The History Girls: ‘Algernon and Ernest’s Excellent Adventure’ by Lesley Downer

‘younger by six centuries’ pic from Rutherford Alcock The Capital of the Tykoon 1863

In October 1866 a young man called Algernon Mitford arrived in Japan. ‘I found myself in a world younger by six centuries than that which I had left behind,’ he recalled. Like the eponymous heroes of the 1989 film ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’, he had stepped into a time machine, but in his case, his experiences were real.
The extraordinary world that Mitford found himself in is …

When Australian women were accidentally given the vote. | In Times Gone By…

Australian suffragettes in London in 1911

In the nineteenth century, in the state of Victoria in Australia, the Electoral Act 1863 was passed. According to the act, “all persons” who ow…

Source: When Australian women were accidentally given the vote. | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

The world’s first motorsport contest took place on the 22nd of July, 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France. First, a selection event was held in which sixty-nine cars participated. The main 127 ki…

Source: On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the death of Kate Sheppard | In Times Gone By…

In 1905

In 1905 Kate Sheppard, New Zealand’s most famous suffragette, died on the 13th of July, 1934. Born to Scottish parents in England in 1847, Sheppard moved to New Zealand in 1869. She became a …

Source: On this day: the death of Kate Sheppard | In Times Gone By…

On this day: a prisoner of war | In Times Gone By…

Treatment of prisoners of war in the United States during the Civil War was often harsh, with prisons on both sides overcrowded, and with very few resources available. Food was scarce and thousands…

Source: On this day: a prisoner of war | In Times Gone By…

Gargoyle of the Day: Notre Dame de Paris | A Scholarly Skater

Today’s grotesque is a true classic. The gargoyles of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris are neither the oldest nor the most interesting of their kind, but they have certainly become the most famo…

Source: Gargoyle of the Day: Notre Dame de Paris | A Scholarly Skater

On this day: the January Uprising began | In Times Gone By…

A symbolic painting of the aftermath of the uprising.

On the 22nd of January, 1863, people of present-day Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Latvia rose up against rule by the Russian Empire.The uprising would last into the following year, and would result in Russia harshly punishing those captured.

Source: On this day: the January Uprising began | In Times Gone By…

The 1850s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade | Mimi Matthews

The 1850s ushered in a decade of bright colors, exotic fabrics, and womanly curves.  Gone were the restrictive Gothic gowns of the 1840s.  In their place were distinctively feminine frocks with flowing, pagoda-style sleeves and impossibly full skirts supported by the newly introduced wire cage crinoline.  This was a decade during which fashion was influenced by the Crimean War, the emergence of the modern sewing machine, and the increasing…

Source: The 1850s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade | Mimi Matthews

On this day: the Great Fire of Brisbane

On the 1st of December, 1864, a fire swept through Brisbane, in the Australian colony of Queensland.

Dozens of homes were lost, alongside banks, hotels and small businesses. The damage was made worse because there was…

Source: On this day: the Great Fire of Brisbane

Famous in its day: Partridge’s

Restaurant-ing through history

partridgesTradeCardI began this post intending to present some of the history of Partridge’s restaurant that is advertised on many Victorian trade cards of the 1870s and 1880s, such as the one shown above. Despite their age, many of the cards still exist; those in this post are only a few of over a dozen different designs I’ve seen.

As is often the case, sorting out the story of that restaurant became harder the more I learned. In fact, the two restaurants on 8th street, operated by Edward Partridge and his son E. Frank Partridge, turned out to be only part of the story.

partridge'sdoubleIn the Philadelphia city directory of 1858 there are five different Partridges operating restaurants, Edward not included. At that time Edward apparently was a seller of cheeses in the city’s food market on the corner of Fourth and Market. He also sold “Cakes, Pies, and Beverages, such…

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Evil Tea

texthistory

I had read of how people like the Wesleys condemned tea drinking and I thought it was to do with it being imported, or maybe the high cost for the poor, but John Wesley actually claimed it was more dangerous than heroin, which is quite an extraordinary claim, but there were sound reasons for this.

Agricultural workers were traditionally paid in part in food produced on the farm, which included plentiful supplies of cider in the south, which Cecil Torr who I have often quoted,claimed was full of natural goodness, safe as they knew how to make it, and full of calories. Whereas tea had no calories, but prevented people from absorbing food. Part of this is the tannin – used to tan leather – it does the same to your insides, denaturing the proteins and preventing the action of digestive enzymes, fine if you’re battling food poisoning or trying…

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What actually went into 19th century beer

Actonbooks

Who does not like a cool beer after a hard day’s work on a summer’s day…? ok, not everyone, but those that do enjoy more than just the taste. It is a drink that since earliest times has signified the purest and mildest form of the drug alcohol. Purest? The Germans enacted a law in April 1516 that decreed their beer was simply malt, hops, yeast and water — nothing else. It was only the EU that allowed that impure non-German beers — even suds made from, wait for it, rice (why, Budweiser, why?) — could be imported into Volksgemeinschaft of the beer fest.

At school we listened with envy as we were taught the reason kids in those olden times drank beer rather than water from an early age was not to numb the pain of medieval working conditions, but because the water was impure and the beer was…

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On this day: The world’s first adhesive postage stamp in 1840

In Times Gone By...

On the 1st of May 1840, the world’s first adhesive stamp was issued in Great Britain.

Called the “Penny Black”, it featured a profile of Queen Victoria.

The stamp came into public use on the sixth of the month. This particular stamp was in production until February 1841.

The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year and features a profile of the Queen Victoria.

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Yesterday once more

Actonbooks

You cannot get a clearer lesson from history than this.

Substitute in the following speech from the British House of Commons from 121 years ago words such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, ISIL, Taliban and the rest and for Britain, replace with ‘The West’ and you’ll see what I mean.

Nothing, but nothing, changes, everything really does stay the same.

I discovered this while researching a part played in a financial disaster in the mid 1880s by a Manchester clergyman, turned lawyer, turned MP, Sir William Thackeray Marriott.

Marriott

In most things he was a dishonest, disreputable operator. But between a company fraud and accepting a bribe to get a lordship for a crook, he did one good thing. He resigned on principle over the UK government’s Middle Eastern policy. This is part of his speech that night February 18 1884 critical of his own government. All I have done is take…

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