Author Paul Rance's website

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Peterborough Cathedral's Hedda Stone - Photos by Francesca Heaney

The Hedda Stone is one of the most important items in Peterborough Cathedral. Created in the 9th Century, there is much conjecture regarding who the twelve characters depicted on the Stone actually are. But, there is no doubt that the Hedda Stone has religious significance, whether the figures on the Stone immortalise murdered monks during a Viking raid, or include Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

These photographs, reproduced here with permission, were taken by Francesca Heaney, daughter of esteemed history professors Helli and Dorothy Koenigsberger. 

Click on an image to enlarge.

Bottom photo. Writer Paul Rance and Peterborough Cathedral guide Peter Larke (far right) studying the images on the Hedda Stone.

Photos © Francesca Heaney

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Dinosaurs in the Cathedral: Peterborough Cathedral Hosts the Iconic Giants of Our Past

The animatronic dinosaur exhibition inside the magnificent setting of Peterborough Cathedral did not disappoint. Amidst the terror of seeing a moving T. rex close up, the guy with the little arms (you can tell him/her as I won't...) wasn't the only star of the show. Ankylosaurus, Tenontosaurus, Sauronitholestes, Deinonychus, Edmontosaurus and Dromaeosaurus were among some of the other dinosaurs wowing small children and adults alike. While the dinosaur babies on display were undeniably cute, with some even seen to be hatching.

Entitled T. Rex: The Killer Question, the exhibition happened to end the day my friend Francesca Heaney and I visited last Saturday. Over the course of the near 7 weeks the exhibition ran some 50,000 visitors came to be awed by creatures that continue to fascinate. One little boy exclaimed on seeing a T. rex: "A beautiful dinosaur!" Beauty wasn't really one of Rexy's attributes, but I loved the child's sense of wonder.

With nine animatronic dinosaurs, and some static ones too, plus skeletons, bones and skulls all supplied by the Natural History Museum in London, one wonders what Catherine of Aragon, who lies in the Cathedral, would have made of the roaring dinos. I'm sure ex-hubby Henry VIII would have given a T. rex a good meal.

A terrified Paul Rance evades a T. rex just in the nick of time
Photo © Francesca Heaney

Paul Rance and Francesca Heaney outside Peterborough Cathedral
Photo © Francesca Heaney

Edmontosaurus babies hatching
Photo © Paul Rance

Don't look behind you, Ankylosaurus!
Photo © Paul Rance

A sweet Edmontosaurus curious about her new temporary home
Photo © Paul Rance

A cheerful T. rex
Photo © Paul Rance

Links of interest 

Available from Amazon UK (click on the image below to reach the relevant page): First Dinosaur Encyclopedia: A First Reference Book for Children (DK First Reference) Paperback 


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Art Advice for Beginners

There's no need to be afraid of drawing. A pencil and a piece of paper can't harm you! So, if you are nervous about drawing, take heart and read on.

A lot of people do think that they can't draw. It can be down to something which was said to them at school, or just something they believe because it's so long since they did actually draw, and have forgotten the skills they may have had.

It is important to realise that nobody is telling you to draw and then show relatives and friends your early efforts. If you are going to feel stressed at feeling that you have to draw to please other people, then please think again. All you really should be concerning yourself with is getting something down on paper when you are beginning.

You'll need to get a sketchbook, and a quality pencil, and in the sketchbook you can draw or sketch whatever you want to. If you are a beginner, you are better off working with photos, but if you feel confident enough to go out in the fresh air and sketch or draw a tree, or an idyllic scene, then that's perfectly okay. The more you draw, the better you will become, and you shouldn't really be worried about whether your work is brilliant or not at such an early stage. This early stage should be about enjoyment more than anything else. You'll learn more if you're enjoying what you're doing.

Think about what you love to draw, and experiment with rough sketches of the image or images that you want to capture. Don't get frustrated if you can't get the sketches right quickly. This is really early practice, and you should be having fun, and by learning in a step-by-step way. you will actually learn from your mistakes, and these early sketches will sharpen your skills.

As you progress, you will gain the confidence to become more elaborate with your drawing. You should begin with sketches, then try more studied drawings, but drawings lacking fine detail. Once you are skilled in sketching and preliminary style drawings, then you should attempt to draw in more detail.

Draw because you want to, and it's up to you what you do with your work, who you show it to - if anyone. Enjoy it, and don't take it too seriously. You never know, though, you may become so good that you'll want to shout about your talent from the rooftops!

Here's one of my old drawings and links to some of my work. 

Art by Paul Rance

Illustrations from my environmental novel From Ecocide to Eden on these two pages below.

Paul Rance's Blog: Some of the Illustrations from the Environmental Novel From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance (

From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance; Chapter One and Illustrations of Some of the Main Characters

Monday, August 15, 2022

Freya the Walrus: Another Victim of Man's Arrogance and Cruelty

The killing of Freya the Walrus in Norway is typical of man’s arrogance and nastiness. Anything that gets in the way has to be killed. The same was true of Geronimo the Alpaca last year, when the cold George Eustice (a Conservative that encapsulates the unpleasantness that pervades his party) and the lacklustre Labour leader Keir Starmer both thought that killing Geronimo was the right thing to do. 

So, animal lovers like me witnessed on social media videos of dreadful barbarism as Geronimo was brutally dragged away to his death. Not a squeak from Eustice or Starmer about animal cruelty - or triggering depression issues for those of us with a soul. While the police showed whose side they were on. The state - as always.

People who care passionately about animals should ask themselves why should they vote for political parties that don’t value the lives of animals. But millions will still vote for men and women who only care about power. 

Paul Rance wearing a Geronimo Forever t-shirt

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Pea-Leaf Weevil Climbing a Pinky

"Come on little fella you can do it!" Which indeed he/she did, as the summit was reached shortly after this photo was taken. It's worth looking at macro images of pea-leaf weevils as they have the face of a cute animal.


Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Peterborough 30 Days Wild Swanfest

I love swans and I photographed these guys by the River Nene in Peterborough as part of 30 Days Wild last month. One guy looked particularly menacing as I had no food...

Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Thursday, June 23, 2022

30 Days Wild 2022

With so much bad news around in recent years it's nice to get out and lose oneself in the beauty of nature. Thanks to the Wildlife Trusts for encouraging people to make June 30 Days Wild month. The hashtag #30DaysWild on various social media sites will open up some great photos and videos that people have uploaded from all over the UK.

Click on the photos below to see them enlarged.

A bee embracing a flower in Crowland, Lincs during 30 Days Wild 2022

Water lily, Crowland

This dog rose in Crowland has some small visitors...

A small tortoiseshell butterfly enjoying life by the River Welland, Crowland

Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Family Tragedies from Made in Luton

Made in Luton Page on; Extracts from Paul Rance's book, Made in Luton

I'm currently working on a book, provisionally entitled Made in Luton, about growing up in Luton from the early '60s to when I left the town in 1983. But the book won't just be about me. It will look into my roots, and the culture, events and environment that shaped me. Looking into my roots there were a lot of tragedies in my family, and here's an extract from what will probably end up in the finished book.

Family Tragedies

Some of the names of my Great-Grandmothers could have been the names of characters in a Jane Austen novel: Caroline Foxlee, Tabitha Tompkins, Rosanna Dollimore, Hannah Bedford, Sarah Pepper, Sarah Goldthorp, Sophia Williams. But tragedies seemed all too frequent for my ancestors. My second Great-Grandmother Caroline Foxlee's Father Job died after falling off a haycart.

While one of the hardest things to deal with looking into the family history is coming across the distressing number of infant deaths. My Great-Greatparents x 5 Joseph Bedford and his wife Susannah lost a son called Joseph in 1773, when he was just a baby. In 1776 they had another son called Joseph (it seemed a custom to give a later child the same name of a child who had died young). He also died when just a baby.

My fifth Great-Grandmother Lucy Carter died during childbirth in 1790. Her husband George Doggett was a yeoman, so they were a middle class couple, and probably had a comfortable life up to that point.

My first cousin four times removed, Mary Williams Gascoigne, was married and had her first child before she was 17. Both Mary and her husband, James Olney, died in their 30s.

The family of William Doggett (my second Great-Granduncle) certainly endured their fair share of tragedies. William who, when 22, married 19-year-old Hannah Sutton in Clophill in 1866, died in a well. Though it was never established whether William’s death was suicide or not. One can imagine the impact on his wife and their 16 children.

William’s son John was killed in the First World War. He was 42, and was an example that not all British WWI soldiers were young men. John, brought up in Clophill, had been living with his wife Frances Swann and their five children in Derbyshire, where he worked as a coal miner.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy 80th Birthday Paul McCartney - the Greatest Living Englishman

It's not just all the great songs Paul McCartney has written (more than any other British composer) that make him, in my opinion, the greatest living Englishman. As one of The Beatles, Paul had a massive cultural influence in the 1960s, whether it be music, fashion, or encouraging people to appreciate art through The Beatles album covers of Klaus Voormann (Revolver), Peter Blake and Jann Haworth (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).

In addition, Paul's support of animal rights has encouraged people to be more compassionate. It seems then that love being a common theme in the music of The Beatles is no coincidence. 

Here's a piece I wrote about Paul McCartney a few years ago, and this page also features an appreciation of Paul McCartney by Andy Savage written in 1988.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Photos of Nature in Crowland, Lincolnshire by Paul Rance

I wasn't expecting to see so many swans in Crowland today. Chuffed to capture these two flying over the River Welland, and the damselfly that posed for me. Plenty of buttercups out too, and here's just a few.

Swans flying over the River Welland in Crowland

Damselfly just chilling


Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Some Old Articles

I'm currently working on putting some old articles online. You'll find a list of them here. There'll be a wide variety of subjects to read, including a brief history of aerial photography, the mystery of Atlantis and a brief appreciation of Doctor Who.

Top of the Pops Blog by Angelo; Top of the Pops CD Compilation

Brotherhood of Man may or may not have dedicated a song to him, but Angelo's Top of the Pops blog is a labour of love, and details repeated episodes on BBC4 of the popular TV chart show. Angelo must also have a strong stomach, as amidst the good stuff there's a lot of dross that would reduce lesser men to mush. The comments are interesting too.


Amazon UK are selling an interesting three disc box set of hits that featured on Top of the Pops from 1975 to 1979. 1975 was the year that I really got into music, and so this box set contains a lot of songs I remember liking at the time - Sailor's A Glass of Champagne, Roxy Music's Love Is the Drug, Jim Capaldi's Love Hurts, even The Stylistics Can't Give You Anything (But My Love). While 10cc's I'm Not in Love got me heavily into their music. 

Top of the Pops 1975-1979 is a good compilation of songs from this period, but it would have been better to have had the songs in some kind of chronological order.

Top Of The Pops 1975-1979

Track Listings from the first disc

1 M / Pop Muzik
2 Roxy Music / Love Is The Drug
3 Sailor / Glass Of Champagne
4 Abba / Mamma Mia
5 The Buggles / Video Killed The Radio Star
6 Squeeze /Cool For Cats
7 Siouxsie & The Banshees / Hong Kong Garden
8 The Stranglers / No More Heroes
9 Sparks Get In The Swing
10 Joe Jackson / Is She Really Going Out With Him?
11 Bay City Rollers / Bye Bye Baby
12 Status Quo / Rockin' All Over The World
13 Thin Lizzy / The Boys Are Back In Town
14 Jim Capaldi / Love Hurts
15 Mud / Oh Boy
16 Elkie Brooks / Pearl's A Singer
17 Boney M / Rivers Of Babylon
18 Mike Oldfield / In Dulce Jubilo
19 10CC / I'm Not In Love
20 Kate Bush / Wuthering Heights

Click on the image below to see more details at Amazon UK.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Birds Photographed in Crowland by Paul Rance


A screenshot of some of the Crowland birds I've photographed. See bigger images of some of 'em here.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Some of the Illustrations from the Environmental Novel From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance

Some of the illustrations of the characters from my upcoming adult fairytale for the climate conscious (but not for the squeamish) - From Ecocide to Eden

Available as an ebook from January 29th on Amazon. You can see more illustrations from my environmental novel, and read the first chapter here.

Marcus the Mole
Klar the Kestrel
Ferdinand the Frog