January 31st Brexit Addendum

A point I wanted to make earlier about Brexit is on British/English exceptionalism.

When I was at school we were taught the history of ‘This Island Story’, something that is hardly mentioned in the 21st Century. But it was part of the Imperial story of the British Empire and distanced ourselves from Europe.

Britain first was at a distance from Europe when the landbridge that is now called Doggerland was swept away by rising meltwater in about 8,000 years BP and made us an Island.

As farming spread from Asia Minor it took an extra hundred years to bridge the Channel.

The most interesting difference is at the end of the Roman period. When the western part of the Roman Empire fell in the 5th Century, it was taken over by Germanic Kings. The Franks in France and Germany; the Anglo Saxons etc in England; the Lombards in Italy and Goths, Visigoths, Vandals in Spain (and N. Africa).

On the mainland the German Kings became native and the Latin language, and Christian religion maintained a strong tradition of Roman law and culture. French, Italian, Spanish,Roumanian are all romance languages based on Latin.

But cross the Channel to England and our German Kings didn’t adopt the Latin language and indeed the Celtic dialect of Brittonic (except of course in Wales), and changed the religion to pagan. So English culture is Germanic and not Roman.

So we do not have a foundation in Latin culture and Roman law.

In the 16th Century Britain further turned from Catholic Culture. But the next really significant difference was the changes instituted by Napoleon as he subdued and changed and to an extent rationalised and liberalised the continent with dreams of creating United Europe of Nations (in contrast to the Empires that held sway (such as the Holy Roman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire https://www.napoleon-series.org/research/napoleon/c_unification)

Most legal systems in Europe are based on Roman Law as amended by the Napoleonic code. England by contrast is based on the Common Law.

So these differences combined with our arrogance of Empire, the Industrial Revolution and belief we won World War 2 (not to mention our pride in Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin etc etc) probably lay behind ‘British Exceptionalism’ which led to the misguided belief that we are held back by Europe despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Here is a disillusioned Tory party donor who believes Brexit is a ‘complete disaster…. and total lies.’ And here an economic assessment.

And what is, in some ways, worse is that the government is planning a Bonfire of the EU Regulations. Rees-Moog is responsible to this obscene anti-democratic Bill presented to the House of Commons. He sees it as getting rid of a whole raft of EU regulations that have entered our legal system during our 40 years of membership of the EU.

He claims anyone who opposes his bill is reopening the Brexit debate. This is a natural autocrat’s lie. Brexit was presented as ‘bringing back control to the people and to Parliament’. What this Bill is, is bringing massive power back to Ministers in the Government. All these European regulations will be examined by Ministers and their departments, and THEY decide what to drop and what to not. European Regulations govern of lot of our laws on work, farming and industry and much more. If the Minister decides he does not like a regulation HE or SHE can get rid of it. It does not need parliament to approve it, nor an election. There is not enough time or resources put to this for proper scrutiny by the Department’s Civil Servants, nor the Government, and none for Parliament.

It is an outrage to my mind, and shows that people like Rees-Moog have really been trying to turn Britain into a de-regulated economy for the benefit of people like himself with very little thought for the health of our democracy.

January 31st Brexit Day


On this day, 2021, the United Kingdom, formally left the European Union.

I remember vividly the morning the referendum result was announced. We were all in Glasgow for my daughter’s Graduation, and we all burst into tears.

So how is it going? Just look at the graph above, exports down 7.7% compared to other advantaged economies since 2018.

Support for Brexit has gone right down. 51% think it was a mistake, 31% think it was the right decision.  We all guffaw when someone says ‘Brexit Opportunities’ and think Jacob Rees Moog  a throw back to the Age of Empire. (I’m being polite).

I’ve long seen the parallels with the Decline and Fall of Roman Britain.  In AD 407, Britain threw off Roman rule and took independent control.  We had 4 leaders of no great distinction in a short span. Seem familiar?

Reconstruction of Dark Age London Bridge
London in the 5th Century Reconstruction painting.

Then we wrote, in AD 410, a letter to the Emperor Honourius asking him to take us back.  He said ‘Sorry, pals, the Goths are at the gates of Rome, but you can raise your own Armies to defend yourself.’

Now, the archaeology of this period is very difficult so it’s hard to know what happened in detail.  But we do know that coins went out of circulation, pottery manufacture ceased in Britain and Roman Towns declined dramatically. 

My friend, Oxford Professor Bryan Ward-Perkins, to wrote a book on the Decline of the Roman Empire in which he says that we next reached the level of international trade achieved at the height of the Roman Empire in 1500. 1000 years after the fall of Rome.

It would seem that the destruction of a free trade zone is a disastrous choice.

The second example would be when Henry VIII took Britain out of Christendom as Parliament adopted Protestantism.  The auguries are much better here despite the worst destruction of cultural heritage in England’s history.  It can be argued that the selling off of the one third of the land of the kingdom owned by the monasteries boosted the gentry and broadened the elite to include a more entrepreneurial class.

Also, the downside in terms of turning our back on Europe wasn’t so destructive because Catholic Europe wasn’t a free trade zone, and much of Northern Europe was protestant.

The other possible parallels are the Napoleonic War and World War 1 and 2. I think two major exceptions figure here. Firstly, the UK was a global trading nation and Empire which made it much less dependent on trade with Europe. Secondly, the economy was on a war footing so lost production was more than compensated for.

I’ve been writing these last two posts from Homerton Hospital where I am awaiting discharge after hernia surgery. Not too painful and I mention it just to remind everybody what a marvelous job the NHS does. What happens is that Labour Governments boost spending to a reasonable level while the Conservatives squeeze the NHS to unsustainable levels.

10 years of austerity followed by Covid and Ukraine have brought parts of the NHS to their knees, in particular the ambulance services.

So, yes, the country cannot trust a conservative government with the NHS, but perhaps another question has to be asked. Can the country trust a system that cannot trust 1 of its 2 main governing parties?

But maybe, we need not worry because this is by far and away, the worst government, most incompetent, most corrupt, most cruel, least able to plan, least respected of any government I have seen in my life time. Maybe we will soon see the back of them?

Mystery of Roman Concrete Solved?

Image credits: Concrete Interior or the Pantheon, FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Society of Antiquaries Salon Newsletter has a fascinating report on an analysis of the virtues of Roman Concrete. Working as an archaeologist in the City of London, Roman concrete (opus signinum and opus caementicium) has long been a fascinating subject upon which I have pontificated (without a huge amount of research).

I first came across it at the GPO site just north of St Paul’s Cathedral and what I remember is the contrast to the sandy mortar of 10th/11th Century St Nicholas Church which we were also excavating.

Roman cement, which was pink, was incredibly hard. Medieval mortar was yellow and soft. You could successfully get through the medieval stuff with a trowel or, if you had to, with your finger nail. But opus signinum required a kango pneumatic drill. Properly, signinum has fragments of pottery bonded into the concrete, but we also found it used without inclusions.

Roman Cemement – Opus Signinum

According to the 10 Books of Architecture by Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio) it should be made using volcanic ash which outcropped around Rome and Naples. Without volcanic ash in Britain, the Romans ground down tiles/bricks and added it to lime and sand to make a very effective cement. It was often then ‘reinforced’ by using a mixture of cement and rubble limestone in the core of a wall.

As medieval Londoners dug under the City during building work or while digging pits, they often struck unlucky by hitting some rock-hard Roman foundations. The legend spread that the Roman cement was so hard because it was made of a magical formula that contained Bull’s Blood. (It was also normally said to be built by Julius Caesar!)

The Roman cement was also made in a water-proof version, allowing Roman amphitheatres to be flooded for naval re-enactments. All proper Roman archaeologists have also paid homage by going to Rome to see the totally amazing domed roof of the Pantheon, commissioned by Augustus’ right hand man Marcus Agrippa. Marcus Agrippa (27 BC – 14 AD).

So, this article by the Salon gives some explanation as to how the concrete vault of the Pantheon roof can have stayed up for 2,000 years and defied inevitable cracking. I have copied it word for word, (I did once ask if they minded and they said no) but also give a link to the original below.

By the way, the GPO site was a landmark in Roman Archaeology because it completely changed the view of early Roman London when we discovered densely occupied Roman houses, a long way outside of the area thought to be the core of the early City. And Vitruvius’s book on architecture is well worth reading. I might add a sample tomorrow?. Finally, I remember reading that when the Custom House in London suffered a collapse after only a few years, it was rebuilt by Robert Smirke (who also bulit the Classical British Museum building) using a new formulae for cement was is said to be the first concrete in Britain to surpass the quality of the Roman original.


Analysis of Roman Concrete Reveals Self-Healing Properties

Many of us will have stood in the Pantheon in Rome and wondered how this beautiful structure can still be standing today. It is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, built under the emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. Researchers have recently been analysing the content and technique of mixing Roman concrete to identify why it has lasted so long and they may have uncovered its secret.

Admir Masic, Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led the research project, working with Harvard University. In his paper published in Science Advances, Masic explains that Roman concrete contains millimetre-scale white lumps known as lime clasts, which may have helped seal up cracks, formed over time.

The Romans made concrete by made by mixing lumps of volcanic rock and other aggregates, together with a mortar such as volcanic ash, a source of lime (calcium oxide) and water. The lime clasts found were ‘porous with cracks’ and had most likely been formed at a high temperature in a low water environment. This suggests the quicklime was not mixed with water before it was added to the other ingredients as is the case in modern concrete, but was mixed with the ash and aggregates first. This ‘hot mixing’ produces heat, which helps set the concrete and reduces the water content around the lime clasts.

This means that, if subsequently, water seeps into the Roman concrete, it will dissolve the calcium carbonate and form new calcite as it passes through the lime clasts, which will help to seal up any cracks that have formed. Indeed, cracks filled with recently formed calcium carbonate have been found in Roman concrete.

Masic and his team tested this theory out by creating chunks of Roman-style concrete, containing cracks 0.5mm wide. They ran water over the concrete and in the samples containing lime clasts, within two weeks, the cracks sealed over with newly-formed calcite. Control samples of the concrete made without the lime clasts, did not seal.

Masic believes modern construction techniques could learn something from the Romans; ‘Roman-inspired approaches, based for example on hot mixing, might be a cost-effective way to make our infrastructure last longer through the self-healing mechanisms we illustrate in this study.’ An added bonus is that the development of a more resilient concrete ‘could help reduce the environmental impact of cement production, which currently accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions’.

Image credits: Concrete Interior or the Pantheon, FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0′

January Time for a Good Cider Cup

John Worlidge in 1697 has a calendar discussing the farming year. and this is part of the discussion of January.

This Moneth is the rich mans charge, and the poor mans misery; the cold like the days increase, yet qualified with the hopes and expectations of the approaching Spring: The Trees, Meadows and Fields are now naked, unless cloathed in white, whilest the Countryman sits at home, and enjoys the fruit of his past labours, and contemplates on his intended Enterprises. Now is welcom a cup of good Cider, or other excellent Liquors, such that you prepared the Autumn before; moderately taken, it proves the best Physick.

John Worlidge in Systema Agriculturae, 1697

300th Post & a London Almanack of the Past

The Illustrated London Almanack
The Illustrated London Almanack

This is the 300th Post on this my ‘new’ blog. I thought I would mark it by a reminder of what I am trying to do with it.

Over the years I have given a lot of walks on special occasions: Christmas, New Year, Halloween,Easter, May Day etc. as well as my regular ‘Myths, Legends of the Archaeological Origins of London Walk’. I have always had an interest in the Celtic Year, and when researching for my New Year’s Walks I came across Almanacks, and the more I found out about them the more I plundered them for content! I found that one third of books sold in London in the early modern period were Almanacks. That is how important they were.

So, I decided to create an ‘Almanack of the Year’ which changed title to an ‘Almanack of the Past’. In particular, what I am hoping to do is to create a London Almanack of the Past, where each day is remembered by an interesting and relevant post with a view to enlightening our understanding of London’s past.

Content is around these ideas and themes:

Seasons & Nature
Measurement of Time
Anniversaries of Famous & Important events in the past
Historical & Archaeological news
News of my Walks

What I am aiming for is a really focussed London version of an Almanack of the Past. I need a good entry for every day of the year, and I’m hoping to do that over a three year period, and then get it published.

The Giant O’Brien

Charles Bryne

A few days ago the Hunterian Museum announced the decision to remove Charles Byrne from display. I have been watching the case for many years. It’s a fascinating story which was retold by Hilary Mantel in her excellent book ‘The Giant O’Brien’ published in 1998.

Generally, I’m all in favour of human remains on display in Museums. My own feelings is that I’d love my old bones to be displayed in a Museum in a few thousand years time. However, Byrne’s story is particularly poignant and argues the opposite case. Bryne was a giant, he just could not stop growing until he died. He died young and after making a name for himself (as the Giant O’brien) on account of his soaring height. (look at the catalogue entry in the Museum online collection for details of Byrne’s condition.)

John Hunter was the pre-eminent surgeon of the time, and was furiously collecting as many animal and human specimens as he could. Fantastically interested in anything and everything anatomical, he gives a shape to a Doctor Frankenstein figure. For example, his interest in electrical experiment – trying to get dead frogs to twitch with ‘life’ and he had a very active engagement with the Body Snatchers in order to investigate what made someone tall, small, fat, thin, ill, healthy, intelligent, thick, good, criminal and so on.

He pioneered various surgical techniques. Postillions (the people who rode on the horses pulling coaches) were prone to aneurysms as the horses kept squashing their inside leg. Hunter developed an operation to bypass the aneurysm. He tried it out successfully and then kept track of the patient somehow. When the postillion died the Resurrection Men would pay a visit to the local graveyard and dig up the body of the patient. Part of his thigh is on display in the Hunterian Museum (or at least it was the last time I looked). So you can see the success of Hunter’s ground breaking operation – one of wave of surgical developments of the 18th Century. The Hunterian Museum is the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, and was founded by Hunter.

So, Hunter hears about the Giant O’Brien and finds out he is ill, possibly dying. He has his people keep tabs on him. Charles Byrne is determined not to end up on the anatomist’s slab. So, he organises his funeral in advance paying guards to look after his coffin. He orders a secure iron coffin and in addition, decides to be buried at sea. Because Byrne knows, as an eminent surgeon later on reported to a Commons Committee, that it wasn’t a case of whether the Body Snatchers would get a body but more how much they would have to pay for it if they really wanted it.

But, Byrne thinks he has done enough to die in peace.

Unfortunately, Hunter’s men tracked down the guarded room, and bribed the guards with what would have been a huge amount of money. Byrne was taken back to Hunter’s place, the body melted down, mounted, and was on display until the Hunterian Museum closed for refurbishment recently.

So, a step forward as he is no longer the subject of the public gaze. But in this case we absolutely know that Byrne did not want to be the property of the medical establishment. My own feeling is that he should be given his last wishes and be buried at sea.

Reference collections are very important for Science, and it is for this reason, I am sure, the Museum has not let go of Charles Byrne. But in this case, with this history, an exception should surely be made? He died on 1 June 1783


If on January 12th the sun shine, it foreshows much wind.’

Abney Park cemetary in winter
Abney Park Cemetery in Winter photo by Harriet Salisbury

Or so says the Shepherd’s Almanac for 1676. Until the 12th Night we were forecasting the weather on the presumption that the weather on one of the 12 days will match the month of the same number. But having past Twelfth Night we have to find other methods of refining our forecasts.

Weather lore seems convinced of the undesirability of a warm January

‘January warm, the Lord have mercy’.

January commits the fault and May bears the blame.’

If Birds begin to Whistle in January, frosts to come’

‘When gnats swarm in January, the peasant become a beggar’

Most of the sayings about January quoted in Richard Inwards ‘Weather Lore’ first published in 1893, have this as their main focus. And the contrary also generally holds:

‘When oak trees bend with snow in January, good crops may be expected.’

‘A cold January, a feverish February, a dusty March, a weeping April , and a windy May presage a good year and gay.’

So much for long range forecasts, lets see how Weather Lore helps us use animals to determine whether it will rain today.

If animals crowd together, rain will follow.’

When dogs eat grass it will be rainy

When a cat sneezes, it is a sign of rain

‘If young horses do rub their backs against the ground, if is a sign of great drops of rain to follow.’

The only weather lore in my family was that a herd of cattle sitting down meant rain was on the way. (and of course ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ etc).

A survey by the Met Office in 2017 found that a surprisingly large number of people (75%) use ‘folklore’ to predict weather and 55% think they are useful methods of predictions. Here is a quote from their post.

  • Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight – used by 70% of UK adults – CORRECT
  • It can be too cold to snow – used by 49% – PROBABLY NOT IN THE UK
  • Cows lie down when it is about to rain – used by 44% – NOT CORRECT
  • Pine cones open up when good weather is coming – used by 26% CORRECT
  • If it rains on St Swithin’s day, it will rain on each of the next 40 days – used by 22% SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1861, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A RECORD OF 40 DRY OR 40 WET DAYS IN A ROW FOLLOWING ST SWITHIN’S DAY.

Met Office 2017 https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2017/do-cows-really-lie-down-when-its-about-to-rain and BBC Newsround

January 11th – New Year’s Eve, Old Style & Carmentalia

1375, French Caesarian Birth, (most likely to have killed the mother or be performed when she was already dead or dying.)

When Britain reluctantly joined the Gregorian Calendar, in 1752, we lost 11 days, so if you add 11 to 31st December you get to New Year Old Style. You can do this with any date, and when celebrating feel you are being really authentic.

So, anything you did on the New Year’s Eve New Style (31st Dec). you can do today – except, of course, you need to convince your boss of the illegitimacy of the Gregorian Calendar, when you call in sick because of a hangover! In case you have forgotten what you should be doing on New Year’s Eve you can look here to look back on for New Year’s Eve, New Style.

Its a particularly ‘witchy’ evening because its the traditional Eve, not the new-fangled one. Reginald Scot in his ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ first published in 1584 reports

a charm to find who has bewitched your cattle’. Put a pair of breeches upon the cow’s head, and beat her out of the pasture with a good cudgel upon a Friday and she will run right to the witch’s door and strike it with her horns

Reginald Scott’s book is available on this web site and is a fascinating read. https://archive.org/details/discoverieofwitc00scot/page/n55/mode/2up

When I first posted this post last year. I did not, to my shame, know the background to the book, assuming it ‘believed’ this nonsense that a cow could lead you to whoever bewitched it. On the contrary. Reginald Scot was trying to debunk the absurd claims for witchcraft and magic. His book tries to prove that witchcraft and magic were rejected both by reason and religion, and that manifestations of either were ‘wilful impostures or illusions due to mental disturbance in the observers’ .

Given the number of people who were executed as witches in the 16th and 17th Century it makes you realise that it was only part of the country that was convinced by the QAnon like conspiracy that there people in this world with diabolical intentions. Have a good look at the cover of this 17th Century edition of Member of Parliament Reginald Scot’s book to get an idea of his standpoint.


It is also Carmentalia, the festival for the Roman Goddess of prophecy and childbirth. She was a much loved Goddess in the Roman pantheon but little is known about her perhaps because she has no clear match in the Greek.

She has a long history in Roman history being said to be the mother of…. Well this may surprise you, she was the mother of Evander. And Evander is the founder of Pallantium, which was a City on the site of Rome that predated Rome!

Who knew that? (the people at Vindolanda Roman Fort know and they have a great page on Carmenta here. ) Carmenta had two sidekicks who were her sisters and attendants. Postvorta and Antevorta, They might be explained by Past and Future. (in fact, after and before) as part of her role in prophecy or the two figures might represent babies that are either born head or legs first. She also commanded one of the the fifteen flamen. These were priests of state sponsored religions. One of their jobs was to ensure no one came to the temple wearing anything of leather because leather was created from death, and not suitable for the Goddess of Childbirth.

Vindolanda make the point that 2% of births in the past are likely to have caused the death of the mother, and, because of a high mortality in the children, to keep a population stable a mother might have to have 5 children on average, giving her a 12% chance of death by giving birth.

Good reason to have a Goddess on the Mum’s side.

London Before And After The Roman Invasion

London before the Romans
View of London from the SE as it might have looked before the Roman Invasion

I have just finished a Guided Walk called ‘London Before And After The Roman Invasion’. Its the first time I’ve done this particular walk and it was very interesting because it focussed a lot of recent changes in ideas about early London. I decided to do the walk as wanted to refresh my knowledge of prehistoric London and the early Roman period.

So, when I first came to London as a young Archaeologist, we were engaged in a series of ground breaking archaeological excavations that completely revolutionised ideas about London.

So, old ideas were:

  1. There was a prehistoric London
  2. The City came into being as a Legionary Fortress built when the Roman Army was waiting for the Emperor Claudius to join them for the attack on the capital at Colchester.
  3. A formal road system was set up on Cornhill, with the North/South spine being the road north from London Bridge
  4. Southwark was a suburb on the other side of the bridge
  5. The town grew steadily and eventually spread over to the western hill – Ludgate Hill
  6. A fort was built in AD 120 then, c200AD, the Walls were built covering a large area because of the expanding City
  7. The Romans left and everything went to hell in a hand cart.

The new set of ideas were:

  1. People began to doubt the prehistoric London town in the early 20th Century, but it was completely dismissed by the 1970s and London was founded here simply because it was the best/only place for the Bridge and a superb site for the road junctions and Port.
  2. By the late 1970s evidence showed that London did not really get started till about 50AD, so the idea that London was a military foundation following on from a Legionary Fortress was dismissed. Instead, it was a town of civilians established by merchants taking advantage of the Bridge, the Road Junctions, and the Port.
  3. The formal road system was later than 43AD and Londinium was soon on both hills
  4. Southwark was rather more like South Londinium than a secondary suburb.
  5. Londinium had spread all the way to the later site of St Pauls by AD60 and its growth was very rapid. But decline set in as early as the 2nd Century. It struggled in the 4th Century and at the end of the Roman period there were not many people in it.
  6. The area inside the 200AD wall was not densely crowded, and the large size of the walled area was provably due to military decisions about the best defensive alignment for the wall.
  7. Roman London was already shrunken well before the end of the Roman presence in Britain.

Continued excavations created more data and the following discoveries were made

The foundation of London was dated to 48AD after dendrochronology dating of a wooden drain next to the main East West road through Roman London.

A Fort was built soon after the Boudica’s destruction of London in AD 60, just East of London Bridge

These two books were published and the new certainties about Roman London began to dissolve or resolve. Not yet sure which!

Lets have a look at those 7 points again:

  1. ‘There was a prehistoric London’ – Richard Coates in 1998 draw attention to the fact that the name Londinium is pre-Roman in origin and suggested it meant ‘Settlement by the flowing River’ Richard Hingley drew attention to the large amount of fine metal work in the river, and suggested a conclusion that , although there may not have been a prehistoric town before the Roman, the area was very important in the Iron Age, and suggest it was a ‘ritual landscape’ possibly associated with burial. Maybe, this might have been a factor in the Romans choosing the site to establish the crossing/town? Last year an excavation north of Liverpool Street found evidence of large scale feasting in the Late Neolithic leading some people to suggest London was an important ritual site before the coming of the Romans Dominic Perring dismisses ideas that it was an important area before the Roman period, and notes that most of the metal work is found further to the West. More about these discoveries in my post here:
  2. Dominic Perring cites evidence at three sites on Cornhill which suggests that London was indeed set up as a temporary Legionary Fortress in AD43, and suggests the first Bridge was a Pontoon Bridge. And therefore indeed built when the Roman Army was waiting for the Emperor Claudius to join them for the attack on the capital at Colchester. It was immediately dismantled.
  3. A formal road system was indeed set up on Cornhill, with the North South spine being the road north from London Bridge. This was set up in AD48, possibly still a supply base but began its transformation into a proper town c 52AD.
  4. Southwark was much more than a suburb on the other side of the bridge and had important formal buildings, possibly including the residence of the Procurator, after the Governor the most important person in Britain.
  5. The town grew quickly and soon spread over to the western hill – Ludgate Hill and the phases in this spread are detailed in Perring’s book.
  6. A fort was built in AD 62 which continued to about AD 85, and was possibly replaced immediately by a precursor to the Fort in the NW corner of the City near the old Museum of London and replaced in stone in AD 120 then, in c200AD, the Walls were built covering a large area because of the military requirements.
  7. I haven’t yet read the later London part of Perrings book, but he suggests that London develops when the Governor and the Emperor is involved in conquest, passification or development, and without government intervention London declines, so it develops in fits and starts and eventually the fits are more important than the starts and so it declines to virtually nothing.

Any way, congratulations to Dominc Perring who has created a really detailed description of the development of London. I’ve had to rethink quite a lot of my ‘old’ ideas and this is a great synthesis of the archaeology of London particularly over the last 50 years.

I’m sure I won’t agree with it all but I love the detail!

Jane Austen Walks

I have set up my year of Jane Austen walks.

Jane Austen’s London Walks

Georgian female engraving

Sat 2.30 pm Green Park underground station, London (north exit, on the corner)

on the following dates in 2023: 2 April. 11 June. 9 September. 12 November.

And a Special Christmas version on 23 December 2023

An exploration of Mayfair, the centre of the London section of Sense & Sensibility and where Jane came to visit her brother

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

People associate Jane Austen and her characters with a rural setting. But London is central to both Jane Austen’s real life and her literary life. So, this tour will explore Jane’s connections with London and give the background to Sense and Sensibility, a good part of which is based in this very area. We begin with the place Jane’s coach would arrive from Hampshire, and then walk the streets haunted by Willougby; past shops visited by the Palmers, the Ferrars; visit the location of Jane Austen’s brother’s bank and see the publisher of Jane’s Books. The area around Old Bond Street was the home of the Regency elite and many buildings and a surprising number of the shops remain as they were in Jane Austen’s day.

This is a London Walk Guided Walk lead by Kevin Flude

To Book:

Christmas With Jane Austen Virtual London Tour

12th Night

Saturday 23 December 2023 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: