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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Today marks the 5th anniversary of the founding of London Historians.

The first London Historians member card. Somerset House.

The first London Historians member card. Somerset House.

I’d like to thank every single member who has joined us in that time. I’d also like to thank all the friends we’ve made at museums, libraries, historic buildings, local history societies and other heritage groups, the London Topographical Society, to pick a random example. Curators, librarians, authors, academics, genealogists, archaeologists. And tour guides, a special mention for them: there are several dozen among our membership which now stands at 520. I wonder if we can make that 600 in 24 hours?

SPECIAL OFFER NEW MEMBERS. This Day Only, ends midnight.
If you’re a non-Member reading this and would like to take the plunge, we commemorate this anniversary with a £10 discount on joining. 24 hours only! Please proceed to this page. (for “Qualifying Group”, please put LH5).

Here are some highlights, events, memories.

2010
26 August. London Historians founded with web site and bank account.
2 September. First blog post. Not very exciting!
8 September. New member cards designed and ordered.
20 September. Our first paying Member!
Early member newsletter web site articles in 2010 by Brian Cookson, Russ Willey, Emily Brand, Lucy Inglis and Christian Wolmar (yes, the transport guru and current London Mayoral candidate).

Historian, Blue Badge Guide, author Brian Cookson. He wrote our first article and in 2011 conducted our first guided tour.

Historian, Blue Badge Guide, author Brian Cookson. He wrote our first article and in 2011 conducted our first guided tour.

2011
15 March: Our launch party at the Georgian Group HQ in Fitzroy Square.
31 March. Our 100th Member. Take a bow, Essie Fox!
Weds 4 May. First ever monthly pub meet-up at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. (now Hoop & Grapes, Farringdon Street). Three members show up. This event has run on the first Weds of the month unbroken ever since, now attracting dozens of members and guests. So we’ve had 52 at time of writing.
21 May. Our first guided walk under LH banner, and led by LH Member, Brian Cookson.
28 July. Awayday trip and conference in Bath organised by LH Members from Bath Spa University led by Prof Elaine Chalus.
18 September. Tour of Kensal Green Cemetery.
21 September. Our first History in the Pub. Unthemed. Speakers Lucy Inglis and Prof Jerry White. Live music from Ruairidh Anderson, quiz by Matt Brown. Matt continues as our MC for all subsequent History in the Pub events.
30 November. History in the Pub 2. Unthemed. Speakers are historian Nigel Jones and Prof Tim Hitchcock. Live music from Ruairidh Anderson again and Henry Skewes.
17 December: Art and the City. Tour of some Wren churches and the Guildhall Art Gallery, let by LH Member Colin Davey.

Members and guests and our launch party.

Members and guests and our launch party.

Audience at our first History in the Pub.

Audience at our first History in the Pub.

2012
7 February. We witness the opening of The Trial of the Pyx.
10 March. Visit to Whitechapel Bell Foundry. We repeated the exercise in 2015.
13 March. History in the Pub 3: sounds of London. Our first themed effort. Featuring archivists from BBC, British Library and Wellcome Library Terrific.
25/26 April. Two behind the scenes visits to the Parliamentary Archives, led by LH Member Caroline Shenton. Wonderful.
1 May. Behind the Scenes at Kew National Archives. We repeated this tour in 2013.
5 May. Visit to Turner’s House and Marble Hill House.
17 July. History in the Pub 4. Theme East London.
25 July. Member tour of Fulham Palace.
16 August. Member tour of the Supreme Court.
October. History in the Pub 5: Fire. Member tour of London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), Oddities of the Strand walk with LH Member Peter Berthoud. Blog summary.
25 November. Pub meet-up to celebrate Henry Mayhew’s bi-centenary.
7 December. 10,000 followers on Twitter

One of two group visits to the Parliamentary Archives.

One of two group visits to the Parliamentary Archives.

Behind the scenes at the National Archives, Kew.

Behind the scenes at the National Archives, Kew.

Oddities of the Strand guided walk.

Oddities of the Strand guided walk.

2013
13 January. Sold-out panel conference to celebrate 150 years of the Tube at London Transport Museum.
12 March. Behind the scenes member tour at the Wellcome Library.
21 March. Behind the scenes member tour of the Old Bailey
16 April. Member tour of Tower Bridge, including bascule chamber.
18 April. History in the Pub. Theme: Tudor London with Suzannah Lipscomb, Mathew Lyons and Andrew Maginley
20 June. Member guided walk of the Caledonian Road with LH Member Rob Smith. Flickr album.
27 June. Curator-led member tour of the Government Art Collection.
9 August. Member tour of London Transport Museum Acton Depot.
16 August. Awayday curator tour of Watts Gallery, Guildford, with lunch. Flickr album.
18 August. Guided walk of Jewish East End and Bevis Marks Synagogue with LH Member Clive Bettington.
2 September. Exploring the Thames forshore with Thames Discovery Programme.
7 September. Walk Every Street in Soho with LH Member Peter Berthoud.
12 September. Lecture and member tour of London Metropolitan Archives.
25 September. Coroner’s Inquest historical re-enactments at the George in the Strand with Univerisity of Herts.
26 September. Petty Sessions historical re-enactments at the George in the Strand with Univerisity of Herts.
8 October. History in the Pub. Theme: Sex and the City
10 October. City of London Slavery walk led by LH Member with LH Member Will Pettigrew.
18 October. Macdonald Gill curator private view at Pitzhanger Manor.
14 November. History in the Pub. Theme: London’s Street Poor.
19 November. Bollards, Breweries and Bullets. Conference at the National Archive, Kew.

Exclusive tour of London Transport Museum Acton Depot

Exclusive tour of London Transport Museum Acton Depot

At Bevis Marks Synagogue.

At Bevis Marks Synagogue.

2014.
FLICKR ALBUM OF 2014 HIGHLIGHTS

13 February. Member tour of the Royal Courts of Justice led by LH Member, Colin Davey.
26 February. Curator-led member tour of Georgians Revealed at the British Library.
5 March. Curator preview of Brits who Built the Modern World at RIBA.
14 March. Curator-led member tour of the Royal Institution with Charlotte New and Laurence Scales.
20 April. Behind the scenes at HMP Wandsworth and private museum, led by a serving prison officer and LH Member.
25 April. Curator-led tour of Bank of England Museum.
29 April. History in the Pub. Theme: Beer, Pubs and Breweries incl. LH Member Martyn Cornell.
16 May. Walking tour of St Katharine Docks and Royal Foundation led by LH Member Chris West.
29 May. Archivist-led member tour of Westminster School.
12 June. Behind the scenes exclusive member tour of British Library map collection with Peter Barber.
18 July. Member tour of Apothecaries’ Hall.
19 July. Walking tour of Industrial East London and House Mill led by LH Member Rob Smith.
22 July. Curator-led member tour of Dr Johnson’s House
29 July. History in the Pub. Shakespeare’s Local. Author talk at the George Inn, Southwark.
13 August. Member tour of the Government Art Collection.
22 August. Excl. member tour of Sutton House.
27 August. Walking tour of Smithfield and Bart’s Hospital and churches, led by LH Member Peter Twist.
4 September. LONDON HISTORIANS INAUGURAL LONDON LECTURE. Barnard’s Inn Hall, Gresham College. LH Member Adrian Tinniswood OBE on Christopher Wren, Extraordinary Genius.
3 October. Post Office Big Day Out. Storage Depot in Debden and Heritage Library, London.
12 October. History in the Pub. Theme: History OF the pub.
13 December. Member tour of BBC Broadcasting House. More on Flickr.
16 December. Private view and wine reception, Hogarth’s London exhibition, Cartoon Museum.

Tour of Apothecaries' Hall.

Tour of Apothecaries’ Hall.

Adrian Tinniswood about to deliver the inaugural London Historians Annual Lecture.

Adrian Tinniswood about to deliver the inaugural London Historians Annual Lecture.

2015
The theme for the year is the City of London’s Livery Companies.
8 January. Member tour of the College of Arms, led by the Windsor Herald.
16 January. Member tour of Merchant Taylors’ Hall.
24 February. Member tour of Cutlers’ Hall.
3 March. History in the Pub. Theme: Sport in London with Simon Inglis and Clive Bettington.
6 March. Member tour of Drapers’ Hall.
21 March. Supper at Yeoman Warders’ Club, Tower of London and Ceremony of the Keys.
17 April. Member tour of Stationers’ Hall.
21 April. Site visit to Crossrail archaeological site at Liverpool Street Station.
24 April. Derelict London walk and St Dunstan’s Stepney tour with Paul Talling and Dave Whittaker.
9 May. Member tour of Boston Manor and guided walk to historic Brentford.
20 May. Seminar at Information Technologists’ Hall. Heraldry and Regalia of the City of London and Livery, by LH Member Paul Jagger.
5 June. Member tour of Vintners’ Hall
12 June. Brixton tour. HMP Brixton and Brixton Windmill.
14 June. Walking tour. Battle of Waterloo commemoration.
20 June. Member tour of Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Our second visit.
29 June. Member tour of Watermen’s Hall.
11 July. Walking tour of industrial Woolwich with Laurence Scales.
21 July. History in the Pub. Theme: Inky Fingers – London and the Press.
24 July. Member tour of Armourers’ and Brasiers’ Hall.
26 August: 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF LONDON HISTORIANS

Brixton Windmill.

Brixton Windmill.

Armourers' and Brasiers' Hall.

Armourers’ and Brasiers’ Hall.

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I’ve received many notifications the past week or two from dear friends, via LinkedIn, to congratulate me on my “work anniversary”. I must apologise to them for LinkedIn’s impertinance and, I suppose, thank them too for acquiescing to the bot. (book title? album title?)

But at least is served to remind me that London Historians has been going for four years. Already. So I’ve spent a little  (a lot) time going through photos of our events over this period. I’m struck by actually how many there have been: about a hundred, I reckon. But also, it’s reminded me that in London Historians we do actually have a jolly good time. Most of all, though, I’m humbled by the number of wonderful people who have “got” the London Historians thing, and backed us by becoming Members. That is what this is all about.

Rather than create another album on Flickr of grand palaces, livery companies, historic bridges and so on, I’ve made one that focuses on our Members. Each image has a caption about the event featured. Although we started in August 2010, these begin early in 2011 because it took us some months to get a little Membership going. We’re now over 500, if you’re asking.

The full album on Flickr is here.

By way of introduction, I’ve chosen one for each year to put here, but do go and see the full set which I think goes some way to answering the question: What are London Historians like? And if you fancy joining our gang, that’d be terrific. You can do so here.

London Historians Launch Party

16 March 2011. Scene from our official launch party at Georgian Group HQ, Fitzroy Square.

10 March. Tour of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Britain's oldest business.

10 March 2012. Tour of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Britain’s oldest business.

16 April. In a bascule chamber beneath Tower Bridge.

16 April 2013 . In a bascule chamber beneath Tower Bridge.

12 June. Checking out the King's Topographical Collection (K-TOP) at the British Librar with Head of Maps, Peter Barber.

12 June 2014. Checking out the King’s Topographical Collection (K-TOP) at the British Librar with Head of Maps, Peter Barber.

 

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Yesterday we passed the 10,000 Twitter followers mark. I’m not entirely sure what this means in practice, but it’s a nice, round, big-sounding number and I’m very grateful to almost each and every one, for there must be some ne’er-do-wells, scoundrels and bots in that number.

No matter, time for a celebratory gesture, and it’s this. From now until midnight tomorrow, Saturday, you can join London Historians at a big discount: £19 for Individual (usually £39), and £25 for Joint (usually £49).

THIS SPECIAL NOW CLOSED: WELCOME TO OUR 42 NEW MEMBERS!

Our webmaster is  not around at the moment, I had to program this myself. So I’d really appreciate it you use it and join the happy band that is London Historians. You’ll be very welcome.

What will happen next is that we’ll send you December Members’ Newsletter (articles by Mike Rendell and Russ Willey, and a competition to with this book), and I’m ordering the last batch of new Members’ cards first thing Monday so you can have yours by Christmas.

Join us today!

UPDATE
THIS SPECIAL NOW CLOSED: WELCOME TO OUR 42 NEW MEMBERS!

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History in the Pub: Fire
Once again this event packed out completely the upstairs room at The Bell pub in Middlesex Street. Our speakers were retired firefighter and London Firebrigade Museum volunteer,  David Rogers, who told us how the brigade emerged as a unified organisation in the mid 19C. After the recharge-your-glasses break, Caroline Shenton spoke about the 1834 fire which destroyed most of the old Houses of Parliament, paving the way for the world famous buildings we know today. I reviewed Caroline’s book here. She is talking at the National Archives in Kew on Thursday afternoon (I’m going!). David meantime, is running a project to restore the London Fire Brigade boat Massey Shaw to its former glory and return it to the Thames next year. Follow this worthy enterprise here. Our thanks to Matt Brown once again for hosting the evening and setting demanding quiz questions.

Next History in the Pub is Tuesday 30 October. The topic is Sickness, Health and Medicine. LH members Free, guests £3. There are some places still available at time of writing. Details here.

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

Tough interrogation: the Speed Quiz

Oddities of the Strand with Peter Berthoud
The other Saturday London Historians member Pete Berthoud (one of well over a dozen of our members who are qualified guides) took a group of us from Covent Garden down the lesser-known spots in, around and near the Strand. And we ended up at the pub, surprise surprise, but it was a lovely occasion. Pete goes the extra mile, dishing out the Quality Street and lovely bananas. To find out why you must book yourself onto his next Strand walk (web site below). My favourite bits included: the last remaining evidence of the Adams’s Adelphi, a very dangerous rat-run for cab drivers and other motorists in the know; Davenports historic  magic emporium, under Charing Cross Station, the shop where all the top magicians get their supplies.

If you’d like to join one of Peter Berthoud’s walks or to book your group, his web site is here.

peter berthoud discovering london

Peter Berthoud Discovering London

Breaking out the Quality Street: but why?

Behind the Scenes at LAARC (London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre)
Most museums are like icebergs with just a small percentage of their collections on show. The rest has to be kept in storage. Museum of London is no different. Last Wednesday we visited Mortimer Wheeler House, a large facility where the museum stores many centuries of history. We were mainly guided around the 19th and 20th Century stores. Miles and miles of rack shelving loaded with the most amazing treasure. So, in the best Generation Game  tradition, we saw: phones and telecomms equipment including Buckingham Palace switchboard; toys; street lighting and other misc urban furniture; painted advertising; packaging; bicycles and carriages; workshop tools and paraphernalia from glassworkers, engravers, watchmakers; public clocks; and on and on it went, seemingly endless. Our thanks to Andrew Marcus and Alex Werner of the Museum of London for taking us around. If you’d like to organise your own group tour of the LAARC , contact the museum.

LAARC Tour object handling 6 museum of london

© Museum of London

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At least a quarter of our members are on Twitter, that is to say about 1% of our whole Twitter following. I always get a buzz when two Tweeters meet each other for the first time at one of our events and you see eyes light up in recognition of often a lengthy 149 character friendship.

We have authors, novelists, tour guides, archivists, librarians, academics, bloggers, cartoonists, musicians, journalists, students, publishers, buildings experts, heritage professionals, ghost writers, programmers, genealogists and regular Joes like me who just love their history.

I never seem to have time to do the Friday #FF thing, and besides there is always the risk of missing people out. So here’s a list of London Historians members, please #FF them. And let me know if you’re a member and I’ve missed you out.

@Adeteal @adetinniswood @AndrewMaginley @angiplamb @annecarwardine @audreycollins23 @avail @beccasams @bilaeva @bobbyatbath @carolineld @christianwolmar @ClaudiaFunder @ColinWalkLondon @dgbdgb @DrFrond @dustshoveller @EHChalus @EJBrand @emmajolly @essiefox @foratata @gberserker @gentlemansykes @GeorgianGent @gudge75 @guidediane @HalcyonVA @historybeagle @househistorian @importanttrivia @janeslondon @KateMayfield @katemorant @keatsbabe @kimawhitaker @kingdomhorse @kirstyriddiford @lancashirelady @leohollis @linzherdscats @London_darkside @londonginclub @londonhistorian @londonleben @londonphile @londonstone @lucyinglis @lukemouland @mad10 @MathewJLyons @mattfromlondon @mishjholman @missusrachie @missysun @MmeGuillotine @neil_fraser_ @OiLondon @patrickbaty @PaulDaveyCreate @PeteBSW1 @Peter_Watts @quackwriter @rachel_gibbons @reuseisbest @rob_s_smith @RobertElms @rosamundi @rosemarymorgan @ruthlynas @Sarah_McCabe_ @Sjgray86 @sketchesbyboz @slangular @specvernac @the_sugar_girls @thefrolick @thehowlingsea @TraceLarkhall @TwoRoadsBooks @vickeegan @walkingthepast @walkthelinesLDN @wallstroker @wearyhousewife @wwalks

Altogether, now! #FF them all, #FF them all, the long and the short and the tall… Etc.

Update 9 August: Thank to Calum in comments for suggesting I put everyone on a list within Twitter. Now done, and here.

Totally coincidentally, @wwalks wrote an excellent introduction to Twitter on her blog only yesterday. So, if you’d like to get more out of it, or are thinking of getting on Twitter for the first time, I recommend you have a read of it.

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