Archive of Events and Walks (2024)

I keep an archive of the walks I have done each year. This is the first entry for 2024.

My new year’s resolutions for my walks are:

  1. Make the Virtual tours shorter.
  2. Try some new technology to make the virtual tours more like a walk.
  3. Begin publishing them.

I should note that 1 and 3 have long been on my list of desired improvements.

Ring in the New Year Virtual Walk

Old New Year Card


Monday 1st January 2024 7.00pm
On this Virtual Walk we look at how London has celebrated the New Year over the past 2000 years.

The New Year has 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 Sun was reborn. As the weather turns to bleak mid winter, a festival or reflection and renewal cheers everyone up. This idea of renewal was followed by the Romans, and presided over by a two headed God called Janus who looked both backwards and forwards. Dickens Christmas Carol was based on redemption and his second great Christmas Book ‘The Chimes’ on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We look at London’s past to see where and how the New Year was 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 Winter Festival and New Year London tradition and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2024

ROMAN LONDON – A LITERARY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL WALK

Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built
Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built

Sunday 21st Jan & 3rd March 2023 11.30 am Monument Underground Station

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

To book

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.

REVIEWS
“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


Jane Austen’s London Sunday Jan 21st 2.30 pm Green Park underground station,

Georgian female engraving

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


Myths, Legends, Archaeology and the Origins of London

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

Sunday 4th February & Saturday 23 March 2024 11.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the stories of our changing ideas about the origins of London during the Prehistoric, Roman and Saxon periods.

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in myths, legends and London’s Archaeology.

The walk will tell the story of the legendary origins of London which record that it was founded in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan and was called New Troy, which became corrupted to Trinovantum. This name was recorded in the words of Julius Caesar; and, then, according to Legend, the town was renamed after King Ludd and called Lud’s Dun. Antiquarians and Archaeologists have taken centuries to demolish this idea, and became convinced London was founded by the Romans. Recently, dramatic evidence of a Bronze Age presence in London was found.

When the Roman system broke down in 410 AD, historical records were almost non-existent, until the Venerable Bede recorded the building of St Pauls Cathedral in 604 AD. The two hundred year gap, has another rich selection of legends. which the paucity of archaeological remains struggles to debunk.

The walk will explore these stories and compare the myths and legends with Archaeological discoveries.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River at Billingsgate, London Bridge, and into the centre of Roman London

Tudor London – The City of Wolf Hall

Sunday 4th February 2024 2.15pm Barbican Underground Station

Tudor London – The City of Wolf Hall Virtual Tour Sunday 4th February 2024 7.30 pm To book

Thomas Bilney martyred in Smithfield. Black and white engraving
Thomas Bilney martyred in Smithfield.



The Walk creates a portrait of London in the early 16th Century, with particular emphasis on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More during the Anne Boleyn years.


More and Cromwell had much in common, both lawyers, commoners, who rose to be Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, and ended their careers on the block at Tower Hill.

The walk starts with an exploration of Smithfield – site of the stake where heretics were burnt alive and of St Bartholomew’s Monastery – given to Richard Rich after his decisive role in the downfall of Thomas More. We continue to St Paul where Martin Luther’s books were burnt, and later, where Puritans preached against dancing round the Maypole.

We walk along the main markets streets of London, to Thomas More’s birthplace, and to the site of More’s and Cromwell’s townhouses before, if time allows, finishing at the site of the Scaffold where More and Cromwell met their ends, overlooking where Anne Boleyn was incarcerated in the Tower of London

The Leap Year Pub Walk Thurs 6pm 29 February 2024 Tower Hill Underground

Sketch of the text 29 February, in brown and black
Sketched from a photo by simple-aign on pixaby

Thurs, 29 February 2024, 6pm Tower Hill Underground

We explore London, the Leap Year and 29th February through history
A strange amazing day – and walk – that comes only once every four years. For the rest of the time it does not “exist.” A day – and walk – of temporal tune-up. A day – and walk – of unlocked potential. A day – and a walk – of unlocked London.

As the Sun, Moon and Seasons have different cycles and don’t fit into a set number of days, Londoners have had to cope with fixes to their Calendars to align the Cosmos with everyday life. As we walk through the streets of the ancient City of London, we explore how Londoners organised and celebrated their year throughout history

One of the most popular forms of publication in London was the Almanac. It was full of seasonal advice, of prophecy, traditional wisdom, and important events past and future. We will look at Almanacs and Diaries to find how Londoners spent their Leap Year.

We start with the Romans at the City Wall, near the Tower of London, and walk through history until we reach a historic pub to celebrate the New Year.

The Leap Year Almanac of the Past Pub Walk is led by Kevin Flude, a lecturer, curator and former archaeologist at the Museum of London. Join him to explore London’s History through its celebrations, festivals, calendars and almanacs.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk.

Roman London – A Literary & Archaeological Walk Sun 11.30 am 3rd March 2024 Monument Underground Station To book
Jane Austen’s London Sun 2.30 pm 3rd March 2024 Green Park Underground station (Green Park Exit. Fountain in Green Park), To book
Myths, Legends, Archaeology and the Origins of London Sunday 11.30am 23rd March 2024 Tower Hill Underground

London. 1066 and All That Walk

Black and white engraving of Chapel of St Johns Tower of London
Old illustration Chapel of St Johns Tower of London


Sunday 2.30pm 23rd March 2024 Blackfriars Underground Station
The Archaeological Walk that explores the City of London at the end of the Saxon period and at the beginning of the Norman.

The Norman Conquest of 1066 defines Britain in a way unmatched by any other event. And on this walk we explore the London that William conquered and how he changed England for all time.

London was England’s most important City, but not yet the capital. It was crucial to William in his attempt to conquer the realm. But his army could not fight their way across the heavily defended London Bridge after the defeat of the English King, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings.

The future of England was in the balance as he ravaged the country seeking a way across the river and to persuade the English that resistance was hopeless.

Once across the river, the English leaders sued for peace, and William was crowned at the newly built Westminster Abbey. The English hoped for a strong King who would rule with the people. But William began by building Castles to oppress the Citizens, and soon swept aside the English Aristocracy and establishment and replaced them with the Conquerors.

This was a death blow to Anglo-Saxon culture, but the City made an accommodation with the new regime and the first Lord Mayor of London was an Englishman.

So, on the walk we explore the Late Saxon City of London, and how it changed in the last 11th and 12th Centuries.

Walk is by Kevin Flude, former Archaeologist at the Museum of London
Kevin

To Book:

The French Revolution’s Solar Year — January 2nd

French Revolutionary Pocket Watch

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me 
Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, 
Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, 
Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle-doves, 
And a partridge in a pear tree. 

On this day in 1793 the new National Convention in Revolutionary France decreed that Year II of the Republic had begun the day before. However, in October they decided that the Revolutionary year should begin on the Autumn Equinox and retrospectively made 22 September 1792 the first day of Year I.

By choosing a radical and rational reform of the Calendar the Revolutionaries were following Julius Caesar’s example, but unlike Caesar who introduced the Julian Calendar, they almost completely ripped up the calendrical rule book

Let’s start with the names of the months. The concept of the month they kept but got rid of the irrational Latin-based names and replaced them by neologisms designed to hint at the seasons and the weather. I’m going to begin by giving you the names as reported, satirically, by John Brady in England 1811 (starting with ‘October’ and separating seasons by semicolons).

Wheezy, Sneezy and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy and Nippy; Showery, Flowery
and Bowery; Hoppy, Croppy and Poppy.

The historian Thomas Carlyle suggested somewhat more serious English names
in his 1837 work ‘The French Revolution: A History’ namely:

Vintagearious, Fogarious, Frostarious, Snowous, Rainous, Windous, Buddal,
Floweral, Meadowal, Reapidor, Heatidor, and Fruitidor.

The actual revolutionary names were: Vendémiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire; Nivôse, Pluviôse, Ventôse , Germinal, Floréal, Prairial; Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor

Today is 13th Nivôse, Year 232 according to the calculator at French Calendar.

The year began with the Autumn Equinox and each month was a rational 30 days, leaving 5 days of the solar year to be sorted out. These were given to the Sans Culottes as holidays and called complimentary days. The leap year was similarly given to the Sans Culottes; an extra day, every 4 years. It was a copy of the Egyptian year, which had inspired Caesar to make the Roman year rational.

And like the Egyptians, the 7-day week went out the window. The month was divided into three décades of 10 days, with the tenth day, the décadi, being a day of rest. In effect, by my calculations, the ‘lucky’ Sans Culottes gained 5 days at the end of the year and lost 16 Sundays, a net lost of 11 days over the year. I’m assuming they would have been compensated by time off to celebrate various revolutionary festivals, such as the 14th July (celebrating the storming of the Bastille). The days were called primidi (first day) duodi (second day) tridi (third day) etc.

The hours of the day were decimalised and so each day was divided into 10 hours, rather than the 24 hours we use. The hours into 100 decimal minutes, and the minute into 100 decimal seconds. This meant that an hour was 144 conventional minutes; a minute 86.4 conventional seconds, and a second 0.864 conventional seconds.

The calendar did not survive another dictator, and Napoleon recalled the conventional calendar and time keeping returned to the Gregorian standard on 1 January 1806. I do like the idea of the 10-day week, but I would like it to be 6 days of work and 4 days of leisure.

To find out more look at Wikipedia and consult John Brady (1812), Clavis Calendaria: Or, A Compendious Analysis of the Calendar; Illustrated with Ecclesiastical, Historical, and Classical Anecdotes, vol. 1, Rogerson and Tuxford

The Cybele and A Wassail Cup

Today, is special for the Cybele, Isis, Aphrodite and Ishtar, and the Vigil for St Genevieve of Nanterre. Paris. (more tomorrow).

Wassail Bowl being brought in by a Servant into a dining hall on Christmas Day
From ‘Old Christmas’ by Washington Irving

Time to go around and about your neighbourhood and share the Wassail Bowl.

Into the bowl is first placed half a pound of sugar in which is one pint of warm beer; a little nutmeg and ginger are then grated over the mixture, and 4 glasses of sherry and 5 pints of beer added to it. It is then stirred, sweetened to taste and allowed to stand covered for 2 to 3 hours. Roasted apples are then floated on the creaming mixture and the wassail bowl is ready.

The Curiosities of Ale and Beer, by John Bickerdike, published about 1860 from a Jesus College, Oxford recipe of 1732. (From Recipes of Old England by Bernard N. Bessunger

Wassailing is either a gently social activity, or it is an anti-social custom in which the drunkards get to stand outside your house caterwauling and in effect demanding drink with menaces. The first mention I can find is in Geoffrey of Monmouth (12th Century), and he has Vortigern, Hengist and Rowena participating in the custom in the 5th Century AD.

It seems particularly associated with apple trees. On New Year’s Eve, wassallers went to the oldest tree in the apple orchard, poured a liberal dose of wassail over the roots of the tree; pulled down the branches to dip the end of the branches in the punch, decorated the tree, and then drank the wassail themselves. Geoffrey tells us that the word means ‘Good Health’ or as we would say ‘Cheers!’

First Published Jan 2nd 2023, republished Jan 2024

The 9th Day of Christmas or is it the 8th? – January 2nd

By Grover cleveland – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37539711

But is it? Wikipedia says it is the 9th Day as the first is Christmas Day. But the Perpetual Almanac of Folklore by Charles Kightly counts from Boxing Day so for him it is the 8th Day and I have seen this in other older sources. For example: Gervase Markham’s ‘The English Husbandman of 1635 says:

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

This is the idea that the weather on each day of Christmas is linked to the weather in the corresponding month. So the weather for the first month of the year, will be determined by the weather on the first day of Christmas which for Markham is the 26th not the 25th.

But if it is the 9th Day we can therefore expect the weather in September 2024 to be unusually warm and wet. Otherwise a warm and wet August!

For more on which days are the 12 days of Christmas have a look at my 12th Night post:

I have republished my post of the Chinese New Year which you can see here:

New Year’s Day & Almanacs—January 1st

From the Kalendar of Shepherdes (illus. 1529)

Alcohol poisoning might mean this is not the day to think about the New Year and make our resolutions but we might turn to an almanac to see what the year has ahead. Newspapers and the web have now taken over largely from almanacs. They print articles about the upcoming highlights of the Sporting Year or the Musical year and so one. But almanacs are still produced and arguably grew from medieval manuscript Books of Hours and, in particular, the 1493 Kalendar of Shepherds which was published in Paris. Each month was described with the addition of important information for farmers. By the 1600’s almanacs were the most published form of book other than the Bible. Lauren Kassell in ‘Almanacs and Prognostications’ reports estimates that by 1660 one third of every household had one.

ebay advert screenshot for Old Moore's Almanac 2024
ebay advert screenshot for Old Moore’s Almanac 2024

Originally, they had a Calendar for each month, and information about the phases of the month, the tides, predictions of the weather, and health issues likely to occur at that time of the year. Astrology was an important element of them. London Almanacs contained further information about the year, its ceremonies and elections of officials. And this informational side to the almanac grew, they began to include lists such as lists of monarchs, and interesting stories, verse foretelling the weather, recipes and cures. Almanacs are the source of most of the quotes used in blogs such as mine which look at all things calendrical.

Cover page of the Illustrated london almanack for 1867

Here, is a verse about January from the Kalendar of Shepherds

Verse about January from the Kalendar of Shepherde's (translated from the 1493 Paris edition)
January from the Kalendar of Shepherde’s (translated from the 1493 Paris edition)

I have republished my post of the Chinese New Year which you can see here:

Hangover Cures & Bacchus – January 1st

Marble statue of Bacchus from the Temple of Mithras London. The inscription reads ‘hominibus vagis vitam’ Translation … (give) life to men who wander.

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
8 Maids a Milking; 7 Swans a Swimming; 6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds; 3 French Hens; 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The 8th day is the day of the Throbbing Head. Leonard Cohen wrote in ‘Closing Time’ about drinking to excess. I like to think he refers to Christmas and New Year’s Day:

And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
And it’s once for the devil and it’s once for Christ
But the boss don’t like these dizzy heights
We’re busted in the blinding lights of closing time.

So what you need is a hangover cure. Nature provides many plants that can soothe headaches. And in the midst of the season of excess, lets start with a hangover cure.

Common ivy Photo by Zuriel Galindo from unsplash

Ivy, ‘is a plant of Bacchus’…. ‘the berries taken before one be set to drink hard, preserve from drunkenness…. and if one hath got a surfeit by drinking of wine, the speediest cure is to drink a draft of the same wine, wherein a handful of ivy leaves (being first bruised) have been boiled.’

Culpeper Herbal 1653 quoted in ‘the Perpetual Almanac’ by Charles Kightly

The image of Bacchus above is from a fascinating article by the Museum of London on wine making in Roman Britain. Bacchus is often shown with an ivy crown around his head as Romans were wont to wear them to fend of hangovers.

Back to our hangover cures:

Crack Willow Trees on the Oxford Canal, August 2021

One of the best documented is willow bark. Here is a record of how simple it could be to use:

‘I am nearly 70 years old and was born and bred in Norfolk… My father, if he had a ‘skullache’ as he called it, would often chew a new growth willow twig, like a cigarette in the mouth.’

‘A Dictionary of Plant Lore by Roy Vickery (Pg 401)

In the 19th Century Willow was found to contain salicylic acid from which aspirin was derived. As a child I remember chewing liquorice sticks in a similar way, although supposedly for the pleasure and the sweetness not for the many medicinal virtues of the plant.

Yesterday’s weather on the 5th Day of Christmas was warm and wet. This means, according to Gervase Markham, that the 5th Month, May will be sunny and warm. (source: ‘The English Husbandman’ of 1635. )

The Day of Nymphs in Greece dedicated to Artemis, Andromeda, Ariadne, Ceres. (according to the Goddess Book of Days by Diane Stein.)