Cheese Making through the Ages

Cheese Making through the Ages

I love cheese.  So when I came across a reference to cheese during my research into Robert the Mason, I kept it in my mind’s “of interest” tray to come back to later.

In the 12th century, Geoffrey de Gorham, who was abbot of St Albans from 1119 to 1146, assigned to the monastery’s kitchen all of the cheeses from the Abbey’s demesnes of (St Paul’s) Walden, Abbot’s Langley and Sandridge (all in Hertfordshire). [1] It seems likely, as cheese was specifically mentioned in the Gesta abbatum, it had a high priority for the diet of the monks.

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Book Review:  She-Wolves

Helen Castor, She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth. Faber and Faber, London, 2010 (Hbk)

She-Wolves deals, as the subtitle tells us, with “The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth”, ie. Matilda the Empress, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Margaret of Anjou and, less thoroughly, Queen Mary. It is an easy to read account of these ladies’ lives and “reigns”. For me the parts dealing with Matilda and Isabella were of particular interest, because my knowledge about these two had been rather limited. It certainly will make me investigate them further. If this was Helen Castor’s aim, she was successful. In this respect the book serves the same purpose as a well-written historical novel, which is actually what this book feels like.

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A Plague on Both Your Houses

Book Review:  A Plague on Both Your Houses

Susanna Gregory, A Plague on Both Your Houses. Time Warner Paperback, London, 2003 (originally published 1996)

I bought A Plague on Both Your Houses quite some time ago at a Bring & Buy stall, put it on my bookshelf and forgot about it. While researching Cambridge in the 15th century for a talk, I was reminded that Susanna Gregory’s novels are set in 14th century Cambridge, so I finally decided to read the book. A great pity that I hadn’t done so earlier, as I had missed out on a treat.

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Amenable Women

Book Review: Amenable Women

Mavis Cheek, Amenable Women.  Faber and Faber Ltd, London, 2008 (Pbk)

I first became aware of Amenable Women by reading a short review in Sydney Morning Herald of 30 August 2008. From the description it sounded like The Daughter of Time on Anne of Cleves (the fourth wife of Henry VIII), which indeed would be an accurate description. In both novels, a present day person investigates a person from the past, who had mostly been portrayed in a negative light, and comes to find them much more positive. Continue reading

A Builder of St Albans Cathedral

A Builder of St Albans Cathedral:

Robert the Mason –

Bob the Builder medieval style

Since first publishing this post, valuable information mainly about one of the properties given to Robert the Mason has been brought to my attantion by Victor, a friend of a friend of mine.  I am most grateful for his contribution and have revised my original post on 22 July 2015.

Ever since visiting St Albans for the first time 35 years ago, on the August Bank Holiday Monday in 1980, I have been very fond of and interested in the city and its cathedral. It was a special treat to read about its first architect, Robert the Mason. Continue reading