Culture

The definitions of what is culture may change but the practice of understanding, and unpicking cultural history is an important dimension to understanding any historical period. In this section articles explore the way that definitions of culture have changed and how those changes have affected values and attitudes.  The impact of the written word on fashions and ideas and the role of historic movements such as the renaissance are all addressed in this section.

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  • Film: How new is Asia’s ‘new era’?

    Article

    The 2021 Medlicott Medal recipient was Professor Rana Mitter, expert on Modern Chinese history and politics. Professor Mitter's Medlicott lecture was on the subject of ‘How New is Asia’s “new era”?’.

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  • Thomas Chippendale

    Article

    Thomas Chippendale, Adam Bowett and James Lomax, Shire Publications, 2021, 64p, £8-99. ISBN 978-1-78442-477-0. Thomas Chippendale has a claim to be Britain’s most famous furniture designer and manufacturer. Although we will have seen examples of his exquisite work in country houses and museums, we will not necessarily know very much...

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  • Real Lives: Robert and Thomas Gayer-Anderson

    Article

    Wendy Barnes describes the real lives of identical twins, Robert and Thomas Gayer-Anderson, who collected a vast quantity of paintings and art objects, much of which was donated to museums around the world. The twins’ final home, Little Hall, Lavenham is now a museum and the headquarters of The Suffolk...

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  • What did it mean to be a city in early modern Germany?

    Article

    Alexander Collin examines the significance of cities within the Holy Roman Empire in early modern times. With a strong political identity of their own, cities were at the heart of the Empire’s economy and, also, centres of theological and social change. If you have ever read a description of a...

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  • Out and About in Cairo

    Article

    Nicolas Kinloch guides us round the fascinating city of Cairo. Cairo has always been a traveller’s destination. That indefatigable explorer, ibn Battuta, arrived there in 1326, and declared that it was ‘boundless in its multitude of buildings, peerless in beauty and splendour...extending a friendly welcome to strangers’. Most of this is...

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  • The British Empire on trial

    Article

    In the light of present-day concerns about the place, in a modern world, of statues commemorating figures whose roles in history are of debatable merit, Dr Gregory Gifford puts the British Empire on trial, presenting a balanced case both for and against. In June 2020 when the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston...

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  • The Christian Kingdoms of Nubia and Ethiopia

    Article

    Adam Simmons draws our attention to the need for further research into the relationship between the medieval Kingdoms of Ethiopia and Nubia – a fascinating time and place in African history which is neglected in the historical archive and about which, so far, there are only limited sources. The kingdoms of Ethiopia...

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  • History Abridged: Language and the African continent

    Article

    History Abridged: This feature seeks to take a person, event or period and abridge, or focus on, an important event or detail that can get lost in the big picture. Think Horrible Histories for grownups (without the songs and music). Africa is a huge continent with an expansive geography and...

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  • My Favourite History Place: St James Church, Gerrards Cross

    Article

    Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, is a well-to-do town in the Chilterns and a wealthy commuter dormitory for London. It also harbours what might be one of the most remarkable, under-appreciated churches of the mid-nineteenth century. St James, the parish church, was built for the ‘unruled and unruly’ agricultural labourers and traders who inhabited...

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  • Ancient Athenian inscriptions in public and private UK collections

    Article

    Peter Liddel introduces us to a rich source of historical information and encourages us to make some purposeful visits to museums. From the seventeenth to the mid nineteenth century, travellers from the UK explored the Mediterranean lands of ancient civilisations in search of trophies that demonstrated the achievements of the classical world. Highly...

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  • The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo

    Article

    The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo, Paul Strathern, Atlantic Books, 2021, 372p, £20-00. ISBN 9781786498724. Very occasionally we are offered an entirely new perspective on a body of detail with which we already seem entirely familiar but which has the effect of transforming our understanding. Paul Strathern’s The Florentines: From...

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  • German universities under the Nazis

    Article

    In this article A.D. Harvey draws out the influence that Nazism and Nazi practices had on German universities and their staff. He explores how some university professors were active members of the party while others saw a chance of advancement by becoming conduits of the Nazi ideas. Finally he considers...

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  • Real Lives: Harry Daley

    Article

    Hardly any documentation exists about gay police officers who served before the 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality. An exception is Sergeant Harry Daley’s autobiography, This Small Cloud, published posthumously in 1986. Humorous, endearing and self-deprecatory, Daley acknowledged himself as a champion of the underdog and the oppressed. His...

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  • My Favourite History Place - Barnard Castle

    Article

    Paula Kitching invites us to look at Barnard Castle with new eyes. Over the summer there was a lot of talk about Barnard Castle – I won’t go into the politics, but it did make me reflect on the actual town of Barnard Castle. Growing up, it was one of...

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  • A (non-Western) history of versatility

    Article

    Waqās Ahmed broadens our perspective on where in history we might find polymaths, those who embody versatility of thought and action. While Western scholars might identify the likes of Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin as the archetype of the polymath, they have in reality existed throughout history and across...

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  • Architecture within the reach of all

    Article

    Roisin Inglesby introduces us to the life and work of a lesser known member of the Arts and Crafts movement, Arthur Heygate  Mackmurdo, who helped to change the face of European architecture and interior design. Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851–1942) may not be a household name, but he is arguably one of the most significant figures in British design...

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  • Grave matters

    Article

    Diana Laffin considers what study of the styles, planning and planting of Brookwood cemetery reveals about nineteenth century mindsets. Graves are serious sources for historians. There is nothing casual about the choices made at death: the size and design of the monument, the text on the stone, even the location...

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  • On Black Lives Matter

    Article

    2020 has been an interesting year in many ways – both as a year to make history and one that has sought to tackle many representations of the past. The Black Lives Matter campaign that has taken on new energy across the globe in response to the killing of a...

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  • My Favourite History Place: The Red House

    Article

    Tim Brasier tempts others to visit the iconic Arts and Crafts Red House, home to William and Jane Morris in Bexleyheath, London.  This is a favourite historical venue of mine because it is so accessible. We literally live around the corner from the Red House in its location of the London...

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  • The amazing adventures of Pytheas the Greek

    Article

    Alf Wilkinson explores the achievements of Pytheas, the first person, as far as we know, to sail completely around the British Isles in around 325 BC. When we think of the Ancient Greeks we tend to think of warfare, drama, myths and legends, perhaps mathematics, medicine and science. What we...

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