Up Close and Personal with the Greenwich Painted Hall Ceiling

Two weeks ago you may have seen my post on the Painted Hall in Greenwich which is often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of England.  The artwork is 300 years old however and due to age, wear and tear and earlier attempts at preservation, the imagery had become very dark and rather indistinguishable from now on the floor.

As such since September 2016, access to the Painted Hall has been largely restricted and the ceiling obscured during a mammoth restoration project.

Recently I had the opportunity to take some of my tourists 60 feet up scaffolding to take a once in a life-time opportunity to get up close and personal with this fantastic work of art.

 

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The Painted Hall as it is in September 2018.

 

So we headed up in a small group and climbed 60 feet of scaffolding which itself took months to assemble even before restoration work could commence.

 

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I might hate flying but I have no fear of heights 🙂

 

The traipse up the stairs was well worth to end up in touching distance of one of the largest and most ornate paintings in the world.

 

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Up close and personal with the Greenwich Painted Hall Ceiling

 

Part of our 50 minutes up by the ceiling was a guided tour but we also had plenty of time to go off and explore.  It must be hard for the conservation artists to paint, not screw up and have onlookers gawping at them, even if from a respectful distance.

 

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Leaving your mark in history

 

To most people today, the artwork is simply a beautiful thing to behold but at the time, almost everything depicted would illustrate subtle and not so subtle messages about our grandeur with quite a few digs at out enemies with special mentions to France.

 

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Your Highness, your Highness.. a little Blackadder joke there.

 

The history of Greenwich is the history of Royalty, the history of Science and the history of the Royal Navy and all three aspects can be found in painted ceiling too.

 

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Scientists from Ancient Greece onwards can be found, including these two chaps from 17th Century England were instrumental with their work in astronomy but whose work is now largely forgotten.

 

The restoration work has uncovered many secrets.  Some were surprising such as the scale of the art which due to the use of forced perspective appear even more different up close than from the ground than specialists believed to be the case.

Hidden around the place though are secrets left behind by the artists or earlier restorations such as this cunningly hidden signing of a painter right on the edge of the ceiling and entirely out of site from the ground.  The number of such finds number at least in the teens with one very close to the breasts of the queen.  The artist must have been confident that the royalty of the day weren’t going to go up and inspect the work personally!

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Restoration works in previous centuries did the best they could but sometimes their repairs almost did more damage than good but this time around, conservators have found ways make good on these old repairs as well as bringing vibrancy back to the art itself.

All materials and techniques used have been deliberately chosen so as not to damage the material in any way and be totally reversible if need be by specialists in the future.

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To be honest, I could have stayed up here all day, admiring the work, decoding the hidden meanings that are depicted and watching the conservators at work but am thankful that I am amongst the relative few who will ever get this close to the ceiling, this side of the 22nd century at least.

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The great ceiling is vast, measuring around 30 metres long by 15 metres wide. It is not surprising that as the artist and his team of assistants worked away they sometimes changed their minds, adjusting the composition slightly by painting over earlier details. They used oil paints on a dry plaster surface, building up the painting in layers or glazes. This technique is sometimes called fresco secco in Italian. Unlike true frescos which have to be painted quickly whilst the plaster is still wet, Thornhill’s technique allowed him to make small adjustments by painting over earlier paint layers.

These adjustments or alterations are called pentimenti (from the Italian verb pentirsi, meaning to repent or change your mind). Pentimenti are usually hidden beneath a subsequent paint layer but in some instances they become visible because the paint layer above has become more transparent with time. They can also be detected using infrared light. They are interesting because they show the development of the artist’s design and how his ideas evolved.

 

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This photo from the official website shows a cherub that originally was holding a set-square.  It also looks like there was some sort of flowing material behind its head but for unknown reasons were painted out before the ceiling was completed.

Ceiling Tours are still available but only until the 30th September so if you are in London and want a very special treat then check out their official Ceiling Tours website.

 

 

 

 

 

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The day we rioted as the government stole 11 days of our lives!

If you think moving the clock an hour in October is a tedious, weird thing to do that only cheats you of an hour of precious useful daylight in the evening then do spare a thought for our forebears who centuries ago were trying to come to terms with the government stealing 11 days of their lives.

In 1750 the United Kingdom and our empire, including the American colonies, still adhered to the old Julian calendar, which was now eleven days ahead of the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and in use in most of Europe.

Attempts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to adopt the new calendar had flounded on the rock that is the Church of England, which denounced the idea as popish. The main figure behind changing the situation was George Parker, second Earl of Macclesfield, a keen astronomer and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was assisted in his calculations by his friend James Bradley, the astronomer royal, and he gained the influential support of Philip Dormer Stanhope, the sophisticated fourth Earl of Chesterfield who gained approval from Henry Pelham’s initially reluctant government.

In 1751 Chesterfield introduced in the House of Lords ‘an Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use’, gracefully commending it, with Macclesfield in support. According to Chesterfield, Macclesfield spoke ‘with infinite knowledge and all the clearness that so intricate a matter could admit of; but as his words, his periods, and his utterance were not near so good as mine, the preference was most unanimously, though most unjustly, given to me.

 

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When it came to the crunch, the bill passed through Parliament easily enough and King George II signed it in May and the big day was set months in advance.

Wednesday 2nd September 1752 was to be followed by Thursday 14th September and for New Year’s Day to move from March 25th to January 1st, as already was the case in Scotland.

The change was thoroughly unpopular with people who deplored it as popery, disapproved of John Bull’s ways being altered to conform with those of foreigners or who simple-mindedly thought that eleven days had been taken out of their lives. Some claim that mobs gathered to bawl ‘Give us back our eleven days’, there were riots in Bristol and quite a few country people insisted on observing Old Christmas Day on January 5th as still occurs in Orthodox countries.

The changes affected festivals, saint’s days and birthdays, including that of Dr Johnson, as well as the dates of payments of wages, rents and interest, contracts for delivery of goods, military discharges and prison releases. It was all carefully explained in the media of the day under the slogan ‘The New Style the True Style’.

Macclesfield was elected President of the Royal Society, but when his eldest son, the future third Earl, stood for Parliament in Oxfordshire in 1754, one of the cries against him was still ‘Give us back the eleven days we have been robbed of.’

Interestingly, aside from the actual date change, perhaps the most important reminder of this is the date of our Financial year.  Back in 1753 the City of London flatly refused to pay taxes early, so the financial year was altered to start on April 6th, as it still somewhat annoyingly does today.

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A holiday from hell for two Russian murderers!

I’ve been on my fair share of nightmare holidays.  Sank on the Nile, cars blown up, marooned in a live mine-field… that sort of thing but even I haven’t had quite as rough a time as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, Russia’s answer to Michael Palin or Levison Wood.

I've been to holiday hell so you don't have to!

Just two every day men, absolutely not spies, assassins or muderers from Russia who last week were revealed to have the most convincing alibi in the history of travelogues.     For these two intrepid traveller went all the way from Russia to London and then Salisbury (twice in a weekend) for a spot of sightseeing but it all was to go so terrbily wrong.  Become wanted men across the globe is alost the least of their problems.

No wonder the pair turned to that most neutral and authorative news channel to demonstrate their innocence, Russia Today.  Of course this is all incredible stuff as a few weeks ago when the camera footage was leaked the Kremlin and its media proclaimed the footage to be fake and the men to not even exist!

So what exactly happened? Two ordinary chaps with a keen interest in sports nutrition who had taken advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free Aeroflot offer of a two-city break in London and Salisbury. After spending their first night in a boutique, anonymous hotel conveniently situated miles from any mainline station, they had managed to find the only Saturday train to Salisbury that hadn’t been cancelled… rather than enjoy the countless sights and numerous cathedrals of London.

As we all know, the British weather is hugely changable and these poor sods found out that they just hadn’t been prepared for the intense cold of a Wiltshire spring after the blazing heat of a Moscow winter. “We couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere,” they said sadly. “The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back to London.”

As you can see from the footage below, it was almost impossible to walk through Salisbury that day with all the snow and slush around.

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It was only after they had got back to London that they realised they had missed the famous cloisters and one of the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta. So they had got back on the train the following day and headed back to Salisbury to complete the tour. And what a glorious day it had been, taking in the cathedral’s spire and a chicken and bacon sandwich from Pret.

The second day hadn’t been altogether a success. First they had got a bit lost – they had knocked on a door that just happened to be Sergei Skripal’s – and then they’d had to cancel their Stonehenge visit even though hundreds of people managed to get to Stonehenge perfectly easily.

The part of the interview that I liked best was the fact that what really hurt Petrov and Boshirov the most was that they had been accused of carrying Nina Ricci perfume. “Isn’t it silly for decent lads to have women’s perfume?” Boshirov asked almost on the edge of tears. “The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women’s perfume in their luggage. We didn’t have it.”

So it’s ok for them to be wanted as murderers but to accuse them of carrying perfume and possibly touching on some latent homosexuality was just too much for them to bear.

Well thanks for the probing questions of the finest figures of Russian television journalism, that clears up the whole thing should you be a bear chested botox injected Russian dictator.  To everyone else though, something just doesn’t seem to add up… like anything!

I go to Salisbury a lot and you can see the spire of the Cathedral from miles away, well off into the countryside.  It’s hard to imagine not being able to find this huge building, even more so if you have memorised the Wikipedia facts on Salisbury as these two travellers had.

Maybe it is just me but I’ve also never been to Salisbury and accidentally sprayed poison on someones door either.  Maybe I need to add that on to my Salisbury and Salisbury Cathedral tour.

It seems it isn’t just myself who has doubts about how things turned out.  As usual, the finest minds of Twitter had their say too.

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If only the Cybermen in Dr. Who had thought of visiting Salisbury, they might well have had their innocence believed… on Russia Today at least.

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Soon, every invading alien race were getting in on the act, here are the Daleks, clearly lost and not invading London.

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If only the spies had spoken to some of the locals who helpfully posted advice on how to reach Salisburry Cathedral and its legendary 123 metre spire.

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It makes you wonder how they could make a hash at it, at least to Alec who doesn’t seem to entirely swallow their alibi.

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One thing is for certain, they are no James Bond.

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The cartoon below is only vaguely exaggerated.  I remember in preparation for my James Bond Tour, I went round and took some photos of various locations and started with the Mi6 headquarters.  For the rest of the day, I kept bumping into a stereotypical old Russian Babuska woman at various spots around London.

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One of the worst things about spies and espionage is that it sows seeds of doubt in the minds of everyone.  If it wasn’t Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov who were the real spies then it has to be someone.  Maybe people who have lived here for more than a weekend and realise we have more security cameras on the streets than Russia and China put together.  Could it even be everyones most favourite Russian, Aleksandr the Meercat and his long suffering head of IT Sergei have not only ditched their Meerkat Dating Agency but could they have given up on encouraging us to buy cheaper car insurance to get muddy their paws in spying?  Hmmmm.

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Thankfully not if the UK Defence Journal has any gravitas at all.  It must be The Borg, they don’t even realise that Salisbury is a city and not a town.  That’s exactly the sort of blunder that all half-decent spies get caught with in the movies… though such spies are a few levels above Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov!

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All of this mad me think of all the historical injustices that have occurred through the years that could so easily be explained away.   We would never have to Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November if only Russia Today had been around to interview Guy Fawkes.

 

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We have to bring this post to an end somehow and what could be better than with our glorious leader putting his two spies in their place.

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If you are into poking fun at brutal Moscow governments then you might like my post on the film The Death of Stalin.

 

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The Painted Hall of Greenwich – Englands Sistine Chapel

Said by many to be the English equivalent of the Sistine Chapel, The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich is one of the most spectacular and important baroque interiors in Europe.

You might get some idea what awaits when you first arrive at the Cutty Sark station or as I prefer to do, arrive by boat on a Thames Clipper to see the buildings as they were surely meant to be be seen, from the River Thames.

 

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Used in many a film and television programme both on the outside and internally too.

 

Its ceiling and wall decorations were conceived and executed by the British artist Sir James Thornhill between 1707 and 1726 at the pivotal moment when the modern state of the United Kingdom was created and almost immediately became a dominant power.  He may not have made much money from the endeavour, at least not as much as one might assume but it is fair to say that his dedication to the work he painstakingly undertook held him in good stead for the his future career as well as giving us a treasure to behold for all time.

The accessions to the throne of William III and Mary II in 1688 and George I in 1714 form the central narrative of a scheme which also triumphalises Britain’s maritime and trading successes. The artist drew on a cast of around 200 figures to tell a story of political change, scientific and cultural achievements, naval endeavours, and commercial enterprise against a series of magnificent backdrops. The characters he included are allegorical, mythological, historical and contemporary.

 

Inside The Painted Hall

Inside the Painted Hall

 

The grandeur of the composition, which covers 40,000 square feet, reflects the importance of the space the paintings adorn: the hall of a new Royal Hospital for men invalided out of the Navy. The Hospital was established at Queen Mary’s instigation in 1694 and designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Wren took inspiration for this new complex of buildings from other early modern European projects to house military veterans such as Louis XIV’s Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, as well as his own Royal Hospital at Chelsea. The Painted Hall itself was originally intended as a grand dining room for the Naval pensioners, to illustrate the pride and supremeacy of the Royal Navy but the powers that be soon decided that it was really to majestic for the sailors and it soon became a ceremonial space open to paying visitors and reserved for special functions.

The Painted Hall is extravagant, playful, thoughtful, naïve and politically-shrewd.  Thornhill’s work which gained him a most well-deserved knighthood and incidentally a payment of £6,685) presents a vivid and compelling picture of Britain’s place in the world according to those who governed it at the start of the eighteenth century, namely front and centre and on top whilst surrounded by lesser and more tyrannical nations. The Painted Hall has overawed and delighted visitors ever since.

 

King William III and Queen Mary

King William III and Queen Mary

 

The Lower Hall ceiling of which a tiny section is shown above, measures 15 by 30 metres and was created between 1708 and 1714, celebrates the ‘Triumph of Peace and Liberty over Tyranny’. At the centre of the composition are the figures of King William and Queen Mary surrounded by various mythological and allegorical figures. The king is shown with his foot on a figure representing ‘arbitrary power and tyranny’.  I’m sure it is only co-incidental that it appears to be a thinly veiled depiction of Louis XIV of France… of course it is not co-incedental!

One of the last areas to be completed was the west wall  in 1725 and it  celebrates the arrival of the Hanoverians (‘a new race of men from Heaven’ as its motto declares) with George I at the centre of a large family group portrait. Other figures and objects reinforce messages of peace, stability and prosperity underpinned by naval might.

 

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The magnificent court of King George I

 

Thornhill used a variety of techniques such as chiaroscuro (contrast of light and dark), fictional light sources and foreshortening to enliven his paintings. His use of illusionistic architecture and steep perspective was inspired by Roman high baroque painting.

Due to the epic 19 years of hard work it took to complete the commission from 1707 to 1726, Thornhill had to be mindful of the ever changing machinations in the political world of London and on more than one occassion had to to rethink the design of his paintings several times with various figures either being given a more or less prominent position.

When he had completed his work, Thornhill wrote An Explanation of the paintings which was published by the Hospital directors and sold to visitors.

In January 1806 the Painted Hall saw the laying-in-state of Admiral Lord Nelson on his long journey to St Paul’s Cathedral following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.  Large crowds queued up to view the body of Nelson over three days. The exact spot where the coffin lay is marked by a plaque on the floor.

 

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For a hundred years from 1824 the Hall was given over to the first National Gallery of Naval Art.  Rather incredibly Thornhill’s painted interior assumed secondary importance to more than 300 easel paintings by artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The last naval pensioners left the site in 1869 when it became home to the Royal Naval College, an officers’ training academy. From 1937 to 1997 the Painted Hall functioned as a dining space for trainee officers of the Royal Navy and now the broader site is the home of the University of Greenwich.

If you’d like to see some other posts on Greenwich then why not check out my post on the Vikings and St Alfege, or the History of Time Zones and why we keep changing the clocks in winter.  Of course there are some serious funky and modern parts of Greenwich including this great Cable Car Ride over the River Thames.     There is so much to see in Greenwich and of course you can explore it with me through Ye Olde England Tours 🙂

 

 

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The Tale of the Cursed Amethyst at the Natural History Museum in London

Whilst preparing for a tour tomorrow to the Natural History Museum in London, I thought I should do a reconnaisance sortie as well as a bit of research.  The museum is a work of art and shows what value Victorians placed on education.

 

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The gigantic and palatial Natural History Museum

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Like a doorway from the SIlk Road.

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Hope – the 25.3 metre (77 feet?) Blue Whale.  So named as there used to be only 400 Blue Whales due to hunting but the ban in the 1960s and conservation work has raied this number to 20,000.  An indication of the hard work and importance of the Natural Museum for research and public education.

 

Amethysts were used as charms by the ancient Greeks to prevent drunkenness. Medieval European soldiers used amethyst amulets as protection in battle as they believed the gem heals people and keeps them cool-headed. But this one has a different story. It is believed it was looted from the Temple of Indra in Cawnpore during the bloody Indian Mutiny of 1857. The Temple honored Indra, the Hindu king of gods, ruler of the heavens, god of thunder, rain and a great warrior god.

 

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An old photo taken by a British Army photographer in 1860’s India.

 

The jewel was brought into England by Colonel W. Ferris, a Bengal Cavalryman. The Colonel soon lost all his money and fell ill and so did his son when he inherited it. The next owner was a family friend who committed suicide. In 1890 it was bought by writer, scientist and Persian scholar Edward Heron-Allen.

 

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Edward Heron-Allen.

 

Immediately after receiving it, Edward Heron-Allen claimed to have started having bad luck. So when friends asked for it, he happily gave it away.

The first friend “was thereupon overwhelmed by every possible disaster” and the other, a singer, lost her voice: “her voice was dead and gone and she has never sung since.” Heron-Allen then threw the amethyst into Regent’s Canal. But three months later it found its way back, returned by a dealer who had bought it from a dredger.

The Delhi Purple Sapphire is “accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it” he wrote. In 1904 after the birth of his first daughter he declared: “I feel that it is exerting a baleful influence over my newborn daughter”. So he shipped it, locked in a box, to his bankers with set instructions for it to be locked away until after his death.

And so it was for many decades until the mid-20th century when his daughted decided to donate it to the Natural History Museum, along with a letter of warning below which was written back in 1904.

To – Whomsoever shall be the future possessor of this Amethyst. These lines are addressed in mourning before he, or she, shall assume the responsibility of owning it.

This stone is trebly accursed and is stained with blood, and the dishonour of everyone who has ever owned it.  It was looted from the treasure of the Temple of the God Indra at Cawnpore during the Indian mutiny in 1855 and brought to this country by Colonel W. Ferris of the Bengal Cavalry. From the day he possessed it he was unfortunate, and lost both health and money. His son who had it after his death, suffered the most persistent ill-fortune till I accepted the stone from him in 1890. He had given it once to a friend, but the friend shortly afterwards committed suicide and left it back to him by will.

From the moment I had it, misfortunes attacked me until I had it bound round with a double headed snake that had been a finger ring of Heydon the Astrologer, looped up with Zodiacal plaques and neutralized between Heydon’s magic Tau and two amethyst scaraboei of Queen Hatasu’s period, brought from Der el-Bahari (Thebes). It remained thus quietly until 1902, though not only I, but my wife, Professor Ross, W.H.Rider, and Mrs Hadden, frequently saw in my library the Hindu Yoga, who haunts the stone trying to get it back. He sits on his heels in a corner of the room, digging in the floor with his hands, as of searching for it.

In 1902, under protest I gave it to a friend, who was thereupon overwhelmed with every possible disaster. On my return from Egypt in 1903 I found she had returned it to me, and after another great misfortune had fallen on me I threw it into the Regent’s Canal. Three months afterwards it was bought back to me by a Wardour St. dealer who had bought if from a dredger. Then I gave it to a friend who was a singer, at her earnest wish. The next time she tried to sing, her voice was dead and she has never sung since.

I feel that it is exerting a baleful influence over my new born daughter so I am now packing it in seven boxes and depositing it at my bankers, with directions that it is not to see the light again until I have been dead thirty three years. Whoever shall open it, shall first read this warning, and then do so as he pleases with the Jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea. I am forbidden by the Rosicrucian Oath to do this, or I would have done it long ago.

(Signed) Edward Heron-Allen

October 1904

 

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Photo of the Cursed Amethyst courtesy of the Natural History Museum

 

The jewel is now housed safe and sound in The Vault gallery which can be found at one end of the most fabulous wing or rocks and minerals as one can ever hope to see.

It must be said that the curators of the jewel aren’t entirely convinced by the tale of woe of this stone though that isn’t to say that there aren’t terrible similarities between the history listed above and what can be historically proven.  Also it seems the curse is still alive and well so to speak as in 2004 the gem was in the possession of John Whittaker, a member of the Natural History Museum who was tasked with transporting the purple sapphire to the Heron-Allen Society for an event. During the journey, Mr Whittaker and his wife were engulfed in a dramatic thunderstorm, which trapped them in their car. Mr Whittaker claimed it to be the most horrific experience of his life.

Whittaker was tasked with transporting the Sapphire a second time, after which he fell violently sick with a stomach bug, and then a third time, when just before he was due to take the gem he fell in pain, finally passing a kidney stone.

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How do you like your tea?

We are often labelled a nation of animal lovers, gardeners, shopkeepers, queue-ers, weather-watchers, good manners and apologising etc etc but surely there are few things that we are better known for than for our love of a good cup of tea.

I don’t drink coffee, I don’t even like the smell.  All those stupid and ever increasing terms for drinks that look like mud and smell like something from the back end of an animal is not for me.  Just a simple cup of tea will suffice and none of that namby-pampy infused fruity rubbish just good honest tea.

How to make the perfect cuppa is a subject of great debate and one that that will probably never be solved but at least now research has revealed how the majority of Brits like to take our tea.

A new YouGov Omnibus survey of nearly 1,600 people has revealed almost half prefer a brew that’s exactly midway between a strong black tea and an ultra-weak cuppa with a liberal pouring of milk.

Researchers produced an eight-point strength scale featuring different colours and 47 per cent plumped for a tan shade right in the middle. A further 14 per cent prefer their tea one shade more milky, and 19  per cent one degree less.

A new YouGov Omnibus survey has revealed that almost half prefer a brew that's exactly midway between a strong black tea and an ultra-weak cuppa with a liberal pouring of milk

The study also aimed to solve the argument over whether milk should go in first or not, with an overwhelming 79 per cent saying it should be added last.  Personally I can’t understand why you woud add milk first as then you have little control over the strength of what your tea might be.  it would be like pressing the brakes on your car before you even put your foot on the accellerator!

Despite the class connotations traditionally associated with adding the milk first or last, the research found that there’s no difference in habits.   Middle class and working class people are equally likely to add milk first or last, according to preference. The real difference is in age group with only four per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds adding the milk first, rising to 32 per cent among the over 65s.

Researchers also dicovered the nation’s favourite brand of tea bag is Yorkshire Tea, which has the backing of a quarter of drinkers.

PG Tips came a close second with a 22 per cent share of the fanbase, while Tetley lingered behind at just 16 per cent.

Britons drink 165million cups of tea every day, or more than 60billion a year.

Previous research on the nation’s tea habits by Arla B.O.B milk found Northern Irish tea drinkers like their brew the strongest and darkest.

Those in Scotland and the North East of England are most likely to appreciate a milkier mug with a more subtle flavour.

Tea fans in the South East of England are most likely to leave their tea bag in for longer, letting it brew for an average of 64 seconds, which is seven seconds longer than the national average or 57 seconds.

East Anglians are in the greatest hurry, letting the bag stew for just 48 seconds.

Personally having come from the North East of England, I like a milky tea and my ideal cuppa is just a little darker than an ‘F’.  However I don’t leave my bag in for anything like 64 seconds or even 48 seconds.  5 or 6 seconds is enough for me, basically as long as it takes me to pour boiling water on the bag to fill the mug.

Also I re-use my bag several times.  I remember that in Georgian times, tea was such a luxury that even rich households would re-use their tea 15-20 times and then sell the dregs to the poor on the streets who would continue to go on using them.    I’m not quite that into recycling that much but freshly made 5th cuppa below is the fifth from the same teabag.

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Given how I get the most from my tea, it’s fair to say that my box of 750 tea Yorkshire tea bags have another year or two left before I have to hit the shops!

 

 

 

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The Death Warrant of King Charles I

Having spent more time in Parliament recently than the Prime Minister, it has been great to spend some time studying one of the treasures of the Parliamentry archive, the Death Warrant of King Charles I.

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It is a little hard to make out the details on the colour image so below is a higher resolution in black and white where you can see the third name down on the left column is that of Oliver Cromwell himself.

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Thomas Harrison who I wrote about a few weeks ago, placed his signature on the third column from he left, second from bottom.

Can you imagine what a momentous thing these men were doing?  For time immemorial the monarch had reigned by the divine right of God.  Stalin or Hitler being executed by their own side wouldn’t have come close.

Not only were these signatures condeming their King to death but they were in the tradition of the time, defying the will of God…. though in practice it is hard to think God would place King Charles any higher than his oppressed people.

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