The decline and fall of Twyford Abbey

This article first appeared in the November 2015 London Historians newsletter. Since I wrote it, the abbey has been sealed away behind high metal fencing, as if to confirm the purposeful neglect of its current owners.  I grew up in Kingsbury, North West London. I now live in Ealing. Between those two places lies a... Continue Reading →

Sir Walter Ralegh: the price of fame?

Further to my earlier review of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Elizabeth I and her people, I thought I'd just post two contrasting portraits of Ralegh. The first, on the left, is a Hilliard miniature from 1584. The second is a close-up photo I took of the 1588 portrait currently on display at the NPG.... Continue Reading →

The Jungle Book, Kipling and me

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Norman Geras had been kind enough to invite my to contribute a post to his Normblog series, Writer's Choice. In the end, I contributed a lengthy piece about Kipling that we agreed should be split into two. I am now reposting them on my blog. The first of... Continue Reading →

Richard Topcliffe: the Queen’s torturer

There is no known portrait of Richard Topcliffe, the man most associated with the torture and persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England. In some respects that is as it should be: those who break human bodies on behalf of the state are usually anonymous, ordinary figures, extraordinary only in the apparent disjunction between their personal... Continue Reading →

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