Category Archives: CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper


On 27th June 1881, 64-years-old coin dealer Isaac Gold was brutally murdered on the 14:00 London to Brighton express train. At preston Park station the ticket collector noticed a man smothered with blood who,on inquiry, claimed he had been attacked by two passengers who had fled. There was no evidence against the man, Percy Mapleton, but he was arrested because police thought he might have attempted suicide (then a criminal offence). Adetective escorted him to his home in Surrey and waited patiently outsidewhile Mapleton went in to change his clothes. Meanwhile Gold’s body had been found beside the railway track, stabbed in the chest and shot in the neck.

The changing faces of Santa Claus

The changing faces of Santa Claus

On 23 December 1951, the Catholic clergy at Dijon organised an execution of Santa Claus. An image of him was hanged from the railings of the cathedral and then burned in front of several hundred Sunday School children. Santa Claus arouses strong feelings.

The short history of banishment

The short history of banishment

Even in primitive societies, the threat of exile struck terror into people’s hearts and minds. A savage punishment, it snatched men from their wives and children, so condemning even the innocent who were left behind to a precarious existence. A few who were banished survived the perils of isolation.

Oldest children rarely succeed

Oldest children rarely succeed

Monarchy is very much a family business. According to the law of primogeniture, the eldest son should follow his father on to the throne. The statistics are surprising, however. I include some forgotten figures among the forty-eight who have been proclaimed King or Queen of England.

Egyptomania

Egyptomania

The fashion for “Egyptian” design that swept Europe after Bonaparte’s expedition was actually a revival of sorts. Europeans had drawn inspiration from the Nile at least since the fifth century B.C., when the Greek historian Herodotus wrote his famous account of the land that even then was seen as the fountainhead of ancient wisdom.