The Three Witches from Macbeth.

actress8The Three Witches from Macbeth, by Daniel Gardner, 1775 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Paintings of performers in character, or acting within a well-known play, became popular during the 18th century and often included celebrated actresses positioned centre-stage within dramatic scenes.
Here, Gardner has painted Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne; Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Anne Seymour Damer as the witches from ‘Macbeth’
via The First Actresses | Gallery | History Extra.

The Humble Yorkshire Pudding.

Now what would a Yorkshire Pudding blog be without a little bit of the history of the Yorkshire Pudding?
The story begins hundreds of years ago and in true fairy tale fashion we begin with Once Upon a Time…Robust and lovely wheat flour began to come into common use for making cakes and puddings. Cooks in the North of England devised a plan to change the course of cookery FOREVER!
They began making use of the fat from the dripping pan to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted in the oven. Scandalously genius!
In 1737, the first recipe for “dripping pudding” was published in The Whole Duty of a Woman. This was a guide for the fairer sex with rules, directions, and observations for a lady’s conduct and behaviour. The topic of a lady’s love life was included with tips for married, single, and even divorced women!
The book was surely a huge success.
The important thing here though is that recipe for “dripping pudding.” It was fairly simple – make a good batter as for pancakes, put in a hot toss-pan over the fire, add a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan instead of a dripping pan and under a shoulder of mutton, shake it frequently and it will be light and savoury. When the mutton is done, turn it in a dish and serve hot.
In 1747, Hannah Glasse shook up the recipe with her own version in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple.
Glasse was the original domestic goddess! Glasse re-invented and re-named the dripping pudding, which had been cooked in England for centuries although the puddings were much flatter than the puffy versions known today.
Then in 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry got involved when it declared that “A Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.” This came about when Ian Layness, an Englishman living in the Rockies experienced a series of Yorkshire pudding “flops” in the high country despite huge successes in the low country.
It is no myth – the rise is just not the same at certain altitudes! Pretty crazy when you can quite obviously cook perfect pudds atop the Pennines.
That aside, Yorkshire Pudding is still a staple of the British Sunday lunch and in some cases is eaten as a separate course prior to the main meat dish. This is the traditional way to eat the pudding and is still common in parts of Yorkshire today. There is a reason for this too.
Because the rich gravy from the roast meat drippings was used up with the first course, the main meat and vegetable course was often served with a parsley or white sauce. This was a cheap way to fill diners, thus stretching the use of more expensive ingredients since the Yorkshire pudding was served first.
Should you wish to tighten those purse strings, this is one way to do it. If you’re anything like us though, you like to load your plate with all the trimmings.
If, after all of that, you are ready for dessert, do like we do in some areas of Yorkshire and fill the pudding with jam, or as a “pudding” in the true sense, try jam and ice cream.
Source: The History of the Yorkshire Pudding

Flambard Escapes White Tower Prison.


A visual Impression of what Ranulf Flambard could have looked like.
Ranulf Flambard, chief tax-collector, was imprisoned under King Henry I. He was the Tower of London’s first prisoner and also became its first escapee.
Flambard had made himself unpopular doing King William Rufus’s dirty work, collecting large taxes and becoming very rich.
When William died, his brother Henry I accused the Bishop of extortion and sent him to the White Tower in chains.
Flambard used the cover of the feast of Candlemas to make a bold escape.
He had a rope smuggled to him in a gallon of wine. He invited his guards to join him for a great banquet. When they were completely drunk and snoring soundly, he seized his chance.
The White Tower of London.
He tied the rope to a column which stood in the middle of a window and, holding his Bishop’s staff, he climbed down the rope.
At the foot of the tower, his friends had horses ready and he galloped off to safety.
Read more via Ranulf Flambard’s Incredible Escape From The White Tower’s Prison.

Caxton’s printing of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.

Portrait of Chaucer from the William Caxton printing of the Canterbury Tales.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in the early 1340s.
His father, John, was a wealthy wine-merchant who held a minor position at court.
In 1385 Chaucer moved to Kent, which he represented as a Member of Parliament for three years.
Although he fought as a soldier in France for Edward III and earned his living as a loyal and civil servant, it is as a writer that Chaucer is known today.
Indeed he is often referred to as “the father of English poetry”.
Geoffrey Chaucer is buried in “Poets’ Corner” in Westminster Abbey, London.
Source: Caxton’s Chaucer – The Basics

‘Bleak and Beautiful Up North’ by Barker.

Whilst stumbling through a dark and cold Manchester last night, talking with friends about how fed up we all are with February,
I suddenly came to a halt outside Castle Galleries where some beautiful paintings on display in the window were conveying exactly the same sentiment.
Mainly of grey and dreary landscapes of wintry northern towns, the artwork by Yorkshire painter Bob Barker definitely shows how the weather hugely affects life ‘up north’.
But with beautiful splashes of colour, each masterpiece displays a real love for life in and around the region.
Of course, Bob has been painting since he received a set of oil paints at the age of 12 as a Christmas gift.
Back then, he was immediately captivated by what could be achieved with a brush, paint and a few small squares of hardboard.
As a Yorkshire man born and bred, nostalgia spurs him to paint by looking back to childhood memories with adult eyes.
Memories of the mill his mother worked at as a weaver form a big influence in the images he paints now, as does the industrial footprint left in the Yorkshire mill towns.
Bob has always maintained that where most people see soot-blackened stone and polluted skies, he sees colour – like wet Sienna cobbles and Prussian blue shadows with burnt umber and cadmium skies.
Bob views Yorkshire in the subtle blended hues of his paint box, and through his art, he invites the viewer to do the same.
All images by Bob Barker © Washington Green Fine Art
Read on and see more Images via It’s Grim Up North but there’s wonderful colour and life found everywhere | Creative Boom.

Craws and Flaws, a Satirical Work of James Gillray.


James Gillray (1757-1815) was among the most popular, prolific, revered, and reviled print satirists of the golden age of English caricature, the late eighteenth century.
He took special delight in attacking the excesses of the royal family.
Here, he caustically depicts King George III, Queen Charlotte, and the Prince of Wales (later George IV) gorging themselves on the national treasury, labelled “John Bull’s Blood.”
The title, “Monstrous Craws,” refers to the rapidly expanding gullets dangling from the royal necks, probably inspired by the recent public display in London of three “wild-born human beings,” who apparently exhibited such features.
The Library acquired this print with almost 10,000 other English satires from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle in 1921.
via Online Exhibition – Monstrous Craws and Character Flaws | Exhibitions (Library of Congress).