Costume Dramas: They don’t make them like they used to do. Or do they?

Canva - Close Up Of Tickets UnrolledNicola here. One of our lockdown activities during this period of self-isolation has been to have a weekly film night (or sometimes a double bill!) it’s been great to catch up with some of the new movies that are out, some TV series I hadn’t yet seen, and some old favourites too. My viewing has included Knives Out, a sort of post-modern Agatha Christie style whodunnit with more twists than a roller coaster and Daniel Craig doing a bizarre accent, and Yesterday, a sweet and funny time -travel romance that I loved.

Costume drama has always been my catnip though, so the first film I streamed was the new Emmaversion of Jane Austen’s Emma. Wench Andrea has already blogged about the film here so I’m not going to give my own take on it, especially as I agree with practically everything she said! New versions of Jane Austen’s books seem to come along more regularly than trains these days and it’s always interesting to see what new angle can possibly be taken. In the case of Emma, it really did feel like a film for the Instagram generation with every shot so beautifully curated. Unlike some viewers I did enjoy the fact that there wasn’t such an age disparity between Emma and Mr Knightley as there was in the book, and the sexual tension between the two of them was hot enough to burn down a Regency stately home!

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Henry VIII – Cause for Celebration?

Henry VIIINicola here. Today is the 510th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII. Despite my very mixed feelings about Henry and his Dad, it feels like the sort of occasion I can’t ignore, particularly as my next timeslip is set in the Tudor period, albeit later in the reign of Henry’s younger daughter, Elizabeth. A decade ago, when it was the quincentenary of Henry's coronation, there were a number of celebrations to mark the occasion. But is Henry someone who we want to celebrate?

Henry VIII bestrides English history like a colossus both in terms of physical size and reputation. Not many kings or queens can compete with his fame. Was this solely down to the fact that he had six wives and beheaded two of them? A number of other British monarchs have had more than one spouse but none of them make the headlines (sorry, bad pun) like Henry still does. As someone who enjoys exploring the myths and legends about historical characters as much as I enjoy the “real” history, I thought I’d take a look at “Why is Henry VIII still so big” (in the sense of popular culture.) I call it “the afterlife” of Henry VIII.

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Roses Around The Door

RosesNicola here. Today I’m looking at roses, literally out of my study window and also as a historical symbol. It’s that time of the year in the UK when the rose is in full bloom. It’s a sign of summer and the sight of roses growing around a cottage door (or window) is one of the quintessential images of an English country village.

The rose is also a symbol of a lot of other things: A red rose is for romance, of course, whilst 300px-Plucking_the_Red_and_White_Roses _by_Henry_Payneinnocence or purity is symbolized by the white rose, friendship with yellow roses and passion with orange.  I’m currently writing a book set in the 15th century during the period known now as “The Wars of the Roses” although this term wasn’t coined until the 19th century. The red and white roses were of course said to be the rival emblems of the aristocratic houses of York and Lancaster. In Shakespeare's play Henry VI rival nobles plucked them from bushes in the Temple Gardens, as depicted in this painting by Henry Payne. The different roses are the perfect embodiment of the antagonism each side had for the other, with the thorns and the red for the blood spilled in the conflict.

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