Dominated both in
spirit and in fact, by its magnificent castle, yet the town itself is very
attractive with Georgian and Victorian buildings, church street being one of its
prettiest areas. The parish Church of St John stands in the High Street
with railings designed by Grindling Gibbons. Nearby is the Guildhall
designed at the end of the 17th Century by Sir Thomas Fitch and finished by Sir
Christopher Wren. However it is the castle that made the town and still
attracts thousands and thousands of visitors every year.
The castle is the
largest inhabited castle in the world and covers over 13 acres. Its story
starts with William the Conqueror who quickly grasped its strategic position and
the advantage of a forest for hunting close by. Since then practically
every sovereign has had a hand in the building, Henry II put up the first stone
buildings including the round tower, but the defences are still those built by
Henry III. Edward III was born at Windsor and loved it, he enlarged the royal
apartments and founded the order of the Knights of the Garter, making Windsor a
centre for chivalry. The castle is made up of three parts, the lower ward,
which includes St George's chapel, the upper ward in which lie the state
apartments and the middle ward where the enormous round tower gives wonderful
views over 12 counties.
St. George's Chapel, Windsor
A sumptuous and impressive
building which yet gives an effect of light and spaciousness. The
perpendicular chapel was begun by Edward IV in 1475 and completed in the reigns
of Henry VII and VIII. Many sovereigns and famous men and women lie buried
here, including Charles I, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and the present Queens
Mother and father. Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were also
buried at Windsor but in the royal mausoleum at Frogmore in Home Park near the
A very ancient city
with more than 2,000 years of history and the site of Canterbury Cathedral.
There were Belgic settlements here pre-Roman time and Julius Caesar took the
area by storm in 54B.C. after their conquest in 43A.D. the Romans established a
centre here called Durovernum. In 597 St Augustine arrived on his mission
to spread Christianity in England and built his first cathedral. Something
like half the Medieval walls which encircled the old city on the Eastern side
still remain. They date from the 13th & 14th Centuries, they were partly
built on Roman remains.
The Cathedral of course
dominates the city, the original was built by St Augustine but nothing remains.
In fact nothing pre-Conquest does remain. A little while after the
Conquest a new Cathedral was built by Lanfranc, the first Norman Archbishop.
Since that time there have been many additions, the oldest remaining part of the
Cathedral is the crypt dating from 1100. Only one English monarch is
buried here, Henry IV, who lies with his Queen Joan in Trinity Chapel. The
tomb of Edward, the Black Prince is close by and described by many as the most
magnificent in England. In Trinity chapel you will also find the shrine of
St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop from 1162-1170 when he was murdered by four
knights of Henry II after a long and bitter feud. The nave completed in
the early 15th Century is 187ft in length, 71ft in width and 79ft in height.
The tall central bell tower which dominates the external views of the cathedral
dates back to 1498 and is certainly one of earliest large brick structures in
England. Viewed from inside all but the top 50ft is visible. 130ft
above the floor level is the magnificent fan vaulted ceiling, the South window
is a splendid example of 12th Century art and the whole Cathedral is alive with
stained glass, despite the Civil War and the Second World War damage.
Capital City of England & the United Kingdom
Within a few years of invading Britain in 43AD the Romans had built forts and
towns across the land. They linked these outposts with a number of well
constructed roads, some of which had to cross a wide tidal river (Thames).
The Roman engineers eventually picked a crossing point from generally marshy
ground on the South bank (with islands of firm ground) to an area on the North
Bank situated on two low hills, these hills formed the highest and driest site
on the tidal river. At this point the Romans built their bridge and before
long a settlement grew up on the hills and then a City took shape, the Romans
called it Londinium. The landscape that greeted the Romans now lies deep
beneath the modern city, upto 8 metres deep, the reason, every new building over
the past 2,000 years was built on top of the rubble of the old.
Opened in January 2000 as a part of the Millennium celebrations it is 135mtrs
high and is the worlds highest observation wheel. The fourth tallest
structure in London. It is 35mtrs taller than Big Ben, 30 mtrs taller than St
Pauls, three times as high as Tower Bridge and a third taller than the Statue of
Liberty. The 360` rotation will take approx 30/35 minutes. The wheel
has 32 fully enclosed capsules holding up to 25 people each. From its highest
point passengers can see 25 miles in each direction on a clear day.
Houses of Parliament
The present building
occupies the site of the old Royal Palace. The oldest surviving part of
this palace is Westminster Hall (some of the walls dating back to 1097/99).
In 1840 Sir Charles Barry with the help of his eccentric assistant, Pugin began
building the neo Gothic new house which still graces Parliament Square.
Although it was badly bombed in 1941 the Commons Chamber was completely
destroyed, the new one was opened in 1950. As you look at the palace from
the square the commons are on the left and the lords on the right.
Standing a little to the left of the building is Westminster Hall. This
ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft wide and 92ft high, it was built in 1097 by
William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399. It was here that Charles
I was condemned to death in 1649, Edward II abdicated in 1327, Oliver Cromwell
was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators sentenced to death.
It was the centre of London life, a very public place in which to have sentence
passed. it remains lofty, beautiful, impressive and empty, the oldest part of
the palace and the most lovely.
One of the longest
rivers in England at 215 miles in length, it flows from its source near
Cheltenham to the sea through some of the most beautiful countryside before
becoming the main artery that the wealth of Britain has been bourn. No
river can have influenced a nations destiny more, from Roman times to the
New Globe Theatre
Situated on the South
bank as close as possible to the site of the original Globe Theatre stands the
New Globe. Faithfully reconstructed to the Elizabethan design using the
same materials. The Globe now stands as a fitting memorial to Shakespears
work and also to the vision of the late actor/director Sam Wanamaker whose dream
it was to rebuild a theatre in the round.
This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft long and 92ft high. It was built in
1097 by William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399. It was here that
Charles I was condemned to death in 1649. Edward II abdicated in 1327.
Oliver Cromwell was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators
sentenced to death. It was the centre of London life, a very public place
in which to have sentence passed. It remains lofty, beautiful, impressive
and empty, the oldest part of the palace and the most lovely.
10 Downing Street
Has been the official
residence of the Prime Minister since Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime
Minister lived here in 1732. The street was named after its builder, Sir
George Downing. The iron gates were erected for security reasons in 1989.
St. Paul's Cathedral, London
The original Cathedral was
built on Ludgate Hill by the Anglo Saxons in 604A.D. built of wood it burnt down
and was rebuilt on a number of occasions. The present Cathedral was
started by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 and it took 35 years to build. The
Cathedral was damaged during the Second World War with bombs falling through the
roof and destroying the alter and one damaging the North transept. A
famous picture taken at the time shows the cathedral surrounded by fire and
smoke and through the gloom appearing unscathed the dome of St Pauls rising
dominantly and defiantly from the inferno below, a source of inspiration to the
whole country in its hour of need. In the crypt lie buried, Wren, Nelson,
many other famous British people. The peel of 12 bells is outstanding and
the choir of 38 boys and 18 men maintain a very proud tradition.
Tower of London
Built by William the
Conqueror because he did not trust his new people. Over the years it has
been a garrison, armoury, prison, royal mint and royal palace. Among well known
heads that have rolled or languished in the tower were Kings of Scotland, France
and England. Lady Jane Grey, Duke of Monmouth, Queen Elizabeth for six
months, Sir Walter Raleigh and many more. There is even a gate directly
off the river called traitors gate.
Hiddern away beneath the
modern arches and bridges of busy London. This jewel is known as “Londons
hidden glory” Londons oldest Cathedral. The doomsday book records that in
Anglo Saxon times a Monasterium was situated on this site, some recent
excavations have unearthed some Roman remains but the origins of the church
unfortunately are lost in the mists of time. The church was rebuilt in
1106 and was closely linked to the Bishops of Winchester. The present
choir was constructed in the 13th Century, the tower in the 14th and the altar
screen in the 16th Century. It finally became a Cathedral in 1905 to serve
what was a growing population on the South bank.
This ancient city, with
narrow, twisting streets was once one of the largest and most important Roman
towns in the country. The Abbey is visible from miles around. A
British settlement existed here prior to the Roman invasion of 54A.D. by the
middle of the 1st Century this settlement had become so important it was
elevated to the status of Municipium, the only British city to attain such an
honour, which accorded the inhabitants the right of Roman citizenship. The
remains of Verulamium were only excavated in the present century, parts of the
original city walls up to 12 feet thick can be seen. The Roman theatre
(only one in Britain) has been excavated and restored, semi circular in shapes
is 180 feet across and provided seats for over 1,600 people.
St. Albans Cathedral
The Cathedral, St
Albans Abbey was built on the site where the first British Martyr, Alban was
beheaded in 209A.D. The existing Abbey was constructed by Paul of Caen
using materials collected from the ruined Roman city (brick and flint taken from
Roman remains) started in 1077 much of the original church remains today.
The church is over 900 years old but the materials used to build it are nearly
twice that age. The nave measures over 275 feet and is the longest in
Great Britain, the tower is 144 feet high constructed entirely by the Normans
with red bricks from the old Roman city.
A town where there is
no need to go looking for interests in dark corners, it is all around. The
city dates back to the 13th Century when it was decided to move the Bishops seat
from Old Sarum. The Cathedral foundations were begun in 1220 and the city
started to grow. Salisbury was built on a grid or chequer system which
left space between the blocks. Cathedral close is the most beautiful in
all England and the list of buildings with interest is unending. The first
sight of the Cathedral is most impressive an early example of English
architecture. Its spire soaring to a height of 404ft the highest in
England, the nave measures 198ft with a clear uncluttered beauty, little having
changed since it was built.
The first sight of the
Cathedral is most impressive an early example of English architecture. Its
spire soaring to a height of 404ft the highest in England which imposes almost
6,000 tons of stone on the four pillars of the crossing. The Nave measures
198ft with a clear uncluttered beauty, little having changed since it was built.
Foundations no more than 4 feet deep on a bed of gravel, the main building was
begun in 1220 and completed in 1258. The Cloisters and Chapter house being
finished in 1280. It was never a Monastic institution but staffed with
Secular Clergy called Canons. This arrangements continues today.
Canons would be away in their parishes for most of the year, just coming back to
the Cathedral for short periods of time. The present houses round the
close are built on the sites of the former Canons Houses.
There is nothing quite
like this awe inspiring monument anywhere else in the world, yet at first sight
it is curiously disappointing, probably because it is set on a plain so vast
that in comparison the stones seem quite insignificant. It is only when
man stands close to the stones that he seems so puny in comparison and it is
hard to imagine how centuries ago, with only primitive tools to help them, men
could possibly have placed these huge boulders into position.
Set on a sheltered
ridge between the high Cotswolds and the Severn Vale the town enjoys a pleasant
and equable climate. Cheltenham is one of the finest Spa towns in Europe,
with a wealth of regency houses bordering elegant squares, crescents, terraces
and open spaces. George III an inveterate frequenter of spas, visited the
town in 1738 and set his seal of approval by staying at Bayshill lodge.
Lansdown Place and Montpellier Parade, among similar thoroughfares and the
Rotunda, the design for its dome being based on the Pantheon in Rome.
Montpellier walk with its shops separated by Caryatids must be one of the most
unusual shopping precincts in the world. Out on the Bath Road are two of
Cheltenham`s famous schools, Cheltenham College for boys was originally built
between 1841 and 1843. With the nearby Cheltenham Ladies college founded
by Miss Beale, the ardent Victorian champion of good education for girls.
Developed from the
Anglo Saxon words Cot and Wold, Cot meaning sheep pen. Wold meaning high windy
ground, that certainly can describe the area well, especially in the winter.
The soil is poor on the Wolds and not a lot of it but a great area for rearing
sheep. Hence the numerous villages with lovely churches (known as wool
churches) built by wealthy landowners centuries ago. The area is also
famous for the Cotswold stone a soft stone which yellows with age. Many
cottages will be seen built of Cotswold stone.
Stratford upon Avon
Situated on the West
bank of the River Avon. Many 15th and 16th Century timber framed houses
still exist and in many of its streets the essential character of a thriving
market town still purveys. However it can not be denied that it is justly
famous because on or about 23rd April 1564 William Shakespeare was born here and
a few days later baptised at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity. There is
however evidence of a Bronze age settlement in the area and a Romano British
village. A Monastery was founded in Anglo Saxon days and by the year 1196
the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market.
The town name means
ford by a Roman road. In this case over the River Avon and the Roman road
is the one joining the Roman settlements of Alcester and Tiddington. The
ford was actually at the point where Bridgefoot Crosses the River now.
The name was recorded as Stretford approx 700 years ago.
Shakespeare Birthplace Museum
The Cottage was the childhood home of William
Shakespeare. The cottage is authentically furnished throughout with both
original and replica items from this time period of his life. To the rear
is a lovely garden and adjoining is a superb exhibition charting his
professional and private life including a first edition of his colleted plays
published in 1623.
Anne Hathaway's Cottege
This well preserved example of early domestic architecture with its picturesque
thatched roof was the home of William Shakespeare's wife before her marriage.
Her family the Hathaways lived here close to the village of Shottery for some
Worcester a city with a
river, cathedral, famous pottery and history around every corner. Situated
in the centre of the county and built on the banks of the River Severn.
The area has known many marauding armies using the town as a base and river
crossing. Romans, Anglo Saxons, Danes and the Welsh have all contributed
to its colourful history. The Civil War inflicted terrible damage, it was
the first city to declare for the King and the last to surrender in 1646.
It also saw in 1651 the final battle for Cromwell when Charles I was completely
defeated. The Cathedral was started in 1084 and is a beautiful place of
worship. Many interesting houses are situated in the city some dating back
over 500 years, however today the cities main claim to fame must surely be the
home of the Royal Worcester Porcelain works situated near the Cathedral right in
the centre of the city.
received it first
in 680. It
is thought the first
stood very close the present one.
do understand that
built a new
in 962 and it is thought that some of the existing stonework is incorporated in
the present building.
started the building of a new
on the present site.
crypt and chapter house remain substantially as the
builders left them.
visited many times and asked that on his death he be buried in the
which was agreed.
was consecrated in 1218 but further enlargement followed ending in about 1375.
960 to 1540 the
was a Monastery
under the rule of the
order. One interesting point the whole length of the
seems to be built in one piece when in fact the two
side built in 1345 is far better finished than the
side which due to the intervention of the
was built some 40 years later.
Famous for its bone
china since 1751 when its founder Dr John Wall promised, "porcelain so precise
as to be easily distinguished from other known English Porcelain". the company
has been in continuous production ever since. The Dyson Perrins museum
houses the worlds largest collection of Worcester Porcelain including pieces
made during the first year of production. A feast for the eyes to feed
upon whether a connoisseur or just a lover of fine artistry.
Gustav Holst Museum Nos 4
Pittville Terrace in Cheltenham (now Clarence Road) the house where Gustav Holst
the famous composer (the planets being one of his most notable compositions) was
born on 21st September 1874. He lived here for the first 8 years of his
life till the death of his mother in 1882. The family then moved to
Vittoria Walk. Young Gustav was educated at Cheltenham Grammar School and
in 1893 went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London. He died
in London on 25th May 1934.
Once one of the most
important ports in the country, the earliest records of its commercial activity
going back to Edward II in the 10th Century when silver coins were minted here.
All this due to the fact that the River Severn and Avon was navigable to this
point. It was from
Bristol in 1497 that John Cabot and his Bristol born son Sebastian set sail with
18 sailors in the 100 ton ship “Matthew” before reaching the mainland of America
A centre for trade and commerce for over 1,000 years, the city still has much to
offer and although the large container ships now dock at the entrance to the
Avon Gorge at Avonmouth, much activity still remains around the old dock side
Augustinian Abbey founded in 1142 by Robert Fitzharding. In 1542 it became
the Cathedral Church of the newly formed Diocese of Bristol. It still
retains much of its Norman solidarity, particularly the fine Chapter House.
The Church building is known as a “Hall Church” type where high Chancel, aisles
and an Eastern Lady Chapel are of equal height. The Choir is full of
absolutely fine woodwork dating back to the 1500s and the Misericords of great
interest depicting as they do Biblical scenes. The organ was built in 1685
by Renatus Harris and all the pipework is original. Grinling Gibbons
created the superb organ case. Choristers are educated at the adjoining
Cathedral school. One important feature in the Berkeley Chapel: a Medieval
candelabrum (understood to be the only one of its kind in England recorded) has
being given to the Temple Church in Bristol
during 1450 and passed on to its present home during the terrible blitz of World
SS Great Britain
Launched in Bristol in 1843 the ship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel,
famous Victorian engineer who also designed the Bristol suspension bridge.
This was the first ship fitted with a screw propeller, first to have an iron
hull and first to have a 1,000 horse power engine. On her first voyage
across the Atlantic she set a new speed record.
Very much a Cathedral city
and dominated by it, the existing building was started in 1180 continued in
stages until 1424. Many of the buildings in the Cathedral precincts are
used today for much the same purposes as that for which they were originally
built. The Vicars Close consists of a cobbled street with a total of 42
small houses built in the 14th Century for the Vicars of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral school was started in 909 and while closing for one short period
of 6 years in 1861 now records over 600 pupils. On the West front there
are 294 sculptures left of the original 386 some damaged beyond recognition, 3
new ones were unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1985. The Chapter House
reached by an ancient stone stairway is octagonal in shape and part of a two
storey building, could be one of the most beautiful Chapter Houses in Britain.
The Cathedrals South doors lead to beautiful 15/16th Century cloisters
Can certainly lay claim
to being one of the most beautiful Cotswold towns. A superb High Street
slopes gently down to a three arch bridge spanning the River Windrush.
Some of the buildings such as the Bear Inn, Crown Inn and the Grammer School can
readily identify their roots in the 15th Century. A fine church
exists, St John, hidden from view down a lane at the foot of the High Street.
A wonderful mixture of accretion (add on's as and when money became available or
persons so decided) the tower is definitely Norman so is the West Doorway.
The Guild of Merchants chapel circa 1200 but remodelled in the 15th
Century. In May 1649 Cromwell imprisoned a group of mutineers in the
church for 3 nights after which they were to be shot. When three had been
executed Cromwell relented, one of the group “Sedley” scratched his name on the
font. In even earlier times the Anglo Saxons defeated the Mercians at the
battle of Edge now a playing field near the church. It is also written
that in 683 a council was convened at Burford attended by the King of Mercia at
which the date of Easter was fixed for the English church. The wealth of
the region coming from the surrounding sheep country during the middle ages.
To really appreciate Burford take time to walk the High Street.
This great university
town is, for its history and associations and for its architecture, one of the
most rewarding in all England. In spite of recent industrialisation, its
beauty and dignity have emerged relatively unscathed. The university is
the second oldest in Europe, acknowledging only the Sorbonne in Paris as its
senior. In fact evidence of organised teaching can be traced to the 12th
Century. A Chancellor was appointed in 1214 and the collegiate system
began in the latter part of the 13th Century with the establishment in Oxford of
various religious orders.
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