End of 2022 Update

Well 2022 has been another strange year for me. The majority of this year has been disturbed thanks to building work at home. That has meant that I haven’t been able to get as much of things done as I would have liked, including not doing as much work on my Anthony Woodville biography as I would have liked. It did also mean that working from home came to an abrupt end. Whilst I miss aspects of that, it has been nice to get back into the archive building I work in. It’s meant being able to hold original documents again for the first time in a very long time, rather than looking at scanned versions on a computer screen.

Thankfully though, my blog work hasn’t been much affected and I hope that you have enjoyed the content that has been created this year. It has been the most successful year yet in terms of views since I started this blog four years ago. For that reason, I just want to take the time to thank each and every person who has read, shared, liked and followed the blog this year. It genuinely means a lot to me to see people enjoy the blog. The best post of all this year has been about William Morgan, who translated the first Welsh Bible. That can be read here.

Portrait of William Morgan (1907), Wikimedia Commons

I would also like to thank the people who have done guest posts for the blog this year. It has been a privilege to host such varied and interesting posts. The most popular of these guests posts has been Isabel and Hamelin de Warenne by historian, Sharon Bennett Connolly. It can be viewed here. There have also been a few firsts when it comes to guest posts too. One was a press release about the archaeology survey work at Greasley Castle in Nottinghamshire conducted by Triskele Heritage. James Wright of Triskele Heritage was kind enough to send the release and it can be viewed here. The other first was a book tour to celebrate the publication last month of Gemma Hollman’s latest book, The Queen and the Mistress: The Women of Edward III. If you’re interested, the post can be read here. I wish Gemma all the very best with it and I hope a few of you were given it as a Christmas present!

Me and my sister at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath

Back in September, I also returned to Bath for the Jane Austen Festival. It was our second year participating and it was a joy to be involved. This year, my parents also joined in, which was great to see. A big thank you once again to my sister for sewing our beautiful dresses! However, our holiday in Bath was also marked by the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II. It felt like a very surreal thing as it felt like one bit of stability we had in these very turbulent times was gone. We all wore black armbands and observed a minute’s silence in honour of her on the day of the promenade. I still miss the Queen in many ways but it was so interesting to witness a historical moment during her lying in state and funeral.

I also helped out at the first ever Derbyshire Georgian Festival. I helped out on a stall for work (the Derbyshire Record Office), where we showed some of the Georgian era collections. As we were at a mill, we also took some items relating to millworkers. I was also able to have my own table showcasing my research into the period that I have done for the blog. Of course I did this dressed in my Regency dress!

On happier news, I have been booked for two talks in February, including my first paid one, on some research I did this year on Napoleonic prisoners of war in Chesterfield, a town in my home county of Derbyshire. The group I am doing the paid talk for have also suggested that I might be able to go back and do some more. I was able to find out about the conditions the prisoners were held in and the fate of two officers, General Joseph Exelmans and Colonel Auguste de la Grange, who managed to escape. I can’t wait to share the interesting stories this research has shown with more people. There is also the possibility of finally doing a talk I was booked for in April 2020 about my research into Anthony Woodville, for the local branch of the Richard III Society, which I have been a member of since I was nine years old. Fingers crossed for that too! If you would like to know more about the talks I can do, I have added a specific page on the blog for them.

General Exelmans changing horses at the Battle of Wertingen in October 1805, Wikimedia Commons

Following on from my research into Anthony Woodville, I have so far written 50,000 words of my 80,000 word target that my publishers set me. My deadline for it all is the 1st of May 2023. Hopefully I can get it all done by then. It does seem to have crept up on me! Sometimes I still can’t quite believe that after so many years of researching his life, I’m finally so close to having the book out. I will of course update you all after it’s been submitted about any possible publication date. Again on the Anthony theme, I was gifted an Anthony Woodville felt Christmas decoration by a friend and colleague, which he had made for me by a local shop. It’s just the best!!

All that is left now is to wish you all a healthy and wonderful 2023. Most importantly, thank you all once again for your support over the last year. Each and every view, like and share means a lot to me, so I pass on my hearty thanks and love to all of you.

Fourth Anniversary, a trip to Berkeley Castle and a tribute to Her Majesty, the Queen

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the blog. I would just to take the chance to thank all the followers, readers and supporters over those three years. It honestly means a lot that people read and love the content I produce. Whilst this is a hobby, history, and sharing it with others, is my passion. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the stories I write about for many more years to come.

The Courtyard of Berkeley Castle, Author’s Own Image

Last week, I was away on holiday in Bath, one of my favourite places. On the way there, we stopped of to visit Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. It is well-known for being the prison and place of death for Edward II, but the castle is so much more. Despite it raining quite badly, it is such a big place, that this really didn’t matter. There are so many wonderful things to see there, including a chest supposedly owned by Sir Francis Drake. I would honestly recommend it to everyone, as it is well worth a visit. A favourite thing for me was all the beautiful paintings and portraits, which were explained very well. However, I feel I must also apologise to the American tourists I feel I must have scared with my rather exuberant enthusiasm.

St Mary’s Church next door to Berkeley Castle is also a must visit. It may look like an ordinary medieval church from the outside, but inside it is fantastic. Whilst I have seen so many photos of medieval church wall paintings, I haven’t really seen many in person, but this church was full of so many beautiful examples. It is also the last resting place of many of the Jenner family, who lived next door, of whom Edward Jenner, the inventor of the vaccination, was one of them.

Example of some of the wall paintings in St Mary’s Church in Berkeley, Author’s Own Image

Once again I took part in the promenade of the Jane Austen Festival promenade for the second year running. A massive thank you to my sister for all her hard work in sewing all of the costumes!! Compared to last year, which had around 300 people taking part there were so many more people. It was quite easily about 500 people this year who came from all over the world. Everyone is so friendly and made us feel very welcome, so if anyone would like to take part in the future, please come and join us. You can find out more about the festival using the following link.

Me and my sister at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath

Our holiday was of course marked by the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on the 8th September. For the Jane Austen promenade, we marked her passing by wearing black armbands and observing a minute’s silence.

I have always been very fond of the Queen as she has maintained a faithful and loyal service over the United Kingdom and has often been a source of comfort. Some regular readers will remember that I wrote a piece for the Historians Magazine only a few months ago honouring the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip. Their wedding day was the day my mum was born, so for me, the Queen has always been a part of my family. Little did I know that actually, that would be my last tribute to her. You can read about that article here.

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a crown and an ermine-trimmed cloak, next to Prince Philip, in uniform, 1950, National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, PA-196667, used through Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

I wanted to take the time to offer my sincere condolences to the Royal Family in their time of grief. I also give my thanks for all the Queen has done and the kindness and love she has shown to so many people. For me, as well as many others, this is a very sad time, but I will certainly remember how well she served as an example to us all.

Jubilee Article for The Historians Magazine

Back in April, I was kindly invited by the team at The Historians Magazine to contribute an article for their special edition commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s seventy years on the throne for the Platinum Jubilee. Whilst on the whole, that isn’t my forte, I agreed to contribute an article about the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip. You may ask why I agreed if this isn’t my usual thing. In fact, there was a deeply personal reason for choosing to write on the Queen and Philip, which I sadly didn’t have time to discuss in the article I wrote.

My Mum was born on the 20th November 1947, the exact day that the Queen and Prince Philip married. For that reason, as well as my admiration for the long lasting relationship the couple had, meant I always knew what I wanted to write the article on. Whenever I see photos of the wedding, I can’t help but always feel a sense of happiness for the couple, but always think of my mum too.

My Mum always told me that my Grandma, despite being in labour, demanded she watched the wedding on the television, which was a fairly new thing back then. In fact, she said she would hold off until it was over because nothing would stop her seeing the wedding! I never knew my Grandma, as she sadly died when my mum was five years old, just three weeks before the Queen’s coronation. Still, this is my tribute to both my Mum and my Grandma. I’m sure she’d have found it very surreal that I would be writing about that day, but I hope that she would have been proud too.

You can buy a copy of the latest edition of The Historians Magazine, or view this edition and previous ones, through the magazine’s website, by clicking here.

End of 2021 Thanks and Update

For me, just like everyone else, 2021 has been yet another hard year. I sincerely hope that 2022 is a better year for all of us, although I definitely remember saying the same thing at the end of 2020. I have been suffering from a foot injury since May, which is only just starting to get a bit better. Sadly that has meant not being able to do much and certainly not drive, which has been the most frustrating. At least it has meant I have had more of an opportunity to write more when I can.

Before I go on to give a further update on things, I just want to take the time to thank each and every person who has read, shared, liked and followed the blog this year. It genuinely has meant to much to me that the blog has brought people enjoyment through such tough times. This year has been the best year for views since I started this blog three years ago. The best post of all this year has been on Brushy Bill Roberts, a man who claimed to be the infamous Billy the Kid. That can be read here. All that is down to all of you readers, so sending lots of virtual love and hugs your way!

Photograph of Brushy Bill Roberts

A new thing this year has been guest posts from other writers. It has meant a lot to me that others have wanted to contribute in various ways. I’ve certainly enjoyed hosting them, so I hope you’ve also enjoyed the very interesting content they’ve created, just as much as I have reading them too. Look out for more of this next year too, with lots more interesting topics. I can definitely promise you that! I have also done quite a few guest posts on other blogs, which has also been an honour.

Another wonderful first was attending the Jane Austen festival in Bath. I should have visited last year, but Covid circumstances meant it was cancelled. As a lifetime Jane Austen fan, this was something I really wanted to do. My sister made our dresses and I must admit she made did a brilliant job with them considering she’d never really sewed historical costumes before. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested, even if it was just to witness the amount of people in Regency dress walking around Bath.

There have been lots of firsts this year too. I’ve also done two of my first ever online talks on my research into the life of Anthony Woodville, brother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. I never would have thought that possible not long ago. One was alongside author and historian, Michele Schindler, for the Be Bold History Network, on the connection between Anthony and Richard III and Francis Lovell, the most trusted friend of Richard. This can be viewed here if you would like. The other I did was a brief talk based on an academic poster for this year’s conference held by the Royal Studies Network based on Anthony’s role as educator of Edward V. Another first for me was being a guest on the Tudor Dynasty podcast on William Caxton’s contribution to printing in England in the late fifteenth century, with lots of mention of Edward IV and Anthony Woodville thrown in. If you’d like to listen to that, it can be found here.

The most exciting announcement I have to make is one that means the world to me. For the last seven years, I have been researching about the life of Anthony Woodville, with the dream of one day writing a book on this often overlooked figure from the Wars of the Roses. I approached a publisher back in 2019 with little success, but this summer, I decided to try again with a different publisher. Earlier this month, I found that it has been accepted and it has a hand in date of May 2023. I hope that in the future, you will look forward to this as this project honestly means so much to me. Thank you for all of you who have so far supported my research, it will be of so much help whilst writing the book. Special mention must go to Kevin and Alan, volunteers at Pontefract and Sandal Castles, who have already been extremely helpful. They have been creating a very useful website on the history of both sites. It can be found here.

Portrait of a young gentleman, said to be Anthony Babington, Wikimedia Commons

This shouldn’t hinder the blog, so I hope that you can continue to enjoy the blog in the coming year. There are lots of interesting topics planned ranging from Victorian prison hulks, medieval London, to pioneering women. I hope they’ll be something there for you to enjoy. The first posts coming in January 2022 are linked to Mary Queen of Scots, including one about Anthony Babington, a local landowner that once owned my hometown in Derbyshire, who was involved in the Catholic plot that resulted in the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

All that is left now is to wish you all a healthy and much better 2022. May it be a better one for all of us. Most importantly, thank you all once again for your support over the last year. Each and every view, like and share means a lot to me, so I pass on my hearty thanks and love to all of you.

3 Year Anniversary and Jane Austen’s Bath

This week marked the three anniversary of the blog. I would just to take the chance to thank all the followers, readers and supporters over those three years. It honestly means a lot that people read and love the content I produce. Whilst this is a hobby, history, and sharing it with others, is my passion. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the stories I write about for many more years to come.

I have some podcast contributions coming up over the next few months, which I can’t wait to share with you. They will focus on my research into the life of Anthony Woodville, which if you’re a regular follower of the blog, you’ll know I’ve been doing for many years now. It’s very exciting and I’m just glad to share his life with people as he is definitely an underrated figure of the Wars of the Roses.

Last week I went on my first holiday since the pandemic started. We went to the lovely Georgian city of Bath. I last went for a long weekend in the summer of 2019, so it was good to spend a bit more time there to explore the area more. The oldest surviving outdoor swimming pool in the UK, Cleveland Pools, is also in Bath. If you would like to learn more, feel free to read a previous post I did on the swimming pool by clicking here.

Bath is famous for it’s surviving Georgian architecture, as well as being the home of Jane Austen for many years after her father retired from his role as Rector of Steventon in 1801. She is the main reason for our trip. We had tickets to take part in the promenade, just one of many events of the Jane Austen Festival. We were due to go last year, but like many other things, it was cancelled. I can tell you though, it was well worth the wait and all the preparation! My sister sewed both of our costumes, other than a velvet jacket I wore. Her effort truly paid off and I think she did amazingly. The route we took was around an hour’s walk from the Holbourne Museum, which doubles as Lady Danbury’s house in Bridgerton, to the Parade Gardens, which over look the River Avon.

Just some of the participants of the promenade, Author’s own image

There were around 300 or more people all in Regency/Late Georgian costume and it was certainly a fantastic sight to see! I would totally recommend visiting Bath during the Jane Austen Festival, which takes place for 10 days, starting from the second weekend in September. If participating isn’t your thing, I would certainly recommend lining the parade route for a look. As many people I know have said, it was like looking at a period drama. We’re hoping to return next year and take part again, also hopefully joining in with the Country Ball where you can participate in some Regency dancing. If Jane Austen is someone you are interested in, I wrote a short post about the significance her writing brought to wounded and fighting soldiers during World War One. If you would like to learn more, please click here.

The last part of my trip I would like to mention is our visit to the village of Lacock. Lacock is a National Trust village that still looks much as it would have done around 300 years ago or more. It’s looked after by the National Trust, but people still live in it. However, it’s most famous for appearing in many period dramas. My favourite ones that have been filmed here are Downton Abbey and Cranford. Most importantly, it played the part of Meryton in Colin Firth adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Lacock Abbey on the edge of the village was once the home of the Fox Talbot family. Henry Fox Talbot was one of the pioneers of photography. He created the earliest surviving photonegative in 1835.

Jennifer Ehle and Adrian Lukis as Elizabeth Bennet and George Wickham in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The village shown as Meryton is Lacock in Wiltshire

To learn more about the Jane Austen Festival and Lacock Village and Abbey, please click the following links:

Lacock Village and Abbey

Jane Austen Festival

New and Exciting Updates

I don’t usually write many personal posts on the blog, but I thought that this would be worth sharing with all of you blog followers. In case you don’t follow me on social media, there have been quite a few exciting updates recently that I want to share. Hopefully it’s the sign of good things to come.

I have just finished a guest post for the Ministry of History. I feel quite privileged to have been asked to write yet another guest post for someone else’s blog. I have written quite a few now and I always enjoy it and see it as a lovely opportunity to collaborate with other history bloggers. I haven’t done one before for that particular website, but as the site also specialises in telling lesser known parts of history, I thought it was good to write about the Matchgirls Strike of 1888.

Herbert Burrows and Annie Besant, social campaigners, together with Matchgirls Strike Committee in 1888, Wikimedia Commons

The girls and young women who went on strike worked for the Bryant and May match factories in London. The conditions and pay were beyond awful. The girls even marched to Parliament to get their voices heard. The industrial action they took helped to make their lives better and most importantly, raise awareness of the dangerous conditions and poverty they lived and worked in. If you would like to learn more, you can find the post here.

In terms of my Anthony Woodville research, things have been a little slow going as I’m reaching the end of my work contract as a project archives assistant, so I’m putting a lot of effort into that. Sadly a family bereavement has also meant any personal research has had to be put on the backburner. However, I have kindly been invited to be a guest on a popular podcast to talk about William Caxton the book printer and translator during the reign of Edward IV, and of course not forgetting Anthony’s involvement as patron and translator himself.

William Caxton showing the first page from his printing press to King Edward IV, Cassell’s Illustrated History of England (1909), British Library

I haven’t appeared on a podcast before, although I have listened to a few myself, so it feels kind of surreal to have been invited. Plus the podcast has had some very prominent and already well established historians. I literally can’t quite believe that I have been asked to appear, so this is so exciting to me. You can listen to the podcast episode here. I will also be writing up a short everything you need to know about Anthony Woodville type post to accompany the podcast, so look out for those when it’s all available.

In the meantime, I just want to take the opportunity to thank you all for continuing to support and read the blog. The blog has just has it’s best ever month in terms of views since I started it in 2018, for which I am eternally grateful. It’s great to know that people love what I produce as sharing history has become a passionate hobby of mine. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you after the podcast things are finished, and I have some very special stories coming up.