Stamford bull run: a custom demised after 700 years of cruelty

If you are lucky enough to own a castle you want to enjoy the fine views on your lands from your windows. And that, according to legend, is just what William Plantagenet de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey (1166-1240), was doing one day at the turn of the 12th century. As story goes, looking over the meadow stretched before him outside the town of Stamford he saw two bulls fighting over a cow. Local butchers then came with their dogs to part the animals, enraging them further and causing one…

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The season before winter is “Autumn” or “Fall”? :)

The trees are turning, the weather’s getting cooler, laughing pumpkins are back—it’s fall! No, that one English friend tells you: it’s autumn. So how did two completely unalike words come to refer to the same season? Yes. That’s true. There is a little bit indecision about the season that comes before winter. Despite the plants die, or seem to, at the same time are at their most magnificent: they produce more fruit and, above all, turn vibrant colors. Some are relieved at the end of a hot summer, and other…

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25 Great Insults From 18th Century British Slang

For history enthusiasts and linguists, “You jerk” just doesn’t have the same ring as “You unlicked cub,” an insult from Georgian England. And there’s more where that came from if you browse through “A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, a work by English lexicographer Francis Grose (in image below) first published in 1785 and recently spotted by the Public Domain Review. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential “A Dictionary of the English…

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Amelia Dyer: the Victorian “Baby Farmer” who killed 200 to 400 children

England was not a safe place for children in Victorian times. On the other hand, it wasn’t even for adults, if we think of serial killers like Jack the Ripper or Harold Shipman (1946-2004), who killed around 250 of his patients during his medical career and is considered the most ferocious of British serial killers. However, forgotten in the archives of the police and courts, is also the story of Amelia Dyer, one of the most prolific serial killers in history, murdering infants in her care over a 30-year period.…

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