All Hallows by the Tower, London

All Hallows by the Tower –

a church and its connection to Richard III

Today, 1 November, is All Hallows (or All Saints) Day.  From this comes our Halloween (= All Hallows Eve, 31 October).  On this day all saints, who have attained heaven, are commemorated.  It was a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning the faithful were obliged to attend mass.[1]  Growing up in a traditionally Catholic area in Germany, I can remember our Catholic neighbours decorating the graves of their family members with candles the evening before.  And of course it was a public holiday, which meant a welcome day off school! Continue reading

Catherine of Aragon

Book Review:  Catherine of Aragon

Giles Tremlett, Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen. Faber and Faber Ltd, London, 2010 (Pbk)

Several years ago, I bought Catherine of Aragon at Heathrow looking for something to while some time away during a 24-hour flight. And I was hooked – compared to Catherine, the normal inflight entertainment didn’t stand a chance. Continue reading

Anne Boleyn’s Songbook

Anne Boleyn’s Songbook –

Royal College of Music MS 1070

This morning, an article about a recent performance of music from an old book found in the archives of the Royal College of Music caught my eye. This book is known as Anne Boleyn’s Songbook (Royal College of Music MS 1070).

The book contains music that a well-bred young woman in the Renaissance would have liked and enjoyed. It is a collection of musical love songs by Josquin, Mouton, Sermisy and others, some are anonymous. It contains 42 compositions, both secular chansons and sacred texts, and is one of the most important sources of French Renaissance music anywhere. Continue reading

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

Thomas Cromwell

Book Review: Thomas Cromwell

Tracy Borman, Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant. Hodder & Stoughton, 2015 (PB)

In anticipation of Wolf Hall being shown on Australian TV, I bought Tracy Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell during a recent trip to the UK (the series started being shown on pay TV on 11 April). I never found Henry VIII and most of his six wives, with the exception of Anne of Cleves, very appealing, so his powerful minister was a foray into fairly unchartered waters for me. Incidentally it was Anne of Cleves, who was the stumbling block over which Thomas Cromwell eventually fell. Continue reading