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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Back Home

I've just come back from a fortnight in Alsace in France. We had a smashing holiday, although the weather wasn't very reliable. Alsace is a region with an extremely interesting history, as well as wonderful walks and wildlife, and I'll post some photos here on my blog as soon as I've sorted through them.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Lunar Society

This year marks the anniversary of the Birmingham riots in which inventor and philosopher Joseph Priestley's house was burnt down by a 'Church and King' mob.
Priestley (1733–1804) was a member of the Lunar Society, which starred some of the most eminent thinkers and men of science of its day. The Society was based in Birmingham, home of industrial pioneers Boulton and Watt and the famous Soho foundry.
You can find out more about the story of the Lunar Society members and their pivotal role in the history of freedom of thought in the July issue of Jane Austen's Regency World.
Images: Dr Joseph Priestley. Burning of Dr Priestley’s House at Fair Hill on 14 July 1791. Samuel Smiles’s Lives of the Engineers: Boulton & Watt, (John Murray, 1874).

Monday, 4 July 2011

Travelling Post-haste

If you are a fan of all things Regency like me, you’ll love S4C’s recreation of the days of the Irish mailcoach in their programme ‘Y Goets Fawr’ (The Mail Coach). You can watch a a clip of the show on their website or watch the programme on CLIC here.

Once upon a time, the Irish mails went from London to Holyhead via Chester, but in 1808 the Post Office decided a new, speedier route was needed, via Shrewsbury instead of Chester. Telford’s new road, begun in 1815, meant that coaches could reach an average speed of ten and a half miles per hour. The loss of the Holyhead mail was bad news for Chester businesses, although it remained a busy centre for local coach traffic.
Images: Seeing them off. Illustration by Hugh Thomson, Coaching Days and Coaching Ways, (Macmillan, 1910.)
Through the toll-gate. Illustration by Hugh Thomson, Coaching Days and Coaching Ways, (Macmillan, 1910.)