Christopher Howse

The deafening rise of ‘background’ music

17 April 2021 9:00 am

The unstoppable rise of ‘background’ music

Devil of a job: the curious occupations recorded in the census

6 March 2021 9:00 am

Even before the first census was made in 1801, the plan was regarded with fear, hatred and ridicule. And this…

God’s many mansions: a guide to the world’s greatest churches

23 January 2021 9:00 am

The surroundings of the Crimea Memorial Church in Istanbul are ‘little better than a dump’, wrote the British embassy chaplain…

2020 Christmas quiz

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse. Illustrated by Castro

Who decides what’s allowed on a gravestone?

21 November 2020 9:00 am

A parishioner in West Yorkshire has been allowed to put an inscription in Chinese on a relative’s gravestone. ‘There is…

The art of street furniture

29 August 2020 9:00 am

On his lockdown rambles, Christopher Howse finds beauty and solace in London’s street furniture

Why beards of convenience are a bad idea

24 April 2020 11:00 pm

Viewers of the BBC News channel, now that Zoom shows talking heads in their own homes, want before anything to…

Gay giraffes and dead in ditches: The Spectator 2019 quiz

25 December 2019 6:00 pm

They said it In 2019, who said: 1. ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood.’ 2. ‘I didn’t sweat…

Away from the manger: the holy relics of Bethlehem

21 December 2019 9:00 am

‘No crib for a bed,’ says ‘Away in a Manger’ rather puzzlingly, since a crib is a manger. ‘No one…

Gay giraffes and dead in ditches: The Spectator 2019 quiz

21 December 2019 9:00 am

They said it  In 2019, who said: 1. ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood.’ 2. ‘I didn’t sweat…

Christmas quiz

15 December 2018 9:00 am

You don’t say In 2018, who said: 1. ‘I have the absolute power to PARDON myself, but why should I…

Val d’Aran in the Catalan Pyrenees [Getty}

The peculiar allure of the Pyrenees

1 December 2018 9:00 am

On 26 August 1880 Henry Russell consummated his marriage in an unusual way. He was, to his own mind, married…

Christmas quiz

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Weird world  In 2017:   1. Police discovered thousands of what kind of plant growing in a disused nuclear bunker…

Breaking the commandments on Moses’s mountain

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A medieval party of 800 Armenians at the top of Mount Sinai suddenly found themselves surrounded by fire. Their pilgrim…

St James by the Master of Mambrillas (early 16th century)

A pilgrim’s progress to Santiago

16 April 2016 9:00 am

In his friendly and beguiling voice, Jean-Christophe Rufin explains (in a way that reminded me of the pre-journey relish of…

The sacrifice of Iphigenia: Agamemnon’s crime was ‘impious’, according to Lucretius

What did the ancient Greeks believe?

27 February 2016 9:00 am

It is a curious fact that the modern Hebrew for ‘atheist’, Tim Whitmarsh notes in passing, is apikoros. The word…

‘If ever there was a Renaissance Man, John Dee was it’: from ‘The Order of the Inspirati’, 1659

John Dee thought he could talk to angels using medieval computer technology

16 January 2016 9:00 am

John Dee liked to talk to spirits but he was no loony witch, says Christopher Howse

Take up and read Augustine’s Confessions

2 January 2016 9:00 am

I usually throw away dust jackets but Robin Lane Fox chose his for a reason. He originally encountered Augustine of…

Which happy breed?

Christmas Quiz

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse. Illustrated by Castro

The answers

12 December 2015 9:00 am

On the record 1. Jean-Claude Juncker 2. David Cameron 3. Sir Tim Hunt 4. Jeremy Corbyn 5. President Vladimir Putin…

Photograph by Charles Sturge

Remembering P.J. Kavanagh

19 September 2015 9:00 am


St George as depicted in The Golden Legend

St George: patron saint of England, patronised by all

25 April 2015 9:00 am

What did St George do? Killed a dragon, as everyone knows. And yet, as Samantha Riches points out, no mention…

The two billionth view

Christmas Quiz

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse.

Illustrated by Castro

Even Cilla’s biographer admits that critics were justified in knocking the ‘prurience ‘of Blind Date

Five of the best celebrity biographies of 2014

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Cilla Black has become a strange creature during her 50 years in showbiz. When her husband Bobby was in hospital…

The jilted bride

Charles Saatchi’s new book of photos makes me feel sick

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Charles Saatchi, the gallery owner, has created his own Chamber of Horrors in this thick, square book, ‘inspired by striking…