Interview with author John Paul Davis

It has been a pleasure to interview renowned thriller writer  and historian John Paul Davis via email. The questions relate to John Paul Davis'  interest in the 17th century,which is only one aspect of this writer's work.In fact the first John Paul Davis book I read was his biography of Henry III 'The Gothic King'  which is rather good.The author's websites are linked to the foot of the page. Michael Bully, 5th September 2020


1) The 1666 Fire of London features heavily in your thriller 'The Crown Jewels Conspiracy', when a contemporary gang of renegades attempt to reconstruct the fire in our century via launching a terrorist attack. Intrigued to read in your Afterword to the novel about the claims that the 1666 Fire was an act of deliberate arson. How seriously were they taken at the time? How seriously should the deliberate arson theory be taken now? 

At the time, it was taken very seriously. Shortly after the fire, one Robert Hubert, a watchmak…

Crabchurch Conspiracy 2020

Crabchurch Conspiracy  Weymouth , Saturday 29th February 2020

After  devoting a lot of time to launching  the 13th century blog this year's  Crabchurch Conspiracy event,was sufficient enough to get 'A Burnt Ship'  back into life.

  At the start of 1645 the twin coastal towns of  Weymouth and Wycombe Regis were held by Parliamentarians under the command of Sir William Sydenham and his two brothers Francis and Thomas. At midnight on 9th February  two Royalist forces made up of men from Portland attacked and seized the two main local forts at Nothe and Chapelhay. Within an hour Major Francis Sydenham organised a counter attack in a bid to retake the Chapel fort. This failed and Francis died the following morning from his wounds. The Parliamentarians managed to still hold on to Melcombe. After a number of days of facing bombardment, the Parliamentarians, numbered around 1,300 men, received news that a Royalist army under Lord Goring of some 8,000 men were going to take back th…

A novel about Gerrard Winstanley (1609- 1676)

David Caute - 'Comrade Jacob'

Digger tract by William Everard from 1649  -courtesy Wikipedia- in public domain     

Author and playwright David Caute ( born 1936) , attended seminars given by historian Christopher Hill at Oxford University in the late 1950's. Christopher Hill (1912-2003) , one time master of Balliol College, a Communist who broke with the more orthodox party line following the 1956 Soviet  invasion of Hungary, depicted the British Civil Wars as 'The English Revolution' -the title of his first book published in 1940. Hill became a specialist in the study of the Puritanism, and also the radical sects associated with the Commonwealth. And so the young David Caute was introduced to the Diggers, in particular their most famous thinker, Gerrard Winstanley, originally from Wigan. A group of land squatters, most known for establishing a commune at St George's Hill, near Cobham, Surrey in April 1649, the Diggers or True Levellers, were amongst radical …

Jemahl Evans -'The Emerald Cross'

Blandford Candy Let Loose in the New World 

The 'Emerald Cross'  is the fourth' Blandford Candy' novel ; a series that began with The Last Roundhead'- and pleased to say that maintains the high standard of the earlier books. Has been described as 'Flashman meets the Three Musketeers',  with Candy as an 'endearing rogue'.

 Opens in 1720 when Candy is a  crabby old curmudgeon, managing to get locked up for assaulting William Hiseland, who claimed to be the last surviving veteran of the English Civil War, having fought on Royalist side as the Battle of Edgehill . There are a fair number of laughs and the 1720 section reminds me of Smollet's 'Humphrey Clinker . But the 18th century story line is a secondary theme : The core of the book concerns Blandford Candy, accompanied by John Coxton , venturing to the New World in March 1646. After sampling the delights of  the Dutch city of New Amsterdam, later to become New York, they find themselves virt…

Civil War London -Interview with Robin Rowles

Interview with tour-guide and author Robin Rowles 

 Image used courtesy of 'Pen & Sword' Books 

Delighted to be able to interview Robin Rowles, author of 'The Civil War in London : Voices from the City ' ( 'Pen & Sword' ,2018)  via email.

I have asked Robin to introduce to himself.

I am a City of London Tour Guide, working as a self employed member of 'Footprints of London Ltd'. In 2012 I developed a walk 'Civil War connections around St Paul's and Cheapside. The title is a nod to Dr Johnson's  Tour Through The Whole Island of Great Britain. News of my walk obviously spread, very flattering, because in September 2016 I received a tweet from 'Pen and Sword'. Would I be interested in writing a book about Sherlock Holmes and London? I replied no! Not because I doubted my ability to write one, but I knew the market was nearly saturated with the topic. However, I added that I could write about the civil war in London.


Review of Jemahl Evans 'Of Blood Exhausted'

Keep Your Friends Close and Enemies Closer 

It was a treat to begin 2019 with a new Blandford Candy tale by Jemahl Evans . 'Of Blood Exhausted' is the third picaresque novel, following the adventures of Sir Blandford Candy during the English Civil War, who joined the parliamentary side almost by default.

The novel opens in 1720,  with Candy as an elderly curmudgeon, being invited to meet Sarah Churchill, though most of the novel is set in London in 1644-1645, along with a trip to Amsterdam . The picture of Parliamentarian London is evoked by pox doctors, assassins,spies swordmasters, and menacing characters such as the Black Bear and the Burned Man. Certainly not the New Jerusalem preachers were hoping for.

It is soon apparent that Blandford Candy is a Parliamentarian by instinct and feeling, not prone to sanctimonious or puritanical whimsy.  A description of parliament is hardly idealistic, rows of honourable and dishonourable MPs are depicted as  crows sitt…

M R James -The Uncommon Prayer Book

'The Uncommon Prayer Book' and Psalm 109 

                                               M.R.James in 1900 courtesy of 'Wikipedia'

New years greetings to all visitors this blog and hope that you all have an inspiring 2019. Have spent a great deal of the festive season researching my other interest, World War 2 poetry, and also have written a short article for The Cromwell Association newsletter.

To start the year off with a consideration - how should the Psalms be treated when considering whether or not there is such a genre as 16th or 17th century war poetry ?  Of course  Psalters, personal collection of selected  psalms, sometimes illustrated, had been in circulation for centuries, often copied out by hand. But in Latin or Greek. When and why did the Psalms start to have wider circulation and influence?

Christopher Hill in his seminal work 'The English Bible and the Seventeenth Century Revolution' looked at the use of the Psalms . His case was th…