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Guest post: The Bitter Trade: Spices, Smugglers and State-Sponsored Killing

Yesterday evening, we celebrated 18th century coffeehouse culture in our event The Virtue of Coffee. In attendance was Piers Alexander, author of The Bitter Trade, a novel set in 18th century coffeehouses. Below he reflects on what it is about coffeehouses that inspired his work:  Reading Roy Porter’s Flesh in the Age of Reason was my…

Guest post: What your wig says about you

On 13 November, we’ll be taking an irreverent tour of Georgian London in our Clocking Off LATE, in association with Time Out. As well as our LATE regulars such as Curators on the gangplank and our nautical-but-nice pub quiz, we’ll be running Subversive Wiggery workshops where you can make your…

The 1707 Isles of Scilly Disaster – Part 1

The anniversaries of several important naval events take place in late October. Today, 22 October, is the anniversary of one of the British Navy’s greatest tragedies – the Isles of Scilly shipwreck of 1707, in which four ships and over 1300 men were lost. For the longitude story, and in…

Solving Longitude: Magnetism

Some ideas for finding longitude at sea did not rely on time. One of them was to use patterns in the Earth’s magnetic field, but these needed to be mapped for practical use. There had been numerous proposals for using magnetism since the 16th century and scholars continued to investigate…