Tuesday 10 November 2009

Poppy Man!

As part of Great Wyrley History department's Remembrance Day activities, two of my year 9 groups took part in making a 'Poppy Man'. 9Asia and 9Pare were asked to write on a poppy why it was important to remember people who have fought for Britain and think of those people who are still fighting for Britain. I was really impressed with the responses from both groups-so I would like to say a big well done to those students! Pictured with the Poppy Man above are two of the students who contributed: Georgia and Kalyca!

Here is the top part of the poppy man-I couldn't fit him all on as he is quite tall! He is covered from top to toe with poppies carrying remembrance messages. At the minute he is in the foyer of the school for Remembrance Day tomorrow!
Also I visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire on Remembrance Sunday to pay my respects. Below are just a few of the poppy wreaths that were left in remembrance of our brave heroes.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Remembrance Sunday

Today is Remembrance Sunday and I would like to remember some lost loved ones who played their part in war.
My Grandad O'Connor and Grandad Sid who were both in the Navy during the Second World War.
My Grandad Dent who worked long and hard hours in protected services down the pits.
My husband's Grandad Magee who was in the RAF during WW2 and his Grandad McLaughlin who was in protected services in the pits.
My Great Uncle Billy who was a Sergeant Major during the Second World War and who also served as an underage lad during World War One.
All of my relatives who served survived the horrors of war and,I am sure,if they were here today would be remembering their lost comrades.
My thoughts and thanks go out to all service men and women who have fought and who are still fighting on behalf of Britain.
If you would like to leave a message of remembrance please do...

Monday 12 October 2009

The Man who REALLY Shouldn't have been Shot!

I've recently been teaching the causes of the First World War to my year 9 classes at Great Wyrley. Every time I teach the assassination of Franz Ferdinand it always amazes me as the assassination, although intended, was a comedy of errors and really should not have been able to come about!
It's the 28th June and the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand is on a tour of Sarajevo, Bosnia, representing the Austro-Hungarian empire as heir. With him is his pregnant wife, Sophie, who, because of her low birth status, would not normally accompany the arch duke on an official outing but is this time as a special anniversary treat. Franz insists on riding in an open top limousine and refuses to have any army present to protect him, even though he knows his reception may be hostile. Instead, only 120 policemen line the arch duke's entire route-certainly not enough to give any kind of protection.
A small group of terrorists from Serbia, called the Black Hand, are in Sarajevo too-armed with pistols and hand grenades with orders to assassinate the arch duke (Serbia has a severe dislike of the Austro-Hungarian empire and thinks Austria-Hungary wants Serbia as part of their empire). The terrorists take their places along the route the arch duke intends to travel-known as the route had been published in the newspapers. One of the terrorists even asks which car the arch duke will be in and a policeman tells him that Franz will be in the third car in the procession.
Now, the errors are not just on the part of the Austro-Hungarians but also on the terrorists themselves. Firstly, when the arch duke's car passes the first of the terrorists he freezes and does not act. Secondly, as the arch duke's procession passes the next would be assassin, he throws his grenade towards the arch duke's car but it misses. To top it off, the assassin had forgotten that the grenade had a 10 second delay and so by the time the grenade goes off, Franz is well away in his car. This failed would be assassin sticks to the plan and downs his cyanide, intending to end his life. His cyanide, however, is very old and the most effect it has is to make the terrorist sick. Realising the cyanide isn't working the terrorist throws himself into the nearby river with the hope of drowning. This did not work either as the river was only 4 inches deep. The would be assassin is then apprehended.
The two would be assassins next in line to try to kill the arch duke heard the grenade go off. Expecting the arch duke to be dead, when they see the procession coming passed them they are surprised to see that Franz is still alive and are too shocked to act.

Meanwhile, Gavrilo Princip has momentarily left his spot on the route to get a sandwich. This, as well as the arch duke's driver taking a wrong turn off the intended route, means that Princip and the arch duke meet in a back street-a place neither were ever meant to be. After taking the wrong turn, the arch duke's driver is ordered to reverse and go back. As the driver attempts this his gear jams, giving Princip ample time to not only consider how lucky he is but to also fire two shots directly at the arch duke. One bullet hits Franz directly in his throat whilst the other strikes his poor wife Sophie in the stomach (and she wasn't even meant to be there!). Both bleed to death.
This event is what finally 'sparked' off the First World War. It is the story of the one bullet that killed over 9 million people.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Wild, Wild West!

On timelines.tv, an old favourite of mine, I have just discovered a new timeline dedicated to the history of the American West. There are seven eye-witness accounts of the West, including that of the pioneers, the homesteaders, and of course, the Native Americans-detailing Black Elk's (man pictured) story of life on the Plains, the struggle against white settlers, the Fort Laramie Treaty, and the Battle of Little Bighorn.
These videos are detailed and will make an excellent resource for revision for those students studying the American West as part of their History GCSE, including Great Wyrley's four GCSE groups!

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday 21 September 2009

What's in a Portrait? A Challenge...

It's the new academic year and my year 8 classes are studying portraits. I have always found portraits to be fascinating-especially if they are of people I really like (Charles II and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire in particular).
One of the portraits we've been studying is the above 1588 portrait commemorating the defeat of the Spanish Armada. My challenge to you is to study this portrait and let me know what you see and what the symbolism in the portrait means-maybe you'll be able to tell me anything about it I may have missed! Also, let me know what your fave portrait is!

Monday 20 July 2009

The Necessary Evil?

It is hard not to have some sort of opinion on Truman's decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Japan in 1945. The question is; what opinion should we have? What opinion is the PC one? Does what you think depend on whether you're an American or Japanese?
I have always felt immense sympathy for the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-but then I think about the 'what ifs?' What if Truman had decided not to use the A-Bomb and had gone for full scale invasion instead?-it would have meant the death of an estimated 1/4 million to 1 million American troops. Would that have been the more humane alternative? I'm not quite sure. After all, the Japanese did attack the US first and, three months after the end of war in Europe, Japan was still carrying on the fight in the Pacific. The war needed to be put to an end and the Japanese were given ample time to surrender. But, the Japanese had always had a militaristic attitude; after all, they were fighting for an Emperor who they believed was a God on earth-they were fighting for their rights, their beliefs, and themselves. Even school children were being trained with bamboo spears to kill any enemy they may come across in an invasion of their land.
The atomic bomb was a new and immensely powerful weapon with a destructive force equivalent to a 2,000-bomber raid. One bomb of this capability had never been tested on humans before-just in the deserts of New Mexico. A select number of people knew what the bomb could do in terms of destruction but they were not fully sure of the after effects it would have on humans.

"In the first billionth of a second of the bomb impacting the temperature reaches 60 million degrees centigrade, 10,000 times hotter than the sun's surface. Within the first 3 seconds, thousands of people are incinerated, carbonised into charred smoking bundles. Birds ignite in mid-air. Steel-framed buildings liquefy like wax...Hundreds of radioactive isotopes spill out of the fireball [that followed], penetrating flesh and bone...Perhaps 80,000 people died in those first seconds after the blast. Thousands more would die later from burns and radiation poisoning".
It is the awful after effects of the bomb, like radiation sickness, that makes me think whether dropping the bomb was the right decision or not-I guess it's hard for me to have a worthy opinion on this with me being neither American nor Japanese.

But I would like to know what you all think about this topic...

Quote taken from BBC History Magazine, Vol 6, no 8, August 2005

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Art or a little morbid?

I have recently discovered the 'art' of post-mortem photography-popular during the Victorian age.
These often disturbing photographs were popular with families who couldn't necessarily afford proper family portraits and so didn't have pictures of the deceased in order to remember them. Sometimes families would have post-mortem photographs taken to capture the deceased as they looked when they died to give to family members who lived far away-so that they could see the deceased as they looked, especially if the family members had not seen the deceased for a number of years.

These post-mortem photos have become a form of art that some people seem to want to collect. I have seen a number of these photos on auction websites-like the one to the right-that are being sold. I am not sure whether I would class such pictures as art but obviously there are people who do.
What do you think?
Some of the examples I found on the Internet are a little too disturbing, in my opinion, to put on a blog-as there are a number of post-mortem photographs of live children posing alongside their recently deceased sibling.

Thursday 18 June 2009

I'm an American President!

I was directed to really cool website where you can superimpose images onto ready-made pictures-and I found this one of Mount Rushmore and, as it is was the only vaguely historical photo on the website, I used it to superimpose myself on to! My rocky face looks great!

Monday 15 June 2009

A Challenge!

I have bloggers block! For a while now I have been at a loss for something I can blog about-I haven't seen any interesting articles (History related), nor read any books recently (too busy), and so have nothing to blog about. I would like to my readers to challenge me to blog about something of their choice-I think it would be a nice little project for me! So, please get suggesting!

Thursday 28 May 2009

And Another Historical Advert!

Another great advert inspired by History, this time celebrating 125 years of Marks and Spencer's. Rather good, but still not as good as the Hovis one from last year!

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Adverts and History!

Another fantastic advert inspired by History has been produced; this time for supermarket chain Sainsbury's. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Sorry about the quality-I'll post a better one when it is available!

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Who would you Tweet about?

Twitter has become a place where you can read the thoughts and musings of famous people who have been 6ft under for many years, including Henry VIII and Winston Churchill! The tweets (as the posts are dubbed) imagine how important historical figures may have thought about major events that happened in their life time. Read more about these famous tweeters here.

Which historical figure would you tweet as??

Sunday 12 April 2009

The Duchess of Devonshire...Part 2

To Georgiana's disappointment the Duke was not different in private to what he was in public-he remained cold and unemotional. This was the cause of much distress to Georgiana who was in a sense the exact opposite to the Duke-she was passionate, fun-loving and sociable. Georgiana could only hope that affection, and possibly love, would come later.
It was because of Georgiana's many attributes that she soon became a popular public figure and leader of the Ton-a group of high society who inspired fashion, trends and tabloid headlines. Anything Georgiana did was the 'done' thing and anything Georgiana wore became the 'it' item of the season. She was a tabloid sensation-reporters followed her wherever she went. You could say that modern celebrity journalism started with her.
It was after Georgiana became an integral part of fashionable society that she started to gamble-initially just to get out of Devonshire House, which was boring and monotonous to her. But Georgiana's gambling would become a problem, especially in later years when creditors were pressing Georgiana to pay them back. For many years Georgiana was able to keep the creditors at bay with loans from friends, including from the Prince of Wales, but there would come a day when Georgiana had to confess all to the Duke as the debts mounted.
By 1782 Georgiana had still not produced an heir; so the Duke and the Duchess decided to travel to Bath so that Georgiana could take the waters there, with the hope of improving her fertility. It was in Bath that Georgiana met Lady Elizabeth Foster, known as Bess, a separated mother of two who was estranged from her husband, and therefore did not see her sons for 14 years. Georgiana and Bess soon became extremely close and ended up being life long friends. Bess was a main stay in Georgiana's life up until Georgiana's death in 1806, even when Georgiana discovered that Bess and the Duke were having an affair. The affair would serve as an advantage to Georgiana however, as Bess was able to smooth over conflict and disagreement between the Duke and the Duchess. Bess also provided Georgiana with the love and affection she craved from her husband, and so Georgiana would not hear bad things said about Bess and ignored all her mother's calls for Georgiana to send Bess away. Although Bess did truly love and care for Georgiana she was always jealous of her friends popularity and status-Bess' commitment to the Devonshires served her well in the end when she became the second Duchess of Devonshire in 1809.

Come back for the third installment when we discover what Georgiana was like as a mother and about her involvement in politics!

Wednesday 8 April 2009


SallyMandy has opened this up to everyone and I will too, so here goes:

What is your current obsession? Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire. After recently finishing Amanda Foreman's fab book about Georgiana all I have done is talk about her non-stop! I'll be visiting Chatsworth soon!!!

Good fika place? (That would be coffee to us non-Swedes)
Every morning on my way to work I pick up a large black coffee from my local mickey d's-it is seriously the best coffee I have ever tasted!! Honest!

Do you nap a lot? No-not a napper at all.

Who was the last person you hugged? My husband-he's yummy.

What’s for dinner? Jacket spuds with beans and cheese. Delicious!

What was the last thing you bought? The tour guide to Calke Abbey-a country house in Ticknall, Derbyshire.

What are you listening to right now? I have been listening to all sorts this week as I am on holiday from school. This morning it was Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, his best in my opinion.

What’s on your bedside table? Books-I just love them.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you. SallyMandy, your blog is uber interesting! Keep up the good work!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? I would have to say the Vatican city-not because I am religious but because myself and colleague were talking about this last week and I said I quite fancied living in Vatican City. I realise a number of obstacles would have to be overcome but hey?

Favourite holiday (sorry) spot? Isle of Wight-it is a lovely little Island and home to Osborne House-Queen Victoria's most favourite residence.

Name the things you can’t live without. I can not live without my husband, my close family and friends and my comfy little abode.

What would you like to have in your hands right now? A black coffee from mickey d's.

What is your favourite tea flavour? I hate tea. A very un-English thing to say but it's rank.

What would you like to get rid of? Manchester United Football Club.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? The Maldives. An hour is plenty for a small atoll with not much to look at-just enjoy the peace and solitude for an hour would be bliss.

What did you want to become as a child? A teacher-honest! And I am!

What do you miss? (This is Belette Rouge's question) University-it was awesome.

What are you reading right now? Becoming Queen, Kate Williams.

What do you fear the most? Things changing.

What designer piece of clothing would you most like to own (new or vintage)? Not really into designer clothing but would love to own a number of designer bags-the Dior saddle bag mostly.

If you could go back in time what period and where would you go to and why? (question added by TammiMagee of Histatic!) At the minute I would go to the mid to late 18th century in order to meet Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire to see what she was like in person.

Last question, added by Sallymandy: How do you feel about the economy? (please feel free to respond, whether you do the whole meme or not). It's rubbish-too many people are losing their jobs!

That’s all for me. If you’d like to do the meme, here’s how it works.

1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own.

2. Tag eight other un-tagged people. (I decided to open this up to anyone.)

Sunday 5 April 2009

The Duchess of Devonshire...Part 1

I have just finished reading Amanda Foreman's wonderful biography 'Georgiana-Duchess of Devonshire', published in 1998. All I can say is that I've been truly captivated by this extraordinary woman and her high octane life. Georgiana was born into the Spencer family at Althorp on 7th June, 1757. Georgiana, despite being closely followed by a baby brother, was her mother's life-long favourite.
Georgiana had a typical aristocratic upbringing-her life governed by the seasons and moving from house to house depending on what time of the year it was. As with all aristocratic families the Spencer's regularly took holidays on the continent to enjoy the benefits of a warmer climate. The whole Spencer family embarked on a Grand Tour in 1772 when Georgiana was 15. Society everywhere admired Georgiana wherever she went-Georgiana was beautiful and graceful, even as a 15 year old girl.
During this tour the Spencer's moved to Spa in 1773-this is where Georgiana met the twenty-four year old Duke of Devonshire. After Georgiana had danced with the Duke several times and sat next to him at various dinners, she was quite 'in love' with the idea of being his wife. The Duke of Devonshire was rather inept in public, not very talkative or one to show his emotions but Georgiana thought that, like her father, the Duke would be different in private.
In 1774 talks about a marriage between the Duke and Georgiana were concluded-it was set-Georgiana would be the Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana's reaction to the proposal convinced her mother and father that she was truly in love with the Duke, however, Amanda Foreman believes that Georgiana reacted in such a happy way because she knew the marriage would please her parents.
Georgiana was married on her 17th birthday in 1774 to the Duke in what was being dubbed the 'wedding of the year' by society. There were high hopes for the marriage; of course, one high hope would prevail over all others-the hope that Georgiana would give the Duke an heir.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

High Street History

Another great find! Are you interested to see how your high street has changed over time? If you are, take a look at this fab little tool that takes you through a little street and explains why some aspects of towns are preserved and why others are left to decay.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Nazi Gold...

To finance their expensive war and domination campaign, the Nazis looted gold and other valuable possessions from any country they invaded, including Belgium and the Netherlands. The Nazis would even loot private citizens of countries of their valuables, such as jewellery and art.
There are many theories as to where the Nazis deposited the stolen booty; the obvious location has been deemed to be the Swiss National Bank, as they have one of the most secure and secretive banking systems in the world. The Swiss banks have very strict privacy laws on all accounts; this means that under no circumstances can the banks share any information with third parties, unless it is requested by a Swiss judge's subpoena. This then has made it incredibly difficult for any government to determine who or which country owns any of the Nazi gold that the SNB may have. If the SNB did take in gold and valuables on behalf of the Nazi regime then they most definitely have made a very tidy sum from it!

Should the Swiss banks be forced to return any Nazi gold they may have? Let me know what you think!

Why did London Stink?

I've just discovered a fantastic quiz that would be great to use as a revision tool for Medicine Through Time!

Have a go and let me know how you get on!

Medicine Revision!

If you are in Year 10 and are studying History you will know that after the Easter break you will be starting your 'Prohibition' coursework. This means that you will shortly be finishing the Medicine Through Time unit. I have found a really useful interactive tool that can be used as a revision aid. Just type in any question about Medicine Through Time that you have and Dr.Fox will try her best to answer it for you!

Monday 9 March 2009

Amusing WWII Cartoon...

I've just been looking at a great blog called Strange Maps and have spotted a very amusing cartoon that makes clever use of cartography to explain the Second World War.

Take a look and let me know what you think!

Saturday 7 March 2009

Food Inspired by History!

Last week I watched a very entertaining cookery show headed by top chef Heston Blumenthal that saw Heston create a lavish Victorian feast inspired by History! Heston took inspiration from a number of Victorian recipe books and from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to create an unusual 'Mad Hatter' style banquet.
Heston's Victorian Feast included a drink that was made up of five distinct flavours, Mock Turtle Soup, and insects-a popular alternative to meat for poorer Victorians, and jelly laced with Absinthe-a drink that Oscar Wilde claimed made him hallucinate.
Next weeks episode will be food inspired by the Medieval era-I'm looking forward to watching it!

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Friendliness Award!

I am very pleased to have received this award from someone who herself has been very friendly to me and my blog-so thank you Ms.Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine!

This award represents:

"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."

I now need to pass this award on to 8 fellow friendly bloggers-some will probably have already been given the award, so if it is bestowed again class yourself as extra-friendly! :)

I present the award to:

Miss Ellis of geogtastic!
Eliza Knight of History Undressed
Elizabeth Kerri Mahon of Scandalous Women
Pte Harry Lamin of WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier
Bearded Lady of The Raucous Royals
Lauren of Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century
Vic of Jane Austen's World
HT of Wonders and Marvels

Tuesday 3 March 2009

My Visit to Sudbury Hall

I am very lucky to live in the middle of England where there are so many fantastic places to visit quite close. One of those places, which I have had the pleasure of visiting countless times, is Sudbury Hall. Sudbury is not big in size, as far as country houses go, but it is a wonderful house. The house is owned by the National Trust and is open from early February until November.
Sudbury Hall is the creation of George Vernon (1635-1702), built from 1660 onwards when Vernon acquired the family estate. Sudbury remained the home of the Vernon family until 1967, when it was given to the Treasury as part-payment of duties after the death of the 9th Lord Vernon. After the house was transferred to the National Trust several rooms were redecorated.
This time when I visited Sudbury I was most anxious to see the Long Gallery, as it featured in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice series, which I love!
This clip from the series sees Elizabeth visiting the fictional house 'Pemberley', the home of Darcy. The interior scenes were filmed at Sudbury Hall, although the exterior is that of Lyme Park in Cheshire.

My highlight of the visit though was spotting two very interesting portraits-upon closer inspection I discovered that one was of Barbara Villiers and the other of Nell Gwyn, both of whom were one time mistresses of Charles II-my favourite British Monarch!

Tell me about an interesting place you've recently visited!

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Source and Cartoon Help...

I would like to start this post by saying how great mine and Mrs. Porritt's Year 10 group did in their mock exams-our group got a well deserved 52% A*-C, which is fantastic!

Now, I've just stumbled across a great website that has some very helpful tips and guidance on how to use sources and how to interpret cartoons. I strongly advise all GCSE History students to use this help as part of their revision, because being able to understand and use sources is a key skill that will need to be honed for the actual exam next year.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Year 9 War Art...

My Year 9 History group have just finished the First World War unit and ended it by creating their own pieces of war art.

Here are a few excellent examples:

By Frankie K 9EAr

By Hannah H 9EAr

By Sarah B 9JCo

Let me know what you think!

An amusing video about Joseph Lister

A rather amusing video about Lister and antiseptics!

Medicine Through Time-Surgery Video

A really useful video on surgery-including Simpson and Lister! Take a look and let me know what you think!

Edward Jenner-video re-cap!

A nice revision tool for you GCSE History students! Thanks to Doug Belshaw for allowing me to use this.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Year Nine Options Evening...

On Tuesday night Swanwick Hall had an options evening for all year 9 students. I was involved as part of the History department and it seemed to be a huge success! Don't forget-if you've got any questions about what we study at GCSE History just ask!

Some pics from the night:

Mr. Stowell and the History display!

Monday 9 February 2009

Histatic Competition!

This is a first for Histatic-a quote competition!

I want to know what it means and who the people are that have been referred to.

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk; Martin walked so Obama could run; Obama is running so our children can fly"

The first Swanwick Hall student to get the correct answer will win a prize! Answers are to be posted on here.

Good luck!

Sunday 8 February 2009

Find out about your surname...

I've just stumbled across a surname location generator on the National Trust website that shows the distribution of any surname you type into it. The generator shows the distribution of names in the UK in 1881 and then in 1998, so that you can see the changes, if any.
I put in my maiden name of O'Connor first and in 1881 most O'Connors lived in Liverpool (where my family moved to during the Irish potato famine), and in 1998 the generator still showed that the majority of O'Connors live in Liverpool today.

Type in your surname and see what you discover!

Thursday 5 February 2009

Historical Twitter

Ever wondered what dead famous people might say? Well, Historical Twitter has the answer! Log in for a bit of a giggle and for quips that will make you smile-you might learn something too!

Let me know what you think...

You think we've got it bad...1947 was worse!

Having been given the day off school because of the harsh snowy conditions, I thought I would try to find the last really bad case of snow in this country-alas, it was the winter of 1947 (there was a particularly harsh winter in 1963 too).
For about 2 months, from January 1947 to March 1947, snow fell somewhere everyday in the UK. In some areas the amount of snowfall measured 150cm deep, many areas saw snowdrifts of more than 5m deep blocking the roads and railways, and in a few places supplies had to be flown in by helicopter because people were cut off completely! Take a look at some snaps from 1947:

Hopefully things will not get as bad this time in what some people are calling the 'Big Freeze'.

My Dickensian back yard! Love it!

Let me know how you're spending your snowy day!

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Buy Cromwell's Death Mask-warts and all!

Do you fancy owning the death mask of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell? The above is for sale and could be yours for around £1000! The mask is about 350 years old and shows Cromwell in an exact light-just how he intended! Cromwell was not a fan of vanity in the slightest and insisted that all portraits, even after he expired, were done to show 'warts and all'.

Monday 2 February 2009

Genocide under the Nazis Timeline

I have just come across an interactive timeline on the BBC History website called 'Genocide under the Nazis'. The interactive timeline charts the anti-Jewish and racist policies the Nazi regime introduced during their 12 year period in charge of Germany. The timeline "deliberately deprives you of the benefit of hindsight or a view of the future, ensuring you experience events in the sequence they happened to those who lived through them" (taken from BBC History).

Let me know what you think...

Laissez-Faire and the Victorians Quiz

I recently introduced the term 'Laissez-Faire' to my year 10 History group, who picked up the meaning of the phrase quite well during a recent lesson on public health during the 19th Century. The BBC History website has a great quiz you can do to remind you (for revision) about laissez-faire attitudes during the 1800s.

Remember-it is only a week and a half until you sit your year 10 exams so get revising!

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Holocaust Memorial Day

Each year the atrocities that took place under the Nazi regime are remembered on the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27th, commerates the loss of life in genocides not only during the Second World War but also in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.

Find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day and show your support by lighting a candle to remember those who have been victims of genocide.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Cholera, John Snow and the Broad Street Pump!

There is no mistaking the fact that London was a very dirty place in the 19th century-filth and rubbish was everywhere! The above cartoon, aptly called 'A Court for King Cholera', published in Punch magazine in 1852 outlines just some of the horrid conditions experienced by people in the 1800s.
Conditions were so bad at this point due to rapid population growth as a result of industrialisation. Growth was so quick that towns could not cope with the need to house people and provide them with water and facilities to remove their sewage. In these conditions, nasty and devastating diseases spread very quickly.
The first case of widespread cholera hit Britain in 1831-it was a 'shock disease' that killed quickly. Sufferers would have to endure sudden and prolonged bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting-death as a result of cholera was swift, painful and unpleasant. It was because of these dreadful symptoms that cholera was the most feared disease during this time.
Of course at this time people did not understand that germs caused cholera, as Pasteur's Germ Theory was not published until 1861. People had all sorts of explanations for disease-punishment from God, Miasma or 'bad air', and the movement of the planets.

In 1832 many people studied the cholera epidemic of that year and, after careful observation of the disease, they deduced that there was a link between cholera and water supply. Obviously, this could not be explained because Pasteur had not discovered germs yet!
In 1854 Dr. John Snow made a breakthrough in proving that there was a link between cholera and water supply. Snow used meticulous research, observation, and house-to-house interviews to build up a detailed picture of a limited cholera epidemic which hit one particular area of London.

Within 10 days of the cholera outbreak around Broad Street in London, 500 people had died of the disease. Snow's research led him to discover that all of these deaths occurred within 250 yards of the water pump on Broad Street. Snow started to investigate the surrounding area of the pump and what he found led him to request that the council disable the Broad Street pump-once this was done no more deaths occurred in that same area.
Snow had found a link between the people who were getting their drinking water from the Broad Street pump and the people dying from cholera-it was mostly people using this pump that were falling victim to the terrible disease.
Cholera is spread by infected water and it was later discovered that a cesspool, one metre away from the pump, had a cracked lining allowing the contents to seep into the drinking water.
Unfortunately, John Snow, who was one of the more forward thinking surgeons of his time being one of the first to champion the use of chloroform, didn't live to see why his theory about cholera being linked to water was correct. Snow died in 1858 as the result of a stroke, three years before germs were discovered.

Friday 2 January 2009

Victoria...an unlikely Queen

Queen Victoria was never meant to be Queen of Britain. Born to the Duke of Kent on 24th May 1819 she was the fourth in line to the throne. Needless to say, Victoria's birth did not send shock waves through the country. The most that was expected of her was to make a good marriage.
However, Victoria was born during a time when the Royal Family were experiencing a succession crisis. George III's five surviving daughters and seven sons were middle aged and had had only one legitimate heir between them by 1817. The legitimate heir was Princess Charlotte-the whole country were pinning all their hopes on her producing a male heir. When Princess Charlotte and her hubby, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, were expecting a child the country breathed a sigh of relief. But after an extremely long and difficult labour, Charlotte produced a still born baby boy. If this was not enough bad luck for the Royal family, within hours of the birth Princess Charlotte contracted a fever and died. A wave of panic came over the Royal family and the country because of the lack of an heir.
The panic started what can only be described as a competition between the Dukes to see who could produce an heir first. The Duke of Kent (below) married Prince Leopold's sister, Victoire, and started the race to produce an heir.

Victoire soon became pregnant and the Duke of Kent was elated-he had won the race. The Prince Regent was not elated-he was so unhappy that he was determined to put a dampener on things.
The Prince Regent only allowed a handful of people to attend the christening of the new member of the royal family. The Duke and Duchess had planned to name their daughter Georgiana Charlotte Augusta Alexandrina Victoria. However, the Prince Regent, who was one of the baby's godfathers, refused to allow his own name (George) or his late daughter's name (Charlotte Augusta) to be bestowed upon this possible future queen. He announced that the baby would be named Alexandrina after her other godfather, Russian Tsar Alexander I. When Edward suggested Elizabeth as a second name, the Prince Regent shook his head and declared, "Give her the mother's name also then". Victoria was christened Alexandrina Victoria, although her mother preferred to call her Victoria.
At aged 8 months, Victoria's father died after taking to his bed with a chill. This left Victoria and her mother in a dire situation. They had little money and needed help. Prince Leopold persuaded the Prince Regent to allow Victoria and her mother to live in Kensington Palace. He begrudgingly obliged. The day Victoria and the Duchess moved into Kensington Palace King George III died-the Prince Regent was crowned George IV. Victoria was now third in line to the throne.

Victoria's mother and her close friend, Sir John Conroy, were convinced that Victoria would become Queen and so made sure that they conditioned Victoria for that result. Everything Victoria did was monitored-she was seldom left alone at any time-even all of her food was tasted before she ate anything.
As Victoria grew her Uncles remained childless. The Duke of Clarence came close to producing an heir but the two daughters he had both died in infancy. When Victoria was 11 King George IV died and the 64-year-old Duke of Clarence became King William IV. Victoria was now heir to the throne of Britain. Victoria's mother began to flaunt Victoria around all over the country-her daughter was sure to be Queen!
The politicians of the day thought that the name Victoria to be unsuited for a Queen and tried to get her mother to change Victoria's name to something more suitable, like Elizabeth or Charlotte. After some thought, the Duchess refused-the thought of her daughter bearing her name as Queen was far too appealing to change. Just imagine if the Duchess had agreed to the name change-we would have no great 'Victorian Age' but something else entirely! It just would not be the same would it?