Trivial Events and Trifling Decisions that Changed British History
In 1831 26-year-old Captain Robert FitzRoy advertised for a companion to accompany him on a voyage to South America. The ship was the HMS Beagle; the successful applicant the young Charles Darwin; the result of the voyage the theory of natural selection. This entertaining compendium of 40 historical anecdotes, whose topics include science, politics, food and literature, illustrates how seemingly insignificant events can alter the course of history.
The Diamond Queen
Elizabeth II and Her People
In telling the life story of Elizabeth II, Andrew Marr is concerned with the influences on her and 'why she does what she does'. The result is a study of the monarchy that chronicles the Queen's pivotal role at the centre of state, which is largely hidden from the public gaze, and makes a strong case for the institution itself. Marr presents a vivid account not only of Elizabeth II, but also of the country she has reigned over for six decades.
True Tales from the Operators of Britain's First Jet Fighter – From 1944 to Date
‘I saw a V1 coming in south of Dover and caught up with it about three miles south of Canterbury. I was flying at 400mph and had no difficulty overtaking …’ This book features long-form interviews with over 40 veteran pilots of the beloved Gloster Meteor, the RAF’s first jet-powered aeroplane, which came into service in 1944 and played a significant role in the early stages of the Cold War, despite being alarmingly accident-prone.
Country House Life
A Century in Photographs
With an engaging commentary and over 250 photographs of the people who lived and worked in houses such as Polesden Lacey, Lacock Abbey and Castle Drogo, this book offers an authentic picture of life in the English country house during its heyday. Drawn from family albums and collections and covering the period from the 1840s to 1945, the photographs record everyday life for the families and staff as well as family celebrations, garden parties, sporting events and the occasional visit by royalty.
Magna Carta and All That
A Guide to the Magna Carta and Life in England in 1215
With its limits on royal authority, the ‘Great Charter’ granted by King John at Runnymede is considered one of the most important documents in English constitutional history. Green explains the political power struggles behind Magna Carta, introduces the people and places most associated with it and describes the organization of English society, from peasants to barons, in the 13th century. He also provides a full translation of the charter’s 63 clauses.
The Lady Penelope
Passion and Intrigue at the Heart of the Elizabethan Court
A muse to poets and descendant of royalty, the golden-haired Penelope Devereux was celebrated in the court of her godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, for being as quick-witted as she was beautiful. This biography charts Devereux’s political ascendancy in the court, her unhappy marriage to nobleman Robert Rich, her involvement in the rebellion to overthrow Elizabeth, led by her brother, the Earl of Essex, and her doomed love affair with Charles Blount, which ultimately led to her downfall.
Portillo's Hidden History of Britain
Beginning with Shepton Mallet prison, which had been in use for 400 years when it closed in 2013, Michael Portillo investigates the stories hidden within the walls of twelve buildings that illuminate aspects of Britain’s modern history. Through structures including Brighton’s sewer system, Imber village in Wiltshire, a nuclear bunker in Cambridge and the New Victoria cinema in Bradford, he explores four themes: crime and emergency, life and death, defence, and ‘People’s Pleasure Domes’.
Danes in Wessex
The Scandinavian Impact on Southern England, c.800–c.1100
Originating at a conference held at the Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology, this collection of 13 papers includes studies of West Saxon battlefields, an early medieval mass burial on the Dorset Ridgeway, and Danish royal burials, especially that of Cnut and his family, in Winchester.
Britain's Medieval Episcopal Thrones
History, Archaeology and Conservation
Six episcopal thrones survive from 14th-century cathedral churches. In this scholarly volume, Charles Tracy presents in-depth studies of the timber thrones in Exeter, St David’s and Hereford Cathedrals and the impressive, canopied oak bishop’s chair in Lincoln; and Andrew Budge contributes a chapter on the two stone episcopal thrones at Wells and Durham Cathedrals. There is much additional information in appendices, and the studies are lavishly illustrated with photographs, plans and line drawings of the thrones.
Innercities Cultural Guides
Martin Garrett traces Oxford’s history from Anglo-Saxon ‘oxen-ford’ to the present, with chapters on its architecture, ‘town and gown’, and writers and religion; and goes beyond the city to surrounding places of interest including Blenheim Palace and White Horse Hill.
Black's Guide to Scotland
Picturesque Tourist Guide 1840
Published in 1840 by Adam and Charles Black of Edinburgh, this ‘Picturesque Tourist’ guide promises ‘engraved charts and views of the scenery, plans of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and a copious itinerary’. Arranged as 14 tours, the guide also assures the reader of accurate, plain and intelligible accounts, with much information on tradition, history and associations – a swipe at the purple prose of rival guides. The present book is a facsimile reprint of the first edition. No jacket.
The West End Front
The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels
Partly thanks to their potentially bomb-resistant solidity, The Ritz, the Savoy, Claridges and the Dorchester became central to the cultural and political life of the country during the Second World War. This colourful history explores a remarkable period when cabinet ministers, military officials, exiled foreign dignitaries, journalists, spies, artists and chancers all used the hotels as meeting places, makeshift offices, temporary embassies and social centres.
The Best of Benn
Speeches, Diaries, Letters and Other Writings
Tony Benn (1925–2014) was not only a prominent, charismatic and principled politician, but also the pre-eminent diarist of his generation. This volume brings together a selection of his journalism, speeches and diary entries to highlight key moments in his career and to illustrate the range of issues on which he campaigned, such as workers' rights and the abolition of the death penalty, as well as his interest in the connections between Christianity and socialism.
The History Thieves
Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation
From the Second World War to the ‘War on Terror’, Britain’s secret state has undertaken covert operations and amassed a vast amount of information on its citizens. Drawing on rigorous research and previously unseen material, this groundbreaking work of investigative journalism reveals how the security services have fought unreported wars abroad, forged links with terrorists in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and used a cloak of secrecy to conceal illegal activities, hide official embarrassment and distort the historical record. Slightly off-mint.
The Discovery of Middle Earth
Mapping the Lost World of the Celts
It was while planning a cycling expedition along the Via Heraklea, the legendary route of Hercules from the western tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, that Graham Robb discovered a precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: the three-dimensional 'Middle Earth' of the Celts. This volume describes his historical treasure hunt, revealing the lasting influence of the Druids, and looking afresh at the 'protohistory' of Europe.
Why the English Sailed to the New World
During the 17th century unprecedented numbers of people left England. They were on their way to new lives in the Caribbean and the North American colonies – but what were their motivations for undertaking such a perilous transatlantic voyage? Using contemporary letters, diaries and court records, Evans tells the personal stories of men and women who left their homeland in search of a fortune, for political and religious reasons or because their desperate poverty meant they had little to lose.
An A–Z of Forgotten Landmarks and Lost Traditions
Britain's history is well documented, but there are nevertheless fascinating events, characters and practices that have been largely overlooked. This book explores lesser-known aspects of our heritage from the pivotal Battle of Assandun to the abandoned Croydon Canal.
How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain
Nothing reveals as much about a society as its bad behaviour, and if Shakespeare’s England is remembered for courtly ceremony, it was also an age of brawling, boozing and badmouthing. Drawing on contemporary behaviour manuals, court cases and sermons, Ruth Goodman, the presenter of Victorian Farm, reveals what most upset and infuriated our forebears. Her entertaining survey dishes the dirt on ninny-hammers, wittols, stinkards and draggletails, and offers practical advice on how to handle yourself in a fight. Off-mint.
When Britain Saved the West
The Story of 1940
‘In 1940 the only major power fighting Germany was Britain. Had Britain collapsed and Europe become Nazified, the future of the West would have been very bleak.’ In this book Robin Prior re-examines a vast range of official, semi-official and private documentary sources to give a full account of political and military events, and the many crises that threatened the nation during the year that Britain fought alone, from Dunkirk to the Blitz.
A Brief History of the Celts
The intricate artwork and vibrant mythology of the Celts make their culture a source of particular fascination, which continues to be fuelled by new archaeological discoveries. This overview of ancient Europe discusses the Celts' mysterious origins, their complex society and their vigorous survival even after conquest by the Romans. Previously published as The Ancient World of the Celts (1998).