William Webb Ellis and the Origins of Rugby – a new perspective

William Webb Ellis and the Origins of Rugby – a new perspective

Fascinating article, especially for someone like myself who is born and bred in the birthplace of the game (and still lives a short walk away from where it all started)

World Rugby Museum: from the vaults

On the 29th August 1895 at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, 22 rugby clubs met to discuss the cessation of their membership of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and shortly thereafter proclaimed a new Northern Union.  Initially the game that they would administer would be identical in every respect to that of the RFU with the exception that their players would be permitted monetary compensation for time spent away from the workplace- whilst playing rugby for club, county and country.  Over time the Northern Union altered the rules, reduced the number of players per team and the sport we now know as Rugby League was born.

Around the same time as this act of northern separatism another group of gentlemen were meeting in the town of Rugby. The Old Rugbeian Society (ORS), an informal group of Rugby School alumni, subsequently announced their intention to conduct a private investigation into…

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Did you know?…Halloween

Everything you need to know about Halloween!

With it being the 31st October, here’s chance to go dust away the cobwebs and go back through the archives to take a look at one of my more seasonal blog posts…..Everything you need to know about Halloween.


Source: Did you know?…Halloween

Get ready to enjoy festive fun in Shakespeare’s England!

Enjoy plenty of festive fun in Shakespeare’s England in the coming months with a host of seasonal activities including the chance to see Father Christmas, listen to festive plays and carol concerts, enjoy candlelit tours, craft fairs & markets and see a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of A Christmas Carol

Christmas markets are held in Stratford-upon-Avon on the last five Thursdays to Christmas – 23 & 30 November & 7, 14, 21 December. Visit the Shipston on-Stour Rotary Victorian evening on 1 December.  The lights are switched on in Royal Leamington Spa on 19 November, in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 November and in Kenilworth High Street on 1 December and in Warwick Road on 3 December. Visit Yuletide Fayres in Leamington every Sunday from 19 November. The Warwick Victorian Christmas Evening featuring craft stalls and traditional entertainment is on 30 November when the lights are switched on.

A new traditional Victorian Christmas Market opens in Stratford-upon-Avon from 8 – 10 December with 150 stalls selling gifts, local produce, homemade crafts, handmade cakes, decorations plus traditional roast chestnuts, mulled wine, ciders, gin and Bailey’s chocolate. Join in the spirit of Christmas with the sound of choirs, instrumental performances, dance displays, stilt walkers, a Victorian carousel and barrel organ music.

This winter the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) presents the delightful comedy, Twelfth Night, featuring Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio and Kara Tointon as Olivia from 2 November – 24 February and a new stage adaptation by David Edgar of Dickens’ seasonal classic, A Christmas Carol from 27 November – 4 February with Phil Davis as Scrooge. Both plays run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

On 18 November Father Christmas will ride through the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon in a horse drawn carriage. From 23 November – 24 December, the Frostmakers Guild are taking over Stratford’s magical attraction, Magic Alley, and inviting visitors to discover the tale of the legendary Frost Phoenix and get their own Frostmakers Passport before meeting Father Christmas and solving the mystery of the missing Frost Phoenix. As part of Stratford’s Victorian Christmas weekend, the Magic Alley Players will be performing traditional street theatre as they recreate a Victorian Nativity with the help of the audience who are then rewarded by a visit from a very special guest! Tickets for Magic Alley and a visit to Father Christmas must be pre-booked to avoid disappointment.

Father Christmas at Magic Alley

The Shipston Rotary Victorian Evening, which takes place on Friday 1 December, is a nostalgic, but contemporary, introduction to the Christmas festive season. Visitors can enjoy dozens of festive stalls, the Tree of Life, music, singing, food and the arrival of Father Christmas to his grotto in the town centre which is closed to traffic for the evening.

Visit Stoneleigh Abbey for a Christmas Craft Fair on 26 November from 11am – 4pm.  The Riding School Cafe will be serving drinks and snacks and ‘Birds of all Feathers’ will entertain visitors with a static Bird Display. There is free onsite parking.

Take part in a Christmas Wreath Making workshop at Kenilworth Castle on 8 December and learn about the different techniques used to make a wreath. Christmas at the Castle takes place from 9 – 10 December with crafts, storytelling and the chance to meet Father Christmas. Enchanted Kenilworth takes place from 15 – 23 December in the grounds of the Castle after dark. Strings of lanterns and fairy lights will lead visitors along a garden trail into a magical wonderland with a traditional fairground, carousel and swing boats. Visitors can enjoy mince pies, mulled wine and shopping at heritage-inspired stalls.

Enjoy Christmas at Chedhams Yard in Wellesbourne on 16 December with carols in the Visitor Centre around the wood fire plus music and traditional Fayre including cake and mince pies. Children can also meet Father Christmas and take part in activities. Open from 10am to 4pm. Free entry!

See a performance of Sleeping Beauty at The Royal Spa Centre from 2 – 31 December. Joining Spa Centre favourites JP McCue and Sean Dodds are Sally Peerless as the good fairy Gabriella, Denise Pitter as the wicked fairy Carabosse, Chloe Fay as Princess Rosa, Glyn Dilley as the King, James Leeman as Prince Victor and Teddy Moynihan as Carabosse’s side kick, Fran. Tickets cost from £13.50.

Watch Jack and The Beanstalk at Stratford ArtsHouse from 20 – 30 December. The pantomime will feature sensational scenery, stunning costumes, incredible special effects and plenty of audience participation.  Mattie Parkinson plays Dame Trott and the sensational Clare Reilly stars as Fairy Beansprout. Tickets cost from £10.

There are plenty of Christmas activities at Shakespeare’s Family Homes from 2 December – 2 January each day. Meet Dickens as he walks around Shakespeare’s Birthplace garden and tells the tale of acquiring the Birthplace to continue spreading the word of Shakespeare. Discover Shakespeare’s family Christmas at Shakespeare’s New Place. What would they have eaten, worn & how would they have celebrated?  Step back in time to the 1600s at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and follow the generations of Hathaway’s to discover their story and how they left their mark on the cottage. Take a step back in time to the 1930’s at Hall’s Croft and find out how the people celebrated Christmas in the time between two wars.

Visit Ragley Hall and see the stunning stately home in a new light with candle lit tours on 1, 3, 9 & 10 December.  Pre booking is essential. Tickets cost from £14. Alternatively enjoy 3-course Christmas Dinners which are available on selected dates in December.

Enjoy a festive Jazz Sunday lunch at The Arden in Stratford on 17 December. 2-courses costs £20.50 per person or a Christmas Day lunch with Champagne & a 5-course lunch for £99 per person. Glam yourself up for the Masquerade New year’s Eve celebrations with a Champagne and canapé reception, 4-course dinner, live music and dancing. Cost is £99 per person.

Visit Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa for its Christmas Fayre on 8 December for coffee whilst you shop followed by a 2-course lunch with a glass of wine. Cost is £35 per person. Enjoy Christmas Eve Carols and a festive supper on 24 December with mince pies, mulled wine and carols from the Boy’s and Men’s Choir of St Mary’s, Warwick followed by dinner. Cost is £35 per person.

For more information on Christmas in Shakespeare’s England, head to the website here http://shakespeares-england.co.uk

Licence to chill: 11 of England’s most haunted pubs

Heritage Calling

From spectral soldiers to unearthly urchins, our urban and rural pubs often play host to chilling tales of ghostly happenings.

Can your local top these haunted hostelries for revenant regulars? Tell us about it in the comments.

1. Red Lion Public House, Avebury, Wiltshire

EAW007056.tif EAW007056. 1947. Aerofilms Ltd© Historic England Archive

Situated in the heart of one of the world’s greatest Neolithic monuments, Avebury’s Red Lion is supposedly home to at least five different ghosts. Built as a farmhouse in the late 16th or early 17 century, it became a coaching inn in the early 19th century. One of its more spectacular ghostly apparitions is a phantom carriage that clatters through its yard. Inside, the ghost of Florrie haunts the pub. Florrie took a lover while her husband was away fighting during the Civil War. He returned to find the couple, shot his wife’s lover and stabbed Florrie, throwing…

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5 Firsts that changed the world

Heritage Calling

England’s historic places have seen some of the world’s most important scientific advances and discoveries.

Many are still there for us to visit and imagine – what must it have been like to be the first?

These 5 places were nominated for A History of England in 100 Places in the category of Science and Discovery. They didn’t make the final list, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to share them anyway.

You can still get involved in helping us put together a list of 100 Places that tell in England’s story. Find out more here.

5 Firsts that changed the world:

1. Leeds Bridge

Leeds_Bridge-geograph.org.uk-3481048 Leeds Bridge David Dixon

Location: 1 Dock Street, Leeds LS10 1NB

You may have heard that the first ciné films were made by the Lumiere brothers, or perhaps it was Thomas Edison? In fact, French inventor Louis Le Prince made the first ciné films…

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Dame Vera Lynn praises British people after support for £1m appeal secures future of White Cliffs

National Trust Press Office

Dame Vera Lynn praised the generosity of the British public after £1m was raised in just three weeks to help protect the future of the White Cliffs of Dover for the nation, for ever.

Over 17,500 people made donations to the appeal to help the National Trust secure 700,000 square metres of land immediately behind the clifftop between the South Foreland lighthouse and Langdon Cliffs, which the conservation charity acquired in 2012.

The Trust said it would work to restore internationally important habitats such as chalk grassland, preserve existing historical features, and maintain access routes for visitors.

Dame Vera, whose 1942 song about the cliffs helped forge her reputation as ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’, said she was delighted with the public reaction to the appeal.

In a letter to the charity, she said. “My thanks to everyone who embraced the campaign to protect this national icon. The White Cliffs of Dover…

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