A Bright & Breezy Spring!!!

A Bright & Breezy Spring!!!

As Spring is finally here, now comes the perfect time to breathe new life into Mother Nature. Taken this morning, I have captured the feel of Spring, despite the breeze of the cold weather. Today is a nice, breezy and sunny day, which is why I took to using the Nikon D3300 DSLR to capture these delicate, yet intricate images.

Before I went ahead and took these photos, I captured a photo of a fox which was initially sleeping, until it woke up and saw me, with the end result being that the fox had run off out of the garden.

In these photos, I have decided to go close-up, and as well as this, I have also created a very small amount of silhouette photos, which were actually taken this morning in broad daylight, even though they appear like as if they were taken at sunset.

I also recorded a few small video clips which I have put together and published as a full 2 minute and 42 second video. These connect well to this article as I’ve made sure that this video revolves more around nature, and less around what is not based around nature overall.

I have taken a bit of a twist with this video, as one of the video clips in this full video was recorded in Black & White, which brings out a different kind of side to Mother Nature on this website.

Despite this, the video I have put together is available to watch on YouTube now, but, if you want to save time in searching for the video I have uploaded today, it will be under the photos that I’ve just uploaded.

Today has been relaxing and peaceful, given just how lovely the weather was today, it wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold, the weather was just right.

I have absolutely loved today, and I want this kind of day to continue over the next few months, before the Summer heatwave really kicks in over the course of July.

How did you feel about the weather where you are today? Please feel free to leave your comments below :-).

Also, if you have a YouTube account, please make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel at your own will, and if you liked the video, please feel free to leave a comment or give the video a thumbs up. If you do both, well, that’s much better :-).

Until then, what a wonderful and relaxing day it has been :-)!!!!!!!!

Alex Smithson

Welcome to March!!! A Month Full of Hard Work, Simplicity & Relaxing Times.

Welcome to March!!!

Hello everyone, and welcome to March!!! As February finally closed its doors at 12:00AM this morning, March is set to be the month when we start to see some nice weather, as well as the relaxing temperatures that take away the cold, wintry weather from January & February.

As March is set to be a month full of hard work for me, given I have my Maths and English exams just around the corner, and with the second to last unit of my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course to go before I start my final unit in April, this month will be full of hard work, as well as extensive revision that goes towards my English and Maths exams this month.

As well as this, March is also set to be a month surrounding simplicity, as the featured image suggests, as I want to make sure that this month is based around simplicity, as well as the design of Mother Nature overall, and also, this month is set to be full of relaxing times, and being able to enjoy yourself for just how valuable life really is.

Over the course of this month, I will be focusing more on my exams that are coming up, as well as meeting deadlines for my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course work. This means that I will, in some or most cases, have some trouble in finding the time to publish articles on Mother Nature. However, I will try my best to fit at least a few articles in when I have the free time available.

Until then, welcome to March on Mother Nature!!! A Relaxing Journey Awaits!!!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup | February 2015

28th February 2015 - Monthly Roundup

As the first two months of 2015 have flown by remarkably fast, with March just around the corner, this article will take a look back on the small amount of articles that I have done this month, before February closes its doors, and before March gets underway.

1.2.2015 - I welcomed all of you back to Mother Nature for what was set to be a chilly February, as this month was set to be full of hard work, love and experiences, as everyone is preparing for what could be a hard season that is solely focused around workloads, before the Spring break is due to hit us. As Valentine’s Day was just around the corner, this month was also set to be filled with love, which would create a refreshing feel to the atmosphere over the course of the next 4 weeks.

14.2.2015 - As there was a wet storm that hit us hard where I live back in January, the rainy weather had really poured it down, with hints of thunder that followed in the process. I ceased the opportunity to get some gorgeous photos of the raindrops just after the storm passed, and by using the Nikon D3300 DSLR, I was able to capture some beautiful shots of the raindrops from certain angles, which would ultimately define just how clear and crisp the raindrops were on one of the days I was off from college last month. As the first month of 2015 was officially behind us, I would showcase these photos in the article, which would focus on the raindrops, up-close and personal.

19.2.2015 - 30 years ago to the day, the first ever episode of Eastenders debuted on our screens. 30 years on, and we would all finally find out who had killed Lucy Beale (played by Hetti Bywater) in the flashback episode that aired on this day. With many of the gripping scenes that kept viewers like myself wanting to find out who killed Lucy over the past 10 months, this night would be the night when we would find out who killed her, and why she was killed. At the end of the flashback episode, the killer of Lucy Beale was revealed to be Bobby Beale, which was one of the most unexpected, yet surprising reveals that had ever happened, which even I didn’t expect, which had indeed been a killer twist.

28.2.2015 - As I wanted to celebrate writing 200 articles for Mother Nature, I did Article #200 on the Greatest Briton himself, which was Sir Winston Churchill. Case Study #5 based on Sir Winston Churchill would take a look back over his life, and how he had risen to become the man known for supporting the United Kingdom, and also for fighting for peace for the UK during the Second World War. This article would also celebrate what has almost been my second year since I started up Mother Nature, which is why I wanted to do Article #200 on Sir Winston Churchill, as this would also mark 50 years since his death, and also for the fact that it was 50 years ago on the 30th January that his state funeral took place.

Thanks so much for making February a brilliant month for Mother Nature everyone. I’m so sorry if I haven’t been able to post much on here over the past month, as I’ve been focusing more on my work, given the fact I’ve been making sure to keep on top of my work for my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course at Croydon College. However, I will make sure to do my absolute hardest to publish some articles over the course of March.

Until then, thanks for such a brilliant February, and I’ll see you all in March.

Alex Smithson

Case Study #5: Sir Winston Churchill | The Greatest Briton

Article #200 - Sir Winston Churchill - The Greatest Briton - Case Study #5

Marking 50 years since the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Case Study #5 will take a look back on Winston Churchill’s life, and also the elements of his life that had unfolded along the way. Also, this article brings the total amount of articles altogether to 200, which is a surprising result for me, because I had never thought that I would do this many in just the short space of almost two years, which is fantastic, and I thank you all for keeping me going since I started up Mother Nature. To kick off this Case Study, I will make sure I go in-depth as much as I can, based on the Greatest Briton himself, Sir Winston Churchill.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30th November 1874 – 24th January 1965)

Born on the 30th November 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock in England, Sir Winston Churchill was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and was also the Prime Minister for the second time running in 1951, all the way through to 1955. Notably and widely regarded to be one of the greatest wartime leasers of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and also an artist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Sir Winston Churchill was born int the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Malborough, which is a branch of the Spencer family. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a charismatic politician who had served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American socialite. As a young army officer, he witnessed the action in British India, the Sudan, and also the Second Boer War. He rose to fame as a war correspondent, and had also written books about his campaigns.

Being at the forefront of politics for 50 years, Winston Churchill held many of the political and cabinet positions, but before the First World War, he had served as the President of the Board of Trade, he was also the Home Secretary, and was also the First Lord of the Admiralty as part of Asquith’s Liberal Government. During the course of the war, he would continue as the First Lord of the Admiralty until the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign caused him to depart from the government.

He had then briefly resumed active army service on the Western Front as the commander of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He returned to government as the Minister of Munitions, the Secretary of State for War, and also as the Secretary of State for Air. In 1921 and 1922, Sir Winston Churchill had served as the Secretary of State for the Colonies, then as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Baldwin’s Conservative government of 1924 and 1929, controversially returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move which was widely seen as creating the deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Also controversial was Churchill’s opposition to increase the home rule for India, as well as his own resistance to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.

While he was out of office and politically “in the wilderness” during the 1930s, Sir Winston Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi Germany and also in campaigning for rearmament. During the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed the First Lord of the Admiralty, and following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on the 10th May 1940, Sir Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider surrender had helped to inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult, early days of the war, when the British Commonwealth and Empire stood alone in its active opposition to Adolf Hitler. Churchill was mainly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which had inspired the British people, and he had led Britain as the Prime Minister until the victory over Nazi Germany had been secured.

After the Conservative Party had lost the 1945 election, Churchill had become the Leader of the Opposition to the Labour Government, and after winning the 1951 election, he again became the Prime Minister, before he retired in 1955. Upon his death, Elizabeth II had granted him the honour of a state funeral, which had saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen in history. Named as the Greatest Briton of all time in 2002 poll, Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as being among the most influential people in British history, consistently ranking well in the opinion polls of the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.

Family & Early Life

Born on the 30th November 1874, into the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Marlborough, a branch of the noble Spencer family, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, like his father, had used the surname “Churchill” in his public life. His ancestor, George Spencer, had changed his surname to Spencer-Churchill in 1817, when he became the Duke of Marlborough, to highlight his descent from John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, was a politician, and his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (a.k.a. Jennie Jerome) was the daughter of the American millionaire, Leonard Jerome. Sir Winston Churchill was born on the 30th November 1874, two weeks prematurely, in a bedroom in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock in Oxfordshire.

From the age of 2 to the age of 6, Churchill lived in Dublin, where his grandfather was appointed Viceroy and also employed Churchill’s father as his private secretary. Churchill’s brother, John Strange Spencer-Churchill, was born during this time in Ireland, and it has been claimed that the young Churchill had first developed his fascination with the military matters from watching many of the parades that passed by the Vice Regal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland).

Winston Churchill’s earliest exposure to education had occurred in Dublin, where a governess tried teaching him reading, writing and arithmetic (his first reading book was called ‘Reading Without Tears’). With limited contact with his parents, Churchill had become very close to his nanny, ‘Mrs’ Elizabeth Ann Everest, whom he had called ‘Old Woom’. She had served as his confidante, nurse and also as a mother substitute. The two had spent many happy hours playing in Phoenix Park.

Independent and also rebellious by nature, Churchill generally had a poor academic record in school, for which he was punished. He was educated at three independent schools: St. George’s School in Ascot, Berkshire, Brunswick School in Hove, which is near Brighton (the school has since been renamed to Stoke Brunswick School and has also been relocated to Ashurst Wood in West Sussex) and at Harrow School from the 17th April 1888. Within weeks of his arrival at Harrow, Sir Winston Churchill had joined the Harrow Rifle Corps.

When young Winston had started to attend Harrow School, he was listed under the S’s as Spencer Churchill. At that time, Winston Churchill was a stocky boy with red hair that talked with a stutter and also a lisp. His nickname at Harrow was always “Copperknob”, which was a form of mockery because of his hair colour. Winston Churchill had done so well on Maths in his Harrow entrance exam that he was put in the top division for that particular subject, and in his first year at Harrow, he was recognised as being the best in his division for history.

Winston Churchill, however, had entered the school as the boy with the lowest grades in the lowest class, in which he would remain in that position. He never even made it into the upper school, because he would not study the classics. Though he had done poorly in his schoolwork, he had grown to love the English language. He hated Harrow, and he was rarely visited by his mother, so, he wrote letters, begging her either to come to the school, or to allow him to come home. His relationship with his father was mainly distant; he had once remarked that they had barely spoken to one another. His father passed away on the 24th January 1895, aged just 45, leaving Winston Churchill convinced that he too would die young, and so that he should be quick about making his mark on the world.

Speech Impediment

Sir Winston Churchill had a lateral lisp which would continue throughout his career, reported consistently by many of the journalists at the time and later. Authors that wrote in the 1920s and 1930s, before sound recordings became common, also mentioned Churchill having a stutter, describing it in terms such as being “severe” or “agonising”, and Winston Churchill had described himself as having a “speech impediment” which he worked to overcome. The Churchill Centre and Museum says that the majority of the records archived showed that his impediment was a lateral lisp, while Churchill’s stutter was a myth. His dentures were specially designed to aid his speech (Demosthenes’ pebbles), and after many years of public speeched, Churchill had carefully prepared, not only to inspire, but to also avoid hesistations, he could finally state: “My impediment is no hindrance”.

Marriage & Children

Sir Winston Churchill had met his future wife, Clementine Hozier, in 1904, at a ball in Crewe House, which is home to the Earl of Crewe and his wife, Margaret Primrose (the daughter of Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebury and Hannah Rothschild). In 1908, they had met again at a dinner party, which was hosted by Susan Jeune, Baroness St. Helier. Sir Winston Churchill had found himself seated beside Clementine Hozier, and they had soon began a lifelong romance. He proposed to Clementine Hozier during a house party at Blenheim Palace on the 10th August 1908, in the small Temple of Diana.

On the 12th September 1908, Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier were married in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. The church was packed; the Bishop of St. Asaph had conducted the service, and the couple had spent their honeymoon at the Highgrove House in Eastcote. In March 1909, the couple had moved into a house at 33 Eccleston Square.

Their first child, Diana, was born in London on the 11th July 1909, and after the pregnancy, Clementine had moved to Sussex to recover, while Diana had stayed in London with her nanny. On the 28th May 1911, their second child, Randolph, was born at 33 Eccleston Square. Their third child, Sarah, was born on the 7th October 1914 at Admrialty House. This birth was marked with anxiety for Clementine, as Churchill was sent to Antwerp by the Cabinet in order to “stiffen the resistance of the beleaguered city” after the news that the Belgians had intended to surrender the town.

Clementine Hozier gave birth to her fourth child, Marigold Frances Churchill, on the 15th November 1918, just four days after the official end of the First World War. In the early days of August 1921, the Churchills’ children were entrusted to a French nursery governess in Kent, named Mlle. Rose. Clementine, meanwhile, travelled to Eaton Hall to play tennis with Hugh Grovesnor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, and his family.

While she was still under the care of Mlle. Rose, Marigold had a cold, but was reported to have recovered from her illness. As the illness had progressed with hardly any notice, it had turned into septicaemia. Following adivce from a landlady, Rose had sent for Clementine, however, the illness (septicaemia) had turned fatal on the 23rd August 1921, and Marigold was buried in the Kensal Green Cemetery three days later. On the 15th September 1922, the Churchills’ last child, Mary, was born. Later that month, the Churchills brought Chartwell, which would be their home until Winston’s death in 1965.

Churchill’s Political Career to the Second World War

During his early years of being in Parliament, Winston Churchill stood again for the seat of Oldham at the 1900 general election, and after winning the seat, he went on a speaking tour throughout Britain and the United States, raising £10,000 for himself (roughly about £940,000 today). From 1903 until 1905, Winston Churchill had also engaged in writing Lord Randolph Churchill, a two-volume biography that surrounded his father, which was published in 1906 and had received much of critical acclaim.

In Parliament, he had become associated with a faction of the Conservative Party, which was led by Lord Hugh Cecil; the Hughligans, and during his first parliamentary session, Churchil had opposed the government’s military expenditure, and Joseph Chamberlain’s proposal of extensive tariffs, which were intended to protect Britain’s economic dominance. His own constituency had effectiive deselected him, although he had continued to sit for Oldham until the next general election.

In the months leading up to his ultimate change of party from the Conservativesto the Liberals, Churchill had made a number of evocative speeches against the principle of Protectionism; ‘to think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man thinking that he can stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle.’ [Winston Churchill, Speech to the Free Trade League on the 19th February 1904.] As a result of his disagreement with the leading members of the Conservative Party over the tariff reforms, he had made the decision to cross the floor.

After the Whitsun recess in 1904, he had crossed the floor to sit as a member of the Liberal Party, and as a Liberal, he had continued to campaign for free trade. When the Liberals took the office with Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister in December 1905, Churchill became the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, dealing mainly with South Africa after the Boer War. As he was the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1905 to 1908, Winston Churchill’s primary focus was mainly on settling the Transvaal Constitution, which was accepted by the Parliament in 1907.

This was mainly essential, as it would provide stability in South Africa, and Churchill had campaigned in line with the Liberal Government to install responsible rather than being a part of the representative government. This, in turn, would alleviate the pressure from the British Government to control the domestic affairs, including the issues, mainly of race, in the Transvaal, which would delegate a greater proportion of power to the Boers themselves.

Following his deselection in the seat of Oldham, Churchill was invited to stand for Manchester North West, and he won the seat at the 1906 general election with a majority of 1,214, and had also represented the seat for two years. When Campbell-Bannerman was succeeded by H.H. Asquith in 1908, Churchill was promoted to the cabinet as the President of the Board of Trade. Whilst under the law at that time, a newly appointed Cabinet Minister was obliged to seek re-election at a by-election; Churchill lost his seat, but was soon back as a member for the Dundee Constituency.

As he was the Presiednt of the Board of Trade, this meant that he would go on to join the newly appointed Chancellor, Lloyd George, in opposing the First Lord of the Admiralty, Reginald McKenna’s proposed huge expenditure for the construction of the Navy dreadnought warships, and in supporting the Liberal Reforms. In 1908, Churchill had introduced the Trade Boards Bill by setting up the first minimum wages in Britain, and in 1909, he had set up the Labour Exchanges to help many of the unemployed find work. He helped to draft the first unemployment pension legislation, the National Insurance Act of 1911. As a supporter of the eugenics, he had participated in the drafting of the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913; however, the Act, in the form eventually passed, had rejected his preferred method of sterilisation of the feeble-minded in favour of their confinement in institutions.

Chruchill had also assisted in passing the People’s Budget, becoming the President of the Budget League, an organisation that was set up in response to the opposition’s Budget Protest League. The budget had included the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy to allow for the creation of new social welfare programmes. After the budget bill was passed by the Commons in 1909, it was vetoed by the House of Lords.

The Liberals had then fought and had also won two general elections in January and December 1910 to gain a mandate for their reforms. The budget was passed after the first election, and after the second election, the Parliament Act 1911, for which Churchill also campaigned, was passed. In 1910, Churchill was promoted to Home Secretary, and his term was controversial, after his response to the Cambrian Colliery dispute, the Siege of Sidney Street and the suffragettes.

In 1910, a number of coal miners in the Rhondda Valley began what has come to be known as the Tonypandy Riot. The Chief Constable of Glamorgan requested that the troops were to be sent in to help the police quell the rioting. Learning that the troops were already travelling, Winston Churchill had allowed them to go as far as Swindon and Cardiff, but blocked their deployment, and on the 9th November, The Times had criticised this decision. In spite of this, the rumour still persists that Churchill had ordered the troops to attack, and his reputation in Wales and in Labour circkes never recovered.

In early January 1911, Churchill had made a controversial visit to the Siege of Sidney Street in London. There is some uncertainity, however, as to whether he had attempted to give operational commands, and his presence had attracted much of criticism. After an inquest, Arthur Balfour had remarked, “he [Churchill] and a photographer were both risking valuable lives. I understand what the photographer was doing, but what was the right honourable gentleman doing?” A biographer, Roy Jenkins, suggested that he went simply because “he could not resist going to see the fun himself” and that he did not issue commands. Another account said that the police had the miscreants – Latvian anarchists wanted for murder – surrounded in a house, but Churchill called in the Scots Guards from the Tower of London and, dressed in his top hat and astrakhan collar greatcoat, directed the operations.

The house had caught fire and Churchill had prevented the fire brigade from dousing the flames so that the men inside were burned to death. “I thought it better to let the house burn down rather than spend good British lives in rescuing those ferocious rascals.” Churchill’s proposed solution to the suffragette issue was the main referendum on the issue, but this had found no favour with Asquith and the women’s suffrage had remained unresolved until after the First World War had ended.

Churchill’s Second Term as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

After the general election that took place in October 1951, Sir Winston Churchill had again become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and his second government had lasted until his resignation in April 1955. He had also held the office of Minister of Defence between October 1951 and January 1952. In the domestic affairs, various reforms were introduced, such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954, and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955.

The former measure had consolidated legislation, which dealed with the employment of young people and women in mines and quarries, together with safety, health and welfare. The latter measure had extended the previous housing Acts, and had also set out the details in defining the housing units as “unfit for human habitation.” In addition, tax allowances were raised, the construction of council housing was accelerated, and the pensions and national assistance benefits were increased. Controversially, however, the charges for prescription medicines were introduced.

Housing was mainly the issue that the Conservatives were widely recognised to have made their own, after the Churchill government of the early 1950s, with Harold Macmillan as the Minister for Housing, gave the housing construction far higher political priority than it had initially received under the Attlee administration (where the housing had been attached to the portfolio of Health Minister, Aneurin Bevan, whose attention was solely concentrated on his responsibilities for the National Health Service, also known for short as the NHS). Macmillan had accepted Churchill’s challenge to meet the latter’s ambitious public commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year, and achieved the target a year ahead of the schedule.

Churchill’s domestic priorities in his last government were often overshadowed by a series of foreign policy crise, which were partly due to the result of the continuing decline of British military, as well as imperial prestige and power. Being a strong proponent of Britain as an international power, Churchill would often meet such moments with direct action. One example was of his dispatch of British troops to Kenya to deal with the Mau Mau Rebellion. Trying his best to retain what he could of the British Empire, Churchill once stated that “I will not preside over a dismemberment.”

The War in Malaya

This was mainly followed by the events which had become known as the Malayan Emergency. In Malaya, a rebellion against the British rule had been in progress since 1948. Once again, Winston Churchill’s government had inherited a crisis, and he had chosen to use direct military action against those in rebellion while attempting to build an alliance with those who were not. While the rebellion was being defeated slowly, it was equally known to be clear that the colonial rule from Britain was no longer sustainable.

His Relations with the United States during his Second Term

Sir Winston Churchill had also devoted much of his own time in the office to Anglo-American relations, and although he did not always agree with the President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Churchill still attempted to maintain the Special Relationship with the United States. He had made four official transatlantic visits to America during his second term as Prime Minister.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Series of Strokes

Winston Churchill had suffered a mild stroke while he was on holiday in the South of France in the Summer of 1949, and in June 1953, when he was 78 years old, Sir Winston Churchill had suffered a more severe stroke when he was at 10 Downing Street. The news of his strokes were kept hidden from the public and from Parliament, who were told that Churchill was suffering from exhaustion (to avoid the news of his stroke from getting out into the open).

He went to his country home, Chartwell, to recuperate from the effects of the strokes that had affected his speech, as well as his ability to walk. Winston Churchill, however, did make a return to public life in October to make a speech at a Conservative Party conference in Margate. However, as he was fully aware that he was slowing down both physically and mentally, because of the series of strokes that he had, Sir Winston Churchill had retired as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1955, and was later succeeded by Anthony Eden. He had suffered from another mild stroke in the December of 1956.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Retirement & Death

Elizabeth II had offered to create Churchill as the Duke of London, but this was declined due to the objections of his son, Randolph, who would have inherited the title on his father’s death. He did, however, accept a knighthood as Garter Knight. After leaving the premiership, Churchill spent less of his time in Parliament until he stood down at the 1964 General Election. As a mere “back-bencher,” he spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and at his home in Hyde Park Gate, in London, and became a habitué of high society on the French Riviera.

In the 1959 General Election, Winston Churchill’s majority had fallen by more than a thousand, and as his physical faculties had declined, he had begun to lose the battle he had fought for so long against the “black dog” of depression. There was initial speculation that Sir Winston Churchill may have suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease in his last years, although others have maintained that his reduced mental capacity was merely the result of the series of strokes that he suffered from. In 1963, the U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, acting under the authorisation granted by an Act of Congress, proclaimed Churchill as an Honorary Citizen of the United States, but he was unable to attend the White House ceremony.

Despite Winston Churchill’s poor health, he still tried his absolute hardest to remain as active as he possibly could in his public life, and on St. George’s Day, he sent a message of congratulations to the surviving veterans of the 1918 Zeebrugge Raid, who were attending a service of commemoration in Deal, which is in Kent, where the two casualties of the raid were buried in the Hamilton Road Cemetery. On the 15th January 1965, Sir Winston Churchill had suffered a severe stroke which had left him gravely ill, and on the morning of Sunday 24th January 1965, Winston Churchill died at the age of 90 years in his London home, just 9 days after suffering from the severe stroke. The morning of Sunday 24th January 1965 was 70 years to the day after his father’s death.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Funeral

Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was the largest state funeral in world history up to that exact point in time, with many of the representatives from 112 nations; only China did not send an emissary. In Europe, 350 million people, including 25 million in Britain, had watched the funeral live on television, and it was only Ireland that didn’t broadcast his funeral live.

As by decree of the Queen, Winston Churchill’s body had laid in state in Westminster Hall for three days, and a state funeral service was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the 30th January 1965. One of the largest assemblages of statesmen in the world was gathered for the service. Unusually, the Queen had attended Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral. As his head-lined coffin was passed up the River Thames from the Tower Pier to the Festival Pier on the MV Havengore, the dockers had lowered their crane jibs as a mark of salute.

The Royal Artillery had fired the 19-gun salute due to a head of government, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) had staged a fly-by of sixteen English Electric Lightning fighters. The coffin was then taken the short distance to Waterloo Station, where it was loaded onto a specially prepared and painted carriage as part of the funeral for its rail journey to Hanborough, which is 7 miles North-West of Oxford.

The funeral train of Pullman coaches carrying his family mourners was hauled by the Battle of Britain Class steam locomotive: “No. 34051 Winston Churchill”. In the fields along the route, and at the stations through which the train had passed, thousands had stood in silence to pay their last respects. Upon Sir Winston Churchill’s request, he was buried in the family plot at St. Martin’s Church in Bladon, near Woodstock, which was not far from his birthplace at Blenheim Palace. His funeral van – the former Southern Railway van, S2464S – is now a part of a preservation projected with the Swanage Railway, having been repatriated to the United Kingdom in 2007 from the United States, to where it was exported in 1965.

Later on in 1965, a memorial to Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, which was cut but the engraver, Reynolds Stone, was placed in Westminster Abbey, in London.

To mark the end of Case Study #5, and to also mark an end to February, here is the full video of Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral in Black & White, which took place on the 30th January 1965, exactly six days after he died at his London home, aged just 90.

Alex Smithson

P.S. It has almost been two years since I started this website, and the 2-Year Anniversary of Mother Nature falls on the 6th June 2015. Thanks so much to all of you followers, my friends, my old school teachers and my family for helping me to get this far, I couldn’t have done it all without you…again, thanks for getting me this far, and I will see you all in March.

Marking 30 Years of EastEnders, the Killer is Finally Exposed.

Happy 30th Anniversary to BBC's EastEnders

30 years ago today, the first ever episode of EastEnders debuted on our screens. 30 years on, and we will finally find out who killed Lucy Beale (Played by Hetti Bywater) in tonight’s flashback episode.

With gripping scenes that have kept viewers like myself wanting to find out who killed Lucy over the past 10 months, tonight will be the night when we find out who killed her, and why she was killed.

In the days leading up to the 30th Anniversary, Monday saw the Red Button/iPlayer screening of the first ever episode of EastEnders that was broadcast on the 19th February 1985. Tuesday’s episode marked the beginning of the live week for EastEnders, with the Twitter Hashtag, #EELive being placed up in the top right-hand corner of the episode, with the hashtag being used in last night’s episode, tonight’s episode and Friday’s episode of EastEnders. The flashback episode to Good Friday 2014 is set to do the rounds, as the killer of Lucy Beale is finally exposed, but there may be some twists ahead that could put a spring in the works.

During the live episodes, Himesh Patel (known for playing Tamwar Masood in EastEnders) took over BBC’s EastEnders account, where he would tweet during the live episodes as they unfolded, in which he would use the hashtag, #TamwarTweets.

Many famous faces have also made a comeback in the run-up to the 30th Anniversary. Actors and actresses, such as Barbara Windsor (Known for Playing Peggy Mitchell: “Get Outta My Pub!”), John Partridge (a.k.a. Christian Clarke), Tanya Franks (a.k.a. Rainie Cross), Jo Joyner (a.k.a. Tanya Cross), Jamie Lomas (a.k.a. Jake Stone) and many more.

Danny Dyer did the rounds yesterday, after he made a public tube announcement, in conjunction with the 30th anniversary, which followed with a lot of overwhelming support for Jo Joyner, after her character, Tanya Cross, accidentally said: “How’s Adam?”, which has since gone viral all over internet, but, for Jo Joyner, as amused as she was on Twitter last night, she took to the social network to tweet the hashtags, #leastyouknowitslive and #gutted. I must admit, I was a little stunned when she said Adam Woodyatt’s real name, but she stole the show, and with a comical side to her personality, everyone was delighted that she said: “How’s Adam?” because she has, in turn, created a brilliant night to remember for EastEnders, and also the whole of Twitter and further social media. Laurie Brett (a.k.a. Jane Beale), tweeted to her and said: “@dollyjoyner @AdamWoodyatt should have said- you been drinking Tan?? Love you Jo,you’re the best . And The nation loved it xx”.

EastEnders has come a very long way since it first aired on the 19th February 1985, and the whole of Walford is set to find out who killed Lucy Beale, which will send shockwaves throughout the whole of Albert Square.

Until then, Happy 30th Anniversary to BBC’s EastEnders, and let’s hope for another 30 years!!!

Alex Smithson

UPDATE: Bobby Beale has been revealed as the killer of Lucy Beale, which has to be one of the most unexpected, yet surprising reveal that has ever happened. Wow…I wasn’t expecting that. That was indeed a killer twist!

© BBC 2015

© The image behind the text in the Featured Image has been used courtesy of the BBC. All credit goes to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) for all of the hard work that they have done to make this show become the best for what it has become today.

Raindrops on Crystal Clear Glass | Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!

Raindrops on Crystal Clear Glass - Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!

With a wet storm that did hit us hard where I live, the rainy weather really poured it down, with hints of thunder that followed in the process. I ceased the opportunity of getting some gorgeous photos of the raindrops just after the storm passed, and by using the Nikon D3300 DSLR, I was able to capture some beautiful shots of the raindrops from certain angles.

The wind speed was absolutely strong, and has been since the beginning of 2015, with the bad weather set to continue all the way through to the beginning of March.

Now, with the first month of 2015 officially behind us, I will showcase in this article the close-up photography of the photos I took on one of the days I was off from college last month. I guarantee you’ll love these photos, because, despite how difficult these photos were to take, I made sure that they had a bold, sharp and relaxing appearance to them.

When I took these photos, I opted to take them manually by having the VR (Vibration Reduction) function turned on for the NIKKOR Lens, as well as adjusting the focus to get these photos exactly as to how I wanted them to turn out. I would have used the auto-focus function to take these photos, but I mainly prefer to take my DSLR photos manually, as I get the best results at the end of it.

In the long run, after the storm passed, these photos turned out a lot better than how I had first imagined them. These photos really exceeded my expectations, as I hadn’t realised just how intricate and delicate the detailing of the photos really were.

A lot of the photos I took had really defined the outlook of mother nature, as well as her capability to leave behind a trail of slight destruction, which would, in turn, create a beautiful image in the process.

As I stayed inside in the warm when the torrential downpour happened, I made sure that once the bad weather was out of the way, I would take some photos of the raindrops, considering just how well the raindrops were formed.

I was taken by surprise when I took these photos, as I didn’t realise just how good they looked and appeared until I used my computer to view these photos. Overall, I was overwhelmed and delighted with the final result, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to take these photos after the storm passed.

For many photographers like myself that want to know which setting is best for taking photos in this format, I recommend that you take photos by setting the camera lens of your make of DSLR to manual, as manual is better, as you get more of a chance of taking photos how you want them to appear. Auto-focus is a good function for any DSLR, but I prefer to take photos manually with the Vibration Reduction (VR) Function set to ON via the NIKKOR Lens for the Nikon D3300.

Overall, I couldn’t have been more happier considering the fact that my photography skills had exceeded a lot better than expected, and I am absolutely over the moon to have taken such good photos, which is probably set to be my best yet, and on that note, I want to say……..


Alex Smithson

Welcome to February!!! A Month Full of Hard Work, Love & Experiences

Welcome to February!!!!

Hello, and welcome back to Mother Nature for a chilly February!!! February is set to be a month full of hard work, love and experiences, as everyone is preparing for what could be a hard season solely focused around work before the Spring break hits us. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this month is also set to be filled with love, creating a refreshing feel to the atmosphere over the course of roughly 4 weeks.

This month, in terms of experiences, means that everyone is getting ready to experience all new things, as well as what the future for this year holds.

Over the course of this month, it will be quite a hard month for me especially, as I’ll be dedicating more of my time to my college studies, given the fact that the work I’m doing is based on dozens and dozens of research about UNICEF‘s UN Convention based on the Rights of the Child, which will help me throughout my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course. When there is some free time available, however, I may be able to fit at least a few articles in, but I’ll try my absolute hardest to get around to doing some articles as best as I can.

Until then, welcome to February!!!!!!!!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: January 2015

31st January 2015 - Monthly Roundup

What a fantastic start to the year!!! After 2014 closed it’s doors, this month started off with a bang, as I passed the first 3 units of my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course at Croydon College, as well as finding out most recently that I passed my English Reading Exam, following from the reading exam I did back in December. Some of the time, I have found writing articles hard to do, considering the fact that I’m doing research that focuses on Unicef‘s UN Convention based on the Rights of a Child.

To end January on a positive note, I will take a look back on the articles I’ve done this month, as well as the happy and sad moments that have unfolded over the course of the first month of 2015.

1.1.2015 - I welcomed all of you to 2015 on Mother Nature, after ringing in 2015 with the New Year’s Day fireworks that happened just hours earlier. As well as this, I also mentioned that this year would: “be the year where the hard work really does begin, as everyone will have an all-new mindset that is solely focused on getting ahead and completing the work. As I’ve said in the status update I posted to Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, it is always best to live your life and enjoy every second, and to take a chance when you are given one. Take every opportunity that will last a lifetime, and enjoy every opportunity and every good and happy moment that life intends to throw at you.”

2.1.2015 - I published the 2014 in Review article on here, as this review would reflect on last year in review, given just how much of a wonderful and perfect year 2014 really was.

9.1.2015 - This article I wrote came hot on the heels of the HP Stream 11 that I purchased back in December, which was most recently advertised on TV alongside the HP Stream 13. I gave a run-down of the features of this laptop, and how the HP Stream 11 would benefit those who want their own computer for college studies or for work, given the 10TB online storage space for OneDrive that Microsoft would provide with their Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium bundle, if you signed up to their storage expansion waiting list.

23.1.2015 - Following such shocking news that Anne Kirkbride had passed away from breast cancer on the 19th January 2015, I made sure to pay a small, but fitting tribute to Anne, as she is best known for portraying her role as Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street. This article would take a look back on Anne Kirkbride’s career as it unfolded, as well as the legacy that she had also left behind.

31.1.2015 - To kick off 2015 with a bang, Case Study #4 would mark the first case study for this year, as this case study would travel back in time to the 1500s, when Mary, Queen of Scots had attempted and also plotted to kill Queen Elizabeth I. This case study would also go in-depth as it was based on Mary’s life, and her rise and fall in the 45 years leading up to her execution on the 8th February 1587.

This month has really packed a punch, and has absolutely started 2015 off with a BANG!!!!!!!! Thanks for a really good first month for 2015, and I’ll see you all in February.

Alex Smithson

Case Study #4: Mary | Queen of Scots

Mary - Queen of Scots - Queen of Scotland - 8th December 1542 - 8th February 1587

To kick off the first case study for 2015 in style, Case Study #4 will focus around Mary, Queen of Scots, who was most famously known for attempting and also plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth I.

Mary | Queen of Scots (8th December 1542 – 8th February 1587)

Born on the 8th December 1542 in Linlithgow Palace in Linlithgow, Mary, Queen of Scots was the Queen of Scotland from the 14th December 1542 to the 24th July 1567, and she was also the Queen Consort of France from the 10th July 1559 to the 5th December 1560. Mary, who was the only surviving legitimate chilld of King James V of Scotland, was just six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne.

She had spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, and in 1558, she married the Dauphin of France, Francis. He ascended the French throne as King Francis II in 1559, and Mary had briefly become the Queen Consort of France, until his death in December 1560. Widowed, Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on the 19th August 1561. Four years later, Mary married her first cousing, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy, and in February 1567, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley’s residence was destroyed by an explosion, and as a result, Darnley was found murdered in the garden.

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley’s death, but he was cleared of the charge in April 1567, and the following month, he married Mary, Queen of Scots. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and on the 24th July 1567, she was also forced to abdicate (step down) from the throne in favour of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley.

After her attempt to regain the throne were unsuccessful, Mary fled southwards to seek the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary has previously claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own and was also considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many of the English Catholics, including the participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had Mary cofined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England, and after eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary, Queen of Scots was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, and was subsequently executed.

Mary’s Childhood & Early Reign

Born on the 8th December 1542 in Linlithgow, Scotland, to James V, King of Scots, and his French secon wife, Mary of Guise, Mary, Queen of Scots was said to have been born prematurely and was also the only legitimate child of James to survive him. She was also the great-niece of King Henry VIII of England, as her paternal grandmother, Margaret Tudor, was Henry VIII’s sister.

On the 14th December, six days after she was born, Mary became the Queen of Scots when her father died, which may have been perhaps from the effects of a nervous collapse, following the Battle of Solway Moss, or either from drinking contaminated water whilst on a campaign.

A popular legend, which was first recorded by John Knox, states that James, hearing on his deathbed that his wife had given birth to a daughter, he ruefully exclaimed, “It came with a lass, it will pass with a lass!” His House of Stewart had gained the throne of Scotland by the marriage of Marjorie Bruce, the daughter of Robert the Bruce, to Walter Stewart, the 6th High Steward of Scotland. The crown had come to his family through a woman, and would be lost from his family through a woman. This legendary statement has come true much later, not through Mary, but through her descendant, Queen Anne.

Mary was baptised at the nearby Church of St. Michael shortly after she was born. Rumours were spread around that Mary was weak and frail, but an English diplomat, Ralph Sadler, saw the infant at Linlithgow Palace in March 1543, unwrapped by her nurse, and wrote that: “it is as goodly a child as I have seen of her age, and as like to live.” As Mary, Queen of Scots was an infant when she had inherited the throne, Scotland was ruled by the regents until she had become an adult.

From the outset, there were two claims to the Regency: one from the Catholic Cardinal Beaton, and the other from the Protestant Earl of Arran, who was next in line to the throne. Beaton’s claim was mainly based on a version of the late King’s will that his opponents had dismissed as a forgery. Arran, with the support of his friends and relations, became the regent until 1554 when Mary’s mother had managed to remove and succeed him.

The Treaty of Greenwich

King Henry VIII of England took the opportunity of the regency to propose the marriage between Mary and his own son, Prince Edward, hoping for a Union of both Scotland & England. On the 1st July 1543, when Mary was just six months old, the Treaty of Greenwich was signed, which would promise that at the age of ten, Mary would marry Prince Edward and move to England, where Henry would be able to oversee her upbringing.

The treaty had provided that the two countries would remain legally separate and had also stated that if the couple had failed to have children, the temporary Union would dissolve. However, Cardinal Beaton had risen to power again and had also began to push a pro-Catholic pro-French agenda, which angered Henry, who wanted to break the Scottish alliance with France.

Beaton wanted to move Mary away from the coast to the safety of Stirling Castle. Regent Arran had resisted the move, but had then backed down when Beaton’s armed supporters gathered at Linlithgow. The Earl of Lennox escorted Mary and mother to Stirling on the 27th July 1543 with 3,500 armed men. Mary was crowned in the castle chapel on the 9th September 1543, with “such solemnity as they do use in this country, which is not very costly”, according to the report of Ralph Sadler and Henry Ray.

Shortly before Mary’s coronation, the Scottish merchants that headed for France were arrested by Henry, and their goods were impounded. The arrests had caused anger in Scotland, and Arran joined Beaton and became a Catholic. The Treaty of Greenwich was rejected by the Parliament of Scotland in December, and the rejection of the marriage treaty and the renewal of the Auld Alliance between France & Scotland prompted Henry’s “Rough Wooing”, a military campaign that was designed to impose the marriage of Mary to his son.

The English forces mounted a series of raids on Scottish and French territories, and in May 1544, the English Earl of Hertford (later known as the Duke of Somerset) raided Edinburgh, and the Scots took Mary, Queen of Scots to Dunkeld where she would be able to remain safe and sound.

In May 1546, Catholic Cardinal Beaton was murdered by the Protestant Lairds, and on the 10th September 1547, nine months after the death of Henry VIII, the Scots suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Mary’s guardians were fearful for her own safety, so they had decided to send her to the Inchmahome Priory for no more than three weeks, and then they returned to the French for help.

The French King, Henry II, proposed to unite France and Scotland by marrying the young Queen to his three year old son, the Dauphin Francis, and on the promise of the French’s military help, with a French dukedom for himself, Arran had agreed to the marriage. In February 1548, Mary was moved, again for her own safety, to Dumbarton Castle. The English had left a trail of devastation behind once more, and had also seized the strategic town of Haddington. In June, the much awaited French help arrived at Leith to besiege and ultimately take Haddington. On the 7th July 1548, a Scottish Parliament held at a nunnery near the town agreed to a French marriage treaty.

Life in France

With her marriage agreement in place, five year old Mary was sent to France to spend the next thirteen years at the French court. The French fleet sent by Henry II was commanded by Nicolas de Villegagnon, sailed with Mary from Dumbarton on the 7th August 1548 and arrived a week or more later at Roscoff or Saint-Pol-de-Léon in Brittany. Mary was accompanied by her own court, including the two illegitimate half-brothers, and the “four Marys”, four girls her own age, all named Mary, who were the daughters of some of the noblest families in Scotland: Beaton, Seton, Fleming and Livingston. Janet, Lady Fleming, who was Mary Fleming’s mother and James V’s half-sister, was appointed as the governess.

Being vivacious, beautiful and also clever (according to some contemporary accounts), Mary did have a promising childhood. At the French court, she was a favourite with everyone, except for Henry II’s wife, Catherine de’ Medici. Mary had learnt to play the lute and virginals, she was also competent in prose, poetry, falconry, horsemanship and needlework, and she was taught French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Greek, in addition to speaking her native Scots.

Her future sister-in-law, Elisabeth of Valois, became a close friend of whom Mary “retained nostalgic memories in later life”. Her maternal grandmother, Antoinette de Bourbon, was also another strong influence mainly on her childhood, and he had also acted as one of Mary’s principal advisors.

The portraits of Mary show that she had a small, oval-shaped head, a long, graceful neck with bright auburn hair, hazel-brown eyes, under heavy lowered eyelids, along with finely arched brows, smooth pale skin, a high forehead, and regular, firm features. She was considered a pretty child and later, as a woman, strikingly attractive. At some point in her infancy or childhood, she contracted smallpox, which had fortunately not marked her main features.

She was eloquent and was also especially tall by the sixteenth century standards (she had attained an adult height of 5 feet, 11 inches or 1.80m), while Henry II’s son and heir, Francis, stuttered and was abnormally short. Henry had commented that: “from the very first day that they met, my son and she got on as well together as if they had known each other for a long time”. On the 4th April 1558, Mary had signed a secret agreement, bequeathing Scotland and also her claim to England to the French crown, should she die without issue. Twenty days later, Mary married the Dauphin at Notre Dame de Paris, and Francis had become the King Consort of Scotland.

Mary’s Claim to the English Throne

In November 1558, Henry VIII’s elder daughter, Queen Mary I of Englanf, was succeeded by her only surviving sibling, Elizabeth I. Under the Third Succession Act, which was passed in 1543 by the Parliament of England, Elizabeth I was mainly recognised as her sister’s heir, and Henry VIII’s last will and testament had excluded the Stuarts from succeeding to the throne.

Yet, in the eyes of many Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate, and Mary Stuart, as the senior descendant of Henry VIII’s elder sister, was the rightful Queen of England. Henry II of France had proclaimed that his eldest son and daughter-in-law, the King & Queen of England, and in France, the Royal Arms of England were quartered with those of Francis and Mary. Mary’s claim to the English throne was a perrenial sticking point that would go between her and Elizabeth I.

When Henry II died on the 10th July 1559 from the injuries he sustained in a joust, fifteen year old Francis became the King of France, with Mary, aged 16, being his Queen Consort. Two of Mary’s uncles, the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorriane, were now dominant in French politics, enjoying an ascendancy called by some historians as the: “la tyrannie Guisienne”.

In Scotland, the power of the Protestant Lords of the Congregation was rising at the expenses of Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, who had maintained the effective control, only through the use of the French troops. The Protestant Lords had invited the English troops into Scotland in a bid to secure Protestantism, and a Huguenot rising in France, called the Tumult of Amboise, in March 1560, had made it possible for the French to send further support.

Instead, the Guise brothers had decided to send the ambassadors to negotiate a settlement. On the 11th June 1560, their sister, Mary of Guise, had passed away, and so the question of the future Franco-Scots relations was to be a pressing one. Under the terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh, signed by Mary’s representatives on the 6th July 1560, France & England had undertook to withdraw troops from Scotland & France, while Elizabeth’s right to rule England was recognised. However, 17 year old Mary, who was still in France and also grieving for her mother, had refused to ratify the treaty.

Mary’s Return to Scotland

After King Francis II died on the 5th December 1560 from a middle ear infection that led to an abscess in his brain, Mary was left grief-stricken. Her mother-in-law, Catherine de’ Medici, became the regent for the late King’s 10 year old brother, Charles IX, who had inherited the French throne. Mary returned to Scotland just 9 months after her husband’s passing, arriving in Leith on the 19th August 1561. Having lived in France since the age of five, Mary did have little of direct experience of the dangerous and complex political situation in Scotland, and as a devout Catholic, she was also regarded with the suspicion by many of her subjects, as well as by Elizabeth and her father’s cousin.

Scotland was torn between the Catholic and Protestant factions, and Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, the Earl of Moray, was a leader of the Protestants. The Protestant reformer, John Knox, had preached aginast Mary, condemning her for hearing Mass, dancing, and also for dressing too elaborately. She had summoned him to her presence to remonstrate with him unsuccessfully, and she later charged him with treason, but he was acquitted and released.

To much of disappointment for the Catholic party, however, Mary had tolerated the newly established Protestant ascendancy, and had also kept her half-brother, Lord Moray, as her chief advisor. Her privy council of 16 men, appointed on the 6th September 1561, retained those who had already held the offices of state, and was also dominated by the Protestant leaders from the reformation crisis of 1559-1560: the Earls of Atholl, Erroll, Montrose and Huntly, who was Lord Chancellor.

The Modern Historian, Jenny Wormald, had found this remarkable, suggesting that Mary’s failure to appoint a council sympathetic to Catholic & French interests was a main indication of her focus on the goal of the English throne over the internal problems of Scotland. Even the one significant later addition to the council, in December 1563, Lord Ruthven, was another Protestant whom of which Mary had personally disliked. In accordance to this, she was acknowledging her lack of effective military power in the face of the Protestant Lords, while also following a policy which would, in effect, strengthen her links with England. She had joined with Lord Moray in the destruction of Scotland’s leading Catholic magnate, Lord Huntly, in 1562, after he had led a rebellion in the Highlands against her.

Mary had sent William Maitland of Lethington as an ambassador to the English court to put the case for Mary as the heir presumptive to the English throne. Elizabeth had refused to name a potential heir, fearing that in order to do so, this would invite the conspiracy to displace her with the nominated successor. However, Elizabeth had assured Maitland that she knew no one else with a better claim than Mary’s. In late 1561 and early 1562, there were arrangements that were made for the two Queens to meet in England at York or Nottingham in the August or September of 1562, but Elizabeth had sent Sir Henry Sidney to cancel in July, because of the ongoing Civil War that was occurring in France.

Mary had turned her attention mainly to finding a new husband from the royalty of Europe. However, when her uncle, the Cardinal of Lorriane, began the negotiations with the Archduke, Charles of Austria without her consent, she had angrily objected, with the negotiations being foundered. Her own attempt to negotiate a marriage to Don Carlos, the mentally unstable heir apparent of King Philip II of Spain, was rebuffed by Philip.

Elizabeth made an attempt to try and neutralise Mary by suggesting that she should marry the English Protestant, Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester (Sir Henry Sidney’s brother-in-law and the English Queen’s own favourite), whom Elizabeth had trusted and thought she could control. She sent the ambassador, Thomas Randolph, to tell Mary that if she would marry an English nobleman, Elizabeth would “proceed to the inquisition of her right and title to be our next cousin and heir”. The proposal went to bust, not least, however, because the intended bridegroom was unwilling.

In this contrast, a French poet that was at Mary’s court, Pierre de Boscosel de Chastelard, was apparently besotted by Mary, and in early 1563, he was discovered during a secruity search, after being found to have hidden underneath her bed, apparently planning to surprise her when she was completely alone to declare his love for her. Horrified as she was, Mary banished him from Scotland. He chose to ignore the edict, and two days later, he forced his way into her chamber, just as she was getting ready to disrobe.

Mary reacted with fury and fear, and when Moray rushed into the room, in reaction to her cries for help, she had shouted: “Thrust your dagger into the villain!”, which Moray had refused to do as Chastelard was already under restraint. Later on, Pierre de Boscosel de Chastelard was tried for treason, and was also beheaded. Maitland had claimed that Chastelard’s ardour was feign, and that he was a part of the Huguenot plot to discredit Mary by attempting to tarnish her reputation.

Mary’s Escape & Imprisonment in England

On the 2nd May 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots had escaped from Loch Leven Castle with the aid of George Douglas, the brother of Sir William Douglas, who was the castle’s owner. By managing to raise an army of 6,000 men, she had met Moray’s smaller forces at the Battle of Langside on the 13th May. After being defeated, Mary fled South; after she spent the night at Dundrennan Abbey, she crossed the Solway Firth into England via a fishing boat on the 16th May.

She landed at Workington in Cumberland, in the North of England, and after landing there, Mary stayed there overnight at Workington Hall. On the 18th May 1568, the local officials took her into protective custody at Carlisle Castle.

Mary had apparently expected Elizabeth to help her regain her throne. Elizabeth was cautious, as she had ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the confederate lords, and the question of whether Mary would be found guilty of Darnley’s murder. In mid-July 1568, the English authorities had moved Mary to Bolton Castle, because it was further away from the Scottish border, but was not too close to London. A commission of inquiry, ot conference as it was known at the time, was held in York, and later on in Westminster between October 1568 and January 1569, and in Scotland, her supporters had fought a Civil War against Regent Moray & his successors.

The Casket Letters

As she was anointed Queen, Mary had refused to acknowledge the power of any court to try and her and had also refused to attend the inquiry at York personally (she sent representatives), but Elizabeth forbaded her attendance anyway. As evidence was presented against Mary, Moray had presented the so-called ‘casket letters’ – eight unsigned letters of which were purportedly from Mary to Bothwell, two marriage contracts, and a love sonnet or sonnets that are said to have been found in a silver-gilt casket just less than one foot (30cm) long, decorated with the monogram of King Francis II.

Mary had denied writing them by arguing that her handwriting was not difficult to imitate, and had insisted that they were forgeries. They are widely believed to have been crucial as to whether Mary had shared the guilt for Darnley’s murder. The chair of the Commission of Inquiry, the Duke of Norfolk, had described them as horrible letters with diverse fond ballads, and he sent copies to Elizabeth, stating that if they were genuine, they might just prove Mary’s guilt.

The authenticity of the casket letters have been the source of much controversy among many historians. It is impossible now to prove either way. The originals, written in French, were probably destroyed in 1584 by Mary’s son. The surviving copies that may have been in French & translated into English, do not form a complete set. There are incomplete printed transcriptions in English, Scots, French & Latin from the 1570s. Other documents that were scrutinised included Bothwell’s divorce from Jean Gordon. Moray had sent a messenger in September to Dunbar to get a copy of the proceedings from the town’s registers.

Mary’s biographers, such as Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir and John Guy, came to the conclusion that either the documents were complete forgeries, or the incriminating passages were inserted into genuine letters, or that the letters were written to Bothwell by some other person or by Mary to someone else. John pointed out that the letters were disjointed, and that the French language & grammar that were employed in the sonnets were too poor for a writer with Mary’s education. However, certain phrases of the letters (including certain verses in the style of Ronsard) and certain characteristics of style would be compatible with the known writings of Mary’s.

The casket letters did not appear publicly until the Conference of 1568, although the Scottish privy council had seem them by December 1567. Mary was forced to abdicate and was held captive for the best part of a year in Scotland. The letters were never made public to support her imprisonment, which had forced her abdication. The historian, Jenny Wormald, believed the reluctance on the Scots part to produce the letters, and their destruction in 1584, whatever their content, constitute proof that they contained real evidence against Mary, whereas Weir thinks that it demonstrates the Lords required the time to fabricate them.

At least some of Mary’s contemporaries who saw the letters had no doubt that they were genuine. Among them also was the Duke of Norfolk, who had secretly conspired to marry Mary in the course of the commission, although he denied it when Elizabeth alluded to his marriage plans, say that “he meant never to marry with a person, where he could not be sure of his pillow”.

The majority of the commissioners had accepted the casket letters as genuine after a study of their contents and comparison of the penmanship with the examples of Mary’s handwriting. Elizabeth, as she had wished, concluded the inquiry with a verdict that nothing was proven, either against the confederate Lords or Mary. For many overriding political reasons, Elizabeth had wished to neither convict nor acquit Mary of murder, and that there was never any intention to proceed judicially; the conference was intended as a political exercise.

In the end, Moray had returned to Scotland as its regent, and Mary had remained in custody in England. Elizabeth had succeeded in maintaining a Protestant government in Scotland, without either condemning or even releasing her fellow sovereign. In Fraser’s opinion, it was one of the strangest “trials” known in legal history, ending with no finding of guilt against either party with one let home to Scotland, while the other had remained in custody.

The Plots

On the 26th January 1569, Mary was moved to Tutsbury Castle & placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his formidable wife, Bess of Hardwick. Elizabeth had considered Mary’s designs on the Enlgish throne to be of a serious threat and so she confined her to Shrewsbury’s properties, including Tutsbury, Sheffield Castle, Wingfield Manor & Chatsworth House, all of which are located in the interior of England, halfway between Scotland & London, and distant from the sea.

Mary was permitted with her own domestic staff, which were never numbered less than 16, and needed 30 carts in order to transfer her belongings from house to house. Her chambers were also decorated with fine tapestries and carpets, as well as her cloth of state on which she had the French phrase: “En ma fin est mon commencment (“In my end lies my beginning”) embroidered. Her bedlinen was changed daily, and her own chefs often prepared meals with a choice of 32 dishes served on silver plates.

She was occasionally allowed outside, but under strict supervision, and she spent seven Summers at the spa town of Buxton, and also spent much of her own time doing embroidery. Her health was gradually beginning to decline, perhaps through porphyria or a lack of exercise, and by the 1580s, she had severe rheumatism in her limbs, which had rendered her lame.

In May 1569, Elizabeth had attempted to mediate the restoration of Mary in return for the guarantees of the Protestant religion, but a convention that was held at Perth rejected the deal overwhelmingly. Norfolk had continued to scheme for a marriage with Mary, and Elizabeth had imprisoned him in the Tower of London, between October 1569 and August 1570. Early on in the following year, Moray was assassinated, and his death coincided with a rebellion in the North of England, led by the Catholic Earls, which had persuaded Elizabeth that Mary was, indeed, a threat.

The English troops had intervened in the Scottish Civil War, consolidating the power of the anti-Marian forces. Elizabeth’s principal secretaries, Sir Francis Walsingham, William Cecil & Lord Burghley, had watched Mary carefully with the aid of spies that were placed in Mary’s household.

In 1571, William Cecil & Francis Walsingham had uncovered the Ridolfi Plot, which was a cunning plan to replace Elizabeth with Mary, with the help of the Spanish troops and the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk was effectively executed, and the English Parliament had introduced a bill which would ban Mary from being on the throne, to which Elizabeth had refused to give the royal assent. To discredit Mary, Queen of Scots a lot further, the casket letters were published in London. The plots that centred quite frequently around Mary had continued.

Pope Gregory XIII had endorsed one plan in the latter half of the 1570s to marry her to the governor of the Low Countries, and the half-brother of Philip II of Spain, Don John of Austria, who was supposed to organise the invasion of England from the Spanish Netherlands. After the Throckmorton Plot of 1583, Francis Walsingham had introduced the Bond of Association and also the Act for the Queen’s Safety, which would sanction the killing of anyone who had plotted against Elizabeth and had also aimed to prevent a putative successor from profiting from her murder.

In February 1585, William Parry was convicted of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, without Mary’s knowledge, though her agent, Thomas Morgan was implicated. In April, Mary was placed in the stricter custody of Sir Amias Paulet, and at Christmas, she was moved to a moated manor house at Chartley.

Mary’s Death & Trial

On the 11th August 1586, after she was implicated in the Babington Plot, Mary was arrested while she was out riding and was taken to Tixall. In a successful attempt to entrap her, Francis Walsingham had deliberately arranged for Mary’s letter to be smuggled out of Chartley. Mary was misled into thinking that her letters were secure, but in reality, they were actually deciphered and read by Walsingham.

From these letters in particular, it was indeed clear that Mary had sanctioned the attempted assassination of Elizabeth. She was moved to Fotheringay Castle in a four-day journey that would end on the 25th September, and in October, Mary was put on trial for treason under the Act for the Queen’s Safety before a court of 36 noblemen, including Cecil, Shrewsbury and Walsingham. Spirited in her defence, Mary denied the charges. She told her triers, “Look to your consciences and remember that the theatre of the whole world is wider than the kingdom of England”.

Her attention was mainly drawn to the facts that she was denied the opportunity to review the evidence, that her papers had been removed from her, and that she was denied access to a legal counsel, and that as a foreign anointed Queen she had never been an English subject, and thus she could not be convicted of treason.

Mary, Queen of Scots was convicted on the 25th October and was also sentenced to death with just one commissioner, Lord Zouche, who expressed any form of dissent. Despite this, Elizabeth had hesitated to order her execution, even in the face of pressure from the English Parliament to carry out the sentence. She was mainly concerned that the killing of a Queen set a discreditable precedent, and she was fearful of the consequences, especially if, in retaliation, Mary’s son, James, formed an alliance with the Catholic powers and invaded England.

Elizabeth had asked Paulet, Mary’s final custodian, if he would contrive a clandestine way to “shorten the life” of Mary, which he refused to do on the grounds that he would not make “a shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot on my poor prosterity”. On the 1st February 1587, Elizabeth had signed the death warrant, and had entrusted the death warrant to William Davison, a privy councillor. On the third, ten members of the Privy Council of England, having been summoned by William Cecil without Elizabeth’s knowledge, decided to carry out the sentence at once.

At Fotheringhay on the evening of the 7th February 1587, Mary was told that she was to be executed the next morning, so she spent the last hours of her life in prayer, distributing her belongings to her household, and writing her will and a letter to the King of France. The scaffold that was erected in the Great Hall was two feet high and was also draped in black. It was reached for by two or three steps and was also furnished with the block, a cushion for her to kneel on and three stools, for her and the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, who were there to witness the execution.

The executioners, one of which was named Bull, and his assistant, knelt before her and asked for forgiveness. She replied: “I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles.” Her servants, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle, and the executioners helped Mary to her outer garments, revealing a velvet petticoat and a pair of sleeves in crimson-brown, the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church, with a black satin bodice and black trimmings.

As she disrobed, she smiled and had also said that she “never had such grooms before … nor ever put off her clothes before such a company”. She was then blindfolded by Kennedy with a white veil embroidered in Gold, knelt down on the cushion in front of the block, on which she had positioned her head and stretched out her arms. Her last words were: “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum” (“Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”).

Mary was not beheaded with a single strike, as the first blow had missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow, however, had severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner had cut through by using the axe. Afterwards, he had held Mary’s head aloft and had also declared: “God save the Queen.” At this moment, the auburn tresses in his hand had turned out to be a wig and Mary’s head fell to the ground, revealing that she had very short, grey hair.

A small dog that was owned by the Queen, a Skye terrier, was said to have been hiding among her skirts, which was unseen by the spectators. Following the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Skye terrier refused to part from her, with the result of the dog being covered in her blood, until it was forcibly taken away to be washed. The items that were supposedly worn or carried by Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution are of a doubtful provenance; the contemporary accounts stated that all of her clothing, the block, and everything else that was touched by her blood was burnt in the fireplace of the Great Hall in order to obstruct any relic-hunters.

Mary, Queen of Scots’ Legacy

When the news of the execution had reached Elizabeth I, she had become indignant and had also asserted that Davison had disobeyed her instructions not to part with the warrant, and that the Privy Council had acted without her authority. Elizabeth’s vacillation and deliberately vague instructions gave her plausible deniability, to attempt to avoid the direct stain of Mary’s blood. Davison was arrested, and he was also thrown into the Tower of London, being found guilty of misprison. He was eventually released a year and 7 months later (19 months) after William Cecil and Francis Walsingham had interceded on his behalf.

Mary’s request to be buried in France was refused by Elizabeth, and her body was embalmed and left unburied in a secure lead coffin until her burial, in a Protestant service, at Peterborough Cathedral in late July 1587. Her entrails, which were removed as part of the embalming processed, were buried secretly within Fotheringay Castle. Her body was exhumed in 1612 when her son, King James VI and I, ordered that she be re-interred in Westminster Abbey, in a chapel opposite the tomb of Elizabeth I.

In 1867, her tomb was opened, to try and ascertain the resting place of James I; he was ultimately found with Henry VII, but many of her other descendants, including Elizabeth of Bohemia, Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the children of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, were interred in her vault.

The assessments of Mary in the 16th Century were divided between the Protestant reformers, such as George Buchanan and John Knox, who had vilified her mercilessly, and the Catholic apologists, such as Adam Blackwood, who had praised, defended and eulogised her. After the accession of James I in England, the historian, William Camden, wrote an officially sanctioned biography that would draw from the original documents. It had condemned Buchanan’s work as an invention, and had also “emphasized Mary’s evil fortunes rather than her evil character”.

The differing interpretations had persisted into the 18th Century: William Robertson and David Hume had argued that the casket letters were genuine, and that Mary was guilty of adultery and murder, while William Tytler had argued the reverse. In the later half of the 20th Century, the work of Antonia Fraser was acclaimed as “more objective … free from the excesses of adulation or attack” that had characterised on older biographies, and her contemporaries, Gordon Donaldson and Ian B. Cowan had also produced more balanced works.

The historian, Jenny Wormald, had concluded that Mary was a tragic failure, who was unable to cope with the demands that were placed on her, but hers was mainly a rare dissenting view in a post-Fraser tradition that Mary was a pawn in the hands of scheming noblemen. There is currently no concrete proof of her complicity in Darnley’s murder or of a conspiracy with Bothwell. Such accusations still rest on assumptions, and Buchanan’s biography is today often discredited as an “almost complete fantasy”. Mary’s courage at her own execution had helped to establish her popular image as the heroic victim of a dramatic tragedy.

Case Study #4 finally comes to a close, but over the gradual course of February, Case Study #5 will focus on the man himself, Sir Winston Churchill, known as the Greatest Briton, who was famously known as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Alex Smithson

Anne Kirkbride | 1954 – 2015

Anne Kirkbride - 1954-2015

After such shocking news that broke on Monday night that the Coronation Street star, Anne Kirkbride had passed away, I want to pay a small, but fitting tribute to Anne for the legacy she has left behind by taking a look back on her life as it unfolded.

Anne Kirkbride (21st June 1954 – 19th January 2015)

Born on the 21st June 1954, Anne Kirkbride was very well known for her long-running role as Deirdre Barlow in the ITV Studios TV Programme, Coronation Street (a.k.a. Corrie), which she had starred in for 42 years, from 1972 to 2014.

Early Life

Born in Oldham, in Lancashire, Anne Kirkbride was the daughter of Jack Kirkbride, who was a cartoonist for the Oldham Evening Chronicle. Anne attended the Counthill Grammar School in Oldham, and then she went on to join Oldham Repertory Theatre as an assistant stage manager, before going on to progress to acting roles.

Anne’s Career

Anne Kirkbride was first noticed by the casting directors for the British Soap Opera, Coronation Street, when she acted in a Jack Rosenthal play, titled: “Another Sunday and Sweet F.A.” (1972) for Granada Television. She was picked to play the part for Deirdre Hunt in Coronation Street from November 1972 onwards. Her character’s role grew, and after making further appearances more frequently in 1973, Anne Kirkbride signed a contract with the serial in 1974. From that moment on, the character, Deirdre Barlow (previously known as Deirdre Hunt) would go on to become famous for her very large spectacles and also her husky voice (a result of Kirkbride’s own contributory form of chain smoking).

On the 29th September 2014, it was announced that Anne Kirkbride would have a three month break from the show, and prior to her death, she had never filmed her official last scenes, which would make her final scenes as the ones that aired on the 8th October 2014.

Other TV Appearances

In 1998, Anne Kirkbride ran away on the TV Show: “This is Your Life” during the same time that she was battling a form of severe depression, and in 2013, Anne Kirkbride had completed her documentary, which was entitled as: “Deirdre & Me“, a 1 hour special that would celebrate her 40th year of playing the role of Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street. In 2007, Anne Kirkbride starred in the first episode of You Don’t Know You’re Born, which was a geneology documentary that had aired on ITV 1.

Personal Life

In 1993, Anne Kirkbride was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had spoke to the British Press about her bout of depression, following the diagnosis of the disease. Within a year of being diagnosed with the disease, she was cured. She married the former actor, David Beckett, in 1992. Both Anne & David met on the set of Coronation Street, when Beckett had joined the cast as her character, Deirdre Barlow’s boyfriend.

Sudden Death

The news on Monday came, as it was announced on the internet and also the major news networks that Anne Kirkbride had succumbed to breast cancer. She died in a Manchester hospital on Monday 19th January 2015, at the age of 60. At the 20th National Television Awards on Wednesday, held just two days after Anne Kirkbride’s death, her on-screen partner and close friend, William Roache, from Coronation Street, paid tribute to Anne during the ceremony.

Not a dry eye was in sight for the whole of the Corrie cast, and the actor, Adam Woodyatt (famously known for playing Ian Beale), dedicated the award that EastEnders had won to Anne Kirkbride, referring to her as: “the Weatherfield one”, referencing a Coronation Street storyline that saw Anne Kirkbride’s on-screen character, Deirdre Barlow, being wrongly jailed for fraud.

I must admit, even I was shocked about her death, because the news of her death was so sudden, and unexpected, that it took a few seconds for the news of Anne Kirkbride’s death to sink in. The irony to this was that I was talking about her hours before and also the day before her death, because I talked about the news articles that some of the newspaper websites put up about her possibly quitting Coronation Street, but, to hear that she died so suddenly, I was absolutely shocked.

Although she may be gone, Anne Kirkbride will never be forgotten for the legacy she has left behind, and she will always be remembered for the good and happy memories that she has left behind, especially those whose hearts she has touched. We will never forget you Anne, you will be missed dearly, but you will never be forgotten. We will always remember you for the wonderful legacy that you have left behind, and also for the happy memories that you have made along the way. We will never forget you Anne Kirkbride.

Alex Smithson