These photos offer a look inside a historic mansion with links to the Titanic which went unseen by the public for 140 years. Beach Lawn House is a stunning Victorian Villa in Waterloo, that was built for Thomas Henry Ismay who founded the White Star Line. He paid £2,500 for the Grade-II listed house on December 17, 1860.
Hinke’s latest book, “Titanic: The Official Cookbook: 40 Timeless Recipes for Every Occasion” (Insight Editions, 144 pages), celebrates the culinary elegance and history of the ship as seen through the lens of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning film “Titanic,” which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its release in 2022.
Although the extravagance of the voyage is well known, the pastries that Joughin was responsible for creating are not why he is remembered. Instead, Joughin is best known for his remarkable survival in the face of imminent death. Historians and scientists attribute his survival to one thing: the sheer amount of alcohol he consumed that night.
[I guess this comes under the heading of advanced notice! This exhibition does not begin till July 2024, so I guess the promoter sent out notices to the local media. People will rush to the article thinking that this opens soon in Birmingham (UK) only to find they have many months to wait. I guess you can watch several Titanic movies and books while you wait for it to open.]
But a titanic ‘Titanic Exhibition’ will soon tell its tragic story like you’ve seen never before when it comes to Birmingham in 2024. Tracing the ocean liner’s journey from its construction at a shipyard in Belfast, through its fateful voyage, to its rediscovery at the bottom of the ocean. You’ll be able to see everything from interactive exhibits to footage of the wreckage, as well as props from the 1997 blockbuster film.
Sailing into the NEC Birmingham from Saturday, July 27 to Sunday, August 25, 2024, the exhibition will use imagery, audio and real objects from the Titanic to convey life onboard the ship. Visitors will be able to see items and read stories about the first, second and third-class passengers, plus crew and engineers. There’s even a photographic collection from onboard passenger and survivor, Father Browne.
Wishing Everyone a Joyful and Prosperous New Year.
On December 29 1170, Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in front of the altar by four knights in Canterbury Cathedral.
Becket had been a successful chancellor for King Henry II and had helped him consolidate his power even if went against the church. Well liked and respected, Becket served the king well earning his complete trust. When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, King Henry decided to put Becket in that spot so he could have more control of the church. Appointing him in 1162, he expected Becket to faithfully continue what Henry wanted. Except that is not what happened at all,
Becket though underwent a transformation and switched his allegiance to the church. He adopted an ascetic lifestyle and lived humbly despite being in the most powerful bishopric in England. King Henry and Becket starting clashing over many issues. Finally when the king demanded Becket sign the Constitutions of Clarendon in 1164 to extend his control over the church, Becket refused and left England and went to France. He returned in 1170 after a reconciliation had been worked out. Two bishops who had sided with Henry had been excommunicated refused to rejoin unless they supported the church over Henry. The bishops complained to Henry, who was in France at the time, who uttered words that suggested he wanted him dead. Four knights took this as an order and sailed to England.
There they murdered Becket on the altar stairs just as evening mass was starting. This shocking event caused outrage and horror. King Henry went on a 40 day fast. Pope Alexander III proclaimed him a saint two years later. King Henry II walked barefoot to his tomb as penance and was forgiven by the church. His tomb became a popular spot for pilgrims to visit until King Henry VIII destroyed it. When he was reburied in the new tomb that was subsequently destroyed, many of his bones were sent to other churches as relics. They were returned in 2016 to the cathedral in which he died in.
His feast day of December 29 is celebrated on both Anglican and Catholic calendars. He is the saint of secular clergy.
What Happened to the Four Knights who killed Becket?
The four knights-Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton- heard King Henry II utter words they interpreted as meaning he wanted Becket dead. After killing Becket. The assassins fled north to de Morville’s castle and stayed there about a year. He owned property in Cumbria and this have been used as well. They may have been preparing to go into Scotland as well. King Henry II did not confiscate their lands and let the church deal with them. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four which for all intents and purposes meant they were unwelcome anywhere in Christian Europe.
The knights appealed to King Henry for help; he declined. Deciding to seek penance for their actions, the four knights went to Rome and met with Pope Alexander. He accepted their contrition and as penance ordered them to serve 14 years as knights in the Holy Lands. This inspired the creation of the Knights of St. Thomas, a purely all English order of knights that would serve in the Holy Land. After internal disputes much later (and the loss of the Holy Lands), the order focused on charitable work and ran a school. It was dissolved in 1538 by King Henry VIII as part of his order dissolving all religious orders in England.
Knowles, Michael David. “Saint Thomas Becket | Biography, Facts, Death, Patron Saint of, and Significance.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Dec. 2023, www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Thomas-Becket.
“St. Thomas Becket – Saints and Angels – Catholic Online.” Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=12.
“Archbishop Thomas Becket Is Murdered.” HISTORY, 9 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-making-of-an-english-martyr.
If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas , you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Saint Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe) it is a public holiday.
In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.
By the winter of 1776, things looked bleak for the patriots fighting the British. They had suffered a string of defeats (New York and other places) that sapped the morale of many patriots. General George Washington’s leadership was being questioned by some leaders, and there was a general feeling that British were going to win unless things changed. The British by this time were of the opinion they were succeeding, though they found the Americans could put up a good fight. With winter upon them, the war paused as normally European armies did not fight during this time. Hessian troops, paid mercenaries hired by the British, were skilled professional soldiers raised nearly from birth to fight. A Hessian force was quartering in Trenton, New Jersey for the winter. General Washington decided to go on the offensive to win a battle and raise the morale of the troops who were suffering through the cold winter.
On the night of December 25, 1776, his army began moving across the Delaware River. The group led by Washington, 2,400 strong, made it to the other side but the other two divisions that made of 3,000 men did not get across at the right time. The Hessians had spent Christmas Day relaxing, eating, and drinking and did not believe the Americans were a threat. They had in fact dismissed warnings the Americans might attack. So, they were unprepared for what happened on December 26. At 8 am, Washington attacked with two columns. By 9:30 am, the German defenses had crumbled, and the town was surrounded. While many Hessians did escape, they did capture several hundred and only lost four lives in the process. Unfortunately, since most of his troops had failed to cross, Washington was without any additional men or artillery to hold Trenton. He was forced to withdraw.
It was a minor battle that had no real strategic impact. The news of the successful attack though raised American colonialists’ spirits. The initiative shown by Washington showed the Continental Army was capable of victory.
Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!
….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Silent Night(Stille Nacht in German, Silens Nox in Latin) is perhaps the most beloved Christmas Carol. It was composed in 1818 by Franz Guber, an organist and schoolmaster, to lyrics by Father Joseph Mohr of the St. Nicholas parish in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 and since the organ was broken, the only musical accompaniment was the guitar. The popularity of the song spread and the version commonly used today comes from a translation in 1859. John Freeman Young, serving as an Episcopal priest at Trinity Church in New York City, translated and changed the tempo of the song. The original rendition by Gruber was more like a dance tune and sung faster. Young made into a slower lullaby style that is the most common version today. Because it has been so widely translated, it is the one Christmas carol that is known worldwide.
In Austria Silent Night is not heard until Christmas Eve, usually around 9 p.m. Then it is played on the radio once an hour and of course during church services.
Silent night, Holy Night All is calm, all is bright round yon Virgin Mother and Child, Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in Heavenly peace! sleep in Heavenly peace!
Silent night! Holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight; glories stream from Heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia, Christ, the Saviour, is born! Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, Love’s pure light radiant, beams from Thy Holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.
(In German) Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Alles schläft; einsam wacht Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar. Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar, Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh! Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’. Jesus in deiner Geburt! Jesus in deiner Geburt!
Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Die der Welt Heil gebracht, Aus des Himmels goldenen Höhn, Uns der Gnaden Fülle läßt sehn, Jesum in Menschengestalt! Jesum in Menschengestalt!
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and normally the last full week of Advent. However in 2023 this is both the first and last day of Advent as today is Christmas Eve. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew (30 November) but this year that day fell on a Thursday, meaning that the first day of Advent fell on Sunday, December 3 making it a three week Advent season.
This does not mean one does not observe it. You should light the Advent candles at dinner after reciting the prayer. And of course read the scripture readings for this day as well, If you are participating in the Christmas Novena, this is the last day of the novena. Then at midnight Advent ends and it becomes Christmas Day!
For 2024, Advent will begin on December 1 as the previous day was the feast of St. Andrew. And unlike 2023, will go the full four weeks with the last Sunday on December 22.
Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Saviour.
On 19 Dec 1843 noted writer Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol was published by Chapman & Hall. The book came at a time when Christmas was fading but at the same time people were rediscovering Christmas traditions and exploring new ones (such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees). The story relates how Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly man, who receives the ghost of his dead partner along with Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The visitations changed Scrooge into a warmer, forgiving man and the book sold out all its initial copies on Christmas Eve.
The story has become a favorite at Christmas time owing to its theme of transformation. While some academics argue about whether his story was secular or a religious allegory, the story alludes to a higher power at work to help Scrooge reflect on his life and to make changes. Scrooge shows everything wrong about the age-of acquiring money for its own sake and nothing else. He showed no empathy nor compassion for the plights of his fellow men and women wanting only to increase his wealth at the expense of others. One can be lulled into thinking though that Scrooge is just a two-dimensional character at first. As the story progresses, we learn of his early years, his being at school alone, of his lovely sister who brings him home, and the joy of working with old Fezziwig. And then he changes, slowly but steadily into the man we see at the beginning and losing the woman who loved him in the process. And we see as he reflects back upon his past, he starts regretting ill-treating his nephew and his clerk Bob Cratchit.
The story is of redemption, but not done in the modern syrupy way you see now in terribly done holiday movies of today. There are hard truths that Scrooge has to face about himself, and his choice is simple: continue as he is now and face a terrible fate or change to becoming more caring and joyful in his life. We also get to see the joy of Christmas being celebrated both in the Cratchit house and later with his nephew Fred. Despite not having a lot of money, the Cratchit’s have a wonderful holiday together. Christmas is depicted as a time for families, children, and to care about our fellow brothers and sisters. Dickens wanted to relate in his book that poverty was no small thing and that we needed to help those in need rather than ignoring them (especially children).
Christmas, like much of the world in Dicken’s time, was undergoing a major change. The observance of the Nativity of Christ was important to the faithful. Yet while it was a time of celebration, it was a simpler celebration. The religious part took place in church while food and drink were at home. Some took the partying to excess causing social problems. General George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day in 1776 knowing that after a day of partying the German soldiers would be unable to fight. The Reformation had wiped out Christmas traditions in many places, and the Puritans had banned its celebration in England and later in the areas they settled in North America. It was not a public holiday in the United States (except in states that made it a holiday) or much of Europe.
The social changes brought by the dramatic shift from agrarian to industrial society made people want to look for a deeper meaning to things. And Christmas was ripe to be revitalized after being so low-key or ignored for a long time, or a time for wild partying. Dicken’s depiction of the day was family, church, mistletoe and holly, charity, and food. After the book came out, more traditions would be created from Christmas carols, St. Nicholas, Christmas cards and trees. And as many people wanted to celebrate the day with family, it became eventually a national holiday in just about every country in Europe, North and South America, and parts of the far east (Russia mostly). And reading A Christmas Carol has become a Christmas tradition as well. Dicken’s was at the cusp of change when it came to Christmas. He wrote great books before and after this one, but many remember him chiefly for the story of redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge.
There are many adaptations that have been made from plays to movies. Here is a list of those you might want to watch. Almost all the movies change the story in varying ways but try to keep faithful to the overall story.
One of the early silent movies starring Seymour Hicks. It is one of the few that shows Bob Cratchit sitting by the body of Tiny Tim.
A Christmas Carol (1938)
This version stars Reginald Owen who plays Scrooge well. The story cuts out a lot of the sadder parts of the story and alters the story in other ways (Cratchit is fired early in the movie). Still a good movie to watch for the excellent acting.
Scrooge (1951), re-titled A Christmas Carol
This one starring Alistair Sim is considered by many to be the best. Sim really nails Scrooge, and it is closer to the original in some ways. Shows a bit of his life not covered in the book or other movies to show how became so mean and miserly.
A Christmas Carol (1984)
This version stars George C. Scott as Scrooge. This was a made for television unlike the others above. It was filmed on location in the historic town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England lending it an authentic look. Scott’s depiction is not as harsh in tone as Alistair Sim’s depiction, but just as ruthless and unbending in his ways. It has a good cast as well with David Warner playing Bob Cratchit. It has become a favorite and seen on Hallmark and AMC channels during Christmas. Scott’s portrayal got him a nomination for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special. The combination of a great supporting cast and Scott’s performance as Scrooge makes this adaptation better than Alistair Sim’s version.
A Christmas Carol (1999)
This version based on Patrick Stewart’s one man play, but with a full supporting cast, It was inspired by the Sim movie and shows a lot of the grimness of the story. Stewart’s depiction of Scrooge is even more harsh than what Sim or Scott did. Solidly acted but one may be put off by the harsh and grim version of this Scrooge.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This musical starring Michael Caine and all the Muppet favorites is funny and amusing at times. It is heartwarming and enjoyable on its own terms. Michael Caine delivers a great performance as Scrooge. It is mainly directed at kids, so they will enjoy it best. Adults may find it tedious at times, but the payoffs are the wonderful musical numbers and how the Muppet characters interact during the story. Especially when the Ghost of Christmas yet to be appears. It sends our narrator running for cover until the scene is over. There are two songs that really make this worth watching. One is the song It Feels Like Christmas sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present which says why Christmas is important and how to keep it with us all year. The second is sung by Scrooge (Michael Caine) called Thankful Heart. This song really neatly ties together all the lessons Scrooge has learned and what we should learn as well.