Warm sunshine, al fresco evenings and long country walks – it’s no wonder summer is the favourite season for many. As we near the peak of the sunny season, we take a look at the historic quirks and facts from summers gone-by, that you probably didn’t know about.
1. A ban on sports
The warmer months offer the perfect opportunity to get outside and participate in sports, however anyone who experienced the five summers between 1653 and 1658 would have had a very different reality. Oliver Cromwell, the leader of England during this time, was a highly religious Puritan and believed others should follow his example.
For Puritans like Cromwell, pointless enjoyment was frowned upon, and as a result many theatres, inns and places for recreation were closed down. Most sports were banned altogether – if fact, anyone caught playing football on a Sunday would be whipped as punishment.
2. Life’s a beach
In the Victorian era employee welfare was improving, public transport was becoming more prevalent, and Parliament was taking steps to make life better for everyday people. As such, people had more time on their hands and so flocked to the seaside.
However, amidst all the fun of donkey rides, sand castles and ice creams, these vacationers were still Victorians who were notoriously modest people, and it would be deemed as improper for a lady to be seen walking around in her swimsuit.
Ever the innovators, the Victorians came up with an ingenious solution to the predicament, commonly known as the bathing machine. The contraption was a horse-drawn beach hut in which swimmers would enter fully clothed. While inside, they would change into their swimwear as the machine made its way into the sea– the swimmer could then disembark into the water having evaded the stares of other beach-goers.
3. Get the scoop
It’s commonly believed that the ultimate summer snack was created by the Italians. However, records suggest an ice-cream-like food was first eaten in China around 200BC when a milk and rice mixture was frozen and packed into ‘snow’. It is believed that Marco Polo saw these ice creams being made during his trips to China and introduced them to Italy.
Wherever it came from, it’s rumoured that former Sudeley resident, Charles I, was such a fan of the frozen treat that he offered his chef £500 a year to keep his ice cream recipe a secret from the rest of England.
4. Party like it’s 1592
In the summer of 1592, Elizabeth I visited Sudeley to stay with the 3rd Lord Chandos during her summer progress. Her visit coincided with the anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada and, not wanting to be outdone by her other hosts, Lord Chandos threw the most lavish and elaborate parties to celebrate.
Nobles and gentry flocked to the castle and enjoyed a huge feast of roast oxen, wine and beer – all finished off with an impressive firework display. The three day celebrations have been described as one of the longest party in history.
5. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
By the time William Shakespeare wrote Sonnet 18, he was already an acclaimed playwright and was now turning his hand to the small matter of 154 poems which many believe are an insight into his personal life.
Perhaps the most well-known of the 154, Sonnet 18 evokes thoughts of summer, nature and, ‘the darling buds of May’. In fact, Shakespeare’s words are so well known that the Oxford Dictionary claims he wrote almost a tenth of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English.