During DIY work, a couple in Somerset were stunned to discover a 20-foot mural of Henry VIII dating back to the time of the king’s reign. They spotted the painting while removing wooden panels from the house, which was once occupied by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry. The identity of the artist is unknown.
A locket containing Horatio Nelson’s hair, as well as that of Emma Hamilton has sold for £50,000 at auction in Wiltshire – almost ten times the original estimate. The locket was dated to 1798, the year when the two began their famous love affair.
A 14th-century church in Oxford, boasting the highest of the city’s ‘dreaming spires’ will undergo major renovation thanks to an award of £3.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The interior and exterior of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin will be extensively restored.
The daughter of a former BBC engineer has revealed how her father, then aged only 19, was tasked with editing out George VI’s stutter on broadcasts during the Second World War. Winston Churchill had ordered that the king’s speech be enhanced in this way. David Martin, who died two years ago, left a letter in which he spoke about the process. The film about George VI’s stutter, The King’s Speech, has recently been nominated for several Oscars.
Shakespeare’s Globe has confirmed that it is to start work on an indoor Jacobean theatre – the most complete recreation of an English Renaissance indoor theatre attempted to date. The shell of the theatre already stands on the site, and the structure of the building will be based around the earliest plans for an English theatre in existence, discovered in the 1960s and thought to have been drawn by the protégé of celebrated Renaissance architect Inigo Jones. Building work is due to begin in November 2012 with the first performance scheduled for November 2013.
Archaeologists working at Bath Abbey have found the remnants of a Norman cathedral, which they believe was the first to have been built at the location. The excavators also say they may have discovered the accommodation of a medieval abbot. Work is due to continue at the site of the 15th-century abbey until early spring.
UNESCO has voiced its concerns about possible harm to Egypt’s cultural heritage because of the turmoil currently taking place in the country. It’s been reported that some historic sites have been targeted by looters. UNESCO director Irina Bokova has requested that measures are taken to safeguard Egyptian treasures.
Museums housed at former Nazi death camps in Poland are to change the .pl suffixes of their website addresses. The move is intended to help disassociate the Polish people from the atrocities committed on their soil by the German occupiers.
Frank Woodruff Buckles, America’s last surviving veteran of the First World War, has celebrated his 110th birthday. Buckles served on the Western Front in the ambulance corps, having lied about his age to enlist in 1917. He was also involved in the Second World War where he spent three years in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. In recent years Buckles has lobbied for a memorial to the First World War in Washington DC.
A 30-second clip has been uncovered, believed to be the only film of the legendary dance company the Ballets Russes. Founded by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the troupe was a great success in its 20 years of existence from 1909–1929. The film, showing a 1928 performance, was spotted on the British Pathe online archive. It had been incorrectly labelled.
Web users from around the world can now wander through a range of museums and galleries and inspect their masterpieces for free thanks to the new Google Art Project. Among the venues that can be browsed online are the Uffizi in Florence, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the State Hermitage in St Petersburg and, closer to home, Tate Britain and the National Gallery.