Sir David Ochterlony holding a Nautch at the Residency in Delhi c1820.


This section aims to be an eclectic collection of articles relating to the British Empire. The subject matters are varied and diffuse, but are all connected to Imperial history in some form or other. If you would like to see any of your own work published here. I would be more than happy to read it over and convert it into a suitable format. Just send an email to: stephen@britishempire.co.uk

  • The Raj Re-Visited - A Study Trip to India's Capital
      Dr Robert Carr takes his students to revisit the old imperial capital in Delhi to trace the legacy of Britain's connection to its Jewel in its Crown

  • From world-empire to global umpire?
      Quentin J. Broughall analyses how Britain has changed its relationship to the rest of the world from the end of the First World War to the modern day. He believes that Britain has successfully adapted its role in the face of decolonisation and alongside the expansion of various international institutions. He argues that Britain managed to ensure that Britain was able to maintain considerable diplomatic and global influence despite the dissolution of most of her formal empire.

  • Empire in Your Backyard; Imperial Plymouth
      Plymouth was a key port that played a vital role in the imperial story. This article examines how Plymouth shaped the Empire, but it also examines the effect that the Empire had on Plymouth. This article uses Plymouth as an example to chart the impact of Empire on a specific locality. It focusses on the hidden Imperial heritage that is often overlooked or white-washed from memory. It shows how macro events could effect a micro community and vice versa.

  • Sigiriya: The Most Remarkable Fortress in the World
      This account by Percy L. Parker and suggested by Rohan Fernando details the discovery and archaeological excavations in the 1890s of the Lion Rock in Ceylon which uncovered beautiful frescoes and a long lost settlement in a real life Indiana Jones story.

  • V P Menon - The Forgotten Architect of Modern India
      Rohan Fernando presents a profile of the man who provided key Constitutional Advice to the final three British Viceroys and did so much for the creation of the Indian State in the form that it took.

  • How the Empire has been taught in British Schools
      Stephen Luscombe tracks the way that 'Empire' and 'Imperial Themes' have been taught in British schools over the last two centuries and explains how we have arrived at today's political and educational attitudes to the subject.

  • The Cullinan Diamond
      David Buckerfield visits the mine where the world's largest ever diamond was discovered in the Transvaal.

  • The Victoria Falls
      Peter Roberts explains how David Livingstone became the first European credited with discovering these magnificent Falls in the midst of the Dark Continent.

  • The Anglo-Zulu War
      David Buckerfield provides another photo essay visiting the iconic sights of the Anglo-Zulu War; namely the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.

  • Cyprus Emergency
      Jim Herlihy discusses the emergency which affected the island of Cyprus from 1955 to 1960. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Cyprus Police from Jan 1956 to Oct 1960. He served at Kyrenia, Lefka and Nicosia.

  • Kenyan Independence
      Jim Herlihy, who was in Special Branch in the colony, looks at the events leading up to Kenyan Independence. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Kenya Police from Sep 1960 to Oct 1963 in Nyeri and Nairobi.

  • Burma's Last Days
      Jim Herlihy explains the final stages before Burma was hurriedly handed its independence in 1948. From Aug 1946 to Jan 1948 he served as the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Armed Police, Myaungmya and also as the Assistant Commandant Burma Frontier Constabulary in Taungyi and Pyongyang.

  • Churchill's Capture, Imprisonment and Escape
      David Buckerfield has taken his motorbike and followed the movements of a Young Winston Churchill who was captured by the Boers in the Boer War. His subsequent escape was something of a sensation at the time and helped raise Churchill's profile.

  • The Aden Emergency
      Jim Herlihy was Superintendent of Police, commanding the Counter Terrorist Group of the Aden Police Special Branch and was one of the last British people to leave the colony in 1967. In this article he writes a candid description of the intelligence battle that lead up to the abandonment of the colony. He served in that capacity from Mar 1965 to Jan 1968.

  • Learning from Adam Smith
      Dr Ian Buckley wonders what lessons could be learned by decisions makers today from the Empire's most influential eighteenth century economist.

  • White Mischief: Central Africa and Civil War 1953-79
      Dr Robert Carr examines the role of the Central African Federation on the decolonisation process for the colonies of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. He discusses the reasons for its failure and why it left one of the more unpleasant colonial legacies.

  • "Am I not a man and a brother?"
      Jonathan Wooddin investigates British attitudes to black West Indians in the nineteenth century. Where their attitudes racist, pure and simple? Or were they more subtle than that?

  • An Informal Empire?
      Neil Simpson considers just how successful the British Empire was in establishing informal links with nations such as Egypt and Argentina.

  • Australia's Foreign Wars: Origins, Costs, Future?!
      Dr Ian Buckley considers how a clearer understanding of how wars of the past began might well improve our ability to handle contemporary security concerns without such resort.

  • A Gap Year with a Difference
      Matthew Showering resisted the idea of a Gap Year until he decided to use one with a purpose. That purpose was to see how the ex-colonies and dominions had coped since their independence. India is his first destination...

  • The Evangelical Empire: Christianity's contribution to Victorian Colonial Expansion
      Dr Robert Carr examines the role of religion in disseminating Western ideas and justifying the evangalical zeal of missionaries as they sought to spread their influence around the Empire.

  • A Case History: Britain, Empire Decline, and the Origins of WW1: Or, Might the Lessons of the Boer War have 'Saved the Day'?
      Dr Ian Buckley considers whether the carnage of the First World War might have been predicted, and thus avoided, by a more careful analysis of the style of warfare engendered by the Boer War.

  • Jerusalem Lost: Britain's Zionist Fiasco 1917-1956
      Dr Robert Carr examines Britain's relationship with the Jewish Zionists from World War One to the Cold War. He tracks the deterioration of a relationship that got off to such a promising start in 1917.

  • Faith and Family in South India
      David Gore tells the story of three generations of a family of Christian missionaries who worked among the poorest of the poor at the southern tip of the subcontinent, showing why, more than a century later, they are still remembered there today.

  • The necessity for imperium, stupid! The 1870's debate and international security
      Lee Ruddin considers the the motivations for Imperialism in this crucial decade: the decade that contrasted Gladstone's policies with those of Disraeli. But it was also a decade with fundamental strategic imperatives of its own.

  • Concession & Repression: British Rule in India 1857-1919
      Dr Robert Carr traces the delicate balancing act between moving towards home rule and/or crushing dissent by successive imperial governments.

  • Don't Put Imperialism on Trial Stupid!
      Lee Ruddin explains that we all the problems of the present Middle East should be laid at the door of nineteenth Century colonialism. Imperialism is an all too easy excuse to hide behind.

  • The Rise and Fall of the British Empire
      Tim Hughes charts the rise and fall of the Empire and relates it to the impact it has had on his hometown of Liverpool.

  • Pashto Under the British Empire
      Dr Ali Jan explains the influence that the British had on the Pashto Language.

  • What Mr Sanders Really Did
      Veronica Bellers has very kindly allowed us to print the manuscript of her book detailing life in Colonial Africa.

  • Missionaries in Northern India
      This is the story of two families working on behalf of their faith on the fringes of the Empire.

  • Gladys' Story
      February 29th, 1880. The hazards of 19th century travel: this is the story of a shipwreck that occurred off the west coast of India as related by a young passenger on the ship.

  • The House that Byrd Built
      David Gore considers William Byrd (1674 - 1744) of Virginia, the founder of Richmond, one of the most remarkable colonists of his day. Traveller, scholar and writer, Byrd had influence on both sides of the Atlantic which he crossed ten times. The great Georgian mansion he built on the James River, his diaries and the witty, satirical accounts of his expeditions reflect the early history of the State of which he was one of the founding fathers.

  • With the 17th Lancers in Zululand
      This is the transcript of a lecture given by a participant of the campaign some 100 years ago.

  • My God, Maiwand!
      This battle was one of the most serious setbacks suffered by a British/Indian force on the Indian subcontinent. David Gore describes it here using first hand accounts of survivors and, with background notes, he examines the circumstances that led to the defeat about which there is still controversy although more than a century has passed.

  • The Abyssinian Campaign
      This campaign to release British hostages held in the interior of the African continent was regarded as an excellently executed classic Victorian 'Little War'.

  • Death on the Pale Horse
      Some sixty years after the British left India, David Gore recalls the courage and eccentricities of a Scottish dynasty that served there across two centuries.

  • Churches of India
      One legacy of the Imperial Raj are the buildings that the British left behind. The churches shown here are direct descendents of one of the most important institutions in the empire; religion.

  • The British Press and the Indian Mutiny
      The Indian Mutiny was a massive shock to all levels of British society. Why were they so rudely awakened by this event and what role did the press play in warning, covering and evaluating the Indian Mutiny.

  • The Indian Caste System and the British
      Today, people think that the rigid caste system operated in India is the result of ancient requirements of religion. But just how much of this rigidity was due to their religion? Or how much was it due to a conscious direction by the British to create artificial divisions in order to make it easier to divide and rule the sub-continent and its people?

  • Mulligatawny Soup
      Recreate the days of the Raj by trying your hand at cooking an authentic Anglo-Indian meal.

  • Bureaucracy on the Wires
      A witty look at the importance of clear communications to effective governance.

  • The last goodbye!
      When Hong Kong had passed into Chinese rule, the sun had finally set on the British Empire.

  • The final 13 Territories of the Empire
      The British Empire has stll not disappeared completely. There is still a small collection of dependencies scattered over the globe.