Should I Stay or Should I go?: Encouraging travel in the early modern period.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
1M ago
Travel today is often portrayed as a healthy activity, good for body, mind…and what’s left of the spirit!  A good holiday is generally viewed as a tonic, and holiday company advertisements extol the virtues of ‘getting away’, encountering new places, people and cultures and (if you want to ‘live life to the full’) experiences. As one travel website rather cheesily puts it, “jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul”! Some of my recent posts have dealt with the risks and dangers of travel in history, so it’s time to redress the balance and have a brief look at the sup ..read more
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The Troublesome Gibbet of John Haines, the ‘Wounded Highwayman’ of Hounslow.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
5M ago
For this post, I am going to wander into the world of crime in the late eighteenth century, and the grisly fate that befell many who committed the heinous crime of highway robbery. (Full disclosure: I’m not an historian of crime, gibbets or highwaymen…perhaps the case I’m about to discuss is very well known. But he’s new to me, and I love a good story, so he makes it into the blog!) I was recently reading the The Juvenile Tourist: or Excursions Through Various Parts of the Island of Great Britain, published by John Evans in 1805. Written as letters to a prospective young traveller, i ..read more
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Creams, Clothes and Cases: The material culture of pre-modern travel.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
6M ago
I am currently on study leave, getting on with research for my new project on the history of travel preparations. One thing that I’m particularly interested in is the material culture of travel, and what sorts of things were available for travellers as they got ready for their journeys.  Today, ‘things’ are incredibly important both before and during our travels, and we are usually accompanied by a wealth of ‘stuff’. First there is the right luggage, whether finding bags small enough to qualify as ‘carry on’ for the plane, or cases large enough to contain all the necessaries for two weeks ..read more
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Medicine on the Move: Early Modern Travel and Remedies
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
11M ago
As my new project on the history of travel, health risk and preparation begins to get underway, one of the things that I am thinking about is the place of travel within early modern medical remedy culture. What kinds of conditions could befall travellers? What did early modern people think that the processes of travel, and different kinds of transport, could do to their bodies, and what types of remedies were available to deal with them. Research is still at a very early stage, but there are already some interesting hints that remedies were available to treat a variety of travel-related condit ..read more
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Packing the Essentials!: Preparing to Travel in the 18th Century.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
Now that Covid restrictions have finally been lifted, and summer is at least theoretically here – it’s raining outside as I write! – many people are returning to travel and undertaking the holidays that have had to be postponed over the past couple of years. The pandemic aside, international travel has become virtually routine to us today. It’s easy to organise, and generally a comfortable and efficient process. But this hasn’t always been the case. In the seventeenth century the numbers of travellers embarking on long journeys, and to other countries, was still relatively small. Whilst recent ..read more
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Are Beards Over? A Historical Perspective.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
Recently I spoke with the Guardian journalist Tim Dowling for an excellent article he was writing (published last week) about whether beards are finally ‘over’, and I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of this. Since re-emerging around 2014, gaining popularity through celebrity endorsement and a new market for cosmetic beard products and, at least for a time, being celebrated (as well as debated) beards have seldom so popular since the 1960s and 70s. And just when it seemed that facial hair was becoming passé, the pandemic brought a late flourish in the form of the ‘lockdown be ..read more
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Health and the Habitual Traveller in the 19th Century
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
Recently I’ve been contributing to a new series of stories, drawing on the archives of Lloyds’ Register – a fantastic archive, with a wealth of sources on many aspects of maritime, but also broader social, history. The full series can be found here: https://hec.lrfoundation.org.uk/whats-on/stories/ Part of my remit for the series of posts was to delve into the photographic archive of Lloyds’ surveyors…with some magnificent beards on show. But it also got me thinking about some of the issues involved in health and travel. With their permission I’m sharing one of the posts, about advice for trav ..read more
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Cuts, Rashes & Chatter! The Pain of the 18th-century Shave!
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
Unless there are particular reasons, for example a skin condition, or a faulty razor, shaving today is usually a pretty mundane – if not a pleasant – experience. Indeed, the rise of traditional barbershops over the past few years, offering shaving as an experience, together with an increasingly elaborate range of rituals, head massages and exotic products, makes it almost a form of beauty treatment for men. But what was shaving like 300 years ago? What did it feel like to be shaved with a Georgian razor?  Before the end of the 18th century, and indeed for many men for quite ..read more
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How Much?! Barbers & the Price of Shaving.
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
One of the central themes of my new book is how the practice of shaving has changed over time and, more importantly, who has been responsible for it. From the second half of the eighteenth century, individual men began to take more responsibility for shaving themselves, helped on by the availability of newer, sharper steel razors. Being able to shave yourself or (if you were wealthy enough) having a servant to do it for you, was a mark of status.  Image copyright Lewis Walpole Library But throughout the early modern period, and indeed through the eighteenth century and into the nineteen ..read more
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Barbers and (the lack of!) Polite Advertising
Dr Alun Withey
by Dr Alun Withey
2y ago
Over the past few years, I have spent much time looking at ‘polite’ advertising in the 18th century. During this period, a whole range of retailers advertised their goods and services to appeal to ladies and gentlemen of taste. Without discussing anything so base as price or money, they instead tried to coax, cajole and compliment their customers to become regular visitors. One of the most common ways of doing this was the trade card. These were small printed pamphlets or bills, handed out to the customer after purchase as a reminder to them to visit again. Combining the refined language ..read more
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