Category Archives: history

A Queen and her husband don’t quite get what they expected.

It was Tuesday 8th October 1861 and Britain’s Queen Victoria, and Albert her husband, are in Inverness-shire, Scotland and heading for their evening abode. She writes in her diary:

It became cold and windy with occasional rain. At length, and not till a quarter to nine, did we reach the inn of Dalwhinnie – 29 miles from where we had left our ponies – which stands by itself, away from any village.

Here, again (as yesterday), there were a few people assembled, and I thought they knew us; but it seems they did not, and it was only when we arrived that one of the maids recognised me.

She had seen me at Aberdeen and Edinburgh.  We went upstairs: the inn was much larger than at Fettercairn, but not nearly so nice and cheerful; there was a drawing-room and a dining-room; and we had a good-sized bed-room.

Albert had a dressing-room of equal size.  Mary Andrews [a wardrobe-maid] who was very useful and efficient and Lady Churchill’s maid had a room together, every one being in the house; but unfortunately there was hardly anything to eat, and two miserable starved Highland chickens, without any potatoes!  No pudding, and no fun; no little maid [the two there not wishing to come in], nor our two people – who were wet and drying our, and their, things – to wait on us!  It was not a nice supper; and the evening was wet.  As it was late we soon retired to rest.

Mary and Maxted [Lady Churchill’s maid] had been dining below with Grant, Brown, and Stewart [who came, the same as last time, with the maids] in the ‘commercial room’ at the foot of the stairs.  They had only the remains of our two starved chickens!

I wonder what the morrow will bring. 

Advertisements

Dorothy Wordsworth walking and talking in England’s Lake District,

It is Tuesday 2nd October 1849 and Dorothy Wordsworth is in Grasmere in England’s Lake District. It would appear to be a semi-planned time as she writes into her diary:

‘A very rainy morning.  We walked after dinner to observe the torrents.  I followed William to Rydale, he afterwards went to Butterlip How.  I came home to receive the Lloyds.  They walked with us to see Churnmilk force and the Black quarter.  The black quarter looked marshy, and the general prospect was cold, but the Force was very grand.

We also find an interesting conversation regarding the manners of the rich of the country.  These are described as avaricious and greedy for gain while having the effeminacy, unnaturalness and the unworthiness of their kind.

I don’t think Dorothy liked the upper-crust of Britain’s rich!

150 years of Police support

It was at 6pm on Tuesday 29th September 1829 that the first parties of the ‘new police’ – England’s new, original Metropolitan Police Force – went on duty.  At first this was a far from safe role and the men were subjected to criticism and prejudice; exposed to criticism and prejudice, and ridden down and bludgeoned on patrol.  However, within a year of its formation this new police force had 3,000 men organized into seventeen divisions outside of the London city centre.  However, their discipline, patience, courage and humour won the day.  Over the following 40 years similar forces were formed across the country and, by September 1979, there were 51 individual forces comprising over 123,000 officers.  It was on Tuesday 26th September 1979 that the British Post Office postal service issued a set of four postage stamps in their honour.

A lady records a wartime scene in England’s conflict in 1941

Mrs Nella Last of Barrow-in-Furness was one of the many volunteer members across Britain of the Mass Observation Archive team – a community that had been set up in 1937 to observe British life by recording a day-to-day account of their everyday lives. These archives now give us a unique insight into the stories and experiences of British civilians going through a time when their country was at war.

This is from her diary for Saturday 13th September 1941 and Nella simply records seeing a child:

‘He was undersized, dirty, tousled and ragged. His poor little eyes were nearly closed with styes and when I touched his cheeks, his flesh had the soft, limp feeling of malnutrition.’

The war was having an impact on people no matter what their age.

What’s the point of this new stuff?

How many times have we asked this question of ourselves? 

It may well have been said many times in a mining venture that began life in 1902 as a mining company.  The five founders had a very simple plan – they wanted to harvest a mineral known as corundum from a mine called Crystal Bay.   Their company was named ‘The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.’  They became successful and moved on to other projects and products – and their name became easier to recall  – it was 3M and it was on this day – Monday 8th September 1930 – that they launched a new product to the world.  It was a transparent tape that was sticky on one side and smooth on the other.  They called the product Scotch Tape and its job was to seal Cellophane.

In 1937 UK manufacturers started to make a similar product and they called it Sellotape.  Just how did we cope without it?

London is on Fire – it’s 1666

It was late in the evening of Thursday 2nd September 1666 that a disaster began in the streets of London.  It was a small mistake, but with great consequences, when Thomas Farrinor, a baker to King Charles II, thought his fire was out so did not turn off his oven.  However, it appears that some smouldering embers ignited some nearby firewood and, by one o’clock in the morning, his house in Pudding Lane was in flames. He, with his wife and daughter, and one servant, escaped through an upstairs window.  Unfortunately, the baker’s maid wasn’t so fortunate and became the Great Fire’s first victim.

The London of 1666 was a city of half-timbered, pitch-covered medieval buildings and sheds that ignited at the touch of a spark.  There was a strong wind blowing on this morning and sparks flew everywhere. The fire crossed Fish Street Hill, engulfed the Star Inn and then spread into Thames Street, where riverfront warehouses were bursting with oil, tallow, and other combustible goods. By now the fire had grown too fierce to be doused by the crude firefighting methods of the day – a bucket-brigades armed with wooden pails of water. The usual solution during a fire of such size was to demolish every building in the path of the flames in order to deprive the fire of fuel, but the city’s mayor hesitated, fearing the high cost of rebuilding. Meanwhile, the fire spread out of control, doing far more damage than anyone could possibly have managed.

By the 4th September half of London was in flames. The King himself joined the fire fighters, passing buckets of water to them in an attempt to quell the flames, but the fire raged on. As a last resort gunpowder was used to blow up houses that lay in the path of the fire, and so create an even bigger fire-break, but the sound of the explosions started rumours that a French invasion was taking place…. even more panic!!  As refugees poured out of the city, St. Paul’s Cathedral was caught in the flames. The acres of lead on the roof melted and poured down on to the street like a river, and the great cathedral collapsed. Luckily the Tower of London escaped the inferno, and eventually the fire was brought under control, and by the 6th September had been extinguished altogether.  Only one fifth of London was left standing! Virtually all the civic buildings had been destroyed as well as 13,000 private dwellings, but amazingly only six people had died.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless. Eighty-nine parish churches, the Guildhall, numerous other public buildings, jails, markets and fifty-seven halls were now just burnt-out shells.  King Charles gave the fire fighters a generous purse of 100 guineas to share between them. Not for the last time would a nation honour its brave fire fighters.

The story of the English Pope

It was on this day – 1st September 1159 – that Pope Adrian IV passed away – the first and only Englishman to have occupied the papal throne.  He is recorded as being born at Bedmond Farm in Bedmond, a village in Hertfordshire, England at around 1100AD.  The site where his home stood is now marked by a plaque. He received his early education at the Abbey School at nearby St Albans community.  From this beginning he went to Paris and later became a ‘canon regular’ of the cloister of St Rufus monastery near Arles. He rose to be prior and was then soon unanimously elected abbot. From 1152 to 1154 Nicholas was in Scandinavia establishing an independent archepiscopal see for Norway. On his return to Rome, he was received with great honour by Pope Anastasius IV and on the death of Anastasius, Nicholas was chosen as pope on 3rd December 1154.  He took the name Adrian IV.

His throne was not an easy one with many challenges and an anti-papal faction in Rome. Disorder within the city had led to the murder of a cardinal which prompted Adrian, shortly before Palm Sunday in 1155, to take the unheard-of step of putting Rome under a ban that prohibited persons, certain active Church individuals and/or groups from participating in certain rites, or that the rites and services of the church were banished from having validity in certain territories for a limited or extended time.

Arnold of Brescia, King William of Sicily, Frederick Barbarossa and the Italian barons gave the English pope many challenges. Arnold’s followers took Rome. After they assassinated Cardinal Gerardus in broad daylight, Pope Adrian IV broke all precedent and placed the city under interdict. Eventually it capitulated to him.  Adrian’s most controversial act was a bull that allowed Henry II of England to annex Ireland to his kingdom. That decision left an aftertaste of bitterness that lingers to this day, more than 800 years later.

According to one report, Adrian IV died after choking on a fly in his wine, but quinsy (an inflammation of the tonsils) is the more commonly accepted explanation.

The Birth of British Radio

Britain’s first live public radio broadcast took place in June 1920. The public loved what they heard but this enthusiasm was not shared in official circles.  They said that the broadcasts interfered with important military and civil communications and by late 1920 public broadcasts were a banned.  However, by 1922, nearly 100 broadcast licence requests had been received and the General Post Office – the GPO – proposed that it would issue a single broadcasting licence to a company jointly owned by a consortium of leading wireless receiver manufactures.  It was to be known as the British Broadcasting Corporation – the BBC

On Saturday 20th July 1889 a boy had been born at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Scotland – the youngest, by ten years, of seven children.

He was baptised John Charles Walsham Reith.  In 1922 he was employed by the BBC as its general manager.  In 1923 he became its managing director and, in 1927, he was made the Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation that had been created under a Royal Charter.

His concept of broadcasting as a way of educating the masses underpinned for a long time the BBC and similar organisations around the world.

Not a new King – just a new family name

It was on Tuesday 17th July 1917 that the British Royal Family formally adopted the name ‘Windsor’ in the place of ‘Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’.

‘The Cornishman’ carried a typical statement of the facts with the heading:
THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR
RENUNCIATION OF SAXE-COBURG.
A Proclamation was signed at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday that the British Royal Family henceforce be styled “The House of Windsor.”

The Western Gazette carried a similar outline but added: ‘M.P.’s AND ENEMY DUKES: Mr Swift McNeill, on the second reading of the Titles’ Deprivation Bill (Lords), in the House of Commons on Tuesday, said the Bill aimed at the Dukes of Cumberland and Albany, who still retained their high British titles. Why had it taken the Government three years to eliminate traitors and introduce this measure? He hoped German influence would be a thing of the past, and there would be no more presents of fortresses like Heligoland to the German Emperor.’

Today sees the start of Kingsbridge Fair Week down in Devon

Kingsbridge Town in Devon was granted a charter in 1461 to hold a fair.  The Glove Ceremony is still observed – it’s a white glove and is displayed to indicate an amnesty from prosecution for minor offenses committed during the fair – and precedes the picturesque Floral Dance through the main shopping street.  The week is filled with fun and games such as Pancake Races; Morris, Scottish and Country dancing and the Grand Carnival Parade.

All that above comes from the past records etc that I have gathered over quite a few years.  The following comes from the Kingsbridge website so should be right up to date.

During the last few months the Fair Week Committee have been working on this year’s Fair Week, putting together a programme of events to suit all tastes across this week.

First off  is the Five-a-side football which starts at 10.00.am on this Saturday morning.  While the footballers are running around the Farmers are opening their Market on the town square.

At 5 o’clock this evening the Gym Club will start the evening proceedings – and they will be followed by the official opening with the Crowning of the Fair Queen and Princesses on the bandstand. There will, of course, be musical entertainment continues throughout the evening.

The David Rowlands Fair will be in town all week with the Fair Week church service taking place at St. Edmund’s Church.  The day will close with Boules and family entertainment on the town square.  It all comes to an end with the ever popular Crazy Quiz.

Throughout the week there are games and competitions, music, the lantern parade and fireworks. The ever popular three legged race with the more exacting 10K race preceded by the Fun Run. Bingo, a very popular event which attracts players from across the South Hams, together with darts, pool, poker and euchre all to be found in venues around Kingsbridge.  There will be a baby competition and teddy bears picnic, town criers competition, dog show and junior crab catching competition. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to enjoy a Cream Tea, always a nice treat.

Traditionally we will be holding the Glove Hanging ceremony followed by the floral dance and the week will draw to a close with the Carnival Parade and music on the town square.