Happy New Year! And as well, happy new decade! I’m excited to get researching and blogging for the year and have lots of ideas – but I wanted to start off the year by looking back at some of my favourite historical sites I’ve visited in 2019…
Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton
I’ve loved Jane Austen since I was nine years old and visited Bath, and it took me fifteen years to finally visit the house where she lived for the final eight years of her life. It was here that she wrote and refined her manuscripts – Pride and Prejudice was published four years after her arrival here, though written earlier, but she did write Persuasion (my second favourite!) at Chawton. Seeing her writing table is definitely one of my history adventure highlights of the year.
If you want to read more about Chawton, and Jane Austen’s grave at Winchester Cathedral, find my post on it here.
Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
In October we took a little trip down south to relax and get away from work for a week, and one of the things we did which I’ll never forget was to go and see the Mary Rose. If you ever get chance to visit, do – I’m not normally massively into maritime history (despite studying at Hull, which has a specialism in it!) but this is so fascinating and the museum is INCREDIBLE.
The Mary Rose was a warship under the reign of Henry VIII – it was in action for thirty-four years before it sank in 1545 during a naval battle against the French in the Solent. It was finally recovered in 1982, along with around 19,000 objects that the museum now cares for. The museum has been built specially to support the delicate structure of the Mary Rose, which is still drying out.
I can’t sing the praises of the museum set up enough – the research into the material left behind and the way the objects and the ship is presented is absolutely amazing. In the huge hall containing the ship, walkways opposite correspond with areas of the ship and contain the objects that would have been used in those sections. The exhibitions look into all of the people on board and daily life on the ship, as well as what actually happened to the Mary Rose, as well as the several attempts to find her underwater.
Find more information about the Mary Rose and visiting the museum here.
Museo Cerralbo, Madrid
I had a lovely trip to this townhouse with my two best friends. It was the home of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the seventeenth Marquis Cerralbo, who bequeathed the house to the nation. The treasures inside were incredible: the collections are astonishing and I particularly fell in love with the Venetian glass chandeliers. It showcases the opulence and luxury of late nineteenth century Madrid life for the aristocracy.
See more photos and read more about the museum in my post here.
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
I love Hardwick Hall (more glass than wall, as the saying goes!) and for a year was a Programming Volunteer with the National Trust there, so definitely could not leave it off this list. My particular highlight this year was the introduction of the rooftop tours, and I was lucky enough to go on a trial tour and learn about the rooftop spaces and entertaining that took place up there. Bess of Hardwick even had a banqueting hall up there where she used to serve sweet treats!
For more on Bess and her astonishing achievements at Hardwick, read my old post on her here.
Christian Dior Exhibition, V&A
I spent my birthday exploring the Dior exhibition at the V&A which certainly did not disappoint – possibly one of the most beautiful exhibitions I’ve ever been to, it gave me a lot of dress envy but also an insight into the dreamy designs and changes at the Dior fashion house.
I wrote a long post waxing lyrical on everything in the exhibition, find it here.
It was a brilliant year for historical adventures – I’m really looking forward to exploring pastures new in the US this year and already have a few posts lined up, as well as reading plenty more historical books to share with you all!
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and history-filled New Year and best wishes for the decade ahead!