Fleming, Ian Fleming: The Author as Collector

“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes’, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life”, says one of the characters in Ian Fleming’s classic children’s book ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ – and it’s fair to say that Fleming, the man who brought us James Bond, followed his own advice. Tonight, I was at a talk … Continue reading Fleming, Ian Fleming: The Author as Collector

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A visit to The Cathedral of Fleet Street leads to some astonishing finds

St Bride’s Church, on Fleet Street, has counted the likes of John Dryden, Izaak Walton, Samuel Pepys and John Milton among its parishioners. Known as The Phoenix of Fleet Street, because of the number of times it has risen from the ashes, it has a further nickname: The Cathedral of Fleet Street. I learned so … Continue reading A visit to The Cathedral of Fleet Street leads to some astonishing finds

The Clothworkers’ Company: 500 years of history and one very special home

Getting the opportunity to see inside the home of one of the twelve great livery companies of London is always exciting – especially when the Company itself will soon turn 500 years old. Today, together with a group of fellow London Historians, I visited Clothworkers’ Hall – home to The Clothworkers' Company. Our visit commenced … Continue reading The Clothworkers’ Company: 500 years of history and one very special home

Shipwrecked: how the tragedy of the SS London shocked Victorian society and changed the course of maritime history forever

I was at the Guildhall Library today, to hear the historian and genealogist Simon Wills speak about one of the worst maritime disasters ever recorded: the sinking of the SS London in 1866. Following ten years of research, Simon has published a book upon this subject and he talked to us, very eloquently, about his … Continue reading Shipwrecked: how the tragedy of the SS London shocked Victorian society and changed the course of maritime history forever

On a quest for knowledge at Piccadilly’s Burlington House, home of the Society of Antiquaries

I’ve walked past the Society of Antiquaries’ London home, Burlington House, countless times – but never, before today, ventured inside. Truth be told, I’m not sure I would have been able to tell you exactly what an antiquary is or does (I know: my lack of knowledge is shameful). Today’s visit to the Society’s headquarters, … Continue reading On a quest for knowledge at Piccadilly’s Burlington House, home of the Society of Antiquaries

How a visit to the Society of Genealogists sparked a surprise interest in my family history

Earlier today, I went on a fascinating tour of the Library of the Society of Genealogists. My interest in visiting this incredible archive was twofold: to learn more about the work that the Society does, and to see for myself the kinds of resources that are available to those keen to find out more about … Continue reading How a visit to the Society of Genealogists sparked a surprise interest in my family history

Crime and Punishment: A Convict’s Tale (or: the truth is sometimes far more complex than you might think)

I suspect I’m not alone in being endlessly fascinated by the subject of crime and punishment. In fact, I know I’m not: there’s a reason why Agatha Christie’s novels outsell even The Bible. Tonight, London Historians organised a fascinating evening on that very theme, but linked to two particular countries: England and Australia. Our speakers, … Continue reading Crime and Punishment: A Convict’s Tale (or: the truth is sometimes far more complex than you might think)

From story to stage: theatre producer Adam Blanshay on how he turned a life-long passion for musical theatre into a multi-award winning career

Loving theatre as much as I do, I’m always thrilled when I get the opportunity to hear people involved in its creation and production talk about the process. Today, I had the pleasure of listening to Adam Blanshay, the Canadian theatre producer and CEO of Just for Laughs Theatricals, a New York and London-based commercial … Continue reading From story to stage: theatre producer Adam Blanshay on how he turned a life-long passion for musical theatre into a multi-award winning career

Drawn on the spot: the changing role of the war artist across the years

The National Army Museum, which is located next door to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, recently re-opened its doors after an extensive renovation – and is a wonderful space: bright, light and welcoming. I came here for a talk on the subject of war artists and the illustrated press, given by immensely knowledgeable Senior Research Curator, … Continue reading Drawn on the spot: the changing role of the war artist across the years

If these walls could talk: the life & times of Banqueting House

Banqueting House, which stands so proudly on Whitehall, has been a witness to many key moments in English history. It also has a complex relationship with the country’s royal family and is linked, for different reasons, to every single one of our monarchs since Henry VIII. Along the way, it has experienced fire, pageantry, civil … Continue reading If these walls could talk: the life & times of Banqueting House