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Tuesday, 30 November 2010


I was very interested to see Ian Hislop's new TV series The Age of the Do-Gooders on BBC2 last night, especially as he covered Robert Owen and his mills at New Lanark which I will be discussing in my forthcoming book on child workers, 'The Children History Forgot' for Robert Hale. Next week's episode is on child labour, so I will be fascinated to see which aspects of the story of the fight to get Britain's working class children into school Hislop covers. Lord Shaftesbury will no doubt loom large, but will Hislop mention the factory inspectors such as Leonard Horner who fought so hard to encourage better education for factory and workshop children?  

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Royal Engagement

A couple of days ago, the nation was treated to the exciting news of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton. Things were done very differently when Prince George, son of George III, got engaged to Princess Caroline of Brunswick. The Prince was pressured into the marriage. His father wanted him to provide an heir to the throne, and the young prince was deep in debt. Prince George did not meet his royal bride until three days before the wedding; he had only seen a flattering portrait of her.
Princess Caroline of Brunswick arrived at Gravesend to begin her new life in England on Saturday 4 April 1795 and disembarked on one of the royal yachts the next day.
The lady the prince sent to accompany his new bride was his mistress, Lady Jersey. She brought some new clothes for Princess Caroline: 'a white satin gown, and very elegant turban cap of satin, trimmed with crape, and ornamented with white feathers' (New Annual Register, 1795). The clothes did not flatter the princess's somewhat florid complexion. When the prince, resplendent in his hussar uniform, went to St James's Palace to meet his future wife, he 'appeared extremely agitated'. Things did not bode well for the royal nuptials...
Image: Fashionable full dress with turban adorned with white feathers, Lady's Monthly Museum, November 1798.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Great Expectations

Some interesting news that the Dickens Museum in London has been given lottery funding to help preserve the author's home in Doughty St. I would love to go and have a good rummage in Dicken's library!
Image: Charles Dickens, Beeton's Dictionary of Universal Biography, 1870.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Epic Journey

I visited The National Archives at Kew on Thursday to do some research for my book on canal ancestors. I had a very interesting visit; the staff were extremely helpful. The Archives are kept in an amazing building. The British transport system rather let me down, however. The train I was booked on for my journey down was cancelled, and some of those coming back were late or cancelled, too. I was on a total of nine trains that day travelling from Cheshire to Kew Gardens and back again, and was exhausted by the time I got home.

Thank you to my family and all the Londoners and fellow travellers who helped a baffled Northerner trying to cope with the complexities of London transport!

Photo: The National Archives, Kew, Richmond © Sue Wilkes