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Monthly Archives: February 2020

#Identity festival at the Museum of London Docklands 7th and 8th March 2020

Identity festival (c) Museum of London

There is a lot of talk about identity nowadays but it is very difficult to define because we all play many different parts in our life.
To explore the idea of identity, the Museum of London Docklands is holding a free two day family festival on 7 & 8 March.

Identity festival (c) Museum of London

The #Identity festival will be full of lively, thought-provoking and creative activities exploring who we are and what makes us different from others around us. The event has been created by young British-Bangladeshi women from east London, in collaboration with the Osmani Trust, The festival is part of the Museum of London’s four-year collecting programme Curating London, focusing on four collecting projects around the city each year to change the way the museum collects objects and stories.

Identity festival (c) Museum of London

Over the weekend, families can learn all about Bangladeshi culture by taking part in a Bengali street food workshop, making their own traditional hand fans or opting for some decorative henna. There will also be the chance for visitors to immerse themselves in other cultures.

Identity festival (c) Museum of London

From sharing recipes in a community recipe book to printing your own unique t-shirt or bag and taking part in a community catwalk show, the festival will have a variety of activities designed to bring different communities together in celebration of each other’s identity.

Identity festival (c) Museum of London

In addition, there will be a host of other family-friendly activities taking place across the weekend including:

Silent Disco Zone exploring music from around the world
Conversation Booth allowing visitors to record their own story
A zine making workshop encouraging people to share their own identity
Performances by east London community and arts groups

One of the remarkable aspects of living in London is that many different communities come together to create a wonderfully diverse environment but we often know very little about all the different communities. This is an event is open to everyone to enjoy our similarities and differences with all the family.

#Identity festival
Museum of London Docklands
Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 March 2020

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I Exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich

Last week I took the short ride over to Greenwich to come face to face with the three surviving versions of the famous Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I which are on public display together in a free exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich. The exhibition, entitled Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I, is the first time the paintings have been displayed together in their 430-year history.

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, circa 1588 © National Maritime Museum, London

The Armada Portraits  are considered one of the most iconic images in British history and commemorates the most famous conflict in Elizabeth’s reign when the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to invade England in 1588. Royal Museums Greenwich showcases its own version of the Armada Portrait alongside the two other surviving versions, from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. From the Woburn Abbey Collection

For all the fame of the Armada Portraits, very little is known about them, they were believed to have been painted shortly after the Armada, in 1588. The origins of the paintings and artists are shrouded in mystery with some experts suggesting that three different artists or studios could be responsible for the three principal Armada Portraits working from a single template.

Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist, circa 1588 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Queen’s House is a wonderful setting for the exhibition which presents an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to explore closely the  three iconic depictions of Elizabeth I. In all three versions, the Queen is shown in a rich gold-embroidered and jewelled dress with seascapes showing different episodes of the Spanish Armada story.

The Queen’s House is part of Royal Museums Greenwich. It is 17th century Palladian villa, designed by Inigo Jones, which is situated on the site of the original Greenwich Palace complex, which was a major political centre of the Tudor dynasty and the birthplace of Elizabeth I herself.

So in many respects, Greenwich with its Tudor and Maritime history is the ideal place to full understand how the paintings relate to an important part of British history, England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada was considered one of the greatest military victories in English history and Elizabeth was celebrated in portraits, pageants, and the literature of the day.  Evidence of the  Elizabethan era has largely disappeared from Greenwich, these portraits are a reminder that for hundreds of years that this part of London was the centre of British power and prestige.

Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I is open from 13 February – 31 August 2020 at the Queen’s House in Greenwich alongside the Woburn Treasures exhibition that runs from 13 February to 17 January 2021, both are free to visit.

Rare objects discovered in the Havering Hoard reveal life in Bronze Age London

Photo – David Parry/PA Wire

One exhibition, I am looking forward to seeing at the Museum of London Docklands this April  is related to the Havering Hoard. This major exhibition called Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery will take visitors on a journey through life in the Late Bronze Age. Artefacts from the hoard, including tools and weapons, will feature alongside objects from the museum’s collection to tell the story of the people who lived and worked during this period.

Photo – David Parry/PA Wire

Among the objects are a pair of terret rings, a rare discovery and it is believed these are the first Bronze Age examples of their kind ever to be found in the UK. These objects are believed to have been used on horse-drawn carts. The discovery of these terret rings, bracelets and copper ingots possibly originating from the Alps suggests there was a well established trade route across Europe.

Photo – David Parry/PA Wire

Buried in four separate parts, the largest Bronze Age hoard ever discovered in London provides fascinating clues about the beliefs, values and nature of a complex and little known society.

Photo – David Parry/PA Wire

The Havering Hoard is a total of 453 bronze objects dating between c.900 and c.800 which were uncovered by archaeologists from Archaeological Solutions as part of a planned archaeological excavation.

Photo – David Parry/PA Wire

This internationally significant find will be on display from April to November 2020 and offers the opportunity to go back in history and find out what Late Bronze Age Havering folk got up to and how they lived.

Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery
Museum of London Docklands
Fri 3 Apr – Sun 1 Nov 2020

The Fancy at the Ferry House in 1832

The nearby O2 arena has been the scene of a number of major boxing matches in the last few years, however many people may not realise that the Isle of Dogs was a popular location for a number of sporting activities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of these activities were illegal and the Island which was barely inhabited at the time was a way to get on with the ‘business’ away from prying eyes. In the early 19th century, boxing was a very popular sport but was very different from the boxing of today.

There were very few rules and the fight would go on until one fighter was unable to continue or would give up, seconds would wait in the ring assist the boxer between rounds. The bareknuckle fights were often brutal and severe injuries or death were not uncommon. The ‘Fancy’ was the name given to aristocrats who followed the sport in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although all sections of society followed the sport and fights could attract huge amounts of gamblers’ money.

Isle of Dogs 1837

A news report from 1832 illustrates that even with relatively small purses, people were willing to fight and risk serious injury or death.


The Fancy – Two Men Killed

On Wednesday night, an inquisition was held at the King’s Head, Church-street. Deptford, before Joseph Carter, Esq. Coroner and a respectable jury, on the body of Richard Dodd, aged 27 years, who was killed under the following deplorable circumstances.-

The deceased was a shoe-maker, and resided in Whiteheart-yard, Coleman street, A month since, a match was made between him and a man named James Cox, a shoemaker at the Crispin public-house, Milton street to fight for two sovereigns, and Monday last was fixed for the fight. The two men dined together at the house of the deceased, and were quite friendly. After dinner they, with a host of their partisans, proceeded to Battersea fields, where they fought 17 rounds, but being disturbed by the new police, the seconds proposed that they should proceed to the Isle of Dogs to terminate the fight. Thither they went, and a ring was formed near the Ferry house; but before the men set-to, they expressed a wish to draw the stakes and shake hands. The stakeholder, a man named Jordan, refused to give them up, saying, the money was placed in his hands for the men to fight, and he would be d-d if they should not. Many persons, and the men themselves remonstrated, but he and the seconds were inexorable, and the men then commenced fighting. Several blows were given on both sides, and the friends of Cox cried on to him “Kill him, murder him,”.

After about 14 rounds, both men fell insensible to the ground, and were unable to come life, and they lay on the grass to all appearances dead. Dodd was carried in a boat to the Grampus Hospital ship, where he was attended to by Dr. Lawson, and every thing that was possible was done to restore animation, but all to no purpose, and lie expired about an hour after. Cox was conveyed home in a dying state in a coach, and the news arrived at the inquest-room, on Wednesday, night, that he had also expired.

Several witnesses were examined, but they were unable to identify any of the parties engaged in the fight, with the exception of one man named Green, who held the clothes of the deceased. He was apprehended and carried to the cage at Deptford ; the others have at present escaped. Dr. Lawson stated, that he had made a post mortem examination of the body, which was most frightfully disfigured and found upwards of three ounces of coagulated blood on the brain, which was cause of death. At 11 o’clock, the Jury came to a determination to adjourn for further evidence to Friday, and the Coroner issued warrants against the seconds, and Jordan the stakeholder, to enforce their attendance.

Both deceased persons were married men, and have left families to deplore their untimely death.

This tragic event on the Island is a reminder that for many years in the 18th and 19th century, the Isle of Dogs had an unfortunate reputation from pirates hanging from gibbets to illegal fights.