the prettiest castle and grandest church in england

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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

richmond to hampton

Richmond and Hampton with a cruise down the river Thames. That’s the plan for the day.

The nice thing about travelling when you are older is you appreciate the finer nuances better. 😀 For one, I learnt that Richmond used to be called Shene and was highly popular with the royal family who lived in the manor house until Henry VII built Richmond Palace in 1501. It’s a little startling to take a turn and actually step back 500 years. Though much of the palace has been lost to time, the Maids of Honours Row, Wardrobe, Trumpeter’s House and Gate House still stand intact, now converted into rented apartments behind the historical facades.

Walking past the Victorian Richmond theatre, boutique shops and the Green which has held cricket matches since 1666, I reached the edge of the Thames to catch my boat to Hampton, as I was told Henry VIII would have done! The cruise is hypnotic with its serene landscapes intertwined with picturesque houses hugging the edge of the river. One feels one is somewhere far away in the country. But it is still London or to be technically correct, Greater London.

richmond_hampton1 Continue reading

tower of london—flirting with the beefeaters

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When you live in London, it is only right that you do at least some of the absolutely touristy things the city is famous for, which includes going to the Tower of London, packed with swarms of holiday-makers. Most famous for the beheadings of Henry VIII’s (1491–1547) wives when they failed to provide blessed little boys, the Tower has to be on the top things-to-do list in every guide-book on this country. And does it live up to its name. Millions of tourists cannot be wrong. 🙂 Continue reading

it is pronounced ‘greenich’, my dear

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Greenwich has always been inexorably bound to the sea and all things maritime; right from King Henry VIII’s time when he lived in the Royal Palace of Placentia that used to stand here and oversaw his naval fleet from it. Came the 18th Century, and along with it Queen Mary and Christopher Wren. The Queen decided to build a naval almshouse at the site of the Old Palace. Known as the Royal Naval Hospital (1752), it provided lodging and meals to the disabled and retired seamen of the Napoleonic Wars. Wren’s grand edifices later became the Royal Naval College in 1873 and were finally leased to the University of Greenwich, in 1999, and the Trinity College of Music.

The connection with the sea doesn’t end there. Greenwich is home to the National Maritime Museum which pulsates with the trade, exploration and colonization ties that the seas have had with England. And then there’s what everyone comes to look at. The Royal Observatory where John Harrison invented his famous sea clocks, and THE Greenwich Meridian Line, Longitude 0 degrees 0’ 0”, home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Continue reading