The accepted wisdom is that the elite corps of royal couriers has its origins in four men who served Charles II (although earlier monarchs certainly had special messengers in their service), and he broke off some silver greyhound embellishments from a platter and transformed them into badges for his four picked men – hence their nickname of the Silver Greyhounds. From 1782, the Messengers were more generally important, being split into the King’s Home Service Messengers and the Corps of King’s Foreign Service. Since then they have been severely reduced in number, but there is no doubt that in the period from the Regency to the interwar years there was more than a little of the James Bond about their lives and missions.
Research into the insurance clerk in Victorian England provides a fascinating occupational study in an era which saw a notable growth of office staff. In terms of social class, insurance clerks in this era stood above the labouring workforce yet they were regarded as largely separate from the middle classes. It was particularly towards the end of the 19th century that there was a considerable expansion in the recruitment of insurance clerks.
A picture paints a thousand words as people say, and that is something that is hard to disagree with. Old photos such as those to be found on TheGenealogist’s Image Archive can add to our understanding of what our ancestors’ home town or area had been like before the intervening years changed the way it appears. A picture of a town street or rural scene can also allow us to visualise a location found in some sort of record such as in one of the decennial censuses. And we can use these images to see what a location that we’ve found on a map had looked like in the past.
A small gravestone stands proudly in the graveyard of Birmingham Cathedral, but on a busy day in the city centre, nobody gives it a second glance. Among the vaults and the grander memorials, this one simple gravestone, yellowed with lichen, is easily forgotten about. Yet it is a monument to one of the many men and women who 18th and 19th century society saw as ‘freaks’ – people who were different in some way to the norm, and who often found themselves touring the country as part of a circus or exhibition. Such individuals were on display, with others paying to view them as a curiosity. As such, this one gravestone is testament to those who had to make the most of their differences in order to survive in a curious, if not downright rude, society.
Ralph Vaughan Williams, one of England’s best-loved composers, was something of a musical revolutionary. Rebelling against the German tradition that permeated British music during the 19th century, he pioneered a new style of English national music inspired by traditional folk songs and the music of Tudor England. He devoted considerable time to travelling through </p> <p>rural England collecting folk
Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s Macclesfield was a major silk manufacturing centre, production encompassing silk throwing, traditional handloom weaving and, increasingly after 1850, mechanised power loom weaving. The local population soared during the 19th century and by 1840 there were 70 mills and dye houses, rising to 120 by 1940. Macclesfield silk firms’ impressive and diverse output was showcased at the Great Exhibition of 1851: furnishing fabrics; velvet, satin, serge and sarsenet materials for garments; shawls; bandanas; handkerchiefs; ribbons; and other trimmings. Macclesfield’s physical landscape was dominated by companies’ mills and workers’ houses with attic workshops: at its height there were some 600 hand weavers’ garrets, around 200 of which survive today.
Lancashire – sometimes known as the County of Lancaster – was founded in the 12th century. During the Industrial Revolution it emerged from being a sparsely populated agricultural area as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries.
The opening battles on the Western Front marked a watershed in military history. A dramatic, almost Napoleonic war of movement quickly gave way to static, attritional warfare in which modern weaponry had forced the combatants to take to the earth. Some of the last cavalry charges took place in the same theatre in which armoured cars, motorcycles and aeroplanes were beginning to make their presence felt.
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