Hidden historical heroines (#38: Black Agnes)

Agnes, the Countess of Dunbar and March, (1312 – 1369) nicknamed “Dark Agnes” for her dark hair and swarthy complexion, was a descendent of Robert the Bruce, of whom famed Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott once said: “From the record of Scottish heroes, none can presume to erase her.” Despite a thorough trouncing by Robert […]

Waddesdon Manor

Part of my new National Trust Travels blog series… My all-girls grammar in Buckinghamshire decided to big itself up even more by naming its six ‘Houses’ after famous manor houses in the county. Five of them are National Trust properties, and so when I got my membership I duly challenged myself to visit them all! (Annoyingly, the […]

Kelmscott Manor

Open during the warmer weather on Wednesdays and Saturdays is this undeniably lovely limestone manor house, which sits snug to the Thames and has known many famous tenants in its long lifetime. Built in the 16th century by a wealthy farmer, and three hundred years later the writer, designer and socialist William Morris fell in […]

The Morgans of Tredegar House

Part of my new National Trust Travels blog series…             In Cardiff for my husband’s birthday, we simply had to carve out an afternoon to visit Tredegar House, a recent acquisition for the National Trust and lauded as one of the “wonders of Wales”. The familial seat of the Morgan family since […]

Newark Park

Part of my new National Trust Travels blog series… My husband and I were thrilled to receive National Trust memberships this past Christmas; we’d been banging on about wanting them for years, but firstly we hadn’t had a car, and then we’d been saving up for our wedding, so it had never been the right time. 2015 […]

Speak when you’re spoken to

A sharp little anecdote from the tenth birthday party of “Prince David”, later Edward VIII. Seated next to his imperious grandfather Edward VII at a state banquet, the boy tried to interrupt the king, who was in the middle of one of his trademark lengthy rants. Irritated by the interruption, Edward roared “I am the […]

Hidden historical heroines (#37: Gertrude Bell)

Gertrude Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was many things throughout her relatively short life; she was predominantly a writer and archaeologist, but she was also involved in Middle Eastern politics and espionage, and was critical in the mapping and drawing up of the boundaries of modern Iraq. She has been described […]

[Guest Post] Anne Boleyn: “Loved not a little” – Lily Fox

Time marches on. Even ten, twenty years ago seems an inexplicably long time away, an ancient era before Whatsapp, Harry Potter, selfies and One Direction. The Tudor period is practically another world, a fantasy time of knights and castles that belongs more to a Game of Thrones episode than real life. A lot of things […]

Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King

Having recently finished Marci Jefferson’s Girl on the Golden Coin about the Restoration Court’s superstar, Frances Stuart, I’ve had the charming, irrepressible Charles II on my mind. Charles is of course famous for his mistresses and his excesses – he certainly earned the moniker “The Merry Monarch”, particularly coming as he did after the stringent […]