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‘Woe and Alas!’

I wanted to show you some dramatic pictures created by children during ‘wet play-times’ and then given to me when I return to continue the session with them. Obviously caught up in the story of the Great Fire, they felt the need to commit to paper the images conjured in their minds by the tale I tell.

Here you can see the fire taking hold of one house, as thick black smoke pours from one side and the slate roof turns red with the heat!


In this picture you can see a house of the better sort, a mansion house by my reckoning, engulfed by the fire. Also, if you look closely you can see a very foolish fellow standing a little too close. I am surprised he looks so composed.


This is my favourite image, one drawn on two sheets of paper which were then cunningly fastened together to become one long strip. It depicts the River Thames crowded with boats, wherries and barges as people attempt to escape the fire with their possessions.


I do believe these would make great illustrations for a poem from the time:

Great London that hath stood in state

Above six hundred years

In six days’ space

Woe and alas

Is burned and drowned in tears

Note: I suppose ‘In four and a bit days’ space wouldn’t have worked so well. The author must have applied for a poetic licence 🙂

Petite paintings of Petty

Recently Sir William Petty met with a large company of artists who were kind enough to sketch a multitude of portraits for him so that he could decide which sort of portrait he wanted.

Here I present the many faces of Sir William …

The Many Faces of Petty

Isn’t it interesting how this eye witness of the Great Fire of London looks so different through different witnesses eyes?
Click on the following link to find out more about Sir William Petty and the Great Fire of London.

Next time, some pictures of the raging fire drawn by inspired artists during ‘wet play times’.


Guy Fawkes Fun

And so ends two more weeks as Guy Fawkes, travelling from east to west (Hull to Huddersfield) and from north to south (Selby to Doncaster and Sheffield), enjoying myself very much at each and every school. As I decided last year, I grew my own beard for Fawkes this time – much more comfortable than gluing it on! Now it’s back to the Great Fire and pirates and highway robbery. More fun, then.

Here you can see Fawkes at a primary school near Selby, teaching the children how to use the ‘Babington cipher’ to send secret messages. The children turned out to be very able scholars and quickly mastered the art.

Secret Messages

Secret Messages

Later on in the day they proved themselves to be not only very good at hiding catholic priests from soldiers, but also very good artists. Fawkes left with a bundle of posters explaining who the people involved in the plot were, as well as some very good likenesses of himself!

Click on Guy Fawkes if you want to see more information about a day with the infamous fellow himself.

Nevison Still Rides the Roads!

It’s true, even now in the 21st century Swift Nicks Nevison still rides the highways of England. His image is upon a certain lorry …

Nevison on Truck Left

The artist contacted me a few years ago to ask all about John Nevison (that was a long phone conversation) and for permission to use my image to create the paintings.

Nevison on Truck right

I have seen the lorry in question on the A1 and boy it was a funny feeling seeing images of oneself on a lorry going by!

Nevison on Truck

The first two look more like me, the third has made me look more fearsome.

So yes, Nevison still rides the roads today!

Please click here to find out more about visits from the famous highwayman John Nevison.

The beard is dead, long live the beard!

So the summer came to an end and I had to bid farewell to my mid seventeenth century beard – the one I grew for Colonel Sir John Mallory, governor of Skipton Castle.

Mere moments with a razor and the following transition occurred …

Time Passes By (not much time, admittedly)

I reckon I look at least three weeks younger.

Ironically, I have now begun growing the beard (not dissimilar to the one whose reign just ended) ready for my Guy Fawkes bookings in early November!