A Christmas Stocking

Christmas stockings and ‘stocking fillers‘ are now a traditional part of Christmas. A quick consultation with those two noisy colleagues Drs Google and Wikipedia will tell you that this tradition had its origin in the story of St Nicholas, initially secretly, providing three bags of gold as dowries for the three daughters of a poor … Continue reading A Christmas Stocking

Take the Head of a Black Sheep – Tudor Medicine at Home

Most people in the Tudor period lived in the countryside and unlike us, with our local GPs and ready access to Dr Google, they did not have doctors or apothecaries nearby, even if they could afford them. The bulk of everyday medical care took place within the home with the main practitioners the women of … Continue reading Take the Head of a Black Sheep – Tudor Medicine at Home

The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

Today I'm delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Anne O’Brien's The Queen's Rival, a novel of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. The Queen's Rival has been recently released in paperback. Duchess Cecily teaches a lesson in Ludlow Castle, October 1459 We were in occupation of one of the corner chambers in the old gatehouse … Continue reading The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

In the 19th century the front page of newspapers was not the place for lurid headlines and large photographs designed to catch the eye. It was a serious place where births, marriages and deaths were announced; timetables for ferries listed; ‘superior’ accommodation, government tenders and everything from grain, newly milled flour and candles to ladies’ … Continue reading ‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

There is no known portrait of Sabine Saunders.This portrait is of Jane Pemberton (1518–1602) whose life bears some similarities to Sabine's, She was the daughter of Christopher Pemberton, a Northamptonshire gentleman and married Nicholas Small, a London cloth merchant, probably in about 1540.Hans Holbein c1540 / Public domain Sabine Saunders was the daughter of Thomas … Continue reading Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

I have been savouring The Mirror and the Light for about a month now and, like most people, when I think of Thomas Cromwell I think of Mark Rylance although I know he looks nothing like Cromwell. Apart from the major players, I have no idea what many of the other characters looked like. So … Continue reading Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

The final step on the road to marriage in the 16th century was, as it is now, the marriage service itself. At its most basic, all that was needed to create a marriage was a mutual promise to marry followed by consummation.(1) Unfortunately for many women, this was often not enough to ensure that the … Continue reading ‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England

A far more succinct version of this post was published by The Coffee Pot Book Club on 9 March 2020. ‘The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and … Continue reading Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England