England’s forgotten Past
Exploring the overlooked episodes of English history
Author Richard Tames Publisher Thames & Hudson Price £9 Released Out now
It’s no secret that England is a country steeped in dramatic history. From bloody struggles for royal supremacy to the Industrial Revolution, the land of the Angles has witnessed more than enough to fill countless history books. Yet somehow, a lot of its most interesting moments seem to have been completely forgotten. Step forward Richard Tames.
Divided into sections and adorned with images, Tames’ work is the very definition of an intriguing coffee-table read – but putting this book down for a moment proved rather difficult. A relentless stream of eyebrow-raising facts and strange anecdotes is an irresistible combination.
Beginning with such early nuggets as the first written record of the British Isles, penned by the Greek Pytheas of Marseilles in the 4th century BCE, who described its inhabitants as “painted people”, Tames takes the reader on a rampage across the nation, examining the truth behind some supposed ‘facts’ while revealing a host of utterly ignored figures and events.
Take, for example, Daniel Mendoza, England’s undisputed boxing champion from 1792 to 1795, architect of connecting a range of punches in a combination and the country’s first sporting superstar. Then there’s Alexis Soyer, the founder of army catering and the 19th century’s answer to Jamie Oliver. There are also the ten occasions since 1066 on which England found itself the subject of an invasion, from Henry of Anjou’s unrelenting raids in the 1100s to the thwarted efforts of 1,400 French soldiers in 1797 – they failed to take Bristol but wasted little time in sampling England’s alcoholic offerings.
It matters not whether you are a historical amateur or academic – this enlightening depository of timeless titbits is sure to both challenge preconceived ideas and reinforce a love of England’s gripping journey to date.
Evocative Powerful Resonant Quirky Amusing Engaging