Advent Sunday is the beginning of the Christian Liturgical year, when the Church prepares for the major festivals of the Messiah’s life – his birth and his death. It begins with the ‘Hanging of the Greens’ when Churches and other public buildings were bedecked with seasonal foliage. The ‘Liturgical colours’, which are purple, green, gold (or white) and red – are changed to purple and used for altar linen, clergy robes and other hangings. At home, the Christmas Tree and decorations are taken out of the cupboard/cellar/shelf/box and put up.
Too Late to wed before Advent
Traditionally, you could not marry after Advent and before 12th Night. So it’s now too late to marry before that bump gets too big!
Wedding dresses were traditionally whatever beautiful dress you had. White only became de rigueur once Queen Victoria wore one, and the costs of material reduced because of mass production.
First Published 28th November 2022. Republished Dec 3rd 2023
Queen Elizabeth 1 ascended the throne on 17 Nov 1558. Her courtiers immediately began work on the Coronation which was arranged for January 15th 1559, which in coronation terms was rushed. The precise date was, in fact, chosen by the Royal Astrologer, John Dee on a date that the celestial bodies deemed propitious, and which was sooner rather than later.
Elizabeth’s position was not secure, although greeted with an outbreak of joy by the Protestant population, the supporters of her dead sister Mary 1 did not want a Protestant monarch. On accession, Elizabeth rushed to occupy the Tower of London, even shooting London Bridge, such was her haste. She consulted lawyers about the legal position. Elizabeth, and her sister Mary, had been declared bastards by two Succession Acts passed during Henry VIII’s ‘troubled’ married life. The Third Succession Act of 1543/44, following Henry’s marriage to Katherine Parr, had restored Mary and Elizabeth to the Royal line but did not restore their legitimacy. Rather than tackle the complex legislation, Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal advised:
“the English laws have long since pronounced, that the Crowne once worn quite taketh away all Defects whatsoever“.
Which, when you think about it, basically legitimises successful ‘Coup D’etat’s! And, from a legal point of view she was still , arguably, illegitimate.
The Coronation began with a procession from the Whitehall Palace in Westminster back to the Tower of London for the Vigil, then a Royal Procession through the City of London to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation service, followed by the traditional Coronation Banquet at Westminster Hall.
The Vigil Procession was on the Thames where she was escorted to the Tower by ‘ships, galleys, brigantines‘ sumptuously decorated. The Royal Entry consisted of 5 Pageants and 11 Triumphal Arches.
The first pageant showed the Queen’s descent from Henry VII and his marriage to Elizabeth of York, thus ending the Wars of the Roses by linking the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The pageant also emphasised her ‘Englishness’ as opposed to the Spanish affiliations of Mary. The second pageant demonstrated that the Queen would rule by the four virtues of True Religion, Love of Subjects, Wisdom and Justice, while trampling on Superstition, Ignorance and other vices.
The third pageant, at the upper end of Cheapside near the Guildhall, provided the opportunity for the City to give Elizabeth a handsome crimson purse with 1000 marks of gold, showing the closeness of the City and the Crown. The fourth pageant, contrasted a decaying country during the time of Mary with a thriving one under Elizabeth. It featured the figure of Truth, who was carrying a Bible written in English and entitled ‘the Word of Truth’. The Bible was lowered on a silken thread to the Queen who kissed it and laid it on her breast to the cheers of the crowd. She promised to read it diligently. The final pageant was Elizabeth portrayed as Deborah, the Old Testament prophet, who by rescuing Israel and ruling for 40 years was an ideal role model for Elizabeth. (https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/queen-elizabeth-coronation)
‘All the houses in Cheapside were dressed with banners and streamers, and the richest carpets, stuffs and cloth of gold tapestried the streets’.
British History.ac.uk Vol 1 pp315 -332.
The Coronation was traditional – in Latin and presided by a Catholic Bishop but there were significant innovations. Important passages were read both in Latin and in English and the Queen added to the Coronation Oath that she would rule according to the ‘true profession of the Gospel established in this Kingdom.’ This showed the way forward, introducing innovation gradually into tradition, but making it clear that the fundamentals had indeed changed. This was going to be a Protestant reign.
Please do remember, I wrote a book on nearly all the Kings and Queens of Britain or at least a lot more of them than most other compliers! I went back into Prehistory and Legend, and included some Welsh and Scottish Kings and Queens.
This book has been reprinted several times and is available below. Every so often I use it particularly when a new film comes out, sometimes with trepidation, to see if I covered the key aspects of the film. Notably with the ‘King’s Speech’, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and the ‘Lost King’ I didn’t do badly.
I have began to prepare my next set of tours both virtual and real. But here are the first two virtual tours, both with a seasonal theme.
The London Winter Solstice Virtual Tour
Wed, 21 Dec 2022 19:30
We explore London’s History through its celebrations, festivals, calendars and almanacs of the Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice festivals have been a time of review, renewal and anticipation of the future from time immemorial. The Ancient Britons saw the Solstice as a symbol of a promise of renewal as the world entered bleak mid winter. The Roman season was presided over by Janus, a two headed God who looked both backwards and forwards, and Dickens based his second great Christmas Book on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.
We look at London’s past to see where and how the Solstice might be celebrated. We also explore the different Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other London winter traditions and folklore.
At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2022.
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!’
Is the question that Terry Cook asked me, and this is my answer.
So the Cutty Sark is twice famous.
Her name comes from Tam O’Shanter, one of Robert Burns’ greatest poems. written in 1791. And everyone knows of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Burns night has become world famous for anyone interested in Scotland.
Figureheads on the prow of ships are very often of a semi naked women with her torso breasting the water. The sexy young witch, Nannie Dee, in Tam O’Shanter is identified as the one who is very ‘Vauntie’ and with a short shift that she wore as a child and so is now short and revealing. The poem names this garment as her ‘Cutty Sark. Sark is her shift. Cutty is dialect for short. The Cutty Sark’s figurehead shows Nannie in her shift holding the tail of Tam’s horse.
Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho’ sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie.— Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi’ twa pund Scots, (’twas a’ her riches), Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!
The story is that the drunken Tam on his steady horse Maggie is travelling home when he seems a devilish dance taking place in a graveyard, presided over by the devil himself. Tam is so excited when he sees the young beautiful witch that he bellows his approval and all of a sudden the merriment ends, and in deadly silence the witches turn on Tam and race to catch him.
Tam tint his reason a’ thegither, And roars out, ‘Weel done, Cutty-sark!’ And in an instant all was dark: And scarcely had he Maggie rallied. When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie’s mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When ‘Catch the thief!’ resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi’ mony an eldritch skreech and hollow.
They have to get across a brook before the witches because the witches cannot cross the water. The witches must get him before the brook or face burning at the stake. All depends on Maggie (Meg). The young witch in the Cutty Sark is catching up as they approach the brook. Maggie makes a magnificent leap, the witch makes a despairing grab and only can reach Maggie’s tail but Tam and his horse make it to safety leaving the witch the tail.
Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin! In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin! Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman! Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig; There at them thou thy tail may toss, A running stream they dare na cross. But ere the key-stane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake! For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle; But little wist she Maggie’s mettle— Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain gray tail: The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
Now, follow the link below and read the whole poem but read it out loud, standing up and with gusto. Don’t worry about the pronunciation just enjoy it.
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
So on Saturday the 30th I am doing 2 guided walks and one Virtual Walk.
ROMAN LONDON – A LITERARY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL WALK
Saturday 30 April 20/22 11.30 am Monument Underground Station
This is a walking tour features the amazing archaeological discoveries of Roman London, and looks at life in the provincial Roman capital of Londinium.
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.
Publius Ovidius Naso and Marcus Valerius Martialis will be helped by Kevin Flude, former Museum of London Archaeologist, Museum Curator and Lecturer.
The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Beltane.
The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.
The virtual route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls
This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.
Robert Milligan once reigned supreme outside the Museum of London in Docklands as a representative of the West Indies merchants who proudly set up the West Indies docks. Now he has been removed from his prestigious position and acquired by the Museum of London. Their Docklands Museum can be seen behind the statue in this sketch. According to a statement by the Museums Association he will be ‘fully contextualised’ in the museum. The docks were set up to to maximise profits from the slave driven sugar plantations in the West Indies. Milligan was the Deputy Chairman of the project.
The museum has an excellent display on the slave trade.
Sorry for gap in posts as I’m recovering from surgery following an accident whereby a taxi driver opened his door and knocked me off my push bike so typing one handed and dealing with images is quite difficult at present. Please adopt the ‘Dutch Reach’ when opening car doors and be careful.
Richard Coates in a ground breaking article ‘A New Explanation Of The Name Of London’ Transactions Of The Philological Society Volume 96:2 (1998) Pgs 203 – 229 suggested the original name of London was Plowonida – or settlement by the wide flowing river. He deduces its name by comparing different versions of ‘London’ in different Celtic dialects and traces them back to what he believes is the common origin. This is the root *pleu meaning fleet flowing river, and onida which means ‘settlement by the’.
So, in the 2nd Millennia BC – the Bronze Age, there was a settlement by the flowing River. He thinks the Thames was the name for the river upstream of the Pool of London, and where it widened into an estuary it was called the Pleu. Etymonline.com says of the name Thames:
Thames – River through London, Old English Temese, from Latin Tamesis (51 B.C.E.), from British Tamesa, an ancient Celtic river name perhaps meaning “the dark one.” The -h- is unetymological (see th).
So, in the Bronze Age there must have been a small settlement probably in the area of the City or on the south bank in Southwark. It’s possible we have already found it in the occasional findings of post-holes, gullies, plough marks, brushwood platforms and burial mounds (particularly in Southwark) that have been found or we may be yet to find it. Or we may never find it. And if we do, unless it is significant in some way or has a signpost on it saying (“You are entering Plowonida”) we will never know.
Of course Coates may be wrong, but he is the most distinguished linguist of recent years to put his head about a dangerous parapet. Antiquarian journals were full of suggestions for the name of London. Previous suggestions include Lake Side Town, Lud’s Castle, Londinos’s settlement. None have survived scrutiny, and very few people were willing to make a guess after the late 70s, until 1998 and Richard Coates. However they all seem to accept that the name is pre-Roman in origin.
Archaeologists since the 1970s have been completely convinced there was no City before the arrival of the Romans. So, why bother finding the original name of a place that did not exist? However, last year in an excavation underneath Amazon’s new HQ, Principle Place, just north of Liverpool Street station, was found over 400 pieces of neolithic pottery, and evidence of extensive feasting. If you put this together with the burials found in the water margins of the River Thames, and the incredible finds of prestige metal objects: helmets, shields, swords, cauldrons, etc. from the River a case is beginning to be made (by David Keys in the Independent for example) that the area of the City of London might have been an important place for gatherings. So is it possible that the origins of London are as part of a ritual landscape?
If this is taken seriously it has a lot of implications for received opinion.
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF LONDON BRIDGE, SOUTHWARK & BANKSIDE GUIDED WALK
Sunday 6 February 2022 2.30pm Monument Underground
The walk explores the area around the Bridge and London Bridge’s history
London Bridge is not only an iconic part of London’s history but it is also the key to much of the History of London. On this walk we explore the area around the Bridge.
On the north side we explore evidence for the origins of the Bridge, and the early Roman Port of London. We then cross the Bridge discovering the many rebuilds and the wonder of the famous London Bridge with all its houses along it. On the south side we explore the Historic Borough of Southwark which, archaeology has revealed, is very much more than just the first suburb of London.
We range from the prehistoric finds in the River, to the excavation of the Theatres of Shakespeare’s London on Bankside.
This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks. The walk needs to be booked via this London Walk link. To Book:
Podcast for the Walk
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF LONDON BRIDGE, SOUTHWARK & BANKSIDE VIRTUAL WALK