Early Saturday morning and all of London seems asleep. The only sounds I hear are that of my running feet on their way to the tube station. It is a good few hours to Wells and Glastonbury. And when you leaving in a few days, oh well, sleeping in on a Saturday morning is the last priority on one’s list. 😀
England’s smallest cathedral city, Wells, derives its name from the three wells within its walled precincts, which during the Middle Ages were believed to have therapeutic qualities. Its other key attraction, for nearly a millennium, has been its cathedral [Cathedral Church of St. Andrew], and understandably so. Continue reading →
Leeds castle is presently kept as a living house; guests can stay in its bedrooms. Over 10 million people have visited the castle in the last 30 years
Take the prettiest castle and the grandest church in the country and that was my day for today. Yes, I went to Leeds and Canterbury.
By now I can honestly say I have been to most of the castles and churches in England—the important ones, the lesser known ones, those that the guide books rave about, and those that the locals get sentimental and have loads of personal memories attached to ones. And the two I visited today easily qualify as the best of the best. 🙂 Continue reading →
Travelling to places off the beaten path is an exhilarating experience. And yes, there are still such places in England too. Everyone clamours to go to Stonehenge. Which is understandable. It’s pretty fantastic. But there is a site even older and bigger, spread over the rolling meadows that Thomas Hardy repeatedly invoked in his timeless novels set in eastern England. It’s called Avebury. Continue reading →
I am finally visiting the sight people commonly see in their first week in London—I am going to Stonehenge. I wasn’t too sure as to what I ought to be feeling as I made the 90-minute train journey to Salisbury. I had seen too many pictures; heard and read endless reviews, some ecstatic, others disappointed. I could even close my eyes and picture the prehistoric ring of stone slabs, complete with blue or grey skies. It is after all the most popular wallpaper on Windows as well.
Before I took the coach on to Stonehenge, I spent some time at Salisbury also known as New Sarum though nobody ever calls it by this name. I wish I’d had more time in the town whose chief claim to fame is its cathedral which has got to be the most beautiful in the country.
It is also an architectural marvel. Where do I begin? Because of the high water table in the area, the 123 metre high church stands over foundations merely 1 metre deep. The 60 metre hollow spire weighs 6,500 tonnes and is the tallest spire in the United Kingdom and the tallest pre-1400s surviving spire in the world. Designed by Bishop Richard Poore, the cathedral was built over just 38 years (1220-1258) and is a masterpiece of Early English Gothic architecture. The world’s oldest working clock (1386) with no face and which only struck the hours was used in the bell tower till 1789; it now stands in the north aisle. One more fact. The Chapter House contains one of the finest versions of the only four surviving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta—the very cornerstone of Human Rights. Whew!
Today I hiked through a different part of the Cotswolds. In a village called Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire with its stone ruins of the manor house Minster Lovell Hall standing sentinel, three storeys high, amidst emerald-green fields, tumbling brooks and whispering trees. Built by Lord William Lovell in the 1430s and extended by his son Francis, the edifice is monumental.
I ended my day with Burford, at the 12th Century parish church of St. John. Restful graves and vivid stained glass windows greeted me as I wandered in with my camera. I will always be grateful that I can travel. Continue reading →
At times words are just not needed … I went to the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire today. Visited little villages which were as old-world as their names: Chipping Campden, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, and did some hiking. It was beautiful. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 🙂 Continue reading →