The Honorable Diana Frances Spencer was born on 1 July 1961, the youngest daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp – later Earl Spencer, and Frances Roche. She was born at Park House, near Sandringham, Norfolk and was styled Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the Spencer Earldom in 1975. It is well documented that she came from a broken home. Her parents divorced, and … Continue reading 1 July 1961: the Birth of Diana, Princess of Wales
Yesterday on the top deck of a London bus my husband and I passed some time spotting blue plaques! If you are not familiar with them they are plaques that are placed on historic buildings usually indicating that a person of note lived or worked there. The blue plaque project is now run by English Heritage. It was started in 1866 and is thought to … Continue reading Millicent Garrett Fawcett Lived Here
One hundred years ago Britain passed the Representation of the People Act which gave certain women over the age of thirty the right to vote. Women, and some men, had fought for years for suffrage equality but it took until towards the end of World War One before this was achieved. This week a statue was unveiled of the suffragist campaigner Millicent Garrett Fawcett in Parliament … Continue reading London’s Millicent Fawcett Statue: the First Female Representation in Parliament Square
Hampton Court Palace: Celebrating 100 years since women won partial suffrage in Britain 6 February 2018 marked 100 years since the Representation of the People Act. This afforded nearly all men, and women over thirty who met property requirements, the right to vote in Britain. The Act was a huge paradigm shift for British democracy and can be seen as a victory for both the … Continue reading Hampton Court Palace: Vote 100 – The Palace Under Attack
One hundred years after the Representation of the People Act, which gave some qualifying females the right to vote in the UK, the exploits of the women at the vanguard of the suffrage movement still capture the the country’s imagination. Thankfully, we have a robust photographic and news archive that can take us back to pre First World War Britain when the uprising of militant … Continue reading Suffragettes – Pictures Say a Thousand Words
Today I write this from Kensington Palace. It sounds grander than it actually is; I’m in the bustling cafe and trying to ignore the general cacophony of families and friends enjoying a day out. I am hugely excited to be using this space to share my enjoyment of the historic surroundings and an exhibition showcasing one of the palace’s erstwhile residents. I specifically visited … Continue reading Diana: Her Fashion Story – the Kensington Palace Exhibition
Dora Jordan was one of the most celebrated actresses of the late eighteenth century. She delighted theatre goers with her repertoire of comedic performances, was a spellbinding tragedian and was renowned for her classic Shakespearean drama, with roles such as Rosalind in As You Like It and Viola in Twelfth Night. She was also one of the women who pushed eighteenth century boundaries for daring … Continue reading Actress, Mistress of a Royal Duke: Dora Jordan, Leading Lady of the Late Eighteenth Century
‘Alas, that England’s hope – her greatest pride, Should thou in youthful loveliness have died!’ The Morning Post, 7 November 1817 Monday 6 November 2017 is the 200th anniversary of the death of Princess Charlotte, the granddaughter of King George III. She died at Claremont in Surrey after a protracted fifty-hour labour during which she delivered a stillborn son. Charlotte Augusta of Wales was born … Continue reading Remember, Remember the Sixth of November: Commemorating Princess Charlotte 200 Years After her Death
On 11 November 1938, a 69 year old Irishwoman died on North Brother Island, New York. She had been held in isolation for 23 years, yet she had not been charged or convicted with any criminal offence. Mary Mallon was born in Cookstown, Ireland in 1869. She immigrated to America when she was a teenager and found employment in domestic service. She developed an aptitude … Continue reading Typhoid Mary: the Tragedy of Mary Mallon
Last week I visited the grave of militant suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. I’ve wanted to visit it for a while and had driven close to it once or twice, but I didn’t want to inconvenience my fellow traveller with a diversion that amounted to a two-hour addition to our already considerable driving time from Surrey, England, to Scotland. Having found myself with a spare morning … Continue reading A Suffragette, Hate Mail and a Grave
Thirty-two years after being built, Walton Prison in Liverpool witnessed its first execution. On 14 March 1887, Elizabeth Berry suffered the ignominy of being the first prisoner and one of only two women to be executed there. The execution chamber was hastily built. It appears that a reprieve for the prisoner was expected and when this was not granted, the Coach House, an outbuilding where … Continue reading Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online is a fantastic resource for historians and it is one I return to time and again. I’ve used it as a basis for the study of poisoning crimes in nineteenth-century London and for various assignments that needed the bolstering of a primary source or two. It’s a fascinating insight into centuries of crime in London; the crimes that … Continue reading Witchcraft, Petty Treason and Poisoner? Women on Trial at the Old Bailey, London
Emily Wilding Davison’s infamy was guaranteed when she stepped in front of the King’s horse, Anmer, at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Emily, in a long campaign of civil disobedience as a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), was a vociferous agitator for equal voting rights with men. In late 1911, she attempted to set fire to the contents of the pillar box … Continue reading Suffragettes and the Post: Pillar Box Attacks in Edwardian Britain
The case of Eliza (or Elizabeth) Fenning caused much debate in 1815. Eliza was a domestic servant, aged twenty, who was accused of poisoning her employer, Robert Turner, and two other members of his family, with arsenic laced dumplings. She vehemently denied this and claimed that she had eaten the meal and was subsequently sick. She was arrested and sent for trial at … Continue reading Eliza Fenning – a Nineteenth Century Poisoner?