“There is written, her fair neck round about”: The legend of Anne Boleyn’s initial necklaces

To say it’s archetypal isn’t actually doing it justice. It’s flat-out impossible to envision Anne Boleyn without her pearl-and-gold “B” necklace – a fact that filmmakers and book cover designers seem to agree with. Although the fashionable Anne was usually a trend-setter, initial jewellery was already extremely popular at the Tudor court. Henry VIII himself […]

Hidden historical heroines (#33: Mary Grey)

Lady Mary Grey (c.1545 – 20 April 1578) was the youngest daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and Frances Brandon, herself the daughter of Charles Brandon – great friend and confidante of Henry VIII – and Mary Tudor, his younger sister. An unfortunate figure, Mary was described by an ambassador as ‘little, crook-backed and very ugly’ – it […]

Snuff and Nonsense

Before people had the handiness of paper-rolled ‘cigarettes’ for their tobacco intake, there was ‘snuff’ – where the tobacco was ground into a powder which was then inhaled (or “snuffed”) into each nostril. Snuff-taking was wildly popular in Georgian and Victorian England, albeit a rather middle-class activity (all the rich kids were of course taking […]

30 Question Book Challenge (Part 2)

11 – A book you hated 12 – The longest book you’ve read 13 –A book that genuinely scared you 14 – A book that made you laugh out loud 15 – Favourite male character Perry from Veronica Rossi’s ‘Under The Never Sky’ series 16 – Favourite female character Georgina Kincaid from Richelle Mead’s ‘Succubus’ […]

The Piccadilly Line to Camelot

Camelot, the seat of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere. Its location – even its very existence – has been studied and debated for generations. In his seminal work Morte D’Arthur, Sir Thomas Mallory proposed that the ancient city of Winchester had once been Camelot. Other possibilities are Caerleon, in Wales, or Cadbury Castle in Somerset […]

The naked truth: Lady Godiva

Legend has it that on this day (10 July) in 1040, Lady Godiva made her naked journey on horseback through the streets of Coventry, seeking a remission on the harsh taxes that her husband had imposed on his tenants.    The legend First recorded in the 13th century, the story of the good Lady Godiva’s […]

Hidden historical heroines (#32: Eleanor Cobham)

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester (c.1400 – 7 July 1452), was the mistress and then second wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV. Eleanor was convicted and imprisoned for ‘sorcery’ and ‘treasonable necromancy’ in 1441 and forced to make a public penance in the streets of London – all […]

“I like her not!” The dumping of Anne of Cleves

    On this day (9th July) in 1540, the marriage between Henry VIII of England and Anna, the elder Princess of Cleves, was formally and legally annulled. Anne has gone down through history as the one who made the great escape, as well as a lot of other things much less flattering. So today, […]