Life & Times of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 2 – Multicultural Britons.

Present into Past – The Problem of Retrospection: The closer that social historians get to their own times, the harder it is for them to be sure they have hold of what is essential about the period in question: the more difficult it is to separate the rich tapestry of social life which appears onContinue reading “Life & Times of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 2 – Multicultural Britons.”

Majesty & Grace IV: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – The Reign of ‘Albert the Good’ – George VI, 1936-39.

The Deep Despair of the Duke & Duchess: The Duke of York, Albert, and his family had been in Scotland during the days preceding the Abdication Crisis. When the British press broke their self-imposed silence about King Edward’s affair with Mrs Simpson on 3rd December 1936, the Yorks were on their way back to LondonContinue reading “Majesty & Grace IV: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – The Reign of ‘Albert the Good’ – George VI, 1936-39.”

Personal Recollections of Prince Charles as Chancellor of the University of Wales, 1979-80 & Reflections on his Elevation to King Charles III.

The Troubles & the Tragedy, 1966-79: On August 27, 1979, in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, on the western coast of the Republic of Ireland, a massive 50lb remote-controlled bomb exploded on board the fishing boat Shadow V, killing Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and two others while they were boating on holiday off the coast. Lord Mountbatten wasContinue reading “Personal Recollections of Prince Charles as Chancellor of the University of Wales, 1979-80 & Reflections on his Elevation to King Charles III.”

Faith, Fantasy & Fairy Tales – Tolkien, ‘Jack’ Lewis & ‘The Inklings’, 1926-66: Part Two – ‘Shadowy Abstractions’

There was a good stretch of time between Jack Lewis’s conversion on the way to Whipsnade and his writing of the Tales of Narnia. Throughout this time, while Tolkien was writing his Hobbit stories, Lewis was musing on the physical similarities that men and beasts have in common. This is why he felt that Kenneth Grahame, in The Wind in the Willows, made exactly the right choice in giving his principal character the form of a toad

The Making of an English Mythology; from Reality to Fantasy and back again, 1917-1954: Tolkien’s Creative Years.

Following his recovery from the Somme and ‘trench fever’ on his return from France in 1916, Tolkien was determined to create an entire mythology for England. He had hinted at this during his undergraduate days at Oxford when he studied and wrote of the Finnish ‘Kalevala’:

“I would that we had more of it left – something of the sort that belonged to the English.”

This idea now grew during his recuperation until it reached ‘epic’ proportions. This is how Tolkien expressed it when recollecting many years later:

“Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen), I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large to the cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country. “

‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? 

Follow your spirit; and upon this charge Cry God for Harry, England and St George! William Shakespeare, Henry V, Part One. England hasn’t really got a national anthem….The Irish, the Scots and the Welsh all have anthems, the Americans have the cheek to sing ‘My Country ’tis of thee’ to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen‘, but what do theContinue reading “‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? “

‘You Can’t Stop Them Singing’: Welsh Experiences of Exodus and Exile in England, 1927-47.

This is an edited version of an article originally written for the Modern Wales Unit at the University of Wales, Cardiff in 1998, drawing on material in my unpublished PhD Thesis, presented in September 1988, The Re-Making of a Working-Class: Migration from the South Wales Coalfield to the New Industry Areas of the Midlands, c.Continue reading “‘You Can’t Stop Them Singing’: Welsh Experiences of Exodus and Exile in England, 1927-47.”

Who are the Ukrainians? Mythology & History, Part II: 1801-2001 – From Napoleon’s Empire to end of Empires?

Putin’s Perverse & Very Unorthodox History: In a letter of 10th March, H.H. Patriarch Kirill ‘of Moscow and all Russia’ replied to a letter sent on 2nd March by World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca asking the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church to mediate so that theContinue reading “Who are the Ukrainians? Mythology & History, Part II: 1801-2001 – From Napoleon’s Empire to end of Empires?”

Scenes from Baptist History, 1814-1914: Missionaries, Mechanics & Manufacturers.

Includes a scene from Regent Street Baptist Church, Smethwick, Birmingham, from November 1897, ‘The Church in Meeting Assembled’ by Rev. A. J. Chandler, Minister of Bearwood Baptist Church, Birmingham, 1965-79. Revival, ‘Respectability’ & Reform in Britain, 1814-1859: In 1814, there was an evangelistic revival at Redruth in Cornwall which continued for nine days. An eye-witnessContinue reading “Scenes from Baptist History, 1814-1914: Missionaries, Mechanics & Manufacturers.”

Scenes from Baptist History: Persecution of the Puritans, Evangelical Revival & William Carey, 1662-1812.

Persecution of All ‘Nonconformists’, 1662-87: It was not until 1687 that the dissenting or ‘nonconformist’ churches felt able to look back upon ye Times of our late Troubles since the Act of Uniformity in 1662 had taken away the relative toleration they had experienced in the Interregnum. The Presbyterian minister Richard Baxter (1615-91) had takenContinue reading “Scenes from Baptist History: Persecution of the Puritans, Evangelical Revival & William Carey, 1662-1812.”