Category Archives: CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

London homes in Shakespeare’s time

London homes in Shakespeare’s time


Thanks to decades of peace, English houses are no longer made for defence but for comfort. The newly rich may still build turrets, battlements and gatehouses but these are only for show or to make a new place look venerable, implying an ancient lineage for themselves. Many a country house still has a moat, though the fact that it seldom runs right around it should tell you that it is not to keep attackers at bay – or for you to water your horse in – but to keep fish for the kitchen.

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

The production, processing, and consumption of foodstuffs were a primary preoccupation of the medieval population. In the earlier unsettled period, the production was strictly for the household; later, with the development of towns and more stable settlements, there was the growth of markets and trade in foodstuffs. Throughout the period, the most important social activity was eating in the company of others; usually this was family, but often it was lord and retainers.

The Gypsies, from 10th to 20th century

The Gypsies, from 10th to 20th century

The Gypsies, or Roma, are unique: they are the only nomadic people in recorded history who have not been either hunters or herders. They are believed to have originated in the north of the Indian Subcontinent but are now found in all European countries, the Middle East, North Africa, North and South America and Australia.

Robert Owen’s social experiment at New Lanark

Robert Owen’s social experiment at New Lanark

One of the Scotland’s great social reformers was a Welshman, Robert Owen, born in 1771. He would have been saddened that such misery still exists. Twenty miles south-east of Glasgow, further up the Clyde, where the river is not the broad, shipbuilding estuary of the great city but a tumbling stream hurtling through narrow, tree-lined gorges, is the scene of the great experiment to make the world a better place.

Shop till you drop in Tudor’s time

Shop till you drop in Tudor’s time

Elizabethans witnessed many improvements in daily life. One of those is the stockings knitting machine invented in 1589 by William Lee, vicar of Calverton. The Victorian legend says he was madly in love with a young woman, but she was continually put him off because she was always knitting; so he designed and built a machine to do the knitting so that he could have her to himself. Another story is that he loved his wife dearly, and wanted to release her from the drudgery of knitting his socks.