An Englishman’s history of France

The writer, broadcaster and popular historian John Julius Norwich died on 1 June 2018, aged 88, just after publishing “France: A History from Gaul to de Gaulle”.  Poignantly, the author says in the preface: “I know I have said it before, but this is almost certainly...

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Corrag, The Highland Witch

Susan Fletcher’s novel “Witch Light” is set in 1692, a handful of years after my Huguenot ancestors fled France and landed in England – hopeful of a warm welcome, since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had ousted James II (a king too prone to Catholicism) and installed...

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King Billy and the Bank

Protestant King William III set up the Bank of England in 1694 to fund wars against his Catholic French nemesis – King Louis XIV, the Sun King.  The first Governor of the Bank was Sir John Houblon, great-grandson of a Huguenot refugee. Various Houblons were involved...

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The Sign of a Huguenot

I once walked into a Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival event where the name "JC Decaux" alone was projected onto a white screen at the front.  In common with everyone else, I thought: “Why do I know that name?” We knew it from a million billboards – those huge...

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The Final Girl

If you’re any kind of film buff, you’ll love Robert Eggers’ debut film The Witch; and if you’re interested in Puritanism or Calvinism, it’s an extraordinary eye-opener. I heard several interviews with Eggers before I saw the film; he’s a genial and entertaining...

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Puritanical Diary Keeping

I want to write about diaries, so I’ve brought out all my family’s diaries and put them on the bed.  I had to find them first – they were stashed away in various places where they couldn’t torment me. My dad kept diaries all his life – the first one I have...

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