Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Charles Darwin

On this day in 1882 Charles Darwin died If you were born today you share your birthday with actors Dudley Moore and Jayne Mansfield

Friday, 15 April 2011

15 April 1793

On this day in 1793 the Bank of England issued the first £5 notes. On this day in 1912 the Titanic sank. If you were born today you share your birthday with Antarctic explorer James Clark Ross, writer Henry James and blues singer Bessie Smith. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011


The word drawers was invented because underwear was drawn on. Where does the word knickers come from? It comes from a novel called History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker, supposedly a Dutchman living in New York (it was actually written by Washington Irving). In Britain the illustrations for the book showed a Dutchman wearing long, loose fitting garments on his lower body. When men wore loose trousers for sport they were sometimes called knickerbockers. However womens underwear were soon called knickerbockers too. In the late 19th century the word was shortened to knickers. Read more at my history of women's underwear

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Today we don't regard sugar as a spice but in the Middle Ages and Tudor times it was seen as one. Sugar cane first grew in Polynesia. It spread to India then to Persia. (Sugar was used in Ayurvedic medicine in India). The Arabs grew sugar cane and at the end of the 11th century the Crusaders brought sugar to Europe. (Although in the Middle Ages sugar was a rare luxury and honey was far more commonly used to sweeten food). At the end of the 15th century sugar cane was taken to the New World. Sugar was first made from sugar beet in the 18th century. A German chemist called Andreas Marggraf was the first person to make sugar from beet in 1747.