English Cities, Towns and Retailers

27/09/2012 18:07

Please click on above underlined link and then scroll down page for full index and articles.


  • The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag
  • History of The Passport – England 1414 AD
  • The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History
  • Royal Mail – from 1516 AD to Present Day
  • English Christmas Traditions – History
  • Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) Pioneer of Umbrella
  • The Neck Tie and It's History
  • English Toby Jugs – History
  • Jigsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game
  • The Valentine Card – An English Icon
  • Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker
  • Thomas Chippendale 1718 - 1779 Designer and Cabinet Maker
  • The Morgan Motor Company - The Oldest Continuusly Manufactured Car Maker
  • The Smash Alien Robots – The Funniest British TV Advert of the 20th Century
  • Oldest English Brewery and The First Registered Trademark
  • History of The Poppy Appeal – British Iconic Charity
  • Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) – Potter, Designer and Industrialist
  • British Shopping History
  • London Livery Companies
  • British Cheques – English Histor
  • List of Early English Shopping Mall – 1568
  • Portobello Road Markett
  • Smithfield Market – London Icon
  • Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History
  • British Comic Publications and Their History
  • Brief History of British Hallmarks
  • List of British Royal Societies
  • The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History
  • York England one of the Most Haunted City in the World
  • City of Bath, England – History and Ghosts
  • The Ghostly Hauntings of the City of Chester
  • Ghostly Haunting of Derby Hospital's
  • The Ghostly Hauntings of the City of Exeter
  • Famous Hauntings of The Isle Of Wight, England
  • English Spa Towns – Iconic Places
  • Ghosts of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar
  • The Oldest 5 English Towns from 13,000 years ago To Present day
  • The Oldest British Cities
  • History of Roman London Part 1 (43 AD to 300 AD)
  • History of Anglo Saxon London Part 2 (300 AD to 1066 AD)
  • History of Medieval London Part 3 (1066 AD to 1485)
  • History of Tudor London Part 4 (1485 AD to 1605)
  • History of Stuart London Part 5 (1605 AD to 1700)
  • History Of Georgian London Part 6 (1700 AD to 1837)
  • History of Victorian London Part 7 (1837 AD to 1901)
  • History of Modern London Part 8 (1901 AD to Present)
  • English Tea Drinking Traditions – London History
  • The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History
  • Invention of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England
  • English Wine and It's History
  • English Cathedrals from 300 AD to Present Day
  • The First Powered Passenger Car and Bus – England 1801
  • My Favorite British Iconic Cars
  • History of The Hovercraft
  • The World's First Electric House – England 1878
  • English Speaking Countries
  • History of British Cat and Kitten Shows from 1871
  • History of British Dog Breeds from 63 BC to 1886
  • Crufts the Iconic Dog Show and its History
  • The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic History


England is one of the oldest European countries ( over 1000 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD. The history of British Retailers and British Towns and Cities is what we British are famous for.


The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag
The Union Jack 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 its early beginnings.

When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne, thereby becoming James I of England, the national flags of England and Scotland on land continued to be, respectively, the red St George's cross and the white St Andrew's cross. Confusion arose, however, as to what flag would be appropriate at sea. On 12 April 1606 a proclamation was issued:

"By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Kingdome of Great Britaine ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Cross commonly called St. George's Crosse and the White Crosse commonly called St. Andrew's Crosse joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606."

This is the first known reference to the Union Flag. Although the original design referred to has been lost, it is presumed that it was the flag which, with the addition of the St. Patrick's cross, It forms the basic design of the British Union Flag today. It is also interesting to note that the new flag was not universally popular nor accepted. The English were not overly pleased at the obscuring of the white field of the St George's flag. The Scots, with more justification, were upset at the fact that the red cross was laid over the white. The Scots proposed a number of alternative designs.

While the flag appears symmetric, the white lines above and below the diagonal red are different widths. On the side closest to the flagpole (or on the left when depicted on paper), the white lines above the diagonals are wider; on the side furthest from the flagpole (or on the right when depicted on paper), the converse is true. Thus, rotating the flag 180 degrees will have no change, but if mirrored the flag will be upside-down.

Placing the flag upside down is considered jese majeste and is offensive to some, However, it can be flown upside down as a distress signal. While this is rare, it was used by groups under siege during the Boer War and during campaigns in India in the late18th    century.

The Union Flag is flown from Government buildings at half-mast in the following situations:

·       from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (an exception is made for Proclamation Day – the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed, when the Flag is flown at full staff from 11 am to sunset)

·       the day of the funeral of a member of the British Royal Family

·       the funeral of a foreign ruler

·       the funeral of a current or former Prime Minister

The Sovereign sometimes declares other days when the Union Flag is to fly at half-mast. Half-mast means the flag is flown two-thirds of the way up the flagpole with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole.

Individuals, companies, local authorities, hospitals, and schools are free to fly the flag whenever they choose. Planning permission is not required to fly the Union Flag from a flagpole.

The Union Flag can be flown by any individual or organisation in England, Scotland or Wales on any day of their choice. Legal regulations restrict the use of the Union Flag on Government buildings in Northern ireland. Long-standing restrictions on Government use of the flag elsewhere were abolished in July 2007.

History of The Passport – England 1414 AD

As the passport is such an integral part of travelling the world I thought I would tell the history of the earliest passport from England in 1414 AD.

In England, the earliest surviving reference to a "safe conduct" document appears during the reign of Henry V, in an Act of Parliament dated 1414. At that time, documents like these could be issued by the king to anyone, whether they were English or not. Foreign nationals even got theirs free of charge, while English subjects had to pay. Needless to say, the monarch did not - and still does not - need a safe conduct document.

From 1540, the granting of travelling papers became the business of the Privy Council. By this point the term "passport" was being used, although whether it originated with the idea of people passing through maritime ports or through the gates in city walls ("portes" in French) remains a matter for debate. A passport from this period, issued on June 18 1641 and signed by Charles I, still exists. From 1794, the office of the secretary of state took control of issuing passports, a function that the Home Office retains today. Records remain of every British passport granted from this time, although they continued to be available to foreign nationals and were written in French until 1858, when the passport first acquired its role as a British identity document. Nevertheless, passports were not generally required for international travel until the first world war.

It was in the early 20th century that passports as we would recognise them today began to be used. The first modern British passport, the product of the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act 1914, consisted of a single page, folded into eight and held together with a cardboard cover. It was valid for two years and, as well as a photograph and signature, featured a personal description, including details such as "shape of face", "complexion" and "features". The entry on this last category might read something like: "Forehead: broad. Nose: large. Eyes: small." Remarkably, some travellers claimed to find this dehumanising. Following an agreement among the League of Nations to standardise passports, the famous "old blue" was issued in 1920. Apart from a few adjustments to its duration and security features, the old blue remained a steady symbol of the touring Briton until it gradually began to be replaced by the burgundy-coloured European version in 1988.

The passports of other countries are, on the whole, remarkably similar to Britain's, although some do have their quirks. The new Nicaraguan passport, for instance, boasts 89 separate security features, including "bi dimensional bar codes", holograms and watermarks, and is reputed to be one of the least forgeable documents in the world. The Israeli passport, through no flaw in its design, must be one of the most useless, as it is not accepted by 23 different Muslim countries, nor by Cuba or North Korea. The Vatican, incidentally, has no immigration controls, but it does issue passports. The Pope, among his other honours, always carries "Passport No 1".

The passports of the future will feature embedded microchips and biometric data, such as photographs, fingerprints and iris patterns. Malaysia was the first country to introduce this technology, and Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, the UK, the US, Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Poland, among others, have recently followed.

English Passport History Timeline





A reference is made to 'Safe Conducts' (the earliest passports) in an Act of Parliament during the reign of King Henry V.


The Privy Council Register begins, leaving us a record of Privy Council business. According to the Register, this includes granting passports.


A passport from this date still exists. It was issued on 18 June and signed by King Charles I.

1644 -1649

References in the Commons Journal show that both the House of Commons and the House of Lords grants passes to foreign and British subjects during these years.


Until this date, passports were written in Latin or English. From this date onwards they are written in French (but see 1858).


From this date, all passports are issued by the Secretary of State and their issue is recorded. (Before this date some passports were issued and signed by the king or queen.)


From this date, passports are restricted to United Kingdom nationals. (Before this date a 'passport' could be issued to a person of any nationality as a promise of 'safe conduct' from the King or Queen.) Passports start to be written in English again from this date, having been written in French since 1772.


Start of the First World War. By this point, British passports are printed on paper and contain a photograph of the passport holder. The British Nationality and Status Aliens Act is passed. Around the world, countries start issuing passports as a way of distinguishing their citizens from others they think of as 'foreign nationals'.


The first modern UK passport is issued. It is a folded one-page document valid for two years.


End of the First World War.


The League of Nations International Conference on Passports agrees on a new book format for passports.


UK passports no longer show the name of the Secretary of State.


The British Visitor's passport is introduced. It is available from Crown Post Offices and can be used for visiting western Europe.


The first 10-year UK passports are issued.


Passports are changed slightly, for example, the paper used now has a special watermark for security.


A 94-page passport is introduced for frequent travellers.


Passport photographs are now laminated for security - it is harder to change the photograph.


An overprint is added to the laminate to further increase security.


Occupation and country of residence details are no longer included on passports.


'Family' or 'joint' passports are no longer issued.
The first burgundy-coloured machine-readable UK passports are issued. A common format is introduced for European Community member states' passports.


The British Visitor's passport is discontinued.


The first UK passports with references to the European Union are issued.


New security measures include the use of a digital facial image rather than a laminated photograph and intaglio or raised printing on the inside on the front and back covers is introduced. Children under 16 can no longer be included on new adult passports but must have a separate child passport.


26 October: Passports featuring electronic chip and antenna introduced.


October: New passport design includes strengthened security features and iconic images from across the nation.

 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. 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.

Royal Mail – from 1516 AD to Present Day

The Royal Mail here in the UK is one of the most iconic British institutions and as such I thought it would be an idea to write about this great icon. The Royal Mail traces its history back to 1516, when Henry VIII established a "Master of the Posts", a post which eventually evolved into the office of the Postmaster General. The Royal Mail service was first made available to the public by Charles I on 31 July 1635, with postage being paid by the recipient, and the General post office (GPO) was officially established by Charles II in 1660.

Between 1719 and 1763, Ralph Allen, Postmaster at bath, signed a series of contracts with the post office to develop and expand Britain's postal network. He organised mail coaches which were provided by both Wilson & Company of London and Williams & Company of Bath. The early Royal mail Coaches were similar to ordinary family coaches but with Post Office Livery.

In December 1839 the first substantial reform started when postage rates were revised by the short-lived Uniform Fourpenny Post. Greater changes took place when the Uniform Penny Post was introduced on 10 January 1840 whereby a single rate for delivery anywhere in Great Britain and Ireland was pre-paid by the sender. A few months later, to certify that postage had been paid on a letter, the sender could affix the first adhesive Postage Stramp, the Penny Black that was available for use from 6 May the same year. Other innovations were the introduction of pre-paid William Mulready designed postal stationary letter sheets and envelopes.

As the United Kingdom was the first country to issue prepaid postage stamps, British stamps are the only stamps that do not bear the name of the country of issue on them.

By the late 19th century, there were between six and twelve mail deliveries per day in London, permitting correspondents to exchange multiple letters within a single day.

Royal Mail - Time Line

  • 1516: Royal Mail established by Henry VIII under Master of the Posts.
  • 1635: Royal Mail service first made available to the public by Charles I.
  • 1654: Oliver Cromwell grants monopoly over service in England to "Office of Postage".
  • 1657: Fixed postal rates introduced.
  • 1660: General Post Office (GPO) officially established by Charles II.
  • 1661: First use of date stamp. First Postmaster General appointed.
  • 1784: First Mail coach (between Bristol and London).
  • 1793: First uniformed delivery staff. Post Office Investigation Branch formed, the oldest recognised criminal investigations authority in the world.
  • 1830: First mail train (on Liverpool and Manchester Railway).
  • 1838: Post Office Money order system introduced.
  • 1839: Uniform Fourpenny Post introduced.
  • 1840: Uniform Penny Post introduced.
  • 1840: First adhesive stamp (the Penny Black).
  • 1852: First Post Office pillar box erected (in Jersey).
  • 1853: First post boxes erected in mainland Britain.
  • 1857: First wall boxes installed Shrewsbury and Market Drayton
  • 1870: Post Office begins telegraph service.
  • 1870: Post Office Act banned sending of `indecent or obscene` literature; introduced the ½d rate for postcards; banned the use of cut-outsfrom postal stationery; introduced the ½d rate for newspapers; provided for the issue of newspaper wrappers.
  • 1880: First use of bicycles to deliver mail.
  • 1881: Postal order introduced.
  • 1882: Army Post Office Corps formed from GPO employees (see British Forces Post Office)
  • 1883: Parcel post begins.
  • 1894: First picture postcards.
  • 1912: Post Office opens national telephone service.
  • 1919: First international airmail service developed by Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and Royal Air Force.
  • 1941: Airgraph service introduced between UK and Egypt. The service was later extended to: Canada (1941), East Africa (1941), Burma (1942), India (1942), South Africa (1942), Australia (1943), New Zealand (1943) Ceylon (1944) and Italy (1944).
  • 1941: Aerogram service introduced.
  • 1968: Two-class postal system introduced. National Giro bank opens.
  • 1969: General Post Office changes from government department to nationalised industry.
  • 1971: Postal services in Great Britain were suspended for two months between January and March as the result of a national postal strike over a pay claim.[19]
  • 1974: Postcodes extended over all UK.
  • 1981: Telecommunications services split out as British Telecom. Remainder renamed as "Post Office".
  • 1986: Separated businesses of delivering letters, delivering parcels and operating post offices.
  • 1988: Postal workers hold their first national strike for 17 years after walking out over bonuses being paid to recruit new workers in London and the South East.
  • 1989: Royal Mail establishes RoMec (Royal Mail Engineering & Construction) to deliver Facilities Maintenance services to its business. RoMec becomes owned 51% Royal Mail and 49% Haden BML in a joint venture.
  • 1990: Girobank sold to the Alliance & Leicester Building Society.
  • 1990: Royal Mail Parcels re-branded as Parcelforce.
  • 1999: A new business: Royal Mail ViaCode - or ViaCode Limited - was launched. This wholly-owned subsidiary of the Post Office offered online encryption services to businesses, using "digital certificate" technology. The short-lived venture was wound up in 2002.[20]
  • 2004: Reduction of deliveries to once daily. Travelling post office ("Mail Trains") end.[21] SmartStamp is introduced.
  • 2005: Mail Trains re-introduced on some lines.
  • 2006: Royal Mail loses its monopoly when the regulator,[22] PostComm, opens up the Postal Market 3 years ahead of the rest of Europe.[23] Competitors can carry mail, and pass it to Royal Mail for delivery, a service known as Downstream access. Also introduces Pricing in Proportion (PiP) for first and second class inland mail.
  • 2006: Online postage allows Royal Mail customers to pay for postage on the web, without the need to buy traditional stamps.
  • 2007: Royal Mail Group PLC becomes Royal Mail Group Ltd in a slight change of legal status.
  • 2007: Official Industrial Action takes place over pay, conditions and pensions.
  • 2007: Sunday collections from pillar boxes end.[24]
  • 2009: (September) CWU opens national ballot for industrial action.[25]
  • 2010: Bicycles begin to be phased out, 130 years after they were first used.
  • English Christmas Traditions - History
  • England is famous for its Traditional Christmas and as a born and bred Englishman, My Christmas involved family reunions, Christmas Dinner and watching the Queens Speech at 3pm.
  • Queens Christmas Speech
  • The Sovereign King George V appeared on the radio on Christmas Day 1932. This happened every year until 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II appeared on Television, Christmas Day at 3pm. The Christmas Broadcast is an intrinsic part of Christmas Day festivities and is broadcast UK and Commonwealth wide and In 2003, over 10 million viewers in Britain alone, settled down to watch the Broadcast on Christmas Day.
  • Christmas Tree
  • Not the oldest of traditions, the Christmas tree may have originated in Germany, but it is very popular in England, too. The first Christmas tree in England was the one Prince Albert, the spouse of Queen Victoria, placed in their royal home in 1837. There are lots of trees in public places as well, the most famous being the huge one in Trafalgar Square which is given to the UK by Norway as a thank you for our help during WW2.
  • Christmas Cards
  • Christmas cards are sent off to relatives, friends, loved ones and business contacts at the begining of December. This was invented by us English and dates back to 1840, and every year more than one billion Christmas cards are sent in Great Britain - December is decidedly not the easiest month to be a postman in England.
  • Advent Calender
  • The modern advent calendar consists of a carboard surround, usually decorated in some popular culture or chocolate-related theme which has been adjusted to look Christmassy, bearing at least 24 little doors. Behind each door will be a moulded Christmas-related shape, and there may also be small picture on the inside of the door or on the cardboard behind the chocolate. The chocolate will probably sit in a plastic tray, and may be protected by a layer of foil which is best slit open using a fingernail. Advent calendar traditions include the 24th chocolate or door bearing the words 'Santa's Coming' or a depiction of a Nativity scene, and the person opening the calendar guessing which Christmas-related item will be depicted behind each door.
  • Christmas Holly
  • It is to be noted that here in England, a strong distinction is made between the 'he holly' and the 'she holly', based on the nature of the leaves. The 'he holly' is characterized by prickly leaves while 'she Holly' is characterized by the smooth surface of the leaves. The Holly, which is strongly linked with Christmas or rather Christmas festival, has a history of its own. Though Christmas Holly history has its roots in Northern Europe, the sanctity of the Holly plant has a pagan origin. The Holly plant is characterized by green leaves that are prickly in nature. It needs a mention here that the Druids adorned their heads with twigs of the Holly plant whenever they went to the forest.
  • The Holly Man
  • The Holly Man, the winter guise of the Green Man (a character from pagan myths and folklore), decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames every January. The Green Man is thought to represent life, death, fertility and rebirth. He brings nature and mankind together. The Green Man is usually depicted in carvings with leafy vines growing around his body, from his face, mouth, eyes, nose and ears.
  • Mistletoe
  • We English don't stop at pine trees: holly and mistletoe are equally essential natural Christmas decorations. Mistletoe's popularity obviously has something to do with the custom of kissing the person with whom you stand underneath it - a tradition that allegedly dates back to Pagan Britain and ancient Roman times, when enemies who met under it were said to have to give up their rivalries.
  • Wassail
  • Wassail is an ale-based drink seasoned with spices and honey. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter. Wassail comes from an old English term 'waes hael' meaning to be well. In Saxon times the Lord of the Manor would shout this to the crowds and they would all drink an ale based drink. This tradition continued over time as people would go from house to house with the drink and Christmas food. Some parts of the country especially in rural areas still go 'a wassailing' in January - usually the 17th which was the old twelfth night. While it's not called wassailing nowadays you'll also find that people in England will still go visiting neighbours for a glass of mulled wine (or something else alcoholic) and a mince pie. The Wassail bowl would be passed around with the greeting, 'Wassail'. Wassailing has been associated with English Christmas and New Year as far back as the 1400s. It was a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends.
  • Christmas Carols
  • The earliest carol was written in 1410. Sadly only a very small fragment of it still exists. The carol was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time and the Elizabethan period are based on untrue stories, very loosely based on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather than in churches! Travelling singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were travelling.
  • Perhaps the most famous carol service, is the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College in Cambridge, UK. This service takes place on Christmas Eve and is broadcast live on BBC Radio (and all over the world). In my house, we listen to it and it means Christmas has really started!! The Service was first performed in 1918 as a way of the college celebrating the end of the First World War. It is always started with a single choir boy singing a solo of the first verse of the Carol 'Once in Royal David's City'.
  • Boxing Day
  • Boxing Day officially began in England in the middle of the 19 century under the rule of Queen Victoria. However, many adults and children do not know the true meaning of Boxing Day and its reasons for celebrating. It was a day to thank the community for all their effort throughout the years. The maids, drivers and other service workers were thanked with gifts of food, money, clothing, and other goods. It is important to teach students how they can contribute to society and to understand not all families are able to provide for their families all of the time. The countries that celebrate Boxing Day includes Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth Countries celebrate Boxing Day on December 26th.
  • Twelth Night – Twelve Days of Christmas and Lights and Decorations
  • Twelfth Night (5th January) is when all Christmas Lights and Decorations should be removed so as not to bring bad luck upon the home. If decorations are not removed on Twelfth Night, they should stay up all year.
  • Nativity Play
  • Another eagerly awaited event in the run-up to Christmas is the nativity play: each year hundreds of thousands of school children act out the story from the Bible about the birth of Christ. They dress up as Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the shepherds and the three Wise Men - and occasionally children get to don ox and donkey costumes.
  • Pantomines
  • Pantomimes are cheerful musical interpretations of classic fairy tales that are performed by professional or amateur actors - and the audience: crowd participation is a big part of pantomime fun. Pantomimes became popular in England in the 1500s. There are Pre-Christian roots to the pantomime, most notably the playing of men by women and the other way around. This probably stems back to the pagan winter festivals, where roles were reversed in plays: males would play females; masters, servants and children would play parents.
  • English Christmas Food
  • Christmas dinner is very traditional and includes a variety of the following: Turkey, Sage and Onion or Sausage or Chestnut Stuffing, Cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, roast potato's, English mustard or Mint Sauce and for afters either: Mince pies, chocalate Yule Logs, iced fruit cake, Christmas Pudding,Shortbread or Cheese and Crackers..
  • Christmas Crackers
  • The most original English Christmas tradition, however, is the Christmas cracker: the popular small paper tubes with little gifts inside were invented by a baker from London in the mid 19th century and have gone on to conquer the world. It is traditionally opened by two people who each pull on one end of the cracker until it, well, cracks. Merry Christmas!
  • Father Christmas plus his Sleigh and Reindeers
  • Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring. He was known as 'Sir Christmas', 'Old Father Christmas' or Old Winter'.
  • In this earliest form, Father Christmas was not the bringer of gifts for small children, nor did he come down the chimney. He simply wandered around from home to home, knocking on doors and feasting with families before moving on to the next house.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) is based on Father Christmas. He is described as a large man with a red beard and fur-lined green robe.
  • Images of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) dressed in red started appearing on Christmas cards in the late Victorian times.
  • Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) Pioneer of Umbrella
  • He was the founder of the Magdalen Hospital and has the credit of being the first man who ventured to dare public reproach and ridicule by carrying an umbrella habitually in London. As he died in 1786, and he is said to have carried an umbrella for thirty years, the date of its first use by him may be set down at about 1750.
  • While still a child, his father, a victualler, died, and the family moved to London. In 1729 Jonas was apprenticed to a merchant in Lisbon. In 1 743, after he had been some time in business for himself in London, he became a partner with Mr Dingley, a merchant in St Petersburg, and in this way was led to travel in Russia and Persia. Leaving St Petersburg on the 10th of September 1743, and passing south by Moscow, Tsarist and Astrakhan, he embarked on the Caspian on the 22nd of November, and arrived at Astrabad on the 18th of December. He was the first Londoner, it is said, to carry an umbrella and he lived to triumph over all the hackney coachmen who tried to hoot and hustle him down.

The Neck Tie and It's History


The neck tie in Britain is one of the stand alone style statements which during the daytime separates Office Workers from other workers. In the evening the non office workers, when going out on the town, will dress up and wear a tie and jacket. I thought it would be interesting to write about the history of the neck tie from 1800 to present day.

1800–1850: Cravat, Stocks, Scarves, Bandanna's

At this time, there was also much interest in the way to tie a proper cravat and this led to a series of publications. This began with Neckclothitania which is a book that contained instructions and illustrations on how to tie 14 different cravats. It was also the first book to use the word ‘tie’ in association with neck wear.

It was about this time that black stocks made their appearance. Their popularity eclipsed the white Cravat, except for formal and evening wear. These remained popular through to the 1850s. At this time, another form of neck wear worn was the scarf. This was where a neckerchief or bandanna was held in place by slipping the ends through a finger or scarf ring at the neck instead of using a knot. This is the classic sailor neck wear and may have been adopted from them.

1860–1920s: Bow ties, Scarf/Neckerchief, the Ascot, the Long tie

The industrial revolution created a need for neck wear that was easy to put on, comfortable and would last an entire workday. The modern neck tie, as is still worn by millions of men today, was born. It was long, thin and easy to knot and it didn’t come undone.

We English called it the “Four in Hand” because the knot resembled the reins of the four horse carriage used by the British upper class. By this time, the sometimes complicated array of knots and styles of neck wear gave way to the necktie's and bow ties, the latter a much smaller, more convenient version of the cravat. In formal dinner parties and when attending races, another type of neck wear was considered de rigueur; this was the Ascot Tie which had wide flaps that were crossed and pinned together on the chest.

This was until 1926, when a New York tie maker, Jesse Langsdorf came up with a method of cutting the fabric on the bias and sewing it in three segments. This technique improved elasticity and facilitated the fabric's return to its original shape. Since that time, most men have worn the “Langsdorf” tie. Yet another development of that time was the method used to secure the lining and interlining once the tie had been folded into shape. Richard Atkinson and Company of Belfast claim to have introduced the slip stitch for this purpose in the late 1920s.

1920s – present day

Wide short tie with print, 1953, part of the post-War "Bold Look".

After the First World War, hand-painted ties became an accepted form of decoration in America. The widths of some of these ties went up to 4.5 inches (110 mm). These loud, flamboyant ties sold very well all the way through the 1950s.

In Britain, Regimental stripes have been continuously used in tie designs since the 1920's. Traditionally, English stripes ran from the left shoulder down to the right side; however, when Brooks Brothers introduced the striped ties in the United States around the beginning of the 20th century, they had theirs cut in the opposite direction.

Before the Second World War ties were worn shorter than they are today; this was due, in part, to men wearing trousers at the natural waist (more or less at the level of the belly button), and also due to the popularity of three-piece suits, for which it is considered a faux pas to let the tie stick out below the vest. Around 1944 ties started to become not only wider, but wilder. This was the beginning of what was later labelled the Bold Look ties which reflected the returning GIs' desire to break with wartime uniformity. Widths reached 5", and designs included Art Deco, hunting scenes, scenic "photographs," tropical themes, and even girlie prints, though more traditional designs were also available. The typical length was 48".

The 1960s brought about an influx of pop art influenced designs. The first was designed by

Michael Fish when he worked at Turnbull & Asser, and was introduced in Britain in 1965; the term Kipper Tie was a pun on his name. The exuberance of the styles of the late 1960s and early 1970's gradually gave way to more restrained designs. Ties became wider, returning to their 4½ inch width, sometimes with garish colours and designs. The traditional designs of the 1930's and 1950s reappeared, particularly Paisley patterns. Ties began to be sold along with shirts, and designers slowly began to experiment with bolder colours.

In the 1980s, narrower ties, some as narrow as 1½" but more typically 3" to 3¼" wide, became popular again. Into the 1990s, as ties got wider again, increasingly unusual designs became common. Novelty (or joke) ties or deliberately kitschy ties designed to make a statement gained a certain popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. These included ties featuring cartoon characters, commercial products or pop culture icons, and those made of unusual materials, such as plastic or wood. During this period, with men wearing their pants at their hips, ties lengthened to 57".

At the start of the 21st century, ties widened to 3½" to 3¾" wide, with a broad range of patterns available, from traditional stripes, foulards, and club ties (Ties with a crest or design signifying a club, organization, or order) to abstract, themed, and humorous ones. The standard length remains 57", though 2008 and 2009 saw a return to narrower ties. While ties as wide as 3¾" are still available, ties under 3" wide also became popular, particularly with younger men and the fashion-conscious.

English Toby Jugs – History

I have created this article about Toby Jugs as they are an English icon.

A Toby Jug - also sometimes known as a Fillpot (or Phillpot) - is a pottery jug in the form of a seated person, or the head of a recognizable person (often an English king). Typically the seated figure is a heavily-set, jovial man holding a mug of beer in one hand and a pipe of tobacco in the other and wearing 18th century attire: a long coat and a tricorn hat. The tricorn hat forms a pouring spout, often with a removable lid, and a handle is attached at the rear. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure are also referred to as Toby Jugs, although these should strictly be called "Character Jugs".

The original Toby Jug was produced by Ralph Wood in about 1761. Many other Toby Jug's were produced with a brown salt glaze, which was developed and popularised by the various members of the Wood Family and other Staffordshire potters in the 1770s. Similar designs were also produced by other potteries around England and eventually in other countries from around the 1800's.

The typical toby is a comic depiction of a short fat fellow, comfortably seated, with a jug on his knee and wearing a three-cornered hat . Sometimes he has a pipe as well as a jug, and sometimes his faithful dog is crouched at his feet. Ralph Wood Toby Jugs were of this sort, but he also produced his "Thin Man," "Gin Woman," "King Hal," and the "Hearty Good Fellow," the latter a smiling urbane figure with jug and pipe. Ralph's cousin, Enoch Wood, also made toby jugs, such as "Night Watchman," and a standing representation of Benjamin Franklin taking a pinch of snuff.

The Toby Jug was named after a notorious 18th century Yorkshire drinker, Henry Elwes, who was known as "Toby Fillpot" (or Phillpot). It was inspired by an old English drinking song, "The Brown Jug", which paid tribute to Toby Fillpot; the popular verses were first published in 1761.

Toby Jugs have many collectors Worldwide. They were brought back by Royal Doulton in the 19th century, who developed the idea into a range of character jugs. Today, their popularity shows no signs of declining and they have held their value at auction sales. Their appeal is wide reaching because Royal Doulton jugs are quite different both in their craftsmanship and their subject matter.

Royal Doulton have made Toby jugs in the traditional manner since 1815 but in the 1920's Harry Simeon added colour. This inspired Charles Noke, a Royal Doulton artist to rethink the Toby jug tradition. He pictured a more colorful and stylish jug based on the head and shoulders of a character rather than the full figure. He had in mind characters from English song, literature, history and legend, made to appeal to future generations. It took him almost ten years to be satisfied with the standards of design and production, but in 1934 the first character jug was launched. He chose as his subject John Barleycorn, a figure symbolizing whisky. John Barleycorn became such an instant success that Old Charley, the Night Watchman, Sairey Gamp, Parson Brown and Dick Turpin was added to the jug making. Two years later the first character jug modeled on a real person was made with Herry Fenton's John Peel, a trend which has continued to the present day.

Jigsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game

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

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

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

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

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

Treadle operated jigsaws were invented.

Techniques were developed to produce THIN sheets of wood.

Printing improved in leaps and bounds.

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

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

2)    Their subjects included many varied and colourful topics.

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

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

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

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

The Valentine Card – An English Icon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the most unusual valentines were fashioned by lonely sailors during this time...unique cards sporting seashells of various sizes employed to create hearts, flowers and

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

Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker

One of the most famous Furniture makers in England in the last 80 years is the Mouseman - Richard Thompson who was born in Kilburn, Yorkshire, England on the 7th May 1876. If you love beautiful, handmade wooden furniture that's also highly collectible, you should investigate Robert Thompson's Mouseman furniture. On any piece of Robert Thompson Furniture was carved  a mouse – hence his name “The Mouseman”.

The story began when one day in 1919 an offhand remark about being as poor as a church mouse, lead him to carve a mouse on the finished cornice he was working on. In that moment, a famous trademark was born - even though it wasn't registered until the 1930's.

Even though Robert Thompson adopted the mouse as his trademark, not all the furniture created in the early years had it.

The patina of the furniture, the colour and degree of adzing, the use of a specific tool to shape the timber, also aid in identifying the pieces that weren't marked with the mouse.

His mouse has changed also.

Thomson removed the front legs from the mouse design in 1930 because they tended to break off easily.

The facts the mouse has no front legs but clearly recognisable whiskers are important things to look for when you find a piece identified as Mouseman furniture for unfortunately, there are imposters. (If you're worried about fakes, check out The Vintage Mouseman. where a "Rogue's gallery" of known replicas and fakes is maintained.)

Each piece of Mouseman Furniture is truly unique. It's not made by committee. Each craftsman starts a piece of furniture and remains responsible for it from selecting the wood to carving the signature mouse. In fact, just by looking at the pieces, most avid collectors of Robert Thompson's furniture can tell which craftsman made the piece.

Inspired by the medieval oak furnishings at Ripon and York Cathedrals, Robert Thompson became determined to spend his life bringing back the spirit of craftsmanship in English Oak, and set about teaching himself how to use traditional craft tools. He soon developed a technique of finishing the surfaces of his oak furniture with a pronounced “tooled” effect using an adze, a medieval tool which had been much used in the past for roughing out the broad shapes of ships' timbers, etc, and this still remains a feature of today’s items.

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey's furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson's furniture.

The “Mouseman” style was based on sound construction and a straightforward fitness for purpose, using the three basic materials of English Oak, real cowhide and wrought iron.  During his working life he worked alongside architects such as Sir Giles Scott and J S Syme, who in turn have left their mark on buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

The workshop, which is now being run by his descendants includes a showroom and visitors' centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains "Mouseman" Pews, fittings and other furniture. Please enter into any Search Engine  The company which is now known as "Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd - The Mouseman of Kilburn.". The original Robert Thompson – The Mouseman died on December 8th 1955 and is buried in the small church graveyard at Kilburn overlooking his beloved workshop, which was later extended by his two grandsons and is still in production today.

Thomas Chippendale 1718 - 1779 Designer and Cabinet Maker


Thomas Chippendale is one of my favourite furniture designers who was a London cabinet maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. The designs are regarded as establishing the fashion for furniture for that period and were used by many other cabinet makers.


The Chippendale family had long been in the wood working trades and so he probably received his basic training from his father, though it is believed that he also was trained by Richard Wood in York, before he moved to London. Wood later ordered eight copies of the Director. On 19 May 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair and during there marriage they had five boys and four girls alas his wife, Catherine, died in 1772.


In 1754 he went into partnership with James Rannie, a wealthy Scottish merchant, who put money into the business at the same time as Chippendale brought out the first edition of the Director.


After James Rannie died in 1766, Thomas Haig seems to have borrowed £2,000 from his Rannie's widow, which he used to become Chippendale’s partner. One of Rannie's executors, Henry Ferguson, became a third partner and so the business became Chippendale, Haig and Co. Thomas Chippendale (Junior) took over the business in 1776 allowing his father to retire. He moved to what was then called Lob's Fields (now known as Derry Street) in Kensington. Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis at Fulham Parish Church on 5 August 1777. He fathered three more children.


Chippendale was much more than just a cabinet maker, he was an interior designer who advised on soft furnishings and even the colour a room should be painted. Chippendale often took on large-scale commissions from aristocratic clients. Twenty-six of these commissions have been identified. Here furniture by Chippendale can still be identified, The locations include:

  • Blair Castle, Perthshire, for the Duke of Atholl (1758);
  • Wilton House, for Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke (c 1759-1773);
  • Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, for Sir Roland Winn, Bt (1766–85);
  • Mersham Le Hatch, Kent, for Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt (1767–79);
  • David Garrick both in town and at his villa at Hampton, Middlesex;
  • Normanton Park, Rutland and other houses for Sir Gilbert Heathcote Bt (1768–78) that included the management of a funeral for Lady Bridget Heathcote, 1772;
  • Harewood House, Yorkshire, for Edwin Lascelles (1767–78);
  • Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for William Weddell (c 1772-76);
  • Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, for Lord Irwin (1774);
  • Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, for Ninian Home (1774–91);
  • Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire for William Constable (1768–79);
  • Petworth House, Sussex and other houses for George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1777–79).


He also collaborated in furnishing interiors designed by Robert Adam and at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and Melbourne House, London, for Lord Melbourne, with Sir William Chambers (c. 1772-75).

His Director was used by many other cabinet makers. Consequently recognisably "Chippendale" furniture was produced in Dublin, Philadelphia, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Hamburg. Catherine the Great and Louis XVI both possessed copies of the Director in its French edition.


The Director shows four main styles: English with deep carving, elaborate French rococo in the style of Louis XV furniture, Chinese style with latticework and lacquer, and Gothic with pointed arches, quatrefoils and fret-worked legs. His favourite wood was mahogany; in seat furniture he always used solid wood rather than veneers.


His workshop was continued by his son, Thomas Chippendale, the younger (1749–1822), who worked in the later Neoclassical and Regency styles, "the rather slick delicacy of Adam's final phase", as Christopher Gilbert assessed it.[5] A bankruptcy and sale of remaining stock in the St. Martin's Lane premises in 1804 did not conclude the firm's latest phase, as the younger Chippendale supplied furniture to Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead until 1820 (Edwards and Jourdain 1955: 88).


His designs became very popular again during the middle to late 19th century, leading to

widespread adoption of his name in revivals of his style. Many of these later designs that attach his name bear little relationship to his original concepts.

In 1779 Chippendale moved to Hoxton where he died of Tuberculosis and was buried at St. Martin-In-The-Fields on 13th November 1779.


There is a Statue and memorial plaque dedicated to Chippendale outside his old school,

the Old Prince Henry's Grammer School in Manor Square, in his home town of Otley near Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a full-size sculpted figure of Thomas Chippendale on the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.



The Morgan Motor Company - The Oldest Continuusly Manufactured Car Maker

The “Morgan Car” is one of Britain's most famous Iconic Cars and is known the world over for its classic styling and It's sheer Englishness. As the Morgan Car Company is over 100 years old, which makes it is the oldest continuous car manufacturer in the world, I thought the reader may be interested in it's long and prestigious history. 

When in 1909, at the age of twenty-eight, Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan (HFS as he came to be known throughout the motoring world) designed and built
his first single-seater three-wheeled experimental car, he could never have dreamt that he would become one of the world's major manufacturers of three-wheeler motor cars.

The son of a country clergyman, HFS was lucky not to be forced to enter the church as a profession. Far from discouraging him from making his own way in life,
his parents and grandparents gave him every assistance. He was educated at Stone House, Broadstairs, and Marlborough College and then entered Crystal Palace
Engineering College in south London, and it was here that his design and artistic talents developed.

In 1906 he opened a garage in Malvern, Worcestershire. The venture flourished and HFS was then able to turn his thoughts to making a car of his own design.

The prototype, completed in 1909, was a single-seater fitted with tiller steering. It also incorporated Morgan's special form of sliding pillar independent front
suspension. With the addition of such refinement as rebound springs and shock absorbers, this form of front suspension is still used on modern four-wheeler
Morgan's. The whole car was very light and was powered by a 7 horsepower Peugeot motorcycle engine.

On Boxing Day 1910 HFS entered the first London-Exeter Two Day Trial in the JAP-engined single-seater fitted with tiller steering. He won a gold medal
and received favourable press coverage. So well did his cars do in competition that at the Motor Cycle Show in November 1911 he was inundated with enquiries
and orders. He realized that to maintain momentum he must enter as many sporting events as he could.

In 1912 the company became the Morgan Motor Company Ltd, and made a small but significant profit of 1314pounds.

After the war (WWI) public demand for motors far outstripped supply...By 1923 Morgan were being manufactured under license by Darmont in France.
In 1936 the government announced that the following year it was going to abolish the Road Fund Tax, which did away with the three-wheeler's tax advantage.

That year Morgan Motor Company introduced the four wheeler called the 4-4, for the four cylinders and four wheel car. The 4-4 model Morgan is still in production.

During World War II the company was converted to the war effort and no cars were built.

After the war the company slowly began producing cars again and they concentrated on producing cars just for export. Today it takes a year on a waiting list to receive your Morgan Car.


The Smash Alien Robots – The Funniest British TV Advert of the 20th Century


In the 1970's watching British TV one of the funniest adverts was the first Smash Alien Robots advert. It became so popular that it won many awards and many follow on 'smash robot adverts'. All told there was some very funny 'Smash Robot adverts' made over the years and each one very funny. The first advert I have described below which when watched is just hilarious. The robots would laugh at the silly earth people discussing how they would cut up potatoes and then smash them up before eating them (how old fashioned)!!!.


The catchphrase 'For Mash Get Smash' is still an iconic and memorable advertising slogan in the UK. The adverts featuring the Smash Martians were voted TV ad of the century by Campaign Magazine.


The Martians' behaviour and personalties were initially developed while the puppeteers were messing around on set.


The Smash Martians were designed for the advertising agency Boase Massimi Pollitt by Sian Vickers and Chris Wilkins.


Smash Mash Potatoes Advert


The story starts with the robots standing around a table.


One of the Robots has a potatoe in his hands.


One of the robots turned to him and asks “did you discover what the humans eat”?.


'First they peel the it with their metal knifes'.


'Then they boil them in hot water for 20 minutes'.


'Then they smash them all to bits. As this is announced the robots start falling about with laughter'. The vision of seeing these robots falling over in laughter is just hilarious.


List of All Smash Alien Adverts


Smash Mash Potatoes Advert 1976

Cadbury's Smash ( for mash get smash) 1980's

Cadbury's Smash Advert 1970's

Smash Baby Robot Advert

Smash Alien UFO mash Potatoes TV Ad

If you would like to see all the funny 'Smash Robot Adverts' Please click here.

My hope is one day to see the return of these funny adverts on our TV's and maybe updated and new adverts.

Oldest English Brewery and The First Registered Trademark


As we Brits are famous for our drinking culture and our love of Beer I thought I would write about the oldest British beer and trademark. The oldest brand is actually Bass Pale Ale Beer. Bass is the name of a former brewery and the brand name for several English beers brewed in Burton upon Trent. Bass is most particularly associated with their pale ale. The distinctive Red Triangle logo for Bass Pale Ale was Britain's first registered trademark. The Bass & Co Brewery was established by William Bass in 1777.


Early in the company's history, Bass was exporting bottled beer around the world with the Baltic trade being supplied through the port of Hull. Growing demand led to the building of a second brewery in Burton upon Trent in 1799 by Michael Bass the founder's son, who entered into partnership with John Ratcliff. The water produced from boreholes in the locality became popular with brewers, with 30 different breweries operating in the mid-19th century. Michael's son, another Michael succeeded on the death of his father in 1827 and renewed the Ratcliff partnership and brought in John Gretton, and created the company of 'Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton' as it traded in the 19th century.


The opening of the railway through Burton in 1839 led to Burton becoming pre-eminent as a brewing town. In the mid-1870s, Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton accounted for one third of Burton's output.The company became a public limited company in 1888, following the death of Michael in 1884, who was succeeded by his son, another Michael, later Lord Burton.

Both Michael Bass and Lord Burton were considerable philanthropists with extensive charitable donations to the towns of Burton and Derby. Early in the 20th century, in a declining market, many Burton breweries closed down. The numbers fell from twenty in 1900 to eight in 1928. Bass took over the breweries of Walkers in 1923, Worthington and Thomas Salt in 1927 and James Eadie in 1933.

Bass was one of the original FT30 companies on the London Stock Exchange when the listing was established in 1935. Over the next half-century, Bass maintained its dominance in the UK market by the acquisition of other brewers such as Birmingham based Mitchells and Butlers (1961), London brewer Charringtons (1967), Sheffield brewer William Stones Ltd (1968) and Grimsby based Hewitt Brothers Limited (1969) (with the overall company being known as Bass, Mitchells and Butlers or Bass Charrington at various times).

By the end of the 20th century, following decades of closures and consolidation, Bass was left with one of the two large breweries remaining in the town. It also had substantial holdings in hotels, now owned by Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). The Mitchells and Butlers name lives on as the company that retained the licensed retail outlet business when it was separated from the Six Continents PLC company (the successor to Bass plc) in 2003.

The National Brewery Centre (formerly the Bass Museum is a museum and tourist attractions in Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England. The centre celebrates the brewing heritage of Burton and features exhibits showcasing the history of brewing techniques. The centre also houses a bar and cafe, a history of the town, a collection historic vehicles, a micro brewery and a Shire horse collection.

On 18th March 2008 owner, Coors announced that it was to close the Visitor Centre which the company was subsidising to the tune of £1 million a year. The museum closed on 30th June 2008 but the attractions were mothballed in the hope that the museum could be reopened at a later date. A steering group was established to investigate reopening the museum. The museum reopened as the National Brewery Centre on 1st May 2010 and was officially reopened by HRH The Princess Royal on September 21st 2010.


The National Brewery Centre is also home to an extensive array of historical collections that relate to brewing. This includes an extensive archive of ledgers, books, photographs and film from the breweries that once occupied the site; a library containing brewing-related books and journals and objects that include paintings, ceramics, glass, bottles, cans, beer mats.


History of The Poppy Appeal – British Iconic Charity


The history of the Poppy appeal is entwined with the history of The Royal British Legion which began in 1921 just 3 years after the end of the Great War. During my school days here in England in the 1960's and 1970's as part of our school curriculum we learnt the importance of World War 1 and what we owed to the generations who fought defending our country and those who lost there lives. Wearing the poppy during the 2 weeks of the Poppy Appeal is an acknowledgement of our thanks for all the sacrifices for the past and present wars.


The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-Service community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War, The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers' Association. It was granted a Royal Charter on 29th May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary which gives the Legion the privilege of the prefix 'Royal'. Earl Haig, commander of the Battle of the Somme and Passchendaele was one of the founders of the Legion, and was President until his death.

The Legion organises a fund-raising drive each year in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday, during which artificial poppies, meant to be worn on clothing, are offered to the public in return for a charitable donation. Over the course of the preceding year a team of around 50 people, the majority of them disabled and ex-Service connected – work all year round producing millions of poppies at the factory in Richmond. However, pin badge poppies are increasingly being worn, and prove to be extremely popular, with locations often selling out of the pin badges very quickly.


The idea of poppies dates back to the poem In Flanders Fields about the First World War, after which the Legion was founded. Poppies are worn until Remembrance Sunday to remember the fallen and injured of the First World War, and implicitly of all wars.


The Poppy Appeal has a higher profile than any other charity appeal in the UK, with the poppies ubiquitous from late October until mid-November every year and worn by the general public, politicians, the Royal Family, and others in public life. It has also become increasingly common to see poppies on cars, lorries and other forms of public transport, such as aeroplanes, buses and trams. Many Magazines and newspapers also display the poppy on their publications (usually on the cover page), and some Twitter users are adding poppies to their avatars as a Twibbon.


The Royal British Legion has an extensive network of Social Clubs called Legion Halls throughout the United Kingdom: sometimes these are known as United Services or Ex-Servicemens Clubs. The Royal British Legion also has branches in the Republic of Ireland, and spread around the world, mostly in mainland Europe, but also in America, and Azerbaijan amongst other world nations


In 2010 the aim of the appeal is to raise £36 Miliion ( or US $ 50 Million ).


Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) – Potter, Designer and Industrialist

Wedgewood porcelain is known worldwide for its quality and designs and was founded by Josiah Wedgewood. He was an English potter and industrialist born at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent on July 12th 1730. Josiah Wedgewood was the youngest child of the potter Thomas Wedgwood, and came from a family whose members had been potters since the 1600's. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery where he learnt the very high standards of workmanship and a keen interest in science.


He became well respected and his customers included the rich and famous, including royalty. In 1754 Wedgwood began to experiment with coloured creamware and In 1759 he set up his own pottery works in Burslem.


He established his own factory, but often worked with others who did transfer printing (introduced by the Worcester Porcelain Company in the 1750s). He also produced red stoneware; basaltes ware, an unglazed black stoneware; and jasperware, made of white stoneware clay that had been coloured by the addition of metal oxides. Jasperware was usually ornamented with white relief portraits or Greek Classical scenes. Wedgwood's greatest contribution to European ceramics, however, was his fine pearlware, an extremely pale creamware with a bluish tint to its glaze.


Wedgwood's basalt, a hard, black, stone-like material known also as Egyptian ware or basaltes ware, was used for vases, candlesticks, and realistic busts of historical figures. Jasperware, his most successful innovation, was a durable unglazed ware most characteristically blue with fine white cameo figures inspired by the ancient Roman Portland Vase. Many of the finest designs were the work of the English sculptor and artist John Flaxman.

He produced a highly durable cream-coloured earthenware that so pleased Queen Charlotte that in 1762 she appointed him royal supplier of dinnerware. From the public sale of Queen's Ware, as it came to be known, Wedgwood was able, in 1768, to build near Stoke-on-Trent a village, which he named Etruria, and a second factory equipped with tools and ovens of his own design. At first only ornamental pottery was made in Etruria, but by 1773 Wedgwood had concentrated all his production facilities at Etruria.


Wedgewood Timeline:


Baptised July 12, 1730, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, England.

After his father's death in 1739, he worked in the family business at churchyard Works, Burslem, becoming very skilful at the potter's wheel.

Became an apprentice to his elder brother Thomas.
However an attack of smallpox seriously reduced his work (the disease later affected his right leg, which was then amputated); the result of this inactivity, enabled him to read, research, and experiment in his craft as a Master Potter.

In 1749 Thomas (Josiah's elder brother) refused his proposal for partnership and Josiah formed a brief partnership with John Harrison at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Wedgwood formed a partnership with Thomas Whieldon of Fenton Low, Stoke-on-Trent, probably the leading potter of his day. This became a fruitful partnership, enabling Wedgwood to become a master of current pottery techniques. He then began what he called his "experiment book," an invaluable source on Staffordshire pottery.

After inventing the improved green glaze which is still popular even today, Wedgwood finished his partnership with Whieldon and went into business for himself at the Ivy House factory in Burslem.

On one of his frequent visits to Liverpool to arrange export of his ware, Wedgwood met the merchant Thomas Bentley.

Because the sale of his ware had spread from the British Isles to the Continent, Wedgwood expanded his business to the nearby Brick house (or Bell Works) factory.

Queen Charlotte's patronage of Wedgwood's cream-coloured earthenware in 1765, led the well finished earthenware which Wedgwood produced to be called Queens Ware. Queen's ware became, by virtue of its durable material and serviceable forms, the standard domestic pottery and enjoyed a worldwide market.

The merchant Bentley became his partner in the manufacture of decorative items that were primarily unglazed stonewares in various colours, produced and decorated in the popular style of Neoclassicism.
Chief among these wares were:
- black basaltes, which by the addition of special painting (using pigments mixed with hot wax, which are burned in as an inlay), could be used to imitate Greek red-figure vases; and
-Jasper, a fine-grained vitreous body resulting from the high firing of paste containing barium sulphate.

Wedgwood built a factory called Etruria, for the production of his ornamental vases. Later the manufacture of useful wares was also transferred. (At this site his descendants carried on the business until 1940, when the factory was relocated at Bariston, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire - the Etruria site was used as part of the 'National Garden festival' and Wedgewood's great house can still be seen as it has been incorporated into an hotel.

Evidence of the popularity of Wedgwood's creamware is found in the massive service of 952 pieces made for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

Jasper's introduction in 1775 was followed by other wares such as: - rosso antico (red porcelain), cane, drab, chocolate, and olive wares.

In 1782 Etruria was the first factory to install a steam-powered engine.


Wedgwood's invention of the pyrometer, a device for measuring high temperatures (invaluable for gauging oven heats for firings), earned him commendation as a fellow of the Royal Society.

As a result of the close association that grew up between the Wedgwood and Darwin families, Josiah's eldest daughter would later marry Erasmus' son. One of the children of that marriage, Charles Darwin, would also marry a Wedgwood — Emma, Josiah's granddaughter. This double-barreled inheritance of Wedgwood's money gave Charles Darwin the leisure time to formulate his theory of evolution.

After Wedgwood's death in Etruria on January 3rd 1795, his descendants carried on the business, which still produces many of his designs.



British Shopping History

The London livery companies could be called the first retail conglomerates in the world which originally started in London as Craft Guilds. Below is some of the history of british shops and their beginning:

Markets and Fairs
Although one might think that shops with fixed locations are a relatively recent phenomenon, a stroll down the excavated streets of Roman VINDOLANDA (89 AD) near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland shows that even then the inhabitants were served by several stores. Obviously fairs and markets were major ways that people in rural areas could get hold of a wide range of merchandise. They were obviously important to towns, many of which date their true importance to the time when they were awarded a royal charter to hold regular markets and fairs. Places that did not get a royal charter presumably stayed as villages. Around 2,000 new markets were established between 1200 and 1349. Tudor and Stuart England was served by 760 markets.

Market halls continue to exist in some quaint old towns like Thaxted, Ledbury, and Chipping Campden. In the 18th and 19th centuries, many cities and towns spent considerable sums on purpose-built market halls, partly for improve health and hygiene and partly to use retail to make the area more prosperous (sounds familiar?). One of the main streets in most ancient towns and cities is Market Street or Market Place where trading took place. Places called Butter Cross or Horse Fair provided specialist markets but may also have been locations for general purpose retail markets.

Static Shops
There is evidence of shops from the twelfth century, although only a few survive because they were probably constructed using timber. The most important locations would have been surrounding the marketplace, many of these being converted to shops. It is argued that what is known as the Jew's House, Steep Hill, Lincoln, was originally a set of shops dating from 1160. From the thirteenth century, towns were thronged with shops. Cheapside in London had around 400 shops in 1300, Canterbury had 200 in 1234 and Chester had 270 by 1300. Specialist areas for the sale of meat (Butcher's Row or in Nottingham, Fletchergate) may have had a combination of sales from barrows and stalls and from shops.

In 1209, King John licensed the building of houses and shops on London Bridge, which became regarded as a safe place to shop, although hopeless as a thoroughfare.

A fairly narrow range of items would normally be sold by the retailer, some of which might be made in the store or a nearby workshop, and others processed by the retailer. A jeweller, baker or glove maker would be of the first kind; a grocer, butcher or dairyman would buy goods in bulk, preserve them, divide the wholesale bulk into small proportions for the final consumer. They were not simply reselling items bought elsewhere.

Selds were stores, rooms or workshops used by several different retailers in the same line of business. St Martin's Seld in Soper (Shopkeeper) Lane, Cheapside, housed 21 small plots and 30 chests in 1250, specialising in gloves and leather goods.

Rows of shops and lanes of shops erected speculatively by third-parties date from the 13th century. These shops were mainly lock-ups, although 22 shops built in Church Street Tewkesbury in 1450 had accommodation and storage.

London Livery 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.

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

British Cheques – English 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.

List of Early English Shopping Mall - 1568
The New Exchange or Burs ewas a wondrous enclosed shopping mall of 30 stores aimed at the rich that opened in 1609. Exotic luxury items were imported from all over the world, noise was kept to a minimum and beggars and vagrants were excluded. The King of England was present at its formal opening, where an entertainment by the dramatist Ben Johnson was put on that emphasised the high-quality and authenticity of its merchandise compared to the trash and counterfeits sold by its competitors (Merritt, 2002). This was not the first shopping mall, but was certainly the most extravagant. The Royal Exchange shopping gallery had been built in 1568 and reopened after the fire of London in 1671. Other significant shopping galleries included Westminster Hall, the New Exchange, and the Exeter Exchange.

1568 The Royal Exchange shopping gallery was opened. 

1609 The New Exchange opened, funded by the powerful Cecil family. It justified itself by being as much an art gallery as retail provision.

1707 Mason and William Fortnum started Fortnum and Masons grocery store in Piccadilly.

1761 The Fenwick Weavers Society, a professional association aimed at improving weaving standards amongst villagers, buys a sack of oatmeal and sells the contents to its members at low cost, starting the very earliest known consumers' co-operative.   

1761 Nottingham Cheese Riot as women customers take over the cheese market forcing traders to sell at lower prices, rolling cheeses  of those who would not down the hill.

1774 Josiah Wedgwood's London retail operations are moved to Portland House, Soho, to provide extensive well-lit showrooms full of his pottery and one of the earliest documented galleries in a retail store. It included a self-selection department of Manufacturer's Seconds. Wedgwood was a major innovator in pottery manufacturing and logistics, but also in retail. But there were probably several other stores at the time that were of equal quality.

1789/91 John Lackington opens his Temple of the Muses, massive retail premises  that were the centre of Lackington's low-cost bookselling and reprinting operation, an 'experience' store where people could peruse the stock. There were also two rooms to be used for relaxation. Like several other traders at the time, this marketing genius also printed his own currency to cope with the national shortage of small change. 

1796     Birmingham Flour and Bread Company set up as a consumer Co-op on a large scale and using the best technology supported by the wealthy (such as Matthew Boulton, steam engine and 'novelty' manufacturer) and the lower classes to provide honest bread at a low price in a time of dearth. There were other bread companies set up in elsewhere in England.

1812Swan & Edgar, originally market traders, open their first store at 10 Piccadilly that becomes one of the earliest department stores.

1816Soho Bazaar, the first true bazaar, is opened by John Trotter. Counters topped with mahogany were laid throughout the store and rented on a daily basis to 200 female traders. Because of salacious rumours that retail merchandise was not the only product for sale, rules were made that dress must be severe and absolutely no feathers can be worn in the hair.

1816Sheerness Economical Co-operative Society founded by dockers as an early consumer Co-op, providing wheaten bread and flour and butcher's meat. It continued till 1970, when it joined Royal Arsenal Co-op.

1817 The first English glass-roofed arcade, the Royal Opera Arcade based on the French model, was opened.Burlington Arcade was opened in 1818.

1831Kendall Milne department store or Bazaar opened in Manchester, with free entry, price-marked goods, and fixed prices - ideas supposedly invented by Aristide Boucicaut's Bon Marche in 1852.

1841Bainbridge's of Newcastle, then trading as Albert House, had become a department store with 26 different categories after trading for ten years. In 1841 the store was run on a system of low profit margins, the abolition of price bargaining and encouraging free entry.

1844    A group of artisans establish a small profit-sharing Co-operative store in Rochdale, The Rochdale Pioneers SocietyThis was not, it should be noted, the first Co-op, but became the template for future Co-operative retail stores: open membership, member control, political and religious neutrality, limitation on the rewards for capital, profit sharing in relation to trade done with the society, cash payments only and the promotion of education.

1848   W H Smith, already a wholesale newsagent and stationers, and retail newsagent and booksellers, won the contract to run bookstalls at LNWR railway stations. They were distributing newspapers by rail and soon had bookshops at most railway stations. 

1849    Charles Henry Harrod started his tea merchant shop in Knightsbridge, later becoming the Harrodsdepartment store.

1849    John Boot started selling herbal remedies in a store in Goose Gate, Nottingham. Under his son, Jesse, this developed from 1870 into Boots Cash Chemists a multiple chain with extensive manufacturing facilities. 

1858     London Crystal Palace Bazaar, opened in Oxford Street, lit by natural light by day and gas by night, was one of the first stores to have ladies' lavatories and a separate refreshment room for ladies.Ladies' lavatories? That's not really a noteworthy innovation, you may say, and it's a bit vulgar to mention. But when you think that one-half of the population when going out shopping could normally not go to the lavatory before their return home, imagine the effect of this on how long you go shopping and how far you shop. Consider the effect on consumer footfall of knowing that needy customers would always have the London Crystal Palace Bazaar at the half-way point in every shopping expedition. Simply magic! 

1863    North of England Co-operative Agency and Depot Society founded by 300 Co-operative societies to act as a buyer and wholesaler, soon changing its name to the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

1864    John Hepworth & Son's was started in Leeds as a tailor selling gents suiting and had 107 shops by 1890. 

1864    The first ABC Tea Shop opened by the Aerated Bread Company, a pioneer of good wholesome bread based on a patented dough-making process. The ABC tea shops were much loved by George Bernard Shaw though hated by Orwell as representing industrialised catering. The ABC tea shops and ABC branches grew to a maximum of 250 in 1923.

1869    John James Sainsbury, dairyman, founded what would become the J. Sainsbury grocery and dairy chain with his first shop at 173 Drury Lane Holborn, London.

1870   Kendall's started as an umbrella shop, later moving into rainwear and clothing.

1877   Lewis's, the Liverpool retailer that used marked fixed prices and welcomed customers to walk around, starts what is to become the first English chain of department stores by opening its first store outside Liverpool in Manchester. 

1878   Hudson Kearly (later Viscount Devonport) and G A Tonge started theInternational Tea Stores to sell quality tea direct to the public. It became one of the largest general grocery chains, later a supermarket group (as International Stores), and was bought by BATs in 1972, ending up in the Dee Corporation. 

1882   Glasgow's Colliseum department store is one of the first to install electric lighting. 

1884    A Polish refugee, Michael Marks, starts trading in Leeds Market. His English is poor so 'Don't ask the price, it's a penny' makes for a lean operation and he soon takes sites in many markets in the North, trading as Marks Penny Bazaar. His first shop, opened in 1894 with help from Thos Spencer, became the Marks & Spencer chain

1884     Lewis Tomalin opens the first Jaeger store, based on the principles of Prof Gustav, who advocated wearing natural clothing made from animal hair. 

1888      Bon Marche in Brixton installs first overhead cash railway as being more secure than cash registers.

1886     First NCR Cash Registers installed in the UK to meet the vagaries of the currency system involving pounds, shillings and pence. 

1898      Harrods installs first escalator in the UK (in this case, a moving belt). Staff  were on hand with smelling salts in case escalator travellers became anxious when they arrived at the top.  

1903     Montague Burton, a Lithuanian refugee who had once spent a happy day in Burton-on-Trent, opens his first tailoring store in Chesterfield, which later becomes the largest men's clothing retailer in the world.    1909    F W Woolworth opens his first UK Woolworth's store in Liverpool, with the slogan 'Nothing over 6d'.
1909     E Gordon Selfridge opens Selfridge's department store on American lines. He claimed to have introduced individual pricing on goods, open access (you didn't need to buy something), lavatories, and relaxation areas, but most were not novel. The way he put it together was novel. 

1919    Jack Cohen started selling surplus groceries at markets in the East End. In 1924 the company gets its name Tesco, as a own-brand tea, and the first shop is opened in 1929 in Edgeware. 'Tesco' is 'T E Stephenson and Cohen'. Stephenson was the tea buyer.

1929    Lipton Tea Company (retail) merges with Home and Colonial, the child of the margarine trust wars,  to form a multiple grocery group with more than 3,000 stores. It traded as Home & Colonial till 1961, when it became Allied Stores, owned by  Unilever. 

1942    London Co-operative Society (LCS), because of war-time staff shortages, sets up the first UK self-service store in Romford (176 sq feet) using reused cannibalised shop equipment. In 1948 LCS opened the first full self-service store in Upton Park, properly equipped and all merchandise sold by self service.

1950     Gateway Stores formed as the renamed J H Mills group of 12 family grocers. 

1951    First UK supermarket (2,250 sq feet) with three checkout lanes opened by Express Dairies in Streatham Hill. Note that several London Coop self-service food stores were just as large but were not run on true supermarket lines. 

1958      Green Shield Stamps launched by Richard Tompkins on American lines. In 1963 they was taken up by Tesco, for whom it was a major traffic builder. Green Shield suspended operations in 1983 and finally discontinued stamps in 1991.

1961      Morrisons which had started in 1899 as an egg and butter merchant in Bradford market, opened its first supermarket in Bradford in a 5,000 sq ft converted cinema with free parking. 

1963      Richard Block and David Quayle set up their first B&Q hardware store in a disused cinema in Portsmouth. B&Q Stores was acquired by Woolworths in 1982 as the best of the up-and-coming chains. 

1964    GEM opens the first UK superstore in Nottingham's sleepy suburb of West Bridgford. It was bought by a group of farmers trading as Associated Dairies in 1966, which, as ASDA, rolled out the concept more successfully than GEM had been able to.  

1964    The first purpose-built indoor city shopping centre, The Bullring Centre, was opened in Birmingham costing £8 million. In 1964 it is a mix of outdoor market, indoor market (1250 stalls), an indoor centre with 140 stores (350,000 sq feet) and covered 23 acres.  

1964     Designer Terence Conran opens his first Habitat store in Chelsea offering colourful well-designed products that encapsulated the potential of an exciting new non-dreary lifestyle.

1964    Barbara Hulaniski starts Biba as a mail order company. It opens its own store (and later she creates Bibaas London's first new department store since the war) mixing an extravagant combination of art nouveau and art deco styles with a rich colour palette. Couture for the masses, much loved by celebrities and evocative of that period.

1966     Barclaycard, the first UK credit card, introduced by Barclays Bank, but it takes time before it is accepted by most retailers.

1971    Bretton Centre, the first out of town shopping complex with sales area of 54,000 sq feet, was opened near Peterborough. 
1973    Richard Tompkins changes Green Shield Stamps catalogue stores (where you redeem your stamps for products) to Argos, the catalogue retailer.  
1976    First IBM 3653 computerised cash registers introduced with machine reading via a hand-held device at House of Fraser.

1979    Burton's, owner of Peter Robinson, Topshop, and Evans, buys Dorothy Perkins. It later sets up Principles,but spins off some parts of the company, becomes Arcadia and in 2002 is bought by Phillip Green. 

1980     Five independent chemists and six small newsagents start using PCs (then called Micro-Computers or [wrongly] Microprocessors) to link their tills and run back office systems for inventory, customers, accounts and label printing. 

1980      Credit cards accepted by most supermarket operators without a commission fee being payable by the customers. 

1981     Key Markets unveils first UK flatbed laser-scanning grocery store.

1981     Hepworths buys Kendalls, opens the first Next store in 1982 and renames the company NEXT (in 1986).

1981     Tie Rack was opened by Roy Bishko on Oxford Street. It was one of several 'edited retailing' formats developed in that period.

1982      First planned retail park built in Aylesbury .

1983       The Dee Corporation  brings together 70 Frank Dee stores, 100 Gateway Stores and goes on to buy Key Markets, International Stores, Lennons, Fine Fare, and Carrefour Hypermarkets (UK). It changed its name back to Gateway in 1988 and opened the first Somerfield in 1990. It was mad enough to buy Kwik-Save in 1998 and was taken over by The Co-operative  in 2009.   

1986      The Metro Centre, Europe's largest shopping centre, opened in Gateshead. It now has 342 shops and covers 1.8 million sq feet.

1989     The first Aldi  hard-discount store opens in the UK. At the time this was seen as the company that would kill off British grocery retailers and their inefficient ways. 

1990      Dave Dodd and Stephen Smith open the first Poundland  store in Burton-on-Trent, the first one selling everything for £1 or less, becoming a £510 mn company after 20 years with 300+ stores. Other fixed-price stores have set up subsequently.

1993     Membership discount operator Costco opens in the UK, taking advantage of legislation that allows it to be controlled as a wholesaler rather than a retailer. This was another import that was going to smash UK retailing. I bought shares in Tesco.

1997      Amazon buys bookpages.co.uk, an online bookseller and launches Amazon UK in 1998. It soon became the largest UK bookseller.

1998       Boo.com is set up as one of the most technically advanced dot.com retailers, selling fashion. It managed to spend £125 mn ($188 mn) in a few months. The technology never worked properly and was too slow (in the pre-broadband era), administration was weak, there was a high rate of returns. It soon went famously bust.

1999      eBay  launches in the UK, four years after it was started in the US. ebay.co.uk has 14 million users with more than 10 million items for sale at any one time. 

2000     The dot.com collapse, the unwinding of heavy investment by institutions in a range of geeky companies big on promises and small on performance, happened quickly in January as investors realised that the valuations of dot.com retailers were excessive and spending on IT would fall once the millennium IT problems were over. 
2005      Online retailing or ecommerce takes off in the UK as businesses and consumers get broadband, online market share in 2005 rises to 4% and yearly online growth is 25%+, specialist online retailers develop and classic retailers vamp up their websites to become multichannel.


Portobello Road Market,

London IconI 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.

Smithfield Market – London Icon

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

Meat has been bought and sold at Smithfield for over 800 years, making it one of the oldest markets in London. A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century.Smithfield (also known as West Smithfield) is an area of the City of London in the ward of Farringdon Without. It is located in the north-west part of the City of London, and is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market, today the last surviving historical wholesale market in Central London. Smithfield has a bloody history of executions of heretics and political opponents, including major historical figures including the leader of the Peasant's Revolt Wat Tyler and a long series of religious reformers and dissenters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History 

The Whitefriars Glass company is one of the oldest glass companies in Britain from the 17th Century to the present day and is famous for its uniquely shaped glass. As a long established British glass designer and maker I thought readers may be interested in it's history.

The firm of James Powell and Sons, also known as Whitefriars Glass, were English glass-makers, lead lighters and stained glass window manufacturers. As Whitefriars Glass, the company existed from the 17th century, but became well known as a result of the 19th century Gothic Revival and the demand for stained glass windows.

In 1834 James Powell (1774-1840), a London wine merchant and entrepreneur, purchased the Whitefriars Glass Company, a small glass works off Fleet Street in London, believed to have been established in 1680. Powell and his sons were newcomers to glass making, but soon acquired the necessary expertise. They experimented and developed new techniques, devoting a large part of their production to the creating of church stained glass windows. The firm acquired a large number of patents for their new ideas and became world leaders in their field, business being boosted by the building of hundreds of new churches during the Victorian era. While Powell's manufactured stained glass windows, they also provided glass to other stained glass firms.

A major product of the factory was decorative quarry glass which was mass-produced by moulding and printing, rather than hand-cutting and painting. This product could be used in church windows as a cheap substitute for stained glass. It was often installed in new churches, to be later replaced by pictorial windows. Most of this quarry glass was clear, printed in black and detailed in bright yellow silver stain. Occasionally the quarries were produced in red, blue or pink glass, but these are rare. Surprisingly few entire windows of Powell quarries are to be seen in English churches, although they survive in little-seen locations such as vestries, ringing chambers and behind pipe organs. St Philip's Church, Sydney, retains a full set of Powell quarry windows. Powell also produced many windows in which pictorial mandorlas or roundels are set against a background of quarries. See picture right

During the latter part of the 1800s the firm formed a close association with leading architects and designers such as T. G. Jackson Edward Burne Jones, William De Morgan and James Doyle. Whitefriars produced the glass that Phillip Webb used in his designs for William Morris. The firm’s production diversified in the 1850s to include domestic table glass after supplying the glassware for William Morris's Red House.

In 1875 Harry James Powell, grandson of the founder and an Oxford graduate in chemistry, joined the business. His training, which led to more scientific production and innovations such as previously unattainable colours and heat-resistant glass, for applications in science and industry, like X-Ray tubes and light bulbs.

New production lines such as opalescent glass proved to be extremely successful. The firm took part in major exhibitions around the world. Designs were copied from historical Venetian and Roman glass found in European museums and art galleries. Harry Powell, an admirer of Ruskin delivered numerous lectures on glass manufacture.

The firm's name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919 and the growth in business demanded new premises. In 1923 the new factory was opened in Wealdstone despite a flourishing business, the great expense of the new factory scuttled plans to construct a village to house the workers in a style fashionable during the Arts and Crafts Movement. The furnaces were lit at the new factory using the flame from a furnace at the old works, which had been carefully carried across London in a brazier. The company also had showrooms on Wigmore Street, and this attracted customers for both domestic and window glass.

In the years between World War 1 and World War 11 business and the financial situation were much improved. Glassware trended to the colourful and heavy, and optic moulding and wheel engraving played a major part in bringing the Art Deco style to the middle and upper classes.

In the 1930s the firm started production of Milefiori paperweights, characterised by shallow domes and wide bases. This period of prosperity was ended with the onset of World War 11. Glass manufacture was restricted to that aiding the war effort. Cessation of hostilities found the company in a desperate struggle for survival, aggravated by the loss of key personnel who had enlisted and not returned.

The Festival of Britain of 1951 led to a much-needed financial infusion for the economy. Whitefriars was selected as an outstanding example of modern British industry. The following years saw austere and functional Scandinavian design sweeping Europe, and dominating stock purchases by major outlets such as Selfridge's and Fortran's & Mason.

The arrival of glass bricks which were cheap, thick slabs of coloured glass set in concrete bricks, dispensed with the need for expensive stained glass in new churches.

One of the many well-known glass designers who worked at Whitefriars was Geoffrey Baxter. He joined the factory in 1954 after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Baxter had a great influence on Whitefriars table and domestic glass designs. In the 1960s, he began to experiment with a new moulded glass. This led to the introduction of the Textured range in 1967. The pieces were made in moulds using tree bark, nails, wire and other materials to produce alternative textures to the glass.

In 1962 the company name was changed back to Whitefriars Glass Ltd. and specialised in freeform domestic glass ware until its purchase in 1981 by Caithness Glass.

British Comic Publications and Their History


Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's in England one of my favourite things was buying and reading comics. My favourite comic's were ones with War Stories,Horror stories or Science fiction stories.


In the 19th century, story papers (containing illustrated text stories), known as “Penny Dreadfuls”due to their cover price, served as entertainment for British children. Full of close-printed text with few illustrations, they were essentially no different to a book, except that they were somewhat shorter and that typically the story was serialised over many weekly issues in order to maintain sales.

These serial stories could run to hundreds of instalments if they were popular. And to pad out a successful series, writers would insert quite extraneous material such as the geography of the country in which the action was occurring, just so that the story would extend into more issues. Plagiarism was rife, with magazines pirating competitors' successes under a few cosmetic name changes.

Apart from action and historical stories, there was also a fashion for horror and the supernatural, with epics like Varney The Vampire running for years. Horror, in particular, gave rise to the epithet penny dreadful. Stories featuring criminals such as 'Spring-Heeled Jack', pirates, highwaymen (especially Dick Turpin), and detectives (including Sexton Blake) dominated decades of the Victorian and early 20th-century weeklies.

Comic strips - stories told primarily in strip cartoon form, rather than as a written narrative with illustrations - emerged only slowly. Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (1884) is reputed to be the first comic strip magazine to feature a recurring character, and the first British comic that would be recognised as such today. This strip cost one penny and was designed for adults. Ally, the recurring character, was a working class fellow who got up to various forms of mischief and often suffered for it.

In 1890 two more comic magazines debuted before the British public, Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips, both published by Amalgamated Press. These magazines notoriously reprinted British and American material, previously published in newspapers and magazines, without permission. The success of these comics was such that Amalgamated's owner, Alfred Harmsworth, was able to launch The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror newspapers on the profits.

Over the next thirty years or so, comic publishers saw the juvenile market as the most profitable, and thus geared their publications accordingly, so that by 1914 most comics were aimed at eight to twelve year olds.

The period between the two wars is notable mainly for the publication of annuals by Amalgamated Press, and also the emergence of DC Thomson launching both the Beano and the Dandy in the late 1930s, as previously noted.

During the Second World War the Beano and Dandy thrived, due to the wartime paper shortage which forced many rival comics to close. It is these two titles, more than any other, that have come to define a comic in the British public's mind. Their successful mix of irreverence and slapstick led to many similar titles, notably Topper and Beezer. However the originators of this format have outlasted all rivals, and are still published today.

During the 1950s and 1960s the most popular comic magazine for older age-group boys was the Eagle published by Hulton Press. The Eagle was published in a more expensive format, and was a gravure-printed weekly. This format was one used originally by Mickey Mouse Weekly during the 1930s. The Eagle's success saw a number of comics launched in a similar format, TV Century 21, Look and Learn and TV Comic being notable examples. Comics published in this format were known in the trade as "slicks". At the end of the 1960s these comics moved away from gravure Printing, preferring offset litho due to cost considerations arising from decreasing readership.

By 1970 the British comics market was in a long term decline, as comics lost popularity in the face of the rise of other popular pastimes for children. Initially the challenge was the rising popularity of television, a trend which the introduction of colour television to Britain during 1969 set in stone. In an effort to counter the trend, many publishers switched the focus of their comics towards television-related characters. The television shows of Gerry Anderson had begun this in 1966 with the launch of tie-in comics such as TV21 and Lady Penelope that included only strips related to Anderson's TV shows. Polystyle Publications already published a TV-related comic for young children called TV Comic, and in 1971 moved into the older market with Countdown (later retitled TV Action).

The teenage market saw Look-In magazine feature strips solely based on popular television programmes. Another strand of the reaction to television was the launch of comics focused entirely on football (soccer being as popular as television amongst boys), with titles such as Shoot and Scorcher and Score. Those comics which didn't address the issue of television began to close, merging with the few survivors.

However, the boys adventure comic was still popular, and titles such as Valiant and Tiger

Published by IPC saw new adventure heroes become stars, including Roy of the Rovers who would eventually gain his own title. Oldham Press was a company which mainly printed new material that was adventure oriented.

In the 1970s very few boys' comics in the "slick" format were launched, although Countdown was one exception, launching in 1971 with content similar to TV 21 (which had closed by then) and TV Comic. Vulcan, a reprint title, was another, in 1976. Girls' titles which had launched in the "slick" format in the 1960s continued in that format into the 1970s; and others, such as Diana and Judy, changed to become slicks. They found themselves in the same market as teenage titles for girls such as Boyfriend and Blue Jeans, which had changed their content and were featuring mainly product-related articles and photo-strips.

Viz began life in 1979 as a fanzine style publication, before, in 1989, becoming the biggest selling magazine in the country. Based upon bad taste, crude language, crude sexual innuendo, and the parodying of strips from the dandy (among them Black bag – the Faithful Border Bin Liner, a parody of The Dandy's Black Bob series about a Border Collie), the popularity of Viz depended entirely upon a variant of Sixties counter-culture; it is still one of the United Kingdom's top selling magazines.

The Star Wars magazine lasted into the late 1980s, although it changed its name in line with each movie release. In 1982 The Eagle was relaunched, this time including photo-strips, but still with Dan Dare as the lead story. The comic moved him from the front page to the centre pages to allow a more magazine-style cover.

In the 21st Century there have also been changes in the comics market with a growth in home-grown Graphic Novels and Manga.

There have been hundreds of comics in the UK, including the following A to Z:

  • 2000 AD (1977–current)
  • Action (1976–1977)
  • Adventure (1921–1961)
  • Air Ace Picture Library (1960–1970)
  • Andy Capp (1957–current)
  • Battle Picture Weekly (1975–1988)
  • The Beano (1938–current)
  • BeanoMAX (2007–current)
  • Bear
  • The Beezer (1956–1993)
  • Bella
  • The Big One (1964–1965)
  • Birthrite (1989–1990)
  • The Boy's Own Paper (1879–1967)
  • Boys' World (1963–1964)
  • Bullet (1976–1978)
  • Bunty (1958–2001)
  • Buster (1960–2000)
  • Buster Classics (1996)
  • Buzz (1973–1975)
  • BVC (1995)
  • The Champion
  • The Chatterbox
  • Cheeky (1977–1980)
  • Classics from the Comics (1996–current)
  • Cometman (1951–1956)
  • Comic Cuts (1890–1953)
  • Commando Comics (1961–current)
  • Cor!! (1970–1974)
  • Countdown (1971–1972)
  • Cracker (1975–1976)
  • Crisis (1988–1991)
  • The Dandy (1937–current)
  • Deadline magazine (1988–1995)
  • The DFC (2008–2009)
  • Dice Man (1986)
  • The Eagle (1950–1969) and (1982–1994)
  • Fantastic (1967–1968)
  • Film Fun (1920–1962)
  • Funny (1989-early 1990s)
  • Fun Size Beano (1997–current)
  • Fun Size Dandy (1997–current)
  • The Gem (1907–1939)
  • Girl (1951–1964) and (1981–1990)
  • Giggle (1967–1968)
  • Heven & Hell (1990)
  • Hoot (1985–1986)
  • Hornet (1963–1976)
  • Hotspur (1933–1981)
  • Illustrated Chips (1890–1953)
  • Jackpot (1979–1982)
  • Jack and Jill (1885–1887) and (1954–1985)
  • Jackie (1964–1993)
  • Jet (1971)
  • Jinty (1974–1981)
  • The Judge Dredd Megazine (1990–current)
  • Judy
  • Knockout (1939–1963) and (1971–1973)
  • Krazy (1976–1978)
  • Linzy & Charcol (2006)
  • Lion (1952–1974)
  • Look and Learn (1962–1982)
  • The Magic Comic (1939–1941)
  • The Magnet (1908–1940)
  • Mandy (1967–1991)
  • Mickey Mouse Weekly (1936–1955)
  • Mirabelle (1956–1977)
  • Misty (1978–1980)
  • Monster Fun (1975–1976)
  • Night Warrior (2005–current)
  • Nikki (1985–1988)
  • Nipper (1987)
  • Nutty (1980–1985)
  • Oink! (1986–1988)
  • Picture Politics (1894–1914)
  • Picture Fun (1909–1920)
  • Pippin (1966–1986)
  • Plug (1977–1979)
  • Poot! (2009–current, 1980s–1990s)
  • Pow! (1967–1968)
  • Prehistoric Peeps (1890s)
  • Puck (1904–1940)
  • Radio Fun (1938–1961)
  • Rainbow (1914–1956)
  • Revolver (1990–1991)
  • Robin (1953–1969)
  • Romeo (1957–1974)
  • Roy of the Rovers (1976–1993)
  • Sandie (1972–1973)
  • School Fun (1983–1984)
  • Scream! (1984)
  • Sgt. Mike Battle (2001–current)
  • Shiver and Shake (1973–1974)
  • Smash! (1966–1971)
  • Smut (1989–current)
  • Sonic the Comic (1993–2002)
  • Sparky (1965–1977)
  • Speed (1980 when merged into Tiger)
  • Spellbound (1976–1978)
  • Spookhouse (1990)
  • Starlord (1978)
  • Star Wars (Weekly) (1978–1986)
  • The Swift (1954–1963)
  • Tammy
  • Tank Girl
  • Terrific (1967–1968)
  • Thunder (1970–1971) and (to 1974 with Lion)
  • Tiger (1954–1985 when merged into The Eagle)
  • Tiger Tim's Weekly (1920–1940)
  • Tina (1967)
  • The Topper (1953–1990) and (to 1993 with Beezer)
  • Tornado (1978–1979)
  • Toxic! (1991)
  • Trixton (2005–2007)
  • Tube Productions (2005–Present)
  • TV Action (1972–1973)
  • TV Century 21 (1965–1971)
  • TV Comic (1951–1984)
  • Twinkle (1968–1999)
  • Valentine (1957–1974)
  • Valiant (1962–1976)
  • Victor (1961–1992)
  • Viz (1979–current)
  • Vulcan (1975 to 1976)
  • War Picture Library (1958–1984)
  • Warlord (1974–1986)
  • Wham! (1964–1968)
  • Whizzer and Chips (1969–1990)
  • Whoopee! (1974–1985)
  • Wonder (1942–1953)
  • Wow! (1982–1983)
  • Zit (1991–2002)


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.

Date and Event


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.

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.

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.

York England one of the Most Haunted City in the World

As a fan of ghost stories and the supernatural I thought I would write about some of the more well known ghost stories from the city of York, England. York is famous for its Roman Heritage and is famous for its cathedral. York - with its history of conflict and many tragic events - boasts more than its fair share of ghoulies, ghosties and things that go bump in the night. In fact, in 2002 the International Ghost Research Foundation declared York to be ‘Europe's most haunted city', and sometimes it seems as though a ghostly figure with a score to settle is in residence is just about every street or ginnel in town. Here are just a few...

The Ghostly Roman Legionnaires
One morning in 1953 apprentice plumber Harry Martindale was installing a new central heating system in the cellars of the Treasurer's House in the shadow of the Minster. Suddenly he heard the distant sound of a horn, which became gradually louder. Then a great carthorse emerged through the brick wall, ridden by a dishevelled Roman soldier. He was followed by several more soldiers, dressed in green tunics and plumed helmets. It looked as though they were walking on their knees - their lower legs and feet were nowhere to be seen. Then the ghostly crew moved into a recently excavated area, and it became clear that they were walking on an old Roman road, the Via Decumana, which had been buried 15 inches below the surface. 

When a bewildered Harry scrambled upstairs to safety, the Treasurer's House curator reportedly said to him, "You've seen the Roman soldiers, haven't you?" It seems the ghoulish visitors had been spotted on several previous occasions. Working in the cellar of the building,

The building also claims to be home to several other ghosts, including a dog, a black cat, George Aislaby (killed in a duel), and Frank Green, who converted the interior into what it is today. The Tapestry Room has an oppressive atmosphere, and is where the wife of a former owner murdered him after he conducted one extra-marital affair too many.

The Haunting by Mad Alice
Lund's Court (linking Swine gate and Low Peter gate) was formerly known as Mad Alice Lane, in honour of Alice Smith who lived in the lane until 1825, the year she was hanged at York Castle for the perceived crime of insanity and apparently only guilty of being 'mad', Alice drifts along the lane that now holds her name.

The Theatrical Grey Lady Ghost
A theatrical ghost, the Grey Lady haunts a room behind the dress circle of the Georgian Theatre Royal. In medieval times, as the story goes, this was part of the old Hospital of St Leonard, which was run by an order of nuns. One young nun fell in love with a nobleman and the pair became lovers, but when her scandalous behaviour became known she was thrown into a windowless room - now part of the theatre - which was bricked up to become her living tomb. A gruesome tale, but apparently if the nun in her grey habit is spotted in the dress circle it's a good omen for that night's production!

The Ghostly Funeral Guest
Once known as the most beautiful of York's many ghosts, this long-haired, elegant apparition has frequently appeared at All Saints Church, Pavement, one of the city's most striking churches, and is in the habit of welcoming funeral processions at the door. Perhaps, a turbulent spirit who was herself denied a Christian burial?

The Unhappy Ghostly Brothers
St William's College, the beautiful medieval building behind York Minster, which is today a much sought-after conference venue and popular eatery, harbours a ghost with a very guilty conscience. Apparently in 16th century York, two brothers were lodging at the College and, desperate for money, hatched a plan to rob a wealthy priest from the Minster. They mugged him, stole his jewellery and purse - and slit his throat. The younger brother was overcome with remorse, and the older sibling feared he would give the game away. He reported his brother to the authorities, and stood by while he was tried and hanged for murder. The elder brother died soon after, racked with guilt. But his unhappy spirit paces the floors of St William's College to this day.

The Ghostly Tudor Lady
Could the finely dressed Tudor lady who walks through walls at the King's Manor be the ghost of Queen Catherine Howard, who was King Henry VIII's guest here in 1541? The lady carries roses in her hands, and the part of the building where she has been spied was once the Rose Garden. Catherine, the fourth of Henry's six wives, was executed shortly after her stay, and possibly the fact that she entertained her lover Thomas Culpeper in the Manor didn't help her chances of a long and happy marriage to the fickle Henry.

The Headless Earl Percy and his Hauntings
Thomas Percy, the Seventh Earl of Northumberland, has been seen decapitated in the churchyard, searching for his severed head. He lost it after upsetting Elizabeth I by attempting to raise an army to fight her, and she vented her anger thus.

A ghostly nun has also been reported on the site. Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was executed for treason in York: as a staunch Catholic. He was beheaded in 1572, and his head stuck on a large spike on Mick legate Bar as a warning to anyone else with similar ideas. There it remained for many years until eventually recovered and buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity church in Goodhearted. The body of the Earl has been seen on many a night staggering between the graves, searching for his mislaid head.

The Ghostly Young Girl

Location: York - 41 Stone gate
A six year old Victorian girl who fell to her death on the staircase now haunts this building. She can be heard walking the stairs, and has also been seen sitting on top of a shop counter.

The Haunting Crying Girl

Location: York - 5 College Street
Both seen and heard, this ghostly child starved to death after her parents died from plague. She only appears to haunt the upper parts of the house.

The Ghostly Glowing Girl

Location: York - All Saint's Church, Pathment
This pale young lass with long curly hair was seen a number of times, always observing funerals from the church door. She vanished suddenly if anyone approached.

The Ghostly Baker and Soldiers

Location: York - Former toy shop just inside Roman Gate
Late at night one female witness approached the toy shop window to look at a teddy bear. At the window she entered a dream-like state - she 'became' a large male baker covered in flour working within the shop, and looking out from the shop she could see Roman soldiers walking past.

The Haunting Funeral

An on-duty policeman passing the church late at night heard funeral music playing within the church. As he approached to investigate, the doors of the building opened and the sound of people leaving could be heard, but nothing could be seen. The church was said to have a more frequent phantom visitor - a tall man who would stare out of the windows in the early hours of the morning.

The Ghostly Drunken Airman

Location: York - The Golden Fleece public house, Pavement Street
Towards the end of World War 2, a drunken Canadian pilot fell from an upstairs window in the building, and broke his neck on the pavement below. Since then, this ghost has reportedly haunted the bedroom from which he fell.
The Haunting Screams

Location: York - The Olde Starr Inn, Stone gate
Another building used to house injured Civil War troops, the basement is said to be the place where amputations occurred, which explains the sound of cries and screams. Two black cats are also reported to haunt the pub, and an old woman has been seen on the stairs.

City of Bath, England – History and Ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            The man in the black hat

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

            Freezing Hill

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

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

            The Royal Crescent

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

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

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

The Theatre Royal the Garrick's Head pub

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

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

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

            Popjoy's Restaurant

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

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

            The Beehive Public House

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

            Crystal Palace Tavern

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

            Julia, of Queens Square

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

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

The Ghostly Hauntings of the City of Chester


As a fan of ghost stories and the supernatural I thought I would write about some of the more well known ghost stories from the city of Chester, England. There are stories of the George and Dungeon Pub in Chester being haunted by the spirits of Roman soldiers. A French restaurant occupying the Old Fire Station is also haunted by the spirit of an old fireman and many visitors claim to have seen it. Below is a list of other Hauntings:


St John's Church

The site of a haunting by a ghostly monk. This spectre only started appearing following the partial collapse of the great tower in 1881. He has been heard praying, and appears so real, it was only realised that he was not a real monk when he vanished into thin air in front of startled witnesses. A monk, quite possibly the same one, goes to and from the church by the old passage that runs by the side of the west tower and down to the river. This ghost has also been described as following another route, up from the river bank, through the railings of the present Hermitage, and along a secret underground passage that connects the Anchorite Cell with the church. It has also been described as crossing the bowling green to the Anchorite Cell.

The East Glory - Northgate Street.

In 1642 the English Civil war started between the forces loyal to King Charles and Parliament. At that time Chester was a very important sea port and was a royalist city.

In 1645 the army of Parliament attacked the city to take the sea port facilities away from the King.

Many soldiers were in Chester to defend the city and houses were used to billet the officers. One such officer was billeted at the Blue Bell and had fallen in love with the owner’s daughter. One day he left the house to take up his post on the city walls but never returned; he was killed during an attack... His loved one could not face life without him so she killed herself in the cellar of the East Glory. To this day her ghost walks from the cellar to the upstairs window where she used to look for his return

The Boot Inn - Eastgate Street

Built in 1643 the landlord practised as a barber surgeon and his wife as a “madam”, with her troupe of “ladies of the night”. Sometimes, at night, when all is quiet, the faint sounds of laughter and the subdued hubbub of conversation in empty rooms can be heard. From time to time even the front door is found to be locked

The Falcon Inn - Bridge Street.

Built in the 17th century as the town house of the Baronet of Grosvenor, it was later sold to a gentleman. This new owner employed an angry maidservant who soon found herself dismissed and thrown out of the house. Homeless on the streets of Chester she died. Her ghost has now returned to the place of employment and haunts the house which was converted to an inn only a few years ago.

A building has stood on this site for at least 700 years, the Falcon is a traditional “Chester building” with a black & white timbered frontage inside the original 13th century stone piers which once formed the front of the building can still be seen.

The building was the home to the Grosvenor family during the time of the Civil War, during this time they had a maid called Molly. It is alleged that she was dismissed and thrown out of the house during a bad snow storm, she had no where to go and was found dead the next morning in the snow.

Staff at The Falcon say that they can feel a presence but that it is a nice feeling and quite often find themselves talking to it. Things quite often move or go missing. Staff quite often say that they feel someone touching them on their shoulders.

There has only been one sighting in recent years but there is also a photograph a member of staff took at a wedding reception held in the pub, the figure of a lady appears at the back of the photograph whom nobody recognises.

The Old Kings Head - Bridge Street

Built in 1622 for a gentleman by the name of Randal Holume the house was sold on and became the present inn.

The story is of a lovely maiden who lived in the house. Her bedroom is now room 4 of the inn. Two young men had fallen in love with this beautiful sylph but knew that only one could have her. A dual was arranged, the one who survived would take the hand of this fair maiden. Alas, both were killed and today any young maiden asleep in room 4 is awakened by the presence of two slender handsome young ghosts.

The Marlbororough Arms - St John Street

Black and white timbered building with a strange name. About 100 years ago, the licensee became very depressed about his worsening financial situation and an unsympathetic wife. He took himself down to the cellar and cut his own throat. Strange footsteps are heard in the upper floors and there are reports of his ghost walking the cellar.

A painter and sign writer is said to have seen the ghost prior to completing the sign outside. In such a state of shock he completed the sign but had not noticed that he had already completed the first “OR” in Marlborough.

The Bear and Billet - Lower Bridge Street.

Once the town house of the Earl of Shrewsbury who was the tax collector of the south gate during the 17th century. Now the house is an inn and is haunted by a ghost of a maid who worked in the house when owned by the Earl. The earl’s bailiff, who was a mean and deceitful man decided that she did work as hard as he felt she should. In spite, he locked the girl in the upstairs room thinking he would leave her there for a day without food and water.

By an urgent summons ,from the Earl, he was called away to Shrewsbury which was a distance of 40 miles. Away for many days he forgot all about the young maid who died alone in the room. At night sobs are heard from the room she was locked and died in.

This seems to be one of the most haunted of all of the places. Strange occurrences happen on almost a daily basis, the gas in the cellar is often turned off and barrels move. The kitchen is upstairs and figures are seen moving past the doorway but nobody is there when staff check.

There also seems to be a lot of activity in the managers flat where windows open by themselves and strange messages are left on the answer machine.

The Golden Eagle - Castle Street

Chester was the Roman fortress of Deva built in 79 AD and was the largest of the three military fortresses in Britain. The Golden Eagle is on the direct line the Romans would have marched from the fortress to the River Dee.

Reports that staff and visitors have seen a patrol of Roman soldiers marching through the cellar wall, across the cellar, and out through the other wall.

The Liverool Arms - Northgate Street.

Site of the old Chester prison known as the dungeon of little ease. Prisoners were kept in the dungeon, which could only hold two people , waiting execution. Many have heard the moans of those who were kept in the dungeon of little ease. Some, however, were lucky and were deported to Australia.

George & Dragon – Liverpool Road

The Romans buried their dead outside of the City walls and the site of the George and Dragon today stands on one of these burial sites.

This building has many stories associated with it and has previously been investigated by a number of paranormal groups.

Although there have been no sightings footsteps are frequently heard marching through the pub. Orbs have been captured on camera in the cellar area and this and one guestroom in particular seem to have the most activity.

Former Brannigans Nightclub – Foregate Street

Built in the 1920/30’s this used to be, until recently (early 1990’s), a cinema. Although downstairs has been converted the upper level remains almost untouched.

Figures of two ghosts here, the first is that of a little girl who is seen on the ground floor level occasionally by the cleaner in a morning.

The second is the figure of a man seen in the projection room, upstairs. The story surrounding this ghost is that the man was a projectionist, he found out that his wife was having an affair and committed suicide.

Thornton’s – Foregate Street

This was, at one time, thought to be Chester’s most haunted building although in recent years there has not been much activity.

The building is said to be haunted by 3 spirits one of which is said to be a man in an apron and one the spirit of a girl called Sarah.

Sarah has never been seen but is thought to be responsible for activity in the building. There was a lot of activity up until 1965 when the building was exorcised. Her story is that she was jilted by her lover and could not bear life without him so went into the cellar and hung herself.

It seems that the thought of love upsets Sarah as when the shop is filled with heart shaped boxes for Valentines day these boxes are often found on the floor. A few years ago one of our City Guides was leading a Ghost Tour around the City, he was stood with his back to the window of Thornton’s telling the story of Sarah, the group were enthralled and said what fantastic special effects we had on our ghost tour, when he turned around boxes of chocolates were lying on the floor, they had been ‘flung’ off the shelf.

14 Dee Hills Park, Chester Haunting.

Ghostly monk wakes sleepers in large Victorian gothic mansion overlooking the River Dee.

40 Bridge Street, ChesterGhost.

Active ghost nicknamed 'George' in cellar area, reported by staff in travel agency; formerly a wine merchant's shop.

Bear and Billet, Lower Bridge Street, Chester Ghost.

Kindly old lady often greets men on the stairs with a smile.Bingo Hall, Brook Street, ChesterGhost. 'Old George' widely held to haunt the premises. Unexplained thumps and crashes in the attic; figure in tweed jacket regularly seen on balcony but vanishes when challenged.

Boot Inn, Eastgate Row North, Chester Haunting.

Once Chester's most notorious brothel, present pub still occasionally rings with female moans and laughter.

Boughton Heath (several streets), Chester Haunting.

Running man crosses roads in front of speeding cars only to vanish on far side.Bridge of Sighs,

Northgate Street, Chester Haunting.

Condemned criminals once led across 'Bridge of Sighs' from Northgate gaol to last rites in Bluecoat chapel; their sighs are sometimes heard today.

Brown Heath, Christleton, near Chester Haunting.

Two ghostly figures in Civil War dress with buff greatcoats and broad-brimmed hats occasionally seen at the Brown Heath crossroads.

Castle Street, Chester Poltergeist.

Electrician working in Georgian house spooked by objects being moved, and by owner's apparently calm acceptance of supernatural events.

Cestrian pub, City Road, Chester Haunting.

Loud thumping heard on upstairs floor whenever a previous landlord was angry; emphatically not his wife!

Chester Cathedra Devil's Mark

Record of 1906 tells of flagstone in cloisters bearing 'devil's footprint; when replaced, mark reappears next morning.

Coach and Horses, Northgate Street, Chester Ghost.

Modern ghost of a sad old man orders pint, books room, then vanishes; his reasons later become alarmingly clear.

Curzon Park, Chester Haunting.

Sobbing woman in Elizabethan dress seen beneath a large tree with a hanged man swinging from its branches.

Dee House, Dee Banks, Chester Ghost.

Apparition of old woman sometimes seen prowling top floor of this old telephone exchange and onetime convent.Deva Psychiatric Hospital (now disused)Hauntings. Staff tell of dark forms seen on the wards and strange footsteps.

Deva Pub, Watergate Rows North, Chester Haunting.

Horrific scene of a Victorian boy who fell into fire occasionally replayed in this pub.

Haunted Alley, near St Johns Church, Chester Ghost.

Monk in dark habit occasionally accosts witnesses in 'Haunted Alley' beside St John's Church, speaking a guttural Saxon-like language.

King's Buildings, Chester Ghost.

Sick woman experienced a phantom physician in old-fashioned hat and neck ruff sitting at her bedside. When he reached out and touched her forehead, she recovered shortly afterwards.

Leche House, Watergate Street, Chester Haunting.

Face of an old-fashioned sailor sometimes seen at 1st floor window.Marlbororough Arms. St John's Street, Chester Haunting.

Phantom gurgles sometimes heard from beer cellar where depressed Victorian landlord slit his own throat.

Morgan's Mount, City Walls, Chester Haunting.

Apparitions of Cavalier soldiers appear at this medieval tower named after a Royalist gun captain during the Civil War siege of Chester.

Nicholas Street, Chester Haunting.

Ghostly coachman in carriage coat, tricorn hat, riding boots and breeches occasionally seen descending steps to Georgian terrace's old carriage house.

Northgate arch, Chester Haunting.

Spectral sound of hanged men buffeted against the city walls by strong winds still heard on site of the old city gaol at the Northgate.

Old City Hospital, Hoole, Chester Haunting.

Apparition of 'man in a brown suit' visiting his sick mother seen by several nurses in 1976; woman later tells nurses her son was killed in Second World War.

Old Dee Bridge, Chester Ghost.

In 1986, ghost of dead neighbour spoke to a Handbridge woman on bridge, then vanished.


Ghostly Haunting of Derby Hospital's


As a fan of ghost stories and the supernatural I thought I would write about some of the more well known ghost stories from the city of Derby, England. These stories concerns 2 hospitals in Derby where there have been various hauntings and spookiness.


The Pastures Hospital, now demolished, was built during the 19th century and served as the County Asylum. There have been many reports concerning poltergeist activity at the hospital over the years. What follows is a first-hand account of strange occurrences within the hospital itself. "I would have been around 21 years old at the time and had taken a keen interest in the various ghost stories involving Derby. One particular story that had intrigued myself and my friend was all about ghostly events at the Pastures Hospital and in particular the Wessington Ward of the hospital."

"Having some spare time on our hands we decided to take a walk up there and investigate for ourselves. The hospital was no longer in use at this point but the building remained. There were builders around who were more than prepared to talk to us about the many stories and happenings that had taken place, some of them personnel accounts."

"It was at this point that the manager of operations arrived and kindly agreed to our request to be allowed inside the building to examine the interior of the Wessington Ward."

"After entering the hospital we began to walk along a corridor to the ward in question. The inside of the building was complete and intact, albeit with the windows boarded up, but all of the furniture and fittings had been removed."

"By this point my friend was around 10 metres ahead of me as we explored. As I looked up he stopped and began to peer around the ward. Thinking he was simply being curious I thought nothing of it until I reached the point where he had been standing previously."

"Suddenly I heard voices. None of them spoke with any clarity, it sounded like tens or even hundreds of voices all battling for attention. As soon as I had passed that particular spot the voices ceased only to begin again at a later point in the ward."

"Strange as it sounds this didn't scare me too much. However about five minutes later the mood began to change. A feeling that I can only describe as an oppressive darkness began to envelope me and I realised in a way that I cannot describe that I was no longer welcome - I was in some way trespassing."

"I looked at my friend and asked him if he was ready to leave. With a relieved look on his face he agreed he was. Without further ado we left the building."

"On the way out we spoke to a security guard for the hospital grounds who told me that amongst their number no-one would patrol that area alone."

"He pointed to a light outside the ward that was on even though it was a bright afternoon."

"We always leave that light on" he said. "Otherwise she gets really angry".


Hauntings at the Derby City General hospital where managers spoke of a ghostly goings on in an email to employees after clerical staff claimed they saw a cloaked figure dressed in black. A senior manager sent an email to staff, informing them of a plan to bring in a priest to rid the hospital of paranormal activity. She wrote: "I'm not sure how many of you are aware that some members of staff have reported seeing a ghost. "I'm taking it seriously as it is affecting some members of staff and the last thing I want is staff feeling uneasy at work."I don't want to scare anyone any more than necessary, but felt it was best I made you all aware of the situation and what we are doing about it. "I've spoken to the trust's chaplain and she is going to arrange for someone from the cathedral to exorcise the department.


"I understand that some of you will probably be worried or scared about this. If any of you wish to discuss this, feel free to contact me at any time."


The hospital is located on the site of the old Derby city general hospital, which was built in the 1920s over part of a Roman road. Anglican priests usually need to seek permission from a bishop before performing an exorcism.


The Ghostly Hauntings of the City of Exeter


As a fan of ghost stories and the supernatural I thought I would write about some of the more well known ghost stories from the city of Exeter, England. The city of Exteter is well known for its shipping and its spooks.


The Black Shadow

Location: Exeter - Alleyway that runs from the top of South Street to the Cathedral Green
As this witness walked down the alleyway they became aware of a dark shadow looming over them and felt a presence over their right shoulder. The man turned and saw a black mass which seemed to dissipate upwards into the night.


Queen Henrietta Maria

Location: Exeter - Barnfield House
This Queen stayed here to give birth before escaping to France, though she also appears to continue to remain here today.


The Haunted Three Headed Entity

Location: Exeter - Cathedral Green
Seen moving silently across the Green, this strange apparition is reported to possess three heads.


The Fishy Men

Location: Exeter - Coastline
Further Comments: Fishermen on the shore caught a four foot tall humanoid, with duck-like feet and a tail protruding from its back. It tried to escape, but was killed when the fishermen beat it with sticks. Another fish-man was caught a few months later in the same area, though this one was described with more seal-like qualities.


Haunting Plague Victims

Location: Exeter - Devon Air Radio Studios, St David's Hill
Built on an old plague pit, the ghosts of the inhabitants are blamed for the sounds of closing doors (in places the doors are already closed) and other unexplained events.


The Vanishing Woman

Location: Exeter - Ernest Jones, next to the Guildhall
A female ghost is said to vanish as quickly as she appears, and is blamed for knocking over displays and setting off the fire alarm.


The Ghostly Nun and Monk

Location: Exeter - Exeter Cathedral
Seen only around this time, the nun quickly disappears once spotted. A monk has also been reported in the area surrounding the cathedral, while a small group of witnesses heard music coming from within the building although it was dark and empty at the time.


Ghost of The Last Executed Prisoner in Exeter Prison

Location: Exeter - Exeter prison
Two prisoners reported seeing a middle-aged man walking along the upper gallery, vanishing as he reached a cell door. After staff carried out a little research, they discovered the man was the last person to be executed in the prison.


Ghostly Workman

Location: Exeter - Exeter University
A phantom man dressed in painter's overalls has been seen walking down the corridors of Exeter University.


The Cycling Ghost

Location: Exeter - Exeter's Underground Passages
The guides of the underground passages, normally open to the public, tell of a phantom cyclist who passes through the area. There is also rumoured to be hidden treasure somewhere in the tunnels.


The Haunting Sound of Silk

Location: Exeter - Globe Hotel
An American guest at the hotel reported waking several times during the night to the sound of swirling, as if someone was waving armfuls of silk scarves through the air. The woman in the room next door also reported hearing the sounds.


The Sweet Smelling Rose Lady

Location: Exeter - Guildhall Shopping Centre basement
A shadowy form of a woman has been reported as haunting this area, the smell of roses accompanying her presence.


The Ghostly Victorian Nurse

Location: Exeter - Hospital
A ghostly nurse occasionally appears by the bed of anyone close to death and rearranges any nearby flowers so that they form a cross.


The Wet Murdered Maid

Location: Exeter - Lord Haldon Hotel
This tragic figure fell pregnant after having an affair with a local landowner - he killed the maid to cover the relationship up, and now she returns to the top of the building, dripping wet.


The Supernatural Giant Bat

Location: Exeter - Magdalen Road
A witness walking down the road late at night stated he watched a giant bat, with a wingspan of 1.2 metres, swoop around the churchyard along this road.


Heavy Breathing Poltergeist

Location: Exeter - Marks & Spencer store
Said to be built on an old Roman burial ground, phantom heavy breathing has been reported from staff, as have light poltergeist-like behaviour.


The Crying Waiting Mother

Location: Exeter - Martin's Lane, general area
A weeping woman waits along this lane at night - her daughter ran away to follow Sir Francis Drake on his last voyage, and never returned.


The Ghostly Little Girl with her toy Rag Doll

Location: Exeter - Prospect Inn
This young child only appears once a year in the upper part of the building. She is said to smile sweetly at any witnesses, before quickly fading away.


The Ghostly Viking Ship

Location: Exeter - River Exe
A local legend has it that a ghostly Viking long ship complete with an angry fighter passes up the river.


The Spectral Coughing Fit

Location: Exeter - Royal Clarence Hotel
Built on the site of Walter Raleigh's fathers' house, some attribute the coughing sounds to Walter himself.


The Ghostly Return of Sir Francis Drake

Location: Exeter - Ship Inn, Martin's Lane
The inn claims to have once banned Drake from coming in, as his behaviour once drunk was intolerable - maybe this is the reason he returns here.


The Ghostly Red Light

Location: Exeter - St Layes, ruins of church
A red light would appear to anyone who was due a tragedy in their lives - it was commonly seen during the blitz of World War Two by those who would be killed by bombs or the resulting fires.


The Ghostly Woman's Heels

Location: Exeter - St Thomas railway station
Sitting on the platform with her dog, this women heard the sound of heels walk past her twice, although no one could be seen. The dog circled and barked before rolling over and acted as if being stroked.


The Wandering Monk

Location: Exeter - The Cowick Barton Inn, Cowick Lane
This holy man has been seen walking around outside the pub, as well as inside two local houses and in a nearby field.


The Ghostly Tall Glowing Figure

Location: Exeter - Unnamed building near the Cathedral
Two men trying to steal lead from a roof screamed in horror as they realised a gaunt ghostly figure stood by their sides, pointing accusingly at them. Their cries alarmed the neighbourhood, but they escaped never to be seen again.


Judge Jeffreys Ghost

Location: Exeter - White Hart Inn
A popular haunting figure down in the southwest, the Judge's shade has been reported in this public house. A woman in a long black cape, said to resemble the lady from the 'Scottish Widows' advert, has been seen in the courtyard.

Famous Hauntings of The Isle Of Wight, England

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

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

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

List of Spooky and Ghostly IOW Hauntings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

English Spa Towns – Iconic Places

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

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

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

A List Of Spa Towns in England:

Askern          Bath               Boston Spa (West Yorkshire)     Buxton

Cheltenham Spa                 Church Stretton      Dorton Spa  Droitwich Spa

Epsom           Harrogate     Ilkley              Knaresborough      Malvern

Matlock         Matlock Bath                       Royal Leamington Spa     Royal Tunbridge Wells

Scarborough also called The Spa, Scarborough                  Shearsby

Tenbury Wells         Woodhall Spa

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

Ghosts of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar

As RN Hospital Haslar is one of the most haunted hospitals in the world I thought I would list the most famous hauntings. There is a lot of poltergeist activity which has been reported in the hospital galley.

According  to a clairvoyant who worked in the hospital there are three ghosts  occupying the kitchen area and many more around the hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A  clairvoyant has claimed that the spirit  residing in the corridor died  because of a botched operation - an emergency  procedure (as he was in  immense pain), probably to save him from a blood clot.

A hole was  drilled in his left temple to relieve the pressure but he died in  the  corridor. It is claimed that he can only rest once the operation is  repeated and the new patient dies. The original spirit is attempting to  guide
the other man's spirit back to his body. This is supposedly  because there was  nobody around to help him when he died.

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting Facts about RNH Haslar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Oldest 5 English Towns from 13,000 years ago To Present day


As an Englishman and a fan of history and shopping I thought I would list the oldest Towns in England. The oldest town in England is contested by 5 English Towns: Thatcham, Abingdon, Colchester, Ipswich and Marazion which i thought would be of interest to the reader.


1) Thatcham In Berkshire is often claimed as the oldest town in Britain, since its occupation can be traced back to a mesolithic hunting camp, which was discovered there beside a Postglacial period lake, and there is evidence of human occupation within and around Thatcham covering the past 13,000 years or more.

There is strong evidence to support the case that people settled in Thatcham in the Mesolithic Age (10,000BC - 4,000BC). Arguably it is the Bronze (2,500BC - 750BC) and Iron (750BC - 43AD) Ages which make Thatcham more notable that any other, and indeed makes Thatcham a nationally important place. Thatcham has strong evidence that it was settled by the Romans, then Saxons, and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Subsequently it received medieval charters.

Thatcham has a place in the 1990 Guinness Book of Records as being the strongest claimant to the longest continually inhabited town in the UK.

2) Abingdon In the English county of Oxfordshire (historically Berkshire) also claims to be the oldest town in Britain in continuous settlement, with people having lived there for at least 6,000 years. In 1991 evidence of a late-Iron Age enclosure of 33 hectares known as an 'oppidum' was discovered underneath the town centre. Unlike other major earthworks discovered from this period, it continued to be used as a town throughout the Roman occupation of Britain and subsequently became the saxon settlement of Sevekesham or Seovechesham at a time when most other Roman cities were being abandoned.

In 2010 the issue of whether Thatcham or Abingdon was the longest inhabited town was disputed after the popular TV program QI claimed on its website's Fact Of The Day that it was Abingdon.( Many facts on Qi's website is incorrect!!!).

3) Colchester claims to be Britain's oldest recorded town. Its claim is based on a reference by Piny the elder, the Roman writer, in his Natural History (Historia naturals) in AD 77. He described Anglesey as "about 200 miles from Camulodunum, a town in Britain", where Camulodunum was the Roman name for Colchester. It is claimed that this is the first known reference to any named settlement in Britain.

However, Camulodunum clearly existed for a substantial period before AD 77. From around AD 10, Cunobelinus ruled much of south-east Britain from Camulodunon (the "fortress of the war god, Camulos") until his death in AD 40. Following the invasion by Claudius in AD 43, Camulodunum became the first garrison and capital of the new Roman province of Britannia. In AD 50, Britain's first city, Colonia Claudia Victricensis, was founded there, but the city was razed and its citizens massacred in Boudica's rebellion in AD 60. The Roman provincial capital subsequently moved to the City of Londinium – London where it remained until the end of Roman colonization and influence.

4) Ipswich in the English county of Suffolk, also claims it is England's oldest continuously settled town, with a history of continued occupation since the Anglo Saxons.

5) Marazion in Cornwall is one of the towns claiming to be Britain's oldest town. Evidence of tin mining begins to appear in Brittany, Devon and Cornwall, and in the Iberian Peninsula around 2000 BC, and all are possible candidates for the Cassiterides (Tin Islands), believed to be situated somewhere near the west coasts of Europe. Remains of an ancient bronze furnace, discovered near the town, indicates that tin smelting was practised here at an early period. Marazion was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1088 and is the oldest chartered town in Britain, having been granted this status by King Henry III in 1257.

The Oldest British Cities


As an Englishman who enjoys visiting various historical English cities I thought it would be interesting to write about the ages of our various cities.

Below is a list of dates when the places now deemed to be cities in the United Kingdom received their charters of incorporation and assumed official city status. Note that some cities have no date listed as their city status predates any known historical record. Also note that the date given is when they officially became cities and is not the same as the date when the settlement began. Most of these cities existed as villages or towns for thousands of years before they were awarded city status




Year of Incorporation

















St Davids










































St Albans










































Newcastle upon Tyne



673 AD



























City of London 43 AD (There was a settlement at the site of what we call  london for many thousands of years before the Romans invaded in 43 AD)

In almost all cases it is not known when any of the UK's old cities first began as settlements. Some began as Celtic and Druidic tribe settlements but were built upon by the Romans. In fact most of the early written evidence we have originates from around the time of the Roman occupation. The Romans brought with them vastly superior town planning architecture and infrastructure transforming the previously primitive settlements into 'modern' cities with provisions for the resident population, and for travelers, traders and visitors. Prior to the occupation of the Roman Empire, there is little evidence about the origins of the settlements.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

English Wine and It's History

As an addendum to the history of English Wine I thought to mention that we English Invented Sparkling Champagne and Wine in the 1650's. Because of the leading English Technology in bottle making and cork making by Admiral Sir Robert Mansell in 1651 and the ability of the wine bottle's to withstand high pressure this led to the deliberate invention of sparkling wine.

At the time of the compilation of the Domesday Survey in the late eleventh century, vineyards were recorded in 46 places in southern England, from East Anglia through to modern-day Somerset. By the time King Henry VIIIth ascended the throne there were 139 sizeable vineyards in England and Wales - 11 of them owned by the Crown, 67 by noble families and 52 by the church.

It is not exactly clear why the number of vineyards declined subsequently. Some have put it down to an adverse change in the weather which made an uncertain enterprise even more problematic. Others have linked it with the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Both these factors may have had some part to play but in all probability the decline was gradual (over several centuries) and for more complex reasons.

In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century there is evidence of various noblemen experimenting with growing grapes and making wine - such as the Hon. Charles Hamilton who grew vines at Painshill in Surrey (a garden which has in recent years been restored). Isolated enthusiasts, however, kept some of the art and science of vine-growing alive, in gardens both grand and humble in the south of the country, and in greenhouses too. Samuel Pepys records his consumption of wines from several vineyards around London.

In the late nineteenth century, the Marquess of Bute established a vineyard on a commercial scale at Castell Coch in South Wales - this is very well documented. The Marquess died in 1900 but in 1905 there were 63,000 vines at Castell Coch and Swanbridge superintended by the Marquess's 19 year old son who had succeeded him, but no wine making seems to have been carried out after the First World War.

The period from the end of the First World War to shortly after the end of the Second World War may well be the only time in two millennia that vines to make wine on a substantial scale were not grown in England or Wales. Doubtless, during that time, there were some vines being grown on a garden scale by amateur growers, but for more than 25 years there was a total cessation of viticulture and winemaking on a commercial basis.

After the Second World War, two men seem to have been the inspiration for the re-establishment of the English Wine industry. One was Ray Barrington Brock (who died only this year). He was a research chemist and set himself a private research mission to discover which varieties of grape would grow and ripen well in Britain. The other was Edward Hymans, a writer on garden matters who planted a vineyard and researched for a book he was writing on the history and practice of grape-vine cultivation in England.

The work of these two pioneers inspired others: Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones planted a vineyard at Hambledon, north of Portsmouth, in Hampshire. He initially planted 4,000 vines on a 1.5 acre site in 1952 and in 1955 the first English Wine to be made and sold commercially since the First World War went on sale.

The rest, as they say, is history. An ever-increasing number of pioneers followed these leads and especially during the 1960s, 70s and 80s there was a rapid increase in the number of English vineyards to a figure well over 400 by 2010. The total area under cultivation rose to more than 2,000 acres.

In recent years, English sparking wine has started to emerge as the UK wine style receiving the most attention. Theale Vineyard Sparkling Chardonnay 2003 beat off stiff competition from fine Champagnes and top sparkling wines to make it into the world's Top Ten Sparkling Wine at the world's only dedicated sparkling wine competition, French-based Effervescents du Monde (sparkling wines of the world) 2007

English Cathedrals from 300 AD to Present Day

My local Portsmouth Cathedral was built and updated at various times between 1180 – 1991. Originally the nave was intended to be longer, in the traditional style of an English cathedral, but the changing needs of the diocese meant that the building was finally built with a foreshortened nave, the final west wall being located close to where the temporary structure had been. In 1991 the completed building, much smaller than the original plans envisaged in 1932 and was consecrated in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

A cathedral church is a Christian place of worship that is the chief, or 'mother' church of a diocese and is distinguished as such by being the location for the cathedra or bishop's seat. In the strictest sense, only those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy possess cathedrals. However the label 'cathedral' remains in common parlance for notable churches that were formerly part of an episcopal denomination, such as is the case with many former Scottish cathedrals, which are now within the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In addition, former cathedrals now in ruins retain their nominal status.

List of English Cathedrals

Aldershot Cathedral

Arundel Cathedral

Birmingham Cathedral

Birmingham Orthodox Cathedral

Blackburn Cathedral

Bradford Cathedral

Brentwood Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Carlisle Cathedral

Chelmsford Cathedral

Chester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral

Clifton Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral

Derby Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Ely Cathedral 1109

Exeter Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Hereford Cathedral

Lancaster Cathedral

Leeds Cathedral

Leicester Orthodox Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

London Camden Town Cathedral NW1

London Cathedral NW1

London Orthodox Cathedral NW11

London Orthodox Cathedral SE5

London Orthodox Cathedral N22

London Orthodox Cathedral W2

London Cathedral W3

London Orthodox Cathedral SW7

London Orthodox Cathedral W4

London Cathedral W11

London Orthodox Cathedral W11

Lydd Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral

Middlesbrough Cathedral

Morecambe Cathedral

Newcastle Cathedral

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Cathedral

Northampton Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

Nottingham Cathedral

Oxford Cathedral

Peel Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral

Plymouth Cathedral

Portsmouth Cathedral

Putney Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

Salford Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Sheffield Cathedral

Shrewsbury Cathedral

Southwell Minster

Southwark Cathedral

Stamford Hill Cathedral

Stanley Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

St. George's Cathedral, Stevenage

Stoke-on-Trent Cathedral

Truro Cathedral

Wakefield Cathedral

Wells Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

Windlesham Cathedral

Wolverhampton Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral

York Minster

The First Powered Passenger Car and Bus – England 1801

As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of history of steam buses I thought it may be of interest to write an article about the English history of the earliest steam Cars and Busses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite British Iconic Cars

As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of British iconic Cars I thought it may be of interest to list some of the most popular British Car Icons which are instantly recognised Worldwide. I have decided to list the cars and descriptions about the Iconic Cars which may be of interest to the reader.

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

Rolls and Royce were in fact people before the history of Rolls-Royce as a company every began. Frederick Royce was a British electrical equipment manufacturer who built the first Royce cars in 1904. The three two-cylinder, 10-hp cars he built attracted the attention of Charles Rolls, a longtime car enthusiast from way back in 1894 and son of a baron. He owned a dealership in London, where he first encountered a Royce. He was so taken with the engineering that he partnered with the car's creator. Royce would built the cars, and Rolls would sell them. Like many manufacturers of the day, Rolls entered the first Rolls-Royces in races in order to promote them. These cars were similar to the first one built by Royce. Real fame came with the 1907 introduction of a 6-cylinder engine inside a silver-painted four-passenger chassis dubbed "The Silver Ghost." This car was driven 15,000 continuous miles with little wear, cementing the R-R reputation for reliability. Unfortunately, Rolls' passion for excitement ended in 1910, when his biplane (based on the Wright brothers' flyer) crashed and killed him almost instantly.

The Silver Ghost chassis, built in Derby, U.K., was toughened with armor so it could serve as a combat car in Flanders, Africa, Egypt, and with Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. In the Jazz Age that came after the war, people had money to spend on these reliable Rollers. There were Silver Ghosts built in Springfield, Mass., from 1920-1924, and a smaller 20-hp "Baby Roller" was introduced. Big cars were still popular, though, with the Phantoms I, II, and II all appearing in the 1920s. During WWII, the company built Rolls-Royce Merlin airplane engines in a facility in Crewe, U.K., rather than cars.

The Austin Mini ( 1959 )

Announced in 1959, and still manufactured 40 years later at the end of the century, Alec Issigonis's cheeky little Mini-Minor changed the face of motoring. The world's first car to combine front-wheel-drive and a transversely-mounted engine in a tiny ten-foot long package, was the most efficient and effective use of road space that had ever been seen. In so many ways, this must qualify as the ‘car of the century'.

In scheming up the car Issigonis and his team, which had already designed the Morris Minor, was given a difficult brief by the British Motor Corporation. In the aftermath of the Suez Crisis, and threatened world-wide petrol rationing, Issigonis was asked to provide a minimum-size, minimum-price four-seater package – all built around an existing BMC engine. Choosing front-wheel-drive and the A-series engine, he then minimised the size of the car by turning the engine sideways, and mounted the transmission under the engine. Tiny (10 in /254 mm) diameter road wheels, independent suspension by rubber cone springs, and a careful packaging of the cabin, all helped to provide one of the most amazing little cars of all time. So what if the driving position was cramped, and the steering wheel too vertical? This was a Mini, after all.

Although Issigonis insisted that he was only providing a super-small, super-economy saloon, almost by chance his Mini had superb handling, precise race-car-like steering and unmatched agility.

Even before more powerful versions were available, the Mini had started winning rallies, and showing well in saloon car racing: later, in Mini-Cooper S form, size-for-size it was unbeatable. Originally sold only as two-door saloons in near-identical ‘Austin' and ‘Morris' forms, Minis soon spawned derivatives. Not only would there be vans, estate cars and pick-ups, but plusher Riley and Wolseley types followed, as did the stark ‘topless' Mini-Moke machines.

Engines were eventually enlarged, tiny front-wheel disc brakes were added, the Mini-Cooper and Mini-Cooper S followed, and by the mid-1960s this was a car which had won the Monte Carlo Rally on several occasions. For years there was nothing a Mini could not do, for it appealed to everyone, and every social class, from royalty to the dustman, bought one. At peak, production in two factories (Longbridge and Cowley) exceeded 300,000 every year, BMC's only problem being that it was priced so keenly that profit margins were wafer thin.

Even the arrival of the larger Mini Metro in 1980 could not kill off the Mini, whose charm was unique. By the 1980s, with larger wheels, re-equipped interiors and wind-up windows, the Mini was a better car than ever, and, looking much the same, it was still selling steadily at the end of the 1990s: more than five million had already been made. Now in the 2000s, we have the New Mini, larger and heavier than before.

The Morgan ( 1946 ) 4 X 4

Although the original four-wheeler Morgan was shown in the mid-1930s, it was overshadowed by the company's older three-wheeler models until the end of the Second World War. From that point, while altering the original style only slightly as the years passed by, Morgan concentrated on their four-wheeler sports cars.

Morgans were first made by a family-owned business in 1910 (a situation which has never changed), and even the first cars employed a type of sliding-pillar independent front suspension which is still used to this day. Assembly was always by hand, always at a leisurely pace, and even in the post-war years it was a good week which saw more than ten complete cars leave the gates in Malvern Link.

The post-war 4/4 retained the simple ladder-style chassis and the rock-hard suspension for which the marque is noted, and still looked like its 1939 predecessor. It used to be said that the ride was so hard that if one drove over a penny in the road, a skilled driver would know whether ‘heads' or ‘tails' was uppermost. Although pre-war cars had been powered by Coventry-Climax, the post-war chassis was exclusively fitted with a specially-manufactured overhead-valve Standard 1,267 cc engine (which never appeared in Standard or Triumph models). Although this engine only produced 40 bhp, the Morgan was such a light car that it could reach 75 mph, while handling in a way that made all MG Midget owners jealous.

The style was what we must now call ‘traditional Morgan' – it was a low-slung two-seater with sweeping front wings, and free-standing headlamps, along with cutaway doors and the sort of weather protection which made one drive quickly for home in a shower, rather than stop to wrestle with its sticks and removable panels. Up front, there was a near-vertical radiator, flanked by free-standing headlamps, while the coil spring/vertical-pillar front suspension was easily visible from the nose. Most 4/4s were open-top two-seaters, though a more completely trimmed and equipped two-seater drop-head coupé (with wind-up windows in the doors) was also available. Bodies were framed from unprotected wood members, with steel or aluminium skin panels tacked into place, and were all manufactured in the Morgan factory.

Here was an old-style, no-compromise sports car made in modern times – a philosophy which Morgan has never abandoned. Requests for a more modern specification were politely shrugged off, waiting lists grew, and Morgan has been financially healthy ever since. Before the 4/4 was replaced by the altogether larger 2.1-litre Plus 4 of 1950, a grand total of 1,720 4/4s were sold.

Hand assembled, these low-slung two-seater sports cars had cutaway doors and a near vertical radiator which was flanked by free-standing headlamps. Most were open topped and had rock-hard suspension.

Aston Martin DB5 ( 1963 )

Fame comes in strange and unexpected ways. Although the Aston DB4 and DB5 models were already respected by the cognoscenti, the DB5 did not become world-famous until used as James Bond's personal transport in the film Goldfinger. Although not equipped with Bond's ejector seat, it appealed to millions, and the DB5's reputation was secure for ever. Technically, of course, Aston Martin had always been a marque of distinction.

Following the success of the DB2, DB2/4 and DB Mk III models of the 1950s, Aston Martin commissioned a totally new and larger series for the 1960s, beginning with the DB4 in 1958. Built around a simple steel platform chassis, it was clothed in a sleek light-alloy fastback body style by Superleggera Touring of Italy (but built at Newport Pagnell). The skin panels were fixed to a network of light tubing, a method patented by Superleggera. Power (and what power!) came from a magnificent new 3.7-litre twin-cam six-cylinder engine, which soon proved to be strong and reliable in motor racing. The DB4 came close to matching anything so far achieved by Ferrari. All this, allied to a close-coupled four-seater cabin, and high (traditionally British) standards of trim and equipment, made the expensive DB4 very desirable.

The DB5, which was launched in 1963, was a direct development of the DB4; it had a full 4-litre engine, a more rounded nose with recessed-headlamps, and many equipment improvements. Two varieties of engine – the most powerful with a claimed 314 bhp – were on offer, as were non-sporting options such as automatic transmission, which came a full decade before Ferrari stooped to such action.

It was such a complicated, mainly hand-built, machine that it had to sell at high prices. The saloon cost an eye-watering £4,175 in 1963 (there was also a convertible version, at £4,490) and because assembly was a lengthy and careful business, sales were limited to only ten cars a week. It was not for years, incidentally, that it became clear that even these prices did not cover costs, for Aston Martin was merely the industrial plaything of its owner, tractor magnate David Brown.

DB5s could safely reach 140 mph, with roadholding, steering and brakes to match, all the time producing the characteristic booming exhaust notes for which they became famous. Although they looked sinuous and dashing, they were heavy machines and there was no power-assisted steering on this model.

Clearly, this was a bespoke GT machine which would run and run, as the longer and more spacious DB6 which took over in 1965 would prove. In only two years, a total of 1,063 cars (123 convertibles, and 12 of them very special estate car types) were produced. Almost all have survived.

The DB5 became world-famous as James Bond's car in the film Goldfinger. Lacking the ejector seat, this mainly hand-built car appealed to millions. Although it was a heavy car to drive, as it lacked power-assisted steering, the DB5 had good roadholding.

The Jaguar E Type ( 1961 )

By almost any reckoning, Jaguar's original E-type was the sexiest motor car ever launched. It looked wonderful, it was extremely fast, and it was always sold at extremely attractive prices. For more than a decade, it was the sports car by which all other supercar manufacturers had to measure themselves.

Originally conceived in 1956 as a successor to the D-type racing sports car, the E-type was not to be used for that purpose. Re-engineered and re-developed, it became an outstanding road-going sports car, taking over from the last of the XK cars – the XK150 – in 1961. Like the D-type, its structure acknowledged all the best contemporary aerospace principles, utilising a multi-tubular front chassis frame which surrounded the engine and supported the front suspension and steering, and was bolted up to the bulkhead of the pressed steel monocoque centre and rear end.

Power came from the very latest version of the famous XK six-cylinder twin-cam engine, with three SU carburettors and no less than 265 bhp (according to American SAE ratings). It was matched by all-independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and a unique, wind-cheating body style. As with the C- and D-type racing cars, the E-type's shape had been designed by ex-aircraft industry specialist Malcolm Sayer, who combined great artistic flair for a line with the ability to calculate how the wind would flow over a car's contours. For practical purposes, the E-type's nose might have been too long, its cabin cramped, and its tail too high to hide all of the chassis components, but all this was forgiven by its remarkable aero-dynamic performance – and its enormous visual appeal.

Open and fastback two-seaters were available from the start, and although a 150 mph top speed was difficult for an ordinary private owner to achieve, this was a supercar in all respects, being faster than any other British road car of the period (and, for that matter, for many years to come). Much-modified types eventually won a series of motor races at just below world level, for they were really too heavy for this purpose. Only three years after launch, a 4.2-litre engine, allied to a new synchromesh gearbox, was adopted, and a longer wheelbase 2+2 coupé followed in 1966.

The E-type sold well all around the world, especially in the USA although new safety laws caused the car to lose its power edge, and its headlamp covers before the end of the 1960s. The Series II's performance did not match that of the original, and by 1971, the E-type was a somewhat emasculated car. A final Series III type was powered by Jaguar's new 5.3-litre V12 engine, and a top speed of 150 mph was once again within reach.

Drivers did not seem to mind the small cabin and less than perfect ventilation, but in the end it was more safety regulations and changes in fashion that caused this wonderful motoring icon to fade away. The last of 72,520 E-types was built in 1975, when it was replaced by an entirely different type of sporting Jaguar, the larger, heavier and not so beautiful XJ-S.

Considered to be the sexiest car ever launched, the E-type was a fast and outstanding sports car. Designed by an ex-aircraft specialist, it had a remarkable aerodynamic performance.

Land Rover 1948

Here is a classic case of the stop-gap project which soon outgrew its parent. Before the Land Rover appeared, Rover had been building a relatively small number of fine middle class cars. By the 1950s they were building many more Land Rover 4x4s, and the cars were very much a minor part of the business.

Immediately after the war, Rover found itself running a massive former ‘shadow factory' complex at Solihull, and needed to fill it. (A ‘shadow factory' was an aero-engine factory established during the rearmament of the 1930s.) Faced with material shortages, it could not build many private cars, and elected to fill the gaps with a newly-developed 4x4, which it would base unashamedly on the design of the already legendary Jeep from the USA.

Early Land Rovers shared the same 80 in/2,032 mm wheelbase as the Jeep, and the same basic four-wheel-drive layout. The Land Rover, however, was much more versatile than the Jeep, in that it was built in myriad different guises, shapes and derivatives, and it used aluminium body panels, which ensured that it was virtually rust-free. Apart from the fact that it was not very fast or powerful, (though time and further development would solve those problems) the Land Rover could tackle almost any job, climb almost any slope, and ford almost every stream, which made it invaluable for farmers, contractors, surveyors, explorers, armies, public service companies – in fact almost anyone with a need for four-wheel-drive traction, and the rugged construction which went with it.

It wasn't long before the original pick-up was joined by vans, estate cars, short and long wheelbases to choice, petrol and diesel engines. A long list of extras became available: winches, extra-large wheels and tyres, and liaison with specialist companies ensured that it could be turned it into an impromptu railway shunting vehicle, a portable cinema truck, an equipment hoist, and a whole lot more. Its short-travel leaf spring suspension gave it a shatteringly hard ride and the Land Rover engineers stated that this, at least, limited cross-country speeds to keep the chassis in one piece.

Later models grew larger, longer, and more powerful, but it would not be until the 1960s that the first six-cylinder type appeared, not until 1979 that the first V8 Land Rover was sold, and not until the early 1980s that coil spring suspension finally took over. Sales, however, just went on and on, with the millionth being produced in the mid 1970s. By the late 1990s, when the ‘Freelander' model appeared, 1.5 million Land Rovers had been manufactured, although by then it had been renamed ‘Defender' and

Bentley Continental R-Type 1952

After Rolls-Royce took over Bentley in 1931, it was more than 20 years before the new owners produced another truly sporty new model. But the wait was worthwhile. The R-type Continental of 1952–55 was a great car by any standards, which not only looked sensational, but was also extremely fast.

Even before 1939, Rolls-Royce had dabbled with super-streamlined prototypes (one of them being called a ‘Bentley Corniche'), but production cars had to wait until after the war. Using only slightly modified versions of the existing Bentley Mk VI saloon car's chassis, but with a superbly detailed two-door four-seater coupé designed by the coachbuilder, H.J. Mulliner, the company produced an extremely fast (115 mph), exclusive, and very expensive car, whose title told its own story.

The Continental certainly did not gain its high performance by being light, but by a combination of high (unstated) horsepower, and by the remarkable aerodynamic performance of the bulky, yet sleek shell. There was, of course, no way of taming the drag of the proud Bentley radiator grille, but the lines of the rest of the car were as wind-cheating as possible, the long tapering tail being a delight to the eyes. Like all the best 1930s Bentleys, it had two passenger doors, and a full four-seater package. Leather, carpet and wood abounded – for no concessions were made to ensure a high performance.

Here was an expensive grand tourer for the connoisseur and, by definition, it was likely to sell in small numbers. Put on sale in 1952 at £7,608 (at a time when Morris Minor prices, for instance, started at £582 ), it was ideal for the ‘sportsman' who liked to drive far and fast, wherever conditions allowed. It was produced in the traditional Bentley/Rolls-Royce style, for the engine was low-revving, the steering and most other controls quite heavy, and the fuel consumption ferocious – but the fit, finish and quality of every component (especially the interior trim) were of the very highest quality.

As ever, Rolls-Royce/Bentley never thought it necessary to reveal the power output of the big six-cylinder engine, whose overhead inlet/side exhaust valve layout was only shared with one other British make of car – the Rover of the period. Needing only to point out the easily provable performance of their cars, they let acceleration figures speak for themselves.

In a career of only three years, the R-type Continental needed little improvement, for the engine was a very powerful 4.5-litre u

Lotus Elite ( 1958 )

Right from the start, when he built his original special- bodied Austin Seven trials car, Colin Chapman showed signs of engineering genius. Setting up Lotus, he sold his first car kits in the early 1950s, and soon progressed to building advanced racing sports cars. The first true Lotus road car, however, was the very advanced Lotus Elite.

First shown in 1957, but not available until a year later, the new two-seater Elite coupé was irresistibly attractive. Even though Lotus was still a small company, Chapman had laid out a car which pushed technology to the limit. In particular, he decided to make the Elite without a separate chassis, using a fully-stressed fibreglass monocoque body which would only include steel sections for a few local reinforcements.

Not only was this amazing machine to be powered by a race-proved overhead-camshaft engine from Coventry-Climax, and had four-wheel independent suspension, but it was achingly beautiful, and was quite amazingly light in weight. No-one, it seems, was ever likely to confuse the Elite with any other car, for its tiny, smooth and always curving lines had no rivals. Looking back into history, its only real drawback was that the door windows could not be wound down, but had to be removed to provide better ventilation.

In engineering terms, though, ‘adding lightness' often adds cost too, and there was no doubt that the Elite was always going to be a costly car to make and sell. The fibreglass monocoque body shells proved to be difficult to make in numbers, major bought-in items like the Coventry-Climax engine were very expensive, and owners soon found that a great deal of maintenance and loving care was needed to keep the new sports car running.

Refinement was not then a word which Lotus understood and the Elite was a rather crudely equipped and finished machine at first; the interior environment was very noisy, for there was little attempt to insulate the drive line and suspension fixings from the monocoque, which acted like a fully matured sound box.

As the years passed, the Elite's specification changed, with the power of the engine gradually being pushed up to 100 bhp (which brought the top speed to more than 120 mph, quite amazing for a 1.2-litre car), a ZF gear-box adapted and (for Series II cars) a different type of rear suspension geometry specified.

Special Elites, particularly when prepared at the factory, were outstandingly successful class cars in GT racing, even appearing with honour in major events such as the Le Mans 24 Hour and Nurburgring Six Hour events. Years later Colin Chapman admitted that the Elite had never made profits for Lotus, which may explain why he was happy to phase it out in 1962, ahead of the arrival of the backbone chassised Elan. Nothing can ever detract from the gracious style and inventive engineering which went into the car. A total of 988 Elites were made.

Committed owners usually forgave the Elite for the car's failings, as here was a car which drove and handled like no other rival. Light by the standards of the day, it was not only fast, but remarkably economical too.

History of The Hovercraft

I thought it would be a good idea to tell the story of the invention of the Hovercraft in 1955.

The idea of using an air-cushion as a means or aid to acceleration and reduction in (hydrodynamic) drag was first explored by Sir John Thornycroft, a British engineer, who, in the 1870's built some experimental models on the basis of an air cushion system that would reduce the drag of water on boats and ships.

In 1877 he successfully patented the idea and his theory was that if a ship's hull was given a concave bottom, which could be filled - and replenished - with air, it would create significant additional lift. And so the air cushion effect was born.

Decades later scientists and inventors were still busy with his ideas but without any practical applications. With the coming of the airplane however, it was noticed that additional lift was obtained if the plane flew closer to land or water, creating a "funnel effect", a cushion of air.

The air lift that this funnel effect created differed with the type of wing and its height above ground. The effect was strongest if this height was between one half and one third of the (average) front-to-rear breadth of the wing. Also known as "chord".

The next two decades saw little interest in air cushion development.

The successful use of the air cushion effect was not lost on engineers after World War 2 was over and in the early 1950's British, American and Swiss engineers started to rethink Sir John Thornycroft's problem.

The Englishman Christopher Cockerell, commonly seen as the father of the hovercraft, being retired from the army, settled into boat building where he soon got captivated by Thornycroft's problem of reducing the hydrodynamic drag on the hull of a boat by using some kind of air cushion.

His theory was that, instead of using the plenum chamber - an empty box with an open bottom as Thornycroft had devised - air was instead pumped into a narrow tunnel circumnavigating the entire bottom, it would flow towards the center and form a more effective air cushion. This peripheral jet would cause the air to build up enough pressure to equal the weight of the craft and, as it would have nowhere to go, the pressure would force the craft up, clearing it off the ground altogether.

Cockerell successfully tested his theory and filed his first patent in 1955. The year after he formed a company called Hovercraft Ltd. He further envisioned and partially worked out other problems of the hovercraft principle that still have to be fully exploited by modern hovercraft builders. One of these was to re-use the air for greater overall efficiency.

Thinking that his air cushion vehicles would be eminently suitable as amphibious craft he approached the British Ministry of Supply, the government's defence equipment procurement authority with his findings. Soon after, in 1956, the air cushion vehicle was classified as "secret" and a construction contract was placed with a British aircraft and seaplane manufacturer. The result was the SR.N1 in 1959.

The first SR.N1 weighed four tons and could carry three men. Its maximum speed was 25 knots (1 knot = 1.15 miles or 1.85 kilometres per hour) on calm water. It had a 6-inch (15 cm) rubberized skirt to make it easier to contain the air cushion on uneven ground.

Significant wear and tear of the skirt through friction with the water at high speeds made it necessary to use more durable material and a rubber and plastic mixture was developed by 1963. The length of the skirt had also been extended to about 4 feet (1.2 m).

Early interest in hovercraft enjoyed a peak in the early 1960's as everyone jumped to take advantage of this amazing vehicle. However, by the end of the decade only the British had produced a range of feasible and practical craft.

The problems inherent of the air cushion vehicle, such as Cockerell and others had foreseen, regarding steering control, noise, salt and skirt erosion, caused many countries to abandon their hovercraft development programs in favour of other, more established multi-function vehicles or to use different vehicles specialised in each terrain or function.

Since the 1970's however, and especially over the last decade, a renewed interest in the hovercraft as (passenger) transport, military transport and weapons carrier and exploratory vehicle has taken ground, solving many of these problems in their development.

Technology in general made large steps forward during the past twentyfive years, enabling organisations and governments, as well as many enthusiasts at Hovercraft Clubs to enjoy the hovercraft vehicle in its many forms including the very popular Remote Control model size hovercraft!.

As far as hovercraft and their spinoff technology is concerned the future looks ever brighter.

The World's First Electric House – England 1878


One of the most important developments in the history of modern life took place in the north - the use of electric light. The most important figures were Sir William Armstrong and  the Sunderland-born Joseph Swan, inventor of the first practical light bulb, whose developments would result in the widespread use of electric light throughout the world. Newcastle was one of the first towns to be lit with electricity, Cragside in Northumberland was one of the first houses to be lit and a light bulb factory at Benwell, Newcastle was the first in the world. The region was witnessing the birth of modern times.


Lord Armstrong (1810-1900)

William George Armstrong was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1810. He was educated at Bishop Auckland Grammar School, before being articled to a firm of solicitors, Messrs Donkin and Stable. Having completed his training, in 1834 he became a junior partner in the firm.

He became involved with engineering through experimentation with hydraulic machinery in his leisure time. At the age of 36 he decided to give up the legal profession, and established a small engineering business in partnership with Mr. Donkin; his father, Alderman Armstrong; and Messrs Potter, Cruddas, and Lambert. They purchased a small plot of land at Elswick on which to erect their works.

At first, the main concern of the business was the hydraulic machinery that had so fascinated Armstrong. Later, during the Crimean War, the company began to look at the improvement of ordnance. Armstrong was appointed Director of Rifled Ordnance in 1859, and held this position until retiring in 1863.

In the same year, he purchased a large piece of land near Rothbury, Northumberland, an area in which he had spent much time as a boy. He began to build a house for himself in 1864, which was completed by 1866, though much added to from this date on. In 1866, he created an artificial lake. The head of water produced powered a hydraulic ram, which supplied water to the house and grounds. Armstrong soon developed a further four lakes, and began to use them to supply electric power to the house, as well as hydraulic lifts and a hydraulic spit in the kitchen. They also powered what Joseph Swan believed to be the first proper installation of electric lighting. He also bought Bamburgh Castle and restored it, intending it to be used as a convalescence home.

Armstrong received many honours during his life, including the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts for his inventions in hydraulic machinery, and the Bessemer gold medal of the Iron and Steel Institute for his services to the steel industry. He was Knighted in 1859 and created a Baron in 1887.

Lord Armstrong was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1861,1862,1869.

In 1878 Sir William Armstrong installs a small hydro electric plant on his estate for generating electric light in his picture gallery at Cragside, Northumberland using lakes in the grounds, Cragside is the first house in the world to be lit by electricity generated from water power.


Sir William Armstrong also installed Swan's light bulbs in his house at Cragside in 1880.

He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1881. He died in 1900.

Sir JOSEPH WILSON SWAN 1828 - 1914

Joseph Wilson Swan was born on Oct. 31, 1828, in Sunderland, and he served an apprenticeship with a pharmacist there. He later became a partner in Mawson's, a firm of manufacturing chemists in Newcastle. This company existed as Mawson Swan and Morgan until recently. He worked at the company premises at 13 Mosley Street. In 1860 Swan developed a primitive electric light bulb that used a filament of carbonised paper in an evacuated glass bulb. However, the lack of good vacuum and an adequate electric source resulted in a short lifetime for the bulb and an inefficient light.

In December 1878 Joseph Swan demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb to an audience at the Newcastle Chemical Society, but it burns out after only a few minutes.


In January 1879 Joseph Swan demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb during a lecture to an audience at the Athenaeum in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

On October 20th 1880 Joseph Swan once again demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb, this time at the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society. In front of an eminent audience, he has 70 gas jets turned down and their light immediately replaced by just 20 electric bulbs.

Swan's light bulb design was substantially that used by Thomas Alva Edison in America nearly 20 years later. In 1880, after the improvement of vacuum techniques, Swan  produced a practical light bulb.

In 1881 a company is formed at Benwell, Newcastle for the manufacture of Joseph Swan's newly-patented electric lamps. It is thought to be the world's first light bulb factory. 

In 1883 while searching for a better carbon filament for his light bulb, Swan patented a process for squeezing nitro-cellulose through holes to form fibres. Swan was knighted in 1904. He died on May 27, 1914, in Warlingham, Surrey.

English Speaking Countries

Below is a short history of English with a list of Countries that speak English as the official language.

The English language has evolved over the centuries from various influences: from the Celts ( who were the original Britons ), the Germanic Tribes, Anglo Saxons and Scandinavians which invaded during the 3rd Century onwards. Our language is still evolving and as an example the English spoken by Australians is very similar to London Cockney. The Australians even have their own version of Cockney Rhyming slang.

It is amazing that from a small country in size but not in outlook we have given the world so much like Shakespeare and great Leaders like Churchill, Nelson, Wellington, Marlborough who helped defeat various dictators like Cromwell, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler. If the dictators had been successful, they would have changed the world and all our freedoms for ever. This has given me the idea that it would be of interest to the reader on how many countries in the world use English as their official language.

A to Z of English Speaking Countries

Antigua and Barbuda
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom
United States

History of British Cat and Kitten Shows from 1871

Imbued in English culture is a love of animals of all kinds.British Cat Breeds have been bred over the centuries and shown at Cat shows up and down the British Isles. Below is the history of British Cat Shows and when they first appeared.

The very first 'official' cat show was held at the Crystal Palace in London on the 13th July 1871, the first 'show manager' was Harrison Weir the well known artist and writer. The show was held on a Thursday not the familiar Saturday we know today. There were 25 classes for Eastern and other Foreign breeds as well as native British varieties. The first shows to be held by any of the present day clubs was held by The National Cat Club in 1887 followed by The Scottish Cat Club in 1894.

Louis Wain 1860-1939 the anthropomorphic artist had a vision of the cat world, which soon brought him fame and as a result of his popularity and love of cats he was elected President of the British National Cat Club in 1891.

Shows had to be abandoned during the years of the First and Second World Wars so the National Cat Club's Centenary Show was held in December 1996.

When The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was founded by the Cat Clubs in 1910 there were 16 cat clubs represented, including one - Wilson's Ltd. Cat Club - which seems to have been something of a business venture; not surprisingly it does not appear to have survived for very long. The first GCCF Stud Book lists winners from shows held from 1910 to 1912. The Longhairs appeared in black, white, blue, red or orange, cream, smoke, silver tabby, brown tabby, red tabby, Chinchillas, tortoiseshell and tortie and white. The British Shorthairs were represented by most of the same colours and patterns except red, smoke, Chinchilla and tortoiseshell. The other breeds were Abyssinians, Siamese and Manx. Today the number of breeds and colours have increased tremendously.

Conditions at cat shows have improved over the years, the cats are no longer penned on straw, the judges and stewards all wear white coats and hygiene is very much more evident. Judges now use trolleys on which to place the cats for judging and these can be wheeled from pen to pen but thirty years ago the stewards had to struggle with a card table moving it from pen to pen for the judge - this needed real stamina!

Important events have been celebrated with special shows, in 1953 The Coronation Cat Show was held at The Royal Horticultural Society's New Hall in Westminster. A quick glance at the first page of the catalogue tells us that one of the veterinary surgeons in attendance was Mrs Muriel Calder who was, until recently, our GCCF Veterinary Officer and was our Vice-President; surely an honour for a youthful Vet.

Sadly none of the judges are still alive but there are a few familiar names in the list of exhibitors. 388 cats attended the show and the catalogue cover pictures 'the cat that came to London to see the Queen'

1976 saw a new Cat Show enter the calendar, the Supreme Cat Show. The show was organised by the GCCF and all the cats had to qualify by winning open classes at other Championship Shows. Today the Supreme has developed into a large and prestigious show and is held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham each November. A new method of judging was introduced - Ring Judging - all the cats are taken from their brilliantly decorated pens to the judging rings where the judges sit facing the public to judge the cats and often give a commentary on their judging. This show produces the country's top prize winners, the Supreme title holders.

History of British Dog Breeds from 63 BC to 1886 AD

Imbued in English culture is a love of animals of all kinds. I have a website of funny animals on art prints. British Dog Breeds have been bred over the centuries and shown at dog shows up and down the British Isles. Below is the history of British Dogs and when they first appeared.

63-21 BC Strabo mentions the export of Hunting dogs from Britain
c50 AD The sons of Uisnech flee from Ulster to Scotland taking 150 hounds with them
c80-120 AD Occupation of Corbridge Roman Station in Northumberland by a garrison whose dogs have been identified as 'bassets' and 'small greyhounds'
161-180 AD Oppian describes a British dog called the agassaeus - probably a terrier
727 or 730 AD The death of St Hubert, Bishop of Liege ………credited with the development of the hounds bearing his name , the Black St Hubert ( possible ancestor of the Bloodhound) and the White St Hubert ( supposed ancestor of the Southern Hound).
c800 AD Pictess huntress with hounds portrayed coursing deer on the Hilton of Cadboll Slab, Scotland
c1016 First Forest Laws imposed by Canute ………keeping of greyhounds forbidden to anyone under the status of freeman.
c1070 Bayern Tapestry depicts only two breeds of dogs one which may be a mastiff
1301 Archbishop Winchesley allows the Abbot of Gloucester to keep twelve hunting dogs.
1335 Edward III imports Irish hounds.
1340-1400 Geoffrey Chaucer makes first reference to apaniels in The Wife of Bath's Prologue.
1371 Traditional date for combat between Aubrey de Montdidier's Irish hound and its master's murderer , Macaire.
1486 Dame Julian Berners describes the ideal greyhound as follows in her Book of St Albans; 'Headed like a snake, necked like a drake, footed like a cat, tailed life a rat, sided like a bream, chined like a beam'
1570 Dr John Caius publishes a book about British dogs.
1576 Abraham Fleming describes the use of terriers for hunting fox and badger.
1621 Gervase Markham gives a description of the setting spaniel in The Art of Fowling. He also describes the water dog.
1653 Dorothy Osborne writes to Sir William Temple to ask for an Irish hound.
1730 Sir Robert Walpole tries unsuccessfully to establish the post of Master of the Royal Foxhounds.
1732 The Newfoundland dog under the name of 'the Bear Dog' is described as being in use in England as a guard-dog and for turning water wheels.
c1770 Oliver Goldsmith , Irish author of Animated Nature , says that Irish hounds are rare and the largest he has seen is 'about four feet high'.
1780 Ashdown Park Coursing Society begun.
1782 Huo Meynell forms his pack at Quorndon from Arundel hounds…….
1787 Foxhounds pedigrees begin.
1790 One of the eight remaining Irish hounds is measured by A.R.Lambert who records it to be 36inches from hind toes to hind shoulders and 28!/2 inches from two to foreshoulder.
1796 Dog population estimated at 1 million.
1800 Edwards depicts the rough and smooth coated collie.
1800-1877 Edwarde Laverack , the developer of the English Setters called Laveracks.
1803 Willam Taplin declares the Irish Hound probably extinct.
1815 Guy Mannering is published by Sir Walter Scott , in which Danie Dinmont Terriers are described
1815 The Reverend John ( 'Jack') Russell begins breeding terriers.
1820 The Bedlington terrier supposedly introduced from Holland bu a weaver of Longhorsley.
1827 Death of the Duke of Gordon , originator of the Gordon Setter.
1836 The Waterloo Cup Meet begins at Sefton Altcar, near Liverpool. Silver collars are awrded to the winners till 1830 when a cup is instituted.
1843 Skye Terrier first mentioned
1847 A description of the 'English terrier' suggests that it is a Manchester terrier.
1850-1891 Captain John Edwarde develops the Sealyham on his estate at Sealyham in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
1858 National Coursing Club formed.
1859 First dog show , at Newcastle.
c1860 The Hin. Dudley Marjoribanks ( later Lord Tweedmouth) starts golden retrievers from a yellow retriever, one yellow pup in a litter of black wavy-coated pups that he has bought from a Brighton cobbler.
1862 Captain G.A.Graham attempts to revive the great Irish hound, using deerhound blood.
1870 A Mr W.C of Halifax, Nova Scotia mentions the report that the Beothuk Indians had ' a dog , but that it was a small breed…..The Labrador dog is  a distinct breed ………..formerly they were only to be met with on that part of the coast of Labrador which to us is known as the South Shore of the mainland in the Straits of Belle Isle.
1873 Kennel Club set up.
1877 Foxhound Show at Peterborough founded.
1882 Greyhound Stud Book.
1886 First Crufts Show . Terriers only.

Crufts the Iconic Dog Show and its History


As an animal fan and an attendee of over 1000 shows of dogs, cats, birds, horses and country shows when I was self employed and selling old fine art prints.

Crufts was named after its founder, Charles Cruft, who worked as general manager for a dog biscuit manufacturer, travelling to dog shows both in the United Kingdom and internationally, which allowed him to establish contacts and understand the need for higher standards for dog shows. In 1886, Cruft's first dog show, billed as the "First Great Terrier Show", had 57 classes and 600 entries. The first show named "Crufts"—"Cruft's Greatest Dog Show"—was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, in 1891. It was the first at which all breeds were invited to compete, with around 2,000 dogs and almost 2,500 entries.

With the close of the 19th century, entries had risen to over 3,000, including royal patronage from various European countries and Russia. The show continued annually and gained popularity each year until Charles' death in 1938. His widow ran the show for four years until she felt unable to do so due to its high demands of time and effort. To ensure the future and reputation of the show (and, of course, her husband's work), she sold it to The Kennel Club.

In 1936, "The Jubilee Show" had 10,650 entries with the number of breeds totalling 80. The 1948 show was the first to be held under the new owner and was held at Olympia in London, where it continued to gain popularity with each passing year. The first Obedience Championships were held in 1955. In 1959, despite an increase in entrance fees, the show set a new world record with 13,211 entrants. By 1979, the show had to be moved to Earls Court exhibition centre as the increasing amount of entries and spectators had outgrown the capacity of its previous venue. Soon, the show had to be changed again—the duration had to be increased to three days in 1982, then again in 1987 to four days as the popularity continued to increase. Since 1991, the show has been held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, the first time the show had moved out of London since its inception.


It was also at the Centenary celebrations in 1991 that Crufts was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest dog show with 22,973 dogs being exhibited in conformation classes that year. Including agility and other events, it is estimated that an average 28,000 dogs take part in Crufts each year, with an estimated 160,000 human visitors attending the show and watched on Television Worldwide by over 100 million viewers.


The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic History


As an animal fan and an atendee of over 1000 shows of cats, dogs, birds, horses and country shows when I was self employed and selling old fine art prints UK wide.


The Supreme Cat Show is the world's largest cat show and is comparable to Crufts. It is organised every year by the world's oldest cat registry, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, or GCCF and takes place each November at the National Exhibiting Centre in Birmingham. Special awards of UK Champion and Supreme Champion can be gained at this show only and the cat winning Best In Show has the accolade of becoming the supreme exhibit.


The first Supreme Cat Show took place in 1976. Until then the GCCF itself did not organise cat shows, but licensed shows put on by the breed clubs and area clubs affiliated to it. The Supreme Cat Show was devised as a special show, whoch would only be open to cats which had won an open class at another championship show under GCCF rules, much in the same way that Crufts is only open to winning dogs. The show grew in size each year until it became big enough to be held at the NEC, which has been its home ever since.


Unlike most other shows the GCCF’s Supreme Show has no miscellaneous or club classes; it does, however, have classes other shows do not have. There are four Adult Open classes for each championship status breed: Champion Male and Female classes for full Champions, the winners being eligible for Grand Challenge Certificates and Pre-Champion Male and Female classes for cats with one or two Certificates or who have qualified as kittens, competing for Challenge Certificates.


The same applies to the neuter classes which are split into Premier and Pre-Premier classes for males and females. Cats which are already Grand Champions do not compete in these classes but in special classes for Grand Champions, Imperial Grand Champions, UK Grand Champions and UK & Imperial Grand Champions only, the winner being eligible for a UK Grand Challenge Certificate. Grand Premiers, Imperial Grand Premiers, UK Grand Premiers and UK & Imperial Grand Premiers compete for a UK Grand Premier Certificate.


In these classes several breeds may compete together. UK Grand Certificates are only awarded at the Supreme Show; two such Certificates from different judges give the cat the title of UK Grand Champion/Premier or UK & Imperial Grand Champion/Premier if it has additionally gained that title. There is no Reserve UK Grand Challenge/Premier Certificate.


Best of Breed winners at the Supreme Show do not get certificates but compete against the other BOB winners in their section for Best of Variety.


The seven Best of Variety Adults (Persian, Semi-Longhair, British, Foreign, Burmese, Oriental and Siamese) compete for Supreme Adult, the seven kittens for Supreme Kitten and the seven neuters for Supreme Neuter. The Supreme Adult and the Neuter can add the coveted word 'Supreme' to their title.

Finally, the Supreme Adult, Supreme Kitten and Supreme Neuter compete against each other for the honour of being judged Supreme Exhibit.

Please visit my Louis Wain 1860-1939l Art Prints Collection @ https://www.fabprints.com

My other website is called Directory of British Icons: https://fabprints.webs.com

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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