Welcome to TheBritishMonarchy.co.uk Philippa!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Philippa Lacey Brewell and I live in Central England. I started writing and speaking about travelling through Britain’s history in 2012 and haven’t stopped since. I have the most animated face when talking about history (honestly, it’s amazing!) but I have had to learn to make my voice as loud as my expressions!
My History Travel Guides are used by travellers, those dreaming of travelling the UK and anyone who loves British History.
I have written for BBC History Magazine, inline inflight magazines for CityJet and FlyBe and for Tudor Life Magazine.
What sparked your interest in history?
It was as a student reading Business at University. I was looking for a female role model but found no examples as far as I was concerned in public life at that time so I looked into history. I began with Elizabeth I. My interest in her grew to the places she had been and seen, the people around her, who came before and after…so my interest simply grew out in all directions!
What inspired you to start your website?
My interest had been heavily related to visiting the places where the people I was reading about lived and where events had happened. I would literally spend hours in places that everyone else walked through. I would speak to all the room guides, poured over all the information I could find and read as much as I could before and after my visit ( I still do). I started my website because I wanted to share with other people the gems of information I had found, the stories I’d begun to understand and especially the misunderstandings of our past that I’d uncovered. My aim was to do this through free blogs and as a historical tour operator.
What can readers expect to find there?
Quite a few blogs (I haven’t actually counted up how many blogs there are now….quite a few!) and, when my new updated website goes live in the new year, a few free ‘vlogs’ too! I’ve covered all sorts of history, different periods and people but always with the aim to entertain but, importantly, to make people think to question received history. The past does not give us 20/20 vision and we should not take everything we are taught or told at face value.
Tell us a bit about your history tours?
I am beaming whilst writing this answer! I am so proud of the history tours! I (hope this doesn’t sound corny) would describe them as true experiences! My initial idea, and that which I have stuck to, is that exploring historical places and learning about the events and people who lived and worked in them is incredibly exciting but also tiring and so I wanted to wrap the experience up with luxury accommodation with everything taken care of; transport, food and admissions and then add to that lots of extras like VIP tours, after hours access and historians who come and speak to us as after dinner guests, and you have a British History Tour! Everything is taken care of because I want everyone to relax and enjoy their time. 3 people who came on The Anne Boleyn Experience in May booked to come straight back for ‘Discover the Tudors’ in September and a further 7 people are booked on tours next year - I think that speaks for itself :-)
Who is your favourite royal past or present and why?
I would have to say Elizabeth I, as she was the lady who drew me to history in the first place but also because she is a complex character known for being strong and intelligent but she was also fallible and emotional.
What particular period of history do you feel most drawn to and why?
In the past it had been the Tudors, which I still love and write about often but the Tudor period lasted only 117 years! That’s the blink of an eye in British history. I find myself more and more interested in the Georgian and Victorian periods when the culture we live in today began to form and develop.
What are you currently reading?
I read ‘actual’ books and also listen to others on Audible. On my bedside table I have Gareth Russell’s ‘Young & Damned & Fair’ and on audible I have just completed ‘The History of Magic’ and, yesterday in fact, began ‘A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived’ by Adam Rutherford - if you are in any way into family history and genealogy you must read/listen to this!
Which history books would you recommend?
Wow, I could give a massive list here but I’ll keep it short! As well as the ones I am currently reading, I would highly recommend;
Thomas Cromwell by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
The Private Lives of the Saints by Janina Ramierez
and, in the spirit of questioning received history, the rather amusingly titled ‘Glory & Bollocks’ by Colin Brown
What is your favourite 'history' based movie?
I love history based movies, albeit they are open to criticism of inaccuracies. What they do achieve is the creation of engaging stories around historical events and characters and the creation of an interest in them. Inevitably movie makers must adopt a particular version of events and fill in the blanks.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Duchess’ and am looking forward to seeing how the story of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth will be interpreted in the new film about to come out!
What are some of your favourite historic sites to visit?
Kenilworth Castle, Hadrian’s wall, Worcester Cathedral, Wenlock Priory, Dunster Castle and the pill box on Bossington beach…but I could go on!
Name a hidden gem?
The Commandery, Worcester - once a monastic hospital (incredible wall paintings remain), it was also the Royalist HQ at the final battle of the English Civil Wars, the Battle of Worcester, as well as Tudor merchants house, printers and school for the blind. It’s also only a short walk from Worcester Cathedral and the tombs of Arthur Tudor and King John.
Scenarios; If you could meet a historical figure from the past who would it be and why?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Elizabeth I. I really want to ask her if she truly never intended to marry and be the virgin queen or if that was clever propaganda after time and options had run out. You could invite four royals past and/or present [to dinner?] who would you invite?
Henry VIII, James I, Mary II and Elizabeth II and I’d like them to discuss the monarch as God’s representative.
You have a time machine, which event or period in history would you most like to see?
I would actually like to go back to Roman Britain to the towns, settlements and buildings from that period and understand how the occupying and native populations lived did they mix? how much? in what circumstances?
Visit Philippa's website by clicking the British History Tours picture.
also Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/BritishHistoryTours
Read Philippa's article about Henry VIII in the BBC History Magazine below;