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 […]

Three queens in mourning

This iconic image shows three Queens of England together, united in grief at the funeral of their son, husband and father – George VI – who had died at the young age of 56 only nine days earlier, February 6th 1952. The stammering King-Emperor had reigned for fifteen years and had grown to be popular; […]

What If..? (#02: Edward VIII had not abdicated)

Part of a new series on revisionist history, speculating on tiny changes in British history that could cause a ‘butterfly effect’.   It’s seen as either one of the biggest love stories of all time, or an emotional car crash. In 1936, the man who had been Edward VIII for less than a full year, abdicated […]

Who put Bella in the Witch Elm?

One sunny spring day in April, 1943, four youths went poaching in Hagley Wood, land belonging to the estate of Lord Cobham, part of the shadowy valley of the Clent Hills in the Midlands. They came upon an ancient, hollow elm tree – one that had a reputation time-out-of-mind, and was mistakenly referred to as […]

Hidden historical heroines (#18: Edith Cavell)

  Edith Louisa Cavell (4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse and a celebrated patriot, court-martialled and sentenced to death by the Germans during World War I.   Edith was born in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father was the local vicar. Upon reaching adulthood, she moved to Brussels, […]

Hidden historical heroines (#10: Amy Johnson)

  Amy Johnson CBE, (1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941) was a pioneering aviatrix who broke several world records in the field of aviation.   Although Amy was to repeatedly assure people she was no tomboy – rather, she liked the girlier things in life – she preferred to be known by her friends […]