Cake, Tea and History

5 Historical Things We Did In London

I was recently down in London to visit Katie. Since we’re both interested in history, we ended up getting up to some historical antics during my visit: I’ve listed five of them here.

1. National Portrait Gallery

One of my favourite things to do in a portrait gallery is play the highly historical game of “who’s got the hottest painting in this room?” The National Portrait Gallery is a fun place to play this, as it has so many wonderful paintings of interesting people with bizarre faces. When we went, there was also a really interesting little exhibition about Marilyn Monroe that I hadn’t seen advertised around, called Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair. It’s certainly worth checking out.

2. Theatre: Les Miserables

We took advantage of the half-price tickets stands scattered all around Leicester Square and made it to the theatre for two historically relevant plays. The first of these was Les Misérables, set in nineteenth century France. Knowing that a film version of this is coming out later this year, I’ve been keen to see a stage version. I can’t speak for the historical accuracy of the film, as I know very little about French history, but the songs are catchy and the set had a wonderful rotating stage.

3. Theatre: Our Boys

Our second theatre outing of the week was a recommendation from a friend of mine. Our Boys is about an army hospital ward in the 1980s, featuring the exploits of injured soldiers. It’s very much a period piece, with the Troubles in Northern Ireland hanging over the heads of the soldiers. It’s brilliantly acted, featuring Laurence Fox and Arthur Darvill, and provides both amusing and touching moments.

4. BFI’s Elusive Hitchcock Exhibition

We had heard online about BFI’s Hitchcock season, including information about a costume exhibition at Southbank. However when we turned up and asked about it, the workers in the BFI seemed to think that we were insane and had made the whole thing up so we were sent away. However we decided to spend a very long time rooting about in the BFI’s shop, which was packed full of interesting books on film theory and criticism. I mentally bought a thousand and one books in that shop, but physically had to keep my purse closed. Katie picked up a fascinating book about the portrayal of gender in films. I have duly stolen that book and will be devouring it in time.

5. PhD Meetings!

The most terrifying and officially historical thing that we did while I was down there was go to visit potential PhD supervisors. I found my meeting absolutely terrifying and intimidating, and it ultimately persuaded me that I’d rather not apply to that particular university but I think getting the chance to meet with potential supervisors is very important if possible. It gives you a great indication of studying at that university would be like – and most professors are likely to give you a lot of useful leads to follow, if they can.

On the non-history front, Katie and I tried out some new recipes during our last couple of visits to each other. The recipes are so good that I have to give the links here: Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Cookies and Blueberry Buckle. Both recipes taste amazing.


About shonaidale

Shona studied at the University of Edinburgh for an M.A (undergraduate) in History and an MSc in Gender History. Her research interests include early modern gender history, Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill, and the history of homoeroticism. She also enjoys turning a gendered eye to modern pop culture.

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This entry was posted on October 19, 2012 by in Cultural Musings and tagged , , , , , , .


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