Archive for the ‘Post medieval history’ Category

Mounted guard from Lifeguards

Mounted guard from Lifeguards

A trip into London and some time to kill. I decide to visit the Household Cavalry museum off Whitehall. The museum is located in Horse Guards Parade in part of the stable block for the Guards on duty.

Mounted guard from Blues and Royals

Mounted guard from Blues and Royals

The regiments which now form the Household Cavalry were originally 3 regiments: the Lifeguards were founded in 1660 by King Charles II. Two other regiments, the Royals (Royal Dragoons) and the Blues (Royal Horse Guard) were added to the Household Cavalry in 1820, although they had been founded in the 17th century as independent cavalry regiments. The Blues and the Royals were merged to form a single regiment in 1969. In ceremonial dress the Lifeguards wear red tunics with a white helmet plume and the Blues and Royals wear blue uniforms with red plumes.

Dismounted guard from Life Gaurds

Dismounted guard from Life Gaurds

Dismounted guard from Blues and Royals

Dismounted guard from Blues and Royals

The Museum deals with the history of the regiments over the years and also highlights the two roles that the regiments take in the modern day army. There is the well known ceremonial role – duty at Horse Guards parade and escorting members of the royal family on ceremonial occasions such as trooping of the colour.
What is less well known is the role that the majority of the regiment has as an active mechanised regiment serving around the world as part of the British Army.

One section of the museum enables you to look through into the working stables as the troopers prepare their horses for duty on the parade ground.

Dress uniform of Lifeguards and Blues and Royals. The black plume designates a Farrier

Dress uniform of Lifeguards and Blues and Royals. The black plume designates a Farrier

Dress ceremonial coat of a member of the Regiments mounted band

Dress ceremonial coat of a member of the Regiments mounted band

My favourite story was of the tradition that when an officer left the regiment, he was expected to donate a piece of silverware to the officers mess. One officer wasn’t particularly worried or concerned by such traditions and when reminded of the tradition waved it off saying ‘ oh just buy something and charge it to my bill’. His fellow officers hurt by his indifference to regimental tradition went out and commissioned a large table centre-piece and then presented him with the bill

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A great little museum in a very interesting location,ideally coupled with a visit to the changing of the guard.

Being a history buff, the British Museum is probably my favourite of the many museums in London. The collection dates back to the middle of the 18th century when the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his collection of over 71,000 objects on the condition that it was not broken up. The government accepted this and the British Museum was founded. In 1757 King George the second donated the Royal library to form part of the new collection. The first British Museum was housed in a 17th-century mansion in Bloomsbury on the side of the current building and the open for public viewing on 15 January 1759. In the early years the annual attendance was about 5000 people per year. The museum continued to acquire important pieces related to world archaeology and cultural studies. These included the Rosetta Stone, which was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics amongst other ancient languages, classical sculpture and, perhaps rather more controversially, the Parthenon sculptures from Greece. In the mid-19th century, the existing building was expanded and the natural history collection was moved to its own location in South Kensington (now known as the Natural History Museum). The collection continued to expand and the late 20th century saw new developments to enable more, and better, display of the collection. This included a complete reworking of the centre of the museum building and the removal of the British library from the site to a new purpose-built library near St Pancras. This work continues today and a brand-new set of galleries, together with new conservation facilities will be opened in 2014.

Further details and vistor information can be seen at http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting.aspx?ref=header

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Detail from the portico over the main enterance

Detail from the portico over the main enterance

The Museum in the 18th century

The Museum in the 18th century

The new conservation and exhibition building

The new conservation and exhibition building

By the middle of the 19th century it was becoming evident that the British Museum collection was outgrowing its home in Bloomsbury. It was therefore decided to create a new museum to exhibit the natural history component of the collection. The site chosen was the site of the 1862 exhibition building in South Kensington (this had been labelled as one of the ugliest buildings ever built). Ironically, the architect chosen to design the new museum was the same one as had designed the 1862 building. However, shortly afterwards he died and was replaced by Alfred Waterhouse, who designed the building, which stands today and is reckoned by many to be one of the most attractive buildings in London.

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Natural History Museum London
Photo by Jancsi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831835@N00/)

The museum opened to the public in April 1881.

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It is not certain when the first castle was built at Alnwick. It was probably between 1070 and 1090 as it is recorded that King Malcolm III of Scotland tried to take the castle in 1093 and was killed at the battle that ensued. Some remnants of both an 11th century and a 12th century stone castle can be found in the castle today, but it is likely that the original castle was a wooden structure. Most of the castle that can be seen today dates from the time when the Percy family took control of Alnwick after purchasing the land from Bishop Bek of Durham in 1309. Baron Percy retitled himself ‘1st Lord Percy of Alnwick’. Many of the early lords of Alnwick carried out redevelopment and improvement. It is reputed that the 2nd Lord used money obtained from ransom of Scottish prisoners following the Battle of Neville’s Cross to finance his redevelopments.

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Despite the important part that the Percy family play in the history of England, Alnwick itself seems to have been untroubled by these events. By the 16th century the family had moved south and the changing political and military scene meant that Alnwick was no longer so important as a garrison castle and it began to fall into disrepair. So much so that it was used as a prisoner of war camp during the English civil war.A reference to the castle in 1750 mentons its state of disrepair.

In 1750, the first Duke of Northumberland, a Percy through his maternal line, decided to establish a residence in his Ducal county and chose Alnwick. He began a programme of repair and redevelopment to turn the ruined medieval castle into an 18th Gothic mansion.

Alnwick in the 18th century

Alnwick in the 18th century

In the 19th century the 4th Duke undertook a plan to re-medievalise the castle removing some of the features added by his Great-Grandfather. Whilst he tried to turn back the clock outside he was also responsible for building the lavish state rooms in the keep on an Italian theme.Unfortunately there si no photography inside the castle and so I cant show you the interiors of his keep.

The castle remains the family home of the Dukes of Northumberland – the current occupant being the 12th Duke. the latest in a long line of the Percy family which has owned Alnwick castle for over 900 years.

In 1623 a survey of the Tudor castle at Southsea found that many of the guns were unusable and that the garrison had no gunpowder stored on site. The deterioration of the castle continued following a fire in 1627 which gutted many of the buildings. It was still in use however during the Civil War and in 1642 it was captured by the parliamentarians. In 1680, following the restoration, Charles II built an enlarged castle with 30 guns.

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However by 1770 things had been allowed to deteriorate and a document describes the castle as being a shameful ruin and plans were made for its demolition. However renewed risks of French invasion called for these plans to be put on hold and the castle was further strengthened in 1793 and in 1814.

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In the 1820s the lighthouse was added to the castle and this remained in service to 1927.

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The original Southsea Castle was built in the mid-16th century following Henry VIII’s break with the church of Rome and the increased likelihood of invasion from continental Europe. In order to counter this Henry built a series of castles and keeps around the coast of southern and south-eastern England particularly covering places where an army could land or protecting the anchorages of his ships. There was an extensive series of forts and castles guarding Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton water.

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Artists impression of original Southsea castle 1544

Artists impression of original Southsea castle 1544

Picture showing an attempted French invasion in 1545. Southsea castle can be seen in the foregound

Picture showing an attempted French invasion in 1545. Southsea castle can be seen in the foregound

Tudor Gun crew at Southsea Castle

Tudor Gun crew at Southsea Castle

Arundel Castle

Posted: July 11, 2019 in History, Post medieval history, UK
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Arundel Castle is situated on a rock bluff overlooking the valley of the River Arun. The first castle on this site was built is 1068, just two years after the Norman conquest. By 1155 the original wooden structure had been replaced by a stone castle. In the 13th century the castle passed into the hands of the Howard family. Sir John Howard was created Duke of Norfolk in 1483 and the castle remains the home of his descendants to this day. It was besieged during the Civil War (1642 to 45) first by the Royalists and then by the Parliamentarians. It was badly damaged and repairs were not commenced until 1718. Queen Victoria stayed at the castle for three days in 1846 and the castle as it is today owes much to the restoration carried out around 1900.

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Centuries prior to the building of the Norman castle, the Romans had built a legionary fortress on the hill overlooking the River Witham.

The Normans created a motte and bailey castle here in 1068. Stone castle walls were erected by the end of the 11th century, replacing the original wooden palisade and a stone keep was also added shortly afterwards.

In 1141, Lincoln was the site of a battle ‘The Joust of Lincoln’ in the war between Stephen and Matilda for the English throne. King Stephen was captured during the battle and was held for some months before being exchanged for Matilda’s half-brother. Stephen went on to win the war and established himself firmly as England’s King.

It was beseiged 1191 and again in 1217 during the troubles between King John and the Barons and the castle held on both occasions under the control of its formidable constable, Lady Nicola de la Haye. It was also beseiged in 1644 when it was held by Royalists against the Parliamentarian forces although on this occasion it was forced to surrender.

In 1788 a prison block was built within the castle holding both criminals and debtors. In 1826 a courthouse building was added to the castle interior and in 1848 the criminal part of the jail was demolished and a new prison was built to hold short term prisoners awaiting trial at the Lincoln courts. This prison was one of the first to use the ‘separate system’ in which prisoners had their own cells. However, due to the number of prisoners who needed to be housed this was soon abandoned. The prison closed in 1878, just 30 years after its opening.

Today the prison and the castle walls are open to the public. In a specially designed vault in the castle grounds, it is also possible to see a number of ancient documents including Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta.

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum housing both a historical and art collection.

 

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The most famous painting in the museum is the Nightwatch by Rembrandt. But I chose the painting below as my favourite. It is a picture of the battle of Waterloo by Jan Willem Pienemann and shows the moment when the Duke of Wellington (the British Commander) hears that the Prussian army has arrived at Waterloo. This was the turning point of the battle which till then had been very even. Napoleon’s plan has relied on being able to keep the Prussians from making it to the battle before he had beaten the British and their allies but although it was a close run thing the French army failed to do this and the battle was lost.

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Michael Bass was born in 1799. His family owned a brewery in Burton-on Trent, which had been founded by his Grandfather. Michel’s father had expanded the business including developing a lucrative export trade to Russia. At the age of 18, Micael left school and joined the brewery. It was a difficult time for the brewery as exports to Russia had been severely disrupted because of the Napoleonic war. However, a new market soon opened up with the sale of Pale Ale to India and Southeast Asia (By 1833 this represented 40% of the companies business). Michael became the head of the company in 1827 and the arrival of the railway in Burton helped reduce the costs of transport and increase distribution. By 1870 Bass was the biggest Brewery in the UK.

Michael Bass became the member of Parliament for Derby in 1848 and continued in this post until 1883, just before his death. He advocated free trade, low taxes and an improved standard of living for the working class. He worked to abolish imprisonment for small debts. He was a philanthropist to both Burton and Derby providing libraries, schools, museums and recreational facilities. In his last years, he was offered a peerage but refused, saying that he wished to remain in the House of Commons (His son Michael, also an MP became Lord Burton in 1897).