Monday, 29 October 2012

New Zealand

New Zealand was the first country in the world to allow women to vote in 1893 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Anne Askew

I wrote a short biography of Anne Askew. She was an English Protestant martyr of the 16th century. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


I wrote an article about angels. Whether you believe in angels or not they have played a major part in Western culture, in art and literature. Recently belief in angels has revived and books about them have become popular.  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Fire of London 1666

In 1666 came the Great Fire of London. It began on 2 September in a baker's house in Pudding Lane belonging to Thomas Farynor. It probably began because Farynor had not properly extinguished his ovens after a days baking. The wind fanned the ashes and a fire began.

 At first it did not cause undue alarm. The Lord Mayor of London Thomas Bludworth was awoken and said "Pish! A woman might piss it out!". But the wind caused the flames to spread rapidly. People formed chains with leather buckets and worked hand operated pumps all to no avail. The mayor was advised to use gunpowder to create fire breaks but he was reluctant, fearing the owners of destroyed buildings would sue for compensation. 

The fire continued to spread until the king took charge. He ordered sailors to make firebreaks. At the same time the wind dropped. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks were invented in 1773 by Joseph Priestley, who discovered how to trap carbon dioxide in water and made carbonated water. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


The Romans founded London about 50 AD. Its name is derived from the Celtic word Londinios, which means the place of the bold one. After they invaded Britain in 43 AD the Romans built a bridge across the Thames. They later decided it was an excellent place to build a port. The water was deep enough for ocean going ships but it was far enough inland to be safe from Germanic raiders. Around 50 AD Roman merchants built a town by the bridge. So London was born. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Monty Python

5 October 1969 was a great day in British history. On that day a new TV programme was broadcast. It was called Monty Python's Flying Circus. The rest as they say is history.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Opium Wars

The Opium Wars were a shameful episode in British history. The Chinese government took action to combat this menace. In 1839 an official called Lin Zexu was sent to Guangzhou to stop the opium smuggling. He commanded the British to hand over their stores of opium. Reluctantly they obeyed. However the British government sent a fleet to blockade Guangzhou and the ports of Ningbo and Tanjin. In 1841 a Chinese official negotiated a treaty. He agreed to give the British Hong Kong and pay what it cost the British to send a fleet to China. However neither side was satisfied with this treaty and the war resumed.

The British sent a second fleet and occupied several ports. This time the Chinese were forced to pay a much larger amount of money. They were also forced to open 5 ports to British merchants (Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai). British citizens were to answer only to the British authorities if they committed any crime while they were in China. Chinese tariffs on British goods were to be only 5%. Soon afterwards the Chinese were forced to sign similar treaties with other European countries. Unfortunately the Chinese had fallen behind in military technology and they were no match for the European forces.

The first Opium War of 1840-42 was followed by a second conflict. Neither side was satisfied with the treaty of 1842. The Chinese naturally resented the treaty. The British accused Chinese officials of 'dragging their feet' and obstructing trade. Conflict came to a head in 1856 when the Chinese boarded a ship called The Arrow. In 1858 the British sent another fleet to China and the Chinese were forced to sign another treaty. Ten more ports were opened to trade and foreigners were to be allowed to travel around China.

In 1859 British officials returned to ratify the treaty but they were prevented from entering China. However in 1860 the British sent another expedition. This time the British burned the emperor's summer palace. China was forced to open ports in the north to trade and to pay a large sum of money to Britain.