A Governors country retreat? Lullingstone Roman Villa

This week’s mid week mini is about Lullingstone Romans villa in Kent. The land itself has evidence of occupation from the Iron Age but archaeologists and historians cannot defiantly say if this was the case. What is certain was that there was occupation around 100AD when a villa was built in the small area in Kent. This villa would be inhabited for around 300 years where it was developed and enlarges to become very fine home. It had underfloor heating luxury dining rooms with mosaics; it has some of the earliest evidence of Christianity in Roman Britain, a church house and a cult room.

“Lullingstone is unique because it is a family home…this is about people just getting on with their everyday lives’ – Simon Price Johnson, Historic Property Steward at Lullingstone Roman Villa

Around 100AD, a winged-corridor house was built on the site, which also had another wing room built over a cellar. This type of structure was made up of block rooms with a wing at each end and was typical of the time. English Heritage believe that due to the number of entrance to the cellar including from outside the Villa this may have always been a cult room for people to come a worship in.

Roman Temples were one of the most important buildings in Roman culture, so many homes of the aristocracy would have one built at their properties, and this was the case with Lullingstone. The Cult Room would have been the main room of the temple and where the image of the deity whom the temple was dedicated would have been placed or painted. Evidence of Lullingstones Deity still survives today in the form of water nymphs.

Around 150AD, the House Church was built on top of the cult room. It was the discovery of this House church, which makes Lullingstone so special as it is a rare find in England. On the walls, there is evidence of the chi-rho monogram, which is a very early Christian symbol. They are the only known surviving paintings from this era with clear Christian symbolism. When discovered many of the parts of the House Church had collapsed into the Cult Room below. The pieces were pieced together to revel the images that once existed.

Both the House Church and the Cult room in existence t the same time is this evidenced of a conflict in faith for those who lived there or a split family.

The final development stage in the life of Lullingstone Roman Villa came in the late 3rd century, the northern range was demolished, and a narrow range of 5 rooms was added, three would have underfloor heating. The veranda was widened and transformed into an audience chamber with a new veranda built elsewhere.

Some mosaics also have managed to survive the test of time, which would have been on the walls of the large audience chamber in the villa. They depict Bellephone on a winged horse Pegasus fighting Chimera.

What of the people who lived there? Well although we know that Lullingstone was a home to those in the upper ranks of Roman society. We unfortunately cannot be certain of WHO they were. Two Roman busts which were uncovered in the archeologically digs could give an insight into those who called Lullingstone their home. They are of Publius Helvius Pertinax and his father Publis Helviuss Successus. Publius Pertinax was once the governor of Britain from 185-187AD and would become Emperor of Rome in 193AD (for only 87 days!). One of the busts bears his likeness; this with the face that a seal was found outside the villa with his personal seal backs up the theory that he could have once used Lullingstone as his country retreat.

‘We have always known that the site must have belonged to someone of high status because of its size, the quality of its mosaic floor and the archaeological finds.” – Joanne Gray, curator at Lullingstone

Only two skeletons have been uncovered at Lullingstone and they were found buried in the mausoleum. There was one of a male and one female both in their 20s. Grave robbers in ransacked the female’s tomb … so not much can be found out about who she was or her life. Only fragments of her skeleton remain. The male skeleton was preserved in a better condition although there was still no obvious cause of death. Buried with him with other grave goods was a game with 30 counters. Was this game something he cherished or just his favioute pastime when he was alive? We do not know and can only speculate. Were these to people residents of the Villa?

After the Romans left Britain, the site of Lullingstone was not used or inhabited and eventually decayed away. We jump forward nearly 1,500 years to 1949 when Ernst Greedfiled and Edwayn B…. two archolgist from Kent began excavating the site. Work had stated in 1939 by the Darent Valley Archaeology group who had found roof tiles and some other items of interest, but due to the outbreak of World War Two, any further investigations ceased. Greenfield and Birchenough were joined by Colonel Geoffrey Meates in a few years later who would become the sole person on charge of the investigations from 1955. He lived nearby in Lullingstone Castles gatehouse.

 In 1956, it was given into the long-term protection of the Ministry of Works who eventually became English Heritage. What we see today is what was visible in 1963 when it first opened to the public.

Managed by English Heritage Lullingstone villa is not your average ‘museum’ attraction. The visitor centre is built atop of the archaeology from the villa. The focus is the archaeology in the centre of the site where every 10-15 minutes a light show starts which talks through the history of Lullingstone an lights up the various areas. It is very interesting to see and was specifically commissioned for the site. Around the buildings sit various other items of archaeology interest found from the villa and a number of information panels giving the visitor more of an insight into what life was light on the sight.

The site itself does not take too long to look around and explore. When I went, my friend and I tied in a visit to Lullingstone Castle down the road and in the afternoon, we went to Upnor Castle (part of English Heritage). See blog post https://fortheloveofhistory.home.blog/2019/04/30/the-raid-on-the-river-medway-and-upnor-castle/

For more information on Lullingstone Roman Villa and visiting information head over to their web, page https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lullingstone-roman-villa/


Wilson, P (2009) Lullingstone Roman Villa. English Heritage: London

Anon (nd) Spotlight on Lullingstone. Available from: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/inspire-me/spotlight-on/spotlight-on-lullingstone/ [Accessed 15/09/2019]

Anon (2019) Roman Temple. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_temple#cite_note-Summerson_1980,_25-1 [Accessed 29/09/2019]

Narain, J (2010) British villa fit for an emperor: Experts finally solve puzzle of Roman ruins at Lullingstone. Available from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1304086/Lullingstone-Roman-Villa-treasures-reveal-home-future-Emperor.html [Accessed 20/09/2019]

Wilson P (2009) Lullingstone Roman Villa – a History. Available from: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lullingstone-roman-villa/history/ [Accessed 15/09/2019]


A Q and A with Miss Grant – Samantha Grant, History Teacher

This weeks Q and A segment is with my old school friend Samantha Grant who has been a history teacher for 10 years and is currently head of her department at a secondary school in Essex.

It was at secondary School where I was inspired by my history teacher Mr Singleton that history is fascinating and gives us an understanding of where we come from. I feel that Sam may have the same quirky love of history as Mr Singleton did and I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about what history means to her.

You are a History Teacher at a school in Essex, what made you decide to choose that career path?

To be honest I “fell” into it – my career ideas changed all the time when I was younger. The one constant was that I loved learning about History! So I ended up doing a degree with very little idea of where it would take me, with the idea in the back of my head that I wouldn’t mind going into teaching. Then I contacted my old school, went in for a chat and left with a job! It was hard at first, I struggled for the first few years, took a break and am now Head of Department at my current school, where I have worked for 8 years.

Was this something you always wanted to do?

Nope. I wanted to be a vet for ages, then an English or Science teacher, then a radio DJ, then probably something else…but History sucked me in, as did teaching!

What do you feel the challenges are when it comes to teaching History today?

Aside from the problems that are facing all schools (budget cuts, staff shortages, constant inspections, new and harder exams) I think it is often the lack of understanding about what it means to actually “do History”. That could be from the government or even within our own schools. People often think you just learn facts and about “stuff that happened years ago”. It’s so much more than that!

Why do you think it is important to learn about History?

I ask my new Year 7 classed this very question in their first lessons with me. They give some cracking answers – showing their awareness of the importance of History, which is really encouraging. They know we need to understand where we come from and to remember people who died fighting in wars. They also are aware we need to learn lessons from past mistakes, which is something a lot of adults struggle with.

Aside from the transferable skills that come with being a Historian (analysis, sourcing evidence, forming an argument, unpicking interpretations, being aware of bias) learning about the past is so important. Our current political climate has such worrying undertones which are reminiscent of 1930s Europe; we need to be aware of the potential dangers of divisive rhetoric and nationalism. This is especially important for our younger generations.

Who or what is your favourite time or person in history and why?

I am very much a Medieval/Early Modern Historian. I adore the Tudors – I know it is a bit of a “popular” period in History, but it’s just so full of juicy stories and massive changes. We also get our two first Queens Regnant (we can’t really count Matilda as she was never crowned) with Mary and Elizabeth I. Whilst Mary is a bit of a troublesome character in History, Elizabeth is rightly or wrongly seen as one of our greatest monarchs. Whilst she is not an especially nice person, she showed that a woman could rule England and managed it for 45 years. Her reign was not without its problems (especially the final decade) but she is such a strong female character. Although speaking of Matilda, she and Eleanor of Aquitaine were also badass women in a time when women were not seen that way!

And finally if you could go back in time where would it be and why?

I always say that if I was going to go back I would have to be invisible and in a protective bubble – I want none of your plague germs or smallpox thank you very much! It would probably be the Tudor court, to hang out and find out all the gossip. Or to Tilbury in 1588 to see Elizabeth’s speech during the Spanish Armada. Or to 1485 to see what really happened to the Princes in the Tower. I’m not really sure, there are so many questions and places to visit I am not sure I could choose one. I’m just incredible nosey, so I would want to find out the mysteries that we haven’t quite solved yet…

A Q and A with author and historian Neil Storey

This week’s Q and A feature is on author and historian Neil Storey. I first met Neil many years ago when he gave an amazing evening talk about Victorian London after dark at a Jack the Ripper Conference. I remember his skill of storytelling was amazing and I wanted to find out more about who this man was. I found that he was an authored many books and is a public speaker as well as being one of the founders of the Living History movement.

I want to thank Neil for agreeing to take part in this feature and I really hope you enjoy finding out more about what he does and his view on History.

Firstly can you tell me a little about your job as i know you do a mixture of books, talks and re-enactments?

I am a professional historian, I lecture for both academic and social audiences all over the UK and overseas. I have been in continuous publication since 1989 and have over forty books on military, social and topograpical history to my credit. I am fortunate that many of them have also become ‘evergreens’ that have been republished again and again. I also write occasional features for national magazines and journals. I am one of the founders of the Living History movement that brings historical characters and stories alive at historical events and museums and regularly work as a consultant or guest expert for quality radio and television programmes including BBC TV Who Do You Think You Are? and Classified Britain on BBC Radio 4

How did you get into this career path? What was it that drew you in the History direction?

I guess I have always been a historian. I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents when I was growing up and heard so many stories from my extended family and their friends. I started to collect old photographs and record the stories when I was in my teens and it has grown from there.

I have been fortunate to experience your amazing storytelling skills. Can I ask was that something you have always been able to do or has the skill grown over time?

That is very kind of you to say. I was surrounded with some great storytellers who had learned their skills when there was no television, few had radios and cinemas were a treat. The stories are great too, I love sharing them and I hope I have shared them in ways that carry on that tradition. I have found genuine interest and enthusiasm are often infectious for both academic and social audiences. And let’s face it if I have to get the attention of students on a Monday morning the story has to be a good one!

And now for some general questions i always ask – Why do you think History is important?

History has shaped all of us and the societies we live in, it is essential if we are to try and understand who we are, why we are as we are and to learn from the mistakes of the past. There is an old proverb: The man who keeps one eye on the past is blind in one eye. The man who keeps both eyes on the future sees nothing at all.

Who or what is your favourite time or person in history and why?

My favourite time in history is one of the most dramatic and dangerous, it’s the First World War. I have studied the period, the men and their stories for as long as I can remember. I am often humbled by the stories of the comradeship they shared and the humour that got them through. I was privileged to know many First World War veterans and had the chance to interview them, a number of them I had known since I was a lad. I miss not having them around and its not just so I can ask one more question. Those I knew were good people who brought a special presence to the world. We will never see a generation like them again.

And finally if you could go back in time where would it be and why?

Part of me wants to be with ‘my boys’ in the Battalions that I have researched all these years, to have my chance to march shoulder to shoulder with them and ‘do my bit’ with them but I know that none of them would want the next generations to go through what they did. The Great War was their time. So, a bit of time travel to the 1890s and my other great passion. To meet up with dear Bram Stoker and to have dinner in the Beef Steak Club Room at the Lyceum Theatre with Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Hall Caine and the usual eclectic array of guests would certainly do for me. To have the chance to ask the questions that still remain unanswered and to just enjoy that magical company – imagine the stories told round that table!

For Neils Amazon author page head to the following link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Neil-R.-Storey/e/B001KE6NHY

An A-Z of Hampton Court

Part 2 – N-Z

N- New Year 1604

William Shakespere, National Portrait Gallery

King James would spend Christmas and New Year of 1604-5 at Hampton Court. Included in the festivities would be a performance of a Midsummer’s Nights Dream (my favourite Shakespeare play) in the Great Hall by the Kings Men whose dramatist was none other than William Shakespeare.

O- On Location

Hampton Court Palace has been the location of many blockbuster movies and TV shows, the most recent being scenes from The Favourite starring Olivia Coleman and about Queen Anne and Lady Marlborough. Scenes were shot in the Great Kitchens, The Serving Place, and the Cartoon Gallery.

Filming on location at Hampton Court Palace for The Favourite

Other films include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), The New World (2005)The Young Victoria (2009) and The Libertine (2004) to name a few. TV shows, as well as documentaries, include Little Dorrit (2008), John Adams (2008), and The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001). 

All the proceeds made from filming at the Palaces goes back into the conservation of the Palace.

P- Sybil Penn

Sybil Penn was the dry nurse to King Edward VI and a woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I. It was while at Hampton Court Palace that Elizabeth came down with Smallpox so severely that the Drs thought she would not survive. Penn would nurse Elizabeth day and night to help her sovereign recover back to health, which Elizabeth did. Unfortunately, Penn did not and succumbed to the disease. It is said that she is one of the ghosts at the Palace and sightings only started when her grave was disturbed at the parish church. She is believed to be a grey spectre wandering Clock Court and responsible for working a spinning wheel in a room where there is nothing there.

State Apartment Warder stands on the Silverstick Stairs acting as ghost tour guide. Historic Royal Palaces

Q- Queens at Hampton Court

Jane Seymour, National Portrait Gallery

Several English Queens have lived at Hampton Court and experienced times of sorrow and joy in its walls. It was one of the final places visited by Elizabeth of York before she died after childbirth complications at the Tower of London in 1503. The Palace underwent some changes to make way for Anne Boleyn in 1536 but as soon as she fell from grace all reminders of her were removed. Her successor, Jane Seymour would die at the Palace in 1537 after giving birth to Edward. Her rooms no longer exist today but her ghosts are said to haunt the Silverstick staircase. Her heart is buried in the Chapel. I have already spoken about Catherine Howard at the Palace.

Queen Mary, I would take her confinement at the Palace when she was convinced she was pregnant in April 1555. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a phantom pregnancy and eventually her husband King Philip of Spain spent more and more time away from her.

Queen Mary, the granddaughter of King Charles I and her husband William of Orange would work in partnership in the redesigning of Hampton Court into its Baroque splendour. Sir Christopher Wren found in her a keen and willing patron to create the longed-for Palace, which he had wanted to; build (even though the plans were scaled down). She was the drive behind the changes to the palace and would have detailed discussion with Wren about how to proceed due to her husband being in French campaigning. On her death, plans came to a standstill at the Palace or a time.

Mary’s sister, Queen Anne spent the last four years of her life at Hampton Court making vast improvements including the Chapel Royal, which we see today. In her reign, she would use the Palace as a midway point from London and her country retreat of Windsor and when in residence the Palace became the site of political intrigue and factions.

R- Real Tennis

 Tennis or real Tennis (a tag added at the end of the 19th century to separate it from ‘lawn tennis’ was a popular sport in the Tudor Period and Henry VIII enjoyed playing it in his younger days. Wolsey had a tennis court built at Hampton Court Palace between 1526 – 1529. The current one dates from 1625.

The Interior of the Courts at Hampton Court Palace, Historic Royal Palaces

The Real Tennis Champions Trophy takes place at Hampton Court Palace every summer, supported by Mitsubishi Electric. 

S- Spider

The Cardinal Spider is said to have its name from Cardinal Wolsey’s fear of them. They were a common sight around the Palace, and can grow quite large!

T- Tapestries

In the Great Hall at Hampton, one cannot miss the magnificent Tapestries hung on its walls. In the Tudor period, tapestries were a sign of wealth and status.

These Tapestries are a series of 10 panels most likely commissioned by Henry VIII and show scenes from the life of Abraham from the Book of Genesis. Completed in 1546, they were woven in Brussels from wool, silk and thread of Gold and Silver. They would have been a bright burst of colour (unfortunately, the colour has faded over time).

The Tapestries hanging in the Great Hall today, Laura Adkins

After King Charles I execution in 1649 they were valued at £8,260 and would have been the most valuable item in the late king’s collection. They are considered one of the finest pieces of decorative artwork from the period.

U- Unicorns

The Welsh Dragon, Laura Adkins

Yes, there are Unicorns as well as Dragons at Hampton Court Palace, although only pretend ones. The unicorns can be spotted outside the main gatehouse as one enters the Palace. It is part of eight carved beasts, known as the Kings Beasts, which were originally installed at the request of King Henry VIII. Each carving represents the ancestry of either Henry or his third wife Jane Seymour. There is the Lion of England, the Royal Dragon, the Black Bull of Clarence, the Yale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the Tudor Dragon, the Seymour Panther, and the Seymour Unicorn.

V- Antonio Verrio

Heading towards William III State Apartments, one cannot miss the beautiful painting on the staircase titled ‘Victory of Alexander over the Caesars. Italian artist Antonio Verrio painted it. Verrio would work for the English monarchy for 30 years and earned himself lodgings and a pension at Hampton Court where he died in 1707.

The Verrio Staircase, Places to Go

The 12 Caesars represents the Catholic forces that William has ousted in the Glorious Revolution. William is the hero, Alexander.

W- Wolsey

Cardinal Wolsey was the Chief Minister of King Henry VIII and was the last of his type to be seen in England. The son of a Butcher Wolsey worked his way up to be King in all but name. As a result, he, therefore, needed to live like one and would inherit several luxurious sites which came with his various titles which he improved, making them fit for a King. Hampton Court he would acquire privately of Lord Daubeney and was to be his country retreat to entertain.

His developments to the Palace which we can see today is the spectacular entrance, Base Court, the along Gallery and his suite of rooms with their ribbed ceilings which is still there today. Wolsey would also add a suite of rooms for not only the King but also his wife and eldest daughter Princess Mary.

Cardinal Wolsey, National Portrait Gallery

Many would say Wolsey downfall was a result of him getting too greedy and living better than the king himself. Wolsey, however, would say that as he represented the King he, therefore, needed to live like him so he could do Henry justice. He even allowed Henry the use of all his homes to use at his leisure.

Wolsey downfall was mainly due to the fact of not being able to get a resolution the Kings Great Matter – his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He fell, and he fell hard. He would eventually die on way to the Tower of London to face trial in 1503

X- Rosa X Alba

In Chapel Court, there is a beautiful garden, which was created to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIIIs ascension to the throne. The insertion for the garden came from the Family of Henry viii portrait, which shows Henry with all three children and his third wife Jane Seymour. Although the setting for the painting is from Whitehall Palace, there is a garden in the background, which would have been similar to those at Hampton Court.

Some of the plants included in the garden are Irises, Periwinkle, Miny, Gilly Flower, the Red rose (of Lancaster) and the White Rose of York (Rosa x alba). Henry VIII parents being from each of the Houses and supposedly uniting the warring houses in what was termed by Shakespeare the Wars of the Roses.

Chapel Court Gardens from a few years ago, Danny Parlour

Y- Yeoman of the Guard

William III apartments show what life would have been like a Court for a courtier who wanted an audience with the King. Each room from the Guard Chamber to the Bedroom each gets more lavish in style and each room the closer one got to the monarch.

The first room to get through would have been the guard chamber and one would have been met with the yeoman of the Guard. They would make sure that couriers were suitably dressed and well behaved before allowing them to progress further. 

Next, they would enter the Presence Chamber, the official throne room followed by the Privy Chamber where on statement and courtiers who were close to the king would have been permitted. The Great Bedchamber was where one could watch the king’s ceremony of dressing in the morning; he slept in the room next door – the Little Bedroom.

Z- Zone 6 

Hampton Court Palace lies in Zone 6 of the London Underground. It takes 50 minutes from Waterloo to get there by train and once you arrive you cannot but be in awe of the great Palace. It sits right onto of the River (and sometimes you can even take a boat ride there instead and be like the nobility of old). 

Meeting King Henry VIII himself from a few years ago.


Davidson, C (2009) How to read buildings: a crash course in architecture. Heret press London.

Worsely, L and Souden D. (2012) The Official illustrated History of Hampton Court Palace. Merrell in association with Historic Royal Palaces: London

Anon (nd) Chapel Court. Available from: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/whats-on/chapel-court/#gs.0wmbzf [Accessed 02/09/19]

Anon (nd) The Story of Hampton Court. Available from: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/history-and-stories/the-story-of-hampton-court-palace/#gs.0wu5kp [Accessed 02/09/2019]

Anon (2015) Hampton Court Palace Ghost Stories. Available from: www.blog.hrp.org.uk/hampton_court_palace_ghost_stories [Accessed 31/08/19]

Jones, B (2015) The Eavesdroppers of the Great Hall. Available from: http://theenchantedmanor.com/tag/the-eavesdroppers-of-the-great-hall/ [Accessed 02/09/2019]

A Q and A with Claire Miles, author of the Hisdoryan blog

This week’s Q and A is with Claire Miles, the author of the Hisdoryan blog. She really knows her history and not only discusses events from the past but reviews books and locations and gives advice to other bloggers. The blog has recently re-launched with some great new features.

Hi Claire. Firstly thank you for giving your time to answer these questions and letting us know a bit more about your blog. Can you please tell me a little bit about Hisdoryan?

The Hisdoryan blog is a history blog devoted to helping people live in the past – despite what some people may say, it’s totally okay to do this!

I’ve recently relaunched the blog so there is more of a focus on the ways people can easily access history in their everyday lives. You can find out about the latest history books and period dramas, as well as find inspiration for historical sites to visit on the weekend. Because who doesn’t love a wonder round a National Trust property on a Sunday afternoon, complete with the obligatory scone?!

What made you want to start a blog?

I started the Hisdoryan blog just over a year ago. I was off work ill and as part of my condition my cognitive functions were just all over the place.

As I started getting better I set myself a challenge of learning something new to prove my brain was getting back to how it used to be. I’ve always loved history – and I was already sharing some of my historical adventures on my Instagram account – so I decided to build and run a history blog, and it snowballed from there.

You have been behind promoting History blogs and also setting up the History girls # which has been growing popularity. Why do you think more people are joining the community and using it?

I think one of the main reasons people are using the #historygirls hashtag is simply to find like-minded people with similar interests.

I have a great group of friends, but none of them are interested in history the way I am. With the History Girls I have friends who I can complain to about the historical inaccuracies in the latest period drama blockbusters, and they’ll get it!

I also think that generally Instagram is becoming an increasingly popular platform for sharing history content. Traditionally, Twitter has been the place for historians. It’s a great place for getting into discussions, but Instagram is more visual and more popular with the age range that make up the majority of the History Girls members.

It may not be the biggest hashtag in the world, but it is a growing one with a highly engaged community all across the world. I couldn’t ask for anything more really.

Why do you think History is important?

I really cannot overemphasise how important the study of history is.

Firstly, it gives us that sense of belonging – that basic human need. Learning about the history of your nation and your ancestors gives you a sense of identity and knowledge about where you come from.

Secondly, history helps us learn from the mistakes of the past. Or, at least it’s supposed to. We learn about horrible events from the not-so-distant past like The Holocaust so those atrocities are never committed again. So when us historians see worrying patterns and trends again it’s our duty to call them out.

Thirdly, I think the ability to analyse evidence and come to logical, well-supported conclusions is becoming increasingly important in a world where ‘alternative facts’ and post-truth politics are becoming more commonplace. We can no longer rely on people in positions of power to tell us the truth – so we need the skills to determine that truth for ourselves.

I could go on and on why history is so important – there are so many reasons.

Who or what is your favourite time or person in history and why?

If you had asked me this question last year I probably would have picked the Early Modern period and The Tudors. However, I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by the Long Eighteenth Century, and in particular the Georgian era. 

And finally if you could go back in time where would it be and why?

I’m currently reading Husband Hunters by Anne de Courcy, so I would like to go to New York on March 26th, 1883. This was when Alva Vanderbilt threw one of the grandest fancy dress balls the world has ever seen. The ball cost almost $6 million in today’s money. I imagine it would have been a once-in-a-lifetime display of excess.

Please pay a visit to the Hisdoryan blog and sign up to her newsletter.


An A-Z of Hampton Court Palace

Part 1 – A-M

This week I wanted to look at the history of another of London’s great Royal Palaces – Hampton Court. As you can guess there is a lot to tell and I could not decide what to choose so I decided to do something a little different for my Main Monday post and give you an overview with not only well-known facts but maybe lesser-known ones in the form of an A-Z. Maybe you will learn something new or it may encourage you to visit.

A- Astronomical Clock

When entering Hampton Court Palace through Clock Court one cannot help but notice the beautiful clock sitting up to the gatehouse. This clock was designed by Nicholas Kratzer and built by Nicholas Oursian in 1540. Not only does it tell the time but the phases of the moon, signs of the zodiac, the suns movement and the time of high tide at London Bridge.

B- Baroque 

Hampton Court Palace is a tale of two Palaces – at the front, the visitor is met with the magnificent Tudor red-bricked frontage from the time of Henry VIII. At the back and what greets the visitor, approaching from the Gardens is the impressive classical Baroque Palace from the time of William and Mary. 

They originally had plans to knock down the whole Palace and rebuild it in the Baroque style with the help of Sir Christopher Wren. However, due to costs, only parts of the old Tudor Palace were destroyed and paved the way for the modern.

Baroque was a style, which became popular across all of Europe and England in the 17th Century. It took the classical designs but recalibrated it to create a sense of drama to the buildings. It was a grand elaboration of detail and space. It also used the orders of pilasters to unify storeys.

C- The Chapel Royal

Possible one of my favourite places at the Palace the Chapel Royal is a beautiful place. Built at the request of Henry VIII in his improvements to the Palace one cannot help but look up in awe at the vaulted ceiling, which was completed in the 1530s.

The Chapel stayed pretty much the same until Christopher Wren remodelled it at the request of Queen Anne in 1710.

Up above the main body of the Chapel is a single room like a box at the Theatre. This would have been where the royal family would sit when worshipping. Today there is a replica of the Crown worn by Henry VIII while at the Palace. It was here that Henry received a letter from Archbishop Cranmer outlining accusations of adultery by Catherine Howard.

D- Lord Daubeney

Lord Daubeney was a great supporter of Henry VIII and acquired the manor of Hampton Court from the Knights Hospitaller in 1494. He fought on the Battlefield of Bosworth and was the Lord Chamberlain of Henry VII household. He enlarged and improved the Manor at Hampton court including adding the great kitchen. He made it grand enough to entertain royalty of who visited several times. It was after his death that his son would sell Hampton Court onto Cardinal Wolsey.

E- Eavesdroppers

Another great sight at the Palace would have to be its great hall. Today it is considered one of the greatest medieval halls of England. It measures 108 feet by 40 feet and rises 60 feet in height.  

Its decor consist of the walls being hung with great tapestries telling the story of Abraham, the light comes from the stained glass windows and at one end a raised dais where the king would have feasted.

What is its most beautiful feature is the hammer-beam roof. Decorating the hammer-beam roof is several shields of those who were important to the Tudor Court; in 1536, this would have included the wooden initials of HA representing Henry and Anne Boleyn. With her fall from favour, all traces of her were removed but one it seems was forgotten and can be found on the ceiling in the great hall. Also in the ceiling are carvings of Eavesdroppers. These would have been placed around the ceiling of the great hall to remind all that nothing stays a secret and someone is always listening.

F- Favour

The final royal to use the Palace would be King George II who in 1737 decided he no longer wanted to use it. Many of the rooms at the Palace

would be put to new use and became and favour apartments. 

This meant that the property is owned by the monarch but leases it free to a person of their choosing, usually as gratitude for services rendered. At this time, those living in the apartments were aristocratic widows whose husbands had given service to the King. The Grace and favour apartments at Hampton court continued with the last being granted in the 1960s.

G- Gardens

Hampton Court Palace is surrounding by 60 acres of beautiful gardens. With each new royal family and change to the Palace came new designs to the gardens also. Most of these gardens still survive today. There is William and Marys Great Fountain Garden to complete their new baroque palace. It has 13 fountains and two avenues of Yew Trees. There is also the Privy Garden first designed as Henry VIII heraldic garden and today a 1995 reconstruction of William III 1701 formal Privy Garden, which is met by the magnificent Tijo Screen designed by Jean Tijou in 1690.

The Wilderness garden began as an orchard until it was modernised by Charles ii mistress Lady Castlemaine. Inspired by the Italian grove or Bosco, it was an area of interwoven trees and paths to create outdoor ‘rooms’. It is also, where the maze is located and my favourite of all the gardens.

H- Historic Royal Palaces

 Historic Royal Palaces are the charitable organisation who run and manage Hampton Court today. They took over management of not only Hampton Court but also of Kew Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace State Apartments, and the Banqueting House. They took over from the Department of the Environment in 1989. 

I- Imprisonment

Imprisonment does not come to mind when you visit Hampton Court but in fact, it was a ‘prison’ for two royal monarchs who both would be beheaded for their crimes. The first was Catherine Howard, Henry VIII fifth wife who would be confined to her apartments at Hampton Court when Henry was made aware of her misconduct as his wife. The story goes that she managed to escape her guards and ran towards Henry in the Chapel through the Long Gallery but before he could hear her pleas and cries, she was dragged back to her suite of rooms. Today this gallery is said to be haunted by her spirit.

The Second Monarch to be held at here was King Charles I. He was taken there in 1647 and although he was a prisoner, he was allowed to still lead a comfortable and elegant life at the Palace where he would have visits from his children who he was overjoyed to see. Even Cromwell visited him whilst he was imprisoned here. Cromwell soon learnt his mistake of allowing the King such lapsed imprisonment as Charles would escape one evening in October and would not be recaptured for another two years. This time however he was not taken to Hampton Court but kept in a more secure setup and would eventually be executed outside the Banqueting House in 1649.

J- The King James Bible

In January 1605, a great conference was held at Hampton Court Palace that would impact the way the Bible is read. This conference, chaired by King James I was to lead to the authorised translation of the Bible into English, which would be known as the King James Bible. Both Puritans and members of the Church of England represented the conference. 

K- Kitchens

Another great survival of the Tudor Palace it is Kitchens. The ones at Hampton Court were the largest in Tudor England and would produce 800 meals a day for Henry’s household. They would be in use for another 200 years and were an essential part of the daily running of the Palace. Go and visit the kitchens yourself and feel the warmth of the great fire.

L- Louis XIV

The Palaces of King Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, heavily influenced much of the Stuart developments at Hampton Court Palace and its design. The layout and design of his Palace of Versailles were used to create the Cartoon Gallery and other areas. William and Marys new apartments were based on the designs used at the Louvre, in Paris. 

Also, it was not just designed but how ceremony and tradition which the English monarchs looked to the Sun King for. Our monarchs adopted his ceremony of dressing and undressing. 

M- Maze

The maze, which was originally one of three, is the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze. It is believed that it was commissioned by William III and designed by George London and Henry Wise. It covers a third of an acre and is located in the Wilderness Garden. How long will it take you to find the exit?

Every place has a story to tell – Lofts Farm, Heybridge.

Some people frown or laugh when I tell them that I do research for a paranormal investigation team, others find it fascinating and ask about what happens and my experiences. Whatever your beliefs on the matter what the investigations brings out for me is more of an understanding of the history of the sites. It gets me to delve deeper to try to find any evidence that the Mediums have noticed. Sometimes the sites are usually on famous places like Chatham Docks; Sites which there is easily accessible research. Other times the investigations are on lesser-known sites, more what you could say are ‘everyday’ sites, which are not famous. You have to try and delve deeper and find out more about life on those sites which were nothing out of the ordinary and sometimes makes the research more interesting to find out about everyday people who lived in lifetimes gone by, people who were just like you and me. My last investigation was on a site just like that, a farmhouse called Lofts Farm.

The land itself has evidence of a late Iron Age enclosure situated near one of the lakes and in 1109 William, Earl of Gloucester, owned the land. By 1360, it was in the family of William de Bohn, Early of Northampton and it was most likely during this time that the farmhouse was built. Most of the current farmhouse dates from the 18th century, the oldest parts farmhouse are some timber frames at the rear, which date to 1475. Unfortunately, some of the original house has now been knocked down due to being in a dilapidated state. Inside the house there are a number of original fixtures and fittings which add to the character of the house including the kitchen which was once a … complete with meat hooks in the ceiling. There is also a very atmospheric coal room.

The earliest mention of Lofts farm is from a rental document in 1441. In 1570, the estate consisted of 40 acres of arable land, acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture and 10 acres of wood, belonged to Anne Bourchier. In 1595, John Bullock whose family would hold the Estate until 1705 brought it. The family only resided there until 1637 when Sir Edward Bullock brought Faulkbourne Hall in 1637 and made that their primary residence. The house at this time was a large moated mansion.

In the 17th Century Lofts Farm was an Inn but not in the sense which we know it today. . There is even a record, which states that Oliver Cromwell once took refreshment there. The current tenants at the property believe that there is possible some 17th arms and armour in one of the barns which were given to the local museum. George Bullock brought the farm who then sold it to the Black family in 1660 and in 1685; a Josiah Nedham was the tenet at the farm.

The following is a list of those who lived at the farm from 1839 onwards:

Year Name Owner or Tenant Job Other
1839 John Carter Tenant Farmer Farm owned by Lucy Elizabeth and Jane Wescombe; Mary Jane and Catherine Wilhelmina.
1841 John Carter b.1791      
  Susannah Carter b.1791 Wife    
  Mary Crabb b.1826 Servant    
1851 James Chalkins b.1791      
  Lydia Chlkins B.1791      
1881 Benjamin Halls b.1849 Tenant Farmer 600 acres. Employer of 22 men and 6 boys. Born Little Totham
  Fanny Halls b.1852 Sister    
  Henry Halls b1842 Brother Corn Merchant  
  Harriet Halls b. 1858 Sister    
  William J. Carter b. 1878 Nephew    
  Louisa Coote b.1866 Servant Parlour Maid  
1888 George S… Cattle Dealer    
1901 John Billingham b.1856 Farmer   Born Northamptonshire. Owned Laundry business.
  S b.1847 Wife    
  Charles b1876 Brother    
  Martha Visitor    
  Alma Thomas b.1879 Servant    
  Elizabeth Harsell b.1887 Servant General Domestic Born Heybridge Essex
  Eliza Taylor b.1873 Servant    
  Agnes M Servant   b.1867. Born Maldon
1906 William F … Bailiff   Worked for George Seex
1939 James P. Woodhead b. 1874 Retired Farmer Retired Brought property in 1918
  Frances Elizabeth Woodhead b.1869 Wife Housekeeper  
  Elsie b1896 Daughter Housekeeper  
  Claude b.1898 Son Farmer  
  J Roger B.1870 Worker Farm Labourer  

During the paranormal investigation, a number of names and people were picked up on and my research took me in certain directions, to census records and newspaper archives to try to source these names and lives. What did I find? Well that is not for this particular blog post to reveal. 

What I wanted to highlight in this post is that everything and everyone has a history and leaves a footprint behind them of their life no matter how high or low they may be. Sometimes this footprint is easy to find and at others near on impossible but it is there, even if just in the decor of the buildings they lived in and helped shape.

Edward Bullock was the eldest son of another Edward and was born c.1580. In 1609, he was knighted at Richmond Palace by King James I and during the reign of King James’ son Charles Edward was a forced loan collecting for the county of Norfolk. When the Civil war broke out, he would be on the side of Charles and was a cavalier. He married a wealthy heiress, Elisabeth Wylde and they would have a number of children together. Due to his heavy expenditure to cover his lifestyle when Edward died, estates like Lofts were sold off to clear some of his debts. He is buried at the Church of St Germanics at Faulkborne, Essex.

John Carter was an ordinary man whose job while at Lofts was as a farm bailiff. He was responsible for the running of the farm and keeping everything in working order. This meant the hiring, firing, the budgeting, and making sure the livestock and land was well maintained. His job would have made him a well-known figure in the area but not necessarily liked. His job as the intermediary was not an easy one.

Mary Crab was the only servant in the house at Lofts in 1841. It would have been down to her to make sure all the chores were done including lighting the fires (with kindling), carrying coal and water to the top of the house, kitchen tasks, and cleaning the house. Did she get on well with her employers? We will never know, during the time of the 1841 census she was only 15 but would have most likely known that house from top to bottom, every nook, and cranny. In return, she got bed and board and a wage.

All three people above all lived at Lofts and all had complete different lives, which have helped tell Lofts story.

History is everywhere and there is always a story to tell. Think about the building you live in or pass every day, the one that you always look and think bout may be it has a beautiful decor; maybe there is a church or memorial that has caught your attention. Go research, find out, and understand it. Keep its story alive.

Census records from Ancestry.co.uk

Anon (nd) Lofts Farmhouse. Available from:  https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101111089-lofts-farmhouse-great-totham [Accessed 20/08/2019]

Anon (nd) Sir Edward Bullock. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Edward_Bullock [Accessed 21/08/19]

Brown, N., Holgate, R., Major, H., & Murphy, P. (1988). A Late Bronze Age Enclosure at Lofts Farm, Essex. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 54, 249-302. doi:10.1017/S0079497X00005855

Historic England (2007) GRANARY AND ATTACHED CARTLODGE AT LOFTS FARM Available from: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1111030 [Accessed 05/06/19]

Kemble, J (2015) THE PLACE-NAMES OF GREAT Totham. Available from www.essex.ac.uk/history/esah/essexplacenames [Accessed 04/07/19]

Maldon Archaeological group (nd) LOFTS FARM PROJECT – INTERIM 1978-79. Available from: http://www.maldonsx.co.uk/interims/interims/interim78-79.htm. [Accessed 28/08/19]