Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘london historians’

21 March: Pocahontas
This year marked the 400th anniversary of the death in Gravesend of the Powhatan princess Pocahontas having spent some time in 1616/17 living in and around London with her English husband, tobacco merchant John Rolfe. There were notable commemorations in Gravesend and Syon House. We did our bit with an evening of talks and music at the Sir Christopher Hatton, our regular lecture venue in Holborn.

pocahontas

23 May: The London Historians Big Quiz
Full house at the Sir Christopher Hatton for our inaugural annual quiz conducted, naturally, by London’s leading quizmaster and LH Member Matt Brown. The winning team led by Diane Burstein (below) carted off the huge trophy. Incidentally, in September the Totally Thames quiz was won by the London Historians team for the third time in four years. Dave Whittaker, Joanna Moncrieff, Emma Bridge, Mike Paterson.

bigquiz

17 July: Water Music 300
Monday 17 July was the 300th anniversary of Handel’s Water Music, composed for George I in 1717. In partnership with Georgian Dining Academy and supported by Handel House Museum, we hosted a period costume re-enactment aboard the Golden Jubilee performed by a live 12-piece baroque orchestra. It was probably the most beautiful evening of the summer, how lucky was that? Unquestionably the highlight of the year.

Handel's Water Music celebrates 300 years

Handel's Water Music celebrates 300 years

Handel's Water Music celebrates 300 years

Handel's Water Music celebrates 300 yearsAll above images by Paul Davey. 

16 July: Wandsworth Prison and Museum
The Wandsworth Prison Museum was re-opened in a purpose-built building in    . The curator is LH Member Stewart Mclauchlin. On 16 July he gave us a tour of both the museum and the prison itself which dates from 1851. Very interesting indeed.

hmpwandsworth

17 September. London Historians Annual Lecture
A fully-booked hall at Gresham College’s lovely pre-Tudor HQ, Barnard’s Inn, for our fourth Annual Lecture. This year London Historians founder member Prof Elaine Chalus delivered a talk entitled ‘Everybody seems quite wild’: Emperor-hunting in London in 1814. Simply superb.

chalus

25 October: Southwark Cathedral Candlelit Tour

southwark

8 December: Behind the Scenes at the Old Vic

old vic

Other Events
9 January: Tour of Fishmongers’ Hall
24 February: Leighton House and Flaming June
10 March: London Scottish Regiment Museum Tour
6 April: The Thin Veil of London tour of Bloomsbury and Holborn
10 April: Society of Antiquaries Private Tour
21 April: 18 Stafford Terrace Private Tour
16 May: History in the Pub: Crime and Punishment
26 May: Tour of Clothworkers’ Hall
13 July: Tour of Carpenters’ Hall
19 July: Tour of St Bride’s Church, Crypt and Charnel House
25 July: History in the Pub: Our Favourite Londoners
14 September: Behind the Scenes Tour of 55 Broadway
18 September: Tour of Wax Chandlers’ Hall
10 October: History in the Pub: London’s Women of Note
17 November: Printing in Hammersmith, Kelmscott House & Emery Walker House
4 December: Tour of Goldsmiths’ Hall

… and of course not forgetting 12 x monthly pub meet-ups, first Wednesday of the month.

RIP
Far from being highlights but we must remember them here. This year we lost Helen Szamuely in April and Malcolm Blythe in October, both of whom had been unwell for some time. Like the rest of us, they both loved London deeply and will be missed.


I’d like to thank all our members for their wonderful support and friendship throughout the year and to you our readers for visiting. We look forward to putting together another packed programme of events in 2018. Most of these are members only. Ensure your eligibility by joining our happy throng. You couldn’t make a better New Year’s resolution!

Happy New Year and thanks again,

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Oh dear, I should have done this ahead of Christmas to help solve gift dilemmas. Never mind.

best books 2017
With notable increases both in membership and activities, book reading and reviewing suffered this year more than in 2016, which was very much a vintage year for London history books, I feel. But more of our members are stepping up to do reviews, an activity we’ll do our best to nurture in 2018 and beyond.

Short-listed are Peter Stone’s excellent The History of the Port of London; and Indigenous London by Coll Thrush whose early chapters knitted perfectly with this year’s Pocahontas 400th anniversary.

But our winner of London Historians book of the year is The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes, a wonderfully-balanced introduction to these very different Restoration diarists who were nonetheless best of friends. There is plenty here even for those who know these gentlemen well.

These and other good books which passed our desk during the year are here.

Read Full Post »

Victims of our own success (600+ Members), we have run out of stock of Member cards featuring a design from 2013.

Print

back_outlines

Print

And here is the previous generation design from 2011. Gorgeous: my favourite.

Print

What this means is we now have an opportunity to do a brand new Member card featuring a historic London vista. Like the above examples it would probably include the Thames but this is not a set-in-stone stipulation. What is important is that it has sufficient space of sky, or possibly water, for the London Historians logo and “MEMBER” to stand out without unduly interfering with the image.

We need to act quickly and we’d love to hear your suggestions.

If you’re not familiar with the LH Member card, it’s printed on credit-card type plastic and personalised on the reverse. A quality item. If you’d like to join us as a Member and be the first to receive the new card, you can do so here.

Read Full Post »

hs240We were extremely saddened earlier this week to lose a Founder Member and great supporter of London Historians, Helen Szamuely.  Following a year or so of a serious medical condition which she kept mostly to herself, Helen died peacefully early on Wednesday morning, aged 66, which is no age at all.

We had less that two days previously just published an excellent article by Helen in our Members’ newsletter for April. It was about Count Alexander Benckendorff, a Russian diplomat, who a hundred years ago became the first and only layman to be buried in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral.

Helen was born in Moscow to Hungarian and Russian parents during the Soviet period. She spent some of her early years in Hungary where her parents’ flat in Budapest was something of a magnet for intellectual dissidents. They witnessed directly the brutal suppression of the 1956 uprising. Arriving in England aged 14, she spent the rest of her life in Britain standing up for liberty, self-determination and related causes.

Helen achieved a First in History and Russian at University of Leeds, going on to obtain her DPhil at Oxford.

Dr Samuely was a writer for many magazines, blogs, newsletters, mainly on topics of history, politics and literature. Among the lucky publications of her output are included the New Statesman, History Today and, of course, ourselves – London Historians.

Helen was brave, funny, clever, argumentative, incisive, wonderful company and a true friend. Fiercely independent, she possessed a razor-sharp intellect which some found daunting while others – like me – found exhilarating. When you engaged with her – particularly in matters of politics and history – it was best to bring your A game.

Helen enjoyed cooking, loved cats and for some reason represented herself on social media as a machine-gun toting squirrel which somehow seemed wholly appropriate. She was a keen consumer of detective fiction. Unsurprisingly, Helen was an avid scholar of Russian literature, particularly poetry, much of which she translated into English. She was an active supporter of Pushkin House in London.

I recommend you look up Helen on Facebook and read the entries from the past five days more fully to appreciate the great esteem in which she was held.

Helen supported London Historians frequently with her presence at our events, unannounced if not unexpected. She wrote some wonderful articles for our Members’ newsletter, mainly about Russians in London – exiles, diplomats, artists and Tsars. We shall republish these in the coming weeks for a wider audience to enjoy.

Helen is a great loss to not only to us at London Historians, but all her friends in many, many walks of life. Most of all, though, to daughter Katharine to whom we extend our deepest condolences.

Dr Helen Szamuely. Born 25.06.1950, Moscow. Died 05.04.2017, London.

Read Full Post »

Best London History Books of the Year 2016

For various reasons this year I didn’t get around to as much reading as I usually manage so have probably done someone an injustice of omission. However, our shortlist of favourite books of the year is as follows:

Benjamin Franklin in London by George Goodwin
Mr Barry’s War by Caroline Shenton
Curiocity by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose
Mansions of Misery by Jerry White
The Boss of Bethnal Green by Julian Woodford

Our winner of London Historians Book of the Year for 2016 is Curiocity by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose. Unconventional format compared with “regular” titles, but so utterly brilliant, we couldn’t not. Thank you Henry and Matt, and congratulations to everyone for such outstanding work.

Previous winners:
2011 Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun
2012 Mr Foote’s Other Leg by Ian Kelly
2013 Beastly London by Hannah Velten
2014 Played in London by Simon Inglis
2015 The Street of Wonderful Possibilities by Devon Cox

A tad late, but there are still four shopping days left till Christmas. Any one of these will get you brownie points on Sunday morning. Merry Christmas.

Read Full Post »

paulinesowry03We were very sad to hear of the unexpected death of LH Member Pauline Sowry on 19 August, though aware that she had endured some adverse health issues of late.

Pauline was a Founder Member of London Historians back in 2010 and a great and valued supporter of ours ever since; it was always lovely to see her at our events, which she frequently attended.

Daughter Tessa writes:
“Pauline was born in Wembley in 1949. During quite an ill childhood, at the age of 10 she decided to be a librarian, and then spent her life fulfilling this mission. She worked all over London and in her later years in Rochester at the University of Creative Arts. Once retired, she even became the chairman of the local community library as a volunteer. She spent her life learning, with a particular interest in art and history.”

Pauline completed a degree in Medieval History at the LSE in the early 1980s.

She spent her whole career as a qualified librarian, mainly in London, starting at Tooting in the early 1970s. Her final appointment before retirement in 2009 was College Librarian at the University of Creative Arts in Rochester.

Very near her home, from 2011 Pauline was the lynchpin at the Tattenhams library in Epsom when it became a Community Partnership Library to save it from closure.

On behalf of all Pauline’s fellow Members at London Historians we extend our condolences to husband Phil, son Tom, daughter Tessa and grandson Stanley.
_______________________________________

Update.
I attended Pauline’s funeral on Wednesday 21 September in Leatherhead, with fellow LH Member Sue Sinton Smith, followed by a lovely reception at the Tattnehams Community Library. Both were very well attended by all her friends and family, standing room only, in fact. It was a non-religious service, with a wonderful choice of exit music: Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir.

dsc04929_500

Donations in memory of Pauline can be made to:
Kidney Research UK, c/o Alan Greenwood & Sons, 4a Tattenham Crescent, Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT18 5QG. We’ve made a modest contribution on behalf of London Historians.

Our thanks to Rev. Des Williamson for extra information on Pauline.

Read Full Post »

DSC03565c

Last Saturday London Historians went on an awayday to St Albans; 12 of us. We were led by fellow Member and guide, Rob Smith, a longstanding resident of the city who gave us a wonderful tour.

I was aware, of course, of the ancient Roman town very near by, Verulamium. And that it has a fine old abbey, now a cathedral. But I was unprepared for quite how much of this city’s historic fabric survives. You can walk entire streets where the newest building might be Victorian. I was particularly pleased to see lots of old coaching inns which today shops, pubs, flats, whatever. But still there. St Albans escaped WW2 bombing but importantly it’s less careless about its heritage than London: I gather the St Albans Civic Society has a fearsome reputation.

DSC03504c

DSC03505c

DSC03510c

The cathedral itself, like many large and ancient survivals, is a hodge-podge of styles, and none the worse for that. At the beginning of its timeline, still an abbey, we have its beautiful Norman tower. At the other end we have the much-derided west front by Victorian architect Edmund Beckett Denison who took over the building’s restoration from Sir George Gilbert Scott. It looks okay to me but will never compare with – for example – Hawksmoor’s west front towers at Westminster Abbey.

DSC03534c

DSC03535c

DSC03529c

Inside is the shrine and tomb of St Alban himself, a local man who during the Roman persecution, took the rap for a Christian priest, and was beheaded. Like today, pilgrimage was massive business in the Middle Ages, only more so. When the martyrdom of Thomas Beckett turned Canterbury into a serious rival destination, St Albans successfully petitioned Rome for Alban’s beneficiary, Amphibalus, also to be sanctified.  Two saints!

Shrine of St Alban.

Shrine of St Alban.

Shrine of St

Shrine of Amphibalus. Some TLC needed, though.

In addition to these two blameless fellows, notable St Albans residents included Matthew Paris, who was a monk at the abbey, and a medieval chronicler; Francis Bacon, the scientist and philosopher who developed the Scientific Method. Queen Anne’s friend Sarah Churchill, who preferred St Albans to Blenheim; and Samuel Ryder, a seed magnate originally from Preston, who sponsored the first Ryder Cup.

The Wars of the Roses. Did you know they kicked of at St Albans? In May 1455, the armies of the Dukes of York and Somerset fought it out in the streets, alleys, ditches and the market square. The issue was that the King, Henry VI, was mentally ill, so who ruled England in his stead? York prevailed on this occasion, but not before St Albans, which had no investment in the quarrel whatsoever, got horribly sacked.

St Albans is but two stops on the train from St Pancras and therefore – for me – takes no more time than to reach fair Greenwich, which I visit quite frequently. You may find the same. No excuses. Rob has another scheduled tour coming up on 9 July.

Rob tells us about the ancient Great Gate to the Monastery.

Rob tells us about the ancient Great Gate to the Monastery.

View from St Albans's town Clock Tower in the market square.

View from St Albans’s town Clock Tower in the market square.

Clock Tower bell, known as Archangel Gabriel, case in Whitechapel c1400!

Clock Tower bell, known as Archangel Gabriel, cast in Whitechapel c1400!

Roman mosaic, in situ.

Roman mosaic, in situ.

I’ve put more pictures on our Flickr space here.

Finally, in view of my previous post, on the pipe organ, here is St Albans Cathedral’s tribute to David Bowie.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »