John White


John White, the holder of an Honours Degree (History and War Studies), a Masters Degree (Heritage Management), a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society and Fulbright Fellow at the University of South Carolina, is a ‘Performance Historian’, serving clients across the UK and overseas at venues such as the V&A, the National Army Museum, Birmingham University and the British Army.

John specialises in the military and social history of the late Georgian and Regency period. He was Honorary Secretary of ‘The Waterloo Committee’ and was appointed a Vice President by The Duke of Wellington. He is also an established book reviewer for various publishing houses. Engagements as a technical consultant has lead to involvement and often appearances in a wide variety of Film, TV, and Radio productions.

Brother Ignatius

‘Brother Ignatius’, of the Franciscan Order, is preparing to make his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela where the relics of the Apostle, St. James, are much venerated. Having previously practised as an Apothecary, it is his intention to minister to the physical, as well as the spiritual needs of his fellow pilgrims.

This presentation deals with Holy and Monastic life and may be adapted to present any particular theme in the time period prior to the Reformation. A specifically themed presentation is offered, relating to the year 1415, when King Henry V, who was shortly to be engaged against the French at Agincourt, provides for the defence of his Kingdom by issuing a ‘Commission of Array’, requiring the Clergy to take up arms; to defend the realm, the church, and the faith, against the malice of England’s enemies – the French and the Scots!

Gilbert Savage (Executioner)

Resplendent in black, and equipped with his ‘heading axe’, block, ropes, knives, and the other ‘tools’ of his gruesome trade, ‘Gilbert Savage’ recounts the nature of crime and punishment during turbulent times in our nation’s history; the medieval period, of hanging, mutilation, and decapitation! The ‘Executioner’, that very necessary public ‘functionary’ has, at the direction of Court and Crown, branded, flogged, hanged, disembowelled, beheaded and mutilated offenders, from the low born to the very highest in the land; for their ‘crimes’ – crimes against property, crimes against individuals, and crimes against the very Crown itself – all in the pursuit of justice!

The presentation, which is complemented by 12’ gallows (complete with ‘body’), and an array of period accurate items, continues to prove very popular with the public, having been used to good effect at many English Heritage properties.

Master Topcliffe (Torturer)

With a legal system that, at the very least requires an alleged offender to enter a ‘plea’ (although a full confession is always preferred), the office of ‘Torturer’ has long furnished the State with the pleas and confessions that the system demanded! ‘Master Topcliffe’, with his array of tools and special devices, has perfected the subtlety of his art; that of inflicting just enough pain to extract a confession, but not too much to render his subject beyond his reach for; the dead do not speak!

The history of State-sponsored torture is clouded in mystery. From medieval times, and reaching the heights of perfection during the late Tudor and Stuart periods, it was still employed in a simplified form, as late as the Georgian era.

This presentation is supported by an array of torture items and period accurate equipment.

King Henry VIII

Undoubtedly our country’s most colourful monarch, the King aged in his early 50s, appears in the most splendid bejewelled and golden costume; a near replica of the famous Holbein portrait.

This portrayal of the King in the later years of his life is based upon the most detailed research. He recounts his life, telling of his wives, children, and the events of his long reign in a most forceful fashion. He is ill and is greatly pained by his badly infected leg and, although recently married to his sixth wife, he appears an angry and vengeful man. This is a highly acclaimed and powerful presentation that is offered in the form of an ‘audience’ with the King, during the course of which, the public may question and petition their Monarch.

Master Peter Simpkin (Privateer)

‘Simpkin’, a Tudor Privateer and Explorer, served with Captain Drake during his circumnavigation of the world. He has many tales to tell of the hardship of life on board ship, of visiting far off lands, of involvement with the slave trade and of battling against the Spanish as, it should be remembered, one man’s ‘Privateer’ is another man’s ‘Pirate’!

This presentation deals with the issues surrounding exploration, trade, slavery, and piracy and is illustrated by a range of items supporting the various themes.

Robert Smee (Barber-Surgeon)

‘Smee’, an itinerant Barber-Surgeon, travels from town to town erecting his booth at markets and at fairs, offering his various services to the general public; shaving, cutting hair, the drawing of teeth, and the letting of blood, are his more usual practices. He is also able to undertake amputations, attend to battlefield wounds, as well as a myriad of other surgical procedures!

‘Smee’ contrasts his lowly position with that of ‘Doctors of Physic’ and Apothecaries who, often working in partnership, rarely wish to be associated with Surgeons!

This presentation is supported by an extensive range of surgical instruments, tools, equipment and period furniture.

Samuel Adams (Georgian Butler)

‘Adams’, the Butler in a grand Regency house has been in service for many years. Having risen to the rank of Butler, he explains the nature of life ‘below stairs’, the duties of servants, their living and working conditions, and all the practices/procedures employed to keep the household in good order. Mr Adams pays particular attention to the ‘Honours of the Table’ (the complex processes and etiquette associated with dining) and the ceremony associated with the taking of tea.

The presentation which is set in the period 1811 – 1820, is supported by a considerable range of silver, porcelain and domestic items.

Sir Joseph Scott (A Regency Dandy)

‘Scott’, a Baronet and the MP for Worcester, is a midland landowner and a spend thrift! He has worked his way through a very considerable fortune in the pursuit of pleasure; high fashion, the excitement of the card table, and the solace of the bottle are the key features of his life!

The presentation, which is set within the period 1811 – 1820, deals with the nature of life and society during the turbulent years of the Regency; drawing upon the events of the war with France, the impact of the Industrial Revolution, the illness of George III, and the excesses of the Prince Regent!

The presentation is supported by a considerable range of items illustrative of the period.

Private Pudge

‘Pudge’ is a veteran of Wellington’s campaigns in the Peninsula (1808-1814) and of the Battle of Waterloo (1815). He recounts his experiences and explains the reality of life on campaign and of the horrors of war. Additionally, he explains and demonstrates equipment, weapons and drill manoeuvres.

The presentation is supported by an extensive range of uniform and equipment.

James Buchan (Apothecary)

‘Buchan’ travels from town to town erecting his ‘bothy’ at markets and fairs, from which he sells potions and remedies, attends to common ailments, and demonstrates remedies and techniques. He discusses the nature and make-up of society, contrasting his role and situation in life with that of ‘Doctors of Physic’ and Surgeons.

This presentation set within the period 1780 to 1800, is supported by an array of period authentic props and furniture, with an emphasis on herbal remedies.

The Exorcist (Catholic Priest)

When things go bump in the night and spirits walk the face of the earth; when the souls of the dear departed are restless, or poltergeists make the lives of the living a misery – it is time to call upon the services of ‘The Exorcist’!

With their very existence never fully acknowledged by the Church, the ‘Exorcist’ is empowered to conduct the full rite of exorcism – which is explained in detail and demonstrated against the background of the history of the sacred and ancient rite.

Mr Meakin (Butler)

‘Meakin’, the Butler in a large house during the late Victorian and early Edwardian period, is charged with managing the household and attending to the many needs of his Master and the numerous ‘house guests’.

The soul of discretion, he is a professional (having been in service his entire life) who performs his duties in a calm and unhurried manner. In addition to managing an extensive ‘below stairs’ workforce, he oversees the management of the wine cellar, the cleaning and safe custody of the dining silver, the ironing of newspapers, the polishing of loose change, and the blacking of boots!

This presentation is supported by a considerable range of items appropriate to Meakin’s role and station in life. The presentation may be specifically themed to represent the nature of life ‘below stairs’ in the style of Downton Abbey.

Sergeant White

Sgt Frederick White of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment is recruiting for King, Country, and Empire! It is August 1914 and Britain is at war with Germany. Belgium and parts of northern France are already occupied and Lord Kitchener has called for the immediate recruitment of 100,000 men. Sgt White, a veteran of campaigns in the Sudan and South Africa has been sent out from the Regimental Depot in Warwick, in search of recruits, men aged 19 to 30, and to encourage them to rally to the colours with stirring stories of the glory to be had in the service of the King!