RING IN THE NEW YEAR VIRTUAL WALK

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

On this walk we look at how London has celebrated the New Year over the past 2000 years, and using our crystal ball look forward to what will befall London in 2022

Sunday January 2nd 2022 7.30pm

We look at London’s past to see where and how the Solstice might be celebrated. We also explore the different New Years we use and their associated Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other New Year London tradition and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2022.

The walk finds interesting and historic places in the City of London to link to our stories of Past New Year’s Days. We begin, virtually, at Barbican Underground and continue to the Museum of London, the Roman Fort; Noble Street, Goldsmiths Hall, Foster Lane, St Pauls, Dr Commons, St. Nicholas Colechurch and on towards the River.

To book

DECEMBER 27TH -FORECASTING THE WEATHER

On the third day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Folklore is full of risible methods of forecasting the future and Gervase Markham’s ‘The English Husbandman of 1635 is no exception. He says:

‘What weather shall be on the sixth and twentieth day of December, the like weather will be all the month of January.’

Then and so on for the 12 days of Christmas. So today’s weather will be the weather ‘the following February’ and so on.

Thanks, Gervase, so January and February are going to be very wet and miserable.

This is St, John’s Day, he who was loved by Jesus and wrote the Gospel making him the patron saint of booksellers, publishers, printers and writers. Lecterns in the Church of England are normally shaped as an Eagle as this is the symbol of St John, as a writer of grace and power, and a messenger of Authority from God.

Black and white advert for a lectern with an eagle at the top from 19th Century Ecclesiastical Suppliers Catalogue
19th Century Ecclesiastical Suppliers Catalogue

Remember, on 2nd January 7.30 I am doing my annual ‘Ring in the New Year’ virtual walk where I look at all things new year. To see more details click here:

DECEMBER 21ST WINTER SOLSTICE

Mass Clock Steventon

The Sun is at its lowest at midday; the sun rises and sets at its most southerly. If it continues, life will be extinguished as the world has no light and no heat.

But on this day the Sun begins its rebirth, it begins to rise further north each day, the Sun at noon is higher, its sets further north. so the days are longer.

Symbolically, solstice is an ending as well as a beginning; a turning point and a promise by the Deity that the world will continue. It will turn, the wheel will turn. Warmth and growth will return. Buds already growing in the earth will break out and bring new growth

Culturally, its a time to have a party before the weather gets really cold, its a time to evaluate your life and begin, like the sun, a new and hopefully better cycle.

Note. so if the Sun is at its shortest and weakest why is not the coldest time of the year? That is because the earth and particularly the oceans retain the heat of the Sun, and so the coldest time is at the end of January.

CHRISTMAS WITH JANE AUSTEN VIRTUAL LONDON WALK

1803 Christmas Cartoon of Napoleon and Mr and Mrs John Bull
By William Holland 1803

Sunday 19 December 2021 7.30pm

We look at how Jane Austen spent Christmas and at Georgian Christmas traditions and amusements.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Jane Austen devotee in possession of the good fortune of a couple of free hours must be in want of this virtual walk.”

This is a special walk, which looks at the traditions of Christmas during the Regency period and how Jane Austen might have celebrated it. It will give some background to Jane Austen’s life and her knowledge of London. We used her novels and her letters to find out what she might have done at Christmas, but also at how Christmas was kept in this period, and the range of ‘Curiosities, Amusements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, and Remarkable Objects in and near London available to enjoy.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk by Kevin Flude, Museum Curator and Lecturer.

Review: ‘Thanks, again, Kevin. These talks are magnificent!’

To Book:

HAPPY EPONALIA – DECEMBER 18TH

Roman Horse from Bunwell, Norfolk. Illustration by Sue Walker

I’ve been too busy working on my Jane Austen and Christmas Virtual Tour (Sunday 19th December 7.30) to post over the last few days. And I have, therefore, shamelessly stolen this post off my facebook friend Sue Walker, who is a talented archaeological illustrator, artist and a very good photographer.

She wrote: ‘the 18th December is the festival of the Celtic goddess Epona, the protector of horses she was adopted by the Romans and became a favourite with the cavalry. This finely sculpted bronze horse with a head dress and symbol on its chest is 37mm high – found in Bunwell #Norfolk #Archaeology’

LITERARY ROMAN LONDON 11.30AM WALK 7.30PM VIRTUAL WALK

Painting of the Roman Forum of London from the air
Painting of the Roman Forum of London from the air

ROMAN LONDON – A LITERARY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIRTUAL WALK

Sunday 12 December 2021 11.30 MONUMENT TUBE VIRTUAL TOUR 7.30pm

This is a virtual sightseeing tour of Roman London accompanied by Ovid, Martial, ex Museum of London Archaeologist Kevin Flude and others.

The virtual walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London.

It features the amazing archaeological discoveries of Roman London, and looks at life in the provincial Roman capital of Londinium.

We disembark at the Roman Waterfront by the Roman Bridge, and then explore the lives of the citizens as we walk up to the site of the Roman Town Hall, and discuss Roman politics. We proceed through the streets of Roman London, with its vivid and cosmopolitan street life via the Temple of Mithras to finish with Bread and Circus at the Roman Amphitheatre.

Publius Ovidius Naso and Marcus Valerius Martialis will be helped by Kevin Flude, former Museum of London Archaeologist, Museum Curator and Lecturer.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

REVIEWS (from London Walks website)
“Kevin, I just wanted to drop you a quick email to thank you ever so much for your archaeological tours of London! I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon your tours! I look forward to them more than you can imagine! They’re the best 2 hours of my week! 🙂 Best, Sue

To book the virtual tour:

To book the physical walk:

DECEMBER 7TH – 9TH – ROSEMARY & ROBINS

Rosemary from the Author’s garden

According to the Perpetual Almanac by Charles Kightly this is the time when Robins are much to be seen singing their winter song, and when it is time to protect plants, particularly Rosemary against winter frosts.

Rosemary was one of the most important plants at least metaphorically. Mrs Grieve, in her ‘Modern Herbal’ says it is used in medicine for illnesses of the brain and was thought to strengthen the memory. And as they help the memory, they are symbolically useful for friendship, love, worship. At Christmas it was used to bedeck the house; at Weddings it was entwined in the Bride’s wreath; but also used at funerals to remember the dead.

Being evergreen it was associated with religion and everlasting life, and called the rose of the Virgin Mary it was especially important for Christmas. A branch of Rosemary was given as a gift to wedding guests, so they would remember the love shown at the ceremony and have loyalty to the couple. Its strong aroma means it was used as a incense and also used in magic spells.

Thomas More let it ‘runne all over my garden walls’ because bees love it and as sacred to remembrance therefore to friendship.

BOVRIL FACTORY – OLD STREET, LONDON

This is what my dad wrote about my Grandma’s work at Bovrils.

‘My mum left school at 14 years old, and went to work as a cook in the staff canteen at Bovril’s factory and offices in Old Street. The factory was opposite to Henry Street, where she lived. Everyone said my Mum was a great cook. My children used to love going to her house on a Saturday, as she made a superb tea of egg, bacon, beans and chips. Kevin, my son, tells me he has never tasted better fried eggs, and he hated going to her house on a Sunday as Sunday was the day for cucumber Sandwiches rather than a fry up.’

I looked up the factory and discovered that the Bovril factory was set up in 1889 to produce a meat extract from beef. The name came from Bo (bovinus – ox in Latin), and the suffix ‘vril’ came from an early science fiction novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton‘ called the The Coming Race (1870), in which a superior race of the Vril-ya, gain their powers from an electromagnetic substance named “Vril”. Bovril is therefore the super-power given by eating Ox.

Scott, Shackleton and Edmund Hilary’s expeditions were powered by tea made from Bovril. The beef was from Argentina. In 1924 the company introduced ‘Marmite’ and in 1935 Ambrosia Creamed Rice.

DECEMBER – THE MONTH OF ADVENT OF ‘EXPECTANT WAITING’ LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS, YULE, SATURNALIA SOLSTICE

Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. This year it was Sunday 28th November but it can be as last as 3rd December.

Advent divides the world into those who love to plan; who love to anticipate and people like me who buy all my presents in a mad flurry on Christmas Eve. Surely, my nephew will like the Arsenal Yearbook, my father ‘The History of the Spitfire’ and my brother the remastered version of the early Fleetwood Mac LP that I have, he tells me, already bought him three times. (In my defence, not the middle-of-the -road Fleetwood Mac but the one with Peter Green in it and capable of the Green Manalishi).

In my mind, people should be heavily fined for mentioning the C-word before December, and whipped, for mentioning the X word at all. So, not sure advent is my favourite time of the year.

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