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Category: Medieval Manuscripts


Remember, Remember

I had intended to commemorate Guy Fawkes Night by translating an Elizabethan Recipe for Fireworks held in the State Papers Collection of The National Archives at Kew, but it turned out to be more Molotov Cocktail than Sparkler – arguably appropriate to the historic events of the day, but not so much for a how-to-make-this-at-home… Read more »

Minions of the Moon

To celebrate tonight’s Full “Red Moon”, I pre-ordered another alchemically themed document to view in the Map and Large Document Reading Room of The National Archives at Kew, which recounts the misfortunes of a Practitioner claiming to have made an elixir with the power to transform base materials into Silver. Filed within TNA’s Special Collections… Read more »

Open, locks, Whoever knocks

The 7th of August in the year 1606 saw the first recorded performance of Macbeth, in the Great Hall at Hampton Court. Shakespeare’s addition of three witches into the historical brew was tailored to grab the interest of the evening’s host, King James VI & I, himself an author with a well-known interest in the… Read more »

Through the Looking Glass

Although I carry out most of my research in the Map and Large Document Reading Room at The National Archives, the most precious and sensitive items in its extensive collection have to be viewed under supervision in the Invigilation Room on the floor below – a much less daunting process than it sounds. A member… Read more »

Inky Fingers, part 1

29 May being Oak Apple Day – the anniversary of the Restoration of King Charles II, honouring the ‘Royal Oak’ at Boscobel House which shielded him from Cromwell’s men after the Battle of Worcester – it feels appropriate to spare a thought for the humble oak apple, which plays such a large part in my… Read more »