Filed: History

I is for Ivar the Boneless

Ivan Kaye as Ivar the Boneless

Ivar Ragnussson was one of the Vikings leaders who with his brothers led the Great Heathen Army that invaded the East Anglia region of England in 865AD, but it is how he got the nickname Ivar the Boneless that is the mystery.

But first the history lesson. Ivar was the son of Ragnar Lodbrok who ruled large parts of what is today Denmark and Sweden. The young Ivar is portrayed as a warrior and had a reputation as a berserker. Read more ›››

P is for Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur is best remembered for his germ theory of disease, his vaccines for rabies and anthrax, not to mention the pasteurisation method for treating milk.

But he also made a major contribution to the production of beer and all because of his deep-seated hatred of all things German following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 which simultaneously interrupted his work and humiliated his country. Read more ›››

Fallen Angels

Christ on the Cross

I went back to Gorton Monastery this afternoon on the pretext of completing my set of photographs of the twelve Franciscan saints, but in fact I have become a little obsessed with the place and wanted to get buy some more of their literature.

Not only is it an impressive Gothic-style structure, its architecture has its secrets, like way that the light from the high clerestory windows exactly picks out the saints on their pedestals, matching them in both width and height. Read more ›››

And Now an SOS Message

John Reith in 1922

The BBC has invited people to make suggestions for messages to be sent to the future.

My own is directed at the Queen in 2022 as she prepares to celebrate her platinum jubilee on the throne:

‘For goodness sake, don’t let Paul McCartney sing at the celebration concert.’ Read more ›››

Saints Preserved

Monastery Windows

Busy day yesterday, what with trying to catch the last events of London 2012 and make the most of the last of the Heritage Open Days. Quite a juggling act.

In between the marathon and murder ball, I was able to visit one of the most impressive buildings in Manchester – Gorton Monastery. Read more ›››

Midget Gems

Carpet Beaters

This is one of favourite weekends of the year – the Heritage Open Days – when all sorts of places with links to the past open their doors for free.

And before you say anything, it isn’t the ‘free’ bit that is the main attraction. It’s just that the weekend is a reminder to visit places those places on your doorstep that you otherwise drive past. Read more ›››

A Refuge for Thrift and Industry

Thrift and Industry

Another of my photos from downtown Manchester, this time a composite of two figures that you’ll find on the gates of the Palace Hotel.

Their names appear beneath each figure, although the one on the right is hard to make out. If you can’t be bothered to enlarge the image, I can tell you that these fine ladies are Thrift and Industry. Read more ›››

For the People, by the People

Executioner's Axe

It wouldn’t be a bank holiday without rain, but today felt positively autumnal as we scratched around for something to do.

There wasn’t much as it turned out. Mrs P quite fancied the idea of the two hour tour of the Great Northern Warehouse Tunnel in Manchester until I pointed out that it was Monday and the tour she was looking at on the web was yesterday. Read more ›››