All the Days & Nights

History geeks Andrew & Clare snap all things historical.

The Missing Memorial

The proposal to turn a burned out Wren church into a Citizens’ Memorial to the London Blitz.

Clare’s year 7 class made castles over the weekend. Check out this fantastic effort - must have Norman blood!

Autumn walk along the Worcester and Birmingham canal, followed by this this piece of meat.

Our visit to see HMS Victory & HMS Warrior at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar, fought 206 years ago today, is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765.

Home to a crew of 820 men and 18 nationalities, 57 of which were killed and 102 wounded, Victory led the line of ships under Nelson’s command into the combined French and Spanish fleets and, er, tore them to pieces with gun fire. 

The battle was the most decisive British naval victory of the Napoleonic war. Twenty-seven British ships of the line defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.

During the height of the battle, at 25 minutes past one Nelson was shot, the fatal musket ball entering his left shoulder and lodging in his spine. He died just over three hours later, when victory (and his legend) was assured.

HMS Warrior, the loudest and final word in the naval arms race with France that took place in the mid-nineteenth century. When completed in October 1861, Warrior was by far the largest, fastest, most heavily armed and most heavily armoured warship the world had seen. She was almost twice the size of La Gloire and thoroughly outclassed the French ship in speed, armour, and gunnery. Such was the brutal scale and unprecedented combination of steam engines, rifled breech-loading guns, iron construction and armour, Warrior never had to fire a shot in anger. No other navy would have dared to cross her, and Britain was able to re-assert the superiority that Nelson and his contemporaries had secured at the beginning of the century and ruthlessly exploit the resources of her ever-increasing maritime empire.

My God, help me to survive this deadly love. 

Sometimes referred to as the Fraternal Kiss (German: Bruderkuß), this was a graffiti painting on the Berlin wall by Dmitri Vrubel. Created in 1990, the painting depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, reproducing a photograph that captured a moment in 1979 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic.

The original painting was destroyed in March 2009 by the German authorities and the photo shows a reproduction by Vrubel.

Return to Lanhydrock

History Geeks live it up the Cote d'Azur for less than 50 euros

Thomas Gibbons, my great-great-great grandfather, was the first man in West Bromwich to own a car. Here he is sitting proudly astride it in 1903. The car, made by the Star Motor Company of Wolverhampton, was navy blue and had a top speed of 20mph.

This photo has been passed down every branch of Thomas’s descendants, with third and fourth cousins, strangers to each other, telling the same story of the first man to own a car in the town to each generation.

The following photo is of Clare and I sitting in a similar car, one of only four remaining, at a family reunion to mark the 100th anniversary of Thomas’s death.

Lanhydrock House, Bodmin, Cornwall. The house stands in 890 acres above the River Fowey and is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1881 the house is a splendid example of the high-Victorian style, and provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the Victorian and Edwardian aristocracy.

The tour is one of the longest of any National Trust house and takes in the service rooms, nurseries and servants’ bedrooms, as well as the main reception rooms and family bedrooms. The house remains fully furnished and decorated, and contains thousands of family possessions, which detail the lives of the family, servants and parish church, and allow us to appreciate how they all lived and took their place in the Lanhydrock community.

The second Lord Robartes (later the 6th Viscount Clifden) rebuilt the house to meet the needs of his large family, appointing local architect Richard Coad to design and supervise most of the work.

le cool London blog about a visit to Sutton House, Hackney's oldest house