Speaking

As well as offering tours, I also provide interesting and entertaining talks for clubs and societies.  Please see some of my popular talks below or contact me if there is a subject you have in mind – I may well be able to help!  Please contact me for a quote.

The British love affair with Tea!

Tea planation

Can you tell your Chinese from your Indian tea, Assam from Darjeeling?  Explore why the British started drinking tea, how we brought it here, the influence of tea on the British Empire and changing public attitudes to tea, from dangerous drug to the respectable alternative to alcohol. As Henry James said “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”, but who invented it and why?

My talk concludes with a tea tasting (I need access to a kettle and drinking water)

 

Who killed the Princes in the Tower?

Princes in the Tower Paul Delaroche

It is the ultimate cold case.  In April 1483, towards the end of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses, King Edward IV died.  He left 2 young sons, the 12-year old Edward V (who inherited the throne) and his 9-year old brother Richard.  As was common practice, and sensible at a time of political turmoil, they were taken to the formidable and defensible royal palace that is the Tower of London, on the orders of their uncle Richard Duke of Gloucester.  Just 3 months later they were declared illegitimate and their uncle was crowned king in their place as Richard III.  The boys were never seen alive again…..

What happened over the summer of 1483 is one of the greatest murder mysteries in Britain.  Were they murdered by their evil hunchback uncle Richard III as Shakespeare would like you to believe?  Were they murdered by one of the other claimants to the throne?  Were they murdered at all?  What actual evidence exists to justify the legends and tall tales that have grown up around these poor boys.  

We will use our little grey cells to examine the evidence, make rational deductions and come to our own conclusions….

Private Lives in the Public Sphere

Henry BIII - Workshop of Hans Holbein

 

How the personal lives of Tudor and Stuart monarchs shaped British History

In the early modern period kings and queens couldn’t have a “private life”.  Whether they got married, had children, what their religious beliefs were, who their favourites were, who they had affairs with, their health, insecurities, intelligence, education, and personal qualities like courage, tact and diplomacy – these were all matters of public importance.  

Which queen’s miraculous conception of a boy sparked a revolution?  Which kings’s insecurity bred an arrogance than alienated Parliament?  Which queen’s miscarriage cost her her head?  Explore the private tragedies, heartbreak and scandals that have shaped British history.

 

James Bond – a British Hero

You know the name.   You know the number.  

Now explore what inspired Ian Fleming to create one of the best loved characters of English literature.  My talk investigates Ian Fleming, the literary Bond he created and how that was translated to the silver screen.  I discuss the actors who have played Bond, the music, the locations, the gadgets and the women.  The talk concludes with a fun Bond quiz.

A history of London shopping

Oxford St

 

Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Fortnum and Mason, Burberry and Harrods – we take these brand names for granted now but how did it all start and why were these brands so successful?  Explore the history of London’s shops from its markets like Billingsgate and Smithfield to the King’s Road and Knightsbridge today, and discover why Britain is a “nation of shopkeepers”.