A brief history of being a Dunce…..

The origin of the dunce cap all begins with one man, John Duns Scotus. His memorable tripartite name, signaling his Scottish heritage (Scotus), and the village where he was born (Duns), is what would eventually lead to the very concept of a “dunce.” Scotus was a Renaissance man well before …

Dr Wansbrough`s celebrated nipple shields…..

More wonderful Victorian health advice…. Nipple shields were made from a variety of materials in the 18th and 19th centuries, wood, ivory and lead(!) the most common. They were intended to protect the mothers sore nipples. They were often perforated allowing the baby to feed through them (probably with considerable difficulty).  These unperforated …

Poor Fred – now he`s dead……

Cricket can change the course of history (well, sort of). I bring you the tale of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the son of George II who died in 1751 following a cricketing mishap. He was playing cricket, misjudged a catch and the cricket ball hit him on the head. He …

The one leg v one arm cricket match……

What with the domestic cricket season drawing to a close and the Ashes series about to begin, I thought that I would tell you about a rather strange match played over 150 years ago. In 1848 at the Priory Ground in Lewisham, a team of men with one leg played …

The Quare Fellow…..

The greatest Irish writer of his generation who wrote the critically acclaimed Borstal Boy and The Quare Fellow described himself as “a drinker with a writing problem”. Raised on whiskey by his maternal grandmother because “it was good for the worms”, Behan achieved national notoriety with a series of drunken …

Public Impotency Trials

Apart from death, one of the few ways one could dissolve a Catholic marriage was proof of impotence. But how on earth could you prove it? .The only valid way at the time was to participate in a “public impotency trial” As bizarre as it may sound, church officials aided …

The peculiar Dorothy Paget……

The Honourable Dorothy Paget (1906-1960) was one of the most successful owners of her era. In all, her horses were to win a total of 1,532 races on the flat and over the jumps, including winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup an incredible seven times, plus owning the winners of the …

Shakespeare, Onions and Sex…….

Shakespeare was rather keen on onions.Let me explain… In the ‘ Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ Bottom gives final directions before presenting a play before the Duke and his party, tells them to go home and attend to this, that and the other, and says : ” ‘And most dear actors eat …

Hair……

I came across this strange photograph of a man and his rather odd haircut which made me think about hair and hair styles. It is probably fair to say that hair styles are a mirror that reflects individual, collective and stylistic histories. It is one of the only parts of …