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Articles Categorized History

Holly, Ivy & Christmas

Holly, with its dramatic red berries, and ivy are two more evergreen symbols of Christmas that predate the Christian celebration. Romans decorated their homes with holly and ivy during Saturnalia, a year end festival honoring Saturn. Celts used the plants during the winter solstice. Both plants stand out during bleak winter days, with or without

Whitby: The West Cliff & Beyond

There’s one last sight to see before crossing the Swing Bridge to the West Side of Whitby. If you take a left before crossing the bridge, you’ll be on Grape Lane, a narrow thoroughfare of some interest. Some say Grape Lane was known of Grope Lane, a place where prostitutes plied their trade among the

Whitby: Crossing the River Esk

Just below the Abbey and the last stop before leaving the Eastern Headland, there’s a squat church founded by monks from Whitby Abbey in about 1100. Most of the present interior dates from the 18th century, including heat derived from a cast-iron coal burning stove, and candle light from wall sconces and a bronze chandelier.

Whitby: The East Cliff Headland

Writing is an exercise in imagination. And one of my favorite places to let my creativity run wild is Whitby, on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk. This is a photo from the west entrance to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, a Benedictine monastery from the 12th century. With

The Globe Theater, Then & Now

Over the years, countless English literature students have read plays by William Shakespeare and been told these plays were first performed at The Globe Theater. The Globe was one of the first theaters in London. Initially, plays were performed on street corners and in the yards of inns which I’m sure served refreshments. In 1576

The ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Directly across from the Albert Memorial, on the other side of Kensington High Street, stands a solid brick building built in keeping with Prince Albert’s dream for a central hall and a district to promote the arts and sciences.  The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first step in making Albert’s vision a reality. When

The Albert Memorial

At the edge of Kensington Gardens on the boundary to Hyde Park stands the Albert Memorial, an incongruous and massive example of the Gothic Revival Style popular during the Victorian Age. The structure, built primarily by public subscription, honored Victoria’s consort, a man without a clear portfolio now credited with bringing the monarchy into the

Kensington Palace: A Home for Princesses & Royal Duchesses

When Victoria became queen in 1837, she immediately moved to Buckingham Palace and demoted Kensington Palace to a residence for members of her extended family and various retainers. THE DUCHESS OF TECK Mary Adelaide was George III’s granddaughter. Prohibited by royal protocol from marrying anyone who wasn’t also a royal, she was a spinster of

Kensington Palace: The First Occupants

For more years than I’m going to mention, I’ve stayed in the Kensington area of London when I travel for my urban fix and British Library research. If you’re familiar with London’s layout, you’ll quickly point out that the library is on the other side of the city. Thankfully, it’s a quick trip on The

Pay Phones, Phone Booths & Superman

Phone booths are so 20th century, but when coin-operated telephones appeared in 1889, they represented a technological breakthrough as amazing as a modern smart phone. At the time, telephones weren’t uncommon, but there were no public venues. It was possible to find an agent operating a telephone pay station. For a fee, the customer could