Dan Snow on the Mary Rose

I WAS LUCKY enough to have been able to attend a talk last month by Dan Snow on the Mary Rose  at the Mary Rose Museum (it was open to Patrons and Friends of the Mary Rose and I was invited by a Patron – Sarah). Now I know I talked about the Tudor ship before this year (see post March 21) but that’s not the purpose of this post – not entirely anyway, but I don’t intend to repeat anything said in that previous post. One of the most interesting factors of Dan’s talk was his references to the history surrounding the ship rather than the actual ship itself.

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Dan Snow (23rd Oct) – great talk on the Mary Rose and very at ease as a speaker

He reflected on the fact that the ship was the ‘missing link’ in the history of war at sea. Well, no longer ‘missing’ of course. In the ancient world war at sea was simply a matter of transporting soldiers on ships to the opposition, also featuring soldiers on ships. The two ships would then grapple together and the soldiers would board the other ship and fight hand-to hand. As time went on bows and arrows were a little more prominent as a form of ‘artillery’. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the idea of firing cannons at another ship became an interesting way of winning a battle. If the ship sunk or was immobilised its soldiers could not fight. Henry VIII came to this conclusion hence the Mary Rose was the first ship to carry large cannons for this purpose when she was built in 1510/11.

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Ancient sea battles – soldiers awaiting to board an opponent’s ship for a ‘land’ battle

The problem was the weight of these cannons (or guns) which required much re-reinforcement to ship’s design and may have been a part-cause of the Mary Rose’s demise in 1545 – imbalance of weight following her re-fit and enlargement in 1536 (but the sinking was looked at in my previous post so we won’t go there again).

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Heavy cannons of the Mary Rose

So the so-called ‘Battle of the Solent’ was a turning point of sea battles. I use the word ‘battle’ loosely as it was not much of a battle – in fact, had it not been for the sinking of the Mary Rose, it would have been quite forgettable. Anyway, sea battles afterwards were never the same again. Soldiers made way for cannons and sea warfare turned into a ‘slugging-it-out’ of heavy ironware. Trafalgar of course leaps to mind as a very obvious example. This really went on into the 20th century. The last heavyweight sea battle of ships at war was probably the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (I refer to it in advance of its anniversary next year).  Although the Second World War had its share of sea fights (sinking of the Bismark, etc) but there were none as large as Jutland. Aircraft have taken over from soldiers and ships as battle-winners and some ships have become transportation for those aircraft – sort of full circle for ships usage in warfare.

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Image of the Battle of Jutland 

An interesting misconception that Dan raised was this idea that the United Kingdom had never been successfully invaded again since 1066. This was not at all true. We have been invaded several times since which is why our monarchs over the years have not always been English in origin – we have just not been invaded by a large sea force. This led onto another misconception that the English Channel had protected us from invasions. It was never the English Channel as such but the ships of our Navy.

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British navy projecting our shores against the Spanish Armada in 1588

Questions at the end raised some intriguing issues. Dan was asked which, he thought, was our worst defeat at sea.  Winston Churchill’s fiasco in the Dardanelles in 1915 immediately sprang to my mind but Dan’s far superior historical knowledge identified the Battle of Chesapeake (or Virginia Capes) in 1781 off Virginia. It was against the French and although the battle was tactically inconclusive it was strategically a major defeat for the British since it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the blockaded forces of Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown Virginia.  Dan observed that for success the French only needed a draw, the English needed a victory. It was a draw and resulted in Cornwallis’ surrender and a turning point, two years later, to the British recognition of the independent of the United States of America.

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Battle of Chesapeake 1781

Another question was what Dan thought about the treatment of Nelson’s Lady Hamilton. His answer was a little evasive – he should have read my post last week!  But that was followed with a conversation Dan would have most liked to have witnessed – the one between Nelson and Wellington (then Sir Arthur Wellesley but the youngest Major General in the British army) whilst they were waiting in an anti-chamber in the Colonial Office at Downing Street on the 12th September 1805 to see Lord Castlereagh . The details of the meeting are a little unclear (Nelson is said  not to have recognised Wellesley and treated him with indifference before leaving the room, only to return a different man – having, perhaps, being told who Wellesley was) but there ensued a lengthy conversation between the two militarily geniuses, unfortunately unrecorded.

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    Nelson and Wellington – interesting conversation between the two?

It was a fascinating talk from a fascinating character well-versed in historical knowledge throughout the Ages.

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Thanks Dan – and the Mary Rose Trust – for a great talk

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The Linnean Society

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I rambled on about Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin and their work being read out by Charles Lyle and Joseph Hooker at the Linnean Society (click here if you want to read that paper).  One of my readers asked about this Society, having never heard of it before. The Linnean Society of London is situated at Burlington House in Piccadilly. Burlington House is not so much a house, more of a large building surrounding a square that also incorporates such learned institutions as  the Society of Antiquaries (founded 1707 – of which I’m a Fellow, but I’m sure I’ve told you that!), the Geological Society (founded 1807), the Royal Astronomical Society (1820), and the Royal Society of Chemistry (1841).

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Burlington House c1874 

The Linnean Society was founded in 1788 for the dissemination of taxonomy and natural history.   It took its name from the Swedish naturalist, Carl von Linné (or, prior to his ennoblement,  Carolus Linnaeus – which sometimes causes a misspelling of the Society as Linnaean).  He laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature (this is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts – e.g. Homo sapiens). He is known as the father of modern taxonomy  and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology.

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Carl von Linné 1707-78 (by Alexander Roslin in 1775)

The Society’s purpose is to promote the study of all aspects of the biological sciences, with particular emphasis on evolution, taxonomy, biodiversity, and sustainability (defining behaviour).  Its collections include some 14,000 plants, 158 fish, 1,564 shells, 3,198 insects, 1,600 books and 3,000 letters and documents.  A former Fellow of the Society was, of course, Charles Darwin from 1854.  Women were admitted into the Society after a ballot in December 1904. A Marian Farquharson had been the ‘women’s rights’ campaigner behind this but she was not admitted until 1908 (don’t ask) – and then she was too ill to sign the roll (there’s no justice).

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The first admission of women Fellows to the Linnean Society of London in 1905

The Linnean Society founded and published several journals that are still in publication today: the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, focusing on evolutionary  biology of all organisms; the  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, focusing on plant sciences; and the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, focusing on animal systematics and evolution.

So now you know.

For more on the Society click here

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Battle of Agincourt

ONCE UPON A TIME, 600 years ago, we had the Battle of Agincourt. Yes, another anniversary and this was on the 25th October 1415 to be exact (okay, sorry, I’m a week late, it was last Sunday).  A great victory by the English under Henry V based on a change of tactics (sort of).

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Henry V (1387-1422)

Henry’s army landed in France on the 13th August 1415. They were not, as someone suggested to me the other day,  transported by his famous ship the Grace Dieu (whose remains are still beneath the River Hamble at Burseledon near Southampton) as she was launched in 1418, or by Henry’s other famous ship, the Holigost (whose remains have just recently been discovered some 50 yard from the Grace Dieu), as she was launched in November 1415.

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‘Morning of the battle of Agincourt’ (John Gilbert, 19th century)

Early medieval battle tactics were simply a head-on charge of heavily armoured horseman followed by a gruesome and savage hand-to hand combat. Aka the chivalry and bravery of Knights in armour. Such Knights would also supply infantry to support their king’s cause in the oncoming furor.  The coming of the Tudors and the use of the long bow was to change this. This is not to say Henry V invented this type of bow as it was used in England before him. The Assize of Arms of 1252 and Edward III’s declaration of 1363 encouraged ownership and early practice of the long bow as it was very difficult to use (requiring great strength/skill to pull).  It was used to great effect at the Battle of Crécy in 1346 at the beginning of  the Hundred Years’ War (which actually lasted 116 years, 1337-1453, but let’s not go there) and also at Poitiers in 1356.

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English yew long bow (6ft 6in, 2m long; 105 lbf, 407 N draw force)

The long bow was, of course, so successful at Agincourt that it allowed a numerically inferior English (and Welsh) force of around 9,000 (which included 7,000 bowmen) to defeat a French force of around 12,000.  There does not appear to be any reliable sources on causalities but it is understood the French losses were high whereas English losses were very low – one account suggests 450 English to 4,000 French. Included in the English fatalities was Edward of Norwich, the Duke of York.

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Edward of Norwich, Duke of York (1373-1415)

Obviously the English were led by their king, Henry, but the French were not troubled by their monarch, Charles VI, as he suffered from a severe psychotic illnesses – that was his excuse anyway (we’ll call him ‘sick-note Charlie’).  The French were therefore commanded by a Charles D’Albret. The battlefield was possibly the most significant factor in deciding the outcome. The land had been recently ploughed and was hemmed in by dense woodland. This favoured the English both because of its narrowness and the thick mud through which the French knights had to pass over making advancement very slow. It also meant that “the living fell on top of the dead, and others falling on top of the living were killed as well” (Gesta Henrici Quinti – anonymous contemporary account). In fact, the French were so tightly packed they could hardly use their swords (account by a French monk, St Denis).

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Battle of Agincourt 

Interestingly the French bowmen seemed to play very little part in the battle. They had been deployed behind the French troops. The French delayed the attack expecting more troops to join them. This gave the English archers time to set up their defensive stakes and by the time the French horsemen charged the English bowmen were ready for them. The French Knights could not outflank the bowmen because of the surrounding woodland, instead they headed into a ‘woodland’ of sharpened stakes embedded into the ground. Not a good option. These stakes caused much injury to the French horses who, in turn, panicked and unseated many of their riders into the mud to be left to the mercy of the English infantry. Once a heavily armoured knight was stuck in the mud he wasn’t going anywhere!

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Mud of Agincourt (Donato Giancola 2007)

Retreating French horses and horseman ran over advancing French infantry, trampling or scattering them.  It was chaos. When the English bowmen ran out of arrows they simple grabbed whatever weapon they had and attacked the French men-at arms. By this time armour had become more of a disadvantage – knights were hot and tired within these armoured suits and could “scarcely lift their weapons” (see St Denis above). They had great difficulty in defending themselves against the much more nimble and lightly armoured English bowmen.

According to one source, Henry, in rescuing his brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, received an axe blow to his helmeted head, knocking off a piece of his crown. So, clearly he was right in the thick of it, not like the French king, ‘sick-note Charlie’.

King Henry V and The Battle of Agincourt.

Henry rescuing his brother …..

The battle lasted some three hours.

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Alfred Wallace on evolution: credit where due

I HAD NOT heard of Alfred Russel Wallace until I saw a fascinating two-part documentary about him by the comedian, Bill Bailey, in 2013. Wallace was a rival to Charles Darwin with regard to the theory of evolution. Wallace first put pen to paper on the topic but Darwin got all the credit.

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Bill Bailey by a portrait of Wallace and many of his (Wallace’s) specimens

In 1845 Wallace read a book, ‘Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation’ (published anonymously in 1844 but was by Robert Chambers) which convinced him that life on Earth had evolved from earlier forms.  As did Darwin, Wallace travelled afar (particularly to the Amazon) to collect various specimens to try and understand how evolution worked.  During his travels, in February 1855, he wrote a paper entitled ‘On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species’ which was published in September of that year. It described how species have evolved over time with some becoming extinct and new ones evolving from earlier forms. It was written at a time when the general belief was that species were unchanging creations of God – so likely to cause some concern within the religious world. Wallace had been inspired by the work of Charles Lyell on geological change. It was Lyell who brought Wallace’s paper to Darwin’s attention.

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Alfred Wallace (1823-1913)

Darwin later mentioned to Wallace that Lyell (who Wallace hadn’t met) had found his (Wallace’s) 1855 paper noteworthy.  In February 1858, whilst in  Southeast Asia, Wallace realised how new species were formed and wrote an essay on it called ‘On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type’.  In June 1858 he sent the essay to Darwin asking him to forward it onto Lyell thinking that Lyell would be interested to learn about his new theory of evolution following his proposals in his 1855 paper.

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Charles Darwin (1809-82)

When Darwin received Wallace’s essay he was deeply concerned. It described the same theory he himself had had 20 years before (although there were some differences) but had never published  and he aired his concerns to his friend Lyell.  Lyell and Joseph Hooker presented Wallace’s paper along with other unpublished material of Darwin’s at the Linnean Society of London in July 1858 – the presentation was called ‘On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties Species by Natural Means of Selection’ but it caused little interest (other than with some noted scientists) (click here to read that paper).  The presentation and documents were published a few weeks later with Darwin and Wallace as co-authors.

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Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875)

Darwin had begun writing on evolution in 1844 and this 1858 essay of Wallace’s spurred him on to publish. The result was Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection’ published by John Murray in November 1859 [1]. This publication became the focal point of discussion and Wallace’s 1858 essay was forgotten. This left Darwin receiving the kudos for the discovery of the idea of natural selection. Unfair or what?

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You can buy a 1st edition of Darwin’s book on Abe books for around  £150,000 ($230,000)

Admittedly, Darwin had been thinking about the theory longer than Wallace. It had been on his mind since 1838 after he had read an essay by Thomas Malthus on human population growth (‘Principle of Population’ published in 1826), whereas Wallace, as mentioned above, had only been thinking about it since 1845 (but let’s not ‘nitpick’).

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The Rev. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834)

Sometimes life just ain’t fair. However, Wallace did receive his dues for his work in establishing modern biogeography (the study of geographical distribution of living things – but you knew that).

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Statute of Wallace in front of the Wildlife Garden at the Natural History Museum, London (unveiled by Sir David Attenborough in November 2013)

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Footnote:

[1] Darwin’s only reference to human evolution in this book was the understatement in his introduction that “light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history”. He did not address this theory fully until his book ‘The Descent of Man and the Selection in Relation to Sex’ in 1871.

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The famous caricature of Darwin following the purification of his ‘Descent of Man’

That Hamilton Woman: Hollywood fact or fiction?

WHEN I SAY ‘that Hamilton woman’ I don’t mean Emma Hamilton in connection with Lord Nelson, I mean Vivien Leigh in connection with Lord Olivier. Yes, they appeared together in the film That Hamilton Woman! but, of course, they ‘appeared together’ in real life.  And, as with Hamilton and Nelson, it did not end well.

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The film poster

As in the film between Hamilton and Nelson, the relationship between Leigh and Olivier was frowned upon as both were married but not to each other – Leigh to Herbert Leigh Holman and Olivier to Jill Esmond, whilst Hamilton was married to Sir William H and Nelson to Francis (nee Nisbet).

 1572620d0ca7bab3ba3b4a02573ef333Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier in the film (trivia: Nelson never wore an eye-patch, just a sun visor on his hat)

Hollywood dalliances were frequent but taboo amongst already married couples as the public did not approve. It could mean the end of both party’s careers. Leigh and Olivier got away with it for awhile having begun their affair in 1936. Olivier later said that “I couldn’t help myself with Vivien. No man could. I hated myself for cheating on Jill, but then I had cheated before, but this was something different. This wasn’t just out of lust. This was love that I really didn’t ask for but was drawn into.”  Oh, well that’s okay then!! The public didn’t realise the affair was going on because Leigh and Olivier were both in Hollywood for other reasons – Olivier was making Wuthering Heights (which he didn’t enjoy doing but that’s another story) and Leigh was seeking the Scarlett O’Hara role in Gone with the Wind.

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Viven Leigh as (appropriately)  Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind

However, the industry was aware of the affair and Leigh failed to be cast alongside Olivier in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca because it was thought a good idea to keep them apart (work-wise anyway) until their divorces came through.  And the same applied to Pride and Prejudice after that. That’s showbiz!

They managed to appear on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet by some chap called Shakespeare but only because they financed it themselves, investing nearly all their savings. It was a commercial disaster.  In August 1940, once their divorces were through, they married – each other. They made That Hamilton Woman! the following year.

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Olivier and Leigh – the ‘happy couple’

All went well until 1953 when, according to Olivier, Leigh went into manic depression and became exceedingly difficult to live with.  Michael Munn’s book on David Niven, ‘The Man Behind the Balloon’, makes mention of Niven’s concern over Leigh’s health, “David’s reference to Vivien Leigh’s illness was based on first hand experience of seeing her in the grip of what was once called manic depression but is now known as bi-polar disorder.  He had to called Stewart Granger one night when Vivien became ill while filming Elephant Walk” [1].  Munn then describes Granger’s version of the event (also from Granger’s autobiography ‘Sparks Fly Upward’) which is very similar to Niven’s recollection of an incident with a famous starlet he calls ‘Missie’ in his chapter ‘Our Little Girl (Part 2)’ in his book, ‘Bring on the Empty Horses’.  Niven does not actually say who ‘Missie’ is but, based on Munn’s (and Granger’s) book, she is clearly Vivien Leigh.  Niven doesn’t mention Granger’s involvement and to add to the intrigue, Olivier in his autobiography , ‘Confessions of an Actor’ involves Danny Kaye in the incident.

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Olivier and Leigh returning to London after her ‘breakdown’

As a result of Leigh’s illness, Olivier fell into the arms of the English actress, Joan Plowright.  Olivier once said, “Even when Vivien was at her worst [with mental illness], I was never unfaithful to her though she was to me … [but] I became a philanderer through necessity …”.  Oh, again, that’s okay then!  He divorced Leigh in 1961 and immediately married Plowright.  In 1970, Olivier was made a Life Peer – Baron Olivier of Brighton (where he used to live in the Regency built Royal Crescent).  He died in 1989, aged 82 (still married to Plowright).

And Leigh?  She was reported to say she “would rather have lived a short life with Larry [Olivier] than face a long one without him.”  Well, sadly this was to be true – she died of tuberculous in 1967 aged 53.  And Lady Hamilton?  She died of amoebic dysentery at the age of 49 whilst in poverty in Calais in 1815.

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Footnote

[1] This is a bit confusing as the ‘breakdown incident’ happened in Los Angeles, whereas Elephant Walk was being filmed in Colombo, Ceylon.  Also, Leigh was indeed ill during filming and Olivier flew out to see her, but as she was obviously ‘involved’ with Peter Finch, her co-star (and had been since about 1948), Oliver was supposed to have flown back alone. Leigh did return home as her part was taken over by Elizabeth Taylor. Oh well, that’s Hollywood I suppose.

Non-national Knighthoods

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN can confer knighthoods to non-British nationals known as honorary knights (and honorary dames for females) but such honoured individuals cannot prefix their names with ‘Sir’ (or ‘Dame’) but can add the appropriate letters after their names (usually KBE – Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – or DBE – Dame Commander ……).  Nor do they go through the accolade or ceremony of having the sword touched upon each shoulder.

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No sword tapping for non-British knights

Now, I knew all this but until I recently read the wonderful Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s biography I wasn’t aware as to why (mainly because I had never bothered to think about it). Fairbanks Jr was suitably honoured in 1949 – and rightly so. We all know him as a swashbuckling Hollywood action man actor but there was much more to him than that.  He was awarded his knighthood for his tireless efforts to gain US support for Great Britain during the early years of the Second World War (before Pearl Harbour of course) and, among other things, for his services to the Co-operative for American Remittances to Europe (C.A.R.E.), a war relief organisation.  But, being an American he could not call himself Sir Douglas.  Why not?

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Highly-decorated Commander Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC, etc, after the war – and wife, Mary Lee

Well, as his biography says, “Membership in an order of chivalry is one thing and the accolade another; they go together but they are separate.” The reason is historical – it would be if it’s British.  In the good old medieval days when the king relied on his landowners for military support (which included a supply of soldiers), such a landowner would give allegiance to the Crown and, if he didn’t already have one , he may be granted a knighthood (and possibly more land if the war was successful). This was fine when he was a British national but that was not always the case.  For example, in the days of the Crusades (which particularly involved English and French) a man could be a member of an order of chivalry and become a knight of that order (Knights Templars, etc), but he could not swear allegiance to a foreign sovereign if he still owed a loyalty to his own feudal monarch, regardless as to whether that monarch was involved in that crusade. The accolade had only indirectly to do with becoming a member of the order. This meant that as the knight had no bond to the sovereign, as a liege lord, that sovereign could not demand that the knight present himself with his sword and armour (and soldiers) to fight the king’s cause.  Okay, the romantic days of chivalry are gone but the accolade still has implication in law.  With non-British honorary knighthoods the principles remain the same and a foreign citizen has no allegiance to the British monarch and so is not required to respond to the sovereign’s call to arms – and so have no right to the accolade of the prefix of ‘Sir’ to his  name.  Got it?

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That’s the idea in principle.  In practice, this day and age, it also applies to British national knights of course as, bearing in mind the age, etc, of many British knights, they are not going to be very useful if called to arms by the sovereign today (and none of them should have soldiers at their beck and call – well, I hope not).  But that’s not the point.

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To battle  Sir Roger,  Sir Michael,  Sir Elton …. hmm, perhaps not

There are quite a few non-national knights, from arts and entertainment, professional, humanitarian and exploration, politics and government, diplomatic, military, business, religion, and royalty.  As well as Douglas Fairbanks Jr., you might recognise names such as Bob Hope (USA), Steven Spielberg (USA), Edward Kennedy (USA), George S. Patton (USA), Bill Gates (USA), J. Edgar Hoover (USA), Angelina Jolie (USA), Magnus Magnusson (Iceland), Spike Milligan (Ireland), Bob Geldof (Ireland), Bono (lead singer of U2 – Ireland), Terry Wogan (Ireland – although he took British nationality in 2005 and the knighthood became substantive, i.e. he can use ‘Sir’).

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Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire


POSTSCRIPT

Douglas Fairbanks Jr is one of the few non-national knights who devised his own coat-of-arms with the motto Fides, Conatus et Fidelitas – ‘Faith, Effort and Loyalty’.  Being a Hollywood actor he was rather an exhibitionist – it goes with the job –  and so it was acknowledged by the College of Arms.  I’ve not been able to find a copy of it but below is a Fairbanks Jr bookplate which sort of resembles it:

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Fairbanks Jr bookplate

Another example of his exhibitionism:  He joined the US Navy as a reservist before America entered the war. One of the first orders that the US Navy issued was that officers were not to wear swords.  In fact, if they owned them they were encouraged to hand them in for the scrap metal promotion.  Not Douglas.  He arrived at the house of the Hollywood film producer, Darryl Zanuck, one night for a dinner party with his boat cape and sword.  His excuse was that he had just come from a drill at the Armoury.  The narrator of the tale said, “Well, I know that no one in the whole of California, if they went to a drill hall, would have a sword.  But he thought he looked like Lord Nelson or something. That is the ham in him, unfortunately.”

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Douglas Jr. coming to dinner

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

This is the last extract from the 2nd volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction) – I’ll let you know if I come across any more volumes or extracts of Artemus’ notebooks:

During a physical examination, a doctor asked my good friend, Sir Alfred Cucumber-Smythe, retired professor of archaeology now living in Canada, about his physical activity level.

He replied that he spent three days a week, every week, in the outdoors, and went on to give an example:

“Well, yesterday afternoon was typical; I took a five hour walk about 7 miles through some pretty rough terrain.   I waded along the edge of a lake.  I pushed my way through 2 miles of brambles.  I got sand in my shoes and my eyes.  I barely avoided stepping on a snake.  I climbed several rocky hills.  I went to the bathroom behind some big trees.  I ran away from an irate mother bear and then ran away from one angry bull Elk.  The mental stress of it all left me shattered.  At the end of it all I drank a scotch and three glasses of wine.

Amazed by the story, the doctor said,  “You must be one heck of an outdoor man!”

“No,”  Alfred replied,  “I’m just a really very bad golfer.” 

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A walk from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge

The other weekend Sarah and I visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the south side of the River Thames in London – between the Millennium Bridge and Southwark Bridge – both of which are between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.  Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was originally built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. The modern reconstruction is based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It was founded by the American actor and director, Sam Wannamaker (Zoës dad), almost on the site of the original theatre, and opened in 1997.

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The Globe

Interestingly we went to see a variation on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the ancient Greek play – nothing to do with Shakespeare!  However, as you do, we wandered around the area and what we found, within no more than a 5 minute walk, was quite fascinating.

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Inside the Globe  – the set of The Oresteia

If you hear the phrase “he’s in the clink” you think of someone in prison.  But where does the phrase come from?  If you walk eastward from the Globe along Bankside you come into Clink Street – and the answer to the question. Here you will find the Clink Prison Museum. The Clink Prison is the name given to all prisons that have stood on a number of sites around this particular vicinity over the years. The first prison dates back to 1127 and was a cellar in the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester (see below). The last was in Deadman’s Place – now Park Street (immediately southwest of Clink St) – which, at various times, held Protestant and Catholic religious martyrs. It was burned down in 1780 by anti-Catholic Gordon rioters (see Charles Dickens’ 1841 novel, Barnaby Rudge).

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The Clink Prison Museum – enter at your own peril….!

Just along from the prison (still going east) is the remains of Winchester Palace. This was the palace of the powerful Bishops of Winchester which was one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. It was founded in the 12th century (around 1136) by Bishop Henry de Blois, brother of King Steven. Its purpose was to house the bishops in comfort whilst they were staying in London on royal or administrative business.  And why not.

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Remains of Winchester Palace

The visible remains (above) were part of the Great Hall which formerly stood alongside the south bank of the Thames. You can see the magnificent rose window at the top. Below it are three glass ‘windows’ which were, in fact, entrances leading to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.  Below the hall was a vaulted cellar where goods such as wine could be stored, with a passage to the river wharf. The palace remained in use until the 17th century when it was divided into tenements and warehouses. It was destroyed by fire in 1814 and then rediscovered in the 1980s during redevelopment of the area.

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The foundations of the cellar (in between the pot plants) – the ground floor of the hall would have been immediately below the four glass entrances at the top

Along from the palace is the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde. The original ship dates back to the 16th century when it circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Golden Hinde II took two years to build and, as  there were no plans of the original ship, Loring Christian Norgaard, a Californian naval architect, spent three years researching manuscripts about Drake’s voyage, Tudor shipbuilding techniques, and the journals compiled by crew members.  The replica was launched in April 1973 from the  J. Hinks & Son shipyard in Devon.

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Golden Hinde II

From Winter 1974 to Spring 1975 the ship sailed from Plymouth to San Francisco to commemorate the upcoming 400th anniversary of Francis Drake’s discovery of Nova Albion in North America in 1579. She returned to England in 1980.  After a tour of Britain and Ireland, Golden Hinde II sailed to Canada to appear in Expo ’86, and a year later began a four-year expedition along the East and West Coasts of North America, returning to the UK in 1991.  Following another successful tour, she finally settled down in her current home at St Mary Overie Dock in 1996.

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Golden Hinde II

I don’t wish to be a spoil-sport but if you are in any doubt as to whether she really is a replica check out the propeller!

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16th century propeller?   …… perhaps not

Finally, just around the corner from the Golden Hinde II is Southwark Cathedral. This began its life in AD 606 as a convent. Around the 9th century, the Bishop of Winchester may have replaced the nuns with a college of priests. In 1106 the church was ‘re-founded’ by two Norman knights as a priory, living according to the rule of St Augustine of Hippo, dedicated to St Mary.   After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 it was appointed a parish church and renamed St Saviour’s.  It became Southwark Cathedral in 1905.

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Southwark Cathedral

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Southwark Cathedral – the nave designed  Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895

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Inside the Cathedral – quite impressive

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Map of the vicinity – Winchester Palace is located between The Clink Prison Museum and the Golden Hinde II  (Blackfriars Bridge is about 300m off the map to the left and London Bridge is on the map, far right)

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 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My large friend, Paramount Hargrove, told me he had discovered that he had the body of a Greek god.

I had some difficulty trying to explain to him that Buddha is not Greek.

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