Author Archives: Calers

About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

Modern London



After the Great Fire Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt London. He had no training as an architect but he designed myriad buildings. He designed St Paul’s Cathedral. Alas an alack he did not live to see it erected. He designed a multitude of churches. When Wren died his pupil James Gibbs built many more such as St Clement Danes and St Mary Le Strand.

Late 17th century London was built with straight streets. Its architecture borrowed heavily from Italy. Much of it was neo-classical. They coped the Corinthian notion of the Golden Mean  3:8 being the perfect ratio.

The time of Charles II was known as Caroline England. It was a time of glamour for the wealthy. Men wore wigs if rich even if they had a full head of hair. People wore silk clothes.

Scientific innovation began. A diving bell allowed the diarist Samuel Pepys to go to the bottom of Thames and have dinner there.

In the late 17th century there was much religious controversy. There tiny Catholic minority faced much hostility. There was Irish Night – when the Protestant majority feared that they would be attacked by Irish Catholic soldiers. Many English Catholics were beaten up and their houses were torched.

The Popish Plot was a hoax created by Titus Oates. Oates said there was a Catholic conspiracy. Some leading Catholics were convicted of treason and put to death.

People from India  and Africa arrived in London. There were very few of them. Nonetheless they were depicted in oil paintings of the epoch. Art started to be more realistic.

Hugenots came over from France. They were Protestant refugees. They settled in the East End and Petty France.

In 1688 the Glorious Revolution took place. Most of its key event occurred in London. William and Mary became joint sovereigns. This did not change daily life. People began to copy Dutch architecture since William II hailed from the Netherlands.

In 1707 England Wales joined with Scotland. The United Kingdom of Great Britain was founded. Many Scots shifted to London.

In the 18th century there was hardship at the beginning. This was due to the War of Spanish Succession. The United Kingdom won but the cost was heavy.

In 1714 George I came over from Hanover to be king. He spoke broken English. Many German scholars accompanied him. Handel was one of him. He did much to improve the music scene. British music was among the most unsophisticated in Europe. Opera and ballet started to be appreciated.

Many theatres were founded in the 18th century. So too were many private clubs for affluent gentlemen. There were coffee houses galore. Tea became affordable even for the lower orders.

In the 18th century upper class women also started wearing wigs. Men and women wore white wigs even if they had dark hair. They did so on formal occasions.

There was still abject poverty. The Church of England did not cater to the needy. John Wesley was an Anglican clergyman who concerned himself with the working class. He later broke away from the C of E and founded the Methodist Church. The Methodists built many churches. One of these was on City Road.

Dissenters were Protestants outside the Church of England. That meant Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and the like. They were often buried in Bunhill Cemetery. This is derived form Bone Hill.

The affluent had many servants. The masters often seduced their maids. Many children were born to unwed mothers. They were often put into orphanages. Mr Coram was very worried about the fate of these abandoned children. HE set up a Foundling Hospital for them. It still existed until the 1930s. Sometimes the mothers were encouraged to give their baby a keepsake. If the mother ever came back in later years she could recognise the child by the keepsake like a comb or spoon. These women were sometimes unwilling to give their names to the Foundling Hospital since they were ashamed at having given birth outside of wedlock.

The population grew rapidly. Science and technology advanced. The Royal Society of London did much to improve knowledge of the natural world.

London hospitals were among the best in the world. There was St Bartholemew’s which dated to the Middle Ages. Guy’s Hospital was founded by Mr Guy at this time.

The city was mostly built of brick. The City of London was still officially the St Paul’s Cathedral area. Many boroughs in Kent, Surrey and Middlesex were effectively in London.

In the late 18th century turnpike trusts improved roads. Canals were dug to transport goods from factories. The ports in the East End expanded. The docks were built. Chinese people came to live in London.

In the 1780s the Daily Universal Register was founded. It was a newspaper. It has been renamed the Times. It covered the whole UK. Stage coach companies carried mail and passengers around the realm. The Daily Courant had been the first diurnal newspaper back in the early 17th century but it was for London only.

The 1790s was a time of upheaval. There was war against France. There was radicalism in the air. Many preached revolution. The government restricted civil liberty. Revolution was avoided. There were protests and mass meetings. The London Corresponding Society sent out radical pamphlets.

After 1800 the war against France continued. People feared invasion. The threat of revolution had abated.

In 1815 France was beaten. The threat of revolution reared its head again. A man could be a revolutionary without aiding the enemy. There were many demonstrations and rallies. People formed trades unions and these were banned. Some trades unionists were transported to Australia for forming a union against the Combination Act. Huge protests had these men set free. They were the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

There were plots to overthrow the government. Government informers infiltrated the revolutionary cells.  The plot was defeated.

Public executions took place at Tyburn Tree. This is near Speakers’ Corner. The main prison was Newgate Prison. People would throng to watch hangings. These hangings were known as a ”turning off”’. The condemned would have their hands tied behind they. The condemned would be standing on carts with nooses around their necks. The carts would be pushed away. The unfortunate people would be left to dangle. It could take 30 minutes to die. Some would tip the hangman to give them a long drop and therefore an instant death. One of the perquisites of the hangman is that he was permitted to keep the clothes of those he executed. These could be sold. Poor folk bought second hand clothes. If the garments belong to a notorious criminal then many would pay dearly for such keepsakes.

In the 1820s there was much unrest. The city was in a pre revolutionary stage again. There were riots and revolution was contained only with great difficulty. In 1832 the Great Reform calmed the situation. Railways came to the city at that time. The city expanded south of the Thames. The marshy land around Waterloo Station was built upon. Chelsea was once a market garden but it started to be a fashionable area.

In 1829 University College London was founded. Jeremy Bentham MP had been a prime mover behind it. London was one of the last capitals in Europe to be without a university. King’s College London came soon afterwards.

The 1840s the Chartists stirred the pot again. Feeling was running high. The coming of railways reduced seasonal unemployment. The situation calmed down. Many European radicals fled to London in the 1840s. Trafalgar Square was laid out. Nelson’s Column was erected. The National Gallery was founded.

In 1837 Queen Victoria came to the throne. She moved from Kensington Palace to Buckingham Palace. That started to be the focal point of London.

London started to have a significant Italian and Hungarian community. Prince Albert from Germany decided to raise standards in education, science and culture. He organized the Great Exhibition of 1851. It took place in Hyde Park. Millions came to the Great Exhibition Hall. It was made of glass and was over 500 m long. A journalist dubbed it Crystal Palace.

The money raised from the Great Exhibition was used to purchase land in Kensington which was then a countryside area. This area became known as Albertopolis. It contains Royal Albert Hall – for some time the largest concert hall in Europe. There is Imperial College, the Royal College of Music and so on.

The city expanded rapidly. The sewage system could not cope. The Thames was clogged up with human waste. It was called the Great Stink. The stench was so noxious that Parliament moved to another city. This led to Sir Joseph Bazalgette sorting out the London sewage system. He also built the Embankment started in 1863. The Thames by Westminster was about twice as wide as it is now and was prone to flooding.

In 1863 London built the first underground railway in the world. It was around Paddington and Baker Street to begin with. This was the start of the tube.

There were many factories in London and the sky was smoggy. People were burning coal for domestic heating. Trains also ran on coat. People moved by horse drawn carriage too.

Henry Mayhew wrote a book entitled London Labour and the London Poor. William Booth also investigated poverty in London. The scale and severity of poverty in late 19th century London horrified many.

Socialist societies in late 19th century London attempted to alleviate such suffering. Legislation was passed aimed at the betterment of the lower orders. Many people were casual labourers. Work was often dangerous and filthy. Hours were long and wages were derisory. Wages were compressed by the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Greece, the Russian Empire and so forth. Those form Russia were often Jewish and faced some animus.

In 1880 London was a city and Westminster was a city. Most of what we call London was made up of boroughs – Ealing, Camden, Richmond and so on. These boroughs were not officially part of London. They did not co-ordinate with each other. This was a ridiculous situation since these boroughs and the City of London were one conurbation. The government created Greater London. This comprised the City of London, the City of Westminster and thirty boroughs. A London County Council was elected. This met at Parliament Square. Issues were dealt with on a London wide basis. This meant that issues such as gas, water, housing, transport and policing were dealt with by London County Council.

In 1888 Jack the Ripper murdered five ladies of the night in London. The press was full of it. The killer was never caught.

In 1890 Tower Bridge was built. This is by far the most famous bridge in London. It has that name because it has two towers on it and is by the Tower of London. It is not London Bridge which is a very bland bridge.

By 1900 the city has over 2 000 000 people and was the largest city on earth. Over 1% of the population as non white. In the East End there were quite a few Indians and black men. They usually wed white women. The next generation was half white and the one after that was three-quarters white. After that these people disappeared into the white community.

Around 1910 there were lots of strikes. The Labour Party became a major force in London. Labour won some borough councils.

In 1914 the First World War broke out. Many Londoners clamoured for the colours. Belgian refugees arrived. The city was bombed but only 100 or so died.

In 1922 London County Hall was completed. London County Council moved there. Labour captured most London boroughs and has remained the dominant force in London ever since. The Liberal Party was almost wiped out.

There was significant immigration to London in the 1920s. This included white Russians.

Cars started to be a common sight on London streets at that time. Horses gradually disappeared. Many factories moved out of London.

In the 1930s there was mass unemployment. Life for the well to do was getting better. Labour saving devices became affordable for the middle class. Electricity and running water were in most houses.

In 1939 the Second World War broke out. Children were evacuated as were the disabled and elderly. The city was bombed and thousands died. Bomb shelters were built. Many slept in the tube.  The population had been 6 000 000

In 1945 the war was over. Only 5 000 000 lived in London. The East End had been ravaged. New towns were built outside London. Many East Enders moved out and never returned. London was not fully rebuilt until 1960.

There was large scale immigration after 1945. The government asked people from the Commonwealth to come. In 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked. It brought men from the West Indies. They came to live in Brixton. They were the nucleus of the Afro-Caribbean community. A large number of people came from India and Poland. The population of London stagnated. People were also moving overseas – to Australia, Canada, the USA and South Africa. There were plenty of derelict houses.

Terrible smog in 1953 killed people. The government passed the Clean Air Act. Coal fires were banned in London. Air quality improved remarkably. More people bought cars so some railway lines were closed.

Rationing was only phased out in 1958. People had better houses than before. Slums were demolished. Decent houses were built. Councils provided affordable housing.

In the 1960s people spoke of Swinging London. It became fashionable. The upper classes started to affect working class style. The Beatles made the country trendy. People from Sweden and Germany flocked to London as a cool city.

In the 1970s IRA terrorism afflicted London. It became easy to squat in abandoned houses. Accommodation was very affordable. Drug abuse became widespread. The punk movement started. Almost all factories and docks closed. There was mass unemployment in some areas. The Gay Liberation Front and other radical groups became prominent at this time.

In the 1980s there was fairly high crime. Drug abuse became more widespread. There were riots in Brixton. White supremacists attacked ethnic minorities. Despite this the city became richer. The city was polarized between rich and poor. There was a lot of homelessness.

Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. She allowed council tenants to buy their houses. They really liked this and many voted Conservative due to this. Despite that Labour controlled London in the 1980s. Ken Livingstone became leader of the Greater London Council. It embarrassed Thatcher’s government by hanging a banner with the unemployment figure on London County Hall. Parliament was across the river. In 1986 the Greater London Council was abolished. Thatcher did this because the GLC was embarrassing her.

In the 1990s the population of London started to grow. House prices grew rapidly. The Conservative Party became deeply unpopular. In the late 1990s Labour was in office. London became the centre of Cool Britannia. A genre of music called Brit Pop emerged. London became important in the film industry.

In the Noughties house prices shot  up. Immigration kept building. London’s population went over 7 000 000. Crime fell but there were large scale terrorist attacks. The transport system was upgraded and trams returned after 50 years.

In the 2010s immigrants has still continued. The economy grew fast and house prices outpaced the economy. London became the most influential city on the plant. A controversial issue is the possibility of expanding the major airport – Heathrow. The population is now 8 000 000.


  1. Which architect was mainly responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire?
  2. What is the name of the main cathedral in London?
  3. Who was Wren’s assistant?
  4. 17th century copied its architecture from which other European land?
  5. What unusual headgear did upper class men wear in the late 18th century?
  6. Who found the Methodist Church?
  7. Who set up the Foundling Hospital?
  8. What is a foundling?
  9. Why does Guy’s Hospital have that name?
  10. What is the original name of the Times newspaper?
  11. Where did executions take place in the 18th century?
  12. What was the Great Exhibition? Five marks.
  13. When did the London Underground open?
  14. Who built the Embankment?
  15. What was the Great Stink?
  16. What is Albertopolis?
  17. In which year did Jack the Ripper strike?
  18. Name five nationalities that moved to London during this era. Five marks.
  19. What was the population of London in 2 000 000?
  20. What groups of people were evacuated in 1939?
  21. Why did some East Enders move out in 1945?
  22. What was the problem with London air in the 1950s?
  23. What does GLC stand for?
  24. Who led the GLC in the 1980s?
  25.  When was the GLC abolished?
  26. What is the main airport?
  27. Why is this city so important? Five marks.






Curious names.


Mr Watt

Nominative determinism. Maybe that explains why Watt invented stuff.

Inquisitive Chinamen – Hu Wat Wai Wen Hao.

A chap who concerns himself with location – Mr Wen.

London middle history



In 1066 the population of London stood at about 8 000. It was much bigger than the next most populous city York which has around 4 000 inhabitants. Normans occupied many prominent positions in London. They spoke Norman French. This started to affect the Anglo-Saxon language. London was a mile around St Paul’s Cathedral. To the east was Essex. To the west was the City of Westminster. To the north was the county of Middlesex. The River Thames formed the southern boundary of the city. South of the river lay the counties of Kent and Surrey.

Traders from Flanders and the like came to London. The country exported wool to the continent.

The city expanded gradually. Most buildings were built of wood. Only the government built in stone. Many wooden buildings burnt down. People threw their refuse onto the street.

William Rufus was the second son of William the Conqueror. William Rufus became king after his father. William Rufus built Westminster Hall. It is the oldest building in London. It is now part of Parliament.

The Palace of Westminster was build about this time. It was an island called Thorneycroft. The Jewel Tower remains from the original structure. Later the streams were covered over and the Thorneycroft area is an island no more.

Jewish people arrived in London in the 11th century. They lived on Jewry Street and built the Great Synagogue. They were discriminated against by law. They worked as money lenders.

In 1189 Richard the Lionheart became king. He perceived England as a source of money. He created the post of Lord Mayor of London. Only wealthy merchants were allowed to vote for the lord mayor. Under Richard the Lionheart the first pogrom took place.

Henry III expanded Westminster Abbey. Most of what we see today dates from his time.

The population had grown very considerably by the mid 14th century. Then bubonic plague arrived. It was known as the Black Death. It killed almost half the populace.

In 1381 the Peasants’ Revolt occurred. Peasants from Kent and Essex stormed London. They robbed many citizens. They killed any Flemings whom they found. The Savoy Palace was burnt down by the rebels. The Tower of London was stormed by them and they executed the Archbishop of Canterbury Simon Sudbury.

Richard II agreed to meet the peasants at Mile End. The Lord Mayor of London was Sir William Walworth. Walworth killed the peasant leader Watt Tyler. The peasants drew their bows and were about to fire arrows. Richard II was quick thinking he rode forward and promised the rebels that all their demands were granted. They dispersed in peace.

Richard II broke his promises 15 days later. The rebel leaders were tracked down and executed.

In the 16th century Henry VIII suppressed many religious houses. These properties were seized  by the crown. The city continued to expand due to commerce with the continent.

In the 16th century there was a lot of fighting in London. People fought over religious controversies and dynastic power struggles. Many European Protestants moved to London. In the late 16th century theatre flourished in London. William Shakespeare was around. His friend Christopher Marlowe also wrote plays.

The City of London would not allow theatres. So theatres were founded south of the river in the town of Southwark (pronounced ”SUTH – uk”). This was in the county of Surrey. Southwark was sin city. London Bridge connected it to the city. There was a toll to cross the bridge. Some people took boats instead. There were also houses of ill fame in Southwark.

Puritanism was a powerful force. This was an austere attitude that disapproved of entertainment.

The flowering of culture under Elizabeth meant people called her Gloriana. Under Good Queen Bess trade expanded. The city grew rich from pirates raiding the Spanish Main. That was the main route for Spanish ships to sail to the New World.

A sea captain named Jack Hawkins sailed to Africa. African nations often belaboured each other. Those who were vanquished were taken into servitude. These chattel slaves were sold to Hawkins and those of this ilk. These ill-fated people were then taken across the Atlantic. They were forced to toil under threat of the lash. Elizabeth I authorized this. The wealth of London was based on this.

Many Londoners dwelt in penury. They inhabited ghastly hovels like garden sheds. They moaned for cold in the winter. There was no sewage system and human waste was cast into the river. Many children wore rags and had no clothes. Crime was severely punished. People were put to death for grand larceny. Even children were executed for theft.

In the 17th century the printing trade really took off in London. More people were literate. The city did well in the plastic arts. The city prospered in the 1620s due to a long period of peace. Germany had started to tear itself apart due to the Thirty Years War. However, then a war started against Spain. Much prosperity was lost.

Charles I bought many Dutch Old Masters to beautify the city. He built the Banqueting House as part of the Palace of Whitehall. Whitehall burnt down in 1698 but the Banqueting Hall still stands.

In 1642 the English Civil War broke out. London took the side of Parliament. There was fighting to the west. However, the city itself was unscathed.

In the 1660s Charles II brought gaiety to the city. It had been austere under Cromwell.

In 1666 the Great Fire of London erupted. It was started by Fournier in Pudding Mill Lane. Appositely his name means ‘oven’ in French. Charles II was informed about the fire. So was the diarist Samuel Pepys. He said ”a woman could pish it out.” However, it was far worse than that. Thousands of houses were burnt to the ground. Many churches were destroyed. Many persons were immolated. Charles II came to superintend the effort to put out the flames.

After a few days of warm wind there was rain. Finally the fire was doused. Some believed that the mighty conflagration was divine retribution for Charles II’s private life. He was a most flagrant womanizer. Therefore the Almighty sent the fire to punish a licentious nation for tolerating a king who was such a libertine and an adulterer.

The children’s round (song) dates from this time.

London’s burning, London’s burning

Fire fire, fire fire!

Fetch the engines, fetch the engines

 fire fire, fire fire!

 Pour on water, pour on water.

Two or more groups sing that. They do it at different times so they overlap.


  1. What was the population of London in 1066?
  2.  Which city was England’s second largest at that time?
  3. Which language did many Londoners speak in the late 11th century besides English?
  4. Which cathedral was the focal point of London at that time?
  5. Which county lay north of London?
  6. Which county was to the east?
  7. Which two counties lay south of the Thames?
  8. Which city was due west of London?
  9. Which other religion was represented in London besides Christianity?
  10. Which king created the office of Lord Mayor?
  11. Who extended Westminster Abbey?
  12. Which built Westminster Hall?
  13. Why does Thorneycroft Island no longer exist?
  14. Which part of Westminster Palace still stands?
  15. What disease killed half Londoners in the 1340s?
  16. In which year did the Peasants’ Revolt occur?
  17.  Who was king in 1381?
  18. Who led the peasants?
  19. Who killed Watt Tyler?
  20. Which king closed many religious houses?
  21. Which queen was known as Gloriana?
  22.  Who were two late 16th century playwrights?
  23.  Where were theatres built at this time?
  24.  Why did some take the boat to Southwark not the bridge?
  25. Which side did London take in the Civil War?
  26. Which king bought Dutch Old Masters?
  27.  What year was the Great Fire?
  28.  What did Pepys say about the fire when it started?
  29. Did the fire do much damage?
  30. Where did the fire start?
  31.  What song commemorates the fire?




Churchill – Second World War.



Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1939. The Prime Minister was Neville Chamberlain. Churchill’s office was the Admiralty Building in London. An admiral is a man who commands many ships in the navy. That is why this building thad that name.

As soon as the war began Churchill started to make radio broadcasts to the people. He was to shore up morale and keep the public informed. The war at sea was vital. The United Kingdom has no land frontier with Germany. Therefore the only way to fight at the outset was at sea. The United Kingdom consists of islands and thus seaborne trade was crucial to the British economy. The German Navy – Kriegsmarine – began sinking British ships within hours of the declaration of war.

The war was fought in Poland at first. The Third Reich (Germany) crushed Poland within three weeks and annexed the western half of the country. France an the United Kingdom were allies against the Third Reich. The United Kingdom had a mighty empire at the time. The self-governing countries of the same were termed dominions – these included South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. They all declared war on the Third Reich. The colonies such as India, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Barbados, Zimbabwe and so on did not a choice.

The first few months of the war were called the Phoney War by the Americans. The French called it la drole de guerre (the joke war). Life in Western Europe went on almost as normal. There was rationing, the black out, gas masks were issued and children were evacuated from cities. However, there was no fighting.

In April 1940 the Third Reich invaded Norway. The British had been considering doing the same. Swedish iron ore was key to the German war economy. In the winter the Gulf of Bothnia froze solid – this was the sea to the east of Sweden. Therefore in winter Swedish iron was exported by rail to Norway and thence shipped to Germany. The Allies wished to cut Germany off from iron ore.

French and British troops landed shortly after the Germans. The Germans got the better of the fighting on land. Some German capital ships were sunk by the Royal Navy. Nonetheless the French and British were obliged to withdraw after a few months desultory fighting. The Royal Navy had failed to interdict the German landings. That reflected badly on Churchill.

Chamberlain’s stock fell due to the defeat in Norway. There then began the Norway debates in the British Parliament. He was barracked. Someone shouted at him a quotation from Cromwell, ”For God’s sake go!” Chamberlain tendered his resignation.

King George VI had to choose between the Earl of Halifax and Churchill as Prime Minister. Lord Halifax was the Foreign Secretary and an erstwhile Viceroy of India. His Gracious Majesty asked Churchill to serve as PM. Halifax was too effete, too aristocratic and too associated with appeasement. Moreover, his lordship had no served in the First World War because he was born with only one hand.  By contrast Churchill was a day one opponent of appeasement. He had the bulldog spirit and he had served in the trenches. On 10 May Churchill was invited by the king to kiss hands – become Prime Minister.

Churchill started to broadcast more frequently. He put heart into the people. He was optimistic and told people that the United States would come in on their side. Churchill had a good relationship with President Roosevelt. They made the Lend Lease Agreement. The United Kingdom leased some islands to the United States in return for 50 destroyers. British ships were being sunk at a frightening rate by the German Navy. Therefore more warships were very welcome.

In June 1940 France had been forced to surrender. Some counselled at this moment that the United Kingdom should call it quits. It was time to parley with the Third Reich. Churchill refused to open negotiations. He would fight on to the finish. Churchill was absolutely resolved. Some colleagues attempted to persuade him to open a back channel to negotiations. The war did not need to be a defeat – it could be a draw. This need not be a liquidator’s audit. Churchill would not be shaken. There seemed to be few bright spots on the horizon. The United States had long since declared its neutrality.

The French Navy was formidable. Germany controlled France. The French Vichy Government had to take orders from Berlin. Hitler could well order the French dictator Henri-Philippe Petain to hand over his warships to Germany. Indeed French sailors under German command could be ordered to sail against the Royal Navy.

The United Kingdom could not risk the French Fleet falling into enemy hands. The French Fleet rode at anchor at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria. Algeria was then French territory. The French Admiral Darlan was asked to join the Allies, scuttle his fleet, or to sail to the United States and internment. The French did not reply by the time the deadline expired. Churchill then authorized the Royal Navy to attack the French Fleet. Many French warships were sunk and over 1 000 French sailors were killed. Not a single British sailor was killed.

The Mers El Kebir attacked demonstrated British decisiveness. The United Kingdom was going to do what needed to be done. Some saw it as a treacherous blow. Moreover, France was neutral. Britain’s name was detested in France as a result of this attack.

In August 1941 Churchill sailed to Canada. He met Roosevelt aboard a warship. They signed the Atlantic Charter. The United Kingdom was able to purchase arms in the USA and bring them home. This was important because the UK was not able to manufacture as many weapons as it needed.

In June 1941 the Third Reich invaded the Soviet Union. Many Britishers were gloomy and assumed that the Wehrmacht would make short work of the Red Army. Germany would conquer the USSR and be even mightier than before from plundering Soviet resources. Churchill was well known for his outspoken anti-communism. However, he delivered a bravura pro-Soviet oration. The Soviet Union held the key to victory and Churchill knew it.

In December 1941 the Japanese attacked the United States and British colonies. The British Empire was then at war against Nippon. Three days later the Third Reich declared war on the United States. Things were looking up for the British. They had the two superpowers on their side.

The United Kingdom started shipping supplies to the USSR. They landed in the northern ports of Archangel and Murmansk. As they sailed through the Norwegian Sea they ran the gauntlet of U boats and the Luftwaffe. On these Arctic convoys some ships were sent to the bottom.

The entry of the US into the war helped the Allies win the Battle of the Atlantic. The US Navy escorted convoys across the ocean. For the German U boats the happy time was over. The wolf packs would be detected by Allies warships and attacked with depths charges. Many U boats were sent to Davey Jones’ locker.

In 1942 Churchill flew to Moscow. There he met Stalin. He did not find him affable but did his best to get along with the Georgian. Churchill tried to reassure the Soviet supremo that the Allies were doing all they could. Millions of Soviets had fallen victim to the invaders. The western Allies were not fighting properly – so Stalin said.

In India the Congress Party was agitating for independence. The Quit India campaign made life difficult for the Raj. The Japanese had annexed Malaya and Singapore. The many British defeats had undermined people’s belief that being under the British aegis was best for them.

There was a terrible famine in India in 1942. Millions of people perished. State aid was insufficient. Boats and bridges in eastern India had been destroyed to slow the expected Japanese onslaught. Churchill obstinately refused to send food supplies to save the starving Indians. Oddly, Indian politicians had little to say about this and instead clamoured for independence The Quit India campaign was busy sabotating transport systems and there by exacerbating the food distribution problems. Some Indian ultra nationalists helped the Japanese and thus aggravated the situation. They also distracted the government from assisting the hungry.

Churchill dispatched Sir Stafford Cripps to India. Cripps was a Labour politician. He spoke to Congress leaders. He agreed that there would be Indian independence after the war as soon as practicable. Churchill had wanted to preserve the empire but was persuaded that this was unfeasible.

In 1943 Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met at Tehran, Iran. They agreed the conduct of the war. Stalin still lobbied for the Allies to land in France. The Allies landed in Italy that July but that was not enough for Stalin.

In 1944 the Yalta Conference took place. Churchill and Roosevelt met Stalin at Yalta in the USSR. They made agreements about the postbellum world.

Churchill later went to Morocco where he met Roosevelt. There Churchill painted some landscapes. These were the only pictures he painted during the war.

In June 1944 Churchill landed in France. It was days after the Allied troops had stormed ashore. He had wanted to participate in D Day. King George VI had had to order him not to.

In August 1944 Churchill entered Paris with the French leader Charles de Gaulle. They walked up Les Champs Elysees together. Churchill wore his army uniform.

In 1945 Churchill entered Germany shortly after Allied troops had established a bridgehead there.

In July 1945 there was an election in the United Kingdom. Churchill went to Potsdam near Berlin for a conference with Stalin and Truman. Truman was the new American president. Churchill had to fly back after a few days to campaign in his election. He promptly lost. The new PM was Clement Attlee – the Labour leader. Attlee then flew to Potsdam and represented the United Kingdom there.


  1. What was Churchill’s job in 1939?
  2. What was the First Lord of the Admiralty in charge of?
  3. Who was the PM in 1939?
  4. In which year did the Second World War begin?
  5. Why was the fighting between the British and the Germans at sea in 1939 and not on land?
  6. Which land did the Third Reich conquer in 1939?
  7. What was the name of the German Navy?
  8. Name a British dominion in 1939?
  9. Which European country supplied most of Germany’s iron ore?
  10. Which country did Germany invade in April 1940?
  11. Which European land was the UK’s main ally until June 1940?
  12. Who was the French dictator?
  13. Where was the French Fleet in 1940?
  14. Why did the Royal Navy sink the French Fleet?
  15. Who was the Soviet leader at this time?
  16. Who was the US president?
  17. When did Churchill become PM?
  18. Who was Churchill’s rival to become PM?
  19. Who was the king?
  20. Where did Churchill first meet Stalin?
  21. What was Churchill’s view on India?
  22. Did Churchill take part in D Day?
  23. In which Iranian city did Churchill meet Stalin?
  24. Who was the US president who was at Potsdam?
  25. When did Churchill lose an election?
  26. What was Churchill’s failing in relation to the Indian famine? Three marks.
  27. Who was PM after Churchill?
  28. What do you think of Churchill’s conduct of the war? Five marks.



Winston Churchill – First World War


In 1914 Winston Churchill was made First Lord of the Admiralty. That means he was the cabinet minister responsible for the Royal Navy. Winston was at a cabinet meeting in August 1914. The First World War had broken out. The United Kingdom intended to remain at peace. However, Germany invaded Belgium. Should the UK intervene or not? Most cabinet ministers were still minded to say that the UK should stay neutral. Winston argued vociferously that the country was duty bound to defend Belgium. By the end of the cabinet meeting they were unanimous. The United Kingdom must fight.

On 4 August 1914 the United Kingdom went to war. The German High Seas Fleet had been expanded greatly over the past few years. It was expected that there would be a naval clash of the titans.

The first few naval skirmishes did not go well for the Royal Navy. This was ominous as the United Kingdom desperately needed to maintain maritime supremacy. There was one success – the Battle of the Coronel.

By 1915 the Western Front was a stalemate. Winston suggested attacking Germany’s feebler allies  – that way Germany could be defeated without huge loss of life on the Western Front. Winston spoke about a naval assault against Turkey to force the Straits of the Bosphorus.

There was a naval attack in March 1915. The Ottomans beat it off with heavy losses. In April 1915 there was a landing at Gallipoli. The Allies suffered significant losses. The losses mounted and the Allies made almost no gain. Churchill’s friend Ian Hamilton was commander. Hamilton was killed.

In January 1916 the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli. Churchill had to carry the can for Gallipoli. It was his baby. However, he was by no means the only person to advocate this attack. Moreover, it was not a fiasco – it has caused severe losses to the Ottomans.

Churchill decided to prove his dedication to the cause and expiate his supposed disaster at Gallipoli. He resigned from the cabinet but remained a Member of Parliament for Manchester North-West. He joined the Royal Scots as an officer. His regiment served on the Western Front. He was devoted to the wellbeing of his men and handed out cigars. He was a chain smoker.

By the end of the war Churchill was back in the war cabinet. This was a small group of men who ran the war effort. It was not the full cabinet of twenty-five. Churchill had set his face like flint against a negotiated peace. He believed that the enemy needed to be thrashed and then offered lenient terms.

In 1918 there was an election. A minority of Liberals backed the Prime Minister Lloyd George who was a Liberal. Churchill was a Lloyd George Liberal. Most Liberals supported Asquith who was still leader of the party. Lloyd George had the support of most Conservatives. The Labour Party emerged as a major force.

Churchill was in the cabinet until 1922. He was an outspoken advocate of defeating the IRA. One of the foremost IRA men was Michael Collins.

In 1921 it was decided to parley with the IRA. Collins came to London and met Churchill. The two formed an instant bond. Churchill noted he had had 1 000 pounds as a price on his head in South Africa. Collins retorted that the price on his had been 10 000 pounds.

The next year Collins was shot dead by other IRA men. Churchill lauded the man who had once been his inveterate foe ”the valiant leader of a gallant race.”

Churchill later lost his seat. He left the Liberal Party. He stood for election as a Constitutionalist in Westminster City. He failed. Later he was elected Member of Parliament for Dundee. His Scottish National opponent had been his adjutant in the army – now his agitant!

In the late 1920s Churchill became a Conservative. His party returned to government. He was made Chancellor of the Exchequer. He brought the country back onto the gold standard despite his better judgment. The suits in the City had liked it. This decision turned out to be catastrophic. It increased unemployment. The UK was eventually obliged to abandon the gold standard.

In 1929  Churchill’s party lost office. The Labour Government came in. Churchill became MP for Wanstead and Woodford. This is in north-east London. It is considered to be in Essex.

In 1931 the National Government was formed. It consisted mostly of Tories. Churchill was not offered a cabinet post. He became a curmudgeon. He had almost met Hitler in 1932 but the latter had to cancel. Winston wrote warmly of Hitler in 1935. He soon changed his tune and railed against Nazism.

In the 1930s Churchill wrote the World Crisis and a biography of his most illustrious ancestor the Duke of Marlborough. Churchill made plenty of money from his writing. He also accepted gifts from people. This would not be permitted now. He lived in opulence and drank dom Perignon champagne.

Churchill’s son Randolph went to Eton. Thence he went up to Christ Church, Oxford. This was the most distinguished college in the university. Randolph went down without a degree. He was regarded as being a foolish hothead. Randolph dabbled in journalism.

In 1933 the Oxford Union debated a motion, ‘This House would under no circumstances fight for King and Country.’  The motion was carried. Randolph considered it a disgrace. He returned to Oxford and proposed that the record of the debate be stricken from the record – this was to overturn the result. His bid failed.

In the late 1930s more and more people listened to Winston. His prognostications on the Third Reich proved to be prescient. Nancy Astor was  Tory MP and the leader of the appeasers. She had said to him ”Winston if I were married to you I would poison your coffee.” He riposted ”If I were married to you I would drink it.”

In 1939 the UK Government dropped its appeasement policy. The PM was Neville Chamberlain. On 3 September 1939 His Majesty declared war on the Third Reich over the invasion of Poland. Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty again.

A message was sent to all ships of the Royal Navy ”Winston is back.”


  1. What cabinet post did Churchill have in 1914?
  2. Did Churchill advocate fighting in 1914?
  3. What was Churchill’s idea about Gallipoli?
  4.  Who was his friend killed at Gallipoli?
  5.  Was Gallipoli a British triumph?
  6. Which regiment did Churchill serve in in 1916?
  7. Did Churchill favour a negotiated settlement?
  8.  Did Churchill take Asquith’s side?
  9.  Who was the PM in 1918?
  10. What did Churchill want to do to the IRA?
  11. What persiflage did Churchill engage in with Collins?
  12.  How did Churchill describe Collins on the latter’s death?
  13. Which constituency did Churchill represent in 1918?
  14.  Which seat did Churchill stand for an lose in 1922?
  15.  Where was he elected in 1924?
  16.  Which seat did he sit for in the 1930s?
  17. What cabinet office did he have in the late 1920s?
  18.  What did he do about the gold standard?
  19. What did he think about Hitler by the late 1930s?
  20.  What books did he write in the 1930s?
  21.  What did he drink?
  22. # Did he smoke?
  23. What was his son’s name?
  24. What did Randolph try to do about the King and Country debate?
  25. What did Nancy Astor say to Winston?
  26. Who was the PM in 1939?
  27.  What did the UK do on 3 September 1939?
  28. What job was Churchill given that day?
  29. What do you make of him? Five marks.


Churchill – before the First World War.



Winston Churchill is famous for having been Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He was an renaissance man – he was a fencing champion, a declaimer, a pilot, an army officer, an outstanding journalist and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In November 1874 Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace. This is a huge house a few miles north of Oxford, United Kingdom. This house belonged to his grandfather the Duke of Marlborough. The Churchill family had been prominent landowners in western England for centuries. They had taken the Royalist side in the English Civil War. Sir John Churchill had been a general in the army. He had thrown in his lot with William of Orange in 1688. This had been important in achieving victory for William of Orange who then became King William III.

In the early 18th century the United Kingdom was involved in the War of Spanish Succession. Sir John Churchill fought on the continent. He achieved some resounding victories – the Battle of Malplaquet, the Battle of Oudernarde and best of all the Battle of Blenheim. A grateful Parliament voted him an enormous honorarium. He was also given a house paid for by the public purse. This is Blenheim Palace. It is named after the German village of Blindheim where he chalked up his most magnificent victory. The trees at Blenheim are laid out to represent troop positions at the battle. Sir John’s wife was also a dear friend of the queen which also helped Sir John’s advancement. Sir John was then awarded the title Duke of Marlborough. This title passed from father to son. However, it only does to the eldest son.

Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill’s father was Lord Randolph Churchill. Lord Randolph was the younger son of the Duke of Marlborough. Therefore Sir Winston was not in line to inherit the title the Duke of Marlborough. Winston Churchill’s mother was Jennie Jerome. Jennie was born in New York the daughter of a very affluent businessman.

Jennie had come to the British Isles with a view to wedding a British aristocrat. She met Lord Randolph at Cowes Week – a yachting event. They married months later and became pregnant straightaway. They were at a ball at Blenheim when she was indisposed. She was taken into a side room and gave birth. Churchill was born 8 months after his parents’ marriage so he was premature. It could of course be that his mother was pregnant before they married.

Winston moved to London. His father was a prominent Conservative politician. Winston had a brother Jack who was a few years younger. After Jack’s birth the parents fell out badly and lived separately. Randolph was a libertine. Jennie also took lovers. The press did not dare report a word of this.

Lord Randolph was made Under Secretary of State for Ireland. His father, the Duke of Marlborough, was the Viceroy of Ireland. That meant that the duke represented the queen in Ireland. Lord Randolph Churchill lived in the Viceregal Lodge in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Winston went with his father. Winston got to know a kindly Irish functionary named T H Burke. This nice Mr Burke was stabbed to death by revolutionaries. When Winston learnt that this lovely man had been done to death he developed a passionate loathing of Irish republicanism.

Winston went to St George’s School in Ascot. It was a harsh all boys boarding school. The headmaster was a flagelomaniac. Winston hated it there. He mastered the rudiments of Latin which was a core subject. That school has since become a girl’s school.

Lord Randolph had attended Eton. However, he sent Winston to Harrow which is Eton’s rival. When Winston was a teenager he noticed his father become irascible. His father started to speak in rambling sentences. This word salad was symptomatic of a mental decline. Why was a man who was barely 40 losing his cognitive faculties. He was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis. This was considered a disgrace. The cause of Lord Randolph’s decline was a closely guarded secret. It leaked out and later people used to rib Winston about it.

All the boys at Harrow School had to line up and pass by the headmaster in a line in alphabetical order. Many members of the public came to watch. Winston disliked being so far down the alphabet with the surname Spencer-Churchill. So he dropped the Spencer. He became known as Winston Churchill. He did not do well academically. However, he excelled at fencing. He was short – only 5’5” but valiant. He was not smart enough to win a place at university. In fact Winston was in the army class – this was for dim boys who went on to be army officers. He was neglected by both parents. He was very close to his nanny Mrs Everest.

Sandhurst was the Royal Military Academy.  Winston decided to win a place there. Of those who wished to be army officers the clever ones become medical officers, officers of engineers or of artillery. The half clever ones became infantry officers. The dolts became cavalry officers. Winston joined the cavalry.

When Winston was 20 years old his nanny died. He had called her Womany. Churchill felt more for her than he did for both his parents. He paid for Mrs Everest’s funeral. That same year his father died. Winston’s mother remarried. Her second husband was only one year older than Winston which Winston found deeply embarrassing.

India was then the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. Winston went thither and he thought it would be banal. He read for pleasure and considered himself a Liberal in politics. However, his family were Conservatives.

Churchill was sent to what is now Pakistan. He fought in the Malakand Field Force. There he deliberately exposed himself to fire even when there was no sound reason to do so. He wished to acquire a reputation for valour.

Winston Churchill left the army. He became a journalist. He served as a war correspondent. He managed to have himself sent to Cuba to cover the insurrection against Spanish rule. He felt some sympathy for the insurgents. Later he was attached to the British Army in the Sudan. He met Field Marshal Lord Kitchener. He fought in the last ever British cavalry charge. He killed a few men at the Battle of Omdurman. He wrote, ”How easy it is to kill a man.” He wrote a book about the conflict entitled The River War.

In 1899 Churchill went to South Africa as a war correspondent. He covered the conflict there. However, he took part in combat. Other journalists thought this was outrageous. He was supposed to observe and not to fight. He was endangering all journalists. He was captured by the enemy. He managed to excape.

By hiding on a train Churchill was able to escape to Lourenco Marques – the capital of Portuguese South-East Africa. The war was going dismally for the British. Churchill’s flight to freedom was the only good news story in the newspapers. He was already a famous journalist.

Churchill returned to the United Kingdom. He was feted for his deed of derring do. He was then elected to Parliament. He stood as a Conservative. He worked hard on his oratory. Some felt his style was too orotund and studied.

In 1904 it was clear that the Conservatives were deeply unpopular. He jumped ship. Churchill became a Liberal. Many suspected that this was cynicism and not due to any change of heart.

In 1905 the Liberals were ushered into government. The 1906 election came up. The Liberals were keen to use Churchill. He was a war hero and a good way to win over former Conservatives. He said that a Conservative victory would mean ”cheap for for the millions and dear bread for the millionaire.” He was alluding to the Conservative tariff policy which would increase food prices. Winston scorned the doddering peers of the Tory side.

The 1906 election resulted into a famous victory for the Liberal. Churchill was soon in the Cabinet. In 1908 the Liberal Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman stood down because he was terminally ill. Henry Herbert Asquith became Prime Minister. Asquith promoted Churchill still further. He became Home Secretary. That is in charge of prisons and the police.

A firm believer in the death penalty – Churchill was not a Liberal in the modern sense. He introduced fines for petty offences. He also shepherded through legislation allowing people tea breaks at work. Winston had grown up in immense privilege. Around 1900 he had walked around poor areas and seen how badly the working class lived. This made him determined to assist them.

Early in his cabinet career he married Clementine Hosier. They were engaged when he proposed to her at Blenheim Palace. The Grecian temple were he popped the question still stands. They had five children.

There were more and more strikes in the Edwardian period. Law and order was threatened. As Home Secretary Winston Churchill ordered troops onto the streets of Tonypandy. Some rioters were killed. Churchill was detested by much of the Welsh proletariat for this.

In London some anarchists opened fire in a bank robbery. The robbers fled to a house in East London. Churchill called out the Scots Guards from the Tower of London. They trapped the robbers in the house. There was a shoot out and a fire broke out. The robbers were all killed. Churchill had been at the scene with a gun. Some saw him as a glory boy.

In  1912 the issue of Home Rule for Ireland came up. In 1885 Winston’s father Lord Randolph had led the charge against it. He had said it would stab a dagger into the heart of the British Empire. Winston took a different view from his father. He campaigned for it. He went to Belfast and spoke at the Celtic football stadium there in favour of Home Rule. A loyalist mob surrounded his car and might have killed him had his wife not been in the car too.


  1. In which year was Churchill born?
  2.  Which month was he born?
  3.  Which building was he born in?
  4.  Who owned Blenheim Palace?
  5. What are the origins of the Churchill family?
  6.  Why did Parliament pay for Blenheim Palace?
  7. What was the name of Winston Churchill’ father?
  8. Who was his mother?
  9. What was Winston’s full name?
  10. Who was Winston’s brother?
  11. What was the name of Winston’s first school?
  12. What was the name of his secondary school?
  13. Was he good at school?
  14. How tall was he?
  15. Why did he join the cavalry?
  16. What military academy did he attend?
  17. What job did he do after leaving the army?
  18. Why did he dislike Irish republicanism?
  19. Where in Ireland did he live?
  20.  Which foreign country did he live in with the army?
  21. Where did the Malakand Field Force fight?
  22. What was his book about Sudan called?
  23.  Which Caribbean island did he spend time in?
  24. What was his view on the death penalty?
  25. Where was he taken a prisoner of war?
  26. Why did some journalists dislike him?
  27. Why was he feted by the public in 1900?
  28. Which party was he in when first elected to Parliament?
  29. In 1904 he joined which party?
  30.  What did his enemies say about him crossing the floor?
  31. What policy did he skewer the Tories on in 1906?
  32. Who was the Liberal PM in 1906?
  33.  Who became PM in 1908?
  34. What cabinet position did Churchill have under Asquith?
  35.  Why did Churchill send troops to Tonypandy?
  36.  Which regiment defeated robbers in London under Churchill?
  37. How did Churchill start to feel sorry for the poor?
  38. What were Churchill’s gifts? Five marks
  39. What were his failings? Five marks
  40.  WHat is your opinion of him? Five marks.