A History of London – free talk recording

Last week I did a Zoom talk for 40 or so people as a fundraiser for Prostate Cancer UK.

Called “a history of London in eight (and a bit) structures” it looks at bridges, churches, walls and other constructions, tracing the history of the city from the Romans through to the 21st century. On the way there are stories about the monarchy, the Reformation, the rise of parliamentary democracy and the growth of London as one of the great centres of trade. There are invasions, conquests, eccentrics, geniuses and some of the world’s most recognisable buildings.

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The Sutton Hoo treasure

In 1938 a Suffolk woman called Edith Pretty asked a local archaeologist Basil Brown (no relation unfortunately) to excavate a series of mounds that were on her land. In the spring of the following year, in the prosaically named ‘Mound No. 1’, Brown unearthed the remains of an early anglo-saxon ship burial from around 600-650CE.

No body was found – it, along with all the other organic material, including the actual wood of the ship, is thought to have been eaten away by the acidic soil over the intervening 1300 years. The balance of scholarly opinion believes that this was the grave of Raedwald who was king of East Anglia in the first quarter of the 7th century.

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National Covid Memorial Wall

Along the Albert Embankment wall of St Thomas’ Hospital, directly over the Thames to the Houses of Parliament is an incredible piece of public guerrilla art.

Hand painted on the wall are thousands upon thousands of red and pink hearts, each one representing a victim of the Covid pandemic. Some have the names of individuals written in, there are other hearts drawn by family members, messages have been appended.

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Ghost stories! Spooky London tales for Hallowe’en

Another free online talk for you. Me and the rest of the gang at UKToursOnline did one of our ‘chats’ yesterday evening where we talked ghosts, witches, the supernatural and other bits of London lore and legends.

You can see me discussing the Battersea Poltergeist, Tim Barron talks about haunted theatres, Rachel Pearson looks at witches, Emma Matthews visits haunted pubs and Leo Heaton introduces us to the Black Dog of Newgate.

For more like this, follow UKToursOnline on our Facebook page.

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Video: Square Stories – favourite squares in London, Oxford and Bath

Another video chat with the gang from UKToursOnline. This time we get competitive looking at “squares” – there are the London garden squares including Russell Square and the gardens of Notting Hill, and the elegant and exclusive St James’s; Georgian splendour of Queen’s Square in Bath and Oxford’s wonderful Radcliffe Square. We’ll also take you on a trip around Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

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FREE VIRTUAL TOUR: London’s WW1 Memorials

A virtual tour from www.uktoursonline.com where I look at some of the capital’s most significant and most poignant war memorials from the First World War, including the Cenotaph, the memorials to the Machine Gun Corps and the Fusiliers, the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

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Lindow Man – the body in the bog

In the British Museum is a remarkable Iron Age corpse, a wonderfully preserved ‘bog body’ from the 1st century CE discovered in a place called Lindow Moss near Wilmslow in Chesire in 1984.

Lindow Moss is a peat bog and while workmen were harvesting this peat they discovered a leg. The previous year the head of a woman (dated to the 2nd or 3rd century CE) had been found, so the archeologists were called in.

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The Royal Gold Cup

Walk into Room 40 in the British Museum via the staircase in the entrance lobby and the first thing that hits you is this wonderful piece of medieval metalwork – The Royal Gold Cup, created around 1380 in France by John, Duc de Berry for his brother Charles V (or, some sources say, for his nephew Charles VI).

It’s a lidded cup that weighs just under 2kg (so just over 4lb) is around 23cm (9 inches) tall and is made from gold with ‘basse-taille’ (low relief) enamelling that tells the story of the martyrdom of St Agnes (Charles V birthday was St Agnes’ Day – 21 January).

[Here’s me doing an online talk about the Cup and explaining more about the story of St Agnes]

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