One of the great things about medieval art and architecture is that people just went in and did things. They didn’t build models and scale them up. Building great cathedrals and abbeys was a learning process as much as anything else. This means many of these apparently perfect aspirations to the Heavenly Jerusalem have some often quite comical mistakes, corrections and bodge-jobs that once you see, you can’t unnotice. Great Mistakes in English Medieval Architecture.
On 24 June 1914, a young man caught the 10.20 train from London to Malvern. At around 12.45 the train stopped at a small country station in Gloucestershire. And what happened then? Well .. nothing much. The station closed in 1966, but this afternoon a special train will be stopping there, unwontedly, to mark the centenary of one of the best-loved poems in the English language. [more inside]
The Mitchell and Kenyon collection consists of 800 rolls of nitrate film documenting scenes of everyday life in England between 1900 and 1913. This extraordinary archive, now painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute, includes footage of trams, soup kitchens, factory gates, football matches, seaside holidays and much else besides. Here are some sample images and a short clip of workers at a Lancashire colliery, all astonishingly evocative and reminiscent (to me) of Philip Larkin's poem MCMXIV: 'The crowns of hats, the sun / On moustachioed archaic faces / Grinning as if it were all / An August Bank Holiday lark .. Never such innocence, / Never before or since .. Never such innocence again.'
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is published today, in print and online: a biographical record of everyone who's ever been anyone in British history (50,000 individuals) and an astonishing feat of scholarly collaboration (10,000 contributors from all over the world). Access to the full database is fearfully expensive, but the official site gives you a good selection of sample entries, with a new one added every day; and a feature in today's Times gives you some more, beginning with Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to rabbits.