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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Little Staughton Google Street View MK44 2BY

Little Staughton Google Street View MK44 2BY If you’ve got the courage, and it’s still standing, you can look at your childhood home on Google Street View.  I googled the name of our cottage to find out its postcode – MK44 2BY – and was suddenly struck with the...

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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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