London… Once a Breath Away from Extinction

This article regards the surprising trajectory of London–one of the world’s great cities, and an international treasure that once suffered a calamitous decline, and spent many decades as an abandoned ruin.

With apologies for being offline for so long, this is the first of four articles that all grew out of what I expected to be a single, quick article about our visit to the “Crown and Treaty” in the outer London town of Uxbridge. Built in the 1500’s as an elaborate private home, this fascinating building still stands, and was the home of the 1645 Uxbridge Treaty Negotiations. In what has become the usual fashion for me, more thoughtful reading of accounts about the negotiations and Sir Richard Lane’s role brought me to details that struck me as unexpected and intriguing–off-topic “threads” hanging from the edges of the story. Such are the entrances of “rabbit holes” from which I have dragged more surprising insights than I’d ever have thought possible. This particular one is about the surprising trajectory of London–one of the world’s great cities, and an international treasure that once suffered a calamitous decline, and spent many decades as an abandoned ruin.

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A Man of Spotless Integrity: The Life and Legacy of the Lost Lord Keeper of the King’s Great Seal (Part I of III)

Foreword: This is the full article submitted for publication in the 2018 Annual Bulletin of the Société Jersisiase. This version includes significant additional content which could not appear in that publication, and benefits from the excellent editorial refinements of the editors at the Société Jersisiase. In this format, footnotes appear the end of the sections in which their references occur. 

Continue reading “A Man of Spotless Integrity: The Life and Legacy of the Lost Lord Keeper of the King’s Great Seal (Part I of III)”

Westminster Palace: Analysis of the 1844 Trial of Strafford Painting (Part 2)

In the Part I article of the “Trial of Strafford” analysis I presented at Westminster this Spring, I provided an overview introducing the historical analysis I did and the groups depicted in that historic painting.  In this and the next article, we’re going to explore the depth of the stories painter Thomas Woolnoth laid onto that sprawling canvas in the early 1840’s.

In our time, Woolnoth would have been the videographer behind a BBC historical docu-drama of this pivotal event in English history. But in the early 1840’s even the earliest deguerrotype camera was a technical oddity, leaving Woolnoth only the brush and palette to carry his audience back to the floor of Westminster Hall in the spring of 1641.
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One of the Most Interesting Days of my Life….

There are days you will remember always. This was one of them!

Yesterday was quite a day.  You’d have heard about it last night, but I was simply too tired to do anything but have a glass of wine, savor a bit of chocolate and wonder at the day I’d just had.  Just because you put a lot of work into something doesn’t mean it’s going to lead somewhere interesting.  Nor does it mean that it will be well received, let alone be referred to as “scholarly”…

Continue reading “One of the Most Interesting Days of my Life….”

Designing a Memorial for a Historic Figure (and his Wife)

This quest really began when I wondered what it would be like to visit the grave of the author of the ancient book I’d recently purchased at a Denver antique book store. At first, I doubted there would be any discoverable record of him at all.  And initially, there wasn’t. My searches returned a sea of flotsam references to this or that person named “Richard Lane” over the centuries, or someone simply named “Richard”  who lived on a “lane” somewhere!  But when I began combining his name with words from the title of his 1657 book, I finally encountered articles that introduced me to the man. What I could read of him was intriguing, though.  I found myself repeatedly choosing to look into  “one more thing”  before setting it aside and going on with my life…

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Update on the Trial of Strafford Painting

“Proving” is an ambitious word.  How do you “prove” that a mid-1800s painter depicting an important historical scene was aware of and attempting to portray specific actors and their inter-relationships in a drama that was already more than 200 years old at the moment he first stood before his empty canvas? Clearly, Thomas Woolnoth went to pains to realistically portray the principals of the scene in “The Trial of Strafford”, but was he aware of Richard Lane and his  role? How much research did he do? How can we assert that he would have been aware of historical research that was being done in his own time?  Without  corroborating evidence, such assertions must be considered a hypothesis – one based on raw speculation…but, I think we can do better! Continue reading “Update on the Trial of Strafford Painting”