So on Tuesday Alex’s bubble burst…

Last Tuesday my sons school phoned to tell us that he was a Covid contact and his bubble would be isolating for the next ten days. This means homeschool, excited little boy and limited work for myself. His favourite game at the moment is a space flight simulator and he is trying to drive a rover on Mars. Guess who has to fly the rocket and land on Mars safely. Guess who gets told off every time his precious rover breaks up in orbit.

Now I am not a contact unless Alex develops symptoms so I can still go to work but I am taking this weekend off to catch up on some reading and some journals.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on

I am a very social person and love to read, write, discuss and be a member of clubs and societies. I am a proud member of the Historical Association and of the Prehistoric Society. These mean a lot to me and I enjoy learning more about my profession and my topic. Keeping up with my subject also means reading older books about history and the art of doing history as well as looking forwards to new books. Harry Sidebottom is a good friend who is a brilliant writer. I am looking forwards to his new book, The Burning Road, that has its launch next month. If you would like to go, book launches are always fun events. Tickets are available at Topping Books I believe there will be drinks and nibbles!

Battle of Marston Moor English Civil War on this day Uncategorized

A great and significant date… The Battle of Marston Moor (1642)

One of the greatest assets of a general is a reputation for invincibility. If you have it you are playing down hill and if you are against it you have a big battle to fight. It was today in 1642 the Prince Rupert rode onto the field with his reputation and his poodle and left with only his poodle.

In 1642 the civil war was going badly for the royalist forces in the North. Royalist forces had been pushed back and then besieged in the city of York, the capital of the north. A relief force of Royalist cavalry evaded the parliamentary army and linked up with the royalist foot and then turned to bring the parliamentarians to battle. Facing a royalist army under Marquess of Newcastle and Prince Rupert was an allied force of Scots and Parliamentary forces under Fairfax and Manchester. Exhausted but willing to follow Rupert anywhere his soldiers prepared for battle but being late in the day Rupert was convinced the battle would be delayed. He went to dine and Newcastle retired to smoke so both were taken by surprise as the Parliamentarians started to advance at 7pm. Whatever you think of Rupert he was a very brave man and was able to engage the Parliamentarians and contested the field for several hours before being forced to retire. This was a side show because it was the foot who inflicted serious casualties on the Royalists and won the day. The day was won meaning that the Royalists lost their baggage and their artillery. The battle that should have buttressed the Kings holding in the north led to their unwraveling and after the surrender of York the North was lost to the King.

Prince Rupert lost his reputation but the Iron Sides under Cromwell gained status and renown that would soon become legendary. The loss of the North was a problem of long term significance. Much of the population and wealth lay in the south but the North had important trading ports with the continent which were now lost to the King. By winning and the


Who were the Anglo-Saxons? — Notes from the U.K.

Until recently, if you asked who the Anglo-Saxons were the answer would’ve been that they were people from two northern European tribes who invaded England during the fifth and sixth centuries and then put down roots and stayed. They pushed the Britons (mostly Celts who’d been Romanized) to the corners of the island and formed […]

Who were the Anglo-Saxons? — Notes from the U.K.

A lovely day at a lovely school… Kingsthorne

Today I went to one of my favourite schools to do a new workshop. We did the Great Fire of London, an exciting workshop for KS1. Working with extremely young children is one of those fun things in life. They are enthusiastic, over excited and often unable to keep to the point. Whilst we were dramatically exploring 17th century London one little boy put up his hand to tell me that his nanny was in heaven.

Photo by Pixabay on

During the last week or so I have been researching the Great Fire of London and trying to think of ways to explain and immerse the children in the 17th century. Obviously there are many things in history that we just can not tell children about. Which is right and proper until they are adults and they ask you why you left out all the good bits when they were at school! And some things can be hidden whilst others are too wonderful not to be shared. One of our activities was making wattle and daub. We made the hurdle and then used airdrying clay to represent daub. “Of course, children, they did not really use air drying clay… they used PIG POO!”

On a serious note the Great Fire of London is one of those really terrible disasters. It was so awful at the time that the French King was moved to offer to send food and aide to London. As I read the accounts from the time I reflect that the only comparable description that I have heard is the description of the Coventry Blitz by a man who watched it from Baginton. I remember one person saying that they were in a train and saw the sky red with fire. He asked the guard what it was and the Guard replied that it was Coventry. At its height the Great Fire of London could be seen from Oxford.

London had endured fires before and it struck me that it was strange that they dealt with this one so badly. The Mayor gave no leadership and left the city on the first day, the people ran keen to protect their own property rather than deal with the fire and so many laws and ordinances had been ignored and not enforced which made this fire trap, a fire trap with fire traps inside it. The Romans knew the importance of preventing fire and forbade thatch, smithing and other fire related professions in their cities as did Charles II who repeatedly passed laws and comment on the dangerous nature of the slums of the city of London. The reasons for this are that Royal authority was suspect after the Civil Wars. The city of London had been an important Parliamentary stronghold and the magistrates were old enough to have served in the war against Charles father. It is probable that they were not going to be told what to do by this jumped up poodle keeper. It is probable that this was the reason the Mayor rejected the help of James soldiers. The idea of Royalist soldiers marching through Parliamentary London was incredibly dangerous. Second the slums of London were growing very quickly and needed cheap materials to build. There was no central planning and the medieval city expanded upwards creating tenements that met over the street and put dangerous industries in the centre of a tinderbox dry city.