The History of St. Valentine’s Day
St. Valentine’s Day began as a religious celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Nothing is known reliably of St. Valentine except his name and that he died on the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14 sometime around the year 270.
The ‘Roman Martyrology‘, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, for February 14 gives only one Saint Valentine. It records that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius is said to have taken a liking to his prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon the priest was condemned to death.
The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, but many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
The earliest surviving valentines in English appear in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston “my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly”.
Love it or hate it, Valentines Day is getting ever nearer so why not buy your loved one a personal gift to remember that romantic place and time in your life?
The use of the English name, Rockfield (near Monmouth), is first documented in 1566. However, it is believed that the name dates back to the 11th century, being derived from the French, Rocheville. The pre-Norman name for the settlement was Llanoronwy.
OS 1:2,500 County Series 1887
37 years ago, the band Queen started the New Year as they had left the previous year, at No. 1 with Bohemian Rhapsody. The song was taken from the album A Night at The Opera that had been recorded earlier in 1975.
The song and album were begun at the aptly named Rockfield Studios just outside the village of Rockfield, near Monmouth, and completed at four further recording studios across the country.
Rockfield Studios was started in 1963 by brothers Charles and Kingsley Ward who converted the outbuildings at the family home, Amberley Farm, into the world’s first residential recording studio.
The studios continue to maintain their reputation as one of the foremost in the country and have an enviable list of returning musicians. What’s even better is that when not in use by musicians, the cottages are available to rent.
Runnymede is a Thames-side water meadow between Egham and Old Windsor. It is currently managed by the National Trust and is a beautiful though unremarkable example of a ‘Thames Basin Lowland’. Its fame, though, is not due to its topography.
In the north part of Runnymede is an island. It was here, so most historians agree, that on 15 June 1215 King John was compelled by his leading subjects to sign a document addressing their grievances. The name ‘Runnymede’; derives from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘a meeting place in a meadow’. Few place names have better lived up to their linguistic origins.
The document, of course, was Magna Carta. It has been cited as the inspiration for many later expressions of liberty including the English parliament, the English Civil War and the US Constitution. Many people have believed it to have been many things. It¹s easier to describe it in terms of what it was not.
It was not effective, remaining in force for only three months and not preventing civil war. It was not revolutionary, being but one episode in the medieval barons’ constant attempts to force the king to respect their traditional role as his principal advisors. It was not an assertion of individual liberty, rather an attempt to preserve aristocratic privileges. It was not well-observed, being re-issued over 30 times over the following two centuries: indeed, re-issuing Magna Carta was an instinctive response to most late-medieval constitutional crises.
A small island but a large international legacy, however unintentional or misconstrued. Perhaps much the same could be said of Britain itself. As for the name, Magna Carta is the Latin for ‘great charter’. You knew that, of course; even if David Cameron didn’t…
The 1200 acre reservoir known as Lake Vyrnwy (Welsh: Llyn Efyrnwy) was created by Liverpool Corporation to supply Liverpool with a reliable and plentiful supply of water. The Victorians built the dam, the first large masonry dam of its kind in Britain, between 1881 and 1888 as a result of the need for a new water supply and it was decided that the pure water of the Welsh mountains was ideal to be carried, by aqueduct, from Vyrnwy to the city.On 14th July 1881 the first commemorative stone was laid by the third Earl of Powys who was one of the owners of the village of Llanwddyn, which was doomed to be drowned by the reservoir. At that time Llanwddyn consisted of the church, 2 chapels, 3 public houses and 37 houses, 10 farmsteads and 1 mill.By the time the reservoir was opened in 1892 a new settlement had been built lower down the valley by the Liverpool Corporation. The buildings of the old village were razed to the ground before the inaugural filling of the reservoir. Even the remains of the dead were removed from the churchyard and reburied next to the new church before the land was finally submerged.
Today the only place you can see the original village of Llanwddyn is on a map.
Maps shown are available from the Cassini Maps shop. Maps can be centred on any location in the UK.
For those lucky enough to have a ticket to the Olympic stadium you may find yourselves sitting in what could be called the ‘Bone Works’ end.
It is common practice for the stands of modern stadia to be named after features and locations in the local environment. By looking at this County Series map from 1894, two years before the first modern games were held in Athens, you can see how the history of the landscape could influence the naming of the present day stadium.
So, if you hear people mentioning the Knobshill stand overlooking the one hundred metres track, the Distillery stand opposite or even the Tallow Works end, you’ll know that, for some, Stratford’s past lives on. Find maps of your area.
Wimbledon 1865 Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2,500
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is a private club founded in 1868, originally as ‘The All England Croquet Club’. Its first ground was situated off Worple Road, Wimbledon. The Club moved in 1922 to the present site in Church Road (see above).
The Wimbledon Tennis Championships started in London since 1877 when the only event held was the Gentlemen’s Singles, won by Spencer Gore. It is reported that 200 spectators attended the final, each paying one shilling each. Today Wimbledon fortnight attracts an annual attendances is over 450,000 people.
Ever wondered why Guildford developed in the location seen today? By referring to the Cassini Old Series maps it can be seen how Guildford, the county town of Surrey, developed in a gap in the North Downs, through which the River Wey passes. Any traveller in Surrey heading from North to South, or vice versa, would make straight for the gap in the chalk hills rather than climbing the the escarpments of the downs.
Before the advent of contour lines each hand drawn Ordnance Survey map indicated the relief of the land with hatchuring (from the Old French word hacher, to cross hatch) making it clearly visible how the landscape played a vital role in the positioning and settlement of cities, towns and villages across the length and breadth Britain.