The Heritage TravellerTravel, History, and exploring British Heritage
Did you know ...?
That's the question I kept asking my wife while reading John Wade's delightful little book 'London Curiosities'. As in 'Did you know there's a traffic bollard in Bankside made from a French cannon captured at the Battle of Trafalgar?', or, 'Did you know there's a network of underground passages and vaults under Camden Market known as the Camden Catacombs?', or one of my favourites, 'Did you know that the official Centre of London is the statue of King Charles I on the south side of Trafalgar Square?".
Read more: London Curiosities: The Capital's Odd & Obscure, Weird and Wonderful Places
In 1740 the public executioner at Newgate Prison gave the corpse of a thief named William Duell to the Royal College of Physicians to dissect. The College had the right to receive 10 corpses per year for medieval research, and their dissections drew large crowds to Barber-Surgeons Hall in Wood Street. Imagine the scene when the 'corpse' came to life on the dissection table. It seems that Duell had survived his hanging, and regained consciousness just in time to avoid being dissected while still alive. He was not re-executed, but sentenced to transportation to America.
The case of the living corpse is just one of the colourful episodes in the history of Newgate Prison that come to life in this delicious book by Caroline Jowett. In this thoroughly researched and colourfully written little book the story of Newgate comes to life.
Read more: The History of Newgate Prison Review
The Museum of London's Time Truck will be showcasing archaeological finds from London's Spitalfields district on 8-9 September in a free event. Some of the objects were found during excavations on the site of the Tune Hotel, Liverpool Street, and the hotel is offering a special discount to mark the Time Truck event.
Read more: Museum of London Archaeology Time Truck at Tune Hotel Liverpool Street
The perils of travel in Jane Austen's England were many, from bad roads to highwaymen, but perhaps the most peculiar peril of all occurred in October 1816 when a horse pulling the Exeter mail coach was attacked by an escaped lioness. The passengers travelling in the coach ran into a nearby inn while the coachman and guard tried to hold onto the horses and fight off the lioness. Thankfully the lioness's keeper appeared and recaptured the big cat before she could kill the horses.
That's just one of the wonderful historic vignettes in Sue Wilkes' beautifully written 'A Visitors Guide to Jane Austen's England'.
Read more: A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England Review
William Shakespeare would be pilloried in the tabloid press today; he seems to have made a habit of avoiding paying his taxes, and in 1599 the authorities came after him.
Read more: A Visitors Guide to Shakespeare's London Review
Here at Britain Express we focus on heritage, history, and 'traditional' Britain. Can't you just hear 'Rule Britannia' starting to play in the background? But we also have a 13 year-old-daughter who is absolutely bonkers for Dr Who. So, on a recent trip to Glamorgan to explore historic castles, gardens, stately homes, and the like, we couldn't pass up the chance to visit the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff.
Read more: Dr Who Experience, Cardiff
We've just returned from a wonderful visit to the Isle of Wight, and I thought it might help other people plan their trips if we created a 'Britain Express Travel Awards' summary, sharing our top picks for exploring the island.
Read more: Isle of Wight - Best Attractions to Visit
Its getting closer to the time of year when the film industry stands handing out awards, so it seems like an appropriate time to highlight some of the National Trust properties that have appeared in recent major films and televsion series.
Read more: National Trust Film Locations
Here's a twist on our usual theme of historic houses. Online estate agents Rightmove.co.uk have compiled a list of historic, unusual, and just plain quirky properties that came on the market in 2013. Among them are authentic Scottish castles and a house said to be haunted by the ghost of Oliver Cromwell.
Read more: Quirky and Historic Houses for Sale in 2013