Book Review – Tombland by C.J. Sansom

1549. Edward VI, the eleven-year-old son of Henry VIII has been on the throne two years. The country is effectively run by the Lord Protector, Edward Somerset. The preceding decade has seen war with Scotland, inflation, unemployment, rising rents and declining wages. A sense of grievance is swelling among the common people against the imposition … Continue reading Book Review – Tombland by C.J. Sansom

Easter in Early Modern England

The Lenten and Easter season in pre-Reformation England was rich in sights and sounds and smells. Shrove Tuesday was celebrated with pancakes and football games, plays and masquerades. Ash Wednesday brought the blessing of ashes and their application by the priest to the foreheads of the faithful with the injunction ‘Remember O man that thou are … Continue reading Easter in Early Modern England

Elizabethan Magpie Pickings

I have something of a magpie brain—I like to collect shiny bits of information, not necessarily immediately useful but interesting, to me at least. Over the past few weeks I have been heavily revising my current work in progress, The Bridled Tongue, and checking that I have no glaring anachronisms. These are some of the … Continue reading Elizabethan Magpie Pickings

More than just written words?

Yesterday was National Handwriting Day in a number of countries and wonderful images of pages handwritten by various people from the past were floating around the internet.  One was the the draft of a speech given by Elizabeth I to Parliament on 10 April 1563 responding to a House of Lords petition urging her to … Continue reading More than just written words?

Black Friday, 13 January 1939

It is 80 years today since the Black Friday bushfires which devastated the Gippsland area of Victoria. In 1989, on the 50th anniversary of those fires, my mother, Catherine Mary (McGrath) Merrick, put her memories of that day on paper . ~~~ 'What a dreadful day. The hills of East Gippsland and beyond Melbourne were … Continue reading Black Friday, 13 January 1939

An Unseasonal Christmas – Rain, Wind and Snow in 1878

In less than one hundred years of British settlement in Australia, settlers had developed certain expectations of Christmas -- the weather would be warm, dinner could be taken al fresco, the afternoon would be spent in outdoor activities. But 1878 was a year when the 'clerk of the weather' decided to show that he had … Continue reading An Unseasonal Christmas – Rain, Wind and Snow in 1878

‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England

During the 16th century, as in the centuries both before and after, marriage was a state that most aspired to - it gave both men and women status not only as full adults but, in the case of men, that of householder. Without marriage, women had few opportunities to independently support themselves. Except for those … Continue reading ‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England