I studied history all throughout highschool - however, spending ages 14-15 studying Australian history (afterall, my school was in Australia), and ages 16-17 studying ancient history, has not really equipped me terribly well for appreciating living in England today (and in reflection, I now can't for the life of me think whatever enticed me to study ancient history...)
England, and London in particular, is incredibly steeped in history - I mentioned in my last post that one of the hospitals where I'm based has had a hospital on the site since the late 13th century. It is also the site where William Wallace was executed, and not far from where protestant heretics were burned during Mary I's reign. The history around the other hospital site where I am based is a little more recent but no less gory - it is the stomping ground of Jack the Ripper, and the Elephant Man actually used to live at the hospital.
My point is, that wherever you turn in London, you are in a place that has seen centuries upon centuries of human experience. My knowledge of English history from Queen Victoria onwards is reasonable, and my Tudor history is not bad either. But, throw in the Plantagenets or even the Georgians, and I am more than a little lost. Which is why I was delighted to stumble across this in my local Waterstone's last weekend.
Written by Simon Jenkins in association with the National Trust it covers major segments of English history from the Saxons onwards in chunks of ten pages - a whistlestop tour through the last 1500 years, but enough to whet my appetite and get the major events and players in something resembling the correct chronological sequence in my head. And now that it has actually turned cold here, something to curl up beside the heater with on a quiet evening...
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