Category Archives: history

What You Need to Know about Architectural Archeology

Yes, I know. Your first reaction is “I don’t need to know anything about architectural archeology”.

Before you hold to that position, you might ask yourself this question, “Have I ever thought about what architectural archeology might offer me?”

To be honest, I had not. And then, last night in fact, I watched the programme below about an amazing project that took apart and put back together again one of the most historic buildings in Britain.  I loved it! Check it out!


The Debate Still Rages: Was Richard III a Murderous Thug?

He was. And he was not.

He was the dude who seized the throne, and put under his protection the young boy who would be future king … who then conveniently disappeared along with his young brother. He claimed the throne claiming his brother’s son was a bastard.

And he was par for the course in those days — needing to protect himself from his brother’s wife’s family, who would have demolished him if his brother’s son took the throne. He took the preemptive step to destroy them first. This led, of course, to violence. And in those days, violence was not that unusual.

you decide.

In the meantime, a new portrait of Richard III is now on public view. It is not particularly flattering. But then again, you might expect that given the political realities of the day.

Here it is

Late 16th-century portrait of Richard III

Apparently, the elongated fingers show the depravity in the man. You can be the judge of that.

What Did Jack Ruby Know about the JFK Assassination Plot?

I am not a conspiracy theorist. But I found this tidbit to be very weird

We are pretty sure that Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. It is a moment captured on film.

Image result for Ruby kills Oswald

Ruby was convicted of the crime and died in prison.  But — much later we found out this

The 2017 release of JFK files revealed that Ruby told an FBI informant to “watch the fireworks” on the day Kennedy was killed.

To be more precise, Ruby is alleged to have said this BEFORE JFK was murdered.

According to The Independent, he made these comments mere hours before the president was murdered.

“The informant stated that on the morning of the assassination, Ruby contacted him and asked if he would ‘like to watch the fireworks,’” the FBI file stated. “He was with Jack Ruby and standing at the corner of the Postal Annex Building facing the Texas School Book Depository Building, at the time of the shooting.”

I do not doubt that Ruby was, shall we say, a bit off. And I believe that this contributed to his motives for killing Oswald. But the above suggests that more was going on.

If this is true, it means something was brewing in Dallas before JFK got there. Either Oswald had been talking to Ruby before Oswald killed JFK or someone else knew what was going to happen and told Ruby. We don’t know.

But there is one other thing. The above tidbit is a significant piece of the puzzle in figuring out what happened. Why didn’t we find out about it until 2007. Even if the tidbit can be explained away, the fact that it was hidden for so long smells bad.

This article argues that the above supports the notion that JFK was killed by the mob and that Ruby was the man they used to kill the patsy – Oswald. Why would Ruby do it? He owed them money.

What do you think?

Belle Époque and Breakfast too!

The Belle Époque  is over, right?

Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic (beginning 1870), it was a period characterized by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, an apex of colonial empires, and technological, scientific, and cultural innovations. In the climate of the period, especially in Paris, France, the arts flourished. Many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual art gained recognition. The Belle Époque was named in retrospect when it began to be considered a “Golden Age” in contrast to the horrors of World War I. The Belle Epoque was a period in which, according to historian R.R. Palmer, “European civilization achieved its greatest power in global politics, and also exerted its maximum influence upon peoples outside Europe.”

Yes, that horrible war. The war that was more than just a war. It was the end of the golden era. In art we went from this

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To this

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But of course, the memories of such a “golden age” live on. And perhaps the images from the Belle ÉEpoque will continue to inspire for as long as humans have memories at all.

If this will be so, I think it will be because of a single word – “elegance”. Elegance is

the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner.

Graceful and stylish. A nice combination. And a combination that we crave more in our own era because we find them less in evidence than we might like.

Which brings me to the figure of Marcel Proust.

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Proust was deeply obsessed by grace and style. And he was sensitive in the extreme. This brief vignette told by a friend y gives you a sense of that

Marcel Proust always managed to astonish me. Towards six in the evening, at sunset, a rattan armchair was brought out onto the terrace of the Grand Hotel of Cabourg. It remained empty for a few minutes. The staff waited. Then Marcel Proust slowly drew near, parasol in hand. He watched inside the glass door for night to fall. When they passed near his chair, the bellboys communicated with signs, like deaf-mutes. Then Proust’s friends approached. At first they spoke of the weather, the temperature. At this period—it was 1913—Marcel Proust feared or seemed to fear the sun. But it was noise that most horrified him.

And his obsessions are accessible to us through his marvelous books. Not only that, we can still get a tangible sense of what it may have been like to live in Paris in his day .- the Belle Epoque.

This article conjures up that sense and offers ideas for you to use on your next trip to Paris. Your next graceful and stylish trip to Paris, that is.

Ham House Has a Story to Tell!

Here is Ham House, a jewel of a house and a stately pile if there ever was one

Image result for Ham House

Looks nice!

. Set in the midst of its level lawns and peaceful gardens, Ham House presents itself today as an oasis of calm surrounded by the noisy, westward sprawl of the metropolis. Yet, its present cosetted tranquility belies its bustling past, for it was once a hive of activity – political, social and cultural.

To understand why, you need to go back in time to the reign of the Stuarts in Great Britain. That reign began by accident, in a way, accident of a lack of birth — the last Tudor, Elizabeth I had no children and so the first Stuart, James I came to the throne from Scotland.

Built by a courtier in the reign of James I, i(Ham House) remained a courtier’s house well into the reign of his grandson, Charles II. Better than any other furnished mansion that has survived from the seventeenth century it conveys a sense of what life was like for those who were industrious and fortunate enough to work their way to the top of Stuart government and society. Moreover, it does this, not merely for one particular period of the seventeenth century, but repeatedly for the major part of it.

If you need a playing card to keep track of his history, James I ruled from 1603 to 1625.  He was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. James I handed over the throne to his son, Charles I. Ah, yes, THAT Charles. The one that was beheaded at the close of the civil war in 1649.
Image result for beheading of Charles I
Some thought that the sky would fall and the wrath of God would engulf the world. Instead, the Lord Protector emerged, Mr. Cromwell. who ruled from 1653 ti 1658. Cromwell was not a particularly handsome man, and you can see that certain tough quality that he had in this portrait
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Then came the restoration, and Charles II who ruled from 1660 to 1685.
So yes, this was a tumultuous time. There have been many stories told about it. Even Conan Doyle gave it some play in  The  Musgrave Ritual.
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And you might give a novel about a real character from that period a try. Anita Seymour has written “The Royalist Rebel”. It is the story of Elizabeth Murray, the Countess Dysart and later Duchess of Lauderdale — who called Ham House “home”.
Image result for Elizabeth Murray, the Countess Dysart and later Duchess of Lauderdale
Or, you might just check out Ham House! A jewel of a house and a stately pile if there ever was one!