Arts and Entertainment The V&A says it has discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by John Constable tucked beneath the lining of another work

Restorers uncovered the artwork while renovating a major painting

Punch & Judy: 350 years of hard-hitting entertainment

When Samuel Pepys came across a captivated crowd watching the street performance of an anarchic little puppet called Punchinello and his beleaguered wife Joan, the diarist chronicled the event in his diary, dated 9 May 1662.

Back to school, but design for children has never been better

We might think that children today have a more cosseted, less imaginative, increasingly restrictive childhood, and that their school life is going to pot, but it’s not like we don't have good reason. Indeed, if it’s not parents being threatened by social services for letting their children cycle to school alone, or the banning of charity home-baked cake days in Scotland for fear of obesity amongst children, then it’s the worry that A Level and GCSE results are getting better each year - not because children are getting smarter, but because teaching has become less imaginative and more focused on how to pass an exam, rather than on how to think creatively and independently.

Don’t put a price on our national treasures

Cultural institutions are not businesses and should stop selling off Britain’s valuable artworks, says Tiffany Jenkins

V&A hopes to leave the past behind as it plans extension

Six years after the fiasco of its last attempt to build a new wing, the museum is trying again

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces, V&A, London

We define our lives by the way we regard and respond to the spaces we inhabit. This summer the Victoria & Albert Museum is showing – scattered willy-nilly – seven small, newly commissioned, purpose-built structures by architectural practices from across the world.

Unhappy days are here again

As Britain faces up to a new era of austerity, Paul Barker looks back on photographs he commissioned in an earlier age of recession and protest

What's so bad about boys?

Ursula Hirschkorn is the proud mother of four sons. Yet friends regard her Barbie-free family with pity. No wonder today's males feel undervalued, she argues

Carola Long: 'Satin dresses and beaded bags became the de facto wedding uniform'

I've never actually seen a wedding invite where the dress code stipulates that "ladies" should wear lurid satin dresses from Coast and feathery fascinators (below) resembling a dead pigeon with a blue rinse, but you can't throw a bouquet at a wedding without hitting these looks. Somewhere along the line, together with fussy beaded bags, pashminas, cropped boleros and satin Wag shoes, they became the de facto wedding uniform. However, just because weddings are essentially conventional, it doesn't mean that what we wear to them has to be. This look is about as dated as agreeing to obey.

It's time that museums stopped cramping our style

Fashion exhibitions don't have to be in stuffy glass cases, says Harriet Walker. Clothes can be living, dynamic creations, too

Grace Kelly: Style Icon, V&A, London

The film star's crisp silhouette and little black dresses give way to gaudy Marie Antoinette confections

Scour museum gift shops for divine designs

They may not be the first place you think to look while shopping for the best in contemporary design, but – as these original and quirky pieces show – museum shops are about much more than postcards and erasers

Claude Blair: Authority on arms and armour who campaigned for the Victoria and Albert Museum in a time of crisis

Claude Blair was not only a world authority on arms and armour. He revelled in the subject, and to the end of his life travelled widely in pursuit of new understanding, but he was also a doughty fighter for causes close to his heart.

48 Hours In: Cape Town

With Table Mountain providing a spectacular backdrop, Harriet O'Brien soaks up the culture and glamour of South Africa's coastal gem before it gets swamped by football fever

Ron Arad: Curve your enthusiasm

His designs are both edgy and sophisticated. Caroline Roux looks forward to the unveiling of Ron Arad's Design Museum in Israel and a major retrospective at the Barbican

The Gillrays that were too rude for the Victorians

Cartoons that fell foul of 19th-century censors are put on display
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there