals will sometimes avoid crop circles while flocks of birds purposely split up rather than fly directly over a formation. The plants stalks within crop circles are not trampled or crushed, a tell-tale characteristic of many man-made glyphs, but simply bent, leaving the plant undamaged. Microscopic analysis reveals that the plant's crystalline structure has been altered. One possible explanation seems to be some sort of intense burst of heat. What causes it, and whether the source is terrestrial or extra-terrestrial remains to be seen. Coincidentally, the few eyewitness accounts of crop circle formations that do exist describe a large 'ball of fire' lasting for only a few minutes. By morning, a crop circle has occurred in the exact same location. Shades of the 'Mowing Devil' brought up to the present day? Perhaps. One thing is certain... the mystery of the crop circles continues.

I believe that Crop Circles are 80% fraud and 20% real unknown natural causes – unless the reader knows differently.


Halloween – It's English Celtic History

As a fan of English Traditions has made me a great fan of English Traditions and British history and the English Celtic story of Halloween.

The festival of "All Hallows Eve" or the more ancient named "Samhain" celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic Briton's New Year". Halloween and other pagan festivals were celebrated by the Celtic Briton and Irish Tribes 2,000 years ago and over the centuries the festivals were renamed by the Catholic Church.

The ancient Celtic Britons believed that the border between this world and the Other world became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.

This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you've gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.

Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink.

The name 'Halloween' and many of its present-day traditions derive from the Old English mists of time.

Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. When the English first arrived in Colonial America and the many other countries of the Commonwealth they brought with them the "All Hallows Eve" Celebration with the associated traditions ( Like Apple Dipping and Pumpkins ). During the following centuries we English had started to lose the traditions of Halloween ( Except by the Traditional Pagan followers ) until wartime Britain, when many American G I's based in England re-introduced the Halloween Celebrations to us British.

Halloween in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. This larger American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Europe, to Japan under the auspices of the Japanese Biscuit Association, and other parts of East Asia.


Windsor Castle – It's Royal Hauntings

Windsor Castle in England is famous for it's many hauntings seen over the centuries by many famous kings and queens of kings and queens. I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the various hauntings of Windsor Castle.

William the Conqueror began the building of Windsor Castle in 1075 after the Norman Conquest. The castle is almost one mile in circumference and is the largest in Britain. Since it was built, the Castle has been embroiled in legends of suicide, witchcraft and demonic ghosts. The list of ghostly sightings reported at the Castle is huge.

The castle was nearly destroyed during the civil war of the 1600s. While the castle served as a prison, it was also a safe haven for the Royal family for a long time.

Queen Elizabeth I haunts the Royal Library and is said to have been seen by several members of the Royal family. The sounds of her high heels are heard on bare floorboards, before her imposing figure appears and passes through the library and into an inner room. She has also been seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister. She is always dressed in a black gown with a black lace shawl draped over her shoulders.

King Charles I has often been seen in the library and the Canon's house. Although he was beheaded during the English Revolution, his ghost is seen as a whole. It is reported that he looks exactly like his portraits.

A young guard shot and killed himself and another guard on duty saw him afterwards.

The most frequently seen spectre is Herne the Hunter whose ghost has been seen by hundreds of people in Great Windsor Park. According to legend, he was a royal huntsman who was framed by those who were jealous of his relationship with the king. He felt disgraced and hanged himself. His ghost is seen astride a phantom black steed, often accompanied by spectral baying hounds.

Both Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn haunt the Tower of London.

Henry VIII haunts the Deanery Cloisters. People heard his footsteps and groans.

One of the most famous ghosts reported at the Castle is that of King Henry VIII, while various guests staying at the castle have reported hearing the king's footsteps along the long hallways of the Castle. Some have even claimed to hear moans and groans coming from the hallway.

Anne Boleyn, one of his wives, whom he had executed, has been sighted and seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister.

In the last 250 years, hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the spirit of Herne the Hunter, who was the favourite huntsman of King Richard II. He is often seen accompanied by his pack of hounds, careering across the Great Park searching for lost souls.

The story is that Herne was one of the Royal keepers in the time of King Richard II (1367-1400). Herne had two large black hounds and was hated by the other keepers because of his great skill. One evening King Richard was hunting a stag in the grounds of Windsor Park, but the stag turned on him and he would have been killed if Herne hadn't stood between the enraged animal and Richard.

However, Herne was fatally wounded and fell to the ground. At this point a strange dark man appeared and said he could cure Herne. Richard asked him to go ahead and the dark man cut the stag's head off and put it on Herne's body. The Dark Man then took Herne away to his hut on Bagshot Heath some miles away, to complete the cure. The King was so grateful to Herne that he swore that if Herne recovered he would make him his chief keeper.

The other keepers disliked Herne so much that they wished that he would die. The Dark Man overheard them and offered them a bargain - if they would grant him the first request he made, he would ensure that, though Herne would recover, he would lose all his hunting skills. They agreed and everything happened as the Dark Man said. Herne was so distraught at the loss of his skill that he found a mighty oak in Windsor Park and hanged himself from it. Instantly, his body disappeared.

The other keepers weren't happy for long though, because they too lost all their hunting abilities. They found the Dark Man and asked him to help them. He said that if they went to the oak the following night, they would have a solution to their problem. When they went to the Oak, the spirit of Herne appeared to them. He told them to go and fetch his hounds and horses for a chase.

This they did and when they returned, Herne took them to a Beech tree. There he invoked the Dark Man who burst from the tree in a shower of sparks and flame. His first request of the unfortunate keepers was that they form a band for Herne the Hunter. Bound by their oath, they had to swear allegiance to Herne. After that, night after night, they hunted through the forests.

The ghostly haunts is presaged by flashes of lightning, wind in the tree tops, the rattling of chains and tolling of bells and the terrible din of a pack of dogs in mad pursuit. As the legend goes, if you hear the baying of the ghostly hounds in the sky, run away, because if they catch you, you too will be forced to follow Herne and his Wild Hunt, ranging across the night skies for eternity.

In the early 1860's the tree from which Herne was found hanging, was cut down, and Queen Victoria kept the oak logs for her fire "To help kill the ghost". Her plan didn't work however.

King George III had his moments of insanity and was detained in a room. People have seen his sad face looking out of the window I that room. King George III had many bouts with mental deterioration. During these times he was kept out of the public's eye. He has been seen looking out the windows located below the Royal Library, where he was confined during the recurrence of his illness.

William of Wykeham and Sir George Villiers, the First Duke of Buckingham, are also haunters. Sir George Villiers, The first Duke of Buckingham, is said to haunt one of the bedrooms of Windsor castle.

The 'Prison Room' in the Norman Tower is haunted, possibly by a former Royalist prisoner from Civil War times. Children playing there have seen him and adults have felt him brush past.

The Deanery is haunted by a boy who yells that he doesn’t want to go riding. Footsteps are also heard there and many believe they are his. Children playing in the Norman Tower’s Prison Room have seen the ghost of a man. Adults felt him brush by them.

A kitchen in the castle is home to a spectral man and a horse. The room was once part of the cavalry stable. The ghost of a young girl standing by an evergreen tree has been sighted here.

Ghostly footsteps are often heard on the staircase in the Curfew Tower. On one occasion, the bells began to swing on their own while the temperature became distinctly chilly.

A visitor saw a new group of statues near St. George’s Chapel one night. They were dressed in black. One was crouched and the others stood. One of statues was wielding a sword. When asked about the tableau, a sentry replied he knew nothing about the new statues. When the visitor returned to the scene, the statues were gone.

Many spirits haunt the Long Walk, one of whom is a young Grenadier Guard who shot himself while on duty there in the 1920s. During his guard watch, he saw marble statues moving "of their own accord." He was seen by at least two of his colleagues, immediately after his death. Two Grenadier Guards saw his ghost while on duty on the Long Walk.

In 1873, a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George's Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down. The central standing character was in the act of striking with a large sword. The sentry knew nothing of this artwork and when the visitor returned to re-examine it, it had gone!

There is a demonic horned being said to bring death and disease to those who are unfortunate enough to see it, especially the Royal family. Other legends tell of witchcraft, murder and suicide.

During the reign of King George IV in the nineteenth century, it was transformed into a palace. In 1917, King George V adopted the castle’s name as the Royal family’s, replacing the old one, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

From that time, the name of the monarchy would be the House of Windsor. Windsor Castle survived the bombs of two world wars. Today, Queen Elizabeth II goes to church in its St. George Chapel

Stonehenge and It's Eerie Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Time line in the Building of Stonehenge

1) Pre-Construction

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

2) Stonehenge (3100 BC)

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

3) Stonehenge (3000 BC)

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

4) Stonehenge (2600 BC)

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

5) Stonehenge  (2450 BC-2100 BC)

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

6) Stonehenge BlueStones

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

7) Stonehenge (2280 BC-1930 BC)

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

8) After the Construction (1600 BC)

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

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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.


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