29 February, 2008

27 February, 2008

Henry VIII's Dockyards

Portcities is a useful site if you are interested in the role of ports in British history. It is a partnership of port heritage websites, providing a web gateway to their collections, and will grow as more museums, libraries and archives join up.

It currently has material on London, Bristol, Hartlepool, Liverpool and Southampton.

In the London section is an interesting section on Henry VIII's royal dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich . These docks and shipyards played an important role in the early development of the Royal Navy, and Elizabeth I further developed the facilities at Woolwich.

Later on, the reputation of the shipyards encouraged a visit in 1698 by Peter the Great of Russia. Apparently his drunken parties messed up the home of diarist John Evelyn, whose house he was staying at.

Both yards went into decline after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, as new facilities were built closer to Europe (e.g. at Chatham), more suited to building larger ships. Both Deptford and Woolwich closed in 1869, having played a key role in the Royal Navy's formative years.

19 February, 2008

Carnivalesque 36

Mercurius Politicus has put together an interesting collection of recent Early Modern posts for Carnivalesque 36, including one from me!

13 February, 2008

Please Welcome on Stage: Lewis Garland and the Kett Rebellion

Hearing a Tenpole Tudor track the other day, I did a bit of digging around for other bands with Early Modern connections:

Kicking off, Lewis Garland and the Kett Rebellion, playing rather decent acoustic folk. Band is based in Coventry, although Lewis Garland, like Robert Kett himself who gave his name to an East Anglian uprising in 1549, hails from Norfolk. A racy woodcut decorates their Myspace site.

In 1558, nine years after Kett was hanged over the walls of Norwich Castle, Elizabeth I took the throne of England. Her finest hour occurred another thirty years later with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Indie band The Spanish Armada represent the USA here, and hail from Somerville, Massachusetts. One of the band members goes under the name of "L. Tiburon Pacifico", which must count for something. Not sure about the music, though....

Back to Blighty, Brighton-based folk/punk/rock band The Levellers are slightly more noisy, with a reputation for exciting fiddle-driven live sets including at Glastonbury . They share their name with the group of political radicals known as the Levellers during the English Civil War period. They asked questions such as "why should soldiers fight for Parliament when they are not allowed to vote for it?".

Oliver Cromwell approved of some of the Levellers' policies (eg abolition of the House of Lords), but his relationship with the movement was uneasy. In May 1649, Cromwell executed three soldiers in Burford who belonged to the Levellers, and this event is to be commemorated this year on Levellers Day.

Staying with the English Civil War theme, the Yorkshire band New Model Army name themselves after the full-time professional army set up Parliament to address the problems, found in the early part of the Civil War, of using part-time militias (they were reluctant to stray far from their home area) .

We could also include Shakespeare's Sister, but we absolutely have to mention Rick "Concept Album" Wakeman for his milestone Six Wives of Henry VIII. YouTube comes up trumps again: (how he gets away with a police siren I don't really know...) . If you are under 45 you might want to skip the video as you might not understand what is going on...

10 February, 2008

Half Term at Hampton Court

Between Saturday 16th and Sunday 24th Feb, Hampton Court Palace has a program on Children of the Tudor Court. What was it like for Henry VIII's children growing up at the Tudor Court? What lessons did they learn and who were their teachers?

The reenactors at Hampton Court are very good so this event is recommended if you are looking to keep your kids entertained at half-term.

Oddly, the Hampton Court Palace website does not yet seem to be advertising this event, so best to telephone first 0870 7527777 in case the reenactors have gone to the block..

Picture: the engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi shows Henry with his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. The slightly mysterious figure at the rear is Henry's jester Will Sommers.