Upcoming December 2022 Virtual Tours

I have began to prepare my next set of tours both virtual and real. But here are the first two virtual tours, both with a seasonal theme.

The London Winter Solstice Virtual Tour

Wed, 21 Dec 2022 19:30

The Sun & the Solar System

We explore London’s History through its celebrations, festivals, calendars and almanacs of the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice festivals have been a time of review, renewal and anticipation of the future from time immemorial. The Ancient Britons saw the Solstice as a symbol of a promise of renewal as the world entered bleak mid winter. The Roman season was presided over by Janus, a two headed God who looked both backwards and forwards, and Dickens based his second great Christmas Book on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We look at London’s past to see where and how the Solstice might be celebrated. We also explore the different 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 London winter traditions and folklore.

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

To Book:


Friday 23 December 2022 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:

‘New’ Portrait of Shakespeare on sale for £10m?

Robert Peake Portrait of a Man aged 44 in 1608
Robert Peake Portrait of a Man aged 44 in 1608

It’s not a ‘new’ portrait as it has been known about for many years, but it is in the news as it is about to be sold. Evidence for it being our main man, include:

  • In 1608 Shakespeare was 44 (as inscribed on the top of the painting)
  • He is balding
  • He has a long nose
  • He has a fold of the skin to the left of his left eye
  • The two had convincing connections (people and places) in common
  • The Peake family printed the Droeshout Portrait used in the First Folio
  • Testing shows it is not a forgery

However, it doesn’t really look like the two Shakespeare portraits we can trust to be him (the Droeshout and the bust on his memorial in Holy Trinity Stratford where he was buried). But if someone pays £10m maybe we will change our minds?

For more information follow this link.


How to decolonise a Museum

Can a National Museum Rebuild Its Collection Without Colonialism? This is a fascinating article in the New York Times brought to my attention by reader Roz Keller.

In 2018 the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro suffered a devastating fire. The irreparable loss of its colonial period collection allowed the space for a new focus for the museum creating a display put together in cooperation with indigenous people.

Parthenon Marble Replica – will it help the claim for repatriation?

This is a really interesting story because the scans for the replica were made in a guerilla intervention. The BM did not give permission for it, and the Oxford-based Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) undertook the scanning surreptitiously. Salon (see below) says ‘Roger Michel, the founder of the Institute and Alexy Karenowska, the Institute’s Director of Technology, used Lidar cameras to generate an accurate scan.’

I’ve heard it said that the robot created an absolutely faithful replica.

‘The sculptures are accurate to a fraction of a millimetre.’

Photo from Salon: The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (see below) mage credits: Roger Michel watches as the head is carved, Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA)

So, critics of the BM can then say ‘Why not return the original if you have faithful replicas?’

Well, yes but it is still a replica (albeit made of the same Pentelic Marble as the original) and museums are testament to the power of the original. I can see a great reproduction of the Mona Lisa anytime, but it didn’t stop me going to the Louvre to stand with the hordes to see the original. Further, the robot produced sculpture was then finished off with extensive work by a team of humans.

The issue has never been about the quality of a possible copy to replace the returned originals. It is about who owns the originals.

However, this is still a coup of propaganda that has created one more chip in the defensive wall the BM has put up around the issue.

Note: you can subscribe to Salon: The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter

Roman Months

photo of november calendar
Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

My correspondent, Morcus Porcus, pointed out the error of my opening statement for my post on November November- the month of immolations:

The 9th Month of the Roman Calendar 9 being ‘novem’. Now its the 11th because they needed to add months to glorify Julius Caesar and Augustus.

In fact, the pre-existing months were simply renamed. Romans talk of a ‘legendary’ calendar being set up by Romulus which consisted of 10 months of 30 and 31 days followed by a winter period which brought the year towards the number of days in the celestial cycle. Apparently, it was not well regulated and the months eventually began to lose their integration with the seasons.

The year began in March, suitable names were given to March, April, May and June but the next 6 months were given numbers as below.

Table from Wikipedia

The Calendar was reformed several times; January and February added but the major reform was instigated by Julius Caesar in 46BC with the so-called ‘Year of Confusion’. This first year of the introduction of the Julian calendar was 445 days long to realign the seasons, and began on January 1st, with 365 days, 12 months and a 4 year leap year cycle. This held sway until the 16th Century when a further reform was ordered by Pope Gregory as the year is not exactly 365.25 days long. It was not adopted in the UK until the 18th Century when we lost 11 days to align ourselves with Europe.

My walk at New Year called ‘Ring in the New Year’ deals with issue of calendars through the ages.

More on the Ides and the Kalendes of the month