The Hand in Hand Birds

This doodle of two entwined birds was drawn in May 1670 while recording the names of an illegal gathering in Kingston Upon Thames. The image is on the back of a document held in the Kingston upon Thames archives. It is a simple line sketch, using one stroke of a quill and ink pen, creating […]

Read More The Hand in Hand Birds

Standon Puddingstone

Puddingstone is nothing culinary. It’s geological, mythological, historical, and extremely intriguing. As stone goes it is awkward.  It looks like a wonderful fruit pudding, or cake, just before it goes in the oven. There is a rich brown colour to it, but not too dark. There are various sized pebbles, some whole, some broken or […]

Read More Standon Puddingstone

Engineering is a thing of beauty.

There used to be a joke. Look up Engineering in the Yellow Pages – it says “See Boring”. A whole generation, or more accurately, the post modern generation, labelled engineering as being something for the un-adventurous, for those without passion or compassion. The subject has no style, taste or philosophy. It is an occupation not […]

Read More Engineering is a thing of beauty.

Flanders Fields

Soften your tread. Methinks the Earth’s surface is but bodies of the dead,  Walk slowly in the air, so you do not trample on the remains of God’s servants. Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri   It has a romantic ring to it: Flanders Fields. The Fields make up a beautiful, peaceful, patch-worked landscape. There are long lines […]

Read More Flanders Fields


Archive documents are dirty. They are especially so around the edges. Historians love the phrase “patina of history” and it is this you can see in the years of dust, dirt from fingers, smoke (fire places, tobacco) and from just being in a room where they were stored. Archive documents are also imperfect. There are […]

Read More Hawksmoor

Shakespeare in London

Shakespeare’s life in London has always intrigued me. It’s 400 years since he died this weekend. I know something about the man, less about his work, although I enjoy regular visits to the Globe. Where was he, where did he live, eat, drink? The Tudor city is gone, but you can draw together many glimpses […]

Read More Shakespeare in London

This Tudor Man

It is dangerous to get interested in history, so hard core archivists claim. “Don’t get carried away by what’s in the archive, don’t become interested. You won’t get any work done.”  As I stare at the paper, I feel dangerously interested.  Luckily, I am not an archivist, although I work in libraries and archives. My […]

Read More This Tudor Man

What is an Historier’s Miscellany?

The Historier dates back at least to the mid-1400s. Around 1449, he is mentioned as “Sithen historiers dwelling in thilk same cuntre..kouthen knowe better the treuthe of the deede than othere men.” In 1490, Caxton in his Boke yf Eneydos wrote “Wrytynges and dyctes of olde and auncyente cronycles or historyers.” In the next century, […]

Read More What is an Historier’s Miscellany?