Thursday, 24 April 2014

Julia Wallace

I wrote about the case of Julia Wallace. She was murdered in Liverpool, England in 1931. Her husband was convicted of the murder but he was released on appeal. The case remains unsolved.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Poison gas

On 22 April 1915 the Germans used poison gas (chlorine) on the western front for the first time. In 1917 they began using mustard gas. The allies also developed their own chemical weapons. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everybody - don't forget to read my history of Easter

Thursday, 17 April 2014


I wrote a history of poison. Its an age old method of assassinating rulers and removing unwanted relatives.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


On 16 April 1746 the Scottish highlanders were crushed at the battle of Culloden. Afterwards the old Highland way of life in the north of Scotland was broken up.

Monday, 14 April 2014


I wrote a history of cyanide. The worst cyanide murderer was Dr Marcel Petiot who killed at least 27 people by injecting them with cyanide. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Yuri Gagarin

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. The first American in space was John Glenn on 20 February 1962.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


On 10 April 1633 bananas went on sale in England. People in England had already started to eat the new fruit or vegetable from the new world - pumpkins. Fruits like apricots, oranges and pomegrantes were already common in England - for those who could afford them.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Chichester video

I made a youtube video about the Cathedral City of Chichester in England. It was founded by the Romans about 44 AD and during the Middle Ages it was an important port and market town. Today its a small but thriving community.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Women's Education

Its a myth that only men were educated in the past. Girls did not have the same opportunities as boys and they could not go to university but that does not mean they were never educated. Girls from rich families were usually educated at home by a tutor. They were often highly educated. Middle class girls were usually taught by their mothers but in 17th century England boarding schools opened for girls. Of course most boys had little or no education as it was expensive. Opportunities for education were much more about class than gender.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dick Turpin

On 7 April 1739 the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was hanged. Like many famous robbers Turpin has become romanticized. Of course, in real life he was nothing like his romantic image and he was only 35 when he was hanged. Its strange how criminals often become heroes when they have been dead for a long time.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Olympic Games revived

On 6 April 1896 the Olympic Games opened in Athens. It was a revival of the Ancient Greek Olympic Games and has been tremendously successful ever since.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Video of Southampton

I made a little video about the history of Southampton 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Portsmouth Video

I made a little video for youtube about the history of Portsmouth, England. It was the first time I ever used a video camera so it won't win any awards! Still it might be worth a watch.

This is the Round Tower, which was first built in the 15th century to guard the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Dr Crippen

I wrote about Dr Crippen. He poisoned his wife but he is infamous because he was the first murderer caught by radio. Crippen was hanged.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fool

The earliest recorded April fools joke was in 1698 when people went to the Tower of London moat to see the lions being washed.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Charlotte Bronte

31 March 1855 was a sad day. The famous writer Charlotte Bronte died. She was only 38. Early death was common in those days, far more common than it is today but its a great shame because if she had lived another 30 years she could have written many more great works of literature. She did show that women could achieve great things even in the 19th century.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The invention of panties

Roman women sometimes wore panties called subligaculum. However after the fall of Rome women did not usually wear panties until the end of the 18th century. Their only underwear was a long linen garment called a shift, which they wore under their dress.

In modern times women panties were invented again at the very end of the 18th century. (At first they were called drawers). In the 19th century panties came to below the knee.

Today we still say a pair of panties. That is because in the early 19th century women's underwear consisted to two separate legs joined at the waist. They really were a 'pair'.

At first panties were usually very plain but in the late 19th century they were sometimes decorated with lace and bands. In the 1860s some women began to wear colored drawers although white remained very common. In the 19th century panties were usually made of cotton though some women wore wool in the winter.
In the 19th century panties were sometimes called bloomers. A woman named Elizabeth Miller invented loose trousers to be worn by women. After 1849 Amelia Bloomer promoted the idea and they became known as bloomers after her. In time underwear became known as bloomers. The word lingerie is derived from the French word for linen, lin. However in the early 20th century lingerie came to mean pretty underwear.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Battle of Towton

On 29 March 1471 the battle of Towton was fought in England during a civil war. It was the worst battle in English history. Its believed that at least 20,000 men died and perhaps as many as 28,000. That was at a time when the whole population of England was about 2 and a half million. So about 1% of the population of England died in a battle in a single day.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Tudor Furniture

In Tudor Times furniture was more plentiful than in the Middle Ages but it was still basic. In a wealthy home it was usually made of oak and was heavy and massive. Tudor furniture was expected to last for generations. You expected to pass it on to your children and even your grandchildren. Comfortable beds became more and more common in the 16th century. In a middle class Tudor home a mattress was often stuffed with flock (a kind of rough wool).

Chairs were more common than in the Middle Ages but they were still expensive. Even in an upper class home children and servants sat on stools. The poor had to make do with stools and benches.

In the 15th century only a small minority of people could afford glass windows. In the 16th century they became much more common. However they were still expensive. If you moved house you took your glass windows with you! Windows were made of small pieces of glass held together by strips of lead. They were called lattice windows. However the poor still had to make do with strips of linen soaked in linseed oil. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Today we still say a pair of  panties. That is because in the early 19th century women's underwear consisted to two separate legs joined at the waist. They really were a 'pair'.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Ivan the Terrible

 In 1565 Ivan the Terrible formed a private army called the Oprichnina. They were completely loyal to him and they killed anyone suspected of being the Czar's enemy. In 1570 The Oprichniks sacked Novgorod because Ivan believed the Novgorodians were collaborating with his enemies the Poles. The Oprichniks massacred the inhabitants, killing thousands. The Metropolitan of Moscow denounced Ivan's cruelty and as a result he was strangled.

Ivan also devised horrific methods of torturing and killing anyone he suspected of being an enemy. Ivan even killed his own son and heir by hitting him with an iron tipped staff. Ivan finally died in 1584.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Victorian Women

Women in Britain gradually gained more rights during the 19th century.
In 1865 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) became the first British woman doctor. Elizabeth also became the first woman in Britain to become mayor of a town (Aldeburgh) in 1908. The first woman in Britain to qualify as a dentist was Lilian Lindsay in 1895. The first woman to qualify as an architect in Britain was Ethel Charles in 1898.

In 1869 John Stuart Mill published his book The Subjection of Women, which demanded equal rights for women.

At Oxford University from 1884 onward women were allowed to attend lectures and take university exams for the first time (although they were not actually awarded degrees till 1920). Halls were built for female students (later they became colleges).

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Tom Paine

I wrote a little bio of Tom Paine the great English philosopher of the 18th century. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

St Davids Day

Happy St Davids Days all Welsh people.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Women's rights

In the Ancient World women's rights varied from one civilization to another. In Ancient Egypt women had virtually the same rights as men. They could own property and they could sign contracts. A famous woman Pharaoh called Hatshepsut once ruled Egypt.

Sunday, 23 February 2014


I wrote a little history of Honduras. Its still a very poor country with a long way to go to eliminate poverty.

Friday, 21 February 2014


I wrote a brief history of Ottawa, the capital of Canada

Monday, 17 February 2014

Renaissance Italy

In the late 14th and 15th centuries a great cultural change came over Italy. It is called the Renaissance, which means 'rebirth'. In the Middle Ages education was mostly controlled by the church for the church. In the late 14th century there were an increasing number of secular educated men in Italy. There was also an increasing interest in the art and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. At the time Greek scholars (from the Byzantine Empire) came to Italy.

The Renaissance benefited from the printing press, which was introduced into Venice by 1470. Furthermore rich Italians patronised the arts.

Meanwhile Italian trade and commerce prospered. The city-states flourished. In the 15th century Florence was ruled by the Medicis, a family of bankers. (Florence was a republic ruled by an oligarchy but the Medicis managed to control it). The greatest Medicis were Cosimo who ruled from 1434 to 1464 and Lorenzo the Magnificent who ruled from 1469 to 1492.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Life boats

A man named Lionel Lukin invented the lifeboat in 1784. We all know the Titanic did not carry enough lifeboats for all its passengers. Nevertheless his invention has saved countless lives. Thank you Mr Lukin. 

Friday, 14 February 2014


On 14 February 1929 an infamous massacre took place in Chicago. 

Friday, 7 February 2014


However Canada finally gained democratic government in 1867 when Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were federated as the Dominion of Canada. Canada then had a strong central government, which ruled from Ottawa, the new capital. The first prime minister of Canada was Sir John Macdonald.
Manitoba was made a province in 1870. British Columbia joined the confederation in 1871. Alberta and Saskatchewan joined in 1905.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

18th Century Towns

During the 18th century towns in Britain grew larger. Nevertheless most towns still had populations of less than 10,000. However in the late 18th century new industrial towns in the Midland and the North of England mushroomed. Meanwhile the population of London grew to nearly 1 million by the end of the century. Other towns were much smaller. The population of Liverpool was about 77,000 in 1800. Birmingham had about 73,000 people and Manchester had about 70,000. Bristol had a population of about 68,000. Sheffield was smaller with 31,000 people and Leeds had about 30,000 people. Leicester had a population of about 17,000 in 1800. In the south Portsmouth had a population of about 32,000 in 1800 while Exeter had about 20,000 people.

Monday, 3 February 2014


I wrote a history of Vancouver. It was only founded in the late 19th century but it has grown to be a great city.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Calgary, Canada

I wrote a little history of Calgary, Canada. It hasn't existed for very long but today its booming.

Life in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages chimneys were a luxury. As time passed they became more common but only a small minority could afford them. Certainly no peasant could afford one.

About 1180 for the first time since the Romans rich people had panes of glass in the windows. At first glass was very expensive and only rich people could afford it but by the late 13th and early 14th centuries the middle classes began to have glass in some of their windows. Those people who could not afford glass could use thin strips of horn or pieces of linen soaked in tallow or resin which were translucent.

A Medieval city gate in Winchester

Friday, 31 January 2014

Edmonton, Canada

I wrote a history of Edmonton, Canada. Like other Canadian cities it began as a fort but in 1905 it became the capital of Alberta and since then it has mushroomed.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Toronto, Canada

I wrote a brief history of Toronto. It started as a fort in the 18th century and grew into a great Canadian city.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


I made a video about Chichester. It was founded by the Romans and revived by the Saxons. In the Middle Ages it was an important port.

Chichester Market Cross was built in 1501 by the bishop. If you could stand underneath it with your goods for sale you didn't have to pay market tolls.

Friday, 10 January 2014

History of Venezuela

I wrote a little history of Venezuela. Its a troubled country but hopefully things will get better in future.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

History of Naples, Italy

I wrote a brief history of Naples, Italy. It is an ancient city, founded by the Greeks and it has a rich history.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

South Pole

On this day in 1911 Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. The first women to reach the South Pole went there in 1969 but they flew in a plane rather than travel over the ice.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Monday, 25 November 2013

Mary Shelley

I wrote a brief bio of Mary Shelley. She is famous for her horror novel Frankenstein.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Queen Elizabeth I

I wrote a brief biography of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). During her reign England grew in power and prosperity 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Caroline Herschel

I wrote about Caroline Herschel. Her brother William is famous for discovering the planet Uranus but Caroline was famous in her own right as an astronomer. Among other things she was the first woman to discover a comet. Its a pity she is not better remembered.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Bra is patented

On 13 November 1914 Mary Phelps Jacob patented the bra. She had the idea in 1913 when she sewed two handkerchiefs together with ribbons. Bra is short for brassiere, which was the French word for a soldier's breastplate.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Famous Women

All you ladies out there I started a new section of my website called famous women in history. Today I am going to start writing about astronomer Caroline Herschel. Her brother William is famous because he discovered the planet Uranus. Caroline was famous in her own time too but she is forgotten (probably because she was a woman!). 

Friday, 8 November 2013

William Blake

I wrote a brief biography of William Blake. He was the great poet who wrote The Tyger and Jerusalem.