On a day that is damp, dripping and foggy it’s difficult to imagine the sunlit uplands of spring. However, at This England we are always looking forward with optimism and it does help that we prepare each seasonal issue of the magazine well in advance. At the moment we are just putting the finishing touches to the spring issue which this year has a lovely picture of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent on the front cover. The magazine goes on sale in the shops on 7th February, although if you take out an annual postal subscription you will receive it a few days earlier and save a few pounds, shillings and pence at the same time! Click here for further details.
Having said that we like to look to the future, I must admit that in the forthcoming issue there is quite a bit of looking back. This England celebrates its fiftieth birthday in 2018 so I have taken the opportunity in my Editor’s Letter to tell the story of how the magazine was conceived and to look inside the very first copy. In a complementary feature a few of our long-time readers and contributors describe how they first came across This England and give an insight into what Shakespeare’s “sceptred isle” means to them. To coincide with our anniversary we are also compiling a special one-off publication containing a selection of articles, pictures and letters that appeared in the magazine during those 50 years. Full details of how to obtain your copy of this collector’s item will be included in the spring issue.
On the subject of anniversaries, our regular “Centenary of the First World War” feature highlighting different aspects of the conflict continues with one writer’s personal memories of Albert “Smiler” Marshall. As a little girl growing up and seeing the Great War veteran going about his business in her Surrey village she found him quite a frightening figure. It was only later that she came to appreciate what a remarkable character this survivor of numerous major battles (and widely known as England’s Last Cavalryman) really was. A number of other notable anniversaries are coming up in 2018 and these will be highlighted in the magazine later in the year. They include the centenary of the Royal Air Force (we have a major article planned for the summer) and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte whose life you will be able to read about in the autumn issue.
Returning to the spring issue, other highlights include:
The Wonder of Winnie-the-Pooh: A lively exhibition at the V&A in London, involving lots of balloons, is celebrating A. A. Milne, E. H. Shepard and their much-loved “bear of little brain”.
Britain’s Oldest Family Business: It was in 1515 during the reign of Henry VIII that Robert Balson began his butcher’s business at Bridport in Dorset. Twenty-six generations later, it is still going strong.
English Excursions: A visit to Tyntesfield, the National Trust property near Bristol where recent conservation work has restored this Victorian Gothic mansion to its former glory.
The Importance of Happiness: The inspiring, little-known story of how playwright Noel Coward transformed Silverlands, the austere Actors’ Orphanage in Surrey, into a place of love and laughter.
St. George the Patron Saint…in Pictures: As 23rd April approaches, we look at the different ways the soldier-saint has been portrayed in stone, paint and stained glass.
The Merry Month of May: Morris dancers, maypoles, ’obby ’osses and green men… many colourful legends and traditions are associated with this time of year.
The Cornwall of Thomas Hardy: Although chiefly associated in many people’s minds with the county of Dorset, England’s most south-westerly corner played an important part in the life and work of the great poet and playwright.
High Treason and Hidden Priests: A journey back to Tudor England and the dangerous, shadowy world of Nicholas Owen whose ingenious priest holes, in an age of religious persecution, provided much-needed refuge.