Anne Boleyn : A King’s Obsession

CoverHistory tells us why she died. This captivating novel shows her as she lived.

Alison Weir has an impressive body of work as a historical writer – both non-fiction and fiction – but I was amazed that she was willing to start a huge new series entitled ‘Six Tudor Queens’.

So far she has published Katharine of Aragon: The True Queen and has followed this up with the queen I am most fascinated by – Anne Boleyn.  True, Alison has written extensively on the Tudor period and possibly having previously written The Six Wives of Henry VIII had all the groundwork and research under her belt for such a massive endeavour …

Cover

My fascination for the 2nd consort of Henry VIII began as a child when I used to visit Hever Castle, the family home of the Boleyn family. Privately owned, but open to the public, there were huge grounds for kids to run themselves into exhaustion, Italian gardens, and an impressive lake. More importantly there was a small-scale castle with drawbridge over the moat that housed giant koi carp. Inside the castle there was abundant family history with an Armoury and severe looking family portraits – an ideal way to absorb an episode of English Tudor history!

There has been much information amassed about Henry’s reign and numerous mentions of Hever, but I knew very little about the formative years of Anne which is where this book – although fictional – is truly amazing.  The early relationship that Anne had with her brothers and sister; the education received at the Courts of Burgundy and France, including an early introduction to feminist writers, were the details required to make Anne a much more sympathetic character than previously portrayed.

Through the narrative we begin to understand Anne’s motivations for her behaviour at the English Court, especially concerning her indifference to the increasingly besotted Henry VIII. Political and religious alliances through marriage was something the Monarch had to consider in case it weakened present and future Tudor rule and Anne’s romantic union with Henry Percy was quickly thwarted. Anne’s outrage at this ‘slight’ made her behaviour especially cool when dealing with the King – he was not used to this in women and it had the effect of increasing his romantic ardour.

Anne was quick to realise the power this infatuation gave her. She walked the precarious path to marriage and a Crown, quickly followed by a rapid descent once Henry VIII grew bored with her. Anne, for all her feminist intellect and political astuteness did not make the connection that she was still only female in a male-dominated society — and therefore her only requirement as Queen was to provide England with a male heir. That, coupled with her misguided belief that she was ‘equal’ to Henry, proved to be her undoing.

The personal panic I felt whilst reading this – a young woman who had seriously miscalculated her ability to keep her husband enthralled, and the lengths that Henry was prepared to go to ensure a son would succeed to the English Throne again illustrates the power of the writing.

The fact that Alison Weir takes us ‘along for the ride’ is positive testament to her ability as a writer.  The reader cannot know with certainty what went on, but there is enough fact in this fictional tale to make it totally believable.

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession
by Alison Weir
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781472227621

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Family history at the library; unravelling the mysteries

I’ve just completed a six-week course on family history, ably run by colleagues here at Christchurch City Libraries. It’s been fascinating and I recommend it for anyone with an interest in history and/or their family.

Taking a class at the library gives you an insight into just how much family history information is now available. The Internet and digitisation of records have made it so much easier to find out about your family’s history, and every day more and more is added to the store of records online. By using the library’s e-resources, many of these records are free to access. Christchurch City Libraries also has a wealth of resources that are not online, such as registers for Canterbury churches, street directories and electoral rolls.

Church register index cards
Church registers index at Central Library Manchester

Once you start, it may become quite addictive. There will be some surprising finds. Some of the “family stories” that my mother told me have been proved to be quite wrong. Whether she made them up or whether she herself was wrongly informed I don’t know. Her belief that both of my great great-grandmothers (on her side) were Scots is totally untrue. There is a Scotsman, but a long, long way back. There are a large number of very poor East-Enders; perhaps Mum or her family were ashamed of them and sought to create a more romantic provenance for me.

It’s fascinating but also frustrating. My paternal grandfather seems to be a man of mystery entirely – where he came from has so far eluded me. Which one of the three Herbert James born in the same year in London was he? Through the Births, Deaths and Marriages Index I have been able to order his marriage certificate from the General Register Office in the UK, which tells me that he was the son of Richard James, so I can now head off down the correct path.

There have been some interesting discoveries; my favourites so far are Joseph Morgan Melville, who worked as a shipwright in Chatham Naval dockyards in the early Victorian period, and William Douglas, a rope-maker, also employed at Chatham around the same time.  So I chased down the website of Chatham Historic Dockyards and the Victorian Rope-works there.

William’s daughter Ellen had ten children and lived to be eighty-one; census records show her still employed as a laundress at 70. Poor women worked hard.

This is the part I enjoy most about family history, finding the social history behind the names. It takes you to places and subjects you never would have thought about otherwise. Investigating my grandfather’s role as a gunner in the First World War took me to books on field artillery, to see what kind of guns he would have lugged across Northern France. An interest in field artillery is not one I normally possess. All I have to say is no wonder he developed a hernia.

This herniation of my grandfather is also covered in his army service record; one thing about the army is that they kept good records, and these records are often a treasure trove of things you wouldn’t have been able to find out any other way. My great-uncle was dismissed from the army when they found out he had a heart-murmur; my great-great grandfather joined the East Kent Regiment of Foot and spent twelve years in India; he also had a birthmark on his left shoulder.

So if you’re thinking of compiling a family tree, these classes will be on offer again next year. In the meantime, quiz your older relatives about what they know of the family history, and work from what you yourself already know. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to bore my friends and colleagues with new discoveries about my own family.

Start your research online

Lynne, South Library and Learning Centre

Photo Hunt October: Gundry- Strong Wedding, 1902

Ethel Gundry marries Frederick Strong , 1902.
Entry 2015 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt, PH15-RoSt-Ethel_Gundry_marries_Frederick_Strong_1902 CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ

Roger Strong entered this photo of his grandparents’ wedding in the 2015 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt:  “Frederick George Howard Bach Strong marries Ethel Theresa Gundry.  The wedding toook place in Christchurch, August 20th, 1902  – Springfield Road somewhere?   The Strong family is on the groom’s side. The bride’s father was William Hickley Gundry, a prominent auditor and accountant in Christchurch. His uncle was Dr Gundry one of the first settlers along with his father Samuel Gundry. The man with the beard at the back, third to the left of the groom is the groom’s father – at that time Librarian of the Canterbury Public Library – the Strong’s lived in the library house on Cambridge terrace.”

But what is the story behind the figure cut out in the back row?

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Hits and misses with MyHeritage

I do dabble in family history research as I am fascinated by the names and stories that make up me. I am not alone as family history as a hobby is increasingly popular. There are dead ends, misleading entries and then – Bingo! –  a lead and you are off on the chase again.

MyHeritage_banner_web

Due to the popularity of family history research, big business has gotten involved and now most family history library edition eResources such as Ancestry and Find My Past are available in libraries only. This ensures the popularity of individual subscriptions for those who like to seek out new family branches from the comfort of home.

db-My-Heritage-CKEY879406There is though one exception to this rule and that is MyHeritage which is the only genealogical eResource libraries offer that can be accessed from home. By using MyHeritage you can see:

Census of England and Wales (1841-1901) and the USA federal census (1790-1940) with images;

1.5 billion exclusive family tree profiles;

Millions of cemetery headstones and historical photographs;

Government, land and court records including citizenship and naturalization records;

Wills and probate records.

I had a quick play recently and found myself rather taken aback on two levels. Firstly some of the family tree profiles were incorrect which annoyed the hell out of me – family trees can be submitted by any MyHeritage members. Secondly I found myself looking at pictures of my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather which I had never seen before. Family history research is full of hits and misses and MyHeritage is no exception. If you have yet to explore this new tool then please do. It may just provide the lead you need to progress your search.

Genealogy – my way

Cover of Tartan: Romancing the plaidThe library Family history guide must be one of the most popular digital resources that we offer. It is a site for those with an eye for detail. Those who like to paint their life canvases with accuracy. This is not my way at all.

My approach to my ancestry is more like unpacking the intricate layered notes of a complex perfume: the light high green notes of New Zealand, the wide warm middle notes of South Africa and the deep peaty tones of Scotland. And I can legitimately lay claim to my Scottish roots. I have a clan, I have a tartan, my parents (born in Scotland) moved to tropical Durban and created a little Scotland there for us. A lot of the time this Scottish aspect of my genealogy lies fallow, but it took just one book to shake it up all over again.

When I first glimpsed Tartan: Romancing the Plaid, I was captivated by the model’s neck; it is such a beautiful cover. When I focussed more carefully I saw the tartan shawl, and I was hooked. This is a gorgeous book which shows how widely loved tartan is, how its appeal straddles borders and oceans and ages. So much care has been put into producing this book, right down to the little tartan ribbon book marker that has been thoughtfully provided. This book is now on my To Buy list.

Cover of Maw Broon's CookbookIsolated from her large family, my mother did her best – she was not a gifted cook, but she kept an old recipe book and fed us Scottish Fayre when she could. Every year near Christmas the mail boats would bring us gifts from the homeland – annuals like The Broons and Oor Willie. Imagine then my joy at discovering Maw Broon’s Cookbook in the library. This book is like Scottish History on a plate. It looks and feels like an old recipe book, and won an award for its clever, realistic presentation. I have already bought this book.

The Big MusicBut, if you really want to capture your personal genealogy, you must find its music. I read Kirsti Gunn’s The Big Music about a year ago. It is a read that will take you straight to the Highlands of Scotland. It is one of the few books I have ever read which desperately needed a CD to go with it. Big Music is the oldest form of Scottish bagpipe music that exists. You can hear the beginning of this book being read on this YouTube clip. The point where the bagpipes start playing roots me to the spot. Excavates who I am to the very soul.

So where do you stand on the family history spectrum? Are you beavering away with documented, perspectival accuracy, or do you paint your canvas with broad swathes of memory?

Hearty winter cooking and winter pursuits

As winter drags on and we long for warm sunny days at the beach and outdoor entertaining around the bbq, consider this:

  • Cover of Hot Chocolatemulled wine or hot chocolate by the fireside
  • hosting a mid-winter Christmas do
  • piping hot stew and dumplings
  • cheesy muffins with tasty hot soup
  • visiting the local hot springs
  • ice skating, snowboarding or skiing
  • tucking in the warmth of your home with a good book
  • taking a trip to the snow to toboggan down the hillsides
  • hosting a card evening
  • inviting friends to a potluck dinner at your place
  • getting lost for an hour or two exploring the digital library
  • discovering your family history at our libraries

Check our catalogue for new winter cooking recipes from our books, DVDs, eBooks or magazines to help you create something to impress your family or friends and take your mind off the winter blues. Borrow a book on visiting one of our mountain resorts or ski areas. We also have books about various card games the whole family may enjoy.

Try a few of these ideas and before you know it Daffodil Day will be here and then the beautiful blossom will be sprouting on to the trees looking like popcorn and indicating that summer is on its way.

Cover of Winter Food Cover of Robyn Martin's Easy Budget Recipes for Crockpots & Slow Cookers Cover of 365 Winter Warmer Slow Cooker Recipes Cover of Slow Cooker Desserts Cover of Australian Women's Weekly Soup & Stew Favourites Cover of The Snow Guide to New Zealand Cover of Skiing and Boarding Cover of Hot Springs of New Zealand Cover of Queenstown Cover of The Card Games Bible Cover of The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games  Cover of The Genealogist's Internet

Don’t forget your family, yeah

Don’t forget your roots, my friend
The ones who made you
The ones who brought you here
Don’t forget your roots, my friend, yeah

family historySix60 have a great song about family and provides the inspiration for a set of courses being held at Christchurch City Libraries during August. We are running two Family History programmes and you can choose the one that suits you. It’s all about discovering our family stories.

Getting Started: Beginners Guide to Family History

Start your family history research with this six week course that will introduce some key resources available at Christchurch City Libraries and beyond. Key life events such as births, deaths and marriages will be researched, along with sources covering migration, military and electoral information. We will be looking at online and paper-based resources.

Basic computer knowledge is needed.

Where: South Learning Centre & Central Library Manchester
When: Tuesdays, 4 August to 8 September (6 weeks)
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Cost: $15

Family History Images from Kete Christchurch

Family History Starter Series

A four week course that will introduce online resources to find information on:

  • Key life events – births, deaths and marriages
  • Living in New Zealand
  • Arriving in New Zealand
  • Where to next?

Bring along as much as you know about your family and we will help you fill in some gaps. We have tips and tricks to help you uncover your story and get you on your way.

Basic computer knowledge is needed.

Where: Linwood Library
Dates: Wednesdays 19 Aug, 26 Aug, 2 Sept, 9 Sept (4 weeks)
Time: 6.00pm – 7.30pm
Cost: $10.00
Bookings: Ring 941-7923 to book your place at either course.

If you are keen to know more check out our family history guide.

Find family without leaving your couch with MyHeritage

Exciting news on the family history front. Until now because of licence restrictions customers have always had to come into a library to access online family history eResources like Ancestry and Find My Past.

MyHeritage logoNow from the comfort of your own couch you can surf our newest genealogical eResource – MyHeritage during ad breaks while watching the Bachelor, or Campbell Live. It is a great way to kick-start finding those random relatives and construct that family tree for future generations.

Are you to the ‘manor born’? Or are you like me – ‘bog born’? Was your family “upstairs” or “downstairs”? The answers lie within MyHeritage and other family history resources from Christchurch City Libraries.

Begin the hunt!

Ngā Pounamu Māori explored

Whangia ka tupu, ka puawai

That which is nurtured, blossoms and grows

Christchurch City Libraries hold many taonga. Ngā Pounamu Māori Collection is one of them. Filled with history, art, mahi toi,  te Reo Māori, tikanga, kaupapa, whakapapa, politics, moemoea, traditions, kōrero, whānau me pūrākau.

Each library has someone who is the kaitiaki of that librarys’ Ngā Pounamu Collection (Ngā Kaiāwhina) and we recently shared some pukapuka from this collection.

This is what was on show. Quite a variety indeed!  We hope there will be some discovery moments for our blog readers as you venture into this awesome collection.

  • Native Land Court 1862-1887: a historical study, cases and commentary / Richard Boast, 346.043 BOA – fascinating history, history of the Maori Land Court and over 100 principal cases including text and introductory commentary explaining the case and its significance.
  • Ora Nui, Maori Literary Journalcover for Ora Nui – collection of different works from different authors, great starting point. (Available as an free downloadable eBook).
  • Choosing a Māori Name for your baby / Miriama Ohlson – transliterations and  traditional names.
  • Māori Agriculture, Elsdon Best – Interesting reading in context. A good start but does need to come with a proviso, also available online. Library disclaimer: Elsdon Best has come under criticism over some of his work.
  • Apirana Taylor – poet, short story and novel writer. A Canoe in Midstream
  • cover for parihaka - the art of passive resistanceParihaka the art of passive resistance,- edited by Te Miringa Hohaia, Gregory O’Brien and Lara Strongman –  well written and capturing interest
  • Ben Brown< “amazing” performance poet.
  • Hone Tuwhare Tuwhare – poetry made into music. Not by wind ravaged (Parihaka)
  • Te Rongoa Māori / PME Williams
  • Tikao Talks / Teone Taare Tikao – a must read! Traditions and tales as told by Teone Tikao (Rapaki) to Herries Beattie. Related information can be found in Tī Kōuka Whenua.
  • A Booming in the night / Benjamin Brown and Helen Taylor – beautiful!! Childrens. More from these two.
  • cover for Ko Wai Kei te Huna?Ko Wai E Huna Ana? / Satoru Ōnishi – Childrens, Te Reo Māori publication
  • Toddling into Te Reo(series), reprinted 2014 by Huia Print – Childrens – nice to have the translations at the back, good to let parents know about this, colourful and thoughtful
  • He aha tenei? / Sharon Holt – Childrens Reo Singalong Written in Te reo Māori and includes translation and CD.
  • Five Māori Painters / 759.993 – gorgeous!! See the exhibition and interviews.
  • Matters of the Heart / Angela Wanhalla – A history of interracial marriage in New Zealand. Evocative of the time periods, good for seeing family connections
  • Cover of The Last MaopoThe last Maopo / Wiremu Tanai Kaihau Maopo – WW1 commemorations, letters that he sent home to a friend about his experiences as part of the second Maori contingent in WW1, personal story woven into it. 2014 publication
  • e Whai / Briar O’Connor – the art/activity of making string patterns – fun, informative and nostalgic.

 

 

 

More recommendations  from Ngā Pounamu Māori.

 

cover for Mau Mokocover from huia histories of māoricover from Once upon a time in aotearoa

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me he maunga teitei

Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain.

One hundred years on from the outbreak of war

For the past few months interest in the centenary of the outbreak of World War One has been growing. This major anniversary is now upon us and over the next four or so years we have the opportunity to reflect on and discover all aspects of this global conflict at a local, national and international level.

A month after the assassination on 28th June 1914 of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Over the next few days other countries and empires declared war on each other, with Britain declaring war on Germany on 4th August. This news was received in New Zealand on 5th August. Many New Zealanders had close ties to Britain and there was strong support for the war. The conflict we now call World War One or the First World War had begun.

Cover of From the TrenchesBefore the month of August was out the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) sent to capture German Samoa had succeeded in their objective – this was the second Germany territory to fall to the Allies in the war. The main body of the NZEF set sail in October 1914, seeing service at Gallipoli, on the Western Front in France and Belgium and also in Egypt and Palestine.

In Canterbury on 12th August 1914 men started to report to the mobilisation camp at the Addington Showgrounds to establish a mounted rifle brigade. Many had brought their own horses and where suitable these animals were taken into service by the government and then re-issued for use to their former owners. Many more reported than were taken into the regiment and the medical test was a significant reason for large numbers to be turned away.

The regiment was equipped and trained at Addington and Sockburn until 23 September 1914. In the early hours of the morning the Canterbury Mounted Rifles left the mobilisation camp for the last time and rode to Lyttelton. Their route took them across the Avon where they watered their horses, on over the Heathcote Bridge, Ferry Road and through Sumner to the transport ships. They were taken first to Wellington and in October that year they sailed for Egypt via Australia and Sri Lanka.

Want to know more about the outbreak of war or about how to research those who took part?

Want to find out about projects to commemorate the war?