It was the summer of 1897, and in a poor area of Birmingham, children were having to use their imaginations to keep themselves occupied. These children were living in MacDonald Street, a road dissecting the city’s Highgate and Deritend districts; on this particular summer’s day, they gathered together and decided to put on a production of Little Red Riding Hood. They commandeered the street’s communal washhouse to serve as a theatre, moving in a table to be the stage, and sheets for scenery. No theatre was a proper one without footlights, so the children used a candle and a paraffin lamp. They even fashioned costumes for themselves out of paper, and were proud of themselves for their achievements.
With a palette that ranges from strawberry blonde to deep auburn, red is the rarest of the naturally occurring colours of hair. Less than 2% of the world’s population have this characteristic and the majority of them have European ancestry. The distribution is not uniform across the continent. An eighth of Scots are born redheads and red hair is relatively common in Ireland and parts of Scandinavia, but it is not often found in Mediterranean regions.
Many of our modern-day Christmas customs and traditions originated during the Victorian era. However, Christmas had been actively celebrated in England for centuries until it was banned by the Puritans in the mid-17th century. With the restoration of Charles II, Christmas was reinstated and the festivities associated with the season were gradually rekindled.
One of the brilliant aspects of modern life both for anyone interested in the history of crime is the digitisation of records that may otherwise have languished in archives, seen only by a handful of people, or even by the archivist alone. Digitising records, and putting them into their wider social or political context opens them up to a wider range of people, and also enables those living in other countries to learn about the crime history of a different nation.
Last month I downloaded my copy of Discover Your Ancestors containing an article I had written about the search for a mysterious amateur rugby player from Sunderland who went off to war. The title was ‘The Search For Mr Vinneycombe’ and Mr Vinneycombe was, supposedly, the last piece of a team jigsaw I had been assembling over four years. Later that day I wrote to all and sundry declaring that with 11 November and the centenary of the end of the war in view, I was finally coming to an end of my First World War research. Within 24 hours I had recanted. The reason? A Mr N Nesbitt – and this is why!
With the success of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Show’s sellout London event, the organisers have now announced the introduction of a new South-West of England Show to be held in the Exhibition Centre at the University of West of England, Bristol on Saturday 6 July 2019.
The word ‘bracelet’ derives from the Greek word brachile, meaning ‘of the arm’, and since time immemorial bracelets have drawn attention to the arms, hands and wrists. The earliest known bracelet is the 70,000-year-old Paleolithic ‘Denisovan Bracelet’ from Siberia, made of green stone. Bracelets have been worn by different ethnic groups for adornment and for spiritual and religious reasons, the scarab bracelet representing rebirth and regeneration an important ancient Egyptian symbol. While early bracelets were often created from stone, bone, shells and other natural materials, over time precious metals and gemstones came to signify wealth and high status. Bracelets also made ideal gifts: for instance, in 1453 Queen Margaret, wife of Henry VI, gave her servants gold and silver bracelets at New Year.
According to legend, in the late 5th century Saint Woolos church was founded by Saint Gwynllyw. The church was certainly in existence by the 9th century and today has become Newport Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Monmouth. The Normans arrived from around 1088–1093 to build the first Newport Castle and river crossing downstream from Caerleon. The name (first used in 1126) was derived from the original Latin name Novus Burgus, meaning new borough or new town. The city can sometimes be found labelled as Newport-on-Usk on old maps.
This book is a selection of more than 300 letters published by The Times newspaper between 1914 and 1918, as its readers and the nation alike endured the ordeal of the First World War. Much of the correspondence relates to the conflict – the news, or absence of news, from the trenches and the sacrifices being made on the Home Front. Celebrated politicians and the man on the Clapham omnibus both responded to the horrors of gas and the slaughter on the Somme. It was at this time, too, that the newspaper’s famous letters page began to take on its distinctive nature, finding room for offbeat or humorous topics and writers who held up a mirror to Britain’s character and its changing moods.
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