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A very brief history of witch hunting in Scotland

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If you have read about witch hunts in England, such as the true cases of the Pendle Witches, do not think for a second that Scotland was immune to this phenomenon.

There have in fact been a number of witch trials that took place in counties such as Lothian, Strathclyde and Fife in 1590-91, 1597, 1628-31, 1649-50 and 1661-62. A total of 3,837 people are thought to have been officially accused of witchcraft and about 2,500 were executed.

The late 1500s also saw the Scottish Reformation which established the Scottish Presbyterian church called the Kirk, a Protestant system that brought about radical changes to society.

Often compared to English Puritanism, Scottish Presbyterianism implemented strict rules on the arts, architecture, education, and morality, while fighting against superstitious or frivolous activities.

Following the creation of the Reform Parliament in 1560, the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 was passed, banning the practice of witchcraft. Meanwhile, King James VI, who ascended the Scottish throne at just 13 months, following the forced abdication of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Baptized a Catholic, but raised as a Protestant, he ruled Scotland from 1567 and, after the death of Elizabeth I and the Union of Crowns in 1603, also England and Ireland. James was quite interested in witchcraft and its abolition and with him hard times began for all those accused of witchcraft.

It was the King who questioned Geillis Duncan, a young woman accused of witchcraft and tortured, her story also appears in Outlander. During his reign, many educated people began to question the witch trials, but the King was convinced he was doing the right thing. Actually,  he became more and more convinced when he also became king of England he decided to change the English laws to make it easier to try and execute witches.

Although witchcraft was seen as a form of heresy, very few doomed witches were burned at the stake in Scotland. For most of those sentenced to death, they were strangled with a rope and then burned at the stake.

The search for the “Devil’s Mark”, however, a mark bestowed on anyone who has made a pact with the devil, began in Scotland. It involved a body search using pins to find a spot that was  numb, sometimes performed by “stinging” specialists.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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History

For the first time you can visit Buckingham Palace’s gardens

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For the first time, the famous Queen’s Gardens at Buckingham Palace will be opened. Normally only the Royal Family and those invited to the Queen’s parties can see them. The reason for this decision is that this summer there will be no traditional opening of part of the building because of the pandemic and to compensate they open the gardens.

Visitors will be able to wander the garden paths and experience the calm of this garden in the heart of London. You will see Horse Chestnut Avenue, the plane trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the famous lake with its bee island of Buckingham Palace. You can also have a picnic on one of the lawns. The gardens will be open from 9 July to 19 September but there are also weekend tours in April and May. You can book your tickets here

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The statue remembering the children of Kindertransport

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You might have seen the bronze monument at the entrance to Liverpool Street Station. You may not know what it is. The statue depicts the children of the Kindertransport which brought over 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to the United Kingdom.

We can see a little girl sitting on a suitcase with a teddy bear in her hand. The boy to her right holds a satchel and a violin case. The older girl behind him looks away as they wait to be picked up and separated.

The names of the cities on a stretch of track behind them show the places of origin of the children: Cologne – Hanover – Nuremberg – Stuttgart – Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Bremen – Munich, Gdansk – Wroclaw – Prague – Hamburg – Mannheim – Leipzig – Berlin – Vienna

Between December 1938 and September 1939, nearly 10,000 Jewish children arrived on Liverpool Street via the port of Harwich and the Netherlands. Following the attacks on synagogues and German Jews instigated by the Nazi government at the Kristallnacht from 9 to 10 November 1938, the British government allowed children under 17 to immigrate, provided they found a foster family and a benefactor willing to give a deposit of 50 pounds.

The first to come were nearly 200 children from an orphanage that had been burned down in Berlin. The German authorities allowed children to carry a suitcase and a bag, with no valuables and only a photo. No adult escorts and no train station farewells were allowed. 

10,000 children were separated and ended up in different places in Britain and few saw their parents again, many of whom died in concentration camps. A good number of the children decided to stay in Britain at the end of the war.

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The strong tornado that destroyed London Bridge

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Not many of you will know this story, but read on to find out about this extraordinary event that happened in 1091. Extraordinary not so much for having a tornado in London, but for its power.

On the morning of October 17, 1091, it seemed normal and no one was expecting a tornado. Not any  tornado, but the strongest one recorded in London. In fact, it was probably a F4 or even F5 on the Fujita scale. Incredibly destructive with winds reaching 370 km per hour!

London was then almost entirely made of wood. There was just the White Tower of the Tower of London which was about ten years old and a few masonry churches. A tornado of this type blew almost everything away. Including London Bridge at the time that was partly destroyed by the tornado but also by the Thames current, which carried it away. It was still new having been built by William the Conqueror after 1066.

The famous church of St Mary-le-Bow was badly damaged, with the roof being thrown a certain distance violently. With so much force that the nine-meter-long beams were driven into the ground and only about a meter remained outside.

The river flooded the surrounding areas and not many buildings remained standing. London Bridge was rebuilt soon after, the main bridge connecting London with the southern parts of the country. The new bridge also had a short life, in 1140 it was destroyed by a fire.

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