The University of Cambridge

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For the past two days I’ve been wandering the streets of Cambridge, admiring the old buildings of the University including the King’s College chapel, visiting museums and learning about the history of “town and gown.”

Cambridge University dates from the 13th century when a dispute in Oxford led some faculty and students to move to the city of Cambridge. The oldest college, Peterhouse, was founded in the year 1284 but teaching had begun in Cambridge in 1209. The University is the fourth oldest university in the world. There are 31 independent “colleges” within the University. Today about 20,000 students are enrolled, many of them pursuing graduate studies.

Travel writer Bill Bryson’s latest book is entitled The Road to Little Dribbling. It’s an update of the book that began his career twenty years ago, Notes from a Small Island. Both books are filled with witty observations of life in many of the cities and villages of Great Britain. His chapter on Cambridge includes this about the famous Cavendish laboratory which was the workplace of many scientists from 1874 to 1974:

“Somebody once observed to me that probably no small patch of earth has produced more revolutionary thinking than an area a few hundred yards across in the centre of Cambridge. Here you had Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, William Harvey, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, John Maynard Keynes, Louis Leakey, Bertrand Russell and more than we could list here. Altogether ninety people from Cambridge have won Nobel prizes, more than any other institution in the world, and the greater portion of these – nearly one-third – came out of this anonymous building… where J.J. Thomson discovered the electron in 1897 [and] DNA was revealed by Francis Crick and James Watson …”

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The principal entrance to the old Cavendish Lab (shot from a very narrow street).

So here I am in the intellectual center of the universe!

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Saint John’s College on left and right.

Many of the buildings where students live and study were constructed centuries ago. These enormous, ancient structures are located throughout the town. Some colleges are obviously older and richer than others. Clearly there was a competition to build the grandest structures among them that must have gone on for centuries. All the colleges are behind high brick walls and gates. Some have the gates locked and don’t welcome visitors, some open their gates for a fee (a couple of which are quite expensive), and a few welcome visitors to their courtyards and chapels. There are large, ornate churches inside the walls of most of colleges.

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A typical wall around one of the colleges.

Of these chapels the most famous is King’s College Chapel, known around the world for its choir and its architecture. The chapel is a late British gothic building, a long rectangle decorated in the “perpendicular” style known for large windows separated by narrow vertical stone walls supported by buttresses.

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The exterior of King’s College Chapel.

The ceiling is famous for its fan vaulting.

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There are many beautiful stained-glass windows.

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I have really enjoyed my three days in Cambridge. There’s much to see and do here. Tomorrow I move on to Lincoln, England, a city I’ve been to twice before that I really like. I’ll be there for a week. I may not post to the blog again before Monday.

In the meantime, here are a couple more pictures I like from Cambridge.

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The back side of one of the large colleges. Look at all those chimneys!

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The entrance to Free School Lane where the Cavendish Laboratory was located for 100 years.

Libbie

Resources:

Read the history of King’s College Chapel by clicking here. It’s fascinating.

For more images and information about the colleges of Cambridge click here for a website that has both.

Wikipedia has a long article about the history of the university.

Discovering Cambridge, England

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Ancient Cambridge has many grand, centuries-old buildings owned by the “colleges” that make up Cambridge University. Its size is small but it’s filled with the energy of the young people who fill the streets. It may be ancient but it is a forward-looking place. New buildings are rising on the outskirts and to some extent in the city proper. There are many parks and other green spaces. Fifteen museums are listed on the tourist office map including the important Fitzwilliam Museum which has an excellent art collection. Here are a few scenes captured yesterday between April showers.

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The first picture I took was of young people playing sports in the very heart of the city.

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Spring is in the air! Note the old stone street gutter, the French-style roof, the ancient churches.

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I saw several sundials. The oldest of the colleges dates from the year 1248.

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Musical performances are advertised by posters hung on fences and displayed on walls and doors. This is the home of the King’s College Choir.

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A daily market fills a large lot in the very center of town. I was surprised to find it still very active at 5:00. Most outdoor markets in Europe close by 1:00 pm.

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Among the shops that line the streets there are many more old and traditional businesses than chain stores. There is a multi-story shopping mall in the center of the city which seems to have collected the national chains. I was surprised by this: the city library is in the mall! When I asked a librarian whether that occurred because the developer wanted the library’s site he said that’s just what happened. The result is a new 3-story public library with more patrons.

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Here’s another example of how old some of the merchants are: note the date of founding of this haberdashery.

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Cambridge takes its name from the river Cam which flows gently around the center city, behind a number of the colleges.

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This is the famous “Mathematical Bridge” surrounded by “punters” taking visitors on boat tours on the Cam. The “punts” are low and flat, and are poled by people who look like gondoliers.

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The Fitzwilliam Museum is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Its collections range from large holdings of pre-Christian artifacts to Picasso paintings. The collection of classical paintings from Italy and Flanders fills several large rooms and includes works from nearly every famed artist.

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Yesterday I wandered from 9:00 to 5:00 and didn’t see half of Cambridge, small though it is. Today I’m going back for more. (Did I mention that Cambridge seems as filled with bicycles as Amsterdam?)

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As I walked back to my B&B in the late afternoon the setting sun was highlighting the large chimneys of row houses along Mill Street. I’ve been noticing the chimneys throughout my time in England. Each chimney pot is linked to a separate fireplace inside. I think every room must have one.

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This picture is for Skyla. When I saw these springtime cakes in a bakery window I had to take this picture to send to you.

Libbie

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Hastings

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On my way to Rye last Friday the bus I was riding passed through a beautiful old village and passed by this ancient church. I had to return to it today. The town is called Winchelsea. Today I returned to take pictures and investigate this small but historic place.

I learned that this is the second Winchelsea, the first having been wiped out in by a storm in 1288. That first town had been an important and prosperous port. You can read much about its history here. It was decided to move the town inland and onto higher ground. That is the village I visited today. Here are some photographs of what I found in this very old, very beautiful village.

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I followed this road to the edge of the town and when I followed the bend in the road I found this amazing stone gate.

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The plaque on the gate calls it the “Strand Gate” and says it was built around the year 1300. The sign says it was once one-third taller and was painted white.

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I found lovely “Woodlawn Cottage” not far from the church. Those shingles above the door are made of clay.

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It’s lambing season in sheep country. The red mark on the ewe identifies her owner.

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The charming garden gate beside someone’s beautiful home called Firebrand Cottage.

And a final shot of the church.

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No one seems to know a date for the construction of this church or who caused it to be built. It is thought that it was much bigger originally and that what exists today is only the “chancel” (the choir behind the central altar) and remnants of the transepts. The missing parts were dismantled centuries ago to build the harbor at Rye and for other purposes. That was often done in England, particularly after the dissolution of the monasteries. It is thought that this church was never a monastery, but was always a parish church for what was once a very rich and much bigger town. Please read a detailed history of the church here for much more information.

***

Yesterday I took a long walk to the western end of the Hastings beach. The weather was fine and there were many people out enjoying the first warm weekend of the season. The avenue that runs along the beach is lined on the other side with old hotels, one or two casinos, numerous restaurants. There’s a shopping mall and a large and beautiful old church in the center, just off this main street. But mostly it was the beach that caught my interest. The sun was low enough to turn the sea silver on both sides of the long pier.

(Note added April 29, 2016: Yesterday’s Guardian newspaper had an informative article about the rebuilding of this pier following a fire and its reopening. You can read it here.)

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There is sand on this beach when the tide is out!

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If you look under the teardrop lamp you’ll see, as I did for the first time yesterday, high on the hill above the town the remains of the castle that William the Conqueror ordered built almost immediately after winning the battle against the English.

Tomorrow I’m off to Cambridge.

Libbie

A Walk Around Rye

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Join me for a walk through this small and ancient town (population under 5000, a town since 1189 AD but occupied even earlier). Several of the buildings have painted on them “Rebuilt in 1420” but I’ve found no occurrence at that time to explain those notices. Once a prosperous trading port, Rye’s fortunes changed when the river silted up. Today its economy is largely based on tourism — and I think the pictures that follow will tell you why.

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This tower was built in the year 1249 to guard the entrance to the town from the sea.

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The three or four commercial streets in the town center offer shopping, hospitality and dining.

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This steep, cobbled street is the site of the Mermaid Inn, one of the buildings dating to 1420. The cellars date from the mid-1100s.

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The view at the top of this post is taken from the top of Mermaid Street, with the Mermaid Inn on the right. Here’s a close-up of the one very old house across from the inn.

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See the white birds in the window of the Mermaid Inn? They are really pigeons but it’s said that they were brought here to be released after weddings, when it’s claimed that they are white love birds.

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At the top of the street and around the corner a glimpse of St. Mary’s church appears.

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The church is high on the hill. An old burial ground surrounds it.

 

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This curvaceous old tree is surrounded by English bluebells.

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This gate has been guarding the old town center since 1329. It is the only remaining gate of the four that were built as part of the wall that surrounded the town.

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Are you getting tired from climbing these hills? Here’s a spot to sit a while.

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Here’s a corner of the house and garden where Henry James lived. Called the Lamb House, it’s now owned by the National Trust and is open for tours.

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There are numerous antique dealers in Rye. Not everything sold by them is ancient or fancy!

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Ah! Here’s a good pub. Let’s end our walk here, near the train station, with a drink to restore us.

I rely on Wikipedia to know everything!  Here’s a link to that page for Rye.

And here’s a link to the Mermaid Inn, said to be haunted!

Libbie

 

 

 

London: Portobello Road Market

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Yesterday I took a train to London. Because I’ve been there several times and have seen the famous sights, I chose to go to the famous market in Notting Hill on Portobello Road. Here are some pictures of this mile-long market.

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The entrance to Portobello Road.

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The street begins with brightly painted homes including these in Easter colors.

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In the first few blocks there are many antique dealers, tea rooms and bars. This is apparently not part of the “official” market.

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The crowds aren’t quite so large in this pre-market area.

 

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This bar seems to mark the beginning of the official market and the crowded zone!

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It seems you can buy almost anything at the Portobello Market. Fruit and vegetable stands seem to be collected in the first block.

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Clothing from hats to socks & shoes for everyone were featured in many booths.

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Musicians were performing in every block.

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You know this caught my eye!

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These colorful items are typical of the many unusual offerings.

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One father-and-son team were selling antique printer’s type.

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I heard languages from all over the world. When I asked a man for directions to the Market he simply said, “Just follow the tourists.”

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My favorite place may have been the free Ladies Room. Obviously old (note the beautiful tile floor) but recently updated with 21st century automatic plumbing.

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As I left a found a store called AllSaints where all the windows were filled with old sewing machines. They are like the one my mother bought in 1952 and one like my grandmother’s treadle machine.

On my way to the train in Charing Cross station I passed through adjacent Trafalgar Square. Here are few more traditional tourist shots that may bring back memories for many of you.

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I don’t know what was going on in Trafalgar Square yesterday but people were obviously having fun. Many were in “fancy dress” (costumes).

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Great Britain’s National Gallery of Art is just opposite Trafalgar Square.

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On the corner by the Gallery is the Church of Saint Martin in the Fields. It may have been “in the fields” when it was built in 1725 but it’s in the center of everything now.

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And from the train as I left the city, a quick snap of the London Eye with towers of Parliament in the background.

Once on a tour of London the guide had us all stand on the porch of St. Martin’s while he played for us Edward R. Murrow’s radio broadcast made while Murrow stood in the same spot, watching London being bombed in 1940. You can hear it here. It is very moving.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my day in London.

Libbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foyle’s War: A Who-Done-It in Hastings

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For those who have never seen the ITV program “Foyle’s War” I’ll quickly explain it. Foyle is chief of detectives in Hastings and the original setting was the years from 1940 to 1944 when the war in Europe was on. In each episode Foyle has a murder mystery to solve, and there’s a continuing storyline for each main character. It’s a true representation of what World War 2 was like for ordinary Brits: under bombardment and living with very strict rationing of food, gasoline, clothes and more. The program stars Michael Kitchen, a popular British actor, who portrays Foyle. It moves through time over several seasons until reaching the end of the war. It was so popular, however, that’s it was revived with new programs set in post-war Hastings. If you haven’t discovered it yet, look for it on your PBS channel or find the programs on Amazon.

Hastings’ position on the southern coast of England made it a natural target for German bombers, sometimes due to inaccurate information. The first bombing was carried out by a single plane. In total the town was bombed 85 times, resulting in the loss of 154 lives and many more injuries. Today it’s easy to see how many buildings were destroyed because post-war style houses stand in their place. At the beginning of the war more than half the population fled the town: the population dropped from 65,000 to around 20,000. This website has many details of the war years in Hastings:

Having seen Old Town Hastings on many episodes of this program I’ve had Hastings high on my list of places to visit in England for a long time. I’ve been surprised by the town in some ways but not at all disappointed. The bartender at the pub where I had lunch on Wednesday told me where to find “Foyle’s House.” Hastings’ Old Town section largely survived the bombing of the town from 1940 to 1945 intact. It is filled with ancient houses, many of them antique shops today. In researching the history of Hasting during the war I found a blog in which one woman, Victoria Seymour, details the filming of Foyle’s War and the war years in Hastings. On her blog Mrs. Seymour has posted this graphic which shows the places that were bombed in Hastings during WW2. Each black dot represents a bombing.

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courtesy of Victoria Seymour

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken that may look familiar to fans of Foyle.

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This is Foyle’s house, which is on Croft Street in the heart of the Old Town, near the old church.

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The door to the house which is seen in many episodes when “Sam” (Foyle’s young female driver) calls for him in a circa-1940 automobile.

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This is the parish church that survived bombs falling all around it for five years. It’s at the other end of the block from Foyle’s house.

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Today the church graveyard is filled with English blue bells in bloom.

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Croft Street is lined with medieval houses although “his house” is probably turn-of-the-20th century.

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The streets with the oldest homes in Hastings have elevated sidewalks on one side of the street, presumably because the streets were leveled at some point to accommodate their hillside location.

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This street called Swan Terrace which runs up the side of the church shows how hit-or-miss the bomb damage was.

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This is Swan Terrace again. Notice the empty lot at the bottom of the street. This was the scene of the Swan Inn, built in 1523. On Sunday, May 23, 1943, at lunch time, a bomb was dropped on the inn killing 16 people and injuring many more. The inn was not rebuilt and the location, today a small park, serves as a memorial to all who lost their lives in Hastings during World War Two.

Libbie

Exploring Hastings, England

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Probably no town in England other than London has a name as well-known as Hastings. Every school child learns that in the year 1066 the Norman (French) duke William (later known as William the Conqueror) defeated the King of England Harold and his men at the “Battle of Hastings.” (While it’s true that William and his men landed at Hastings, the battle was actually fought about six miles away, in a town now called “Battle.”) The story of the invasion and its cause is told in pictures in the famous Bayeux Tapestry, probably created at the behest of William’s brother Odo, the bishop of Bayeux, and embroidered by nuns. Today this 70 yard long early work of art is displayed and explained in Bayeux France.

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One small part of the Bayeux Tapestry. (By photo by Gabriel Seah – gssq.blogspot.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1439381)

Hastings is indeed a very old town, squeezed between two gigantic hills at the edge of the English Channel. But it is known for more than the events of 1000 years ago. Perhaps you have seen the British TV series called “Foyle’s War.” If so, you know that Hastings was deeply involved in World War 2. (I’ll tell you about Foyle’s Hastings and its war experience tomorrow.)

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Today’s English families know Hastings for its beach and the amusements to be found along its shore. Hastings beach is what the British call a “shingle beach” – meaning that it’s lined with small stones, not sand. Nevertheless, it’s a popular place. This is a school vacation week in the UK and the town has been filled with young families and teens enjoying the museums, shops, rides and the enormous arcade of games – even slot machines – found at the beach.

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The shingle beach at the east end of the town.

Fishermen have been pushing their boats into the sea here for a thousand years – there is no harbor at Hastings. A fisherman’s museum and a shipwreck museum are among the attractions at the beach. The fishermen of hundreds of years ago devised unusual buildings to dry and repair their nets. They are narrow buildings, all colored by black tar, several stories tall. Some of these from the net huts from the 1700s have been preserved at the beach.

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Old fishing boat and old net huts on the beach at Hastings.

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Hastings town view. This image “borrowed” from East Hastings Sea Angling Association (http://www.ehsaa.org.uk/)

A wide street lined with restaurants and hotels and a casino runs along the beach for several blocks.

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A view of George Street, lined with old buildings, just steps from the beach.

Just behind it on the eastern end is a very old street called George Street. Today it draws many tourists to boutiques and antique stores, bars and restaurants. Only a few blocks long, it ends at the entrance to one of two funiculars (hill-climbing vehicles on rails). This one is called the West Hill Lift. It runs underground to the top of the western cliff where the ruins of the medieval castle are found. The other, the East Hill Lift, ascends and descends a very steep slope from the eastern cliff to the beach.

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Hastings is a very hilly town. In the eastern side of the town only the Old Town lying between the two cliffs is reasonably flat. Victorian row houses line the hills on all sides, mixed with post-war homes and apartments. The city enjoys excellent bus service – indeed, I think all the UK probably has a very useful and much used bus network. I’m grateful that the buses climb the hills so I don’t have to!

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Here are a couple of other things I saw on my explorations in Hastings:

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A pub called First In Last Out where I enjoyed a delicious lunch — a pastry tart filled with roasted vegetables and topped with warm goat cheese. Not typical pub food at all!

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An old Austin “motor car” spotted in the neighborhood where I’m staying.

Come back tomorrow for a more historical view of Hastings.

Libbie

 

 

 

 

 

Exeter Cathedral

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England has many great gothic cathedrals. One of the best loved is the cathedral in the city of Exeter in County Devon. More than 900 years old, this cathedral is an excellent example of English gothic, which was quite different in design from cathedrals in France. It was the Norman, William the Conquerer of Normandy in France, who brought the building of these great buildings to England shortly after conquering that nation in the year 1066.

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Derivative work from Cathedral_of_exeter.jpg by Markus Koljonen (Dilaudid) Original photograph by Torsten Schneider on 13. Nov 2005. – Cathedral_of_exeter.jpg

The exterior of the cathedral at Exeter has a large frieze of sculptured saints across the lower front. Above it is a magnicent rose window. Not visible when looking directly at the front of the building are a pair of older Norman (romanesque) towers attached where transepts are usually found, between the nave and the choir.

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Because this cathedral is not as tall as most it gives the impression of being longer than the others. The organ pipes are placed between the nave and the choir.

This cathedral seems extraordinarily long – and is! The choir (that part this was most holy) is almost as long as the nave (the part where the public was admitted). Late gothic fan arches support the roof. They continue to the floor is a group of narrow columns. Gothic arches extend along the length of the building at the floor level in the center of the nave and also at the highest level of the interior walls, above the side aisles. Carved and painted sculptures grace each column. Most have an image of a head upon which rests a small, full-length saint in a golden enclosure.

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On the south side of the nave stained glass has been installed in the windows while on the north side most of the glass is quite plain. The enormous rose windows on each end of the cathedral are the largest windows. This is often the case in cathedrals but these windows seem to be exceptionally large and beautiful.

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There is much sculpture in this cathedral, including a large number of medieval tombs. There are also memorials to people who lived more recently. The photo below shows a pair of knights tombs from hundreds of years ago. Notice too the memorial plaques on the wall; they are found throughout the cathedral.

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I was there for the noon Easter service but arrived too late to be seated in the choir. The choir cannot be photographed, and I certainly wouldn’t have taken pictures of worshipers there, but I did capture a shot of the choir boys as they exited.

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On the north wall of the north transept is a large, blue-faced astronomical clock. The minute hand was added in 1759. A fleur-de-lys represents the sun cycles around a 24-hour dial, with noon at the top and midnight at the bottom. The moon’s phases are shown and the day of the lunar month can be read from the inner ring. The gold ball in the centre represents the earth. (Source: SacredDestinations.com)

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I have tried to show you my experience on this Easter Sunday. If you have an interest in this cathedral, I recommend you visit this fine website where you’ll get a much better description of the cathedral along with more pictures: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/exeter-cathedral.

The picture of the exterior is “borrowed” from DevonGuide.com. My photos of the gray stone on the gray day were not really usable.

A Journey Across a Green and Pleasant Land

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(written March 28, 2016, the day after Easter)

I am on a train riding across southern England. I going to tell you about some of the places and things I see along the way. After two days of gray skies and intermittent heavy rain, the sun is shining this morning and world looks newly washed.

Just after departing Totnes I rode through low rolling hills on which sheep grazed in meadows divided by hedge rows. Large old houses stand as they have for centuries in the center of prosperous farms. They are covered in white stucco and some have thatched roofs. I noticed a high church steeple, then noted the large estate house near it and a street of smaller homes running from the big house to the church. For centuries there was much money for the “Downton Abbey” class, and I suspect there still is. In the time when rich men owned all the land and peasant farmers eked out a living from a patch of that land and paid rent, tenant farmers’ parcels were bordered by hedges of strong, bristling shrubs.

As we head toward Exeter the train runs on the very edge of the Atlantic ocean, then along the shores of the River Exe which is more like a saltwater bay than a river. Yesterday when I came this way the river was nearly empty of water, the tide having gone out hundreds of feet.

Today I head northwest from Exeter toward Bristol which is near the border with Wales. Here the land is flatter but the large farms continue to cover the countryside. Every mile or so a small hamlet appears. On the edges of the cities (Exeter, Taunton, Bristol) there are Victorian brick row houses, hundreds – probably thousands – of them. These were homes to the people who left farming during the Industrial Revolution for jobs in the larger towns and cities. Each house is one room wide, two stories plus an attic high. They must have seemed lovely to the people, particularly the women, who moved into them. Indoor plumbing! Central heat! I wonder who lives in these homes today. They have probably always been rentals. Do they house mostly the newly arrived immigrants? Or old people who’ve been there for decades? Or young people just reaching independence? Or all of those and more.

My time in Totnes was fine. It’s a town that protects its history and obviously has done so for generations. William the Conqueror granted this part of Devon to one of his knights within two years of his victory at Hastings in 1066. In the past four days I dined in a building that’s been serving travelers since the year 1320. I spent part of my Easter Sunday in a cathedral that was begun even earlier. The day before I wandered around a massive gothic house built in the 1400s. The exceptionally beautiful church in Totnes was built in the same century. Next to it is a 16th century guild hall and in the other direction a 16th century home that proud residents have made into a repository of the history of Totnes. All of these places were built before the first settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607!

Outside the train window I see a pink farm house. In the field beside it there are eight or ten horses, all wearing blankets. The land is flat here and I can see for miles. Low hills appear in the distance. But soon I’ll be in the area where the Industrial Revolution was born and lived a long and successful life. Now I see modern buildings, shipping containers stacked high – Bristol is an active port for this island nation. A modern town – there’s a McDonalds! New brick apartment buildings. Steeples of old churches.

At Bristol we stop in an old Victorian station built of stone with gothic-style arches over the stairways to the platforms. Lots of ugly glass office buildings, hotels and apartments surround the station. The train is now packed. Today is a holiday for school children and for many adults so lots of people are returning home from Easter visits to family and friends. In addition, one entire line from the southwest to London has been shut down, and those passengers have joined this train. Seats on trains can be reserved in advance or not. I don’t have a reservation and I’m really in the wrong car but I found a seat reserved by someone who should have gotten on the train before my stop but didn’t. My luggage is taking another seat because there’s nowhere else for it. So far no one has fussed at me about this but the aisle has begun to be SRO.

Just passed a low, wide stream bordering a large pasture with many sheep. We’re heading east now, toward the famous Cotswold area of England. The scenery changes rapidly from beautiful pastoral views to crowded Victorian cities. Now I’m in Bath and in a modern station with a Starbucks. Bath is the posh town where George and I once heard a tour guide refer to McDonald’s as the “American Embassy.” This city is the setting of the stories told in some of Jane Austen’s books about the monied-class. The buildings here are built of honey-colored stone, and there are many large homes that were built for rich people who came here for the social season.

As the train nears London “America” seems to appear outside the window. Modern office buildings and apartments, stores with names we know well – TK Maxx instead of TJ, next door to McDonalds. In places there’s a real mix of ugly 19th century factories and warehouses being replaced by ugly modern apartments.

(Added later) Once in London I caught a very expensive cab ($35 for two miles) which took me across the city, through its heart, from Paddington to Charing Cross station. I passed by Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square and other famous places. Only recently very tall high rise buildings have begun popping up in London.

There was a very strong wind and rain storm in southern England the night before I left Totnes. Wind and water damage as well as trees across the tracks played havoc with the train schedules. My train to Hastings was delayed and when boarded I found it to be a very slow train that stopped every five minutes for the entire 60 miles.

But here I am in Hastings, famous as the place where England was forever changed in many, many ways! I look forward to discovering it and sharing it with you over the coming days.

Libbie

*There is a popular old song about England called “A Green and Pleasant Land.”  It defines the people was well as the landscape.

Dartington Hall

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Dartington Hall is a medieval, gothic building constructed in the late 14th century located about two miles from Totnes, England. It occupies 1200 acres of land and is surrounded by well-known gardens. It is located in the village of Dartington, just a mile from Cott, another tiny village that’s the site of the Cott Inn.

The hall was mostly derelict by the time it was bought by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst in 1925. In 1935, the Dartington Hall Trust, a registered charity, was set up in order to run the estate. The Trust organizes and supports a large number of on-going programs in the arts and other community interests, maintains the gardens (which are free to visit) and the hall, and keeps Dartington Estate self-supporting. Please refer to their website for more about the good work still being done more than 80 years after the Trust was established: Dartington.org.

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The hall looks more like a church than a house. It’s rare to find gothic construction for other than religious purposes. These windows are immense and were incredibly expensive when they were new. The hall was built by a half-brother of the king.

My early spring visit was a bit damp. I descended the bus near a babbling brook at Dartington Shops where I enjoyed listening to a small band playing American dixieland music, ate Devon cream tea and admired the shops. It’s a walk of about a mile from Dartington Shops in the village to the great hall. The hall was hosting a wedding so I couldn’t enter but I enjoyed a walk in the garden. I found lots of green grass and daffodils.

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Daffodils bloom by the thousands and are fun to see in early spring, but I would have enjoyed this visit even more a month from now — but I won’t be here then!

One way Dartington Trust supports their good works is by operating a small hotel in the old buildings that surround the main hall. There is also a restaurant and a café.

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Here you see some of the hotel space at the Hall. It would be a fine place to stay.

Dartington is an interesting place to visit.I wish I could see it later in the spring. The gardens must be beautiful then.

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This unusual terraced area in the garden accommodates a hillside well.

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An old door and its sweet lace curtain caught my eye in another part of the estate.

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This stream rushes past early spring willow tree and bushes between the road through the village and the shops. The ducks seem to like it.

Libbie