The Heritage Traveller - Books
Travel, History, and exploring British Heritage
In October 1216 King John was hurrying north from King's Lynn to Lincoln in an attempt to quell the ongoing revolt of his leading nobles.
Desperate to reach Lincoln quickly he made a rash decision and attempted to cross the Wash, an area of tidepools and quagmires. It was a foolish decision, for John's royal treasury was lost in the mud, never to be recovered.
At least, that's the traditional story as it has been accepted by historians for centuries. Treasure hunters have been trying unsuccessfully since at least Victorian times to find King John's treasure.
Read more: The Mystery of King John's Treasure | Book Review
I'm a church mouse. I love visiting historic churches around Britain. Every time I open a medieval church door I feel like Aladdin walking into his cave of wonders. My bookshelf is full of guidebooks to historic churches in different counties and regions, from country churches to cathedrals. With so many guidebooks already at my disposal, why would I want another one?
Bernadette Fallon, the author of the Cathedrals of Britain series from Pen and Sword Books, has the answer to that question. I've just had the pleasure - and I do mean pleasure - of reading 'Cathedrals of Britain: Central and East'.
Read more: Cathedrals of Britain: Central and East | Book Review
I don't think I've ever read a more thoroughly researched historical book than Hugh Despenser the Younger & Edward II: Downfall of a King's Favourite by Katherine Warner.
One of the things you have to ask yourself when reading a new biography is the simple question, 'who is it written for'? Some historic biographies are written for a general audience with an interest in a specific person or time period. Others are more scholarly and examine details of the person's life in great detail. This book falls very much in the latter category.
Read more: Hugh Despenser the Younger & Edward II: Downfall of a Favourite | Book Review
Mary Queen of Scots' Downfall: The Life and Murder of Henry, Lord Darnley
by Robert Stedall
On 10 February 1567, a terrifying explosion split the night, wreaking destruction in the Old Provost's Lodging in Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh. One of those staying in the Old Provost's Lodging that night was Henry, Lord Darnley, the estranged husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. Darnley's body was found the following morning, but not in the wreckage of the house but in a neighbouring garden.
On examination of the body and that of Darnley's valet, who was found beside him, it was found that Darnley had not been killed in the blast but had been suffocated.
But by whom?
Read more: Mary, Queen of Scots Downfall | Book Review
The tale is one that anyone with an interest in British history can recite from memory; in the early dawn hours of 5 November, 1605 Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament armed with enough barrels of gunpowder to kill King James I and anyone else attending the opening of Parliament scheduled for that later morning.
Over the centuries since the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered the figure of Guy Fawkes has become something of a cultural icon, his name given to scarecrow-like mannequins burned on bonfires every 5th November to the accompaniment of fireworks and celebrations.
Read more: The Real Guy Fawkes | Book Review
There are some history books that you can enjoy without much thought. The new book by Simon Webb is definitely not that kind of publication. Myths That Shaped Our History: from Magna Carta to the Battle of Britain is a thought-provoking look at how what we think we know about major historical events is wrong, and more importantly, how what we think we know about those events helps shape how we define what it means to be British.
Read more: Myths That Shaped Our History Book Review