The top two bestselling hot beverages in the UK and America are tea and coffee. But does the quintessentially English association with the cup of tea still hold true? And do Americans, usually associated with coffee, ever drink tea? I’m going to have a look at the history of each drink in each country to try and get an answer. I’ll talk about coffee in a second article soon, but first, it’s time for Tea…
The cup of tea was something of a latecomer to the shores of Britain. The custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, but it was not until Portuguese and Dutch traders first imported tea to Europe in the 17th century that it appeared in England. And it wasn’t for another century that the biggest tea trading organization of the Industrial Revolution, the East India Company, began to make money out of tea’s rising popularity. Somewhat ironically, it was the London coffee houses that were responsible for introducing tea to England. Coffee house merchant Thomas Garway sold both liquid and dry tea to the public as early as 1657. Three years later he issued a broadsheet advertising tea as “making the body active and lusty”, and “preserving perfect health until extreme old age.”
By 1700 over 500 UK coffee houses were selling tea as well as coffee. By 1750 tea was outselling coffee and had become the lower classes’ most popular drink, being cheap and easily available.
According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association (https://www.tea.co.uk/tea-faqs), the British drink 165 million cups daily, amounting to 60.2 billion per year. Although China, India and Kenya produce the most tea in the world (China produced 2, 230,000 tonnes in 2015), it is the Republic of Ireland that drinks the most tea per head of population, followed by Britain. Of all the tea drunk in Britain, 96% is brewed by using a tea bag rather than tea leaves, and 98% of all tea made is served with milk rather than black with lemon, honey or single infusion.
In America, it is coffee that is considered the national beverage. It poses the question, why haven’t they embraced tea in the same way as the UK? America was introduced to tea at the same time as the British discovered the country, after all. However, the War of Independence between Britain and America that erupted shortly afterwards meant that trade routes providing tea were restricted. Britain controlled the shipping routes to and from America and so very little tea reached the US, making it hard to get, and therefore expensive. As a result, during this time a lot of Americans switched over to drinking liberty tea, which is mainly made from a goldenrod plant. When the American Revolution was over, the shipping lines did return, and Americans did go back to drinking tea, but a new war broke out in 1812 and the lines closed again. It meant that the next generation of Americans had grown up during the American Revolution and spent a lot of their formative years not drinking tea. And because they’d grown up without much of the drink, they didn’t consider it as important as the British did.
Today, tea is a popular drink in the US, especially in the American South, but they usually drink it iced rather than hot. Although cold or iced tea is drunk in the UK, it has had little impact on the traditional hot cuppa, whether served in a cup and saucer, a mug, or a takeaway beaker.
The so called Cold War was a state of dangerous tension between the USA and the Soviet Union (USSR) that lasted from 1945 until 1991. Distrust and suspicion were at the root of the Cold War. The political and economic systems of the capitalist USA and communist USSR were incompatible. In a capitalist state, the economy is largely free from state control, while the government is democratically elected and freedom of speech is allowed. In contrast, a communist state government has complete control of its economy and society. Each side (the “superpowers”) in this ideological war wanted the other to conform to their own political system.
The Cold War began shortly after World War II ended in 1945. Although the Soviet Union was an important member of the Allied Powers during the war, there was great distrust between them and the rest of the Allies. Britain, France and the USA were particularly concerned about the brutal leadership of the USSR’s Joseph Stalin. The Allies were always unsure of Stalin’s loyalty as he had previously allied himself with Hitler in 1939, through the Nazi-Soviet Pact. There was also a growing concern about how fast communism was spreading. This mistrust was a great source of anger to Stalin because, since the British retreat at Dunkirk, the Soviets had been left fighting the German Army single-handed. It was only on D-Day in 1944 that the British and Americans went to help the Soviets; by then thousands and thousands of Russians had been killed.
Although it is called The Cold War, no direct warfare took place between America and the USSR. However, they did fight each other in proxy wars. These were wars fought between other countries, but with each side getting support from either Russia or America, such as in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The scars of Vietnam, to which the US deployed their own troops, are still felt in America today, whilst the legacy of the Korean war left open wounds to fester until they became dangerously significant, as any current news report will testify.
As well as fighting these proxy wars and maintaining an uneasy disapproval of each other’s way of life, the Cold War was fought out in the arena of power and technology. Each country wanted to prove that they were the most technologically advanced and held the most powerful weapons. This led to both the Arms Race and the Space Race.
The Arms Race saw each side try to possess the best weapons – and the most nuclear bombs. The theory was that a large stockpile of weapons would deter the other side from ever attacking them. Although some have been destroyed since the end of the Cold War, both America and Russia still have a huge arsenal of them as a result.
As well as the Arms race, the USA and USSR competed in the Space Race. Each side tried to show that it had the better scientists and technology by accomplishing certain space missions first. Both countries wanted to be the first to get a rocket into space and to get a man on the moon. Russia achieved the former, with the first man in space Yuri Gagarin. However, it was the US who succeeded in getting the first man on the moon. Interestingly, in terms of the amount of money put into the American Lunar Space Programme, it is unlikely NASA would receive enough from its government to repeat the feat today. It would not now be regarded as important enough to warrant the still huge expense.
It wasn’t until the economic and subsequent border collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the Cold War officially came to an end. Today, as the issue of state-authorised cyber-hacking becomes increasingly prevalent, and when words and treaties become ever more difficult to be agreed on with Russia, some people are suggesting we are entering a new type of “phoney” cold war, one for the digital age. If that is true, judging by the first, it is not an appealing prospect.
Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, provides a home educated families scheme, giving you access to its incredible array of castles, houses and monuments. The only problem is deciding which to visit first.
Caernarfon Castle, at the very north edge of Wales in the county of Gwynedd, is one of the most impressive Norman fortresses in Britain. Built on the site of an existing Norman mote and bailey castle on the orders of Edward I, it was to become his largest Welsh castle.
Caernarfon was built with polygonal towers rather than the usual cylindrical ones, made with colour coded stones carefully arranged in bands. The Eagle Tower is the most impressive of these.
Built to stamp Edward I’s power over the region, Caernarfon Castle’s appearance was designed to intimidate the locals into accepting English rule and to warn off any potential attackers. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont River, the fortress still dominates the walled town.
An educational visit to Caernarfon Castle can teach you about the architecture of medieval fortresses, battle tactics, building techniques, and what it would have been like to live and work in both the castle and the stone walled town that surrounded it. Not only can you learn about the medieval way of life at Caernarfon, you can also visit the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, which is housed in two of the castle’s towers and gives insight into the life of the modern soldier. Classes will be able to compare and contrast fighting techniques, weaponry, and the country at large by visiting both the castle and the museum.
In 1284, the very first Prince of Wales, the future Edward II, was born at Caernarfon. Centuries later, in 1911 and 1969, Caernarfon Castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales; thus continuing its role as a royal castle.
Details about booking an educational experience as a home studying family can be found at http://cadw.gov.wales/learning/educational-visits/home-educating-families-scheme/?lang=en
The National Trust provides Education Group Membership to home-educating families during school terms time. There are hundreds of properties and gardens for you to explore and learn from across England, Wales and Scotland. The only problem is which to visit first.
The Battle of Culloden (marked by the monument above) was one of the most famous battles between Scotland and England. Now managed by the Scottish National Trust, the battlefield of Culloden, on Drummossie Moor, is an excellent place to discover the story of the Jacobites, information about the battle itself, and its implications for the future of Scotland.
The Jacobite Rising was an attempt to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the Scottish House of Stuart to the British throne. Having failed in their attempt to gain support in England, the Jacobites had left London and retreated back to Scotland.
On 16th April 1746, the Battle of Culloden, which was to be the last ever pitched battle fought on British soil, saw an 8000 strong Hanoverian Government army led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, fight the 6000 man force of the Scots Charles Edward Stewart.
On a desolate moor near Inverness, in what was to become the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, Charles Stewart ignored warnings that the marshy, rough ground might favour the larger Government forces. Although slowed by the land, many of the Highlanders did manage to reach the Government lines, but in the fierce hand to hand fighting that followed, the new English tactic of bayoneting the exposed side of the man to the right rather than confronting the one directly in front had a catastrophic effect on the Scottish troops. The Highlanders fled, and when they did so, it was found that the entire battle had lasted less than an hour.
Culloden is now respected as a war grave, with more than 1,300 men losing their lives there, and is a place where children can get a feel of the human cost of battle. While visiting Culloden, you can take advantage of the marked paths around the battlefield. You can imagine the battle in progress by following the lines of red flags which indicate the front line of the government army, or the blue flags, which show the position of the Jacobites.
In the years before Culloden, the Jacobite plotters had met in secret. They had developed a number of Jacobite symbols so they could work out who was on their side without risking asking out loud. Visitors to Culloden can therefore enjoy cracking the code of Jacobite symbols as they go round the exhibition, such as a red rose and rose bud. The rose symbolises the exiled King James; (spoiler alert…) the buds are his heirs, Charles and Henry.
Amongst other treasures to discover, there is also a white cockade, a ribbon worn by many Jacobites, which is said to have been derived from the wearing of a white rose in earlier Jacobite risings, a moth, a butterfly, and an oak tree and acorns.
There are many learning opportunities at Culloden for home schooled children. For more details, email the National Trust of Scotland’s learning team Culloden@nts.org.uk.
Code-named Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk took place during the Second World War, between 26th May and 4th June 1940.
The decision to trigger Operation Dynamo was made when large numbers of Belgian, Canadian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France.
In England, hundreds of small vessels came forward to assist in the evacuation after an order was issued via BBC Radio to “all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30′ and 100′ in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty”.
Although a handful of fishing boats did travel over to Dunkirk to help in the rescue, the idea that hundreds of civilians travelled across the channel to help is largely a myth. Most of the boats surrendered by fisherman and boat owners were crewed by naval reservists and were used, not to cross the entire channel, but to help ferry men from Dunkirk’s beaches to waiting Royal Navy destroyers. In all, a flotilla of 900 naval and borrowed civilian craft went across the Channel under RAF protection.
The German air force, the Luftwaffe, made the evacuation as difficult as possible. In their attempts to halt the Allies efforts, the town of Dunkirk was reduced to rubble, and 106 Allied aircraft and 235 boats were destroyed, leading to the death of 5000 soldiers. However, despite the attempts of the German troops to sabotage the evacuation, Operation Dynamo saw the rescue of 338,226 people. A further 220,000 Allied troops were rescued by British ships from the French ports of Cherbourg, Saint-Malo, Brest, and Saint-Nazaire.
When the rescued men arrived in England they were welcomed as heroes, but the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, although proud of his troops, admitted that the events that led to the evacuation having to take place had been a “colossal military disaster.” A large amount of equipment had been left behind, and France was considerably weakened, leaving Britain vulnerable to invasion by the Nazi troops. It was this threat of German invasion that led to one of Churchill’s most memorable speeches:
“We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”
Churchill’s determination paid off, and Hitler never managed to invade Britain. The Second World War however, would not be over for another five years.
– A major film centring around Dunkirk is due in cinemas soon, directed by Christopher Nolan.
You wouldn’t think so, would you? Surely these huge, historic, grand buildings are safe now and will be for a long time to come? So what’s going on? Why should we be worried?
Cathedrals are a permanent part of the very fabric of the nation. Especially when other things might be in doubt. They are impressive architecturally, and although their original religious significance may well be altering, their presence is welcomed by most people.
A lot of people will have their favourites. Perhaps St Paul’s in London (above), for its royal associations; Canterbury as the ‘boss church’; Liverpool for its sheer size; or maybe Coventry as a post war symbol. In fact the new cathedral maintains a post war theme of reconciliation: the ruins of the old one are kept open as a reminder of the horror of war. Each has a different history, each a different background and associations. Some, like Ely, also known as “The Ship of the Fens”, are great local landmarks.
But what do they actually do? What are they for? How do they stand apart from merely being known as a larger sized church? Well, the Association of English Cathedrals is very helpful in defining this: Cathedrals start by being the place where you’ll find a bishop. They are of course traditionally places of worship and also of historical interest. And they do tend to be fabulous buildings, architecturally fascinating, and usually worth a visit. These days they get up to all sorts. The aforementioned Ely has a science fair going on with scientists from Cambridge University. Durham is doing its history in Lego. Manchester has been donating socks to a homeless centre. Canterbury has recently been the subject of a television documentary, and Norwich maintains a famous herb garden. Cathedrals are open all year round, and apart from worship they can be used for concerts, lectures, and degree ceremonies. They also have ‘visitor attractions’ like shops, museums and education! York does something called ‘Beef, Beer and Bubbles ‘ – one can only guess. In short, there are a wide range of constantly changing features amongst these buildings that all add to their main purpose and help make them even more valuable to their communities. So what’s the problem?
The answers is an all too common one, especially in our times: They need money. They’re not always specific about costs, but Ely says it needs over £300,000 a year just to maintain their music and their choir – which by the way is divine. You’d pay a small fortune to hear them in a concert. Other costs must be astronomical. So Cathedrals go in for shops and trading; managing investments; undertaking appeals and fundraising, and generally relying on collections and fundraising. And in a number of ways they’re up against it. This year’s British Social Attitudes Survey reports that only half of us call ourselves religious in any way, and only one million people go to church at all.
If you have read this but are not overly religious yourself, then you may ask, are they worth it? Would we miss them if they’d gone? I would suggest that anyone who is less than convinced at least go and see one for yourself before you decide. A judgement is best passed after seeing the evidence, after all.
On 1st May 1851, The Great Exhibition opened in London. This was the first ever large scale international exhibition of manufactured products.
Organised by Henry Cole and Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the event was held in a purpose-built structure which became known as Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park. It was designed by Joseph Paxton and structural engineer Charles Fox, with help from many others, including Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The building was effectively a massive glass house, c.564 metres long by c.138 metres wide. It was made from cast iron-frame components and, rather obviously, glass, and was brought from the pages of a simple plan to life as a functioning building in only nine months.
Britain’s 19th century Industrial Revolution saw the country become a major manufacturing world power. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was intended to show the world just how powerful. Attended by celebrities of the day such as Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Charlotte Bronte, the exhibition was an instant success. A third of the entire population of Britain (approximately six million people) visited the Great Exhibition; with an average daily attendance being 42,831 people. The busiest day was on 7th October, not long before the event was due to close, when 109,915 people walked through the large glass doors to see the wonders of the age.
The profit made from the event, about £186,000 (£18,370,000 in modern terms), was used to found the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Not only that, but many of the objects in the Exhibition were used as the backbone of the first collection for the South Kensington Museum which opened in 1857, now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The remaining surplus was used to set up an educational trust to provide grants and scholarships for industrial research. This funding scheme is still in operation today.
In June 2017 the United Kingdom is to have an early general election. It has also been called earlier than law requires, and this makes it known as a “snap” election. Such elections usually occur when it is within the interests of the current ruling party to capitalise on a unique electoral opportunity, or when the country needs to decide on a pressing issue. And such a time is very much now.
The election is initiated by politicians (usually the Prime Minister in the case of the UK) rather than the voting public. In most cases, a snap election results in an increased majority for the party already in power. However, occasionally, when public opinion is seriously divided, or a major issue is at stake, the gamble of a snap election backfires, and the ruling power loses.
In 2011 the conditions for when a snap election could be called in the UK were restricted by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. This means that snap elections can now only be called when the government loses a confidence motion, or when two-thirds of the government’s MP’s vote in favour of such an election being held. Before 2011, the Prime Minister of the UK had the ability and unique power to call an election whenever they wished, by requesting a dissolution of parliament from the monarch.
The last time there was a snap election in the UK was in October 1974, only months after the general election the previous February. The original 1974 election was called by Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath to help him gain support to face down a miner’s strike. Rather than win as he’d expected, though, he lost the election to the Labour Party. However, because the Labour party only won by a narrow margin, and found themselves unable to form a coalition with the Liberal Party, Prime Minister Heath resigned, and was replaced by Harold Wilson. Only six months later Wilson called a snap election, which lead to him winning, and a much stronger Labour government.
Since 1923 there have been seven snap elections in the UK. Five of them have resulted in the party calling the election retaining their governance of the country. Whether the current Prime Minister, Theresa May’s, gamble will pay off, and the Conservative Party will remain in power, will be decided on June 8th.
With the world’s political system throwing up more than a few surprises in recent months, I’m not sure anyone would want to take a guess as to what the result will be.
Born on January 15th 1929, Martin Luther King was to become a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination on 4th April 1968. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, in the USA, Martin was the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King senior. The family name was originally just King, but Michael Luther King senior added the ‘Luther’ in honour of the medieval German religious reformer, Martin Luther.
Having followed in his father’s footsteps and now a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. became a non-violent activist for the American Civil Rights Movement through the promotion of christian principles. In 1955, he led the Montgomery bus boycott, when black men and women refused to use the USA’s racially segregated public transport system. He also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. Via the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful movement in 1962 to fight, peacefully, against racial desegregation in Albany, Georgia. The following year he helped organise another protest at Birmingham, Alabama. Perhaps most famously, in 1963, during a march on Washington to highlight the issue of racial inequality, he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
After being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, King continued to combat racial inequality through peaceful protest. In 1965, he helped to organize further mass marches, as well as a campaign in Chicago to get rid of segregated housing. Ultimately, however, his ability to bring people to together in protest against racism. would cost him his life. There were still many people in America who resented the arguments and reasoning he was promoting, and one of them was James Earl Ray. And so it would be that during the planning of a national occupation of Washington, D.C. on 4th April 1968, which was to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, he was assassinated by Ray.
Despite his untimely, premature death, Ray’s actions have in some ways even increased the impact Martin Luther King Junior made on the world’s political and social stage. His insistence on making his point via nonviolent means was an inspiration to many; and his legacy of work lives on today.
We might have thought that the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III, beneath a car park in Leicester in 2013, would have ended once and for all the debate about possibly the most controversial of our monarchs. But in truth, “final” answers have bred more questions.
Once the remains were subjected to the most stringent scientific analysis, using the most modern techniques available, we were able to learn a great deal, not just about the manner of Richard’s death but also such minutiae as what he ate in the last few years of his life. They have even revealed that, suffering from scoliosis, he did indeed have a curvature of the spine. Dry bones, however, can only tell us so much and, rather than narrowing the debate, they seem to have widened it (If Richard had scoliosis, does that prove he was the ‘crookback’ vilified by the Tudors and portrayed as such by Shakespeare? And, if so, can we conclude that his mind was as warped as his backbone?).
Leicester’s new Richard III Visitor Centre (https://kriii.com) has opened in the building adjacent to the excavations and incorporates the burial site. It is a fascinating place to visit if you get the chance. Viewing the grave, now encased under a sheet of glass, it becomes evident just how close it was to being obliterated forever; the foundations of a Victorian wall are just a few centimetres away from where the skeleton was found and, even then, no feet were recovered. We are, therefore, incredibly fortunate that it existed at all. The excavations were endorsed and aided by the staff at Leicester University (https://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii) and motivated by the meticulous research of the Richard III Society; in particular, through the vision of one woman Philippa Langley. There is a Channel 4 documentary which follows the process, http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-king-in-the-car-park/on-demand ,which is well worth a watch.
The rediscovery and reinternment of Richard III has been of immense value to students of history, not least because it has underlined the fact that there can be no neat endings. Instead, we need to appreciate that even such an important historical discovery is nothing more than a single link in an unpredictable series of events, although it is also part of a very enjoyable, if elusive search for the truth.