Ian Friel MA, PhD, FSA

Dr Ian Friel is an historian, museum consultant and writer with an international reputation in the field of maritime history.    After a long career in museums, he went freelance in 2007.  Since that time he was worked on a variety of major projects, including interpretation planning for Sea City Museum, Southampton, the National Maritime Museum, the Mary Rose Trust and Windermere Steamboat Museum.   He has also researched and written house histories for a number of private clients in the south of England and the Midlands, as well as undertaking maritime history projects, including research to identify the 17th-century Swash Channel Wreck, which lies off Dorset.

You can find out more about Ian’s work at: www.ianfriel.co.uk

The pieces posted on the blog reflect Ian’s interests in history and in life in general.   They cover subjects such as seafaring, local studies, women’s history, photography, war and peace.

WordPress posts the blogs in reverse chronological order, with the latest first. Following that order, this is a list of the blog pieces published since 2014:

Lost Property: identifying the Seventeenth Century Swash Channel WreckLost Property: Identifying the Seventeenth-century Swash Channel Wreck

Cracks in the ice   Memories of a 1987 visit to East Germany and the ending of the Cold War. Cracks in the ice

A balinger for the king   The story of Henry V’s oared warship AnneA balinger for the king

Daughters of England   A forgotten 1883 smallpox outbreak in West Sussex and a woman’s courage. Daughters of England

A son of England   The sinking of the hospital ship Anglia in 1915, and how tragedy can cast a long shadow. A son of England

The graveyard of the great ships   The story of Henry V’s great ships – and where his Holy Ghost might lie. The graveyard of the great ships

The clothesline of Fate   Historical causality – and why you should look where you’re going… The clothesline of Fate

Drawing with light   Why old photographs are important. Drawing with light

The age of the Hell Burners: fireships and terror weapons (part 2)  Terrorism and the first weapons of mass destruction. The age of the Hell Burners

Fireships and terror weapons (part 1)   The English fireship attack against the Spanish Armada, 1588. Fireships and terror weapons

Spanish Armada in time travel shock   Getting your (Julian and Gregorian) calendars in a twist… Spanish Armada in time travel shock

A ship called Barry  Medieval ship names and what they can tell us about the seafaring world of the time. A ship called Barry

The great ship of Snargate   Why a wall painting in a Kent church may be a portrait of Henry VII’s great ship Regent. The great ship of Snargate

The road to Hell   A 1930s German road atlas and how new streetnames marked the road to Hell. The road to Hell

For those in peril…   A Cornish image of a 15th/16th century ship and the hopes and fears behind votive art. For those in peril

The Ghost of Reginald Hine   How the writings of a pioneer local historian helped to get me interested in the past. The ghost of Reginald Hine

The Seasick Historian   A celebration of seasickness… actually, no, it’s not!  The seasick historian

Scratched Records   The fascination and importance of historical graffiti, from the Middle Ages to World War 2. Scratched Records

Where’s the hero now?   Heroes in history – and one of England’s great, forgotten engineers. Where’s the hero now

Agincourt-on-Sea   Henry V’s navy, the 1415-1422 sea war and the archaeological potential of the River Hamble. Agincourt on Sea

The Anniversary Waltz   The commemoration of anniversaries and why it may be better to live in a year that gets forgotten. The anniversary waltz

The Lost Lands   Coastal erosion and a vanished village The Lost Lands

The Good Neighbour?   1822 – William Budden lays claim to 6½ inches of land… The good neighbour

Saving something from the wreckage   Why shipwrecks are interesting, and why it’s not ghoulish to be interested in them. Saving something from the wreckage

What’s in a picture?   Two thousand years of history in one shot – the photo at the head of this blog. Whats in a picture

In with the old…?   The fascination of history.



5 thoughts on “Ian Friel MA, PhD, FSA

  1. Dr. Friel – I just want a point to which of your books to buy to find the answer. In the town of Bewdley, along the river is a large inscription in the road “FRIGATES SAEFRENE” – I would assume this marks a location of an old dry dock based off your work “The Good Ship: Ships, Shipbuilding, and Technology in England, 1200-1520″ and possibly, since it’s so prominently marked, that it signifies one done to build earlier large tonnage ships for the Monarchy (possibly Edward IV during 100 years war, or later.” – I’ll buy the book, just would like your point to which one has the answer. Thank you

    • Dear Mr Boatwright, thanks for your message, and your kind offer to buy one of my books! They may not be able to help much in this case, and I wonder if the inscription might be fairly recent. ‘Saefrene’ may be an allusion to the river Severn, though why it’s prefixed by ‘Frigates’ I can’t really say. The word ‘frigate’ was around in English from the later 16th century, denoting a small, fast sailing vessel. In the 18th/19th centuries it was used for a type of warship, and the usage was revived in WW2. I’ve neever heard of an early dock being marked in this way – or at all – and Bewdley seems a bit far inland for wooden warship building, but if there are signs of a dock near the inscription, could it have been one used for building barges? I suspect the answer may lie in the study of local maps, such as the 19th-century Tithe Map for the area, or the early OS maps. Local trade and street directories may also help. Your nearest local history library or the Worcester Record Office may be able to help. The Leicester University site Historical Directories of England and Wales will have some Worcestershire trade directories, which coulf offer a starting-point (http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16445coll4). Sorry not to be able to offer a clear answer on this conundrum, but you may have some fun fidning the answer! Best wishes
      Ian Friel

  2. Hi,
    Can you point me in the right direction to find information on the Earl of Warwicks ship
    “Trinity “ built around 1454-56 .
    Just searching the net is not coming up for me.
    Any information would be gratefully received.
    Does anyone know her final resting place or just what became of her?

    • Dear Mr Iddison, I’m afraid that I can’t tell you anything about this vessel – individual medieval ships are often impossible to track, due to lack of sources, unless they belonged to the Crown. Even then, it’s often difficult to find out what became of them. However, you could try the database of the medieval English merchant fleet compiled by the University of Southampton, which is at: http://www.medievalandtudorships.org. This is based on customs records. There are also some translated and summarised medeival sources available at British History Online, though you will need to subscribe to access some of those. Failing those, you could try biographies of the Earl of Warwick, which may offer some clues; it may be that some of the household accounts of the Warwick family also survive, and have been published. ‘Household’ could mean more than just payments to servants, etc, at that date: for example, 15th-century househod accounts of Sir John Howard, later the Duke of Norfolk, include information on the small fleet of ships that he owned. It may be that equivalent material survives for Warwick. Best wishes
      Ian Friel

      • Thank you very much sir.
        It was through reading about Warwick that we heard about the trinity. We Know he named her after I think Henry’s. The holy trinity, part of his big ships fleet including the Jesus and Grace Dieu.
        Will certainly check out the link . It’s set us on a bit of an adventure now to find out more about her.
        Many thanks again for getting back to me.
        Kindest regards


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