Making a tour of any old house is fascinating. But that fascination is greatly enhanced, whether you are undertaking research into your family history or the history of a particular house, if you can pore over a detailed document itemising almost every object in that house at a particular date in the past. And that is exactly what you can do if you read a probate inventory which has been deposited in a record office.
If you enjoy researching your family history then you probably already understand the thrill of uncovering another ancestor in the census records or in parish registers. A collection of names and dates, however, can make for a somewhat dry family tree. Family history, on the other hand, is all about assembling these facts and then adding to them some context with an understanding of <em>The Times</em> and places that our ancestors lived in. To make our ancestors’ story blossom, and so much more interesting to look at, I always like to add to the mix a little bit of social history.
This question is something of a rhetorical one: what do you do when you have bought a 27-ton railway engine? Richard Cuming, a railway enthusiast, purchased such an engine from Falmouth Docks in 1986. As luck would have it, an old cinema in his village came up for sale and so he and his family decided to combine their interests in railways and antiques and Bygones, a private family-run museum, was born.
Celebrities from film, TV, theatre, modelling, music, cookery and news feature in the current, 12th series of Who Do You Think You Are? – the genealogy show which first introduced many a budding family historian to the fascinating subject of family tree research. The series is currently being broadcast on BBC One every Thursday until 15 October This series delves into the roots of Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood, modelling legend Jerry Hall, Last Tango in Halifax stars Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, actress Jane Seymour, choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, stage and television actress Frances de la Tour, news reporter Frank Gardner, actor and writer Mark Gatiss and television presenter Anita Rani.
"Clogs are footwear made partly or completely from wood and include shoes with wooden uppers, wooden soles or overshoes. Their precise origin uncertain, they were possibly used by the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Celts. Archaeological evidence is scarce: in the past, well-worn clogs may have been burnt as firewood and many wooden shoes have rotted over time. The oldest surviving European wooden footwear, from the Netherlands, dates to the 13th century and is remarkably similar to modern clogs made there today. Worn widely throughout Europe, regional and local clog styles are extraordinarily diverse, although those of a given area or culture have often remained unchanged for centuries. In Britain clogs may have evolved from medieval pattens, slats of wood secured with straps and worn underneath leather or fabric shoes to raise the wearer’s foot above dirty, unmade roads. Poorer people who could not afford regular shoes wore hard-wearing protective wooden clogs next to their skin or stockings and so clogs became associated with manual labourers."
Today Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England. In the past it witnessed much conflict between England and Scotland. As evidence of its violent history, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, including those of Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, Newcastle and Warkworth.
When people think of Richard the Lionheart they recall the scene at the end of every Robin Hood epic when he returns from the Crusades to punish his treacherous brother John and the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. In reality Richard detested England and the English, was deeply troubled by his own sexuality and was noted for greed, not generosity, and for murder rather than mercy. In youth Richard showed no interest in girls; instead, a taste for cruelty and a rapacity for gold that would literally be the death of him. To save his own skin, he repeatedly abandoned his supporters to an evil fate, and his indifference to women saw the part of queen at his coronation played by his formidable mother, Queen Eleanor. His brief reign bankrupted England twice, destabilised the powerful empire his parents had put together and set the scene for his brother’s ruinous rule. So how has Richard come to be known as the noble Christian warrior associated with such bravery and patriotism? Lionheart reveals the scandalous truth about England’s hero king – a truth that is far different from the legend that has endured for eight centuries.
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