Conference Report: Bath 250

On 29 and 30 September the opening of Bath’s historic (Upper) Assembly Rooms was marked with a conference over Zoom, followed by a live event in the Assembly Rooms where conference participants were able to experience a display of dances from the Ridotto, which had opened the Rooms precisely 250 years before in 1771. We welcome back one of the speakers, Jemima Hubberstey, a doctoral … Continue reading Conference Report: Bath 250

What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

Accusations of political sleaze are on the rise again, but the concept of government insiders profiting from the system is nothing new, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project explains… If the Committee on Standards in Public Life had existed 400 years ago, it would have needed a rather different remit. While Jacobean politicians periodically attacked corruption and venality in government, it was … Continue reading What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

The year 1776 is usually associated with the worsening crisis in the American colonies. Yet for one week in April the House of Lords, and the British public, turned their attention to Westminster Hall to concentrate on the sensational trial for bigamy of Elizabeth Chudleigh, the self-styled ‘duchess of Kingston’. Dr Charles Littleton examines the background to the sensational case. In 1743, at the age … Continue reading ‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

Postwar MPs’ Memories of Summer Holidays

This year we’ve been looking into the holiday habits of parliamentarians throughout history. In our latest blog Emme Ledgerwood has been listening through our Oral History project archive, to find out how MPs spent their summer holidays long before they stepped foot in the chambers of Parliament. When searching the History of Parliament’s oral history collection for MPs’ memories of summer holidays, descriptions of the … Continue reading Postwar MPs’ Memories of Summer Holidays

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”: holidays by the sea in the 18th century

In the course of the 18th century a variety of spas and seaside resorts became popular destinations for busy Georgians seeking cures for a variety of chronic conditions, as well as for relaxation from the dramas of high politics. Dr Robin Eagles, Editor of the House of Lords 1715-90 project, considers the experiences of some of the high-profile individuals who took their holidays at two … Continue reading “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”: holidays by the sea in the 18th century

Cancelling Christmas? William Prynne, kill-joy and martyr, and the onslaught on ‘pagan Saturnalia’

With the government currently recommending scaled-back Christmas celebrations, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-60 project, considers a man who advocated scrapping Yuletide festivities for a quite different reason… The idea that ‘the puritans cancelled Christmas’ has widespread acceptance. Indeed it surfaced in the House of Commons recently in debate over what kind of celebration might be prudent … Continue reading Cancelling Christmas? William Prynne, kill-joy and martyr, and the onslaught on ‘pagan Saturnalia’

Divorce, cuckoldry and bastardy: two unhappy medieval marriages

Today’s blog comes from Dr Charles Moreton, senior research fellow in our Commons 1461-1504 project, who begins our latest blog series all about parliamentarians’ marriages. Here Dr Moreton turns his attention to two particularly unhappy marriages during the 15th century… Unlike some of the blogs to come in this series, the following offers a couple of examples of unhappy marriages. Both of the parliamentarians in … Continue reading Divorce, cuckoldry and bastardy: two unhappy medieval marriages

The Politics of Protest in Britain: Race Riots in 1980-81

To mark Black History Month 2020, today’s post comes from guest blogger Dr Simon Peplow, senior teaching fellow at the University of Warwick. Dr Peplow is a researcher of modern British race, ethnicity, and migration history and his book ‘Race and Riots in Thatcher’s Britain‘ was released in paperback this month. In this blog he looks into parliamentary responses to the Race Riots that took … Continue reading The Politics of Protest in Britain: Race Riots in 1980-81

A tribute to John M. H. Lee

In the fifth blog of this sombre series that pays tribute to interviewees from our Oral History Project, Emma Peplow looks back on the life and career of John Lee, Labour MP for Reading (1966-70) and Birmingham Handsworth (Feb 1974-79), who we interviewed in 2013… John Lee was born in Bagshot, Surrey. His comfortable background (his father worked in the City) might be a surprise … Continue reading A tribute to John M. H. Lee

‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s

As the easing of lockdown encourages many of us to seize opportunities to go on holiday, and especially take ‘staycations’, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of the Commons 1640-1660 section, looks at the positive and (arguably) negative uses to which civil war MPs put their leave… The widespread perception that the Parliaments of the mid-seventeenth century cut down on holidays is not inaccurate. As has … Continue reading ‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s