Thanksgiving Day in the USA (4th Thursday in November)

Plate 1 of The Birds of America by John James Audubon, depicting a wild turkey (Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving is a festival given over to celebrating God’s Bounty. There are unanswerable debates about which was the ‘First’ Thanksgiving but the date of the 4th Thursday in November was set by Abraham Lincoln. It is basically a harvest festival, but was adopted by Lincoln as one method to unite a divided nation during the Civil War.

Thanksgiving today is mostly roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, with many other variants and additions such as a first course of soup, and vegetables like brussel sprouts and broccoli. Very like an English Christmas dinner, but replacing the Christmas Pudding with pumpkin pie.

As to what the first Pilgrims would have eaten is not known, but their chronicler Edward Winslow noted:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week.”

So the birds shot by 4 marksmen would have been wild turkey but also other birds such as ducks, geese, and swans. Seafood; Mussels, lobster, and eel were also available.

As to ‘gathering the fruits of our labors’. This might have included onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and peas. Stuffing might be seasoned with sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram, fennel, anise or dill, The Pilgrims had plenty of Corn from their first harvest which would have been turned into cornmeal, and eaten as a mush if savoury or sweetened with molasses as a porridge, or made into cornbread, or for stuffing.

Indigenous Wampanoag Americans might have been present, but only to investigate the shooting of canons in celebration by the Pilgrims. Relationships were tense between the natives and the immigrants. Some Indigenous Americans consider it a day of mourning; others use it as a day of gathering for the family, but generally, consider images of the Pilgrims and Indigenous Americans sitting down peacefully celebrating together to be ‘a lie’. (Native Americans and the First Thanksgiving.)

First Published on 24th November 2022, Republished on 23rd November 2023

St Clements Day, the Blacksmith’s Holiday, the Early Church, Lydia and Wickham Day November 23rd

Clemens I, the Pope of Rome. Mosaic from St. Sophia of Kyiv, 11th c. In places of loss (lower part of the composition) — oil painting of the 18th c. (Wikipedia)

St Clement was a very early Bishop of Rome, shortly after St Peter. Although thought to be a historical and therefore a very important peron in the history of Christianity, his mode of martyrdom is a matter of legend. He is supposed to have been tied to an anchor and thrown in the Black Sea in around AD 99. He is, therefore, particularly venerated by Blacksmiths and Sailors. Others argue that he is earlier than this and place his letter as early as AD60.

Towards the bottom of this post you will find out more about St Clements place in Christian History, but first, lets find out his associations with London.

London & St Clements

The maritime connection may explain the three St Clements connections in London. Trinity House On Tower Hill has been working to keep shipping safe since being founded in Deptford in the 16th Century as:

The Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity and of St Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond in the County of Kent.

They look after light ships, lighthouses, navigation buoys and licence Deep Sea Pilots. The HQ moved to Tower Hill in 1796.

London has two churches dedicated to St Clements. Both are by early London waterfronts and rebuilt by Christopher Wren and his team.

St Clement’s Eastcheap is on the terrace above the Roman port of London, near London Bridge (which leads to Wikipedia speculation that it might have been an early Roman foundation). And St Clements Danes is where the Strand meets Fleet Street on the terrace above the Lundenwic Saxon waterfront.

Lydia and Wickham get married

St Clements is where Lydia and Wickham finally get married in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But which of the two St Clements? Wickham had lodgings in the area. East Cheap area, and the Gardiners, who were the only people at the wedding except Darcy, lived in nearby Gracechurch Street. But perhaps St Clements Dane was more fashionable and might be more the raffish Mr Wickham’s cup of tea? (Jane Austen bought her family’s tea from Twinings, just off Fleet Street, where you can still buy it in their shop? )

Oranges & Lemons

St Clements appears in the nursery rhyme/game Oranges and Lemons and both churches claim it refers to them, but as both are by the waterfront, either will do.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
  Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead

I remember playing this as a child. Two children form an arch with their hands and the other children go through the arch reciting the rhyme until the chopper comes down when the hands forming the arch traps one of the children. The trapped child then whispers which side they want to be one, and they leave the procession to stand behind one or other of the arch-makers. I seem to remember we ended it off by having a tug of war between the two teams.

Alternatively, the trapped/chopped children make an additional arch and the remaining kids have to rush through a large space, fearing the chop.

St Clements and the Early Church

A letter of St Clements survives and is addressed to the Christians of Corinth. This letter is of fundamental importance, as it appears to have been written when the martyrdoms of St Peter and St Paul were relatively recent memories. The letter is also important as a counterargument to the Protestant view that there is no evidence that Peter was ‘Pope’. In this letter, St Clement is giving advice to the Church of Corinth as a Pope would. This can be used as early proof of Papal supervision of the early Church.

The letter is therefore worth reading, and you can read a version of it if you follow the link below. I have chosen two extracts from a long letter. (You can read the whole letter here). The first letter illustrates how close to the deaths of Peter and Paul it was. The second extract gives a great view of an early Christian World View. I think there is also very little here that a Pagan would object to? The main message of the letter is to follow the example of Jesus and adopt humility.

Chapter 5. No Less Evils Have Arisen from the Same Source in the Most Recent Times. The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul.

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

Chapter 20. The Peace and Harmony of the Universe.

The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed. The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws. The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins, never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded. For He said, Thus far shall you come, and your waves shall be broken within you. Job 38:11 The ocean, impassable to man and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen. (Translated by John Keith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. )

Originally published Nov 23rd 2022. Revised & Rewritten on Nov 23rd 2023

Night Fowling November 19th

Gervase Markham Hungers Prevention: or, the Whole Art of Fowling by Water and Land. (Printed, London: for Francis Grove, 1655).

This was the period of the year for ‘Night-fowling’ Gervase Markham wrote a whole book about it in the 17th Century. It was called Hungers Prevention: or, the Whole Art of Fowling by Water and Land. (Printed London: for Francis Grove, 1655).

In it, he tells the reader to go to a stubble field in November when the air is mild and the moon not shining. There take a dolorous low bell, and net. Spread the net over the stubble where there may be fowl, ring the bell, light fires of dry straw, and the fowl will fly and become entangled in the net.

Title illustration from Gervase Markham Hungers Prevention: or, the Whole Art of Fowling by Water and Land. (Printed London: for Francis Grove, 1655).

November 19th is also World Toilet Day, which is a significant development target for the world as it impacts badly on women in those areas where decent hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

First published Nov 19th 2022. Republished Nov 19th 2023

Exercise to keep you warm and fit for the ordeal of winter – November 15th

Medieval drawing of an archer
Medieval drawing of an archer

‘Leaping is an exercise very commendable and healthful for the body.’

The Compleat Gentleman 1634

Thomas Fuller in his book published in 1642 says:

Running, Leaping, and Dancing, the descants on the plain song of walking, are all excellent exercises. And yet those are the best recreations which besides refreshing enable, at least dispose, men to some other good ends. Bowling teaches mens hands and eyes Mathematicks, and the rules of Proportion: Swimming hath sav’d many a mans life, when himself hath been both the wares, and the ship: Tilting and Fencing is warre without anger; and manly sports are the Grammer of Military performance. But above all Shooting is a noble recreation…..

‘THE HOLY STATE’ BY THOMAS FULLER, B. D. and Prebendarie of Sarum

Published St Pauls Churchyard 1642

The Holy State is a fascinating book – it provides instruction on how to be the Good Wife; the Good Advocate; the Good King; Bishop etc. etc.; has general rules of behaviour; some case studies of good lives to emulate and discussion of profane states not to emulate.

It can be read online here:

And on November 16th

Foul privies are now to be cleaned.

The chimney all sooty would now be made clean.

Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry. 1573

All Souls’ Day – November 2nd

Picture of window sill with skulls, Chrysanthemums  and pictures of remembrance
El Dia de los Muertos.

Mexican Day of the Dead, in fact, the second day of El Dia de Muertos. Here is a video from Mexico, which you will enjoy for its Latin song and images of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. (It’s on Facebook, so may not work unless you have a login).

Today is the day to celebrate all those loved ones who have passed away. To keep them in mind, to remind you still care about them. It is the third day of the season of Allhallowstide, following All Hallows Evening (Halloween), and All Saint’s Day.

Beata, who comes from Poland, tells me that, November the 1st is a happy day when relatives visit the cemeteries of the dead loved ones bringing chrysanthemums to decorate the graves. It’s a happy day for the dead because they are being remembered and visited by their loved ones. Today, November 2nd, is a more sombre day – a day to stay at home and think of the loved one’s perhaps looking through albums of photographs.

In England it was the time of year in which ‘Souling’ used to take place. Households made soul-cakes, children or people in need of food come to visit and are given soul cakes in exchange for praying for the dead.

Soul, soul, for a souling cake.
I pray good Missus for a souling cake.
Apple or pear, plum or cherry.
Anything good to make us merry.

Traditional rhyme from Shropshire and Cheshire

This is based upon the idea of Purgatory, and the belief that intervention on Earth can influence the amount of time an ancestor spends in purgatory for their sins.

John Aubrey (1626 – 1697), antiquarian, collector of folklore and writer, mentions a custom in Hereford which shows a variant of the idea.

In the County of Hereford was an old Custom at Funerals, to hire poor people, who were to take upon them all the Sins of the part deceased. One of them I remember (he was a long, lean, lamentable poor rascal). The manner was that when a Corpse was brought out of the house and laid on the Bier; a Loaf of bread was brought out and delivered to the Sin-eater over the corps, as also a Mazer-bowl full of beer, which he was to drink up, and sixpence in money, in consideration whereof he took upon him all the Sins of the Defunct, and freed him (or her) from Walking after they were dead.v

John Aubrey, Remains of Gentilism 1688

John Aubrey (Wikipedia)

This belief in the power of action in the Here and Now to lubricate passage through Purgatory to the Ever After was a major part of fund-raising for Catholic Institutions before the Reformation. For example, in the records of St Thomas Hospital, Southwark, a wealthy widow called Alice (de Bregerake – if I remember the spelling correctly) left her wealth to the hospital in return for an annual Rose rent; lifetime accommodation in the Hospital in Southwark, and for the monks and nuns to pray for her soul and the souls of her ancestors.

Ludovico Carracci: English: An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory (Wikipedia)
Ludovico Carracci: English: An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory 1610 (Wikipedia)

Revised 2nd Nov 2023. First published 2nd Nov 2021

Town exploration: 4 Brussels

Modern map of central Brussels.  The Bourse is a red circle near the centre.

The map of the centre of Brussels shows the area where I have identified topographical evidence of an early Wall circuit. The two red lines coming from the top left point to a red rectangle which is on the curved road called ‘Vieux Marché aux Grains’. This road follows the curved line of the NE section of the wall and was confirmed by the discovery of a surviving section of the Wall on it (see previous posts).

So, on my 4th and last day in Brussels I want to find the rest of this circuit. If you look at the map you can convince yourself there is a circular route – Rue des Riches Clares (Street of the Clare nuns); Rue des Teinturies (Street of Dyers); Kolenmarkt (Coal Market) and to the Grand Place. But I can find nothing that proves it and its a bit weird to have the Town Square (Grand Place) of the town outside the circuit. Maybe this is because the Bourse was the original centre of gravity I wondered? Whatever the case, the roads have the irregularity of medieval town centre streets.

The Town  Hall Grand Place, Brussels
The Town Hall Grand Place, Brussels

It started to rain so decided to see about a guided tour of the Town Hall, but the attendant suggested I’d be better off at the free ‘House of the King’ across the square which I discover with rising excitement is subtitled ‘The Brussels City Museum.’ Initially I’m disappointed as it is full of fragments of Gothic statues, but upstairs, I strike pay dirt with not only maps, engravings and photographs of the Old Wall Circuit but also a massive model.

Model of 13th Century Wall Circuit of Brussels.
Model of 13th Century Wall Circuit of Brussels. (looking South West)

It takes me a lot of time to work out what is what and which direction we are looking. But the section of the wall at the bottom of the photo above is the wall I identified on the Vieux Marché aux Grains. St Catherine’s is the Church seen just inside the Wall, just to the left of the Gate at the middle bottom of the photo. Other evidence makes it clear that the present day St Catherine’s was moved a little to the left (east).

So, a confirmation of sorts, but also a revelation, in that a river is flowing just behind the wall, and the wall circuit is much bigger than I suspected.

The River is the Senne, it was navigable to an extent taking 8 days to take cargoes to the River Schelde. The River is completely gone, and I think the other part of the wall I pencilled in was actually not the wall but roads following the route of the River.

The River Senne, originally the reason for the foundation of Brussels, became a stinking sewer and was filled in leaving no trace, except the roads that ran alongside it or replaced it.

Detail labelled copy of panoramic painting of Brussels c1665 by Jean-Baptiste Bonnercroy.  Looking South West

The River was augmented and then replaced by a Canal, which reduced the journey time to the Schelde to one day. The Canal came into the expanded City at no 29 (above_ which is the River gate of the 2nd Wall circuit, and, you might just be able to see a wide street going diagonally from 29 towards no 26, which is St Catherine’s Church. This street used to be the new canal, now a dry linear park and market place.

Detail of Braun & Hogenberg map of 1572, showing the canal entering at Porte De Rivage.

At the end of the canal was a T-Junction so that boats could turn around. When this was filled in and reclaimed St Catherine’s was moved and rebuilt in this space. The Wall was just south of the t-Junction and No 30 in the panorama is the Black Tower, part of the original 13th Century Wall Circuit.

St Catherine’s, built over the old t-junction of the canal. The photo is taken from what was once the canal.

But back to my search for the 13th Century Walk circuit. Look below at the whole model you will see how wrong I was about a small roundish early wall circuit.

Model of 13th Century Wall Circuit of Brussels.

This view of the town is the opposite direction to the previous one, so the wall in the far distance was the section I correctly identified. But I had absolutely no idea that the walled area was so large. The bulge in the wall at the front of the picture was on high ground and was original the site of the Duke of Brabant’s Castle, on Coundenberg Hill and founded in the 11th Century. My exploration was not particularly successful, as far as the 13th Century circuit was concerned, as I had no idea where most of the wall circuit was. I was thinking that there must have been a castle on top of the Hill, but didn’t think the wall circuit would be that big.

Brussels itself began as a small trading town on the River Senne and in the marshy valley of the River. It collected grain from the rich area to export to Antwerp and other urban centres.

Braun and Hogenberg Plan of Brussels, 1572 showing both wall circuits. North east at the bottom of the plan

The map above shows the two wall circuits. The earliest built 1210 -1230 and the large circuit built in 1357 -1383. That later was extensively developed with the addition of demi-lunettes in 1578, and turned into full bastions in 1671 to cope with the increasing power of artillery. The letters on the plan refer to pictures of the wall that survive.

Panoramic painting of Brussels c1665 by Jean-Baptiste Bonnercroy.  Looking South West

The second wall circuit can clearly be seen in the picture above, with Porte de Flandres in the centre, and demi-lunettes in front of the 14th Century Wall.

I finished the exploration by finally getting into the 14th Century Gate – Porte de Halle which was wall worth the two trips.

Porte de Halles

This image below will give a good idea of the final form of the defences before they were almost totally demolished and replaced by a ring road.

The late 17th Century Defences of Brussels.

So all in all Brussels is a very interesting City with great museums, amazing pubs/bars, fabulous remains of Art Nouveau dotted around, and an interesting history. As to my exploration, very enjoyable, a little disappointed I didn’t find the River, or identify more of the 13th Century Circuit. With another day I would have walked the entire 13th and 14th Century circuits. But I suspect the surgeon who did my hernia operation would have thought I overdid it as it was.

Town exploration: 3 Brussels

modern map of central Brussels.  The Bourse is a red circle near the centre.

So my next task is to confirm the earlier wall circuit on the map. 

To remind you I have tentatively identified the street called the’ Vieux Marché aux Grains’ as a section of an earlier wall circuit surrounding Brussels.  On the map above the two red lines coming from the top left point to a red rectangle which is on the Vieux Marché.  Walking along it you soon come to a beautiful church dedicated to St Catherine.  It must be either just inside, just outside or on top of my walk circuit.

St Catherine’s, Brussels

I walk into the church, photograph lots of saints and walk out and there just beyond it is the confirmation that I’m right.  There is a beautiful interval Tower and, just to make it certain, it has sections of wall coming out from it.  So this the earlier wall circuit.  Looks medieval, a century or two earlier than the Porte de Halles.

The Black Tower, Brussels

So, I’m feeling pleased with myself.  Two wall circuits confirmed, the outer one I know where the entire circuit is and that it has all been swept away and replaced by an urban ring road except a couple (?) of fragments.

The inner circuit I have only confirmed one section, I know one more bit of it exists or did exist but pretty sure not much else.  I’m thinking from the street pattern that it is a small roundish circuit, but nothing is clear from the street pattern apart from this one street.

Feeling smug although I am aware this is a strange game I play with myself.  I could just Google ‘Brussels Town Walls’ and I would have most of the answers instantly but the fun of the game is to find it out yourself through topographical clues. 

I do it, I think, partly to honour my friend, David Bentley, who died of motor neurone disease a good few years ago but not before we had many stimulating discussions on topographical clues to urban history.  Also, it really helps you understand the City, it will tell you why particular roads are important, and give the history of the growth of the town.  Since I lost David it is often a solitary game as it needs a very tolerant person to put up with following leads to frequent dead ends and someone who can share the thrill of finding a small fragment of ‘wall’ in exactly the predicted place.

One more discovery before I end.  There is a linear ‘park’ coming down from the Porte Flandres, it is lined with what remind me of canalside houses in Bruges, and this seems to be the original route of the canal that was built to link Brussels to the Scheldt.  I was told that the canal was diverted when they built the new walk circuit so this seems to be the original course.  It comes down to the side of St Catherine’s.

Filled in Canal leading to St Catherine’s.  Fish restaurants to the right and you can just see the Black Tower to the left of the Church.

I have no idea how the boats turned around but the grain market was to the right and the fish restaurants suggest this is where fish were landed.

Tomorrow, you will find out if my smugness is confirmed after I decide it is time to  check the facts and leave speculation behind.

Town exploration: 2 Brussels

Panoramic painting of Brussels c1665 by Jean-Baptiste Bonnercoy. 

So I arrived at the hotel in Brussels.  Got their free map and looked for likely Wall circuits.

Creased Map of Brussels

As you will see there is an extensive inner ring road or boulevard clearly marked in orange.    This is, I thought probably  the Renaissance wall alignment when the town had expanded and the old walls became useless in the face of cannons. 

A closer look at the map confirms it was a wall circuit as at junctions there is a grey label saying ‘Porte de Flandres’ or similar. 

So the next task is to find if there was an earlier wall circuit on the map.  I’m basically looking for curved roads that were originally just inside the walls or just outside.

modern map of central Brussels.  The Bourse is a red circle near the centre.

The two red lines coming from the top left point to a red rectangle which is my hotel and by chance is on a curved road which is my guess to be the early wall circuit.  It is called the ‘Vieux Marché aux Grains’. I had a quick explore before retiring for the night. But found nothing conclusive and St Catherine’s Church is astride it.

At breakfast, in the basement I failed to notice that 3 of  the 4 walls were ancient stone, and there was a picture of a wall and bastion tower.  These were pointed out by a staff member, and they suggested they were part of the wall.

Basement cafe of Hotel Atlas

The walls in the basement formed three sides of a rectangle so I had my doubts whether it was ‘the wall’ but it could be a tower or a building built up against the wall. But the picture certainly confirmed my guess that this curved street marked the route of the early wall.

Picture of the wall

So next I walked up to the ‘Porte de Flandres’ in the north east of the town on what I am calling the Renaissance circuit. I wanted to see if any gate or wall survived (no) and to look at the canal which runs alongside the wall. 

Then to visit Brussels amazing museums where in the Old Masters museum was found the view of the walls that you will find above.  The view is from the north east and at the bottom you will see the canal that linked Brussels to the main trade routes with triangular ramparts in front designed to withstand cannon fire, with the canal and the wall behind. Right in the centre of the bottom is the Porte de Flandres. It looks 15th Century to me, give or take a century but the triangular ramparts look 17th Century.

At the Museum were leaflets to a Porte de Halle museum, So I went from the Musee d’Arte et D’ Histoire, through the European Parliament to the old Wall circuit past several old gates which no longer exist and then saw the view below of the Porte de Halle.

Porte de Halle, Brussels

It looks like something from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry which is early 15th Century. I couldn’t confirm because the gatekeeper of the Porte refused entry as, he said, last entry was at 4pm (1 arrived at 4.03pm) although the leaflet clearly says last entry is 45 mins prior to closing at 5pm.

So I went to confirm the existence of the earlier wall circuit. And I will post about that later.

Googling yourself to find your book is no 4 in a list of ‘Top Ten History Books’ of 2015!

Now here is the sort of thing you find out about yourself only if you

a. google yourself
b. go down to page 8

And there I find that thebookbag had my book as no 4 in its top ten history books of 2015, with Mary Beard at no 2.

And this is their review:

‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died…: The History of Britain’s Kings and Queens in Bite-Sized Chunks by Kevin Flude


History lives. Proof of that sweeping statement can be had in this book, and in the fact that while it only reached the grand old age of six, it has had the dust brushed off it and has been reprinted – and while the present royal incumbent it ends its main narrative with has not changed, other things have. This has quietly been updated to include the reburial of Richard III in Leicester, and seems to have been re-released at a perfectly apposite time, as only the week before I write these words the Queen has surpassed all those who came before her as our longest serving ruler. Such details may be trivia to some – especially those of us of a more royalist bent – and important facts to others. The perfect balance of that coupling – trivia and detail – is what makes this book so worthwhile.’

135,000 copies to date in 7 editions and formats. I did suggest a new updated edition to add a section on King Charles III but they said ‘they had no plans.’

‘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.