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Posts Tagged ‘english history’

So hey….I did it!!! Yesterday; Faversham to Sittingbourne along the Saxon Shore Way 😁😁😁 9 hours. 30.06 km. Holy moly what a long day. If I add on the distance from home to the station and back, I can add on another 2.5 kms. The last time I walked 32km on any one day was 4 years ago on the Portuguese Camino in Spain…destination: Caldas de Reis. I swore to never do such a long walk ever again 🤪🤪🤪 Hah. I’m very comfortable with 16kms, so this is a bit of a stretch, but hey, it’s done. Now I can concentrate on the next section; Sittingbourne to Rochester….

I’ll do a proper write up in due course, but for now, what I really wanted to tell you about were all the abandoned boats I saw along the way; boats of all sizes, their rotting carcasses littering the creeks.

I wondered why they were abandoned? Who abandoned them? What were their names before being dumped, and why have they been left there to rot.

They are beautiful in their various stages of decay, but how sad. I’m sure they were beautiful craft at some time, sailing proudly along the channels, brightly painted, flags fluttering in the wind, decks alive with chatter.

And now, they’re lying there, forlorn and forgotten….too sad. This post is to honour all boats that get dumped and forgotten. In order of appearance, these boats were seen in Faversham Creek, Oare Creek, The Swale, Conyer Creek and Milton Creek.

I’d love to know their provenance and how long they’ve been lying there….

Long may they rest in pieces and provide food and homes for the fishes.

Extra image of previous two boats from a different angle.

I’ll try get my post up as soon as I’ve caught up with the Thames Path posts, the Pilgrim’s Way posts (2 years ago 😱🤪🤪) and the initial stages of the Saxon Shore Way I’ve already walked. 🤞🤞🤞 Thank you for your patience 😁😁

And yes, after walking 30 kms, I’m feeling every. single. one. of. my. years. 😂😂😂 but lots of vitamin C, Aloe Heat Lotion paracetamol and feet up…I’ll be right as rain…😉

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My time in Salisbury is now over, but fear not I shall return – when I start travelling with my grandson, Salisbury, Old Sarum and Avebury are on my very extensive list of ‘places to go on Granny and Jamie’s Adventures’. But I couldn’t leave without sharing what is, next to the Cathedral, the best aspect of the city…..The River Avon, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, such a beautiful space.

Synonymous with Shakespeare and Stratford Upon Avon, the Avon rises east of the town of Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, just north of the village of Acton Turville.

The river itself runs from a spring in Naseby in Northamptonshire, through Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestshire and finally to the River Severn in Gloucestershire, passing through Bath and Bristol, the last big city on its route and beneath the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The River Avon is an exceptionally meandery river with lots of small tributaries and channels breaking away, leaving hundreds of little islands in its wake enroute to the sea…I tried to follow it on Google maps but gave up 😄😄😄

Running a somewhat circular path, the river drains east and then south through Wiltshire. Its first main settlement is the village of Luckington, two miles (3 km) inside the Wiltshire border, and then on to Sherston.

At Malmesbury it joins up with its first major tributary, the Tetbury Avon, which rises just north of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
This tributary is known locally as the Ingleburn, which in Old English means ‘English river’. Here, the two rivers almost meet but their path is blocked by a rocky outcrop of the Cotswolds, almost creating an island for the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury to sit on. Upstream of this confluence the river is sometimes referred to as the ‘River Avon (Sherston Branch)’ to distinguish it from the Tetbury Branch.
Information ref wikipedia with thanks.

In Salisbury the river twists and winds within sight of the cathedral as it rushes past ancient inns, Norman churches, alongside meadows green and watery alive with wildflowers, butterflies, bees and swans, it splits into a multitude of channels and smaller tributaries around the city, with 2 distinct channels in the city rushing furiously through the millrace at the Maltings then flows fast beneath a 15th century bridge; Crane Bridge

The Maltings
Crane Bridge

Pretty much wherever you are, you are within a short walk of the river.

The chalk soils around the River Avon filter and purify the water, making the river a special place for wildlife. The Avon and its tributaries make up one of the largest chalk river systems in England, and is a source of clean drinking water.

Although I’ve been to Salisbury a few times, its always been a short visit and mostly spent in the cathedral or at Old Sarum (which is a fantastic place btw – a must visit), but I’ve never had the time to just meander and explore. Its been fantastic. I shall of course return someday in the future….

Meanwhile, here’s a short video showing scenes of the River Avon in Salisbury

I did a lot of walking during my breaks, through Churchill Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and along the many and varied riverside walks in the city…I went as far afield as the area called Broken Bridges and had a walk along the River Nadder, blissful tranquility, a space of enchantment

Crossing the bridge towards Broken Bridges
River Nadder, so clear you can see the bottom

And that’s it ….goodbye Salisbury, hope your cathedral is open next time I visit, I’d like to see the Magna Carta again 😊😊

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And suddenly I was on the home straight with just 19 hours to go and I’d be on my way. My final break was taken in town and I followed some of my more favoured routes and managed a decent 6.8kms, albeit with a reduction in my time off again 🤔🤔🤔

When I first arrived in Shepton Mallet 12 days ago my heart sank…it looked dull and grey with no defining features beyond grey walls and grey houses, a massive Tesco store and the distinction of being mentioned in the Domesday Book….and the oldest prison in the country looming large…and grey 🤨🤨

Shepton Mallet Prison- closed 2013
Exterior of the prison

But as usual I set out to explore and managed to find lots of interesting nooks and crannies, a great number of interesting houses, some of which are Grade II listed.

The Merchants House – 17th century Grade II listed

Three other houses of historical interest:

Longbridge House : with links to James, Duke of Monmouth and the Battle of Sedgemoor July 1685. Now a B&B. With parts dating back to the 14th century the house is best known for being where the Duke of Monmouth stayed before and after the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685.

Exploring Shepton Mallet

Old Bowlish House : I was delighted to note the old English spelling…first house name I’ve ever seen in old English. Built around 1618, this Grade II* clothier’s mansion was modernised by the Georgians c.1735 and the Victorians c.1860.

Old Bowlish House – note the old English spelling

Downside House – Georgian House 5 bedrooms 3 bathrooms…I’ll have one of each 😃

Downside House

exciting finds, although I’m pretty certain there were quite a few more dotted about. After all, in its past, Shepton Mallet used to be a very wealthy town built on the wool trade

I found and walked a small section of the Roman Fosseway, and explored the greater countryside, walking many sections of the East Mendip Way. I discovered the wonderful viaducts, one of which carried the old railway – now disused. I explored the beautiful Collett Park and stretching myself I walked to Downside, Bowlish and Ham Lane.

Fosseway
Exploring Shepton Mallet – Collette Park
Collette Park
Collette Park
Viaduct on the Kilver estate
The River Sheppey at Bowlish

I squelched along muddy public paths, slipping and sliding and climbed some interesting stiles 🤪🤪🤪 One of my favourite sections was between a steep field and the small holdings along the River Sheppey where I met lamas, horses, goats and chickens.

This was my favourite stretch of the walks
Helloooo

I walked along narrow roads and lanes and prayed that the tractors that had left their treads in the mud right at the absolute limits of the lanes, didn’t decide to come either up or down the lanes while I was walking along…they didn’t. Whew! I would probably have had to either climb under or over …or resort to climbing into the hedges that towered along the sides.

Narrow roads and wide tractors. ..

I managed to find many items of interest after all…I thought my options were out, but no.

Some houses had little plaques remembering past residents who went off to war and never returned

Although the architecture is mostly solid grey stone

A dilapidated house
Literally falling apart

I did find some older painted houses, albeit peeling and covered in mould….the reason for the stone houses was more apparent. The town is mostly located in a very deep wedge between hills, the Mendip Hills, and a great number of houses are built right on the rivers edge.

Mouldy peeling paint – note the crown decoration
A river runs past
Same section of the river
This house is also built right on rivers edge next to the Fosseway
An optical illusion- on Cat Ash the houses are actually adjacent

I found what used to be a Priory

The Priory exterior
The Priory interior

I’m totally intrigued by the bricked in doors and windows of many of the older houses, and am curious to know when and why they were sealed off.

Windows and doors bricked up m

Addendum – Many thanks to Grace for sending me this link in the comments. The reason why windows and doors were boarded up…governments eh 🤪🤪🤪https://www.amusingplanet.com/2018/04/why-do-many-historic-buildings-in-uk.html?m=1 anything to squeeze more money out of their citizens.

The church was beautiful albeit locked so I never got to go inside 😔 and the market cross is beautiful

And after yesterday’s walk and 2 weeks of indoor walking I’m now closer to my 2020 target of 2020kms. Hoorah. It looks like I may just reach my target by 31.12.2020

As usual, saying goodbye to the pets is sometimes the hardest part of leaving

And so ends my sojourn to Shepton Mallet. Its been quite a stressful job, and I’ll be glad of my 48 hour break before starting all over again on Monday in Croydon 🤪🤪 thankfully only 9 days….

At the moment I’m in transit, first train and nearly in London ….1 tube ride, the HS1 to the coast and a taxi ride away from the Airbnb where I’m staying this weekend.

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Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to visit Wells last week. What a delight. The weekly market was in full swing and people bustled about buying Christmas presents and savouring the delicious aromas that wafted through the air. I saw some amazing wreaths and was tempted to buy one, except I have nowhere to hang it, and a 6 hour journey to the Thanet coast on Saturday.

I loved this wreath
Autumn colours are perfectly suited for winter wreaths
Celebrating an Olympic Champion; Mary Bignall Rand, Gold medallist Long Jump 1964
Built around 1450. Here beggars used to ask for pennies
Penniless Porch, Wells, Somerset

I had 2 hours to explore and made the most of the time…..and spent most of it in the Bishop’s Palace 😁😁 which left me with 10 minutes to visit the cathedral. Fortunately we’re going back later this week so I can have a proper visit.

Layout of the Bishop’s Palace
Entrance to the Bishop’s Palace

Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells, the palace, founded in 1206, has been the Bishop’s residence for more than 800 years. The great medieval bishops – Jocelyn, Burnell, Ralph of Shrewsbury, and Beckynton – developed their palace next to the city’s ancient wells. For centuries, water flowing from these wells has shaped the landscape; the buildings and the gardens of this site.

Entrance to the palace rooms
Along the ramparts

Wells, a cathedral city, located on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, has had city status since medieval times, due to the presence of Wells Cathedral. Often described as England’s smallest city, it is actually second smallest to the City of London.

Wells takes its name from 3 wells dedicated to Saint Andrew, one in the market place and two within the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace and cathedral.

Moat, boats and birds

A small Roman settlement surrounded them, which grew in importance and size under the Anglo-Saxons when King Ine of Wessex founded a minster church there in 704. The community became a trading centre based on cloth making and Wells is notable for its 17th-century involvement in both the English Civil War and Monmouth Rebellion. 

Wells was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Welle, from the Old English wiells, not as a town but as four manors with a population of 132, which implies a population of 500–600

Over the years

William Penn stayed in Wells shortly before leaving for America (1682), spending a night at The Crown Inn.

I had a wonderful time exploring the Bishop’s Palace and am looking forward to seeing the Cathedral more fully on Thursday.

Children’s Wings

Inside the Bishop’s Palace

The Coronation Cope worn by Bishop Kennion at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902
He assured me that I’m on the ‘good’ list 🙃🙃
The entrance hall from the stairs
The chapel windows
A compilation of the chapel
Scenes from the gardens

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I forgot to tell you about Lewes Castle!! How remiss of me. Only one of the most amazing attractions of the town..

When I first arrived in Lewes my attention was drawn to the fantastic 14th and 15th century buildings in the high street and I didn’t even notice the castle….probably also because I was sitting on the left hand side of the taxi 😉 and despite what I used to tell my daughter, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, so I missed it altogether.

And unusually for me…..as with Newhaven, I didn’t do my research prior to visiting.

On my first Saturday here, during my break, I set off to explore and whoaaa, there’s a castle.

My first glimpse of Lewes Castle

But as mentioned in a previous post, I had neither mask nor money with me 🤪🤪 Never mind, I’ll come back next week (the castle is only open on Saturday atm due to Covid-19). But of course next Saturday was raining. So no castle.

However this Saturday last, I had to visit regardless of the weather because I leave Lewes on Friday.

Saturday dawned rainy and windy but with an occasional blue sky sunshine, so off I went. They have a really good system set up. You’re greeted at the door by a lovely lady who takes all your test and trace details, you sanitise your hands, then she sends you off on a one-way system through the museum first, after which you can buy your ticket for a visit to the castle. Ergo, the museum is free to visit (I think).  And visit you must.

The museum is not large, 2 rooms downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs, but they have a most amazing set up depicting the history of the area and the many artefacts that have been found in Sussex. An intimate little museum with just enough information to read and look at without being overwhelmed. My favourite artifacts were the swords. Wowww.

I had a good read, took some photos, bought a few items from the gift shop for my grandson, paid for my entry and another lovely lady guided me across to the gate and let me in.

I love castles 🤎🤎 There’s a massive shortage of castles in South Africa and the only castle I’d had experience of before coming to the UK was Cape Town Castle which isn’t really, but is rather a fort with grand ideas masquerading as a castle. It also has a history as a prison and is still a symbol of European oppression. Although to be fair, I guess most castles here have the same sort of background.

Anyway, back to Lewes Castle…

Like many castles today, this too is just a shadow of its former glory, but its fabulous. I climbed innumerable stairs to the top, sadly not the very top of the towers, which is where I really wanted to go, but the remains of the Great Hall will have to suffice.

Dozens of stairs
The Great Hall

The views across the valley to the hills are absolutely stunning, especially beautiful with the autumn colours. From here as well the view looks back in time to the 1264 Battle of Lewes.

A good view too of what used to be the Tilting Ground, now a bowling green, and in the distance I could see the windmill I passed a few days ago on my walk to Kingston. Awesome.

The Tilting Ground

The wind was blowing a gale and howling in my ears, flicking leaves and branches here and there….just brilliant. It was wild. Yes, there’s a couple of trees growing out the side of the building and there’s a tree slap bang in the middle of what was the Great Hall…now that’s wild!!

Nature takes over…

As you can imagine with the unpleasant weather, there were not many people up there, so it was easy to explore, although there really wasn’t that much to explore. Shame about the towers – closed atm due to Covid-19. Geez, I just realised reading that sentence back, that I used the word ‘there’ 3 times 🤔🤔 English eh.

Coming back down the stairs you have fantastic views across the town and to the cliffs, and travelling from across country the castle can be seen from miles away….the position is brilliant.

Views for miles around

In the courtyard is a fantastic Russian cannon and some wooden stocks

A bit of history:

A work in progress like most castles in England, Lewes Castle, originally known as Bray Castle, follows a motte and bailey design but unusually, has two mottes and was built on and added to over a few centuries.

The first motte, known as Brack Mount was completed shortly after the 1066 Norman conquest of England.

Both of the mottes were built by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, who also, along with his wife Gundrada, built the nearby  Priory of St. Pancras.

The mottes would originally have been surmounted by wooden palisades.

The second motte, known as the Keep, was completed in the late 11th century.
Both of which were built by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey.

Soldiers from the King’s army, set out from the castle to engage with Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes in 1264.

Towers were added to one of the shell keeps in the 13th century.

The barbican gate was added in the 14th century.

Certainly not as enormous as some of the castles I’ve visited in the last 19 years, but no less impressive, it stands guard over a gap in the South Downs overlooking the towns of Lewes and Cliffe and the River Ouse that winds it’s way between the 2 towns.

In the distance…it looks far, but it’s only about a 10 minute walk

Lewes castle has the distinction of being the 49th castle I’ve visited as part of Project 101.

I’ve compiled a short video of some of the exhibits in the museum

I can highly recommend a visit to Lewes Castle if you’re in the area. At the moment they’re only open on Saturdays, but that might change in the future.

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Fantastic discovery today. I set off during my break, determined to find the river path. Instead I found Lewes Priory….or should I say, the ruins.

Lewes Priory

Like 99% of all the abbeys, monasteries, and priories in the country, Lewes Priory also fell foul of Henry VIII’s foul temper!!

Seriously, if I could go back in time, I’d go back to the mid-16th century and give him another whack on the head, maybe knock some sense into the man.

Imagine if he hadn’t destroyed all these amazing buildings, what magnificence we would see today.

But sadly we have to be satisfied with exploring the ruins and trying to imagine what they must have been like. But at least there are some remains to be seen. So little respect was shown for the historical value of the priory that the modern railway was run right over the chapter house. Listed as a Grade 1 building, it seems we have a little more regard for important places these days (although HS2 puts the lie to that 🤨🤨)

In the 11th century, monks traveled from Cluny in France to establish the first Cluniac priory in England. The Priory survived for 450 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537.

A number of interpretive boards give you an idea of what the Priory would have looked like and show snippets of how the monks lived and worked. A herb garden has been recreated, replicating the gardens worked by the monks.

Its fascinating to see how thick the walls were built.

The Helmet Sculpture by Enzo Plazzotta, erected in 1964 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes in 1264, is absolutely stunning.

The Helmet Sculpture

The Battle of Lewes

For a more detailed history of the Priory here’s the link to the main page https://www.lewespriory.org.uk/history-overview

And in case you were wondering….. Cluny is a commune in the eastern French department of Saône-et-Loire, in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon. The town grew up around the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910. Ref wikipedia

Lewes Priory is a must visit if you’re in the area or perhaps walking the South Downs Way ….take a small diversion and visit the town, there’s so much to see.

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I’d never been to Southampton and as it’s on my Project 101 list, I thought that since I’d be close enough by train I may as well stay there for a couple of days and explore the city.  Besides which…it was also a whole lot cheaper than staying in Winchester LOL (I actually told one lady that I didn’t want to buy the house, just stay there for one night! – she wasn’t impressed hahahaha).

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tired after a day of exploring…take a seat why don’t you.

I had initially planned to explore Southampton on the 19th but instead decided to head over to Winchester instead. Most places appeared to be closed in Southampton on a Sunday, and since I was wanting to do the King Alfred walk in Winchester and the weather was going to be cloudy both days anyway, I decided to change plans. Benefit of being a solo traveller.

So, the day before I was due to start my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way, I had a super day exploring Southampton Old Town. I walked along sections of the old city walls; quite a thrill. I was delighted to find that there were still whole sections that you could walk along and I made the most of the opportunity.

spanish civil war, southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton (2)

wonderful history of the UK…welcoming refugees

A little bit of history to tickle your fancy:

Southampton; located on a major estuary on the English Channel has been settled since the Stone Age.
Known as Clausentum in Roman times, Southampton was an important trading port, but abandoned circa 410 when the Romans up and left.
The settlement was known as Hamwic and or Hamtum during the Anglo-Saxon period
After defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready in 1014, the Viking King, Canute the Great, was crowned in Southampton.
Southampton became a major port of transit between Winchester (capital of England until early 12th C) and Normandy following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The 1086 Domesday Book indicates that Southampton already had distinct French and English quarters at the time of the Norman Conquest.
The foundation of St. Michael’s Church has been dated at 1070.
Mary Magdalen Leperosy Hospital was established to the north of the town by 1173.
St Julians Hospital, also known as God’s House Hospital, was founded around 1196 by Gervase ‘le Riche’. A Franciscan friary was later built alongside God’s House hospital.
The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy. It’s been through various changes since then and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”, the Maritime Museum circa 1966, a workshop; The Moonbeam Engineering Company Limited who built motor launches, Element Arts; a pop-up arts organisation – who used the space as a gallery and community arts venue featuring exhibitions and live events – music, dance, poetry, theatre, and now the Dancing Man Brewery a brewpub/restaurant.
Southampton was awarded City status by The Queen in 1964.

On my way towards the Old Town I passed the area of Holy Rood; a series of metal sculptures were erected around the estate in tribute to the area’s role in the Merchant Navy’s history of Southampton.
Holyrood Church, which was damaged in World War II, now serves as a memorial to the Merchant Navy.

I started off at the edge of the city walls, once the boundary of a Franciscan friary (settled in 1224). By the end of the 14th century, the town of Southampton was entirely enclosed by stone walls.

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then walked past the remains of God’s House Tower (protected the medieval town from attack),

from there I followed the perimeter of the old city walls, I discovered a link with Jane Austen 🙂 – Watergate & Quay – “Jane’s niece, 14 year old Fanny Knight, records in her diary of Tuesday 15 September 1807, that Jane and the rest of the family embarked from here to visit friends in Hythe for Afternoon Tea. Fanny writes; “Mama to everyone’s astonishment was of the party and not at all sick”.

the rear view of the Watergate ruins

the 12th century Duke of Wellington Pub

A short distance later I discovered the Wool House and popped in for a quick look (I didn’t see the prisoner’s inscriptions though) – The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy, and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”

after which a short diversion took me along Bugle Street

first I passed the fabulous 12th century Duke of Wellington pub

strolling on along Bugle Street I discovered the amazing Tudor House – Restored 14th-c. Tudor house & remains of a 12th-c. Norman home, with 16th-century gardens & a cafe…where I enjoyed a superb lunch… Wow, what an extraordinary place.

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I spent ages exploring this fabulous house; a time capsule with some incredible artefacts. A visit to the cellar is a must – used as a WW2 shelter by the family who lived there at the time, there is a fantastic and spine-tingling audio that takes you right back to an air-raid.

Exploring the premises behind the house (where you find the café) I saw a canon made for Henry VIII, and the awesome ruins of King John’s Castle.

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Across the garden are some glass doors, step through…. there you will find a delightful exhibition worth having a look at

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After strolling back along Bugle Street I noticed another section of the city walls down an alley, so I climbed the steps and strolled along another section of the city walls and onto Cuckoo Lane…passing the Westgate Hall aka Tudor Merchants Hall on my way.

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Heading back to the Tudor House, I walked past and turned left down along Blue Anchor Lane towards the previous town quay…now a road.blue anchor lane southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton The Pilgrim Fathers embarked here from the West Quay on the Mayflower in August 15 1620. Passing through the Westgate (through the archway marched some of the some of the army of Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415) – stupendous. It gave me goosebumps walking through the arch.

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walking through history; through this archway marched some of the some of the army of     Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415 – awesome

I strolled alongside the ancient walls, known as The Arcades, and found another section that could be walked (yes, I’m addicted to walking along old city walls LOL- also part of Project 101) I reached ‘Catchcold’ Tower (fortunately I didn’t catch a cold) – purpose built in the early 15th century to carry ordnance (cannon). Brilliant views of the old quay. During WW2 an anti-aircraft machine-gun was mounted on the tower.

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From there I walked along to Arundel Tower – said to be named after the magical horse of Sir Bevois, one of the founders of Southampton. Legend has it that Arundel was so fast he could out-fly swallows. When Sir Bevios died, the horse threw himself from the tower in sorrow.

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Leaving the ramparts I descended to ground level and walked across to the Bargate. Wow, just stunning. By walking through the Bargate’s grand entrance, you travel in the footsteps of generations of townspeople, visitors and kings and queens. A pair of lions has guarded the gate since the 1600s. The Jane Austen heritage trail starts at the Bargate.

Walking further I took a random turn and saw a beautiful pub and another link to Jane Austen ; Jane’s homes from 1807 to 1809 was sited here in Castle Square.

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finding Jane Austen in Southampton

Then back past the fabulous Tudor House, opposite which was St Michael’s Square; once a busy fish market selling freshly caught eels, mackerel, whiting and oysters. Built in the 1070s, St Michael’s is the only surviving parish church in Southampton.

I then continued my walk along Castle Way where I passed the fantastic medieval Merchant’s timber house (sadly closed during the week) – what was that I said about places being closed yesterday….hmmm. .

the medieval timber house southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton

The medieval Timber House, Castle Way, Southampton

The weather was brilliant and I even squeezed in a quick visit to the harbour. I noticed there was a ferry to the Isle of Wight and the temptation to just hop on and visit Cowes again was very strong LOL. But I resisted….I was due to start my walk the next day and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been able to get back to Southampton for some reason.

After a brilliant few hours of exploring I meandered through Queen’s Park then back along Queensway and through West (Watts) Park where I saw the plaque for the Mary Magdalen Leprosy Hospital which stood near this spot in medieval times.

Then back to the AirBnb to rest and prepare myself and Pepe for the start of The Pilgrim’s Way.

In all, a very satisfactory day full of history, surprises and delights. Visit Southampton and be sure to explore the Old Town, and prepare to be delighted at the Tudor House.

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a link with Jane Austen

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I’m totally in love with Chester. I may just move here 😊😊😊 It’s been a real mixed bag of weather starting with rain just after I arrived, sleet at about 9am yesterday, then rain which soaked me to the skin (I eventually dried out). Besides the weather it’s been an awesome stay with a fantastic walk around the city and perambulation along the Roman city walls when the skies cleared. What an extraordinary city.

chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Dewa – Roman Chester

I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to walk along ancient streets, the galleried balconies of The Rows, and strolling along walls along which Roman soldiers and King Charles I amongst many other historical figures have walked. So exciting.  😉

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Ancient streets, The Rows, city gates

So today I took a walk along the canal and ended up in a village called Christleton. To my delight it turned out to be a Domesday Book Village. I started early (08.05) and since it was such a gorgeous day and my last full day, I decided to make the most of it and walk a short way….well a short way turned into a few miles and by 9am I was in Christleton.

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Chester Canal

The canal was stunning with a number of locks, a few small humped bridges, lots of colourful canal boats and a number of fabulous canal-side properties.

christleton, chester canal

canalside properties

Although I had not been my intention to walk that far, I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. I explored the village and the little church that literally opened as I got there, then stopped for tea and toast at the Ring O’Bells pub; so cosy I could have stayed all day…

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Christleton – Domesday Book Village

but I had a city to explore, so jumping on the next bus to Chester, I arrived shortly after 11.20.

Since I had alighted near to the fantastic Church of St John the Baptist, I stopped off there first and was just in time to hear the 12noon chimes. This church is extraordinary with a history that stretches back to the 7th century. Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time. Founded in 689 AD by Aethelred King of Mercia, it was enlarged by Aethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great and her husband in AD 907. This is one of those churches where if you don’t go in and do research afterwards, you regret not stopping. It is stunning.

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Church of St John the Baptist, Chester

With Norman architecture and pillars adorned with not only Mason marks but ancient frescoes amongst which is a 13th C image of St John the Baptist, memorials from the 17th century, a wooden Jacobean screen, an organ built for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, rebuilt and installed here, Saxon and Viking stones dating from 900-1100 and examples of medieval tombstones including the grave slab for Agnes de Ridley wife of a sheriff of Chester, and so much more, you could stay for hours.

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Mason marks, medieval paintings

In the grounds surround the church are some amazing ruins of the older church, one of which contains a very bizarre object; a coffin shaped hole in the top of the wall. Very bizarre. This church too suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops.

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Chapel of St John the Baptist, Chester

From there I revisited the Roman Amphitheatre “When he saw the blood, it was as though he had drunk a deep draught of savage passion. He fixed his eyes upon the scene and took in all its frenzy ….He watched and cheered and grew hot with excitement” St Augustine Confessions 6.8 Having followed The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury last year, finding this link was quite exciting.  Chester’s amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain and could seat 7,000 spectators; a powerful symbol of Roman supremacy on the edge of the empire. I walked right around the amphitheatre, imagining I could hear the cheers, jeers, shouts and screams and the roar of the crowds ringing in my ears. I wonder what it must have been like in Roman times…brutal I should guess. The spectacle that the crowds could see in the arena wild beast fights, public executions and gladiatorial combats, were not just bloodthirsty entertainment, they were rituals that expressed Roman values. While I was there a Roman soldier followed by a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren entered the arena and soon there were full-blooded cries echoing off the walls. What a terrific way to learn history!!! I think I must go back to school…in Chester!

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The Roman Amphitheatre, Chester

Leaving the amphitheatre I walked through the Roman Gardens located right next to the city walls where you can see various artefacts as well the ruins of Roman baths, one of the most impressive buildings of the Chester fortress. Here again was a Roman soldier putting a gaggle of children through their soldier paces….with fierce screams and stamping feet. Too much fun!!

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The Roman Gardens, Chester

Chester was known as the Roman Fort of Deva and there is a charming little exhibition that you can visit – the Dewa Roman Experience; experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester.  Just off  Bridge Street, I popped in for a thoroughly enjoyable ‘quick’ visit. Absolutely worth the time, the cost of the ticket minimal and less than 2 cups of coffee.  The kids will love it.

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Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

http://www.dewaromanexperience.co.uk/experience.html

After whizzing through this delightful exhibition, a brisk walk took me through the centre of the city and onto the cathedral where I joined the FREE ground floor tour at 1.30pm. Wow, I wish I had a photographic memory or at least a tape recorder. The guides ply you with so many fascinating and interesting snippets of information, it’s quite overwhelming. Suffice to say, it is well worth the hour and it’s free. Times: 11:00 13:30 15:00

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Chester Cathedral

After this fascinating hour tour I joined the 60 minute Tower Tour at 3pm (£8) a very well spent £8 and 60 minutes; fascinating history and stunning views -we walked up along the narrow passageways around the church looking down onto the floor and up close and personal with the stained glass windows, stopped off in the ringing chamber, had a look at the fantastic bells, and then onto the roof for stupendous 360 degree views of Chester and as far as the Welsh mountains. I stood on the spot where Charles I stood during the Civil War and nearly had his head blown off….after which he ‘forsook the city and made haste elsewhere’. The views outdoors were just as fabulous as the views indoors and being up close to the ceiling was amazing, they are so beautiful. All too soon the tour was over and we returned to the floor of the cathedral. Absolutely fantastic.

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Tower Tour of Chester Cathedral

After a quick cup of tea and cake (included in the Tower Tour price) I made a dash through the streets to the Chester Museum and entered with like 10 minutes to spare, so all I got to see were the Roman exhibitions, which were amazing. It’s so exciting to see items that were made nearly 2,000 years ago and I guess I shall just have to return to Chester for a 2nd visit 🙂

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Chester Museum

Talking of which, I was scrolling through my photos and was reminded of a walk that was of interest; The Two Saints Way – a 92 mile walk from Chester to Lichfield…I’ve ordered the book and started planning hahahaha.

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Two Saints Way – Chester to Lichfield

After my quick visit I headed over to Spud You Like to see the remains of a Roman Hypocaust…wowwww. Now that was seriously impressive. I had to plead and beg and ask very nicely to go in as they had actually just closed for the day, but the young lass on the door heeded my entreaties and let me walk across her nice clean floor and run downstairs to have a look; so just a couple of very quick photos and a touch of the stones and my visit was over. I was disappointed as I had planned on having supper there LOL. Oh well. Sadly I was also told that they were closing as of end March as the lease had run out. What a shame.

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Roman Hypocaust, Chester

And that brought my visit to Chester to a close. I walked back towards the Town Hall looking for something different to eat and ended up at Blackstock’s Fish and Chips. I ordered the battered fish and a portion of chips and mushy peas. Very very disappointing. For a higher price, I got perhaps a 1/4 of the amount of chips I had at Adam’s Fish and Chips and although the chips tasted nice they were not a patch on the ones I had at Adam’s. The fish was tasty but small and to my utter dismay the mushy peas were not only tasteless and vinegary, but they were served in a polystyrene cup and plastic cutlery. Not good enough. When you visit Chester and fancy a cone of chips and fish…try Adam’s Fish & Chips on Bridge Street. 😉

After my meal I strolled through the city, sad to be leaving so soon I felt I could have stayed another day. I will seriously have to go back…perhaps when I do the Two Saints Walk.

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I couldn’t believe that I was finally here. After years of wanting to visit, it was thrilling to be walking these ancient streets, lined with all the amazing black and white buildings. I was giddy with elation and came close to photographing every single blessed building LOL

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The wonderful canal, famous black and white buildings and the world famous Chester clock

To say that I was charmed and delighted by Chester would be the understatement of the year.

Soon after I arrived, and after dropping my luggage, I set off from the AirBnb where I was staying and walked back into the city in the waning hours of the day. The sky was painted a soft blue with a pink tinge to the west, the last remnants of the setting sun. First stop was to photograph the lovely little houses on the canal…..the lights casting yellow reflections on the water. I determined there and then to walk along at least a part of the canal during my stay.

I soon reached the city centre and stood with my jaw agape, thrilling at the many black & white buildings, albeit many of them being Victorian restorations, they were utterly charming. I meandered here and there, my camera clicking away, thrilled to see the famous Victorian Chester clock above the city gate.

I love these old Roman towns with their city walls and gates. It always gives me an absolute thrill to walk beneath them or along them. Chester’s city walls are in a remarkably good condition and I noticed that I could practically walk right around the city via the walls……tomorrow.

The cathedral stood majestic and proud, shadows casting a spell in the early evening light, the building looked mystical, magical, ethereal and otherworldly. I walked along the famous Rows in the heart of the city, described as the oldest shopping arcade in Britain they were between 1220 and 1350 when Chester was a booming market town and port.

I walked along the 4 main thoroughfares and then with the Chester High Cross behind me I walked down to the river. Passing through the medieval Bridgegate that guarded the approach to Chester from North Wales I soon crossed the medieval bridge over the River Dee. Bliss. I stood there for ages and then retraced my steps through the city and back to the B&B. Tired but happy. I could barely wait to explore the next day.

Originally a Roman settlement, Chester was one of the 1000s of villages listed in the Domesday Book (great survey of 1086) and adds to my ever growing list for Project 101…I may just have to make it Project 202 at this rate LOL. Chester appears in 9 entries in Domesday Book.

One last photo of the clock, and although it was only 7.30pm it was totally dark. And so to bed, perchance to dream…….

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the Chester Clock

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