Arts Design Media and Music in British History

Arts, Design , Media and Music in British history. This historic theme explores the creative narrative that weaves throughout British history. Use the timelines and maps to discover the context of great works of art, literature and music.

Book of Kells on Intriguing History's Church and Religion

Book of Kells


Here we look at Arts, Design, Media and Music in Britain, as a cultural narrative of that history. We dip into all sorts of creative works, the artists, the movements influences and impact on wider British Society. A creative feast and timeline, a chronological romp from Fine Art to Arts and Crafts, early music to the Beatles, from Hogarth to Hockney, Elgar and his Engima.  A mix of styles from over a thousand years of British history that has thrived on a multicultural fusion that has led us to our society today.

What caused the industrial revolution?

Coalbrookdale at Night by Loutherbourg 1801

From the beauty and immense skill of an early illuminated manuscript, to the joy of an author's original manuscript and the goosebumps of hearing great music.

Shakespeare's original pronunciation

Shakespeare, the Master

Seeing Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre or watching the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, classical or contemporary the role of the creative souls in the story of Britain is part and parcel of us all. Here we hope to conjure a little of the 'Magicl Mystery Tour' across time, people and places within the UK and across the wide reaches of the British empire and all the British gleaned and absorbed along the way.


410-900Celtic Saxon and Viking Art 410-900Arts Anglo Saxon Viking and Celtic 6th 7th 8th and 9th centuries
625Sutton Hoo Hoard and works of art
Fabulous finds of Long Boat Burial generally believed to be from Raewald, East Anglian and Anglo Saxon King, approximate dates.
Treasure British Museum
650Lindisfarne Gospels
Exceptional and exquisite examples of early Christian British texts, which can still be viewed and enjoyed to this day.How incredible that these great works have survived. Roman Christianity was adopted in England in 664 at the Iona heart of Celtic Christianity Synod of Whitby the earliest centre of Celtic Christianity was on based in the religious community on Iona from 563..
Religious Works of Art The Bible Published Works Books
731Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England circa 790Bede Historic Chronicles Bede Chronicler Author early History
790First Viking Raids on Western EuropeVikings in Britain
800Book of Kells an astonishing work of art and faith
Iona heart of Celtic Christianity and Book of Kells

Iona Book of Kells Books Religious Art Christian
800-1000Medieval Art of Northern Europe 800 - 1000Art Architecture and Religious artworks Northern Europe 8th 9th 10th Century
910Benedictine Abbey at Cluny in France
The Cluniacs would hugely influence the development of architecture and the arts in Britain with the Bishop Henry de Blois himself having visited and been closely involved with the Abbey as a close relative of the King and direct descendant of William the Conqueror. He would have a close relationship to both Winchester as Bishop of its Cathedral and his own palace in Bishops Waltham in Hampshire.
Cluniacs Benedictines Abbey Cluny France Bishop of Winchester Architecture Arts 10th century
1000-1300Romanesque and Early Gothic Art 1000 - 1300
Christianity and the Church was the only Pan-European organisation at this point in our history and despite the contributions of Viking raiders and more it drove the building of early religious architecture and art. The great monasteries of Cluny led by Bishop Odo and Abbot Suger at St Deny. For more on the history of Church and Religion on Intriguing History By the name we can see the influence of Roman culture and design.
Romanesque Gothic Arts 11th 12th 13th 14th century
1065Earliest Stained Glass in Europe Augsburg Cathedral GermanyGermany Arts and Crafts Stained Glass Europe
1066Norman Conquest Battle of Hastings
This would lead to one of the most iconic works of the arts and crafts of Europe 'The Bayeux Tapestry' the work and implementation of which is now much debated as to whether much of the needlework was by English women in Kent.
Norman Conquest Bayeux Tapestry Kent Arts and Crafts Artefacts
1086Domesday Book 1086
Normans William I
1121Reading Abbey Founded on the Medieval Motorway/strong> Eight black robed monks halted at 'Radingia' (Reading in Berkshire) having travelled from Cluny on the bidding of Henry Beauclerc to raise a great monastery. Cluny was the home of the Benedictine Bretheren near Macon in France. Reading was a small hamlet of some 30 one story chimneyless wattle dwellings. The early signs of the infusion of Cluniac influence on Scholarly study architecture and the arts.Henry I Beauclerc Reading Abbey Berkshire England
1138History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
12th century
Chroniclers chronicles
History Literature
1483-1485Richard III last King of the House of York, a branch of the Plantagenets, King of England
defeated and killed in battle within two years of usurping the throne from his brother's rightful heir Edward V, there was little time for royal patronage of the arts in Richard's short reign.
Monarchs 15th century House of York
1485 - 1509Henry VII 1st Tudor King of England
King by virtue of defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
Monarchs King 1th 16th century Tudor Patron Patronage
1505-1585 Thomas Tallis British Composer and Organist
Along with his much younger student William Byrd, the early genius of English Choral Music and the wonder epitomised in Spem In Alium Motet For 40 Voices, popularised recently by its feature in a novel. His work is wondrous sacred music and sublime inspiration that lifts the soul, whatever your beliefs. The emotive and technical capability of the composition lasts the test of time as well as Shakespeare. Play from the Internet Archive the audio direct from this audio file and simply sit back listen and enjoy. Tallis and Byrd together published their joint compendium as Cantiones Sacres in 1575, see separate entry.
16th Century Music Choral Composer Organist Polyphony Tallis Byrd Taverner Vaughan Williams Sacred Music
Church and Religion
1509 - 1547Henry VIII Tudor King of EnglandMonarchs King Henry VIII Patrons Patronage
1543-1623 William Byrd (Bird) British Elizabethan Composer and Recusant pupil and partner of Tallis 1543-1623
Possibly the greatest Elizabethan composer for voice and instrument, he was pupil of Thomas Tallis and together they held a monopoly on music composition for the Chapel Royal. The combined works of Tallis and Byrd were published including 17 works by Byrd in Cantionies Sacrae or 'sacred songs. In 1588 Byrd published the first Madrigals and he wrote for both the Protestant and Catholic Recusant communities. He was fined for Recusantry but later protected by the Queen Elizabeth I. His three latin masses were the last to be written for English churches until the 20th century.
Sacred Music Madrigals Polyphony Tallis Byrd Religion and Church Elizabethan 16th 17th century Recusants
1547-1553Edward VI Tudor King of EnglandMonarchs Tudor 16th Century
1553Jane Grey Tudor Queen>Monarchs Queen Tudors 16th Century
1553-1558Mary I Tudor Queen of EnglandMonarchs Tudor 16th Century
1893-1914 Wilfred Owen British Poet Timeline of his life 1893-1914

Wilfred Own is a war poet known to many of us from our earliest studies of English Literature. His association with Siegfried Sassoon helped him to mature his style and significantly impacted on his work, Tragically killed just a few days before armistice was called, he died on the 4th November 1918. Whilst he was one of the many and no single life is more worthy than another his poems resonate across generations and stand for a generation. His life's timeline can be found here on the Wilfred Own Association's site, we will highlight a few connections to his life and work, but there can be few poems that strike such a chord with tragedy of a lost generation as Anthem for Doomed Youth. References and links to artefacts connected with landmark works are dated and entered by date of creation not publication.
War Poets WW1 Wilfred Own Siegfried Sassoon
1170Murder of Thomas Becket during the reign of Henry IIThomas Becket
Henry II
12th century
1188History of Canterbury Gervase 1188 Gervase 12th century
1189Death of Henry IIMonarchs King Patrons 12th century
1200The Owl and the Nightingale LazamonLazamon Written works literature authors 13th century
1200Jocelin of Brakelond Chronicle13th century
Written works
1215Magna Carta Sealed at Runnymede 121513th century
Written works history law milestones
1225History of Canterbury Gervase 1188 13th century
Written works history
1225King Horn 13th Century
Written Works
1327-1377Edward III King 1327-1377
14th century
Monarchs King
1369Simon Tunsted died 1369 credited as author of Quatuor Principalia Musicae He was an English Franciscan friar, theologian, philosopher and musician. credited as the author of the Quatuor Principalia Musicae, a mediaeval treatise on music which set out the musical principles on which the Ars Nova movement was based. Ars Nova and period is more generally known as European polyphonic music14th century
Simon Tunsted
1370Book of the Duchess Geoffrey Chaucer c1370 14th Century
Geoffrey Chaucer
1377Langland Piers Plowman c137714th Century
14th century
Writers Plowman
1380-1445Countenance Angleoise Leonel Power first and most represented in the Hall Old Manuscript
he was probably the choir master of Christ Church, Canterbury and enjoyed noble patronage from Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence and John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford (1389–1435) brother of Henry V.
14th 15th Century Royalty Patronage
Countenance Angleoise
1381Peasants Revolt14th Century
Richard II
1385Troilus and Criseyde Geoffrey Chaucer 1381
1387The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer 138714th Century
Geoffrey Chaucer
Written works
1399Richard II Henry IV Lancastrian son of Gaunt ascended to the throneMonarchs
1400Death of Geoffrey Chaucer 1400Geoffrey Chaucer
Life event death
1400Death of deposed king Richard II 1400
Murdered or starved to death in captivity.
1400Sir Gawain Pearl Cleanness and Patience
Only surviving manuscript dated 1400.
Manuscript Artefacts
Written Works
15th century
1411-1412The Regiment of Princes Hoccleve 1411-1412Literature
15th Century
1413Death of Henry IV, accession of Henry V

15th Century
1415British Victory at Battle of Agincourt 1415
House of Lancaster
Henry V
1422Henry V died in France leaving his 9 month old son to become king Henry VI
taken ill in France Henry V died leaving his wife and son vulnerable. His brother John Duke of Bedford was married to Jquetta the mother of Elizabeth Woodville bu he was also and despite his military prowess a major patron of music in this period.
House of Lancaster
15th Century
1375-1430The Old Hall Manuscript (British Library, MS 57950) is the largest, most complete, and most significant source of English sacred music of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, and as such represents the best source for late Medieval English music. The manuscript somehow survived the Reformation, and formerly belonged to St. Edmund's College, a Roman Catholic school located at Old Hall Green (hence its name) in Hertfordshire. It was sold to the British Library after an auction at Sotheby's in 1973.Sacred Music Monarchs
Early Music
1759-1797Mary Wollstonecraft early Feminist writer moral and political theorist 1759-1797 A life of stark contrast and great personal difficulties Mary was perhaps born too soon but not soon enough for the plight and fight for Women's rights. Her analysis of the condition of women in society ws radical and ahead of her time. Her daughters were Mary Shelly (author of Frankenstein) and Fanny Imlay. She died following childbirth and having at last found a relationship to bring the solace and love she so passionately sought. British Women owe a lot as does the modern Suffrage Movement to the early pioneering works of Mary Wollstonecraft. For a good Biography and reference on Mary specifically take al look here at the Stanford Biography on mary Wollstonecraft British Feminist WriterStanford Dictionary of Philosophy Women's Suffrage
18th Century
women Writers and Authors
1776American Independence DeclaredEMPIRE AMERICAS US Major Events
1780Gordon RiotsMAJOR EVENTS
Civil Unrest
1789Songs of Innocence by William Blake 1789
William Blake's Songs of Innocence by William BlakeFull text on the Gutenberg project here. William Blake was an English painter, poet and printmaker. Hardly recognised during his lifetime, subsequently his work is noted for its major influence and impact in the development and history of poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
William Blake Artists Illustrator Poets
1792A Vindication of the Rights of Women by by Mary Wollstonecraft
a landmark work in Women's literature ridiculing what she saw as the outmoded nostalgia of the age of chivalry hat her contemporaries alluded to, in particular Burke's works. Mary uses fiction to argue the case for the fundamental equal rights of women. She was not working alone but she was the most articulate of the leading group. Her contemporaries included Mary Hays and Elizabeth Inchbald. Vindication is her most well known work bu her later works including Mary and the unfinished before her untimely death , The Wrongs of Women evidence the universal oppression of women by men. Her style is forthright, the fiction is secondary her focus is the to tell us quite directly of the wrongs of men's oppression of her gender. With thanks to the Internet Archive you can find Vindication here and other works will be added by the chronological date
Feminist Writer Early Suffragettes
Universal Suffrage British Writers
Published Works Fiction Authors writers novelists
1800 - 1877Birth of Henry Fox Talbot.English scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented the salted paper and calotype processes.
1812Birth of Charles Dickens.English author of novels that give us an incredible insight into Victorian life.
1809Birth of Charles DarwinBritish naturalist and author of the 'Origins of Species'
1809Drury Lane Theatre was destroyed by fire.This London theatre was built in 1794.
1809The Lyceum Theatre opened.
1809Birth of Alfred Lord TennysonBritish poet.
1809Birth of Edgar Allan Poe.American novelist.
1809Birth of Felix MendelssohnGerman composer.
1810Birth of Robert SchumannGerman composer.
1811Jane Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility' is published.
1811Percy Bysshe Shelley is sent down from Oxford.
1812Birth of Charles DickensBritish novelist and dramatist. Also social reformer.
1812Birth of Robert BrowningBritish poet and novelist.
1812Birth of Edward LearBritish artist and writer of nonsense poetry.
1812The craze for the new dance, the Waltz arrives in Britain.
1813John Nash presents his plans for the development of Regent St London.John Nash architect and designer.
1818Birth of Emily Bronte.English author, novelist and poet who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights
1819Birth of John Ruskin.English art critic as well as being a writer, author, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy.
1832Birth of Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson, pen name,Lewis CarrollEnglish, mathematician, photographer and writer, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
1840Birth of Thomas HardyEnglish author, writer, novelist.
1866 - 1946Birth of H.G WellsProlific English writer and author of, amongst other genre, many science fiction novels. First novel was The Time Machine.
1865 - 1936Birth of Rudyard Kipling.Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. Best known for his novel The Jungle Book.
1860-1942Walter Richard Sickert Leading British Painter of the Impressionist and Post Impressionist Period
Personal links with French artists including Degas, his works have been described as'French spoken with a strong English accent.' He attended Slade School of Art and King's College School.He was intriguingly rumoured to be implicated in the dark murders of Jack the Ripper but there is no real evidence to support this. More to discuss on his work significance and connections but for a BBC Your Paintings in National Collections Slideshow on Sickertslide show of his works and locations see Your Paintings slideshow here
1872-1958Vaughan Williams English Composer 1872-1958 VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
19th 20th century
Composer WW1
1872J.R.R TolkienEnglish writer, poet, philologist, and university professor who is best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings.
1882Birth of A.A MilneEnglish author, writer and playwright based known for his creation, Winnie the Pooh.
1885Birth of D.H LawrenceEnglish writer, author.
1890Birth of Agatha ChristieEnglish, author, writer of detective novels.
1910 Vaughan Williams "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" was first heard on 6 September at the Three Choirs Festival and made an immediate and lasting impact. From a Gloucestershire village had emerged one of Britain's greatest composers. Any music inspired and themed on the genius of Thomas Tallis has got to be worth listening to. An example of influences across centuries. Great art and music it seems transcends fashion and fads thankfully. Play and enjoy free with thanks to the Internet Archive. Thomas Tallis Composers Musical Works
Vaughan Williams
1914-1920A Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams written 1914 1st public performance 1920 Inspired by the George Meredith poem from 1881, its sultry nature takes on a new significance written as it was in 1914 before the outbreak of war and not performed publicly until 1920. It must have had a special poignance to those that new the bloody heartache of war in particular.
1914Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen Poet
the title of this work by arguably our greatest War Poet needs no introduction. Here in the treasures of the Wilfred Owen WW1 War Poet's own manuscript ' Anthem for Doomed Youth' Bodleian library in Oxford you can read the poem in Wilfred's own handwriting, almost a scribble. Not on the manuscript the word is 'dead' not doomed. How in such extreme conditions could anyone even he greatest create such work and focus their attention enough to refine and perfect such works. Simply extraordinary.
WW1 War Poets Artefacts Bodleian treasures Manuscripts
1917Pastoral Symphony Composition By Vaughan Williams 1917
Inspired by the Battlefields of France Vaughan Williams work would be a significant artistic influence influence on post-war Britain. Ralph was 41 when he joined the war by choice, his hearing suffered significantly and in old age he was almost deaf. The tragic events, horror and violence inspiring such beauty in the arts continues to provoke debate, a hundred years on, alongside some of the best poetry of the 20th century and a group of excellent painters, artists and sculptors, it represents an amazing body of work that is relevant and resonant a century later. Sadly it was not the 'war to end all wars.' Vaughan Williams 3rd Pastoral SymphonyMore about this 3rd symphony by Vaughan Williams in this Telegraph article here
WW1 British Composers Vaughan Williams
20th century

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