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Victorian Boot Scrapers

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A Victorian boot scraper in Exeter. Have you ever seen these around your town or city and wondered what they're for? You might have hypothesised of what they might be. Sometimes people think they're holes to put your milk bottles in whilst some parents tell their children they're doors to fairy or gnome homes. Whatever it is that you have theorised, did you ever actually find out what they're for? These contraptions can usually be found next to doorways in some towns and cities and are actually boot scrapers from the around Victorian era . Pre-Eighteenth Century, walking was largely considered something that only poor people did. Back in those days, roads and paths were not tarmacked or paved and instead were lined with mud and horse poop, among other debris, and therefore travelling by carriage was much more preferable. An example of a boot scraper found in Exeter. However around the mid-Nineteenth Century, popular attitudes towards walking began to change. The Romanti

The Sinking of the SS Athenia

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SS ATHENIA seen in Montreal Harbour - 1933 (National Archives of Canada Via Picryl ) Outbreak of War The SS Athenia was a transatlantic passenger liner built in 1923 in Scotland and often carried passengers, many of whom were emigrants, between the United Kingdom and the East coast of Canada. The ship weighed a heft 13,500 tons and was able to accommodate up to 1000 passengers. In 1939 many were in a particular hurry to get out of Europe in a hurry to escape the outbreak of war. On 1st September 1939, the same day that Germany declared war on Poland, the Athenia left Glasgow for Canada. It went on to pick up more passengers in Belfast and and Liverpool and proceeded into the Atlantic Ocean two days later. On the same day, Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war with Germany. The Attack on the Athenia Prior to the outbreak of war, approximately 18 U-boats, including the U-30 , had been ordered to take up position in British waters. They had been ordered to ensure interna

How Charles Dickens Shaped Christmas

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Charles Dickens by Ary Scheffer oil on canvas, 1855 NPG 315 © National Portrait Gallery, London Charles Dickens has always been associated with Christmas . In 1988, the Sunday Telegraph even went as far as to call Dickens, "the man who invented Christmas". Many of his most popular works have focussed on Christmas, from some of his first novels including  Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol to some of his short Christmas stories such as A Christmas Tree and  What Christmas is as we Grow Older.  Whilst we know that Dickens didn't  literally, invent Christmas, he did a great deal to popularise the holiday and its traditions in Britain. By the late 19th Century, the medieval Christmas traditions were not really celebrated. According to some scholars, the medieval Christmas, which combined the religious celebration of Christ, Pagan traditions and the German festival of Yule, had come under much scrutiny by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell which saw traditional practices de

Gifts to Buy for Your Favourite History Lover This Christmas

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 With less than a month until Christmas, we should probably start thinking about gifts if we haven't already. I like to try and shop from small, independent stores around this time of year rather than from big companies. Chances are you might have someone in your life that is a complete and utter history buff so why not get them a gift related to their favourite topic. Here are a few ideas of Gifts to Buy for Your Favourite History Buff This Christmas! My Life is in Ruins T-shirt from What is History £25.01   I think all history buffs love a good pun so why not treat them to a punderful t-shirt...see what I did there? Yaasss Queen Mug from Clavis & Claustra £11.00  A mug with all their favourite queens on - YAS PLEASE! Historical Fiction Bookbox from Bookbarn International £9.99  This one's for the book lovers! Inside each box is a preloved historical fiction book, a sachet of tea or coffee and some biscuits. Sounds like the recipe for a cosy night in reading! Celtic Sword

The Hauntings of Berry Pomeroy Castle: One of the Most Haunted Castles in the UK

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  Berry Pomeroy castle is said to be one of the most haunted castles in the UK but many of the ghost stories associated with the castle are not rooted in its largely bloodless history. The growth of the Romantic movement in the late 18th century meant that many tourists visited to the castle and with the growth of the nearby towns of Torquay and Paignton, more and more people began to visit the abandoned castle. The dramatic ruins naturally made visitors think of spectral inhabitants and ghostly figures roaming the now deteriorating corridors.  The main ghost stories associated with Berry Pomeroy castle have no rootings in it's history and are mainly based on the incorrect belief that it was a Norman castle. But whether they are based in any truth or not, we all love a good ghost story. So what are the most chilling tales associated with Berry Pomeroy castle? The Pomeroy Brothers One story tells the tale of the two Pomeroy brothers taking their horses and galloping off the edge of

Berry Pomeroy Castle

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  In an attempt to soak up some local history, I recently took a visit to Berry Pomeroy Castle , Devon. The castle stands on a spur above Gatcombe Valley and is set against a deep woodland.  The Pomeroys The first owner of the manor or Berry was Ralf de Pomaria who was a knight from La Pommeraye in Normandy, France. He was granted the manor, along with 56 others in Devon, by William the Conqueror. It is believed that this may have been a reward for his service at the siege of Exeter in 1068. According to the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, the manor of 'Beri' was worth approximately £12 per year, which was a 1/3 more than the nearby Totnes Castle. The manor consisted of 78 households, meaning that it's population was approximately 400.  Ralf did not establish a castle here. However, a parish church was established along with a manor house beside it that would become the main residence for his family for the next 400 years. In 1207 Henry Pomeroy formed a deer park on the gr

The Best Free Online Archives for History Bloggers

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 As someone who loves to research history it's pretty essential to have access to archives. However, as I'm currently in full time employment in a non-history related field and don't live in a large city, it can be difficult to access archives physically. Likewise, as researching history is currently a hobby it's not something I can afford to spend a great deal of money on, meaning online archives that are behind a paywall remain inaccessible to me.  For those in a similar situation to me, I thought it would be beneficial to compile a list of the best free online archives so that all us history bloggers can continue to make the most of our hobby and have access to invaluable historical resources and collections. The National Archives  - You can either peruse their online digital archive guides or simply search for the topic you're researching and select "Available for Download Only" in the filters as this shows you what is available online and sometimes f