I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum on Saturday for the first time. It was something I’ve been meaning to do for ages as it is the only one of the big four London museums I’ve never been in. I only scratched the surface of its collection and, while I was bowled over by the jewellery gallery, I spent most of my time in the museum’s Asian galleries.

Here is a Ming/Qing dynasty stoneware teapot, made around 1625 – 55, from the V&A’s Chinese gallery. I love the fact that they know the name of the person who made it; Hui Mengchen.

Collecting Luton’s World War One stories

This project, recognising the 100th anniversary of the First World War, run by Luton Culture, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire is collecting stories of Luton’s experience of the Great War with the family memories of people who live in the town today. It is looking for people to contribute the stories, and photographs and other artefacts, which will then be used in an exhibition at Wardown Park Museum later in the year.

Acts of Union and Disunion

In the run up to the referendum on Scottish independence this year BBC Radio 4 commissioned Linda Colley, Professor of History at the University of Princeton, to deliver this series of talks on the history of the United Kingdom. It examines the forces that have pulled the people and nations of the UK together and pushed them apart.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough to anyone who is interested in understanding the historical background to modern debates about devolution, independence, constitutional reform and how we govern ourselves. While you may not agree with some of Professor Colley’s conclusions —  although I think she makes tremendous sense — what I think it does do brilliantly is establish an authentic historical context for considering such questions in a way that exposes the huge amount of myth making and false assumptions that so often accompany these debates.

The series is split into several episodes, all of which should remain available for at least a year, but there are three omnibus editions which you can find here: Episode OneEpisode TwoEpisode Three

Previously, on Earth

The bad news is that I seemed to have overlooked the fact that Alix Mortimer has started blogging again — why did nobody tell me? The good news is that I now have loads of extremely well written, and funny, posts to read to catch up — and mostly about history too. 🙂

Photo ot the Wenlok Jug

Wenlok jug back on public display at Stockwood Discovery Centre

Photo ot the Wenlok JugSome good news from last week as the Wenlok Jug, a rare medieval bronze jug with historic connections to the town and the jewel of Luton’s museum collection, went back on display at the Discovery Centre after being stolen and then recovered last year. Not been to see it yet – but hope to soon.

History of Philosophy (without any gaps) podcast

I’ve been listening to this fantastic podcast for a while now (although have only just discovered its website). Created by Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and at King’s College London, it has been working through the major thinkers and their ideas starting in the ancient world and moving forward, slowly. It has just reached its 150th episode and is now dealing with the thought of medieval Islam. The podcast is accessible to the lay person as Adamson discusses each topic with great clarity and humour. I’ve found much of it really interesting and entertaining and can thoroughly recommend it if you have any interest at all in the history of ideas.

Random Thoughts for 21st October 2013: An insomnia fuelled catch up

Not much blogging going on here at the moment. There are reasons for that, although we won’t go into that now, and I am wondering if I ought to change my approach. There doesn’t seem to be much focus or direction to this blog when I do post. However, (and as if to handily illustrate…

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Book review: Pure by Andrew Miller

I think the trick to writing good historical fiction is probably to do extensive and wide ranging research, to really immerse yourself in your period, and then to forget about it all and tell a story. The last novel I reviewed here demonstrated a rich understanding of period but was at root a story of…

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Random Thoughts for July 2013: Social Liberal Forum conference, Pratap Chitnis & Boney M

In this edition we have some posts inspired by the Social Liberal Forum conference, some history, and a couple of (contrasting) music videos. My last post was a catch up of Random Thoughts for June. This post brings us up to the middle of July. This is the latest in my series of Random Thoughts…

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Reburial of children’s remains discovered in Luton archaeological dig

In February 2011 I attend a public lecture at the University of Bedfordshire about archaeology. The first of the two presentations that evening was from Wesley Keir of Albion Archaeology who described the discoveries made during the building of the University’s new Campus Centre. Archaeological investigations had been carried out on the western edge of…

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Random Thoughts: A catch up for May 2013

I can’t really believe we are in June already. I seem to be having problems properly organising my time — and then there never seems to be enough of it. Also been suffering from “the curse of the interesting”. I keep finding new things interesting — but don’t have time/energy to do anything constructive about…

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Nick Robinson on the Government versus the BBC

I’ve just finished listening to Nick Robinson’s BBC Radio 4 series ‘Battle for the Airways’ which looks at the history of relations between the government and the BBC. The series is available to listen to here: Battle for the Airways The eight 15 minute programs each look in turn at particular incidences of conflict since the…

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Random Thoughts for 9th May 2013

This is the latest in my series of Random Thoughts posts with links, things found on the web and other stuff that has occurred to me between 30th April 2013 and 9th May 2013: Historical Figures for the 21st Century – Telegraph This gallery shows portraits of historical figures updated as if they were alive…

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Book review: Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

I’d read and loved Hilary Mantel’s previous novel of the life and career of Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minister to Henry VIII, “Wolf Hall” and so had expected a lot from this sequel. It was delivered. This is a brilliant book. Like “Wolf Hall” it feels rich both with scholarship and with a deep understanding of…

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