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“A huge, heavy galleon of white Portland stone…”

“…anchored among the red-brick Queen Anne houses of the weavers.”  So John Betjeman described Christ Church, Spitalfields, in The Collins Guide to English Parish Churches. The Grade I listed church was built following an Act of Parliament in 1711, which legislated for...

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Slavery, statuary and Huguenot villainry

Thanks to Black Lives Matter and the toppling of a Bristol statue, I’ve just found out about the part a number of Huguenots played in the transatlantic slave trade.  All that Bible reading did such Huguenots no good when it came to the lives of stolen Africans. We all...

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The other side of the tracks

The other side of the tracks

Sarah is 80 this year. She idolised my mum who, admittedly, was good with small children not her own. In any case, this was in the years when my mum was a Sunday School teacher and must have had child-amusing tricks up her sleeve. Sarah is one of my long-lost cousins...

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Making musical clocks in Blackfriars

A Protestant-made timepiece was chosen by historian Neil MacGregor to be one of twenty British Museum objects which best illustrate Shakespeare’s life and the background for his plays. The rare musical clock, created by highly-skilled Flemish Protestant refugee...

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Cancer ward

I’ve been sitting in a cancer ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital, desperately relying on a Tudor detective novel to distract me. Nurses are putting cancer drugs into my child and it’s almost impossible to bear. One of them catches me glaring at her. “Everything OK?”...

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Neat freaks find my CD-Rom

I just had the declutterers in.  It’s sheer extravagance, but when you’ve still got the debris from your father’s estate to weed out, ten years after his death, probably justified. Maybe in 2008 I believed I might still keep him – deny death - by holding on to every...

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