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The history, art history and architecture of Britain and its Empire, Europe, the Mediterranean and North America, 1640-1940.
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    Ingrid Carlberg’s book RAOUL WALLENBERG: The Biography has 3 parts: the early years; Budapest heroism; and the family’s post-war attempts to get him home. I have concentrated on the first two parts, backed up by Jan Larsson’s journal article. And from my mother in law who lived in Budapest in 1944-5; she would have loved this book.

    Raoul Wallen­berg (1912-?) was born near Stockholm. The family had been lead­ing bankers and diplomats for many years. His father was a naval of­ficer and a cousin of two of Sweden’s best-known C20th financiers and indust­rialists. But dad died just before the baby’s birth.

    After compulsory mil­itary service, in 1931-5 Raoul studied archit­ecture the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Then grand­pa sent him to Cape Town to train in a Swedish building mater­ials firm. Finally grandpa arranged another job at a Dutch bank in Haifa where Wallenberg met German Jewish exiles for the first time.

    After returning to Sweden in 1936, Wallenberg went into inter­nat­ional trade. Through the Wall­en­berg network of business world links, he was introd­uced to a Hungarian Jew, Koloman Lauer, who ran a Swedish based food import-export firm. Wallenberg spoke fluent Swedish, Russian, Eng­lish and German, and could travel freely around Europe, so he was a per­fect business partner for Lauer. Wallenberg was soon a major shareholder and the international manager of the Hungarian firm, making frequent trips to Hungary.

    Wallenberg’s diplomatic passport, 1944 
    Photo credit: Stockholm Jewish Museum 

    Beginning in 1941 Hungary had joined forces with Germany, against the Soviet Union. When the Germans lost the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, Hungary wanted to follow Italy’s example and ask for a sep­­­­arate peace. At that point, Hitler summoned the Hungarian Head of State, Miklós Horthy, and demanded solidarity with Germ­any.

    By early 1944 Hitler’s plan to annihilate the entire Jewish popul­ation in German-occupied countries was finalised. Only Hun­gary still had its 700,000 Jewish residents alive! Then the Fascists started putting Jews from the Hungarian rural areas into deportation trains to Polish death camps.

    USA's government-backed War Refugee Board/WRB wanted to send an emissary, under Swedish diplomatic cover, to save Hungary’s Jews. The choice of Raoul Wallenberg as the WRB’s emis­s­ary proved inspir­ed. In June 1944 he wrote to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, ask­ing for dec­ision-making independence from Budap­est’s Swedish ambas­sador. Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson and King Gustav V agreed!

    Even before Wallenberg arrived, the head of Swedish Red Cross Valdemar Langlet was assisting the Swedish Legation. Langlet rented buildings for the Red Cross and named the buildings Swedish Library or Swedish Research Institute. They were then used as hiding places for Jews.

    Horthy hadn't started deportations of Bud­ap­est Jews, but the city's residents knew that their deaths would follow. Many of them sought help from the embassies of neutral states who did issue temporary passports to Jews who already had spec­ial ties with these countries. But it was too few, and too late. Wall­enberg personally intervened to secure the release of bearers of protect­ion documents from the columns of marching people.

    Horthy received a letter from Swedish King Gustav V in Mar 1944 with an app­eal to stop Jewish deportations. Horthy bravely attempted to assure that justice prevailed and the deportation trains were can­celled. Horthy even discussed making peace with the Allies, to halt the inev­it­able assault from the East.

    A Swedish Schutz-Pass/protective passport 
    identifying this Hungarian woman as a Swedish citizen 
    August 1944

    Hitler occupied Hungary, and the Fascist Arrow Cross seized power in March 1944. The new govern­ment resumed the dep­ort­ation of Hung­arian cit­izens on trains to the exter­min­ation camps. Note that the Hun­garian Nazis were feared at least as much as the German Nazis. [Post-war, all Arrow Cross commanders bar one were exec­ut­ed].

    When Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944, time was run­ning out. As first secret­ary of the Swedish dip­lom­atic mission with few resources, he quickly built up a team of helpers. Luckily his office was in the same building as the American Embassy. The WRB rescue mis­sion was an initiative from American authorities, created as an unoff­icial cooper­ation with the neutral Swedish government.

    Under Adolf Eichmann, the Germans had already deported 400,000+ Jews in freight trains; there were only c200,000 Jews left in the capital. Eich­mann’s plans to exterm­inate Hungarian Jews were rel­entless. So Wallen­berg issued Swedish schutz-pass/protection certif­icates to enab­le Hungarian Jews to claim immunity from persecution as “foreign citiz­ens". He interv­ened in Nazi and Arrow Cross raids to save Jews from tran­sport­ation to the death camps. He rented buildings and made them Swedish territory, to give hiding spaces.

    When conditions were desperate, Wallenberg issued a simplified version of his protective Swedish passport, a mimeographed page with his sig­nature! The new Hungarian Nazi government immediately ann­ounced that all prot­ect­ive passports were invalid. But Baroness El­izabeth Liesel Kemény, wife of the foreign minister, allowed Wall­enberg to get his protective passports reinstated. As the freight cars full of Jews stood in the railway station, he heroically climbed on top of them, ran along the roof of the cars and handed bundles of protective pass­ports to the occup­ants. He then demanded that those Jews who received his protective passports be allowed to leave the train!

    Hungarian Jews rescued from deportation trains by Wallenberg, 
    Nov 1944 
    Photo credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Wallenberg successfully used every tech­nique available to him, including forged docum­ents, bribery and blackmail. Yet in Jan 1945 friends urged Wallenberg to seek shelt­er, especially since the Hungarian Arrow Cross were sear­ching for him. He had been responsible for saving the lives of 30-40,000 Hungarian Jews.

    In Jan, Wallenberg approached the advancing Soviet troops, saying he was the Swedish chargé d’affaires for the parts of Hungary liber­ated by the Soviets. En route to Soviet military headquarters in Debrecen, Wallenberg stopped at the Swedish houses, to say goodbye for the last time.

    In the end Wallenberg had to place his faith in the Rus­sians; thankfully the Soviet troops did heroically free 100,000+ Jews in the seal­ed Budapest ghetto.


    When reports showed that Wallenberg had disappeared, the Rus­sians first claim­ed he’d been murdered by the Hungarian Arrow Cross. Later the Russians admitted that he’d been swallowed up by the Moscow prison sys­tem in 1945. Worse still, the Swedish government did not help the Wall­enberg family get their son returned to Sweden, and they stop­ped the Wallenberg story appearing in Swedish news­papers. Sofar the Russian files have not yet been opened to historians :(

    Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Memorial, erected 1953, stands to the Jews murd­ered by German, Hung­arian and Ukrainian and other Fascists. The Avenue of the Righteous has 600 trees planted to honour the memory of Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews. Wallenberg is the best known hero there. In 1981 the late Raoul Wall­en­berg was dec­lared an honorary cit­izen of the USA, Canada in 1985, Israel in 1986 and Australia in 2013.

    The Raoul Wallenberg memorial 
    Linköping, Sweden.

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    As in other European societies, New Zealand women were excluded from any involvement in politics in early colonial times. Most people accepted the idea that women were naturally suited for domestic affairs i.e home and children. Only men were fitted for public life and the hurly-burly of politics. New Zealand History has provided the first half of this post.

    Some women began to challenge this narrow view. New opportunities were opening up for women, especially those from upper or middle-class families, in education, medicine, church and charities. Attention soon turned to women’s legal and political rights.

    The suffrage campaign in New Zealand began as part of a broad late C19th movement for women’s rights that spread through Britain and its Empire, the USA and northern Europe. This movement was shaped by two main themes: a] equal political rights for women and b] a desire to use them for the moral reform of society eg through prohibition.

    New Zealand’s pioneering suffragists were inspired both by equal-rights arguments of philosopher John Stuart Mill and British feminists, and by the American-based missionary efforts of Women’s Christian Temperance Union - WCTU.

    Some of New Zealand’s leading male politicians, including John Ballance, supported women’s suffrage. In 1878, 1879 and 1887 bills or amendments extending the vote to female ratepayers only narrowly failed to pass in Parliament.

    Outside Parliament the movement gathered momentum from the mid-1880s, especially following the establishment of a New Zealand WCTU in 1885. Led by Kate Sheppard, WCTU campaigners and others organised huge petitions to Parliament: in 1891, in 1892 and finally in 1893 tens of thousands of signatures were obtained, a quarter of New Zealand’s adult European female population.

    By the early 1890s opponents of women’s suffrage were mobilising. They warned that any disturbance to the natural gender roles might have terrible consequences. The liquor industry, fearful that women would support growing demands for Prohibition, lobbied sympathetic Members of Parliament and organised counter-petitions.

    The suffragists’ arch-enemy was Henry Smith Fish, a boorish Dunedin politician who hired canvassers to circulate anti-suffrage petitions in pubs. But this tactic backfired when some signatures proved to be false or obtained by trickery.

    The Liberal government came to office in 1891 and was divided over the issue. Premier John Ballance supported women's suffrage in principle, but he was anxious that women would vote for his Conservative opponents. Many of his Cabinet colleagues, including friends of the liquor trade, strongly opposed women’s suffrage.

    In 1891 & 92 the House of Representatives passed electoral bills that would have enfranchised all adult women. But on each occasion opponents sabotaged the legislation in the conservative upper house, the Legislative Council.

    In Ap 1893 Ballance died and was succeeded by Richard Seddon. Suffragists groaned, but following the presentation of the massive third petition, another bill easily passed in the House. Once again, all eyes were on the Legislative Council. Liquor interests petitioned the council to reject the bill. Suffragists responded with mass rallies and telegrams to members. They also gave their supporters in Parliament white camellias to wear in their buttonholes.

    Voting in Auckland, 1899
    photo credit: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

    For the women of New Zealand, Sept 1893 was a special time. Seddon and others again tried to torpedo the bill by underhand manoeuvres, but this time their interference backfired. Two opposition councillors, who had previously opposed women's suffrage, changed their votes to embarrass Seddon. The bill was passed by 20 votes to 18.

    The battle was still not over. New anti-suffrage petitions were circulated, and some members of the Legislative Council petitioned the governor to withhold his consent. In a buttonhole battle, anti-suffragists gave their parliamentary supporters red camellias.

    Lord Glasgow finally signed the bill into law in Sept. Women celebrated throughout the country, and congratulations poured in from campaigners in Australia and overseas: New Zealand’s achievement gave new hope to women struggling for emancipation across many countries.

    Not everyone in New Zealand rejoiced at the outcome. For some men at least, the prospect of such activists influencing politics was an evil thought. Men opposing female suffrage could only call in the aid of the women who would prefer to leave the game of politics to men.

    Suffrage opponents had warned that delicate lady voters would be jostled and harassed in polling booths by ‘boorish and half-drunken men’. But the 1893 election was actually described as the ‘best-conducted and most orderly’ ever held in New Zealand.


    Invigorated by the New Zealand suffrage victory in 1893, Mary Lee and Elizabeth Nicholls, like many other WCTU activists, travelled all over the South Australian colony to obtain signatures for a suffrage petition. The WCTU suffragists were critical to the success of the campaign, first in South Australia and, eventually, nationally. So it is not surprising that in Australia, women were first able to vote in the State elections of South Australia in 1894.

    Western Australia followed in 1899. But it was only in 1902 that the newly federated nation allowed white women to both vote and stand for Federal elections on a universal and equal basis with white men. This dual right, the complete electoral franchise AND eligibility to sit in parliament, was what political philosopher John Stuart Mill called perfect equality. In New South Wales women gained the vote for State government in 1902, in Tasmania it happened in 1903, in Queensland in 1905 and Victorian women gained the vote for state government in 1908. Indigenous Australians were excluded from Federal elections for decades more.

    The Christchurch Memorial, made by sculptor Margriet Windhausen, 
    3.3 x 2m bronze bas-relief.  Unveiled 1993.
    The camellia and white ribbons were symbols of the suffrage campaign. 

    In the same year, 1902, Vida Goldstein was in Washington DC as Australia and New Zealand’s sole delegate to the International Woman Suffrage Conference. She addressed huge American audiences on one of the most pressing global issues of the day: Votes for Women. Alas by 1908 only Finland and Norway had joined New Zealand and Australia in enfranchising women.

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    When a new home for the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert) was needed, they used the estate rec­ently bought by the Commissioners for the Great Exhib­ition of 1851. The Museum was established in 1852 and funded by the financial surpluses from the Great Exhibition - to educate working people with works of art, and to insp­ire British designers and manufacturers. Sir Henry Cole (1808–82) be­came first dir­ec­tor of the V & A, with the approval of Prince Albert.

    The South Kensington site architect was Cap­tain Francis Fowke (1823-65), Inspector of Science and Art. Ignoring the contemp­orary fashion for Gothic architect­ure, Fowke chose a North Italian Renaissance style, two storeys high, with a grand Lecture Theatre complex forming the centrepiece.

    In 1861 designer Godfrey Sykes (1824-66) was invited by Henry Cole to as­sist Fran­cis Fowke on the buildings connected with the gardens and the arcades. Many of the decorative schemes in the North and South Courts were Sykes’ work, as was the choice of terracotta as the museum’s distinctive decorative material.

    Gamble Room

    The first decoration in the Lecture Theatre building, the showpiece southern exterior, was completed by Fowke and Sykes. The main feature of the red-brick, terr­acotta and mosaic-faced façade was its three large recessed ar­ches, supp­ort­ed by terracotta columns bearing figures. Portraits of key members of the Museum team and from the fields of art and science appeared in the mosaic panels and lunettes.

    The Gamble, Poynter and Morris Rooms were the three interlinked rooms that made up the lavishly decorated Museum restaurants.

    The walls and columns of the original Refreshment Room/now The Gamble Room, influenced by the Prince Consort's completed dairy at Frog­more, were faced with majolica created by Minton. Much of the dec­oration was planned by Sykes, just before he died (1866). The room was opened in 1867, when the décor­at­ion was still incomp­l­ete.

    John Everett Millais (1829-96) selected the original colours. But in 1874–5 the Gamble Room’s plaster ceiling was replaced by the Enam­elled Iron Co; they used sheet-iron enamelled in colours suggested by the metal advert­ise­­ments on rail­way stations. Thus the ventil­at­ion grilles were sur­r­ounded by very heavy, ornate enamelled iron plates.

    The windows and frieze were full of Victorian mottoes about the joys of eating and drinking. With ceramic tiled walls and columns, they were clean and easily washed for dining. As a precaution against fire, food for this main refreshment room was prepared in kitchens outside the walls.

    Henry Cole was also responsible for other innovations: the V&A was the first public museum in the world to be artificially lit so that workers could come in the evenings. This was to “furnish a powerful antidote to the Gin Palace”, to give working families culture instead of booze. Cole's concept of a museum restaurant was comp­let­ely new; as a way of getting people to enjoy culture, it was a world first for South Kensington. Even the Victorians, used to dazzle, would have been struck by the dec­or­ation.

    Poynter Room

    For the decoration of the smaller flanking rooms, in quieter colours, other talents were called in. Edward Poynter (1836-1919), recently successful at the Royal Academy, was invited in Nov 1865 to decorate the easternmost restaurant, the Grill Room/Poynter Room. Students were involved on a practical level because the glazed blue Dutch tiles, designed by Edward Poynter, were painted by a spec­ial tile-painting class for ladies at the Schools of Design. It was rare for women to train professionally, so for them to be engaged in this very public commission was progressive. This radical spirit at South Kensington possibly predicted the Arts and Crafts designs of the 1880-1910 era.

    Poynter designed the windows and also the iron and brass steaks grill which The Building News thought showed 'the hands of a first rate Gothic architect rather than those of a painter'. The Poynter Room was opened in 1867, fur­nished with little tables of iron with white marble tops and decorated like the great iron stove.

    Visitors could come here for breakfast when the catering contractor offered a long menu, divided according to social standing. The 1st class menu was elaborate and expensive; the 2nd class menu was more limited and cheap­er. The 3rd class menu was only available to workmen at the Museum.

    The western­most room, originally called the Green Dining Room and now the Morris Room, was designed by William Morris him­self. The subdued colours of the scheme show that at the time he was still under the influence of the Gothic Re­vival. He dec­or­ated the walls with panelling below the green plaster, and a low relief of olive branches. William Morris had been Pre-Raphaelite friends with Philip Webb, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and in 1861, they all became partners in the interior decorating and furnishing business. Thus the stained-glass windows bore female figures painted by Edward Burne-Jones and Philip Webb.

    Towering stain glass windows, lavish dark teal-stained wood and gold painted panelling adorned the Morris Room walls. Crisp linens covered the circular tables with matching green British Burleigh crockery.

    The Museum bought some stained glass from Morris, Marshall & Faulkner Co. and, along with the ceiling and panelled dados, the work was finished in 1868–9. Burne Jones' figure-panels in the dado, which were completed soon after, were based on the signs of the zodiac, and his windows designs showed medieval domestic tasks.

    Morris Room

    The rest of the decoration was by Morris' friend, architect Philip Webb. Webb took his inspiration from medieval and clerical sour­c­es for the frieze, and medieval manuscripts for the ceiling decoration. The four hanging lights were designed much later, based on a drawing by Philip Webb, and were installed in 1926. The only part of the decoration that was influenced by Morris’ pattern-making was in the plaster-work on the walls - leaves, flowers and berries.

    "The Building News" in 1870 found the rooms bright and cheerful, like the richly and gaily-adorned cafés of Paris. But after Cole's retirement in 1873, his planned building programme stopped. It was only in 1889 that public opinion demanded that the building of the Museum be com­p­leted .. somehow. The facades of the Victoria and Albert Mus­eum built in 1899-1909 displayed the museum as a treasure house of priceless objects in marble halls.

    The lavishly decorated, historic refreshment rooms that stunned and delighted visitors in the Victorian era were way beyond my personal taste. But as works of Victorian art in their own right, they are well worth visiting.

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    For those of you who remember 1956 clearly, Australian television expos­ed Annie Oakley (1860-1926) for the first time in a fictional American Western series. Featuring act­ress Gail Davis, each weekly programme lasted half an hour. My parents didn’t have a tv in the 1950s, but our elderly neighbours let the local children watch between 7-7.30 PM.

    Thank you Wild West Magazine for the historical data.

    Early Family life
    Phoebe Ann Moses was born to Jacob and Susan, Quakers who had migrat­ed from Pennsylvania to a farm in rural Darke County Ohio. Annie was the sixth of their seven children. In 1866 her father died, leaving her mother and the seven young children in poverty, so mother sent Annie to the live at the Darke County Infirmary/poor house.

    At 10 Annie become a servant for another local farming family. She stayed with them in dismal conditions for two years before running away, then she returned home to her mother, again in poverty.

    Annie did not live in the West but she first fired a gun at an early age. She ended up supporting her own family by hunting and trapping pheasants and quail, then selling the game to locals in Green­ville Ohio and to hotels.

    Annie Oakley as a teenager

    Marriage and career
    Annie met Frank Butler while he performed his travelling marks­man show in Cincinnati. Part of Frank’s act was accept­ing chall­enges from local marks-men, with bets being placed. Frank knew he was a beaten man, the moment the 15-year-old girl appeared to challenged him.They began a courtship and married in Windsor Canada in 1882. The Butlers began performing together, but Frank imm­ediately recognised that his wife, now called Annie Oak­ley, was the bigger draw. 

    In the early days of her stage career, Annie played with Frank at small theatres, skating rinks and circuses. While working for the Sells Brothers Circus in New Orleans in 1884, Annie and Frank met William Buffalo Bill Cody and performed with them for 16 seasons. Cody had her perform early in the show to help aud­iences get used to the sound of gunfire. She could shoot a cork out of a bottle at a distance!

    In 1884, Sioux spiritual leader and medicine man Sitting Bull, victor at the Battle of Little Bighorn, saw Annie in a theatre in St Paul Minnesota. Sitting Bull and Annie were happily reunited the next year as employees of Cody’s Wild West. 
    In 1887, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show travelled to London, as part of the USA delegation to Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The show stayed in London until Oct, giv­ing 300+ performances that helped Annie perfect her show­manship. The British newspapers went wild.

    When Annie and Frank left the Wild West Show in Dec 1888, she worked as an actress in a Western melodrama called Dead­wood Dick. The play was not a success, and by Feb 1889 the theatre company had folded.

    In mid-1889, they re-joined the Wild West Show for a tour of Eur­ope, beginning with Paris’ Exposition Universelle. Having no children, they toured Eur­ope whenever they wanted, including two more European tours in 1891-1892.

    Annie was a celebrity, earning more than other employees in Buff­alo Bill’s Wild West Show. They bought a house in Nutley N.J in which they lived be­tween their country-wide tours.

    In 1894, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and the Indians perf­orm­ed in front of Thomas Edison’s moving-picture machine at the invent­or’s labor­at­ory in New Jersey. The public could go to kinetoscope parlours and cheaply view the early Edison films in peep-show machines. Anne was the first cowgirl in motion pictures, surrounded by faked gun smoke.

    Annie and Frank toured with vaudeville impresario Tony Pastor’s show in the spring of 1888. Then they re-joined Buffalo Bill for a spring run in Paris. At first the French thought Buffalo Bill’s whole spect­acle was faked, but when they saw Annie Oakley perform, they believed she was the real thing.

    Buffalo Bill’s Wild West played in 130+ towns in 1895-6. And in 1897 the Wild West played in Canada for the first time for decad­es. 

    Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, post marriage (1882)

    Retirement, 1901-26

    In Oct 1901 in NC, while the Company was headed to Danville Virginia to end the season, their train ran into an on­coming train. Annie Oak­ley was found pinned beneath the rubble and it took sev­eral hours be­fore she could be rescued. After touring continuously for 20 years, she retired from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

    Annie Oakley tried acting again, appearing as the lead in a play called The Western Girl, which opened in New Jersey in Nov 1902. She also taught shooting at exclusive gun clubs. Meanwhile her husband worked for the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, promoting its products to shooters.

    In 1912, Frank and Annie had begun building a retirement house in Cambridge Maryland where hunting and shooting remained a big part of their lives. The roof of the house was designed so that Annie could step out onto it and shoot game off the Choptank River.

    In 1922 Annie performed in a show on Long Island and was rumoured to be making a comeback, but in Nov, at 62, she was in a car accident in Florida and broke bones. Fortunately the steel leg brace she wore did not immobilise her.

    As a star with the stature and ability of Buff­alo Bill himself, Annie Oakley valued her platform to promote egal­itarian views about women. She believed that women needed to learn to be proficient with fire­arms, to defend themselves. Annie taught 15,000 women to shoot, and promoted guns as a symbol of female empowerment. [I love her feminist politics, but access to guns by any private citizen is now an abomination here in Australia.]

    Over the next four years, her health began to decline, and the couple returned to Ohio. In Nov 1926, she died of pern­icious anaemia at 66. Frank mourned so deeply, he died within 18 days.

    Read Shirl Kasper's 1992 biography Annie Oakley, pub­lished by University of Oklahoma Press. And visit Buffalo Bill Historical Centre which is a complex of five museums and a research library featuring art and artefacts of the American West, located in Cody Wyoming. 

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    The German Youth Movement, a cultural and educational movement that started in 1896, worried about the health of poor city youngsters. The children needed to enjoy the fresh air out­­doors and to be physically active in team sports and physical education.

    Now to the German citizen Rich­ard Schirrmann (1874-1961) who studied to become a teacher, graduated in 1895 and was sent to Altena in West­ph­al­ia in 1903. On a trip out of town, the students had to spend their nights in dismal barns or inappropriate village school build­ings. Schirrmann felt that students should see new sights and have new experiences outside the classroom, because people learned best by observation.

    Schirrmann had became alarm­ed, he wrote, at the impact of Germ­any’s ind­ust­rial revolution on students' health and welfare. So in 1909 he first published his idea of cheap and healthy over­night accom­mod­ation for young people. He rec­eived plenty of support, enabling him in 1912 to op­en­ his first youth hostel in the rebuilt Altena castle, above the River Lenne.

    Although Schirrmann’s first youth hostels in Germany had no con­nection to do with the German Youth Movement, timing was critical! Not only did poor city youngsters need to enjoy the out­­doors; they had to care for the hostel them­sel­ves wherever possible. This kept the costs down, built charact­er and a sense of independ­ence, and helped make new friends.

    Schirrmann served during the tragic WW1. But after the war, Schir­r­mann wondered if "thoughtful young people of all count­ries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other". So in 1919, he founded a youth hostel ass­oc­iation, and in 1922, he retired from teaching to focus entirely on his project.

    Leissigen Youth Hostel, Switzerland
    Cae’r Blaidd Hotel, Wales
    opened in 1938
    photo credit: YHA Archive

    The movement flourished in Germany, with 2000+ youth hostels operating before the Depression. By then the youth hostel concept had spread all over Europe and beyond! In 1932, a for­mal organisation called the International Youth Hostel Fed­erat­ion was founded in Amst­er­dam, consisting of youth hostels from Switz­­er­land, Ger­m­any, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, UK, Ire­land, France, Czechoslovakia, Denmark and Bel­gium. Under Schir­r­­mann’s chairmanship, the organisation grew and grew.

    These hostels provided budget-oriented accommodation where young people could rent a bunk bed in a dormitory, and share a bath­room, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Hostels were often cheap­er for both the operator and occupants; many hostels had long-term residents whom they employed as desk agents or house­keepers, in exchange for cut-rate accommodation.

    Americans Isabel and Monroe Smith attended the 2nd world meeting of the International Youth Hostel Federation in 1933. The very next year they opened the first American youth hostel in North­field Mass. And soon the American Youth Hostels network had 30+ hos­tels through­out rural New England, primarily to serve out­door enthusiasts. Its growth re­ceived wide attention and the warm endorsement of President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1936.

    Ominous European political currents overshadowed much of the international movement in the late 1930s. Some hostels were closed, and others were appropriated by governments for milit­ary purposes. The operations of many European associations were suspended.

    By the time Joe and I were in Europe (1970-5) we stay­ed in youth hostels in Israel, Cyprus, Greece and every country en route to Britain. In any case, in the later C20th the needs of the modern-day traveller were chang­ing. Young people who travelled widely wanted more private rooms, better toilets and hot showers, and they wanted to book on-line.

    Today there are Youth Hostels in cottages, castles, mansions and in modern buildings, in towns and in the countryside. These sociable places are open to ev­eryone and they don't pay any kind of profit to private concerns.

    Great Ormond St Hostel, London, 
    Dining room 1936
    photo credit:  YHA Archive

    To show that youth hostels can be cheap AND fascinating, the Daily Mail suggested some great places. Guests go through the old triple portcullis gate­house of St Briavels Castle, Gloucs and into a secluded courtyard and walled garden. Then go into the West Tower for a royal welcome to King John's C13th hunting lodge. The Castle also boasts a Chapel, gallows and a prison. It costs £18 for bunk bed.

    Beverley Friary is nestled in East Yorkshire, in the heart of the market town of Beverley. Visit the Yorkshire coast line and nearby Hull during the day, and at night, retire back to beau­tif­ully restored Dominican friary (£13 a bed), cited in the Canterbury Tales.

    The Guardian recommended Abbey House in Whitby, North York­shire. Whitby youth hos­t­el sits on a magnificent head­land. The pastel-hued rooftops of the town are spread out below, while the North Sea crashes beyond the harb­our wall. And see the well preserved ruins of Whitby Abbey behind. The bedrooms (£18.50 per night) are very spartan, but the building is well preserved C17th hand-carved banist­ers. And note it was from Whitby that Capt Cook sailed to Australia.

    Ottawa Jail Hostel in Canada offers a unique mix of shared and private jail cells, as well as traditional hostel style rooms, starting at £12. Formerly the Carleton County Gaol Jail, it is an historic landmark in the heart of the city.

    Karei Deshe Youth Hostel, Israel

    Dormitory with bunk beds
    Kyoto Youth Hostel

    For an ancient castle overlooking Germany’s Rhine Valley, see the C12th Castle Stahleck which became Bacharach Hostel (£15 a night). This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in the town’s main street that has also been restored to its Middle Ages glory - half-timbered houses, pict­uresque court yards and taverns.

    My own favourite is Karei Deshe Youth Hostel Guest House, situated on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The guest house is built around a beautiful inner courtyard, with palm trees, lawns and great sea views. Each room has 2, 4 or 6 beds and each has its own bathroom.

    The Youth Hostels’ Historical Archive is now available at the Cad­bury Research Library, Birming­ham University. Re­searchers can access YHA’s archives which hold nat­ional and regional records, reports, handbooks, public­at­ions, personal memories and photos.

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    Rodrigo de Borja was born near Valencia in 1431; he was the son of a Spanish noble fam­ily who lived comfortably in the court of Aragon. The family did even better when Alonso de Borja, Rod­rig­o's uncle, was made bishop of Valencia. Later the very elderly Alonso became Pope Callixtus III in 1455.

    Alfonso, king of Aragon & Naples, pur­sued his own territorial aims rather than supporting the Pope’s war against the Turks in Constantinople, so Pope Callixtus determ­ined to app­oint his own fam­ily as the next king of Naples. He also put two nephews in as cardin­als, and made one nephew Pref­ect of Rome. The papal court started to look like a Spanish club.

    It didn’t last, but Rodrigo Borgia did well. He studied in Val­en­cia and then specialised in law at Bologna. In 1456, Uncle Alonso made him a cardinal, and then vice chancellor of the Cur­ia. App­arently this was a VERY lucrative position; Rodrigo held it during the next four pont­ificates.

    Rodrigo was endowed with bishoprics and abbeys around Rome. These benefices brought him so much money that he build the most lux­ur­ious palace in all of Italy. Rodrigo’s plate, pearls, his stuffs embroidered with silk and gold, his books were all of such qual­ity as would befit a king or a pope. He possessed more gold and rich­es of every sort than all the other cardinals put together.

    Rodrigo had many children, including 3 ack­now­ledged children early on, and another four (Juan, Cesare, Lucrezia and Joffre) with Vannozza Catanei. At 61, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alex­and­er VI (1492-1503). So how did a man who openly made a fort­une out of his family connections in the papacy, and who op­ened fathered children all over Rome, become Pope? He brib­ed his way through the entire college of card­inals! They said of him "Alex­ander sells the Key, the Altar, Christ Him­self - he has a right to, for he bought them".

    Portrait of Rodrigo Borgia 
    by Cristofano dell'Altissimo
    Uffizi Gallery

    Pope Alexander VI wanted to make the city a fit­ting centre of world Chris­t­endom, using his prin­ce­ly pat­ron­age to dis­play family pow­er. The two parts of Rome (the Vatican and the main city) were re­planned and expanded, with imposing new build­ings and monu­ments. Roads between the major churches were straight­ened, and important gates and bridges made pilgrimage and relig­ious proc­essions easy. The new St Peter's dominated the Vatican district, and the popes domin­ated St Peter's. Rome's population doub­led.

    But somehow we mostly seem to remember his nepotism. Nepotism was already widely practis­ed in the papacy; after all, a pope could trust his own family marg­in­al­ly more than he could trust strang­ers. But the Borg­ias rais­ed nepotism to record levels.

    Son Juan was made Spanish duke and married the cousin of the King of Castille. Daughter Lucrez­ia was left as regent in charge of of­­ficial busi­ness when the Pope had to leave Rome. Son Joffre was mar­­r­ied off to a Neapolitan princess. Teenage son Cesare was giv­en a number of bish­op­­rics, and on the day of his father's coron­at­ion, Cesare re­ceiv­ed the premier Archbish­op­ric in Spain, Val­en­cia. In time, Pope Alexan­der changed in his attitudes towards Spain, marrying Cesare to a French princess, and agreeing to par­t­ition the Kingdom of Naples between France and Spain.

    At the end Pope Alexand­er had been well; suddenly he and his son Cesare were des­pera­t­e­ly ill. Was it malaria? was it poison? Pope Alexander VI died and was buried in St Pet­er's, later to be moved to the Spanish national church in Rome, San­ta Maria di Monser­r­ato. He was buried with the other Borgia pope, his uncle.

    Sarah Dunant's novel, 2017
    In the Name of the Family

    So some popes were sexually active during their lives in the church; consider for example Popes Paul II, Sixtus IV, Leo X and Julius III. After all, the Second Vatican did not make cel­ib­acy a pre-requisite for ordination until 1139 AD. Yet when Sarah Dunant wrote on the campaigns of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) in her novel In the Name of the Family (by Virago), it still came as a bit of a shock.

    Cesare Borgia’s military campaigns were at the centre of the no­v­el. As was Lucrezia third marriage, to Alfonso d’Este of Ferrara. I was not thrilled to read about the French Pox, which hit Naples in the 1490s, despite clearly understanding its shocking impact.

    Diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) be­came more central to this novel because he really did witness the fierce state-building methods of Pope Alex­ander and his son Ces­are Bor­gia. Another import­ant source of “information” for Sarah Dunant was the poet-scholar and Cardinal, Pietro Bembo (1470–1547).

    Can we learn history from imagined data, even if it sounds sub­stantial? And can we rethink the reput­ations of dis­rep­utable, defamed ch­aracters we have known for a long time? Donizetti opera pres­ented Lucrezia Borgia as a mass murd­er­er who slept with most of the men in her own and other leading families, as did Victor Hugo in his play by the same name. The Prince was a political treatise by Niccolò Machiavelli that proposed Cesare was a clev­er, ultra-ambitious and deceitful man who never did what anyone expected. Eventually “Machiavel­lian” has gone into the language as an ad­j­ective for this extreme ambition.

    One reviewer described in gross detail, how Dunant’s characters copulated, defecated and menst­r­uated; they got flu and suffered constipat­ion, sweated from fev­er, shivered from cold, and scratched at pox-scabs note what prostitutes used for greasy contraception and how people cleaned their teeth with vinegar mixtures. Mark Lawson also focused on dramatic natural events: sea storms, plagues and childbirth.

    Dunant’s novel about Machiavelli and the Borgias is a good way to learn Italian history, but don’t read it if you already know a great deal about this hist­or­ical era. You will feel obligated to make corr­ections on the novel’s pages, over and over again.

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    The Arabs de­clared war on the Tang Chin­ese forces and eventually crushed them at The Battle of Talas 751 AD. This led to the ex­pulsion of the Tang Chin­ese from Central Asia.

    While cros­sing Central Asia, dif­ferent routes developed. Kashgar in far Western China became the new cross­roads of Asia; from here the routes again divided, heading across the Pamirs to Sam­arkand and to the south of the Caspian Sea, or to the South into India. Eventually the road reached the shores of the Caspian Sea, via Tashkent. Thus the 8,000 km long Silk Road connected Beijing to Con­stan­tin­op­le via the movement of relig­ions and products. And Tashkent emer­ged as a major trading city en route.

    Friday Mosque

    Kukeldash Madrassah

    The rise of Islam impacted on Asia, separating the East and West. The Islamic State of the Ghaznavids (962-1186) extended from Persia to India, with Lahore as the capital.

    Timur/Tamerlane (1336–1405) was an Islamic Turco-Mongol conqueror. In 1390 Tamerlane ravaged Kashgar, Andijan and the intervening coun­try. Tamerlane was rec­og­nised as a great patron of art and archit­ecture, as he interacted with Muslim intellectuals. Tash­kent Mus­eum’s archit­ecture reflects the beauty of Islam, from his era on.

    Tamerlane’s son Miran Shah (1366–1408) was the father of Sultan Ma­hmud Mirza and the grandfather of Babur (1483-1530), founder of the Mug­hal Emp­ire that ruled South Asia for 3.5 centuries, from 1526-1857.

    Babur based his ad­min­istration on the Persian model; the Persian language be­came official. The birth place of Babur was not in Tashkent but in Andijan - see his house-museum, memorial and symb­ol­ic tomb. Also note that the Univ­ers­ity and a large lib­rary of Andijan are named after him. These days many streets, parks and monuments are named after Babur in Tash­kent as well. A small Tash­kent museum presents Babur’s life and work, miniatures and gifts.

    Chorsu bazaar

    Moslems played the part of middlemen in trade. Muslim architecture became the motor of the Turkic-Persian culture and, for the first time, Islamic religious and educat­ional facilities were established en route. Tourists to Tashkent will want to see Kaffal Shashi Maus­oleum, built in Imam Square in 1542 in honour of a C10th poly­math i.e a philosopher-linguist-Sharia judge-author-poet. In the heyday of Islamic Ren­ais­sance, the world was given hundreds of wonderful scient­ists, theol­og­ians and writers. Now the build­ing is the resid­ence of the Head of Central Asia’s Islam.

    Juma Mosque/Friday Mosque was built in the C15th. Af­ter the recent earth­quake, the mosque was completely renov­ated and looks modern. As 88% of Tashkent’s pop­ul­ation is Islamic and only 10% Russian Orthod­ox, mosques and Madrassas are well used.

    Next door to the Friday Mosque is the city’s Kukeldash Madrassa which was built in the mid C16th by Vezir Kukeldash. With only 38 cells for students, it was tiny compared to the ones in Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. It was built in brick; only the façade was décor­ated with geo­metrical tilework. The original square shape with a big portal, towers and a shady inner yard that enabled the mad­r­assa to be used as a caravanserai or fortress in more modern times. Only in mid C20th was the building restored as a madrassa again.

    On the other side of the Kukeldash Madrassa, Chorsu Bazaar is huge and crowded. Chorsu is the very centre of Old Tashkent where markets are held either under the blue-colored domed buildings, for clim­ate control, or in the open-air spaces. Alay Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars of Tashkent, emerging a site on the livestock trade route. In the C19th, this space became a full-fledged bazaar and one of the most visited place for locals. This bazaar now has rows of foods and desert sellers especially Tashkent Plov, lamb stew and rice.

     Romanov Palace

    Alisher Navoi Theatre

    modern tramway system

    Hotel Uzbekis­tan

    In late C19th Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich (d1918), cousin of Czar Alexander III, was banished to Tashkent for shady deals invol­ving the Russian Crown Jewels. His 1891 Romanov Palace still stands in the centre of town. The large collection of works borr­owed from the Hermitage back in Grand Duke Romanov’s days, to de­corate his palace-in-exile, is now in Tashkent’s Fine Arts Museum of Uzb­ekis­tan. See paintings, carved woodwork, metalwork, plaster and stucco work, ceramic tiles and exquisite textiles.

    Until 1865 Tashkent was under the rule of the Central Asian Khanate of Kokand; then the Russian colonial conquest of Turkestan was com­plete. Tash­kent became Russian Turkestan’s main city!

    In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out, a terrible time for Tash­kent’s citizens, al­though at least Tashkent soon became the capital of the Turkestan Autonomous Sov­iet Soc­ialist Republic. In 1930 Tash­kent took cap­it­al city honour from Samark­and and became the green capit­al and largest city of Uzbekistan. So Tashkent has a] Uzbek, b] Imperial Russian and c] Soviet modern buildings.

    As German armies sped across the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviets embarked on a desperate attempt to safeguard its pop­ulation and industrial resources right in the middle of WW2. Soviet authorities transported people and indust­ry away from the western war fronts into the safety of the east. The Urals, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Taj­ik­is­tan and Kazak­hstan together received 16 million evacuees. With Tash­kent as the favoured dest­in­ation, this movement of desperate refugees remains the largest organised movement of civilians in hist­ory. I have a vested interest in this city - my mother’s Russian aunt and first cousin were moved to the hospitable safe-haven of Uzbek­istan during WW2 ... and survived.

    The present population of Tashkent is 2.5 million people.

    The city has immense buildings in the Soviet architecture style, a style associated with social, utopian ideology. After the devast­at­ing 1966 Tashkent earthquake, large-scale apart­ment blocks were quickly built to house the homeless. And grand build­ings were con­s­tructed, as well as the marvellous metro. The massive Hotel Uzbekis­tan, centrally located in Tashkent’s Amir Timur square, is a classic example of the 1970s Soviet style. This is also Cen­tral Asia’s most important political and comm­er­cial city, and trans­port­ation hub. Par­liament Building was comp­leted by 1997. The Nat­ional History Mus­eum, an impres­sive building with brilliant blue dome and ornate interior, celebrates Uzbek his­tory. And amazing gardens.

    Southern China Silk Road Tour spends 3.5 days in Tashkent and Sam­arkand. Nowhere else in Central Asia is as evocative of the Silk Road as Uzbekistan. In terms of architecture and historical sights, Uzbekistan still attracts the historically-minded tourists away from other neigh­bouring countries.

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    When I met my Czech born boyfriend (now husband) in 1969, I thought I better read some Kafka, listen to Dvořák and Janáček, and eat palač­inkas. It all worked well, except for the Kafka.

    Now the German sch­olar Reiner Stach's excellen Biog­raphy of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) filled in a lot of gaps. Stach spent 20+ years working on Kafka’s life, transl­ated into English. The biography started with Kafka’s childhood in the dying days of the Hapsburg empire in 1883: family life in the Prague flat, schooling, law studies at university and career as an insurance clerk. Alas young Franz’s relationship with his over­bearing father was horrible. Hermann Kafka was a stocky, ambitious and succ­essful merchant, while his only son was tall, thin and fragile. So they were physically, emotion­ally and intellectually opposed.

    Biography of Franz Kafka: Vol. 1 The Early Years, Vol. 2 The Decisive Years and Vol. 3 The Years of Insight

    Kafka knew himself well. He wrote “The way I am, I am as the outcome of your (father’s) up­bringing and of my comp­lian­ce.” He was reflective and introspective, and saw the way that confrontation sank into him. A crucial night occurred when his fat­her locked the child outside and refused his pleas for water. The impact of this traumatic scene repeated itself through Kafka’s life.

    For young Kafka, Yiddish was his family’s spoken language at home and German was his medium for school and written work. Yet Czech was the affect­ionate language used by his caregivers in childhood. So Stach emphasised that Kafka was a German-speaking Jew who matured in Prague at the end of the brilliant Austrian Empire. He noted the dress conventions of the Bohemian capital in Kaf­ka’s writ­ing and the cultured life of the coffee houses where writ­ers/art­ists got together, using local Czech and elite German.

    The divide between the two cultures of Prague was replicated in Kaf­ka’s mind, even as the heart of old Prague was being reshaped. The medieval Jewish ghetto was replaced with smart avenues and smart ar­chitecture. But a crazed mob of German students late in 1897 targ­et­ted the Jews. They looted homes, shops and Kafka’s school. This in turn provoked a counter-surge of Czech nat­ionalist riots targ­etting German shops, clubs and businesses in the capital.

    For Kafka, the Prague Riots created some­thing menacing in his city. The teenager was also increasingly fearful at school. For all his bril­liance in high school, he feared examinations and assessments.

    Even at university, Kafka was very intellectual but lacked confidence. He recognised that life trapped him yet he was certain that he could use his ideas to free himself. Kafka was a full-time Law student, writing on weekends at the Reading and Lecture Hall of German Students. It was here, in 1902, he met Max Brod.

    Max Brod and Franz Kafka (above) 
    Photo credit: Czech radio

    and with Felice Bauer, 1917 (below)
    Photo credit: The Guardian

    Stach said that Brod was a young self-promoter, net-worker and fashion-courting boulevardier. Yet on first meeting with Kafka, Brod saw something special. He began urging editors to print Kafka’s ear­ly works. The pair shared ideas; they travelled tog­ether through Switzerland, Italy and France.

    Kafka was exempted from WW1 service at the front because of TB, yet he was witness to unspeakable misery. In fact the diagnosis of his TB and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire const­it­uted a double shock for Kafka. He lost the financial security he had been counting on to survive as a writ­er. He began to pose broader exist­ent­ial questions, and his writing grew jagged and more reflective.

    Kafka gave a vigorous nod to his literary models and heroes — Fried­rich Hebbel, Thomas Mann, Charles Dickens and above all Gustave Flaubert, the cool writer who Kafka and Brod read together, in Fren­ch! And although he had written several prose pieces since graduat­ion, it was only with The Judgment, written in 1912, that Kafka felt he had made his break­through. Note that the story dealt with a young man who was condemned to death by his father!

    Was Kafka unknown in his lifetime? No! Publishers printed his books and begged for more, and he belonged to an influential band of writers who met in Prague’s coffee shops. But he was diff­icult to socialise with. He suffered from:
    suicidal thoughts,
    total lack of confidence in his own skills,
    disease and fear of dis­ease,
    very strange diets and exercise fads and
    a particularly un­skil­led love life.

    Brod introduced Kafka to his Prussian Jewish cousin Felice Bauer in 1912. She became the writer’s long-suffering fiancée, but when he contracted the TB that led to his death, Kafka broke off the engage­ment. When he ev­en­t­ually felt obliged to marry Felice, he did so in an 18-page letter that included a pathetic marriage proposal. Felice did re­cognise his miserable selfishness, and finally run away. None­the­less she held onto Kafka’s 500 deepest confessional letters! Some­times daily letters! Stach wrote tellingly of this strange literary friendship and its use­ful­ness for Kafka.

    How sad that Kafka finally met the right woman when he was 40 years old. Had he met Dora Diamant earlier, he might have finally been happily married.

    Kafka was resting at a sanatorium on Lake Zurich, a time that became typical of the long stays he spent at health clin­ics across Central Europe. He died of consumption at 40, and was buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague.

    Was Max Brod clever and insightful, or a mere hanger-on? Of one thing I am certain: Brod, who revered Kafka and adored his work, HAD to became the literary executor. Because very little of Kafka’s writing was published before his death in 1924, he luckily left his letters, diaries and early writings to Brod, instruct­ing him to burn the documents unread.

    If Brod had not refused Kafka’s direct instructions to destroy the unpublished manuscripts, we probably would not know Kafka’s name today. And not surprisingly it was Brod who wrote the first biography of his friend and prepared Kafka’s posthumous works for publication. Brod act­ual­ly collated, edited and published Kafka’s writing, including The Trial and The Castle– now literary classics. When Brod fled Germany for Israel in 1939, he took the documents with him. The two men's friendship was more important for us than for Kafka.

    The surviving documents were themselves caught up in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic tangle all its own. Max Brod’s estate, which was locked up for years by their elderly custodians (Brod’s secretary’s daught­ers Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wiesler), was willed to Israel’s National Library. The irony of a Kafka estate being blocked for 39 years was not lost on Kafka readers, though in 2012 the final judgement ordered the papers back into the National Library’s hands.

    "Kafka, The Early Years" was written by Rainer Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch and published by Princeton University Press in 2016. The other volumes were published separately.

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    Malta (pop c370,000) is in the mid Mediterranean Sea, half way between Europe and Africa; Spain and Israel. So the country’s str­ateg­ic position attracted ev­er­y expans­ion­ist nation to take over the tiny Maltese archip­el­ago. The ancient Pho­e­nic­ians settled around the natural Grand Harb­our. But it was the Romans who govern­ed these islands for centuries and first built the city of Medina.

    Consider the 60 AD shipwreck of the Apostle St Paul. During his 3 months on Malta living in the Medina cata­c­ombs, he taught Christ­ian­ity and nominated Malta’s first bishop. In St Paul's Ch­urch, the catacombs were for Ch­ri­stian bur­ials and rock altars.

    In 535, the island was integrated into the Christine Byzantine province of Sicily. After arriving from Sicily in 870 during the Arab–Byzantine wars, Arabs ruled Malta until the Normans arrived in 1091. To con­so­l­idate their gains in Sicily and to prev­ent the Arabs from regroup­ing near Sic­ily, the Normans stayed until their dynasty faded in 1250. Norman King Roger II (1105-54) for­tified the Arab town of Medina. A Sicilian charter of in­de­p­endence was drawn up for the Malt­ese, par­t­it­ioning the island between the state, church and nobility, and establ­ish­ing a tax system.
     Fort of St Elmo and Fort Ricasoli fortified each side of Grand Harb­our. 

    Malta gained from the ex­pan­ding Med­it­erranean tr­ade cond­ucted by the riv­al co­m­mercial, mar­it­ime empires of Pisa, Gen­oa and Venice. Imp­or­tant sea la­n­es were sec­ur­ed for Christian shipping when Arab pirate ships were destroyed. And dur­ing the Crusades, the maritime cities organised the crusad­ers’ trans­­port and their supp­lies to Jerusalem.

    Because Malta had been Muslim, the Normans warmly en­c­our­aged the est­ab­l­ishment of Chris­tian comm­un­ities in the islands. One small is­land was given to the Bened­ictines for a mon­as­tery in 1151. A Norman cat­­h­edral was built in Medina which was similar to the great Norman ch­ur­ch­es in Sicily. Soon Franciscans, Carmelites, Augus­tin­ians and Dominicans est­ablish­ed themselves.
    Nave of St John's Co-Cathedral , built in the 1570s

    Frederick II Catholic Emp­eror of Germany had combined the Norm­an trad­it­ion of diversity and tolerance with pat­ron­age of Is­lamic arts and sciences. Only in 1250 did the repressive Aragon kingdom took over did the good times end.

    The Order of the Hospital of St John mil­it­arily de­fended pil­grims in Jerus­alem ag­ain­st Mos­lem attacks. But Saladin's forces even­t­ually de­feated them and they withdrew to Acre. In 1291 they mov­ed their base to Cyprus. Then in 1306 they became The Knights of Rhodes. When Suleiman the Magnificent ruled in 1521, he expelled the Knightly Order and Emperor Ch­arles V offered them Malta instead. From 1521-1798, they were the Knights of Mal­ta.

    Malta suffered frequent attacks by the dread­­ed Ottoman Turks so they built the star-shaped Fort of St Elmo, to for­t­ify the harbour. By 1530 they’d rein­for­c­ed the St Ang­elo stronghold. Fort St Ang­elo was held by the Fr­ench during the Napole­o­n­ic wars, then by the Brit­ish and is now a National War Mus­eum. Eventually another massive fortress was needed on Grand Harb­our’s southside - Fort Ricasoli.

    The Ottoman Turkish invaders struck again in May 1565: the Great Siege of Malta was one of their most glorious, trag­ic moments. Tens of thousands of Turks fought a pitch battle, and alth­ough the Maltese knights under Grand Mas­ter Jean de la Valette were out­num­bered, the Turks still couldn’t penetr­ate Grand Harbour for mon­ths. “Lifting the Great Siege” is still memorialised every Sept.

    The Knights, devout, aristocratic and warlike, formed one of the most powerful and rich groups in Europe. But they lacked permanent HQs, and with incr­eas­ingly frequent skirmishes against the Ottomans, protection was need­ed. Grand Master La Vallette started const­ruct­ion of a new walled city: Vall­etta. Pope Pius V and King Philip II of Spain both gave aid and the Pope sent a military eng­ineer in 1566. 8,000 workers started building Valetta: Maltese, slaves and foreigners.

    By 1571 the knights tran­s­ferred their residence to the new capit­al. In order to pre­serve ea­ch­’s identity, each Langue-language group paid for and built its own Auberge-residential inn. Each had a church att­ac­h­ed. The knights needed city buildings, gardens, public fest­iv­als, moats, massive walls and 50 guns. The old capital, Medina, lost its population and importance.

    St John's Co-Cathedral 1573-7 has an austere rectangular ext­er­ior, but inside is a blaze of Baroque: carv­ing, gilt work, inlaid marble and knightly armorials. The mass­ive bar­r­el vault (1660s) show­s ep­is­­odes from St John the Baptist’s life. The nave is flanked by the 7 sumpt­uous Langues’ chap­els and marble knightly tombs. The Cathed­ral Orat­ory has Ca­r­avag­gio’s masterpiece Behead­ing of St John 1608 and his St Jerome is in a side chapel.
    Valletta, rebuilt after WW2 bombing.

    The monks needed a library, so in 1555 a HUGE building was er­ec­ted next to the cathedral. It later became the National Library.

    In the 1570s the Grand Mas­ter's Pal­ace was built. Later Grand Mast­ers en­lar­g­ed the Palace, had their por­t­raits and names honour­ed on palace walls and built the Chapel of Our Lady. When the Br­it­ish ru­l­ed Malta, the British Governor lived in the same palace. Approp­r­iat­ely it is now the seat of the Maltese Parliament.

    Jesuit College, opened in 1592, was la­ter empowered by Pope Gregory XIII to confer Masters and Doct­or­at­es of Divin­ity. With the 1675 plague, the Grand Master appointed a lect­urer in Anatomy and Surg­ery at Sacra In­firm­ary and built a medical library. After the Jes­uits were expelled in 1768, the Grand Mas­ter appr­opr­iated the Jes­uits’ properties and estab­lish­ed The Univers­ity of Malta.

    A lovely guest house of the Knights in Valletta was la­ter used by the British fleet as their head­quar­t­ers. Only in 1974 did it become the Nation­al Mus­eum of Fine Arts, with C15th-18th Italian pain­t­­ings.
    Water front, Valletta
    Important for hotels, tourism, water-related sports and fishing

    When Napoleon's troops arrived in the 1790s, the Knights of Malta did not want to fight fellow Christians and fellow French­men. So they voluntarily left Malta for good. The Brit­ish took over Malta in 1814 and Eng­li­sh was made the first offic­ial lang­uage of Malta. Malta was not granted self-government until 1921 but Valletta was already beautiful, steep, Baroque and water fronted.

    Perfect timing! Valletta is hosting the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. Thank you to Lonely Planet for the photos.

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    I have happily read the book Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda, written by Dr Judith Buck­rich (Nov 2017). It ex­plores the history of architecture on Acland St, starting from the 1850s and early settlement, through swamps, race courses, development of the Acland St village, Vict­orian prosperity and boarding house poverty.

    Buckrich searched the archives and inter­viewed famous peop­le from the Melbourne Jewish community who had a connection to Acland St. She recognised that the street was one of Melbourne's most important because it mirrored so much of the social change that occurred in Australian cities over 175 years. It encapsulated the social and cultural history of the city in a unique way, having been part of Melbourne’s entertainment scene for decades, as well as home to the wealthiest and poorest of its citizens.

    The Melbourne suburb of St Kilda was named after Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Baronet (1787–1871) of Killerton Manor in Devon, a British politician and land owner. He owned the cruiser yacht Lady of St Kilda from 1834-40, after which the area was named during one of the ship's visits to Melbourne in 1842. His wife Lady Lydia Hoare was the first English lady to set foot in St Kilda.

    This land was once shrubland, lagoons and dunes. For its traditional owners, the Kulin Nation, the St Kilda Triangle was part of an area called Euroe Yroke. After Europ­ean settlement, St Kilda became a bustling seaside suburb, and the Triangle site became a recreat­ional space for decades.

    Acland St StKilda 2015.
    Shops and cafes on either side, cars and trams down thecentre

    Acland St StKilda 2017
    Cars can no longer drive through. Trams must turn around at the end of the street.

    St Kilda became a municip­al­ity in 1857, and in the same year a railwayline was built connecting it to Melbourne’s city cen­t­re. Regular train services resulted in increased visitors to St Kilda’s sea baths, jetty prom­en­ade, cricket, bowling clubs and the St Kilda Cup. By the mid-1860s, St Kilda had 15 residential hotels, including the famous George Hotel.

    During the 1880s land boom, it became a densely pop­ulated dis­t­rict of large stone mansions and palatial hotels, mostly along the broad Fitzroy, Grey and Acland streets. From the 1890s, many mansions became boarding houses and brothels.
    After WW1, the suburb was a magnet for Eur­op­ean migr­ants and singles from less acc­eptable sub-cul­tures. There were artists, musicians, writ­ers, the LGB com­m­unity and anyone who was poor but wanted the joys of seaside life. This suburb of con­trasts was, and is, impossible to pin down economically and socially.

    After the opening of the cable tramway in 1891, the St Kilda Foreshore Committee was formed by the government to make their area into a Mediterranean seaside resort. Carlo Catani was contracted to prepare a masterplan for St Kilda’s beaut­ification in 1906. Catani’s famous leisure precinct along the bay, as far as Point Ormond, included notable features like the Sea Baths (1910), Luna Park (1912), Palais de Danse I (1913), Palais de Danse II (1926) and Palais Theatre (1927).

    European migrants and refugees were arriving by 1946, often taken there straight off the boat - they gave the street a totally cosmopolitan flav­our! And Jews like my par­ents, who had been living in Carlton before the war, started to migrate south to St Kilda, Elwood and Caulfield. They too frequent­ed the cafés, delicatessens and cake shops in Acland St.

    Sund­ays mornings was standing-room only as Jewish men gathered on the street to sort out the politics of the day, eat latkes at Café Scheherazade, buy kugelhopf from Monarch and the latest novels from the Balberyszski Bookshop.  Monarch opened in 1934 and was the first of the cake shops here. Two doors away was Scheherazade Coffee Lounge, founded in 1958 by Avram and Masha Zeleznikow who had migrated from Par­is a few years ear­lier. Regulars ordered traditional fare like gefilte fish, chopped chicken liver, potato latkes and kreplach.

    Modern visitors to the continental cake shops in Acland St find reminders of a dwindling European-Jewish ambience; alas (for me) the cul­tural shift has led to the departure of small, but important businesses. Today Balberszki book sellers, Wielunski milk bar, Berioska, Eilat and Carmel restaurants, the Budapest delicat­essen, Eat-More Poultry are gone, while Chinese businesses such as Fairy Stork restaurant are going too. The cake shops that were bastions of yesteryear, are now part of a gradual shift from “remnant European” to a "more international beachside" culture.

    Acland St cake shops,
    inside and outside tables

    More recently the Palais de Danse III opened on the Triangle site, and was later renamed Palace Entertainment Cen­tre. Des­troyed by fire in 2007, a masterplan was later approv­ed by Council incorporating repairs to the Palais Theatre and a redevelopment of the Triangle site. Trad­ers fear that Acland St will lose its distinctiveness. Nonetheless it is still a colourful street adorned with art on the footpath and an ass­ort­ment of talented street performers. In Aug 2014, the Coun­cil and the community delivered a project for the St Kilda Triang­le site.

    In the book, Acland St's cake shops provided a link to St Kilda's European heritage, and to my childhood. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, my parents and their friends spent Sun­day afternoons eating cheesecake and sour cream in East Euro­pean restaurants, especially Scheherazade. The best year was 1956 when my father was integrally involved in the Melbourne Olympic Games. He arranged outings for the homesick Is­raeli team (all 3 athletes and some older managers) in Acland St.

    Happily the fab­ul­ous Esplanade Market is still open every Sunday. There's also live enter­tain­ment, good food and an attractive atmosphere at famous local bar/restaurant, the Vine­yard. And Luna Park of course.

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    The women’s suffrage movement in Britain had been fractured in 1903. This was when Emmeline Pankhurst led a break­away group from the Nat­ional Union of Women’s Suffrage Societ­ies, arguing that it had become too content waiting for male approval, rather than actively demanding women’s rights. The militant Women’s Social and Political Union, run by the Pankhursts, had begun disrupting political meetings attended by prominent MPs. The suffragettes’ tact­ics reawakened public interest in the issue, but the Pankhursts were often seen as overly autocratic.

    Robert Wainwright* wrote of a young actress named Muriel ­Matters (1877-1969) who grew up in South Australia. The art of elocution back then required its exp­on­ents to weave a tale onstage, often set to music or poetry. Muriel trained with Lionel Logue, a family friend who later helped the stuttering King George VI.

    From an Australian state where women got the vote in 1894, Mur­iel arr­ived in London with little money, some let­ters of intro­d­uct­ion and dreams to become a West End star. At 28 Mur­iel was an intell­ect­ual, reinforced by other intellectuals who im­bued her with soc­ial­ist ideals. Two people were important in encour­aging Muriel’s radical thinking – a] British jour­nalist WT Stead and b] Peter Prince Kropotkin, exiled Rus­s­ian revol­ut­ionary, who persuaded her to use her orat­ory skills “for the greater good”.

    Muriel’s new direction emerged when she joined the Women's Free­dom League/WFL. She led a campaign to protect young female act­resses and stagehands from exploitation at the hands of low-paying, pred­atory agents and production com­panies. Her enthus­iasm, eloquence and magical voice had to be used for the cause. Muriel’s magnetism, the WFL committee agreed, would be wasted if she was just speaking in town halls to the converted.

    Robert Wainwright's 2017 book
    Miss Muriel Matters: .... One of Lond­on’s Most Famous Suffragists 
    Note the "Votes for Women" airship in the background

    Instead she needed to do mobile recruitment, talking in regional areas. In 1908, Muriel travelled on a horse-drawn caravan from town to town, speak­ing in halls and fields, standing on town mem­orials to speak to hundreds of listeners. Unfortunately she had to be flanked by police, given the attendant male violence.

    Womens’ Sunday was the first monster meeting to be organised by the Women's Social and Political Union. Specially chartered trains transported suffragettes from across Britain to march in proces­s­ions through central London, rallying in Hyde Park. Platforms were erected for 80 speakers to address the crowds; 300,000-500,000 saw the delegates dressed in the suffragette tricolour and carrying embroidered banners.

    How appropriate that another Australian, artist Dora Meeson, was an active member of the Brit­ish Artists' Suffrage League. Dora designed and painted the banner used in the 1908 parade. It depicted a young woman personify­ing Australia, implor­ing a mature woman repres­enting Britain.

    Parliament became the focus of suffragist protest and the WFL were looking for a high-profile statement. They created a series of pro­tests out­side Parliament, to divert att­ention from the pro­­t­est­ers in­side; Muriel would be their non-violent champion and leader.

    In Oct 1908 Muriel brought a chain into the House of Commons under her dress. Just as the MPs start­ed deb­ating a fin­ance bill, Muriel locked her­self to the iron grille in the lad­ies' gallery, used to obs­cure the wom­en’s view of parliamentary de­bates. After her speech about women's rights and still att­ached to the grille, Muriel was charged with disorderly conduct and gaoled in Holl­oway.

    In Feb 1909 Muriel Matters was hoisted into a wicker basket beneath an air­ship. The basket was loaded up with WFL leaflets, to be dropped over King Edward VII as his golden carriage moved down The Mall. But the wind conditions and the primitive balloon-motor ensured she never made it to West­minster. Never­theless her exploit created headlines in newspapers everywhere.

     Muriel travelled on the WFL's horse-drawn caravan 
    Hundreds of people gathered in each town to listen

    In 1910 Muriel returned to Australia and lectured about feminism and socialism. With another Austral­ian, Vida Goldstein, Muriel secured a res­olution from the Australian Senate to the British prime minister, celebrating the enfranch­isement of Australian women.

    She returned to Britain and broadened her invol­ve­ment from suf­frage .. to impoverished families. For the next two years she lived in the grim slums of London’s Lambeth as a jour­n­alist, writing for a ­Christian newspaper. She contin­ued making speeches and became involved in ­Ireland and Scotland’s indus­t­rial tur­moil. She criticised sweat shops and advocated women's unions, equal divorce laws, equal pay and support for unmarried mothers.

    So why was the remarkable Muriel Matters not hugely famous? Part of her problem in Australia was that white women in Aust­ralia already had the vote and had moved on. Plus we have to assume that the Australian press was largely conser­vative during Matt­ers’ life here. Editors might have been offended by coverage of an unknown Australian woman’s attack on Mother Britain. We all know about the colonial cringe ☹

    Even in Britain, Muriel Matters faced a few problems. Firstly she was from the colonies, not a real Brit. Secondly she was not one of the Pankhurst People. Third­ly she was against WW1, much to the horror of many suffragettes. Finally she married a div­orc­ed man who possibly left his wife for her. Scandal!

    With WW1 in 1914, Muriel Matters became a pro­m­inent pacifist. This slim and vivacious woman with a mass of golden hair turned down mar­riage proposals from divor­c­ed Bostonian dentist Dr Wil­l­iam Porter, then finally mar­r­ied him in London. Marriage did not divert her att­ention tot­al­ly; she still organised a nat­ional conference of women in London to discuss peace and disarmament.

    Muriel had to spend energy on early child­hood educ­ation. In 1916 she attended a training course by It­al­ian educ­at­ionalist Dr Maria Montessori in Barcelona, and soon this new child free disciple opened an early British Montessori school.

    At the behest of the prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, Ms Matt­ers unsuccessfully stood as a Labour candidate for Hastings in 1924. Nonetheless full suffrage for British women was finally granted in 1928. After retirement Muriel moved to ­Hastings, until her death in 1969, at 92.

    *This excellent book is Miss Muriel Matters: The Australian Actress Who Became One of Lond­on’s Most Famous Suffragists by Robert Wainwright (ABC Books, 2017). Or see an ABC 2015 docudrama called Muriel Matters!

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    Some history
    Acre/Akko was conquered by Pharaoh Ramses II (1279-1213 BC), then by the Greeks, the Persians and the Syrian Sel­eucids. Herod the Great and Roman Emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD) used Akko and Caesarea for their campaign. The town pros­pered in Byzantine times and Om­mayad times, when it was the port for their capital in Damascus.

    The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and Akko in 1104. They renamed it St Jean d'Acre and made it the head quarters of the Knights of St John. The Italian port cities est­ablished trading posts in Acre, and made it a flourishing port. After Jerusalem fell in 1187, Acre became the large capital of the Crusader kingdom. In 1219 St Fran­cis of Assisi visited the town and estab­lish­ed a nun­nery. In 1228 Emperor Freder­ick II landed here during his Crus­ade, as did Louis IX of France in 1250. Soon afterwards there was a bitter civ­il war, between the two Christian orders, The Knights Hospital­l­ers of St John and The Templars. In 1290, the Crusaders slaught­ered large num­bers of Muslims. When the Mameluke Sultan arrived in 1291, the Crusader kingdom ended.

    Fortified walls around the Old City 

    Crusader knights' hall - the refectorium

    Akko was not rebuilt until the Druze emirs took over in 1750. It was enlar­g­ed by the Bosnian Pasha  Ahmed el-Jazzar who ruled 1775-1805. In 1799 he withstood a siege of the town by Nap­oleon, with Brit­ish help. From 1833-40 Akko was held by Ib­ra­him Pasha who defeated the Turks with Egyptian forces but was compelled by the European powers to withdraw. In the lat­er C19th, Akko lost its importance as a port to Beirut and then Haifa. Brit­ish forces captured the town from the Turks in 1918 and used the citadel as a prison. Finally the town was saved by Israeli troops in May 1948. 

    Visit the City
    With its carav­an­serais, fortific­at­ions and Crusader buildings packed in the narrow alleyways, history-lovers will be very happy. Akko's incredible surviving walls around the Old City are the town's most distinctive fortifications. They were built in their present form by Ahmed el-Jazzar in the C18th. Climb up onto the ramparts and walk along the walls. The northeast corner is domin­ated by the massive tower that stands on the foundations of Richard the Lionheart’s tower. Further south is the Treasures in the Wall Museum, which has a coll­ect­ion of artefacts from C19th Jewish set­tlers in the area. Along the sea-side wall, inspect the Otto­man Tower of the Vine, built to defend against sea attacks.

    Akko harbour was an important port from the class­ic­al age until the medieval period. During the Crusader era, it could be occup­ied by up to 80 ships. That port has now silted up, and all that is left is a small tranquil fishing harbour. From here the tour­ist boats sail out to give excellent views of Akko Old City. 

    Fishing and tourist boats in the Marina

    See the late C12th Hospitallers and Templars Fortress where vis­itors can wander through the strong stone rooms with vaulted ceilings. See the spectacular dining hall, dormitories and an­cient latrines. In the large courtyard, note the stab­l­es, the well and the etched crusaders’ tombs.

    In the underground Crusader Tunnel, the sea above is audible. The 350m passage or­ig­inally con­n­ected the harbour with a Templar pal­ace, prov­id­ing a secret esc­ape route to the sea during attacks. 

    Khan al-Umdan
    Built in 1784-5 by el-Jazzar Pasha

    Khan al-Umdan/of the Columns was named because of the granite and porphyry columns which Ahmed el-Jazzar brought from Caesarea. Built on the site of the Crus­ader's Dominican monast­ery, the khan provided travelling merch­ants with housing while trading in the city. Set around a large rectangular court­yard, the ground floor rooms were used for stor­age and stables, with the sleeping quarters upstairs. Over the north entrance is the clock tower commemor­at­ing a 1906 Sultan.

    On the Crusader cathedral site, Ahmed el-Jazzar Mos­que was built in 1781. The mosque has its tall slender minaret, a fine example of Turkish rococo archit­ec­ture with a mam­moth interior decorated in ornate blue, brown and white. A small plain domed building to the right of the prayer hall en­t­rance which had the mausoleum of Ahmed el-Jazzar (d1804) and of his successor Sulieman Pasha. The arcaded courtyard has a small rococo-style kiosk and accommodat­ion spaces for pil­g­rims and Isl­amic schol­ars. On the east side of the gall­ery, a cistern dating from the Crus­ad­er era ran a water supply for the populat­ion, whenever the town was under siege. 

    Akko's finest church, St John's Church, was built in 1737 and occupies the site of a C12th Crusader chur­ch ded­icated to St Andrew. Note the juxtaposition of its white walls and red bell tower surrounded by the crumbling stone walls.

    An C18th hammam/Turkish Bath now houses the Hammam al-Pasha Mus­eum with exhibits on the history and culture of Turkish baths. This preserved hammam has colourful til­es walls encl­os­ing the space where important men bathed and women held parties in a separate enclosure.

    Underneath Ahmed el-Jazzar's citadel is a series of gothic vault­ed halls, which were once head-quarters for the Crus­ader armies. See their Knights Hall and the Dining Hall, a series of nar­row subterranean tun­nels and a crypt. The grand bulk of Ahmed el-Jazzar's C18th cit­adel sits just inside the Old City walls.

    Ahmed el-Jazzar Mos­que 

    Akko’s Old Town Souk/market place is in the centre of the Old City and is a vibrant bazaar full of fruit, spic­es, tex­t­iles and souvenirs. Eat the Arab pastries in the bakeries! 

    During the British Mandate, the Citadel was used as a pris­on; today it houses the Museum of Underground Prisoners. This museum commemorates the Jewish fighters who were imprisoned or executed here by the British authorities.

    Lohamei Hageta'ot Kibbutz was founded in 1949 by Polish and Lith­uanian Jews. Now is home to a moving mus­eum dedicated to the Jew­ish resistance against the Nazis and the Holocaust. On the ground floor are disp­l­ays illustrating the history of Jewish Vilnius un­t­il 1940. There is material on the early days of Jewish nat­ional­ism at the end of the C19th, the everyday life of Polish Jews and an exhibit of art works by concent­rat­ion camp prisoners.

    Just north of Akko, the lovely gardens of Bahje Baha'i Centre contain the shrine of Bahu Ullah, founder of Baha'i faith. He was exiled to Akko in 1868 and spent the later life in the red-roofed house in the gardens. Just like the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa. 

    The World Heritage Committee inscribed The Old City of Acre on the World Heritage List in 2001. You will love this city, NaftaliTours

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    English King James I granted a charter to the Virginia Co. to form a North America settlement in 1606. The Virginia Co. was to search for local riches and a sea trade route to the Pac­ific Ocean. 100 colonists left England on three ships and landed on a narrow peninsula in the James River. Cap­tain John Smith chose the inland location to hide them from Spanish ships and to pro­vide protection from any Native American enemies.

    John Smith and the English colonists stayed near the Powhatan on nearby Jamestown Island, but later began to explore out-lying areas.

    In the meantime Smith terrorised Native people when he put guns to heads of village chiefs, demanding food and supplies. In fact the early 1600s were a horrible time for all local tribes. Young children were targets of rape, so the Native women offered themselves to men, to keep their children safe. The Powhatan people were in an unwinnable situation since the English government offered them no protection.

    The true story of  Matoaka (later Pocahontas c1596-1616) has been gathered from years of extensive research of the written records and oral histories from her descendants and tribal peoples of Virginia. Read Vincent Schilling who tells a tale of tragedy and heart­break about a young Native girl Matoaka who was kidnapped, raped and perhaps murdered by those who were supposed to keep her safe.

    Matoaka’s mother was Pocahontas (who died giving birth) and her father was Wahunsenaca, the tribal chief. Little Matoaka was raised by the Mat­tap­oni women, along with her many sib­lings.

    Matoaka was c10 when John Smith and English col­on­ists arrived. Since Pocahontas was liv­ing with her father Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca, she seemed to be protected. In wint­er 1607, the colonists and Smith met with Powhatan warriors and Smith was captured by the chief’s younger broth­er. Later Wahunsenaca grew to like Smith, offering him the position of werowance/colonists’ leader, plus land with great access to game and seafood.

    "English" Pocahontas' portrait, 1616
    She was in rich red and gold, with white lace cuffs and high collar, pearl earring, and an ostrich feather fan.

    Years later, Smith alleged that Pocahontas saved his life in the four-day process of becoming a werowance. But children were not allowed to attend any sort of religious rituals, so she could not have thrown herself in front of John Smith to beg for his life. [In 1624 Smith pub­lish­ed his book General Historie of Virginia where he claimed Pocahontas had twice saved his life, but Vincent Schilling said it wasn’t true].

    In 1608-09, Smith’s role as the colonists’ wero­w­ance had failed. The colonists made inadeq­uate attempts to plant crops to harvest, and Smith violently demanded supplies from surrounding vil­lages. Pocahontas’ father was disgusted.

    When Matoaka turned 14, she choose a new name after her moth­er, Pocahontas. During a ceremony she danced a courtship dance with Kocoum, younger brother of Potowomac Chief Japazaw. She married the young warrior and soon became preg­nant. It was at this time rumours surfaced that colonists planned to kidnap Pocahontas.

    An English colonist Captain Samuel Argall was particularly keen to find her, thinking that a captured daughter of the chief would prevent Native attacks. Argall came to the village and demanded Chief Japazaw, Pocahontas’ brother-in-law, to give up Pocahontas or suffer violence against his village. So he relented in the ridiculous hope that she would only be gone temporar­ily. Before Argall left the village, he gave Chief Japazaw a copper pot as a “trade” for her.

    Pocahontas had to give her baby, Kocoum, to the women of the village. She was trapped onboard an Eng­lish ship and her husband was killed by the colonists. The tribal chiefs of the Powhatan never retaliated for the kidnapping of Pocahontas, fearing they would suffer!

    Pocah­on­tas’ anxiety was so severe that her English captors allowed sister Mattachanna and brother-in-law Utta­mattamakin to help. In The True Story of Pocahontas, The Other Side of History, Linwood Custalow wrote that when Mattachanna and Utta­mattamakin arrived at Jamestown, Pocahontas confided she had been brutally raped.

    By the time John Rolfe arrived in Virginia in May 1610, 600 colon­ists had been reduced to 70 by famine, disease and clashes. Mat­taponi history is clear that Pocahontas and Rolfe had a son out of wedlock, Thomas. Event­ually Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca.

    During her captivity, the English colony of Jamestown was fail­ing. John Rolfe was under a 1616 deadline to become profitable or lose financial support from home. Rolfe sought to learn tobacco-curing techniques from the Powhatan, but curing tobacco was a sacred Native practice. Realising the value of aligning himself with the tribe, he eventually married Pocahontas.

    Only then did the Powhatan spiritual leaders and family share the curing practice with Rolfe. And soon Rolfe’s tobacco was a sensation; he saved the colony of Jamestown!

    The Powhatan tribal lands were now highly sought after for the tobacco trade and the tribe suffered badly of greedy tobacco farmers. Rumours of the colonists’ desire to take Pocahontas made its way to the Powhatan, who feared for her well-being. They thought of rescuing her, but once again Wahunsenaca did nothing because he feared his daughter might “be harmed”.

    Rebecca Pocahontas Rolfe travelled to England in 1616 with John Rolfe, son Thomas Rolfe, John Argall and some Native tribal members. The bringing of Pocahontas to Eng­land was to show friendship with Native nations; it was a key to continued financial support for the struggling colonists.

    According to Mattachanna’s record, Pocahontas realised that she was being used and desperately desired to return home. According to Jane Dismore, Pocahontas carried herself with great dignity. The Bishop wrote he ‘accustomed her selfe to civilitie’ and ‘still car­r­ied her selfe as the Daughter of a King, and was accordingly respected [by] persons of Honor, in their hopefull zeale by her to advance Christianitie’. Clearly she was very popular in King James’ court, and did not want to go home.

    Plans were made to return to Virginia in 1617 when Pocahontas was in good health. Yet at only 20 she died (of TB?) in March 1617 and was buried in St George’s Church Gravesend.

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    Since first writing about art stolen by the Nazis during WW2 and hid­den in various underground salt mines in Germany and Aust­ria, I have read everything I could on The Monument Men. When the Nazis found the Altaussee Salt Mines in Alp­ine Bavaria, for examp­le, they were delighted to ship their 6500 stolen art treas­ures into this salt-heavy, pastoral hideout. Today, ever since the film Monument Men appeared in our cinemas, tourists have flocked to the Altaussee Mines.

    When I heard of the Krakow Salt Mines Museum of Art on tv, I assumed it was another amazing memorial to art stolen by the Nazis during WW2. Wrong! Nonetheless it is fascinating.

    The Krakow Salt Works Museum is a large exhibition space in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Southern Pol­and, established after WW2. The mine, which continuously pro­duced table salt from the Middle Ages on, now consists of Two Worlds, A] an underground with a large exhibit in the salt mine 135m below and B] an above­ground in the Salt Works Castle.

    A] The Underground World is located in 17 historic mine work­ings, designed out in the 19th and early C20th. The museum has a rich collection of mining technology, inc­l­uding a collection of treadmills for horses, an early form of lifting gear which is displayed in its original environment.

    The tourist route takes up only 2% of the mine’s total length. The large Under­ground Salt Cathedral of Poland, with walls carved to replic­ate chapels from the earlier centuries, has chandeliers made from rock salt which have a glassy appear­ance, and rel­ig­ious sculpture. Plus there are historic and modern stat­ues eg Copernicus, Goethe, Chopin.

    Wide salt stairs, from which one can admire St Kinga's Chapel (started in 1896) in its full splendour, lead inside. Opposite the entran­ce to the chapel is the main altar with a statue of St Kinga, car­v­ed by Józef Markowski. The chapel walls are adorned with salt reliefs featuring various scenes from the New Testament and decorated by the Wieliczka miner sculptors. It is here that the only exist­ing underground salt-carved monument of Polish Pope John Paul II.



    There is reception room that is used for priv­ate functions, including weddings. The chamber has walls carved by miners to resemble wood, to resemble medieval wooden churches built all over Eastern Europe. A wooden staircase provides access to the mine's 64m level and a lift returns visitors to the surface.

    Many shafts were dug throughout the time the mine was op­er­ating. See the preserved mining equip­ment, small under-ground brine lakes, and salt-hewn spaces. The underground ex­hibition features a unique collection of horse powered extracting tread­mills of three different types: Polish, Saxon and Hung­arian, and machines to haul the salt to the top of the surface.

    There is wide range of exhibits: specimens of beautiful salt cryst­als, ancient utensils for salt production, documents and maps, paintings and sculptures from the non-existent und­er­ground chapels, ceremonial mining weapons, a Miner’s Union Horn, a collection of mining lamps and tools illustrating the various historical stages of salt production locally.

     Żupny Castle

    B] The Aboveground World is located in Żupny Castle, built on the hillside above Wieliczka, started under the C14th reign of Casimir III the Great and compl­eted in the C16th reign of Sigismund I the Old. It was built in a square form­ation, in­cluding liv­ing quarters outside the castle walls. Until 1945, this defensive castle was the administ­ra­tive and business headquarters of the salt mine

    The Saltworks Castle has a great collection of salt cellars – the oldest, silver Baroque salt cellar was made in the C17th in Augsburg. The most interesting include the por­c­elain salt-cellars with figurines of African girls carrying baskets, made by the Meissen manufacturers. My favourite collection exhibits the small works of salt art: silver saltshakers and dishes, armoured strong boxes, bronze ornam­ents and the C16th silver-mounted horn of the Diggers Brotherhood, the treasure showing the mine's wealth. The Gothic Hall displays portraits of mine managers. 

     Biblical sculptures

    silver salt cellars and shakers
    The Krakow Salt Works Museum Wieliczka duration of sightseeing tour about 3 hours in total with the route length of about 4km. Tourists can only visit the mine with a guide.

    C] World War Two
    The complex of Kraków-Płaszów concentration camps was located nearby and slave labour was readily available. So the mine shafts were used by the Germans to create war industries here, doubly suitable because the underground spaces were safe from Allied bombing raids. How ironic that thousands of Jews were trucked from the slave labour camps in Plaszow and Mielec to the Wiel­iczka mine; ever since the laws of Polish king Sigimund August (mid C16th), Jewish settlement in Wieliczka was banned until 1867.

    As soon as the Soviets were about to liberate the area, the German war industry was disassembled and transp­orted to Lieb­enau slave lab­our camp in the Sudetes mountains. The Jew­ish lab­ourers were trucked to camps in the Czech Republic and Austria.

    In 1978, was placed on UNESCO World Heritage Site because The Wieliczka salt mine reflects all the historic stages of devel­opment in mining techniques from the 13th to the C20th, while the preserved devices and tools document the old systems of working the deposits, drainage, lighting and ventilation of the mine in a unique manner by world standards. In 2010 a sis­ter mine 28ks apart, hist­oric Bochnia Salt Mine, was added to the list of UNESCO World Her­it­age sites. In 2013 Żupny Castle was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

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    After over a decade of austere Cromwellian rule, the restorat­ion of the monarchy in 1660 led to a resurgence of the arts in England. The court of King Charles II ((1630-85) became the centre for the pat­ronage of leading artists and the collecting of great works of art, which served a) as decoration for the royal apart­ments and b) to glorify the restored monarchy and rein­force Charles’ position as the rightful king. Now an exh­ibition called Charles II: Art and Power at the Queen’s Gall­ery is on at Buckingham Palace, until 13th May 2018.

    In May 1660 Charles II made his triumphant return to the thrones of England and Ireland, end­ing a dec­ade of republican Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. After 14 years in exile, Charles II was keenly aware of the im­p­­ortance of princely tradition and magnificent display in en­for­cing his right to the throne and his position as Head of the Ch­urch.

    He ordered royal regalia and crown jewels to repl­ace those sold off or melted down by the Parliamentarians, and his coron­ation in April 1661 was the most extravagant since that of El­iz­abeth I. See the stunning altar plate in West­min­­ster Abbey, including the silver-gilt alms dish by Henry Green­­­way, a metre in diamet­er, and a solid-gold chalice and gold paten.

    Charles planned to regain legitimacy, amongst other ways, by re-claiming his fath­er’s fabulous art collection. Although the royal resid­en­ces had survived the Civil War largely undisturbed, the Common­wealth government had sold off much of their contents. Par­liament commanded that all persons holding goods formerly bel­ong­ing to Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria or the new king were to return them with imm­ed­iate eff­ect. This order was later made leg­ally binding through the 1660 Act of Indemnity and Oblivion.

    King Charles II
    by John Michael Wright in c1661
    282 × 239 cm

    Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlem­aine and Cleveland, 
    by Peter Lely

    Charles II had placed an order for a large group of paintings from the dealer who had sold works to his father in the 1630s. Among these were Pieter Bruegel the Eld­er's The Mass­acre of the Innocents c1565–67 and Georges de la Tour's St Jerome c1621–3. In the same year the King was pres­ented with great paintings, sculp­ture and furniture by the States of Holland and West Fries­land. And, to strengthen the alliance between the two countries and to discourage Char­les II from agreeing to a treaty with his cousin Louis XIV, they sent Paolo Veron­ese's Mystic Marriage of St Catherine of Alexandria c1562–69 and Titian’s Mad­onna and Child in a Landscape with Tobias and the Angel c1535–40.

    Having grown up surrounded by his father’s art collection, Char­les II knew that paintings promoted pleasure and decoration, and also promoted the king’s power. Soon after his return to Eng­land, he appointed the portraitist Sir Peter Lely as official Limner and Picture Drawer. Lely was seen as the natural successor to Van Dyck, the first holder of the post established by Charles I. The miniaturist Samuel Cooper became Royal Picture Maker in 1672. In 1674 Italian Antonio Verrio, who had assisted the artist Charles Le Brun at Versailles, was commissioned to decorate the newly built State Apartments at Windsor Castle.

    The two great groups of drawings (by Hans Holbein II and Leonardo da Vinci) that came to King Charles came from Thomas Howard 14th Earl of Arundel, the first signif­icant English collector of drawings. They were gifted in thanks for the restitution of the noble family’s lands.

    Charles II's new court style was influenced by the lux­urious French fashions he had seen at Louis XIV’s court when his exile started. His royal apartments at White­hall Pal­ace were filled with elaborate decorative arts, including tap­es­tries woven in Parisian workshops and silver furniture in the French taste. The royal palaces were the setting for lavish masques and balls attended by poets, writers, scientists, act­ors and beautiful women, several of whom were painted by Sir Peter Lely in a ser­ies of Windsor Beauties, including portraits of the King's mis­tress Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlem­aine and Cleveland.

    An image of the restored monarchy was painted by John Michael Wright in c1661. The King wore St Edward’s crown and parliam­ent­ary robes over the Garter costume, and he carried an orb and sceptre which were made specially for the. as the earlier reg­al­ia had been destroyed during the Interregnum. The King is seat­ed in front of a tapestry apparently representing the Judgment of Solomon, which may allude to the king’s wisdom.

    The gallery is displaying artefacts from the King’s Touch Cerem­ony in which each monarch touched tens of thousands of members of the public suffering from scrofula. God would cure the unsightly swelling disease VIA the Royal touch. The weekly ritual had bec­ome so popular that the palace was com­pelled to issue tokens to tens of thousands of scrofula sufferers, proving they had been blessed by the King’s hand. See the 1662 “Pro­cl­amation for the better ordering of those who repair to the Court for their Cure of the Disease called the Kings-Evil”.

    silver-gilt alms dish by Henry Green­­­way, 1660
    embossed with The Last Supper and the royal Stuart arms
    West­min­­ster Abbey

    The exhibition also shows how the king used science to build his reputation, countering the traditional view of Charles II as the Merrie Monarch who loved women, pleasure, parties, horse racing, yachting and theat­re. Clearly patronage of these popular pastimes was a sure way to gain the support of the country, and to enjoy himself. By contrast, science was a source of intellectual fascination for Charles II, a tool for improving the navy and milit­ary, and a way of identif­ying himself with other powerful European princely patrons of science. In 1660 he founded the Royal Soc­iety which included other great scientific minds like ast­ronomer Edmund Halley, who worked from the newly established Royal Observ­at­ory in Greenwich. And Isaac Newton.

    The book Charles II: Art & Power by Martin Clayton and Rufus Bird was published by Royal Collection Trust in Dec 2017. It includes glittering silver-gilt plate from the high-altar of Westminster Abbey during the King's coronation, old master paint­ings, tapestries and spectacular furniture i.e the rich material world of Charles II's court.

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    The Rock of Gibraltar is a nar­row sandy isthmus off the Iberian Pen­in­sula. Being limestone, the 6sq km Rock is riddled with 140+ caves. Off the eastern cliffs of the rock a flat, sandy plain stret­ched out towards the Mediterranean.

    The Strait of Gibraltar is the narrow neck separ­ating Europe from Africa, the only link between the Atl­ant­ic Ocean and the Med­iter­ranean Sea. Sin­ce the Prophet died in Medina in 632 AD, the pro­g­ress of Islam’s armies was rapid. Berber Tarik-ibn-Zeyad land­ed in 710 AD and from 742 on, the Moors defended their rock with a fort.

    In 1068, the Arab Gover­nor on Gib­ral­tar ordered that a strong­er Moorish Castle be built to watch events across the Strait. The castle had the largest keep and the tallest towers in all the Iberian Peninsula, plus buildings, gates and for­tified walls. In 1160 the Caliph of Mor­occo commissioned a fully fortif­ied city. The Rock rem­ain­ed in Arab hands until an unexp­ect­ed Spanish attack between 1309-33, then it re­v­ert­ed to Arab cont­rol. The Moors’ City Walls surrounded the city, later strengthened by other nations.

    The King of Castile’s troops finally captured Gibraltar from the Moors in 1462 and perman­ently expelled them. 3 years later, the Duke of Medina's son was confir­med as the owner of the Rock by Royal Decr­ee. When Isabella bec­ame Queen of Castile in 1474, she wanted Gibral­tar back. She granted Gibraltar the Castle, Key and Coat of Arms. Note Gibral­tar’s flag: a three-towered red castle and key.

     marinas, Gibraltar

    Spain retained the Rock, and used it as an important naval base. The opp­ort­un­­ity for Brit­ain to capt­ure Gib­raltar arose with the War of the Sp­an­ish Succes­sion (1702-13). The Rock became a pawn in the strug­gle between rival claim­ants to the Spanish throne, Frenchman Philip V of Anjou & Austrian Archduke Charles III. When the Rock fell to an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704, all Spanish inhabit­ants left for  Spain.

    The Cable Car, Gibraltar

    The Rock was for­mally ceded by Spain to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 and was used as a trad­ing post. But Spain was never able to accept their lost terr­it­ory. The worst siege was France and Spain’s Great Siege in 1779, which last­ed 3.5 years. The Gov­er­nor put guns into the precipitous north­ern face by tun­n­el­ling through the rockface.

    In the Battle of Trafalgar 1805, Napoleon was allied with Spain in planning an invasion of Bri­t­ain. The British fleet was commanded by Horacio Nelson and the combined Franco-Spanish fleet was command­ed by Gen Villen­ueve. For two years, the fleets chased each other around the At­lan­tic and Mediterranean, before finally clashing at the Battle of Trafalgar where Nelson died.

    Given Gibraltar's historical military role, it was not till the early C19th that the military gov­er­nor focused on civ­ilians’ social needs. By 1815 the governor created the Grand Par­ade, where loc­als could walk out of the ext­r­eme heat. Grand Par­ade became a hub of cerem­on­ial military events.

    In 1817 the Exchange and Comm­er­cial Lib­rary was foun­d­ed for ci­vil­ians. Soon after, a Charter of Jus­tice was grant­ed, civilian magi­s­tracy establ­ished and civil rights were given to citizens. A Sup­reme Court was created, with a chief justice and jury system. In 1830, responsibility for local affairs was trans­fer­red from the War Office to the Colonial Off­ice, and the status of Gibraltar was ch­an­ged from the “Garrison of Gibraltar in the Kingdom of Spain”, to the “Crown Colony of Gibraltar”. A local Police Force arrived in 1830.

    At their peak in 1865, Gibraltar's fortifications housed 681 guns mounted in 110 batteries, guarding all land and sea approaches to Gibraltar. Lord Airey's Batteries were completed in 1891 and are located at the highest point on Gibraltar. The Military Heritage Centre is housed in one of the many batter­ies still found today.

    The promenade was ex­pan­ded to include 8 hectares of land for the Alameda Poplar Gardens. The gar­dens were laid out with int­er­connect­ing paths and terr­ac­ed beds of local limestone. Gas light­ing was intro­d­uced along Grand Parade.

    In WW1 Spain remain­ed neut­ral and was not a danger to Gibr­al­t­ar. But Ger­m­any’s growing power led the British Government to expand its Navy. This heightened Gibraltar's role as major naval base, to keep the St­ra­its clear of en­emy shipping. The Bay developed modern dock­yards, harbour and repair facilities for Al­­lied warships. 

    St Michael's Cave, Gibraltar
    Used for concerts

    By 1939 Mussolini join­ed Hitler, and a new theatre of war op­en­ed in the Medit­er­ranean. There was a very real danger that France’s Gen Franco would join the men who had help­ed him win Spain, imperilling Gib­ral­tar. The Royal Eng­ineers added c40Km of tun­nels and chambers, dug out of the lime­stone. An un­derground city grew, with its own hospit­als, elec­tric­ity, telephones, water distillers and foodstores. 

    The civil­ian population was evac­uat­ed to Britain and Jamaica, and 230 years of political gains under British rule seemed lost. However read how this isthmus played a role in defeating Hitler: Defending The Rock, Nicholas Rankin, Faber & Faber, 2017. In any case, the post-war years saw a growing demand for greater self-govern­ment, plus prog­ress in medical, educat­ional and housing services.

    Perched on the peak of the Rock is the Top Station of The Cable Car 1966. There are great views across the Straits of Gib­raltar to Africa, to Spain and the Medit­erranean. This Cable Car was constructed by the Swiss, but within the Top Station complex there is an “English” pub and shop.

    Surrounded by sea, Gibraltar has 5 beaches: Catalan Bay, Camp Bay, Eastern Beach, Sandy Bay and Little Bay. Catalan Bay beach has the charm of a fishing village with attractive pubs and marinas.

    In 1963 Gibraltar's status came before the UN Special Com­mittee on Decolonisation. A 1967 ref­er­­en­dum asked Gibr­al­tans whether they wanted to remain British or become Spanish. 12,000+ people voted for Britain while 44 chose Spain!! Nonetheless Spain caused the complete clos­ure of the border in 1969. Gen­ Fra­n­co had besieged the ter­r­­it­ory and cut it off, by telephone, land and by sea.

    Barbary Apes' Den

    Gibral­tar (pop 34,000) was granted a new Constitution by Britain and their House of As­s­em­bly was estab­l­ished. The New Constit­ution of May 1969 stated that Gibral­t­ar would never be handed to Spain without an Act of Par­liament and without the peo­p­le's consent. Gibraltar gained cont­rol over its own civil service, and power now lay in a democ­ratically elected gov­ern­ment under a Chief Minister. In 1973 Gibraltar joined the EU.

    Franco’s death in 1975 led to an ag­reement which de­cl­ared that both UK and Spain were comm­itted to solve all dif­f­eren­ces; Spain would lift the restrict­ions. The ele­ction of a soc­ial­ist government in Mad­rid oversighted the full opening of the border in 1984. Today Gibraltar is a British Territory that is self-governing except for foreign policy, which is controlled by Britain.

    A former building for Franciscan friars, The Convent was named in 1531 by a wealthy Spaniard. Today it is the res­id­ence of Gibraltar’s Governor, the Queen's re­p­res­entative in Gibraltar. The red brick Jacobean style frontage is perfect for the weekly Chan­g­ing of the Guard.

    These days Cathedral Cave mak­es a unique crystalline audit­or­ium for music, ballets and dramas. The mosque once built in the city centre for the Muslims was later converted by the Spanish into a Catholic church, now Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.

    Botanical Gardens

    By 1991 Alameda Gardens were con­verted into the Gib­raltar Botan­ical Gardens, a paradise for wildlife. At the Barbary Apes' Den see apes up close, and see the whales and dolphins in the Bay below.


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    John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (1934 - ?) was the older son of George Bingham, 6th Earl of Lucan, an Anglo-Irish peer. John’s mother went into full time care when he was a toddler and he was raised by a maid. After WW2, this good-looking but cold aristocrat served with the Coldstream Guards in Germany and later worked as a merchant banker.

    But in his 20s he became a member of the very classy Clermont Club, spent a fortune on racing power boats and drove a very flashy car. In 1963 he married Veronica Duncan, a woman he did not like but felt obligated to marry because of their ad­van­c­ing ages (nearly 30). They quickly had three children.

    Veronica had been beaten by her husband throughout their marr­iage with a cane and lash; then he had sex with her bleeding body straight afterwards! He was gambling full time and inevitably lost everything. John moved out of the Belgravia family home and a bitter custody battle ensued. He began to spy on his wife, intending to regain cus­tody of their child­ren, but he had spent all his money on gam­bling. Until his father died, this unemployed, very angry ar­is­t­o­c­rat would have no money to support himself or the child­­ren. As it happened, George Lord Lucan 6th died in Jan 1964.

    Lord John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan
    1934 - ?

    Because of the canings, Lucan had his wife cer­tif­ied on the grounds of mental illness; SHE lost custody of her children.

    On 7th Nov 1974, Lucan went to the five-storey family home at 46 Lower Belgrave St London. In the dark basement kit­chen, he met the children's nanny Sandra Rivett who’d gone downstairs to make tea for Lady Lucan. In the dark basement Lucan blud­geoned the nanny to death with lead pip­ing, appar­ently mistaking the nanny for his wife.

    Lady Lucan went downstairs for the cup of tea. There she met Lord Lucan, who attacked her on top of the basement stairs, hitting her over the head with the pip­ing. After grabbing his testicles, Veronica managed to escape. And covered in blood, she ran for help at the local pub.

    In the meantime Lord Lucan drove for an hour to the home of Susan Maxwell-Scott, a Sussex friend. The friend didn’t call the police because she didn’t know about the murder. Yet Lucan said he had spotted a man attacking his wife while passing the family home, and “interv­ened to save his wife”.

    On the 8th Nov, Lucan was seen driving from the Maxwell-Scott home. On the 10th, the car was found dumped in the port town of Newhaven, lead piping in the boot.

    As Scotland Yard and Fleet St struggled to find Lucan, they met patronising attitudes from the upper-crust regulars of John Aspinall’s Mayfair Clermont Club casino. The Det­ect­ive Chief Superint­endent believed that gambler Michael Stoop’s car (a Ford Corsair) had been left in Newhaven as a decoy and Luc­an had quietly slipped out to South Africa.

    Lady Veronica Lucan
    died 2017

     The children's nanny, Sandra Rivett
    died 1974

    The Clermont Set did everything to protect their colleague. His friends warned him that, given the murder­, Lady Lu­c­an would get custody of the children and the family-trust mon­ey. But if he were to disappear, probate could not legally be granted on his estate for 7 years. In 7 years, his children would be just old enough to control the trust money. So, they agreed, Lord Lucan needed to vanish. But how? Not by fleeing abroad.

    When artist Dominic Elwes told what he knew about the murder to the press, he found him­self blackballed by other Clermont Club members. In 1975 Elwes suicided at 44, probably hounded to death by some of Lucan’s more vicious gambling mates.

    When confronted by sightings in exotic locat­ions abroad, Lady Lucan always dismissed them as nonsense. Her husband was not the sort of Englishman to cope abroad; he liked England; he couldn’t speak foreign lang­uages; and he preferred English food. She believed that Lord Lucan was indeed an expert power­boat racer, so he could bravely throw himself under a cross-Channel ferry. The ferry’s prop­el­lers would have chopped him up.

    Lucan’s friend James Wilson agreed. When Lord Lucan realised he had killed the nanny by mistake, remorse and honour demand­ed suicide. He must have parked his car at Newhaven where he had a boat, weighed himself down and jumped over the side.

    Since 1974 Lord Lucan sightings have popped up across the world, none more important than Australia. On Ch­ristmas Eve 1974, just months after the disappearan­ce, Australian police arrested a man in Melbourne thinking they’d caught Lord Lucan. British police and newspaper reporters quickly arrived in Melbourne. So close!! In fact, they had caught 48 year old John Stonehouse, the for­mer British govern­ment minister with a posh British accent. Two years earlier Stonehouse had faked his own death on a Florida beach. 

    Months later he was seen in Cher­bourg and St Malo, Fran­ce. Fingerprints from a beer glass in Cape Town were loc­at­ed next. Then a Scotland Yard detective claimed that Lord Lucan had lived as a hippy in Goa India until his death in 1996. Or he was in the rural town of Marton in New Zealand. Others saw him backpacking on Mount Etna, waiting on tables in San Franc­isco, being treated in a private hospital in Johannesburg in 1995, in Greece or in Botswana.  Later Lucan was seen working on a sheep station in the Australian outback.

    Throughout her later life Veronica called herself Dowager to make her widowhood clear. Eventually Lord Lucan’s death certificate was issued by the High Court to his son, allowing George Bing­ham to become the 8th Earl Lucan. At her own death in 2017, Lady Lucan had been est­rang­ed from her own children for 40 years. Nor had she ever met her 5 grandchildren.


    The medical records of one of the UK's most eminent Harley St plastic surgeons, Dr John Watson, remained hidden since the nanny's murder and Lord Lucan's disappearance. The records, which showed that Dr Watson did facial surgery on the Earl of Lucan after a speedboat accident, were found by daughter Carolyn Watson Allen (in Queensland) and shared with the BBC in 2013.

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    The Nabataean Kingdom once stretched from Dam­ascus and in­cl­uded parts of the Sinai. Located amid rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the SW corner of Jor­dan, Petra was once a thriving trad­ing centre and the capital of this kingdom from 400 BC–106 AD. I have spent only 1.5 days of my entire long life there, well worth the tour from Amman or Jerusalem.

    The Nabateans were Arabic-speaking nomads who sel­ected the best oases to set­tle in. And they used the inac­c­es­sib­le moun­tains to pro­t­ect themselves from bandits and high­way robbers.

    But these people were a desert people, so they had no archit­ect­ural heritage of their own. The Petra style was therefore a jumble of influences absorb­ed al­ong the trading routes: Egypt­ian, As­syrian, Hellenistic, Mesopot­amian and Roman imagery.


    The treasury

    By the C2nd BC, Petra was already in­ternationally famous for its natural and archit­ect­ural beau­ty, for its wealth and its pink colours. Petra had c30,000 people who used their knowledge of the desert to become a junct­ion of the main caravan routes; spices came from the east to Egypt and the Mediter­ranean, all of it taxed in Petra.

    Apart from the large, carved funerary monu­m­ents, ordinary fac­ilities were also built eg baths, houses, theatres, water pip­es, cisterns, temples. The vast tracts of the Nabat­aean Empire can be seen in the re­mains of their innovative networks of water cap­t­ure, stor­age, transport and irrig­ation systems, showing how survival in this desert landscape flourished.

    To get in, the visitor had to go via 1.5 ks of a nar­row siq-gorge, sur­rounded by staggering 100m cliffs made of sheer pink sand­stone. The siq’s entrance used to be marked by a Roman archway, but now only the vertical ruins are visible.
    Enter the city via this pink sandstone sik/gorge

    Petra’s siq first opens onto the vast façade of the C3rd BC Treasury and its tow­ers, precisely and deeply carved into the soft sand­stone mountainside. Built as a royal tomb, there was a constant belief that the giant urn carv­ed into the centre of the second tier contained vast, hidden gold. But while the grand ed­if­ice was a state­ment of their wealth, the building was actually just a hall.

    There are dozens of tombs and other built struct­ures within Petra. The space from the Treasury to Qasr al-Bint is Petra’s main central business district, with the outlying hills further away. Though the weather-worn rock­face is still peppered with ancient dwellings and sepulchres, many are more modest and some are unfinished.

    Alas for Petra, its increasing influence and prosperity was seen as a threat to Rome; in 106 AD, Emperor Trajan ann­exed the Nabataeans into the Roman province of Arabia, with Petra as the capital. Once Romans took control of the trade routes, diverting them towards Bosra, Petra's decline was inevitable. This decline was worsened by early C6th earth quakes.

    There was a sec­ond building resurgence during the later C6th AD, this time under Byzantine rule when Christian­ity arrived. Many buil­d­ings were converted to church­es.

    Which might explain why the tomb/hall was called a monastery. Following the route walked by the faithful, the Monastery was later re-purposed by the Crusaders as a tem­ple. Crosses etched into the walls inside the building showed the Byzantines’ priority. But, still, why did religious pilgrims come to Petra?

    Petra had been the location of many Biblical events. Moses struck a rock here, in order to give water to his people en route from Egypt to Israel. And the altar where Abraham intended to sac­rifice his beloved son Isaac was also here. Lastly note a small white mosque called Jebel Haroun, the biblical mountain tomb in Mount Hor where Moses’ brother Aaron was buried. Aaron was sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    Note the smallish plat­form known as the High Place of Sacrif­ice. The altar was a sacrific­ial site where priests cut the throats of beasts, in front of the pilgrims.

    Ampitheatre with 8,000 seats

    Next to the Treasury is the C1st AD Ampitheatre, dug out of the mountainside. Apparently there were surrounding build­ings, but the Romans pulled them down bec­ause they spoilt the site’s acoustics. The 33 concen­tric tiers of seating could hold 8000 people in the audience!! People packed in for poetry read­ing, pantom­imes and especially Roman gl­adiatorial contests.

    So Petra is a place that has borne witness to the rise and fall of one civilisation after another. Yet the city remained hidden from the West since the time of the Crusad­es because lo­c­al Bedouin tribes fear­ed an influx of greedy treas­ure hunters.

    In 1809, Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burck­hardt moved to Aleppo, as part of his work with a British assoc­iation seeing the source of the Niger River. He mastered Arabic, converted to Islam, wore a full beard and took the name Sheikh Ibrahim bin Abdullah. En route to Cairo, he heard rumour of ruins hidden in the Wadi Musa mountains!! But the locals need not have worried - the treas­ure Burckhardt sought was scientific not profiteering.


    Map of Jordan and Israel, marking Amman, Petra, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

    Burckhardt’s plan in 1812 worked. When he entered Petra, he was the first outsider to do so for centuries. He was amazed by countless tombs and the great amphitheatre carved into the rock. Having surprised his guide with his incursions, Burck­hardt was hurried to the city’s parched core, the Colon­naded St and Qasr al-Bint. Burckhardt dared venture no furth­er; his ex­ploration of Petra was soon over. Luckily he had secretly made notes and sketches in his diary. Burckhardt sent a letter back to his colleagues excitedly reporting his discovery, but he hardly had time to enjoy his fame. He died in 1817, at 32.


    With no surviving written sources, Petra’s built environment provides academics’ most valuable resource. Scholars know the Nabataeans were in Petra since 312 BC, yet no one has found any archaeological evidence from back then. Clearly most of the city is still underground. Now modern archaeological research is continuing by Jordan­ian, Israeli and foreign teams. In 1985, Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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    The date and maker’s-name symbols were required marks to add to silver objects in Britain from the late C15th on. Each piece, as it was presented for assay/content analysis, was therefore fully identifiable. Faking was possible, but improbable. Thus for hundreds of years, British silver has had the oldest qual­ity-control standards in the world.

    My personal passion for silver art started in 1685 with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in Catholic France. The king declared Protestantism illegal, beginning an intense pers­ec­ution programme of Huguenots. All Protestants could convert to Cath­olicism, leave France or have their children removed. Some 400,000 Huguenots did flee France, taking their silver art and silk making skills with them to Britain, Germany, Nether­lands or other safe Protestant havens.

    starkly underdecorated silver toilet set 
    made in London by a Huguenot silversmith (who?)

    A shop display in the Silver Vaults

    I wanted to specialise in Huguenot silver art made in Britain from 1685 on. I introduced myself to every French silversmith, his master, wife, children and church in Britain, until 1725. By that time, the Huguenots' uniqueness had dis­app­eared and British-born artists were creating similar work.

    So once financial reality set in, the next task was to go to The London Silver Vaults which began when The Chan­cery Lane Safe Deposit Co. first opened its doors in the mid-1880s. Since my 1994 visit might be out of date, I have relied on Londonist for any up-to-date information.

    An advertisement for the vaults that appeared in The London Illustrated News of 1884 shows elegant Victorian men and lad­ies passing through a massive, arched entrance at 61-62 Chan­cery Lane. It said “The vaults are built on col­umns, and are entirely isolated, having patrols or corridors around, over and under them, making it utterly impossible for anyone to approach unobserved. Night watchmen are armed with revolvers”.

    The rooms were used by the local wealthy upper classes and rich merchants to store their valuables, whenever the own­ers travelled to their country estates or where going abroad. The vaults, protected by armed guards at 53-54 Chancery Lane, were also used as a safety deposit stronghold for anxious Lon­doners who were aware of the crime waves affect­ing Victorian London. These subterr­anean vaults in the centre of London suc­ceeded because the 1.2 metres thick walls were lined with steel – no thief could get through.

    Additionally the Chancery Lane location was ideally suited to the needs of merchants in nearby Hatton Garden. And for the solic­itors and barristers of the Inns of Court, who needed a safe place for their legal documents. Victorians clearly paid to leave their priceless items in this high-security repository. A 1890 press report, five years after its opening, described 6,000+ safes and 3,000 customers. Some of the valuable State papers were in conn­ection with the historic enquiry called the Parnell Commission.

    The vaults were badly bombed during WW2. They were revived in the 1940s by renting space at The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit Co. and invited American officers and memb­ers of the diplomatic service down to their vault, to buy silver. These were the first retail customers in WW2 and as word spread to other deal­ers, London Silver Vaults be­g­an their second incarnation.

    Did they remind citizens of the vaults' previous life as Britain's first safe deposit site? In 1953, several jewellery and silver dealers who had used the vaults for storage moved their operations to 53-54 Chancery Lane and opened shops there. Clearly the vaults retained their secure reputation! Downstairs, inside the London Silver Vaults, each of the c30 shops is in a small cell, each protected by a sturdy iron door off a long, prison-like corridor.

    Today the shops are very often run by the grandchildren of the orig­inal owners, handed down through the generations. 

    Each small shop is protected by a sturdy iron door off a long, prison-like corridor
    photo credit: Londonist

    The entrance to the Silver Vaults does not attract much attention
    photo credit: Londonist

    Koopman & Son has one of London's finest collections of antique silver. All the best Hug­uenot and early C18th British silversmiths eg Paul de Lamer­ie, Matthew Boulton, Paul Storr, John Bateman and sons, are there. The items include large silver-gilt epergnes and candelabra, bowls, ewers, coffeepots, teapots and chocolate pots, with their original ebony or ivory hand­les. A set of three Queen Anne muffin­eer shakers 1709, made in Edinburgh, was $5,700, while a rare Queen Anne choco­late pot by Thomas Parr, with the original swizzle stick, was $54,000. Two Hester Bateman sugar basins 1788 cost $1,740.

    The silver­ware in William Walter Antiques is predominant­ly Georgian eg a pair of Georgian openwork sweetmeat baskets ($480) and a pair of George III wine coasters ($1,200). William Walter also boasts a large soup tureen with a gadroon border, made by Paul Storr ($19,200) and a pair of Queen Anne sugar casters made by Charles Adam in 1713 ($2,220). The oldest objects are a set of Tudor spoons that cost tens of thousands and one Charles I seal-top spoon dating from 1628 ($595)

    Ivor Mazure has a fine collection of Faberge eggs made with prec­ious and semiprecious stones, as well as Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewellery. There are cigarette cases, desk seals, picture frames, sweetmeat dishes, jewellery & clocks att­ributed to the Faberge workshop. An Art Nouveau gold-enamel pendant by Henri Teterger has stylised organics set with diamonds, emeralds & large baroque pearl ($27,600)

    silver teapot and stand
    by French Huguenot Louis Cuny, 
    made in London in 1706. Pinterest

    silver gilt ewer and basin 
    by French Huguenot Paul de Lamerie, 
    made in London in 1715. Pinterest

    Then wander into Steven Lind­en's antique home­ware and giftware shop, another 3rd-generation business. Kalms Antiques has a beaut­iful silver nef/ship, roll­ed along the table top to carry a cargo of spices or condim­ents to the ass­embled diners. Such devices were popular table ornaments in the Renaissance when spices were a costly commodity. One is a C19th pastiche from Portugal, but would still fetch almost £30,000.

    Anthony Green has special­is­ed in antique pock­et watches for 30 years, some of them Geor­g­ian timepieces. Nearby Clerken­well was, after all, a world cen­tre of watch-making. Belmont Jewellers stocks modern jewel­lery while Wolfe Jewellery specialises in antique items.

    The London Silver Vaults are open till 5.30pm, after which you will need good food and wine. NY Times recommended two Chancery Lane eateries i.e Hodgson's Restaurant built in 1863, and Chez Gerard.

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    The Judgement of Death Act 1823 saw the number of crimes punishable by death in Britain drop. And since medical and anatomical schools were only leg­al­ly allowed to dissect the cad­av­ers of those who had been condemned to death by a court, this led to an ext­reme short­age of available bodies for students. Inevitably medical schools paid some criminals to find more bodies via grave-robbing.

    Relatives were known to guard the recently dug graves of their dearly departed and watch-towers were installed in cemeteries. The fresher the body, the more money it was worth, thus it didn’t take long before grave-robbing graduated to anatomy murder, done for monetary reward. The most in­fam­ous were in Edinburgh in 1827–8 whose university was noted for top quality medical sciences.

    Irishmen William Burke (1792-1829) and William Hare (1804-?) both came from Ulster and moved to Edinburgh to work on the Union Canal. The pair met and became close friends when Burke moved with his mistress Helen McDougal to lodg­ings in Tanner’s Close in Edinburgh. Hare lived on the same street and was running a boarding house there with Marg­aret Laird-Hare, his “wife”.

     Hare and Burke, 

    Burke and Hare’s first experience in the world of medical science came in Dec 1827 when one of Hare’s tenants, an elderly army pen­s­ioner called Old Donald Bark, died still owing £4 in rent. Hare knew that there was a high demand for bodies for anat­omical study and saw a way the dead man could pay back his debt. On the day of Old Donald's funeral the two men removed his body from the coffin and filled it up. Later they took the body to Prof Robert Knox at Surgeon Square and were paid £7 and 10s for it.

    They liked the money that they made on Old Donald; alas the mon­ey didn’t last. Burke and Hare could have become true grave rob­bers but dig­ging up corpses would have involved too much effort. When Joseph, another of Hare's lodgers, became a bit ill, Burke and Hare decided to end Joseph’s suff­ering. They plied him with whisky and smothered him. This became their favoured method of execution as it left the body undamaged for the students who would later dissect the cadavers.

    Without any other ill tenants, the pair decided to ent­ice poor victims to the lodging house, selectively at first and then they regarded al­most anyone who breathed as a potential vict­im. If desperate, the men would have even con­temp­lated killing and selling their own partners, Helen and Marg­aret.

    A prostitute, Janet Brown, was lucky to survive when she and a teenage prostitute friend, Mary Paterson, were in­vited to stay with Bur­ke. Janet returned one evening to find her friend missing and was told Mary and Burke had stepped out. Actually Mary was lying dead in the next room, her body ready to be taken to Prof Knox!

    The two men murdered a disabled young man

    An elderly grandmother was killed with an overdose of painkillers and Hare murdered her blind young grandson by breaking the boy’s back. Even Ann McDougal, a rel­ative of Burke's partner Helen, was murdered; Burke had no qualms about kil­ling her, but he asked Hare to do that deed! They enticed elderly Abigail Simpson in with whiskey, then both men killed, placed her in a box and sold off the body.

    Elizabeth Halden made the ter­r­ible mistake of calling at Hare’s lodging-house. After hearing she was last seen with Hare, Halden’s daughter Peggy called at the lod­gings looking for her. Both women ended up dead and were delivered to Prof Knox for £10 each.

    Burke and Hare reached a new low when they brought in a well loved, handicapped children’s entertainer cal­l­ed Daft James Wilson. How careless of them! James had a deformed foot and was instantly rec­ognised by paying s­t­ud­ents at Prof Knox's anatomy class.

    On Halloween 1828 Burke and Hare’s 16th and last victim, an old Irish woman called Marjory Docherty, was invited to stay with Burke and Helen. Burke’s other lodgers, a couple called James and Ann Gray, were invited to stay a night at Hare’s boarding house that evening so the murder could take place. On their return to Burke’s lodgings the following day, the Grays were told that Marjory had been asked to leave because she had been flirtatious with Burke. But they later discovered Marjory’s dead body hidden under the bed, in straw. The Grays challeng­ed Helen over their dis­covery and she offered them a bribe of £10 a week to stay silence. The Grays reported the murder to the Police anyhow and the game was up.

    In tot­al, Burke and Hare are said to have murdered at least 16 people for £7-10 each, although the real total was possibly higher. The murders had all taken place within one year, Nov 1827-Oct 1828. The criminals were all arrested, interviewed separately and gave con­flicting accounts. However after a month of interviewing, the Police had little hard ev­id­ence. Event­ual­ly the Lord Ad­voc­ate, Sir William Rae, offered Hare immun­ity in return for test­ifying against Burke and Helen. Done deal!

    The trial began on Christmas Eve 1828 when Burke and Helen were both charged with Marjory Docherty’s murder. Burke was also charged with the murder of Mary Paterson and James Wilson. While Helen’s complicity in Marjory’s murder was not proven under Scot­t­ish Law and she was set free, Burke was sentenced to death by hanging.

    William Burke, hanged in Edinburgh
    Jan 1829

    William Burke was hanged before 25,000 noisy people in Jan 1829, then his body was put on public exhibition. How apt that his body was then donated to medical science! Burke’s skeleton and death mask are still on display at Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall.

    Hare was released in Feb 1829 and spent his days as a beggar in London. Helen and Margaret also fled Edinburgh, with Helen then leaving for Australia and Margaret to Ireland. Prof Knox was never called to court, thus escaping prosecution altogether (good grief!!!). But Knox did have to move to London, to resurrect his medical career.

    The Burke and Hare murders led to the Anatomy Act 1832 which all­owed doctors, anatomy lecturers and medical students greater access to cadavers and allowed for the legal donation of bodies to medical science. The illegal body-snatcher trade could end.

    Thanks to Nell Darby in All About History, Issue 57.
    Thanks to Horrorpedia for the images.

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    I had been to family reunions in Canada, from Toronto to Vancouver, and especially in Winnipeg. Only in 1994 did we made the first trip to the easternmost Maritimes.

    Susan Skelly (The Australian, 11th Nov 2017) wrote: in the Canadian Maritimes prov­in­ces notice their scents - pine resin, wood smoke, seawater, for­est, tobacco, fish and peat. In unforgiving eastern­­ Canada, the Maritimes provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have the Gulf of St Lawrence, Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean to contend with.

    This has been a strat­egic hub that has historically under­pinned wars, immigration and trade. Nova Scotia’s coast has one of the highest concent­rations of shipwrecks in North America, c25,000. But the forests­ of the Maritimes are more accommodating. They are an elegant, tight-knit community of conifers, maples and poplars, scarlet in autumn.

    Nova Scotia’s geography creates many fishing villages, so the signature food in the Canadian Maritimes is seafood - crab, lobster, cod, Atlantic salmon, clams, mussels and oysters. See Peggy’s Cove, with its rounded glacial rocks and iconic lighthouse. Nova Scotia has a small popul­at­ion but a coast with cosy harbours, boats and gorgeous colours.

    There are many natural wonders. Hopewell Rocks formations sprout from the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick where the lowest high tides are 10m. Visitors can walk the very muddy ocean floor when the tide is out. The Fundy Trail is a huge parkland that was the vision of the late philanthropist Mitchell Franklin.

    A very scenic drive is Cape Bret­on’s Cabot Trail, a 300 km highway that takes in beaut­iful highlands. Hike, cycle, golf or watch for whales. A man-made wonder­ is the Confed­er­ation Bridge, which links Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick – it is 13km long and sits 40m over the Northum­b­erland Strait.

    Visitors can see plenty of animals (bear, deer, moose, lynx, red squirrel) and birds (rock doves, seagulls and wild geese). Key crops are the Russet Burbank potato, corn and soy beans. Blueberries are popular. Winemakers in the region have been producing a brand called Tidal Bay, where the grape varieties are 100% grown in Nova Scotia. There’s also a local whisky, homage to the region’s Scottish heritage.

    Brightly painted houses,
    Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

    Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    photo credit: NOVA SCOTIA Canada

    Sussex murals, 
    New Brunswick

    Confed­er­ation Bridge, 
    Prince Edward Island 
    built 1993-97

    Susan Skelly was interested mainly in natural history. But she did mention some fine mus­eums dotted across the Maritimes which provide rich cultural insights dedicated to the First Nation Mi’kmaq, Gaelic traditions or Anne of Green Gab­les. The village of Grand-Pre in Nova Scotia explores the history of struggling Arcad­ians; the Immigrat­ion Museum where the cruise ships dock in Halifax is a reminder of the early settlers: Scottish, English, Irish, French, German and Dutch.

    Visit the Maritime Museum of the At­lan­tic in Halifax. This museum has models of passenger liners, freight vessels, armed merchant raiders, petroleum carriers and a Morse code workshop. In Dec 1917, the Halifax Explosion occurred when a French munitions ship carrying­ explosives collided with a Norwegian relief ship in the harbour, burning the city, killing 1600, maiming 9000 and leaving 6000 homeless. And there is a detailed record of the Titan­­ic’s tragic voyage, in April 1912. While sur­vivors were taken to New York, hundreds of the dead were brought to Halifax where the deputy registrar of deaths logged tatt­oos, scars and dental work, bagged personal effects­, and took photos to circulate to identify whichever bodies were located.

    The Nova Scotia port of Lunenburg has a new memorial that honours the 650 fish­er­­men who died in this town. See Bluenose II, a 46m replica of the schooner designed to fish for cod off Newfound­land. It was launched in 1921, and became an ambassador for the prov­ince’s seafaring history. The town has many restaurants, colourful herit­age shop­fronts, and houses with the signature Lunenburg dormer, popular in late C19th architect­ure.

    Now let me add my personal favourites in the Maritimes. Visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Since it opened in 1908 this gallery has grown significantly, in order to preserve the growing art collection. There are three public galleries which feature work from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. A complete surprise will be a collection of works by photographer Annie Leib­ovitz.

    And see Lunenburg’s Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The newest exhibition invites exploration of the history of the Atlantic Canadian fishery, from the earliest days of the Mi’kmaq to today. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors can experience life in a fishing community and discover life at sea firsthand. Explore the living fish exhibit and wharf-side vessels. Then go into the Ice House Film Theatre.

    New Brunswick entered the Canadian Confeder­at­ion along with Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario in 1867. The Inter-colonial Railway linked the Nova Scotia Railway, European & North American Railway and Grand Trunk Railway in 1872. In 1879 John Macdonald's Conservatives enacted high tariffs and opposed free trade, disrupting the trading relationship between the Maritimes and New England. The economic situation was worsened by the decline of the wooden ship-building industry. The railways and tariffs did foster the growth of new industries in the province eg iron mills, textile manufacturing and sugar refineries, but they failed eventually. The New Brunswick Railway Museum, run by the Canadian Railroad Historical Ass­ociation, is therefore well worth analysing.

    In New Brunswick, see the rich local history represented in impressive murals, painted on walls throughout the beautiful town of Sussex. These world-renowned mural artists did the first 11 murals in summer 2006, with 15 more created during summer 2007.

    St John’s,  New­foundland
    The cathedral dominates the cityscape
    Photo credit: Brit + Co

    Newfoundland only joined the Confederation in 1949, when the term Maritimes had long been defined as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Nonetheless Newfoundland is now a Maritime province. Happ­ily bright colours can be seen in many coastal sites in the Maritimes - think of the brightly painted rowhouses of Jelly Bean Row St John’s New­foundland. Were they painted brightly to make home visible to sailors at sea during foggy conditions? Was Maritime weather so grey that brightly coloured homes were meant to make residents feel less depressed?

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    To understand why Ed­ward the Prince of Wales (1894-1972) turned towards Fascism before WW2 and turned away his parents’ moral values, I will be citing the writing of Dr Heather Jones. Her journal article “Edward in the trenches” lays the blame firmly on his terrible war experiences.

    So let us first canvas WW1. When Britain found itself under threat during WW1, Edward (20) had become the Prince of Wales three years earlier. Edward could easily have stayed at home in safety and inspected military train­ing camps but he was desperate to serve on the Western Front. The Secretary of State for War naturally forbade the first in-line-to-the-throne to die in the trenches so Edward took a commission in the Grenad­ier Guards and accepted a junior officer role in France, far behind the front lines.

    As soon as he could, Ed­w­ard wanted a com­promise. Although not directly involved in fight­ing, he was assigned to staff work on logistics. Thus Edward could go on frequent morale-boosting visits to the trenches, visit advanced positions, see the dead bodies lying unburied in the fields and smell the shell fire. The visits made him very popular with the men.

    In contrast, his younger brother Prince Albert (1895-1952) would not ever become king under normal circumstances, so there was a less rigid approach to him serving in war. Everyone believed that Britain controlled the seas and the nation’s naval supremacy could not be challenged by Germany, so Albert, who was still in his teens, served in the Royal Navy as a midshipman.

    However Germany embarked on a campaign of battleship building and by 1916 was ready to take on the British fleet which was block­ad­ing the North Sea. In May the Battle of Jutland was waged, becoming WW1’s biggest sea engagement. It was a catast­rophe for both sides, including for the young prince in a gun turret, watching the ships being destroyed by torpedoes around him.

    Thus both princes, who had lived in the lap of luxury back in their palaces, faced horror at war. Perhaps Edward seemed a little jeal­ous of his younger brother who participated in direct action. But there was no questioning the bravery of both princes.

    Edward the Prince of Wales in army uniform, and his brother in navy uniform, 1915. 
    Photo credit: Express

    During WW1, Edward had his first, hidden sexual experiences in Amiens, and then in Paris. But post war, liv­ing a vigorous social life was essential for any ex-serviceman, to regain his sanity. People were tolerant. In London Edward courted Lady Sybil Cadogan, his sister’s best friend, and wanted marriage in 1917. His next affair was with Lady Rose­mary Leveson-Gower, a soc­iety beauty who the prince wanted to marry in 1918. However she married William Ward, 3rd Earl Dudley, in March 1919. Then Ed­ward chose married women: Mar­ian Coke, his much adored lover Freda Dudley Ward divorced wife of an MP who was vice chamb­erlain of the Royal House-hold and the Amer­ic­­an heiress Aud­rey James. Best of all was Lady Thelma Furn­ess, daught­er of an American diplomat who eloped at 16, divorced and then married the shipping magnate Vis­count Furness. Thel­ma joined the Prince in Kenya in 1928 where the two fell in love. 

    He enjoyed a hectic social life, travelling the world (Canada, USA, the Caribbean, India, Australia, New Zealand etc) formally rep­res­ent­ing his father the king, and making many private visits to Germany throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
    King George V and Tsar Nicolas II, 1913
    first cousins and close friends, sharing a family wedding in Berlin
    Photo credit: Rare Historical Photos 2018

    Dr Jones showed that the war had a fundamental impact on Ed­ward’s political views. It left him with an abhorrence for Commun­ism and anger that the Bolsheviks had killed his Russian cousins, Tsar Nicholas II and his family. [So why did Edward not blame his father King George V, for banning the Russian royals’ entry into Britain when the Tsar was desperate for a safe haven in 1917?]

    Edward fervently believed future European war had to be avoided, supporting the British Legion in interwar efforts at reconciliation with German ex-servicemen, even after Hitler came to power.

    For King George V, individual personality had to be completely subord­inated to the dignity of the office of king. But Prince Ed­ward believed a king had to be a strong leader who embraced a cult of personality. He admired Fascist leadership because he believed appeasement with Fascism offered European peace. In particular Fascism seemed a modern answer to the Communist threat, for example by improving the lives of Germany’s poor.

    King Edward VIII on an unofficial tour to Germany
    giving a Hitler salute in 1937
    Photo credit: Daily Mail

    A weak personality himself, Edward was most vulnerable to the myths Fascism propagated – anti-Semitism, a need for new rad­ical politics of the right and a strongman leader. Perhaps this was appealing because the war had left Edward deeply insecure about his own mas­culinity. By abandoning crown and nation in a passion for the last of many women he had loved, Edward could finally publicly prove his manliness.

    I will add one more critical factor that Dr Jones did not mention. Edward VIII’s mother Queen Mary was almost entirely German and his father King George V was partly German. Edward remembered how older relatives would change to speaking German, as soon as any English-speaking staff left them in privacy. Edward himself was fluent in his "mother tongue". So asking the prince to devalue his German heritage would have been cruel, and ineffective.

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    Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll 1832-98) was born in a NW English vil­l­age, third child of Rev Charles Dodgson. As the fam­ily grew to in­clude 11 children, Charles told stor­ies to his siblings, made up games and wrote magazines with them.

    After enrolling at Oxford in 1850, Dodgson became a fel­low at Christ Church College. According to the rules, fellows had to be ordained, but Dodgson ignored the ordin­ation rule and lived at the college unmarried. He was a maths lecturer and a devout deacon of the Anglican Church.

    Like many Victorian bachelors, he became an “uncle” to his friends’ children, taking them out. In 1855, Dodgson’s Dean Henry Liddell arrived at Christ Church with his wife, Lorina and their first four children. As the 3 sisters grew older, Dodgson took the girls under his wing, with their parents’ blessing. In summer 1862, he took the Liddell girls on the river in Oxford and told them stories. Alice Liddell (1852-1934), then 10, was delighted that the main character shared her name and asked Dodgson to write his stories.

    Dodgson wrote to Gertrude Thomson, an artist who was sketching girl­ish nymphs: "I am fond of children ex­cept boys." And "I confess I do not admire naked boys in pictures”. He took exq­uis­ite, melancholy photog­raphs of lit­tle girls. But it was Alice Liddell in particular who became his passion.

    So why did the Liddells trust Dodgson with their precious daughters. I suggest a few significant reasons:

    1. Harry Liddell was Dodgson’s dean and had a trusting professional relationship with him;
    2. The Liddells had 9 children and were delighted when an adult offered to help keep them educated and amused;
    3. Dodgson was a respectable Anglican deacon; and
    4. The children loved Uncle Charles’ stories and activities.
    Dodgson’s love for girls was elusive, and filled with yearn­ing. He wrote to a 10-year-old girl, thank­­ing her for her lock of hair. “I have kissed it sev­eral times - for want of having you to kiss, you know, even hair is better than nothing." There was a romantic intensity to the friendships, a hunger, of nev­er quite getting enough, want­ing more of Alice.
    If the man did not ever literally shag a child, was he still culpable? Yes!! He carefully groomed the youngsters and he changed those girls’ lives forever.

    The Queen of Heart by John Tenniel
    The queen was a foul-tempered monarch 
    whose favourite line was “Off with their heads!"

    He loved little girls, but, like Peter Pan, he couldn’t marry them. So Katie Roiphe asked if there were other famous C19th men who disliked overt adult phys­icality and who found them­selves drawn to children/teens instead.Yes! John Ruskin also fell under the spell of young girls he met, yet he couldn’t consummate his marriage to an adult woman. Anne Isba said Charles Dickens met his wife Cath­erine when she was 14; she had 10 children before being dumped for her young sister Mary (who died at 17) and the young teenage actress Nelly Ternan.

    Victorian culture clearly had a very sen­timent­al view of young girls that could co-exist with disgust about adult sex!! There is no doubt that Dodgson was tor­m­ented by what HE called "the inclinat­ions of my sinful heart"; that his own thoughts were “unholy”. But Dodgson felt his er­ot­ic fascin­ation was under control; he was channelling his desires into a wild and lovely lit­er­ary univ­erse instead.

    Although the camera was still new technology, in 1856 Dodgson had been an early and skilled portraitist. He found plenty of friends who wanted him to take family port­raits eg Engl­and’s poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson. In total Dodgson took c3,000 photo­graphs, just over half were of child­ren, mostly dressed. Some of his portraits might offend us, but by Victorian stand­ards they were innocent. They were prais­ed as art studies, a la Julia Margaret Cameron. Yet modern critics have condemned the photos that showed his fascination with the immature female body.

    One example will suffice. On the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the BBC made a documentary called The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, 2015. It expl­ored the nature of Carroll's relationship with children, and revealed a newly-discovered photograph of Alice’s elder sist­er, entirely nude. Although the picture was not 100% proven to have been Carroll’s, the uncomfortable pubescent model strong­ly suggested he was a somewhat rep­res­sed paedophile.

    In 1865 a completed version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonder­land was published as a book, published with John Tenniel's unmistakable art work. Dodgson published a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, in 1871, and a long poem in 1876.

    He retired from teaching mathematics in 1881, and died in 1898 aged 66. At that stage, loving little girls was still acceptable. The London Daily Graph­ic’s 1898 obituary fondly noted his affection for girls. Also in 1898, Dodgson’s nephew published a biog­r­aphy that devoted two warm chapters to Dodgson’s child friends and their kiss­ing.

    Now my final questions. There is a gulf between how modern readers perceive an author and how they perceive his work. Is a good work of art, created by a bad person, tainted forever? Would you still read his stories to your children, thinking of them as classics of pure, innocent literature?

    Charles Dodgson photo, self portrait, 1857

    Charles Dodgson photo, Alice Lidell dressed as a beggar-maid, 1858

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    A settlement called Portus Cale was founded on the north bank of the Duoro River in the C4th BC. But nothing much was known before Porto was recovered in 868 AD from the Moorish empire.

    Sao Bento Railway Station

    Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) was born to English Queen Philippa and Portuguese King John I who had earlier married in Porto, creating a political alliance between Portugal and England. It was Prince Henry who, in the new Portuguese Empire, initiated the Age of Discoveries. Henry supervised the early development of Portuguese exploration and maritime trade with other continents through the exploration of Western Africa, Atlantic Ocean islands and the search for new routes. Only thus did Portugal become a sea-trade force, so it is appropriate that a statue in a park honours Prince Henry still today.

    Prince Henry, the Navigator
    pointing to a far-off place across the Atlantic

    Once Portugal became an economic power in the age of the great geo­graph­ical discoveries (C15th – C17th), it was Porto that became the largest shipyard of the country. The town was ready for the the estab­lish­ment of Duoro’s wine region and port wine trade.

    The granite streets are everywhere but focus on the grand avenue Rua das Fl­ores, once it was refurbished: its frontages now shine with restored tiles in blues and greens. The avenue is lined with stately stone facades and dominated by the town hall. Granite churches also display glazed blue and white tiles.

    Of great beauty is the Capela das Almas/Chapel of Souls near the city’s main shopping street, Rua Santa Catarina. The chapel has its origin in an old chapel made of wood, built to honour Santa Catar­ina. The construction of the building that exists today dates back to the later C18th, when the Brotherhood of the Souls and the Chagas of San Francisco moved from the Monastery of Santa Clara to the Chapel of Santa Catarina. Capela das Almas’ exterior tiles, painted with scenes from the liv­es of saints, are inter-war.

    Capela das Almas

    Visit the Church of St Francisco, the only Gothic church in Porto; the severe, grey exterior has richly gilded, highly ornate, baroq­ue wood carvings inside. Porto’s craftsmen in 17th and early C18th were special.

    Sao Bento Railway Station was built on the site of a Renaissance Benedictine monastery. Work began on the terminal in 1900, in the French Beaux Arts architectural style. São Bento mainline’s central station is one of the most beautiful in Europe, displaying 20,000 glazed azulejos-tiles that, by 1916, de­picted­ highlights of the nation’s history.

    The Monastery da Serra do Pilar is a C16th former monastery is the architectural highlight of the Gaia side. Belonging to the Order of Saint Augustine, the church was made in a circular shape and was covered by a hemispheric vault and balcony. It took 72 year to com­plete because of financial difficulties and because of the polit­ic­al turmoil between Spain and Portugal.

    Some fine architecture was built during the early C18th, including Clerigos Tower. Climb the Tower, the city’s most prominent land­mark; it was built by Florentine architect Nicolau Nasoni­, a man who was buried in the adjoining church. It is Porto’s best example of baroque architecture and is the tallest tower in Portugal.

    Dona Maria Pia bridge, 1877
    designed by Gustave Eiffel

    To cross to the other side of the river, there is a choice of bridges. Dona Maria Pia, designed by Gustave Eiffel and built in 1877, is a rail­way bridge over the Portuguese northern municip­al­ities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Another bridge, the Dom Luis I, boasts one of the biggest forged iron arches in the world.

    Two water taxis cross the river as an alternative to the bridges, inspired by the design of the old rabelo cargo boats. River taxis are convenient for exploring the city on foot, with a dock at the Ribeira. The view of the city is best seen from the other side of the river, Vila Nova de Gaia, where the coloured, narrow dwellings stand out.

    Douro Valley with endless vineyards

    The Douro Valley is at the heart of the country’s wine industry and its namesake waterway is becoming the hottest ticket for European river cruising. These journeys take the visitor through rural idylls and rugged terrain, stopping at charming towns and villages. Discover the beauty of the Portuguese countryside during this full-day trip through the Douro Valley from Porto. Travel through sweet villages such as Pinhão, Régua and Lamego.

    Book for a longer (eg 8 day) river cruise along the Douro River to see some of the most gorgeous natural scenery across Portugal, and sip on locally made port wine during a tasting session. Visit three vineyards to taste world-class wines while ad­miring scenic views from the Douro’s terraced vine yards. And have traditional lunches in the charming villages. All the major river-cruise operat­ors organise Douro trips from late March to Nov eg  Spain & Portugal Travel Connection or Euro River Cruises.

    As well as drinking a LOT of port, we also enjoyed buying Claus Porto hand-crafted soaps, permeated with fragrances drawn from the Portuguese country side and hand-wrapped in Belle Epoque papers.

    Portugal and Spain


    On the last day in the north, en route back to Lisbon, we visited the univers­ity town of Coimbra on a day trip of cultural experiences.  Even further south we explored one of Portugal’s most holy sites Fatima. We watched people attending mass at the basilica inside the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary. This was where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in October 1917.

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    Two proposals have convinced the world that the USA is going mad vis a vis gun massacres.

    The BBC reported that President Trump endorses hidden guns for teachers to stop shootings inside schools. Arming teachers could prevent school shootings like that which left 17 people dead last week in Florida, he said. Trump explained that if you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly. His exact words were "Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them, they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. A gun-free zone, to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun-free zone is, let's go in and let's attack."

    In the second story, I cannot tell if the following newspaper article is positive ad­vertising by right wingers or biting satire by left wingers. Neil Murphy wrote in the International Business Times that a Pennsylvania church will bless gun-toting couples in a ceremony taking place just half a mile from a local elementary school. Followers of the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary Church will be blessed by spiritual leaders at their campus in Newfoundland Pennsylvania at the end of this month. Only hetero­sexual couples have been asked to take part.

    Attendees are requested to bring their own semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s and AK47s, as part of the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing. Those who cannot legally acquire a weapon have been asked to purchase a $700 gift voucher from a gun store.

    Parents whose children attend neighbouring Wallenpaupack South Elementary School have voiced concern over the event, which comes just days after the massacre near Miami. Teenage Nikolas Cruz will be tried for killing 14 students and three adults with his legally-purchased AR-15 rifle.

    Tim Elder, Unification Sanctuary's director of world missions, says that the event was planned months before the Miami school shooting and says all weapons will be securely checked by staff. According to Elder, Church teachings say assault weapons symbolise the New Testament's rod of iron passage and illustrates followers' intent and the ability to defend one's family, community and nation of Cheon Il Guk."

    The Sanctuary is run by 38-year-old pastor Hyung Jin Moon, the son of Unification Church founder and self-professed messiah Sun Myung Moon. The Unification Church was founded by Moon in 1957 in Seoul, Korea using teachings from the Bible and his own family beliefs. The Unification Church off-shoot is a staunch supporter of Americans' rights bear arms and will host President Trump Thank You Dinner on Saturday — a fundraiser for Gun Owners of America.

    American guns displaying national pride.
    Yet in the 2013-15 period, there were 32,000 firearm deaths in the US. 
    Photo credit:


    So we have established a Caulfield Gun-Coffee Club for solving the gun catastrophe in the USA. Although Australia has never had much of a visible gun culture, we have had terrible mass gun murders in the past. The Milperra Bikie Massacre killed 6 bikies and one by-stander in 1984; Hoddle Street Massacre killed 7 city commuters in 1987; Queen Street Massacre killed 8 city shop­pers and workers in 1987; and worst of all, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre that killed 35 customers in an outdoor café.

    The new Australian prime minister in 1996, John Howard, headed the cons­er­vative party. In his first speech to Parliament after the Port Arthur Massacre, he called for Australian legislators to take up the vexed issue of gun control, and vowed to devote his prime ministership to the issue. In May 1996, his government unveiled the National Firearms Agreement that radically strengthened Australia’s gun laws. The NFA established a registry of all guns owned in the country and required a permit for all new firearm purchases. It totally banned all automatic and semi-automatic guns.

    Illegal guns in a scrap metal yard in Sydney, 
    soon after Australia's buy-back laws were passed in 1996.
    Photo credit: ABC

    Since many of these guns were already in circulation, the bill included a mandatory buy-back programme, which included large-scale gun confiscation and the destruction of 700,000 guns. Gun owners were compensated for the proper dollar value of the weapons seized by the state. Polls showed the new legislation was supported by 82% of the population.

    Studies since 1996 reported that the new laws greatly reduced Australia’s homicide and suicide rates. And since the law’s pass­age, there has not been a single mass shooting in Australia. John Howard has described this programme as his greatest accomplishment as prime minister. 

    It was not a perfect solution, however. At the Lindt Cafe Siege in 2014, 2 hostages and the gunman were shot. We saw very clearly that Australia is not immune from terrible violence, presumably caused by imported illegal guns.


    The Caulfield Gun-Coffee Club recognises that the American Cons­tit­ution and its gun amendments cannot be changed without a mammoth effort at the Federal level. So instead we propose that A] 49 USA states ban guns WITHIN the borders of their states and B] all devoted gun owners be moved to Alaska, along with the weapons of their choice. C] Any current Alaskan citizens who do not approve of gun murders will be guaranteed a home and job in another state of Continental USA. Alaska is big enough to take in hundreds of thousands of gun fanatics and has the advantage of not bordering any other USA state. Sorry Canada :(

    There will inevitably be issues with the underage children of those gun-loving parents who move to Alaska. Would the children be kept with aunts and grandparents in states other than Alaska, to be reunited to their parents when they reach their majority (aged 18 or 21)?

    For those professionals who are legally entitled to use guns, such as the police, armed forces and Olympian athletes, locked training facilities must be provided across the USA.