Summer Solstice

Hark! hark! The lark at heaven’s gate sings, And Phoebus ‘gins arise, His steeds to water at those springs On chalic’d flowers that lies; And winking Mary-buds begin To ope their golden eyes; With everything that pretty is, My lady sweet, arise: Arise, arise. Cloten Scene III Cymberline

Arise, O Sun!
Let the Darkness of Night
Fade before the beams of your glorious Radiance

Midsummer, astronomically is here, and summer has started. Meteorologically speaking it has been here since the beginning of June. In Christian London celebrations were at their height on the Church’s Midsummer’s Day, 24th June, on the Vigil and Day of St John the Baptist (23rd, 24th June). Stow points the way:

‘every mans doore being shadowed with greene Birch, long Fennel, Saint John wort, Orpin, white Lillies, and such like, garnished upon with Garlands of beautiful flowers, had also Lampes of glasse, with oyle burning in them all the night, some hung out braunches of yron curiously wrought, contayning hundreds of Lampes, light at once, which made a goodly shew, namely in new Fishstreet, Thames Streets, &c’

Survey of London, John Stow

Bonfires from the night before were smouldering, where the ‘wealthier sort’ set out tables, furnished with ‘sweete beade and drinks plentifully’ where ordinary people could rub shoulders with the rich and ‘be merrie with them in great familiaritie’. There were large processions of ‘Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants, Corporals, &c Wilfers, Drummers, and Fifes, ….Ensign bearers, Sword Players, Trumpeters on horseback, … Gunners, …. Archers, …Pike Men, ….Pageants, and, poor people in straw hats holding cresset lamps to make a show in exchange for a wage. All accompanying the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs each with their own Giants, Henchmen and Pageants from the Little Conduit in Cheape to Aldgate, and back via Fenchurch Street.

Midsummer was a mix of May Day, Halloween and a street festival with ‘Robin Hood games’, bale fires, the ‘summer pole’ dancing, merriment and pervading sense of he uncanny.

The London Equinox and Solstice Walk

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


Tuesday June 21st 2022 7.30 pm Tower Hill Underground Station
(meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stand) |


We explore London’s History through its celebrations, festivals, calendars, almanacs and its myths and legends.


As the Sun and Moon move around our skies we look at how Londoners organised and celebrated their year throughout history.

The tour is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, Curator and Lecturer

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. Different cultures, religions and institutions had their own methods of organisation and celebrations. We explore the varied calendars that ruled people’s lives from the prehistoric period to the present.

On the way we look at customs, and folklore of the Celts, Romans, Saxons, and into the Medieval and Modern period. We look at different calendars such as the Pagan year, the Egyptian year, the Roman, Christian, Jewish, Church and Financial years. On the route we discover the people who lived in London and walk through fascinating areas with their deep histories.

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

To Book: click here

CHAUCER, ST MARY-AT-HILL & ST MARGARET PATTENS

St. Mary-at-Hill, by Christopher Wren, photo K Flude

So, having finished a walk around Chaucer’s London for a mother and her two very bright home educated children. I had to walk back over London Bridge and through the City to Aldgate where Chaucer used to live (and where I had parked my bike).

I took a couple of short cuts which I don’t usually take although often in and around this area. St Mary in Lovat Lane was open so I went in to find this amazing relief.

Judgement Day Relief Sculpture by workshop of Joshua Marshall c 1670

The panel beside it suggests its a sculpture of hope. Well yes, of sorts, if by hope you mean, facing your maker. It represents scenes from the end of days from the Book of Revelation. Jesus stands on a skull, trampling upon Satan, and below the heavenly clouds the Archangels, direct the newly risen from the coffins and graveyards to the Day of Judgement.

I then went past St Margaret Pattens, another Wren Church and was delighted to see a little display on pattens – overshoes worn to keep shoes clean. My ancestor was a beadle for the Patten makers.

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.

NOVEMBER 27th – NOVEMBER 30TH St Andrews

27th November – Eels now in Season.

Eel Pie Island . Ordnance Survey In 1871 to 1882 map series (OS, 1st series at 1:10560: Surrey (Wikipedia)

Sad loss of a East End Jellied Eels outlet (author's copyright)
photo of sold sign on Pie and Mashshop F Cooke in Broadway market
Sad loss of a East End Jellied Eels outlet (author’s copyright)

28th November – Time to Wed before Advent

Traditionally, you could not marry after Advent and before 12th Night. So now might be the last chance to marry before that bump gets too big!

19th Century Illustration (Author’s Copyright)

Wedding dresses were traditionally whatever really pretty dress you had. White only became de rigueur once Queen Victoria worn one, and the costs of material reduced because of mass production.

29th November To make a Dish of Snow

Thanks to Zdenek Machacek -unsplash

Snow is increasingly possible, and if you are keen to see some – try this medieval recipe:

To make a dish of Snowe / Take a potte of sweete thicke creme and the white of eight egges and beate them altogether with a spoone then putte them into your creame with a dish full of Rose Water and a dishfull of Sugar withall then take a sticke and make it cleane and then cutt it in the ende fowre square and therewith beate all the aforesayd thinges together and ever as it ariseth take it of and putte it into a Cullander thys done take a platter and set an aple in the middest of it and sticke a thicke bush of Rosemarye in the apple then cast your snowe upon the rosemarye and fill your platter therewith and if you have wafers cast some withall and thus serve them forth

From Medieval Manuscripts Blog. https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/medieval-history/page/2/

30th November St Andrew’s Day

One of the first Apostles. It seems all Christian martyrs have to be killed in a different grizzly way and Andrew was martyred on a X-shaped cross. As he was formerly a simple fisherman so patron of fishermen.

Celebrate with a Haggis and a Whisky!

In Kent and Sussex Andrewtide gave the right to hunt squirrels, and in Hasted’s History of Kent (1782) it allowed the ‘lower kind’ to form a lawless rabble hunting any manner of hares, partridges and pheasants.

The sort of squirrel that might deserve hunting? Cheeky devil.