History Extra logo
The official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed

Ten things to do in ... March

Get out and about this month with our guide to the very best historical attractions.

Published: March 2, 2010 at 10:00 am
Try 6 issues for only £9.99 when you subscribe to BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed

1. Hear the traditional north east


The Concert Royal is a music group that has toured in Europe, the USA, South America and in every corner of the UK, performing for festivals, music and arts societies, theatres, churches, schools, arts centres and even country houses. This month they have set up at the Bowes Museum, where they will be performing popular songs from the north east. On 6 and 7 March they will be in period costume and playing historic instruments, including a recently restored cabinet piano by John Waite, c1825. The repertoire will include Bobby Shaftoe, The Keel Row and Blow the Wind Southerly. You can catch the recital again, performed a little more formally, on 13 March.

Recital: Blow the Wind Southerly
Bowes Museum, County Durham
6, 7 & 13 March
Tel: 01833 690606

2. Get to know John Tunnard

The British abstract artist John Tunnard (1900–1971) was one of the most accomplished yet frequently overlooked painters of his generation. This, the first major exhibition of Tunnard’s paintings for 30 years, was inspired by his many and varied interests.

Exhibition: John Tunnard: Inner Space to Outer Space
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
13 March–28 June
Tel: 01243 774557

3. See slavery through stamps

As part of the London 2010 Festival of Stamps – a year-long festival of exhibitions and events celebrating stamps, their design and postal heritage, coordinated by The British Postal Museum & Archive – there is a captivating exhibition at the London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery of the Museum of London Docklands. It looks at how the abolition of slavery has been commemorated through the everyday postage stamp. It’s a chance to see how stamps from around the world have been used to represent key figures and themes from the history of enslavement.

Exhibition: Post Abolition: Commemorative Stamps from Around the World
Museum of London Docklands
Until 30 June 2010
Tel: 020 7688 8431

4. See what the Romans did for us

This year is the centenary of the Roman Society, as well as the 1600th anniversary of the Roman departure from Britain. On 9 March you can see Dr Andrew Gardner give his thoughts on the subject at UCL’s Darwin Lecture Theatre, and later there is a conference at the British Museum with more than 20 speakers covering all sorts of related topics.

Conference: AD 410: The End of Roman Britain
British Museum, London
13-14 March

5. Learn about limning

In late 16th-century England, limning, or the art of painting in miniature, was considered by many to be the highest form of pictorial art. This year’s exhibition at Burghley will focus on the miniatures from the Burghley Collection, covering not just paintings but miniature works of art of all kinds: ceramics, silver, jewellery, scientific gadgets and even furniture. Isaac Oliver’s greatest work, The Three Brothers Browne, will be the centrepiece of the show, and there will also be examples by the most prestigious artists of this genre.

Exhibition: Art in Miniature
Burghley, Lincolnshire
20 March–31 October 2010
Tel: 01780 752451

6. Explore England after Alfred

This year marks the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey, and the centrepiece of Winchester’s Hyde900 celebrations is the Treasures of Hyde Abbey exhibition. This exhibition paints a picture of a period through the history of one building. Exhibits will include the Liber de Monasterii de Hyda, a chronicle of England from the Saxon settlement to the reign of King Cnut.

Exhibition: The Treasures of Hyde Abbey 
The Winchester Discovery Centre 
6 March–2 May 

7. Get tucked into some quilts

This is the V&A’s first ever exhibition of British quilts with examples dating from 1700 to the present day. They range from a silk and velvet bedcover linked to King Charles II’s visit to an Exeter manor house in the late 17th century, to the most recent examples by leading artists such as Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin. In addition the curators have unravelled some of the personal narratives and historical events documented in the quilts, so examples by both named and unnamed makers will be shown with objects relating to their subject matter and makers. This will include paintings and prints, as well as needlework tools and personal keepsakes.

Exhibition: Quilts 1700–2010
V&A Museum, London
20 March–4 July
Tel: 020 7942 2000

8. Experience Italo-Welsh culture

After the Second World War, conditions in Italy led thousands of people to seek better lives elsewhere. Many settled in Wales, integrated well, ran successful businesses and became respected local and national figures. This exhibition looks at their stories through photographs and keepsakes, sharing their memories of living in Italy, their experiences of settling in Wales, their achievements and their links with their Italian roots.

Exhibition: Italian Memories in Wales 
St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff 
Until 3 May
Tel: 029 2057 3500 

9. Marvel at Muslim pioneers

The Science Museum is tracing the forgotten story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world. It features a diverse range of exhibits, interactive displays and dramatisations, spanning fields such as engineering, medicine and design. One of the focal points of the exhibition is a six-metre high replica of the early 13th-century ‘Elephant Clock’, alongside a short feature film starring Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari, inventor of the fabled clock.

Exhibition: 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World
The Science Museum, London
12 March–25 April
Tel: 0870 870 4868

10. Meet the Land Girls

The Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Timber Corps, previously known as the Women’s Forestry Service, were formed in 1917 to help meet growing demands for home production during the First World War. This exhibition, focusing on the experiences of Scottish women, will run through the history of the organisation using personal testimonies, audio recordings and period film footage.


Exhibition: The Women's Land Army
National War Museum, Edinburgh
26 February 2010 - 25 February 2011
Tel: 0131 247 4413


Sponsored content