You know her as the Bucket Woman from Keeping Up Appearances, however, this woman has quite a few additional acting credits to her name. Dame Patricia Routledge presents a delightful documentary on one of England’s most beloved authors: Beatrix Potter. Dame Patricia is a patron of the Beatrix Potter Society and explores how Potter became a sensation in the Edwardian Period.
Beatrix Potter’s story begins in 1892. Her family goes on a family trip. Beatrix traveled with a very special animal on board the train: a rabbit. This rabbit would be the inspiration for Peter Rabbit. While her parents relaxed, Beatrix went out to enjoy the outdoors. One day she wrote a letter to a little boy about a rabbit. The inspiration for the story was sitting feet away from her. This would be the story of Peter Rabbit. He would be the most famous rabbit in all of England.
Potter belonged to a wealthy family. Potter’s grandfather made his fortune in the north. The family lived comfortably, never speaking of their northern roots. Beatrix’s father loved the arts and was always carrying a sketchbook. Artistic talent was in her genes. She was a talented artist and her early works demonstrate this. These drawings would be combined with stories to help them come alive. She loved animals.
Beatrix and her little brother Bertram, created their private zoo while in the nursery. She had a natural infinity for animals and made friends with the mice in her room. She loved worms and snails. Her drawings show her love of animals. She also loved studying animals, she observed their behavior and when they died they would go to the pot where they would examine the bones.
Dame Patricia found portraying Beatrix Potter a challenge so she did her exploring on her subject. She discovered that Beatrix’s father treated her as an equal. A.N. Wilson points out that Beatrix grew up in a household where learning flourished and was encouraged. Beatrix Potter started to make money with her art. In her 30’s, she went on a different course: science. In Scotland, she meets Charlie MacIntosh, who was a naturalist. She showed him her paintings and he found them so remarkable that he encouraged her interests in nature.
Beatrix Potter had a scientific paper presented at a science society. The scientists believed that the paper needed more work, so she withdrew it. This changed the direction of her life. She would eventually be an author. Her former governess suggested to Beatrix that the rabbit letter would be a good children’s story. So Beatrix expanded the story and illustrated it, then sent it off to the publishing industry. She would not take no for an answer. She published the “Tale of Peter Rabbit.” It was an immediate success. The publishing companies said no. She was determined to get published.
Finally, one publishing company responded. Beatrix sent out a manuscript to the company. It was originally in black and white. The publishing company wanted color illustrations and so Beatrix Potter sent back a manuscript with watercolor paintings. This book would be a success for Warnes Publishing Company. 8,000 copies were printed and sold out before they even hit the shelves.
To learn more about Beatrix Potter continue to watch the documentary.
This would be a fantastic documentary to show in an English Literature classroom or a general literature classroom. If you have a student doing a research paper on Beatrix Potter, then you can point them to this documentary as a start. Dame Patricia is a delight to listen to as she narrates the story of Beatrix Potter. She is enthusiastic about her subject and thoroughly enjoys sharing stories about Potter’s life.
In the 1970s an extraordinary mummy was discovered in the ground. Her preservation was so extraordinary, it left the Ancient Egyptian’s efforts in the dust. This mummy was so well preserved that her joints were still flexible after two thousand years buried. She could be dissected like a modern corpse. Her skin was still so soft. Her brain was still intact although it was half the normal size. How did the Ancient Chinese do it? Who was this woman?
Since then, this mummy still stumps and surprises the modern mind. She was still flexible. Limbs would normally break off in mummies. However, this woman's mummy was a star before the autopsy. This woman was an aristocrat and a major member of a ruling family. She had died 161 years before Christ. A reconstruction of the lady shows a beautiful woman. However, in later life, she was quite fat.
Her tomb shows off her love of food. Two-thirds of the artifacts in her tomb dealt with food and there were a variety of food items were found in the tomb. There were recipes written in her tomb. She was a wealthy woman who could afford such delicacies. She had lacquer dinnerware in her tomb as well. There was a beautiful banner found in her tomb. The scene was of the lady on her journey to the afterlife. She also had representations of her servants found in her tomb. Life would have been good in the afterlife for this lady. The afterlife was a huge dinner party for this woman. It matched her life.
Life in Ancient China had never been so good. Waring kingdoms try and try again try to conquer each other. The rich fight to stay a life. The First Emperor of China finally united the kingdoms. Unfortunately, when he died, Ancient China divided again. Warring kingdoms rose again. Bloody civil wars commenced until the Han emperors took over. They would rule China for the next 400 years.
The Hans brought peace and prosperity to China. The rich would be able to party once again. The Lady aristocrat threw many banquets and parties. She was able to show off her wealth and give the people a good time. The Lady wanted to continue with this party in the afterlife. So she attempted to make sure her mummy was well preserved.
Unfortunately, other efforts to mummy preservation failed. Some spectacular efforts lead to spectacular failures. One king made a suit of armor with jade, each piece was sewn together with gold thread. It was felt that by using jade the king would have been well preserved. When the jade suit was open, only a few bones were left of the king. So how did this noblewoman manage to succeed where this king had failed?
The autopsy was filmed in 1972 and the footage still surprises modern scientists. They still wonder how is this possible? They thought she was the only one. Two years later, a second well-preserved mummy was found. This mummy was equally as well preserved as the Lady Noble. This mummy, a man, had flexible limbs and a soft corpse. He had blood and it was typed as AB. How did the Ancient Chinese do it? What was it about the climate that allowed for preservation? Will these mummies finally release their secrets?
To continue to learn more about the mummy, watch the rest of this documentary. This would be a good documentary to show in both a history and a science classroom for both middle school and high school. If you have an independent study student learning about Ancient China, then you can put this documentary on their list.
Phew! I have completed Thirty-One Days of Time Team! It was a challenge but it was a fun challenge at the same time. I learned so much about archeology in England and am glad that the Time Team is coming back. So I will wrap up Thirty-One Days of Time Team with my top 10 list of Time Team episodes. This list is my opinion of the best time team episodes and is not endorsed by the Time Team.
1. The Guerilla Base of the King - YouTube
Our first episode of Time Team comes from Season 1, Episode 1. Tony Robinson is younger and has long hair. The Time Team goes to Somerset County and explores the base of King Alfred the Great. King Alfred the Great was fleeing from the Danes. The site they excavate was the base of King Alfred the Great. They are not sure what they will find on the field. Did Alfred the Great have a base on this Somerset Land? *Highly recommended for research purposes.*
2. A Saintly Site - YouTube
They are investigating some lumps and bumps of a potential chapel site. Locals had been investigating the area for several years and then decided to bring Time Team in for help. This site will prove to be a challenge for Time Team because it is on a rocky outcropping, with rocks on top of a wall. Will the Time Team find a chapel underneath all the rubble? Watch this episode to find out! Mick is really in his element in this episode. *Highly recommended for research purposes.*
3. All About Westminster Abbey - YouTube
Westminster Abbey was the vision of King Henry VIII. It was the place where coronations were held. King, Queens, Princes, and Princesses were buried there. Prime Ministers too were buried there as well. Royal weddings took place in the Abbey as well. Westminster Abbey played a significant role in British History. There is one piece of the abbey that is missing: a sacristy. The sacristy allegedly held the biggest hoard of treasure this side of the Alps. This building vanished without a trace. *Highly recommended for a history class and independent study students.*
4. An Incredible Discovery in Turkdean - YouTube
Time Team is called to explore the origins of some lines in the ground in a farm field. The farmer and amateur archeologists seem to hint that it is a site of a Roman villa. Who built it? Why did they build it? The team tackles this assignment by land and by air. The team digs in and discovers that the site is home to the biggest Roman villa discovered in England. *Highly recommended for a history classroom in both middle school and high school. Highly recommended for independent study students.*
5. 1066: The Lost Battlefield - YouTube
In this Time Team special the team tries to find the 1066 battlefield. William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 changing the course of English history. Where this history took place is a mystery. No archeological evidence of the 1066 battlefield has been found. The Time Team investigates the official 1066 battlefield and looks at other possible sites. It is a fascinating look at how history can be proven wrong and be corrected. *Highly recommended for a high school history and science classroom. Highly recommended for independent study students.*
6. Trouble with the Temples: YouTube
Time Team has had trouble with finding Roman temples in Britain. Tony Robinson shows a photo that indicates that there is a Roman temple in the field. The photo is so clear, that it is clear that there is a temple in the field. We will see. The aerial photo shows the temple’s footprints. However, the temple may have been damaged due to plowing. Will Time Team find a temple? Or is the temple something else? *Recommended for research purposes.*
7. King John's Lost Palace - YouTube
Time Team is investigate a site in Sherwood Forest. This is the place where legends were born. Robin Hood gave King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham fits. Local legend holds it that King John had a palace at the edge of the palace. Tony is excited about the possibilities of this site. However, they have their work cut out for them. Are they on the verge of discovering a lost palace? *Recommended for History, English, and independent study students.*
8. The Lost City of Roxburgh - YouTube
Five hundred years ago on the Scottish border, there was a plain that housed one of the wealthiest cities in Scotland. A once-thriving city is now gone. The only thing that remains is the ruins of a castle. So what happened to this city? Why did no one dig it before? Time Team is going to be doing some fresh archelogy on the site to learn more about Roxburgh. How will the Time Team tackle this assignment? *Highly recommended for a history class.*
9. Hermit Harbour - YouTube
Monks, ghosts, treasure maps, shipwrecks, and dramatic coasts are the highlights of Cornwall. However, it was off the Cornish coast where the first rumblings of Christianity in Britain were heard. The Time Team will face a new challenge with this dig. The tides only allow the team to spend five hours digging on the island. They are on the search for two chapels, one on the island and one built into the hilltop. *Recommended for a history class and for independent study students.*
10. The Lost Palace - YouTube
Kew Gardens is the setting for the Time Team. This was the site of the home of King George III called the white house palace. It was a favorite of King George III. The White House Palace was where King George III spent his later, made years locked up. What did it look like? Where was it located in the gardens? Time Team has three days to find out more about the palace. *Recommended for a history class and for independent study students.*
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