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Sunday, 27 April 2014


Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet rather than clapping their hands to applaud.

One theory is that the tradition of clapping dates back to 1473 and an early outbreak of cholera. Slapping your hands together was a signal to those around that you were infected. Eventually it became a token of applause, a way of keeping time, and then, by the 1800s, a musical device in its own right.

A claquer was a professional applauder who was hired to clap, laugh or cry into their hanky in French theaters and opera houses in the 1800s.

In Japan, rhythmic handclapping, or tejime, is used ceremonially to celebrate the end of a special event.

Some holistic doctors reckon that engaging in a bit of clapping stimulates certain areas of the brain, which could explain its popularity in forms of musical prayer, from bhajan to gospel.

A group of people that are hired to clap at a performance are called a claque.

The world record for the most number of claps in 60 seconds is held by a man called Kent "Toasty" French.

Wheel of Fortune star Vanna White has been the hostess of  the show since 1982. She was given the Guinness World Record for clapping in 1992. With an estimated 100,000 individual claps per season, it has been calculated that White has clapped about 3.5 million times in her decades as co-host.

Source The Guardian March 23, 2009


The record for the longest-lived animal belongs to a ocean quahog - a type of deep-sea clam - that was 507-years-old when it died in 2006.  Ming the Mollusc – named after the Chinese dynasty on the throne when its life began - was dredged alive from the bottom of the North Atlantic near Iceland in 2006 by researchers. They then put it in a freezer, as is normal practice, unaware of its age.  It was only when it was taken to a laboratory that scientists from Bangor University studied it and concluded it was hundreds of years old.  The discovery made it into the Guinness Book of World Records however by this time, sadly it was too late for Ming the Mollusc.

The Deep Sea Clam of the North Atlantic takes around 100 years to reach the length of just one third of an inch..

The world’s largest clams weigh almost 500 pounds.

Once a giant clam picks a spot to live on a reef, it does not move for the rest of its life.

Clams feed on plankton by drawing in water containing food using an incurrent siphon. The food is then filtered out of the water by the gills and swept toward the mouth on a layer of mucus. The water is then expelled from the animal by an ex-current siphon.

Clams are considered non-kosher along with all other shellfish.

The clam shell has three layers. The top one is called mother-of-pearl because it is a coating of pearl material.

Clams do not have any of the five senses - smell, taste, sight, hearing, and feeling.


In 1931, an American chemist, Lawrence Gelb, introduced the first oil shampoo tint. After eight more years of research, he established the first home purchased hair dye. He named his currently famous company Clairol.

In 1955 The hair-coloring brand Clairol adopted the advertising slogan “does she…or doesn’t she? It had been thought up by advertiser Shirley Polykoff.

Civil Rights Movement

 The Civil Rights Act of 1866, the United States' first federal law to affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law, was enacted on April 9, 1866.

In 1955 Rosa Parks, a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The incident galvanised the black community and led to a successful year long boycott of the Montgomery bus system and the birth of the American civil rights movement.

One of the leaders of the boycott was a young minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, named Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.

In 1963 Dr Martin Luther King, now the Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta gave at the climax of a Washington interracial march his famous "I had a dream" speech to 250,000 followers. A passionate believer in non-violence, King’s unique combination of the message of Jesus (love your enemies) and the method of Gandhi (non-violent protest) gave both a strategy and a philosophy to the Civil Rights movement. " I want to be the White man's brother and not his brother in law" he once wrote.

People during the American Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s were encouraged to march in their finest clothes so as to reframe the very idea of what a disrupter looked like.

When three civil rights activists trying to get to get black voters registered to vote in Mississippi were murdered by the Ku Klax Klan in 1964, the national outrage over their death helped spur support for the Civil Rights Act.

Peaceful civil rights marchers in Alabama were attacked by police and white vigilantes on March 7, 1965 in an event known as  "Bloody Sunday." Led by Dr Martin Luther King, the marchers intended to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; 3,200 people eventually completed the march on March 21-25 protected by the federalized Alabama National Guard.

The third Selma Civil Rights March frontline



There are four cities that claim that title of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. They are:
Byblos, Lebanon Founded around 5000 BC.
Damascus, Syria; first founded in 2300 BC.
Jericho, Palestine; the city was established and abandoned many times prior to its final establishment when it has been continuously occupied since 2600 BC.
Varanasi Present day India founded around 2000 BC.

The first city in Europe is thought to have been Solnitsata, in Bulgaria. Solnitsata had a salt mine, providing the area now known as the Balkans with salt since 5400 BC. Even the name Solnisata means "salt works".

Greco-Roman cities were terribly overpopulated. Antioch, for example, had a population density of about 117 inhabitants per acre—more than three times that of New York City today.

In the 10th century AD there wasn't a single city in Europe that had a population of more than 400,000.

When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land near St. Augustine, Florida on August 28, 1565, he landed and founded St. Augustine, Florida.. It was the first successful Spanish settlement in La Florida and the most significant city in the region for nearly three centuries. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-inhabited, European-established settlement in the continental United States.

View of St. Augustine from the top of Anastasia Island's lighthouse By Ebyabe 

In 1642 Georgeana, Massachusetts (now known as York, Maine), became the first incorporated city in the United States.

In 1900 one tenth of the world’s population lived in cities. Now half of the world’s population do.


The southern most city in the United States is Na'alehu, Hawaii.

The largest city square-miles wise in the 48 contiguous United States is surprisingly Jacksonville, Florida. At 758 square miles, it covers a bigger area than such cities as Houston and Los Angeles.

The largest city in the world – based on surface area, is Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia (China) which is 263 953 km sq (102 000 sq mi).

In 1980, Shenzhen in China had a population of 30,000. By 2017, that had sexcentupled to nearly 20,000,000. It is believed to be the fastest growing city in human history.

La Rinconada, a city in the Peruvian Andes lies at a height of  16,732.28 feet. above sea level. It is the highest elevation human habitation in the world.

The largest city in the world inaccessible by road is Iquitos, Peru, with a population of over 400,000 people in the Amazon rain forest.

Jacksonville, North Carolina is the youngest city in the United States with an average age of 22.8 years old. Its young population can be attributed to the large military presence.

Austin, Texas is the most populous city in the U.S. without a pro sports team.

According to a 2016 study, Fort Wayne, Indiana, has the lowest cost of living of any U.S. city.

Yakutsk, Russia, is probably the coldest city on earth. The average January temperature is -40C.

The world’s ten coldest cities are all in Russia.

Boring, Oregon, Dull, Scotland, and Bland, Australia are sister cities.

Names of US cities, which are also the names of states include Nevada in Missouri, Oregon in Wisconsin, Kansas in Oklahoma, Wyoming in Ohio, Michigan in North Dakota, Delaware in Arkansas, and Indiana in Pennsylvania.

Here is a list of songs with names of cities in their title.

Source Christianity Today


The ancient Egyptians used a mixture of water and citrus juice to wash their hair.

Citrus didn't begin to flourish in Europe until the fourteenth century, though, when early greenhouses were developed to help prevent frost damage to trees. Originally, citrus was used for embalming, aphrodisiacs, cleansing agents and beauty treatments.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the importance of eating citrus to prevent scurvy was acknowledged and Sir Gilbert Blane made the use of lemon and limejuice mandatory in the British navy.

The Devanahalli pomelo, grown only in and around Devanahalli taluk, Bangalore Rural District, India, is said to be the largest citrus fruit in the world.

Pomelo. By Manojk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

According to United Nations 2007 data, Brazil, China, the United States, Mexico, India, and Spain are the world's largest citrus-producing countries. Of these, Brazil is the world's largest producer of oranges, China produces most of the world's mandarins, India is the world's largest producer of lemons and limes, and the United States produce the most grapefruit.

Lemons, limes and most of the other citrus fruits we eat do not occur naturally in the wild - they are the result of generations of interbreeding between various combinations of the four "original" citrus fruits (citron, pomelo, mandarin and papeda).

Oranges and lemons smell different due to chemically identical molecules that are mirror images of each other. An orange is really just a left-handed lemon.

Citrus plants have addictive caffeine in their flower nectar, which brings bees and other pollinators back over and over again.


French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935) was responsible for the mass production of armaments during World War 1. After the war he applied these techniques to the manufacture of low-priced small cars. Citroën, which he founded in 1919, was the first mass-production car company outside the USA.

The first Citroën car was sold on July 7, 1919 - a Citroën 10HP Type A.

Citroen Type A Torpedo 1919 Wikipedia

Andre Citroën pioneered the modern concept of creating a sales and services network that complements the motor car.

In 1924, Citroën produced Europe’s first all-steel-bodied car, the B-10.

In 1934, Citroën introduced its Traction Avant, not only the world's first mass-produced front-wheel drive car, but also one of the first cars to feature a monocoque-type body.

Beside being an able engineer, Citroën was also a gambler, leading to the bankruptcy of his company in 1934. The company was taken over by the main creditor Michelin, who had provided tires for the cars

In 1934 Andre Citroën became bankrupt and lost control of the company which still bears his name.

The Citroën 2CV was created after the Second World War. It was first marketed as an "umbrella on wheels" that could transport eggs without cracking them. Between 1948 and 1990 about four million cars were sold.

In the first rally to cross the Sahara Desert in 1974, the Australian team of Ken Tubman, Andre Welenski, and Jim Reddiex won the "World Cup Rally" driving a Citroën.

Source Wikipedia

Saturday, 19 April 2014


The religious order, the Cistercians was founded in 1098 by Saint Robert of Molesme (1090-1153). in Citeaux, France.

The Cistercian order was a reaction against the increasingly corrupt, worldly behavior of other orders and the monks desired to live a simple lifestyle, in accordance with a literal interpretation of Saint Benedict's Rule. Its emphasis was on solitude, poverty, and simplicity.

In 1115 St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) founded with a dozen Cistercians a new house of Clairvaux in a remote valley in the Champagne region of France.

By the late 1120s, the monastery had become under Bernard of Clairvaux’s rule the most prominent of the Cistercian order. Bernard’s eloquent preaching and the miracles witnessed there attracted numerous pilgrims.

The severity of the Cistercians proved very successful and St Bernard established 343 monasteries before he died.

The Cistercian monks need to be early risers. Their day starts at 2.15 am when they file to church for night-office and community mass.

Friday, 18 April 2014


In Ancient Rome the circus was a round or oval building for showing horse and chariot races, horse shows, staged battles, acts with animals, jugglers and acrobats.

The standard format of the Roman games was: animal entertainments in the morning session, followed by the executions of criminals around midday, with the afternoon session reserved for gladiatorial combats and recreations of famous battles.

The Latin word circus comes from the Greek word kirkos, meaning “circle" or "ring”.

The Roman circus had tiered seats. The important people sat at the bottom, near the action.

The first circus in Rome was the Circus Maximus, in the valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills. At first it was made of wood. It was rebuilt several times; the last building of the Circus Maximus could seat 250,000 people.

Former cavalry officer Philip Astley staged the first modern circus on January 9, 1768 with shows of acrobatic riding skills, including a female horse-rider covered in bees. The entertainment took place in an open field on the south bank opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.

This format was so successful that Astley added a clown to his shows to amuse the spectators between equestrian sequences, and later moved to fenced premises just south of Westminster Bridge, where he expanded the content of his show with acrobats, jugglers and dancing dogs.

The first circus building in the US opened on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia, where English equestrian John Bill Ricketts gave America's first complete circus performance. The Circus was a roofless arena of around 800 seats surrounding a circular riding space. The wooden construction had been erected in a matter of weeks by Ricketts. George Washington attended a performance there later that season.

In 1825, American Joshuah Purdy Brown invented the canvas circus tent.

In 1871 P.T. Barnum established the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, which included the midget ‘Tom Thumb,’ a circus, a menagerie, and an exhibition of ‘freaks’, conveyed in 100 railway carriages.

Carl and Wilhelm Hagenbeck developed in 1888 the round cage that filled the entire circus allowing the animals more freedom.

The size of a circus ring is designed to fit the smallest circle in which a horse can gallop.

The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth toured Europe from 1897 to 1902. Its large scale, touring techniques (including the tent and circus train), and its combination of circus acts, a zoological exhibition and a freak show were all adopted by European circuses at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1919, Lenin, head of the USSR, expressed a wish for the circus to be treated as a serious art form, with facilities just like opera and ballet. Eight years later the Moscow Circus School, was established; performers were trained using methods developed from the Soviet gymnastics program.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed its very last "Big Tent" show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1956, due to changing economics. President John Ringling North announed that starting in 1957 they would exhibit in permanent venues, such as sports stadiums and arenas that had the seating already in place.

The actor Christopher Walken traveled with the circus when he was 15 as a lion tamer.

Russia has 15,000 circus performers.

Here is a list of songs about circuses and carnivals.

Source Wikipedia


Circumcision (the cutting off the foreskin on the penis of a boy or man) is the world's oldest planned surgical procedure. It is thought to be over 15,000 years old, pre-dating recorded history.

The earliest historical record of circumcision comes from Egypt, in the form of an image of the circumcision of an adult carved into the tomb of Ankh-Mahor at Saqqara, dating to about 2350 BC.

Genesis chapter 17 describes the circumcision of Abraham and his relatives and slaves, making him the first named individual to undergo the procedure.

In the Jewish faith, circumcision is an important tradition because it represents the newly born baby being included in the covenant (or agreement) which God made with the prophet Abraham. Religious law orders that male infants be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. ( Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3)

Vitamin k is only fully developed by the eighth day, so that is the ideal time to circumcise a child to stop him bleeding to death. This is why God commanded Moses and the nation of Israel to circumcise male children on the eighth day.

According to the Qur'an, Allah ordered Muhammad to follow the religion of Ibrahim (the Hebrew Abraham). Today many Islamic scholars say that circumcision is an important ritual and a symbolic step of purification along the lines of Abrahamic tradition.

Christopher Columbus found circumcision in practice by the native Americans. It was also practiced by the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans.

A trip to the barbers in Yemen can provide more than a haircut. Circumcisions to order can also be supplied on the premises.

About one-third of males worldwide currently are circumcised.

A study of more than 3,000 South African men found that male circumcision dramatically reduces the risk of contracting AIDS.  Half the men were randomly assigned to be left uncircumcised while the other half were circumcised. By the end of the study researchers found that for every ten uncircumcised men who contracted HIV through sex with HIV-infected women, only three of the circumcised men became infected.

Source Wikipedia


Cinnamon is the inner bark or rind of  the Laurus cinnamomum tree, which is allied to the laurel.

Cinnamon was first referenced in the Bible in Exodus when God was speaking to Moses on top of Mount Sinai.

In Ancient Rome Cinnamon was considered more valuable than silver and gold.

Cinnamon is a preservative, and was used for this purpose by embalmers in ancient Egypt.

In a show of honor the  Romans burned a year's supply of cinnamon at the funeral for Nero's wife.

The spice was supplied to the Romans by Arab traders who protected their business interests by deliberately shrouding its source in mystery. They spread fantastic tales that cinnamon is grown in deep valleys swarming with poisonous snakes.

With the ascendancy of the western European nations in the Oriental spice trade during the later Middle Ages, cinnamon was used by the richer classes to camouflage bad flavors and odours and make food increasingly delectable .

Cinnamon was used to make the spiced wine, claret, in the Middle Ages.

Research shows that eating cinnamon cools your body by up to two degrees and maintains the integrity of the stomach wall.

In Denmark, if you are unmarried at 25, you'll get cinnamon thrown all over you on your birthday.

In India, cinnamon is commonly used in making flavoured tea. It is known as "Daal-Cheeni" in Hindi.

In Finland, cinnamon rolls are called "korvapuusti," which can be translated as "slapped ears."

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


The first ever commercial motion picture house opened on April 14, 1894 in New York City at 1155 Broadway, on the corner of 27th Street. The venue used ten Kinetoscopes, a device for peep-show viewing of films, set up in parallel rows of five, each showing a different movie. For 25 cents a viewer could see all the films in either row; half a dollar gave access to the entire bill.

A San Francisco Kinetoscope parlor, ca. 1894–95.

The Lumière brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines, Paris on December 28, 1895 marking the debut of the cinema.

The Regent Street Cinema in London played short footage by the Lumière Brothers in late February 1896. It was the first piece of film shown in the United Kingdom.

The first public exhibition of projected motion pictures in America was at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City on April 23, 1896. It used the Vitascope film projector.

1896 poster advertising the Vitascope

Thomas Lincoln Tally’s Electric Theatre, the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opened on April 2, 1902 in Los Angeles. It showed short films for ten cents per customer. A converted arcade, The Electric Theatre was located at 262 Main Street - next to St. Vibiana's Cathedral.

The cinema organ, with its distinctive 'voicing' and its special effects was developed in the early 20th century especially by the Wurlitzer Company in the USA, to accompany silent films and to play popular medleys during intervals.

The term ''Nickelodeon'' was used for early movie theaters that cost 5¢ to enter. An ''odeon'' was any building used for live entertainment in ancient Greece and Rome.

Scrap-metal dealer Louis B. Mayer renovated the Gem Theater, a rundown, 600 seat burlesque house in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which he reopened on November 28, 1907 as the Orpheum, his first movie theater. Within a few years, with Nathan H. Gordon, he created the Gordon-Mayer partnership that controlled the largest theater chain in New England.

The Duke of York's Picture House opened in Brighton on September 22, 1910. It is now the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.

Opening day, 22 September 1910

Early movie theaters in Japan hired benshi, storytellers who sat next to the screen and narrated silent movies. They were descendants of kabuki jōruri, kōdan storytellers, and other forms of oral storytelling. With the advent of sound in the early 1930s, the benshi gradually disappeared.

The largest movie theatre in the world, Radio City Music Hall in New York City, opened in December, 1932. It originally had 5,945 seats.

Richard Hollingshead opened the world's first drive-in movie on 10 acres off Wilson Boulevard, Camden, New Jersey on June 6, 1933, with a screen of 40 by 30 feet. The charge was 0.25 ¢ per person, with a maximum of $1.00. The first film shown was the Adolphe Menjou movie Wife Beware.

The Camden drive-in theater was advertised with the slogan, "The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are."

First drive-in theater, Camden, New Jersey, 1933

The Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, became the first venue to offer two film programs on different screens in 1957 when Canadian theater-owner Nat Taylor converted the dual screen theater into one capable of showing two different films simultaneously.

While searching the Paris Catacombs in 2004, police discovered a cinema in one of the caverns. It was equipped with a giant screen, seats for the audience, a complete restaurant and a fully stocked bar,. The source of its electrical power and the identity of those responsible remain unknown.

A group of embittered singles worked together to buy up all odd-numbered cinema seats for a Valentine's Day screening of Beijing Love Story, at the Shanghai Xintiandi cinema on February 14, 2014. They thus forced couples to sit apart while watching the sappy big-budget romance.

The world's first permanent virtual reality movie cinema opened in Amsterdam in 2016. Viewers can turn in their chairs to see the movie in 360°.

The Sound of Music had the longest first run in US cinemas ever at four and a half years.

At 62 metres high, Cineworld Glasgow is the tallest cinema in the world.

Film trailers were originally shown after the movie, which why they are called “trailers.” 


The story of Cinderella is a traditional fairy tale. In 1697 A Frenchman, Charles Perrault published a collection of eight fairy tales entitled Histoires ou contes du temps passé. As well as Cinderella his book also included The Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Puss in Boots.

Not until Perrault's publication did Cinderella wear glass slippers, or "pantouffles en verre." Perrault mistranslated this phrase and thought it was equivalent to "pantouffles en vair," which actually means slippers made from white squirrel fur.

Oliver Herford illustrated Cinderella with the Fairy Godmother, inspired by Perrault's version.
In 1729, Robert Samber translated the volume into English, Histories, or Tales of Past Time, which was popularized in England, and later in America as Mother Goose Tales.

Queen Elizabeth II acted in a number of Pantomimes during World War Two including playing the part of Prince Florizel in Cinderella in 1941.

The moment when Cinderella's Fairy Godmother transforms her torn dress into a gown was said to be Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation.

In the real world, Cinderella's glass slippers would need to have 1.15 centimeter heels if she wanted to run without shattering them.


The cigarette lighter was invented in 1816, while the match was invented eleven years later in 1827.

Philip Morris launched the Marlboro brand in 1924.  The name was taken from a street in London where PM's British factory was located.

While filming The Wizard of Oz, 16-year-old Judy Garland was put on a strict diet that included smoking 80 cigarettes a day to suppress her appetite.

Marlboro cigarettes were originally designed as a women's cigarette, based on the slogan "Mild As May". The iconic red stripe was intended to hide lipstick stains, thus making it appealing to women. When it failed to attract women, the company changed the filter color to a muted brown, slapped a cowboy on it and marketed it to men.

The Flintstones was originally aimed at older viewers, airing at 8.30pm on Friday nights. And in the early days it was sponsored by a cigarette company - so Fred and company could occasionally be seen relaxing with a smoke over the closing credits.

In 1964 US. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued the first government report saying smoking may be hazardous to human health.

President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation in 1965 requiring cigarette packages and adverts to display a health warning from the US. Surgeon General.

Throughout the 1960s Michael Caine was by his own estimation smoking at least eighty cigarettes a day. He quit smoking cigarettes following a stern lecture from Tony Curtis at a party in 1971.

John Wayne smoked six packs of cigarettes a day.

President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law on April 1, 1970, requiring the Surgeon General's warnings on tobacco products and banning cigarette advertisements on television and radio in the United States. The last cigarette ad appeared on the New Year’s Day football games in 1971.

Surgeon General's warning on a cigarette pack, 2012.

Daniel Radcliffe was nicknamed "Harry Puffer" by his Harry Potter co-stars for having the so-called "20-a-day cigarette habit."

The top five countries for cigarette smoking per head of population are Montenegro, Belarus, Lebanon, Macedonia and Russia.

A monkey was once tried and convicted for smoking a cigarette in South Bend, Indiana.

Birds that live in cities have learned to line their nests with cigarette butts. Nicotine is a powerful insecticide that wards off mites, lice and fleas.

One cigarette contains enough toxic ingredients to kill a person if those ingredients were directly injected into bloodstream.

Research has indicated that approximately eleven minutes are cut off the life of an average male smoker from each cigarette smoked.

Second hand tobacco smoke contributes to more than 50,000 deaths per year in the US alone.

In the United States cigarette smoking is thought to be responsible for nearly half the cancer cases considered to be environmentally caused and for almost one third of the cancer deaths overall of men.

The country with the greatest cigarette consumption in the world is China where there are 350 million smokers. One million deaths a year there are attributed to smoking, according to the World Health Organisation.

The average adult in China smokes 4,124 cigarettes a year, the world’s highest figure.

In China, cigarette companies are allowed to sponsor schools, with slogans like "Genius comes from hard work. Tobacco helps you become talented."

In 2014 alone, smokers lit up more than 5.8 trillion cigarettes. 1.7 trillion cigarettes were consumed by Chinese smokers alone. .

Not accounting for inflation, a person who smoked a pack a day for 51 years would spend $111,690 on cigarettes.

Cigarettes are the single-most traded item on the planet, with approximately 1 trillion being sold from country to country each year

Source Daily Express

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Cigar bands are said to have originated with Queen Catherine the Great of Russia, who used a silk band on her cigars to avoid having the smell of tobacco on her hands.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel smoked over 40 cigars a day.

After a report that President Ulysses S. Grant had puffed on a cigar while in a conflict, gifts of 10,000 fine cigars poured in for him. It was said he could smoke 20 cigars a day, trying to put away all those expensive ones given to him by admirers.

Sigmund Freud smoked 20 cigars a day. He continued to do after developing oral cancer until a heart attack forced him to give them up.

Winston Churchill had an oxygen mask made for him for flying in high altitude airplanes during World War II that was customized to allow him to smoke cigars through a hole in the mask.

In the early days of alleged flying saucer sightings, they were  known as “flying cigars”.

John F Kennedy had his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, purchase 1200 Cuban cigars before signing the documents that made the embargo against Cuba official.

Roger Moore's James Bond contract stipulated he would receive an unlimited supply of Montecristo cigars during filming.

The world’s longest cigar was made by Jose Castelar Cairo in 2011. The 268 ft long cigar is on display in La Triada tobacco shop in Havana, Cuba. To keep it within in the building, it is curved around its display case.


Ancient Britons relished cider, an excessively strongly alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of apples.

England's King John died of an intestinal illness at an East Anglian abbey having hastened his death by eating an excess of peaches and drinking too much cider.

Excise duty was introduced in 1643 in Great Britain for cider. It was one shilling and three pence on every hogshead (around 63 gallons).

By Sir James - Wikipedia Commons

Great Britain’s Prime Minister John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was forced out of office on April 8, 1763 after suggesting a new tax on one of the nation’s favourite tipples: cider. Lord Bute proposed a tax of four shillings which would be levied on every hogshead of cider made, which provoked enormous hostility in cider-producing areas.

Cider made from fresh apple juice was a common alcoholic beverage in the United States in the nineteenth century. Next to water, it was the most widely available and cheapest drink.

In the United States and Canada people drink a special kind of cider around Thanksgiving. This cider is usually unfiltered, rather thick, and it is often heated and spiced with cinnamon before drinking it. This is different from the cider in Europe, which usually is not heated.


The word "chutney" is derived from the Sanskrit word caṭnī, meaning to lick.

The first chutneys in India would have been sticky fruit based preserves. Sugar, although available in India, was not widely cultivated and honey would have been used to sweeten dishes, thus leading to the chutneys being used as more of a dipping sauce rather than a condiment.

Diego Álvarez Chanca the physician and companion of Christopher Columbus brought back chili peppers from the Americas. After discovering their medicinal properties, Chanca developed a chutney to administer them.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was born two months prematurely on November 30, 1874, in a bedroom in Blenheim Palace (see below), the 21,000 acre estate of the Dukes of Marlborough. Winston was born after his mother slipped and fell while out walking at Blenheim Palace

His father was Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95), a descendant of the Duke of Marlborough and a prominent Tory MP (Secretary of State for India 1885, Chancellor of Exchequer 1886).

Churchill had a distant relationship with his father, despite keenly following his career. Once, in 1886, he is reported to have proclaimed "My daddy is Chancellor of the Exchequer and one day that's what I'm going to be."

Churchill's mother was American Jenny Jerome, who was a significant politician, writer and socialiser. A thrice married beauty, she was 1/8th Iroquois and had a permanent snake-like bracelet tattooed on her wrist.

As a child, he was a chunky explosive redhead, hyperactive and naughty.

Churchill, aged seven, in 1881

He  had the same governess, Miss Hutchinson, as Clement Attlee.

Winston was very close to his nurse (nannie), Mrs. Elizabeth Everest (nicknamed "Woom" by Churchill), and was deeply saddened when she died.

As per tradition, Churchill spent much of his childhood at boarding schools, including Harrow. He was rarely visited by his mother, whom he worshipped, despite his letters begging her to either come or let his father permit him to come home.

The dyslexic Churchill entered Harrow as rock bottom student and stayed in the lowest grades at school "three times longer than anyone else." He enjoyed literature and history but detested languages and maths.

Churchill was mocked by his fellow Harrow upils for his red hair and called Copperknob.

Churchill did become Harrow's fencing champion.

In 1893, on his third attempt, Churchill  passed the entrance exam and enrolled in the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He entered the college near the bottom of the intake of cadets but when he graduated two years later he was ranked eighth out of 150 in his class. He got interested in politics there.

Churchill had an incredible memory and could repeat verbatim a lecture or a play.

Churchill has had a history of illness and injury starting from the age of ten when he nearly died of pneumonia. At the age of 18 playing tag he fell 30 feet of a bridge at Alum Chine, Bournemouth into a gorge and was unconscious for three days. A year later he nearly drowned whilst swimming with a brother in a Swiss lake. At the age of 20 he escaped death by seconds when in Cuba as a military observer a bullet smashed into the seat he had left a few moments before.

Early in his life, Churchill briefly worked as a greeting card designer for Hallmark.

Winston joined the British Army, in 1893 as Sub lieutenant in 4th (Queens Own) Hussars.

He spent first three months of leave in 1895 as correspondent in Cuba for the London Daily Graphic.

In 1896, he was transferred to Bombay, in what was the Indian Empire (British India) where he joined the Punjab Infantry Regiment in India.

Churchill was considered one of the best polo players in his Indian regiment and led his team to many prestigious tournament victories.

Churchill served as a Cavalry officer in Sudan in 1898 where he fought in the Battle of Omdurman under the command of Kitchener. (The last classic cavalry charge in British warfare) having originally been the first man to sight his rival Khalifra's army. He was decorated for bravery after Sudan.

Churchill was The Morning Post's war correspondent during the Boer War.  On November 15, 1899,  he was captured and imprisoned by Boers. The following month, Churchill and two other inmates successfully made an escape from the prison camp in Pretoria over the latrine wall, hiding in a mine shaft for three days.

After his escape from a prisoner of war camp during the Boer War, Churchill had a £25 reward dead or alive placed on his head.

Winston had a younger brother John, who served in the South African Light Horse alongside him in the Second Boer War between 1899 and 1900. John was Mentioned in Dispatches.

After the success of his journalism Churchill  resigned from his army commission in 1900 and took up writing as a full time profession along with politics.

Winston Churchill on a lecture tour of the United States in 1900

Churchill made his first political speech in the grounds of the manor house at Chaverton, Avon in 1898.

In 1900 Churchill was elected MP for Oldham as a Conservative

In 1901 he made his maiden speech in Parliament establishing himself as a trouble shooter and inspirational figure.

Churchill had problems pronouncing his "S's".

A freemason, Churchill was initiated to the Studholme Lodge in 1902.

Churchill switched to the Liberal party in 1904 over the free trade issue.

In 1905 Churchill gained his first ministry position when he became Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, dealing mainly with South Africa after the Boer War.

5' 7" (1.70 m), the red-headed Churchill had a snub nose and an anchor tattooed on his forearm.

Churchill proposed to the actress Ethel Barrymore when she was a young woman.. She refused him, but they remained friends.

On September 2, 1908, at the socially-desirable St. Margaret's, Westminster, Churchill married Clementine Hozier (1885-1977), a dazzling but largely penniless beauty whom he'd met at a dinner party that March.

They remained married for sixty years but several times they came close to divorce. She supported him tirelessly in his long and often difficult career.

Clementine Churchill in 1915

They had five children:
Diana Churchill, 1909-1963) She committed suicide at the age of 54 by taking an overdose of barbiturates.
Randolph Churchill (Randolph Frederick Edward), 1911-1968)  (who followed him into Parliament)
Sarah Churchill, (1914-1982)  an actress and dancer who co-starred with Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding.
Marigold Frances Churchill, (1918-1921). She died in early childhood of septicaemia.
Mary Churchill (Lady Mary Soames) (1922-), who has written a book on her parents.

In 1911 Churchill became First Lord of Admiralty. He introduced a bold programming of shipbuilding getting the Navy ready for the First World War.

Churchill his position as First Lord of the Admiralty after the 1915 massacre in the Dardanelles during World War 1 for which he was blamed .]

When Minister of Munitions during the latter part of the First World War,  Churchill would recite Siegfried Sassoon's anti war poems to his staff.

From 1922 Churchill lived at Chartwell, a modest Victorian house where he created with his own hands the garden walls, rockery and waterworks. He built one of the first private swimming pools in England there. Winston named it "cosy pig".

Churchill liked pigs and signed off letters with a picture of one as he felt cats thought humans beneath them, dogs thought humans above them but pigs never thought about it at all.

Churchill kept black swans in his Chartwell Lake. He also had  a huge menagerie of pelicans,  tropical fish, butterflies, dogs and cats.

Now a museum, the rooms at Chartwell  are kept furnished in the way they were during Churchill's lifetime.

Churchill was not a keen golfer as golf is "an ineffectual attempt to direct an uncontrollable sphere into an inaccessible hole with instruments ill adapted to the purpose."

He was a member of the Tuna club, in South California, the oldest fishing club in the USA.

Churchill formally rejoined the Conservative Party in 1924, commenting wryly that "anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.”

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill oversaw Britain's disastrous return to the Gold Standard, which resulted in deflation, unemployment, and the miners' strike that led to the General Strike of 1926. Churchill later regarded this as the greatest mistake of his life.

Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer during the General Strike. He proposed to force the striking miners back to work by cutting off poor relief to their wives and children.

During the 1930s a car crossing 5th Avenue in New York hit Churchill. He collapsed and was rushed to hospital with serious internal bleeding.

Churchill was under contract to London Films from 1934-39 as a film scriptwriter. Among his works was Conquest of Air (1938).

Winston Churchill was appointed British Prime Minister as head of an all-party administration in 1940.

After Hitler’s Nazis invaded France and Belgium, the British Army found itself  trapped in northern France standing alone against Germany. King George VI, acting upon the wishes of newspapers and a recommendation from Winston Churchill issued a call to the nation for a National Day of prayer.

Churchill liked theological imagery but was not a believer and he once quipped to a reporter who asked him if he supported the Church,  “I am not a pillar of the church but a buttress- I support it from the outside.

In 1942 Churchill told a group of mine-owners and mine workers delegates: “I sometimes have a feeling of interference. I want to stress that. I have a feeling that sometimes that some Guiding Hand has interfered. I have a feeling that we have a Guardian because we have a great Cause and we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that Cause faithfully."

Churchill's talks on the radio during 1941/42 averaged 19 million English-speaking peoples.

Churchill always refused to travel on Friday the 13th.

He rarely traveled on public transport. One time Churchill rode round and round on The London underground Circle line and had to be helped off by a friend.

Churchill suffered from cyclothymia, a chronic disorder consisting of repetitive periods of mild depression followed by periods of normal or slightly elevated mood. So bad were Churchill's periods of depression, (he referred to them as his "black dog"), that he did not allow himself to stand at the edge of railway platforms or ship decks in case he decided to jump.

An insomniac, Churchill had twin beds and when he couldn't fall asleep in one he would move on top to the other one. He often didn’t go to bed until the early hours of the morning and when he could he didn’t rise until midday.

Churchill was in the habit of taking afternoon naps, which fueled his energy to keep him going until the small hours.

When Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. Greatly concerned, the king summoned the best physician who could be found to the bedside of the ailing leader. That doctor was Sir Alexander Fleming, the developer of penicillin. He was also the son of  the gardener who had saved Winston from drowning as a boy. Later Churchill said, “Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person.”

Churchill drunk a lot of champagne, especially his favourite brand Pol Roger and had a seemingly enormous capacity for brandy. Such was his passion for it that the Nazi Goebbels caricatured him as a drunk.

The champagne house Pol Roger made a special one-pint bottle of champagne for Winston Churchill, to be served each morning at 11am.

Churchill was also a great port lover but would buy only Graham’s Six Grapes port.

Churchill has marathon drinking sessions, which usually started late and went onto the early hours of the following day. "When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast." he quipped to King George VI.

Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, invented the Manhattan Cocktail (whisky and sweet vermouth).

During the darkest hours of World War Two his spirits were often raised by the song "Keep Right to the End of the Road.”

Churchill watched the film Bambi during the Second World War to keep his morale up.

Churchill's favorite film was That Hamilton Lady (1942). He was also a great fan of the Marx Brothers.  His colleagues testified to their displeasure at the PM's habit of breaking off the evening works to watch the ritual movie and then expecting them to match his alertness and vigour until 3.00 in the morning.

Churchill had a parrot called Charlie who he brought in the 1930s and owned for 28 years. Charlie the Cursor, as he was known, was taught by Churchill a few swear words.

Churchill owned a a red-brown poodle called Rufus who shared his breakfast with Winston's parakeet, Charlie and the great man himself.

Rufus was Churchill’s constant companion during World War II. Sadly Rufus was run over in 1947. Following this misfortune, a Sunday newspaper reported that Moira Abbott of Uxbridge had offered Churchill one of her bulldogs as a replacement, but she was informed that if Mr Churchill has another dog, it would be a poodle again.

When Winston Churchill moved into 10 Downing Street his black cat Nelson kicked the previous Prime Minister Neville Chamberlian's cat, Munich, out of the house.

Nelson sat in a chair, next to Churchill  in both the cabinet and dining rooms. He was named after Lord Nelson.

Churchill was on a salary of £10,000 pa in 1943.

The Labour Party won the United Kingdom general election of July 5, 1945 by a landslide, removing Winston Churchill from power. The results were counted and declared on July 26, 1945. owing in part to the time it took to transport the votes of those serving overseas.

When the Conservatives lost the 1945 General Election, Churchill, in consolation, was offered an honor by the crown. His reaction, "How can I take the order of the bath from his majesty when the electorate has given me the order of the boot."

When his wife commented it could be a blessing in disguise losing the 1945 General Election, Churchill commented it seemed quite effectively disguised.

Churchill delivered his "Sinews of Peace" speech to a crowd of 40,000 people at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, USA on March 5, 1946. During his address he introduced the world to the notion of an ‘ Iron Curtain’ dividing the Soviet Union and the West. ("From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent").

Churchill was voted Time Magazine Man of the Half Century in 1950.

A prolific historical writer, Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.  He was allegedly disappointed that it wasn't the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to prevent the Cold War between the East and West from deteriorating into nuclear conflict.

His first book was a successful account of skirmishes in the North West frontier

Churchill published his only novel Savrola in 1900, a reasonable success, it made him £2,000.

He received an advance of £8,000 from Macmillans for his 1906 biography of his father, the equivalent of £350,000 today.

When an editor criticized Churchill for ending a sentence with a preposition, Churchill replied with a note "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put."

Winston Churchill became UK prime minister for the second time at nearly 77-years-old on October 26, 1951.

Churchill suffered a stroke in 1953 during his second spell of Prime Minister, which was covered up. He was advised to retire by a consultant neurologist after an earlier stroke four years previously but he kept  working, as his personal physician believed it was his duty to help to keep him in politics for as long as possible.

Churchill turned to the amphetamine Benzedrine to preserve his failing powers in his last couple of years in his second spell as Prime Minister.  However a mixture of old age, pressure of work, prolonged alcoholic abuse and excessive use of sedatives bought on arteriosclerosis and rendered him almost incapable of carrying out his duties.

Sir Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister due to ill-health aged 80 on April 5, 1955. Anthony Eden succeeded him.

A photographer who had been photographing Churchill on his 80th birthday said politely he hoped to photograph him on his 100th. " Don't see why not young man" said Churchill "you look reasonably young to me."

Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on April 24, 1953. She also invested him with the insignia of the Order of the Garter, the oldest British Order of Chivalry.

Churchill with his son Randolph and grandson in the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Garter

Winston Churchill became the first person ever to be made an honorary US citizen in 1963.

Churchill finally stood down as a MP at the 1964 general election. He was 89-years old.

Churchill spent spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and his London home, 28 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington. He devoted his last years to painting and writing.

At the age of 40 Churchill  discovered a talent for painting and from then on when his spirits needed lifting he would dip his paintbrush into his oils and be as contented as a caterpillar in a cabbage patch.

Churchill liked painting landscapes "because no tree has ever complained about its likeness." He could paint landscapes best and he used gaudy paints as he liked bright colors.

During a painting expedition in Morocco Churchill found the place he wanted which he had the best view of the landscape. The middle of the village's communal lavatory!

Churchill's hobby earned him an invitation to become a member of the Royal Academy.

Salvador Dali in 1949 declared Winston to be "The most amazing painter to come from England where there are no painters."

The exhibition of Churchill's paintings in 1958 at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York attracted 147,750 visitors, a museum record.

When he reached Heaven Churchill said he intended to spend a considerable proportion of his first million years painting "so get to the bottom of the subject."

In 1963, by Act of Congress, Churchill was bestowed with honorary U.S. citizenship, the first recipient since Lafayette. He was too infirm to travel to Washington DC to receive the honor in person.

During his last years Churchill owned a ginger cat called Jock who ate with him and slept with him. He was mentioned in his will.  Churchill used to refer to Jock as his special assistant.

Churchill once quipped “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

On January 15, 1965 Churchill suffered another stroke — a severe cerebral thrombosis — that left him gravely ill. He died nine days later at his Hyde Park Gate home, on January 24, 1965, 70 years to the day of his father's death.

His ginger cat Jock was reported to be on the bed with his master on the day Churchill died.

His body lay in State in Westminster Hall for three days and a state funeral service was held at St Paul's Cathedral on January 30, 1965. It was the first state funeral for a non royal family member since that of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar in 1914.

It was Churchill's wish that, were French President Charles de Gaulle to outlive him, his (Churchill's) funeral procession should pass through Waterloo Station.

The state funeral was the largest gathering of dignitaries in Britain as representatives from over 100 countries attended it, including de Gaulle, other heads of state and government, and members of royalty. It also saw largest assemblage of statesmen in the world until the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005.

The five hour burial ceremony was watched by 350 million (mainly on TV).

At Churchill's request, he was buried in the family plot at Saint Martin's Churchyard, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, not far from his birthplace at Blenheim.

Churchill's grave at St Martin's Church, Bladon

Churchill always sat at Table no 4 at the Savoy Grill. After he'd passed away they prohibited other diners sitting there for a year as a tribute to the great statesman.

Churchill had a posthumous hit LP The Voice of Churchill, which got to #6 in the 1965 UK album charts.

The Pogues' 1985 album Sodomy and the Lash derived its title from Winston Churchill's description of the British naval tradition.

Churchill was voted as "The Greatest Briton" in 2002 "100 Greatest Britons" poll sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public.

His daughter Mary wrote to him on his death bed. 'I owe you what every Englishman, woman and child owes you - liberty itself.'

Sources The Book of Lists 2 5,000 Amazing Gems of Wit and Wisdom, The Fine Art of Political Wit Faber Book of Anecdotes, Daily Express

Church of England

Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon, but asked the Pope to annul the marriage. When the annulment was refused, the King transferred ecclesiastical jurisdiction and revenues from the Pope to himself and created the Church of England. The English Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, making the king head of the English church on November 3, 1534.

Henry VIII

Despite Pope Paul III decreeing slavery for all Englishmen who supported Henry VIII, the king’s countrymen were behind their monarch in breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church.

The 1563 Thirty-nine Articles, which combined Catholic organization and Protestant doctrine, were defining statements of Anglican doctrine. They established the Church of England with Elizabeth I its supreme governor.

A coal miner in 1730s England would rise at 3.30 am for breakfast then work in the mine shifts with poor ventilation all day before creeping into bed at nightfall to begin again the next day. On Sunday he was too dirty and to poor to find comfort in the middle class church and if he should turn up he was likely to sent away by an Anglican church officer.

On July 14, 1833 John Keble (1792-1866), a parson's son, and professor of poetry at Oxford preached a sermon on "Natural Apostasy" which sparked off the "Oxford Movement", a revival of Catholic spirituality in the Church of England. For the next eight years a group of Oxford High churchmen including Keble and John Henry Newman sent a series of pamphlets to every parsonage in England warning of the dangers they felt were threatening the church from secular authorities such as the Liberals and Dissenters. They advocated a higher degree of ceremonial worship nearer to that of the Roman Catholic Church. This ceremonial form of worship in the Anglican Church is now known as Anglo-Catholicism.

Bartholomew Edwards, the Rector of St Nicholas, Ashill, Norfolk died at the age of 100 in 1889. He holds the record for the longest ever recorded incumbency having been the vicar of the parish since 1813.

In 1942 the Church of England abolished its rule forcing women to wear hats in church.

In 1980 the modern Alternative Service Book was introduced by the Church of England as an alternative to the 1662 Prayer Book.

The General Synod of the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests on November 11, 1992.

Two years after the Church of England Synod voted in favor of women priests, the first 32 Anglican women priests were ordained on March 12, 1994 at Bristol Cathedral by Bishop Barry Rogerson. However in response, 700 Anglican clergymen threatened to leave the Anglican Church for the Roman Catholic Church.

When John Sentamu was enthroned as Archbishop of York in 2005, he became the first member of an ethnic minority to serve as an archbishop in the Church of England.

In 2010, for the first time in the history of the Church of England, more women than men were ordained as priests (290 women and 273 men).

Elizabeth Jane Holden "Libby" Lane (born 1966) became the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England, after its General Synod voted in July 2014 to allow women to become bishops. Her consecration as the Bishop of Stockport took place on January 26, 2015 at York Minster.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Church Music

Following the ravages of the Black Death many people started paying money to their priests to dedicate masses to them and their families, believing that this would ensure divine protection on Earth. The result of this was an income for the church that was spent on intricate decoration and liturgical music. Most churches had at least resident musician whose task was to produce music on a weekly basis for both the mass and the choir.

High, clear-toned male voices were favoured in Medieval European church music, resulting in a vocal quality that could help the listener hear the words that were being sung. The highest parts were sung by trebles (boy sopranos) and adult male falsettos, although by the 15th century composers had begun to explore the bass range.

Here is a list of Songs Sung at Church

Source Microsoft® Encarta® 99 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation.



The Greek word “Ekklesia” translated “church” in the New Testament refers to either a local congregation or believers or universal body of Christ. In the New Testament the Greek word Ekklesia is used 111 times. It comes from two Greek words Ex (out of) and Xahew (I call).

The oldest surviving Christian church, a converted house in Qal’at es Salihiye in eastern Syria, dates from 232 AD. Its frescoes, which show scenes of healing and marriage, and 12,000 artifacts of daily life were removed in the Thirties by Yale archaeologists and taken to the U.S.

The first rural churches emerged in the West in the early fourth century. Up until this time, Christians had only been meeting together in urban centers, but bishops were by then embarking on preaching tours and setting up churches in the bigger villages to serve the new Christians.

The earliest imperial churches in Rome, like the first church of St. Peter's erected by Constantine from 333, were vast barns with wooden roofs supported on lines of columns. They resembled basilicas, which had carried on the Hellenistic style of columnar architecture.

After instruction in Rome, the Englishman Ninian was sent around 400 AD by the pope as an evangelist to the Picts in western Scotland.  Ninian established there a church and monastery, Candida Casa (“White House”) at Whithorn, on the Solway Forth, taking Martin of Tours’ work as an example. It was the first stone church in Britain.

Benedict Biscop (c. 628 – 690), formerly the Abbot of St Peter's in Canterbury  is said to have introduced stone edifices and glass windows to England.

At the beginning of the Second Millennium, Church leaders begin building the churches and cathedrals which would come to characterize European Christianity throughout the Middle Ages. These centers of worship were built facing east in the shape of a cross. In the first century of the Millennium, 1,500 were built in France alone and by the second century there was an average of a church for every 200 people in England.

During medieval times the common people stood up during the church services with a screen in front of them. Whilst the choir and the priest performed the service the people would attempt to watch through the gaps in the screen. Seating was provided for the gentry and there were benches by the walls for the elderly.

During the Middle Ages Romanesque sculptors working on the churches showed a boundless imagination.  In particular the tortures of hell inspired some fantastic scenes. So much so that some of the church authorities complained. Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance, remarked on this subject “What good are all these horrible monkeys, ferocious lions, and imaginary centaurs? We spend more time looking at these strange creatures than thinking about ‘God’s law."

The first Protestant church services in North America were conducted by Francis Drake in 1579 for his men while docked in San Francisco Bay during his historic journey round the world in the Golden Hind.

A law was introduced in 1587 issued by Elizabeth I of England that introduced fines of 1 shilling per Sunday for anyone who refused to attend a Church of England service.

The governor of Virginia decreed in 1618 that everyone missing church would be jailed “lying neck and heels in the corps of Gard the night following and be a slave the week following.”

The 1662 Act of Uniformity passed after the Restoration made the meetings of the Protestant sects (such as Baptists) illegal in England and also made non-attendance at the parish church a crime.

Queen Anne of England commissioned in 1711 the building of 50 new churches in London. They were funded by a tax on coal.

A coal miner in 1730s England would rise at 3.30 am for breakfast then work in the mine shifts with poor ventilation all day before creeping into bed at nightfall to begin again the next day. On Sunday he was too dirty and to poor to find comfort in the middle class church and if he should turn up he was likely to sent away by an Anglican church officer.

The first Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah lays claim to being the oldest African-American church in the United States. It was established in 1788, and services are still held.

The Brompton Oratory is a massive baroque Roman Catholic church, built 1878–84 to the design of Herbert Gribble (1847–94). It immediately played an important role in the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism, as London's largest and main place of worship until the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903.

Ulm Minster was begun in the Gothic era and not completed until the late 19th century. It is the tallest church in the world and the fourth tallest structure built before the 20th century, with a steeple measuring 161.5 feet.

The Chicago Temple Building is 568 foot tall skyscraper church located at 77 W. Washington St. in Chicago. It is home to the congregation of the First United Methodist Church of Chicago. It was completed in 1924 and has 23 floors dedicated to religious and office use. It is the tallest church building in the world, although Ulm Minster is the tallest church in the world.

By the mid 1930s in the western world the cinema was the most popular form of entertainment. It was one of a number of general diversions offered up as a rival to church. The wireless at home, and the cinema brought a richness of entertainment ordinary people had never found before.

Stimulated by the increasing interest in evangelization from the beginning of the century church attendance in the United States increased dramatically.. Back in 1910 it was 40 per cent of the population In 1940 it was 49 per cent of the population. Ten years later it was 55 per cent and by 1960 it had risen to 69 per cent, probably the highest in the country’s history. Many new churches were being built and old ones enlarged to hold expanding congregations. In 1960 over $1 billion was spent on church building.

In the 1980s parishioners at Beeston Regis in Norfolk started making plans for the year 2192. Calculating that the sea  would menace their parish church about that time, they asked the church council to open a fund, which would enable it to be removed further inland.

Between 1991 and 2004, the number of American adults who do not attend church almost doubled, rising 92% from 39 million to 75 million. The people falling away tended to be men, young people, singles and urban people.


The Aqaba Church is an historic 3rd-century church located in Aqaba, Jordan. It is listed by the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest-known purpose-built Christian church. The church's peripheral location within the Roman Empire is likely to have saved it from destruction during the Great Persecution that broke out just a few years after its construction.

Ruins of early church of Aqaba; rear, a byzantine era city wall

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in The Ivory Coast city of Yamoussoukro is the largest church building in the world covering 323,000 sq ft. It is taller than and has double the floor area of St Peter’s, Rome, the previous largest. It was consecrated on September 10, 1990 by Pope John Paul I. It can hold about 18,000 worshipers, though is very rarely full

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro. By Felix Krohn - Wikipedia 

The world’s tallest church building is the 161m (528ft) Ulm Minster in Germany. The spire height was increased near completion in 1890 to beat the tallest Catholic building in the world, the Cologne Cathedral.

The smallest church in England, Culbone Church, Devon is 12 feet wide and was built near a leper colony. The lepers would follow the services through a window.


There is a Wesleyan chapel at Porthleven, which was said of:
They built the church, upon my Word
As fine as any abbey
And then they thought to cheat the Lord
And built the back part shabby.

A poster outside a Salvation Army building in Stockport read "Jesus the carpenter needs joiners- apply here any Sunday."

50,000 people can be seated in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The rhyme "Oranges and lemons are the bells of St Clements" refers to the Church of St Clement Danes, in the Strand, London, the official church of the Royal Air Force.

More people go to church on Sunday in China, than the whole of Europe.

A church in Taiwan opened in February 2016 in the shape of a high-heeled shoe. It is made from 320 sheets of blue glass and its stated aim is to attract more female worshipers.

Jamaica has the most churches per square mile of any country in the world.

Sources Chronicle of the World, Christianity Today, AA Illustrated Guide to Britain, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.