Listener Bridget Long tries to confirm that her late father played oboe in a Benjamin Britten premiere while being held in a German POW camp
Henry’s Lost Map
By permission of the British Library.
Henry VIII’s siege of Boulogne in 1544.
A regular contributor to Making History, the British Library’s Keeper of Maps Peter Barber, thinks he has discovered a lost “view” from Henry VIII’s siege of Boulogne in 1544. The image is part of the Cotton Collection and spent much of the recent past on the shelves of the Library’s archives until Peter had a ‘eureka’ moment a few months back. His theory is that this is the fourth and final ‘map’ of a series commissioned by Henry to not only mark his successful attack on Boulogne but publicise it in England and beyond – effectively Tudor spin.
Peter told Making History that he knew he had made an important discovery. “I realised immediately that this was the final picture in the Boulogne series. There was no question in my mind: everything was right, the view, the scale, even the buildings. Then I noticed that one of the buildings had the salamander of Francis I of France, his personal symbol, therefore the drawing had to be contemporaneous with Henry VIII and his campaign.”
The Boulogne drawing will be on display at the British Library from 23 April to 6 September 2009 as part of the exhibition Henry VIII - see links section on this page
Until Christmas 2008, all Making History listener Bridget Long really knew about her late father’s , John Lymbery, war service was that he spent four years in the officer’s PoW camp Oflag 7B in Bavaria. He passed the time gaining qualifications that would go towards a career in medicine and playing his oboe for a little, much needed, light relief. However, a family get together over the festive season certainly put some flesh on these rather sketchy historical bones. Bridget’s elderly mother got out a box of photographs to show her grandchildren and one or these showed John Lymbery in an orchestra. What’s more, Bridget’s mother then announced that her late husband had played in a piece written by Benjamin Britten and premiered at Oflag 7B in 1944. Sadly John Lymbery died thirty years ago, so Bridget Long turned to Making History to try and confirm this story.
Making History consulted Nick Clarke, the Librarian at the Britten-Pears Foundation in Aldeburgh, Suffolk and he confirmed that Britten had indeed written “Little Musgrave” to be performed at Oflag 7B and that it was part of a much bigger music festival that was put on in the camp.
A Making History listener who lives near Stockport contacted the programme after a short bear in Ireland last autumn. After a pleasant afternoon’s blackberry picking she realised how much effort had gone into filing just one bowl for just one blackberry crumble. “How on earth”, she wrote, “were our hunter-gatherer forebears able to forage enough food to live on?”
Making History consulted Professor Larry Barham and Dr Jessica Pearson at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. Here they carry out stable isotope analysis on Mesolithic remains and this can tell us a lot about what British hunter-gatherer tribes were eating, what types of diseases they contracted and how long they lived. Remarkably, it seems that our pre-farming ancestors were as healthy as we are today. Indeed, if they survived infancy, they could expect to live to 70 years old. It seems that diseases came in with farming and living close to cattle. What’s more, this was an active population and a healthy mixed diet of meat, fish, fruit and nuts was relatively widely available.